A look at how New Orleans musicians are keeping the music going during the pandemic.
Being a musician in a time of a crisis can be hard, both mentally and financially. However, New Orleans musician Craig Klein, of the bad Bonerama, stays optimistic and keeps the magic of music alive, despite the hardships COVID-19 has brought.
"Lots of change [due to the pandemic], but real musicians will hang in there because music is like medicine," Klein said. "It helps heal and cure, soothe and smooth the wrinkles that go on in our lives. We need music to help us get out of this. It's a healer that is necessary for every walk of life. And there's two kinds of music: good and bad. And I like both kinds."
Klein went from playing 30 to 40 gigs a month, including educational shows at Preservation Hall, to preforming a few online streaming shows, with income coming mainly from unemployment checks and grants.
"Playing music is the best job in the world because it communicates to the listener in a non-verbal/artistic kind of way that is thrilling to both the listener and the musician," Klein said. "Getting payed for playing music is amazing!"
The New Orleans native's love for the trombone began in fourth grade after following in his uncle's footsteps. After playing in SLU's band in college, he continued his music career by touring alongside Harry Connick Jr. from 1990 to 2006. In 2006, he switched his focus to his current band Bonerama.
Bonerama is a "brass/funk/rock" band, which he plays for, in addition to five other bands: the Storyville Stompers, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Jazz Vipers, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Palm Court Sunday Night Swingsters.
Regardless of having fewer performances, the talented musician plays his instruments every day in order to stay ready for when live music returns. "Playing a brass instrument requires playing every day to maintain a high level of proficiency," Klein said.
When playing his tunes, Klein aims to "draw the listener in, to either want to dance or tap their feet or sing along or to forget about all the troubles in their world and enjoy the art that we, the musicians, are creating," he explains.
This trombone player is hopeful that live indoor performances will return this year, but, in the meantime, he does have plans for more online streaming shows. "I'm hoping that musicians can get back to work within the next few months," Klein says. "It will take a while before it gets to what it was. That might not be back till 2021."
Craig Klein, a true New Orleans musician, can inspire all of us to stay positive in a time of turmoil and keep us dancing to the sweet sounds of music.