Every week, we ask a different local artist to provide their unique perspective on the pandemic experience from a musician’s point of view. Through words, video and music, each musician will share their story, along with an audio or video sample of a recent project, and a link to purchase their music so that you can support their work.
This week, vocalist Meghan Parnell (along with guitarist Dave Barnes), of powerhouse blues/soul band Bywater Call talks about keeping connected online, the creative benefits of giving yourself space (but also the requirement to keep practicing), and coffee!
"We were lucky enough to go on our first overseas tour in January and February 2020. Arriving back on March 2, it was very soon afterwards that things shut down and have more or less remained shut down for live music.
It was difficult to see the great momentum from the beginning of our year come to a halt. There were plans to cross Canada for the Blues/Jazz festival circuit in the summer of 2020 and we were very excited about having the chance to expand our at-home audience. Inevitably, our scheduled to return to Europe to play the Moulin Blues Festival in the Netherlands later last year was postponed to 2021, and then postponed again until 2022, where it will likely serve as an anchor date for our second full tour overseas.
With live in-person music off the table, we’ve dipped our toes slightly into the concert streaming pool, mainly as an acoustic duo version of the band. We were lucky enough in September, 2020 to participate in a fundraising event, originally planned for a big indoor venue in Toronto, which moved to waterfront cottage country with reduced in-person attendance. It has turned out to be our only full-band performance since the beginning of the pandemic. We streamed the show, and were so honoured to see fans reaching out and taking part from all over the globe. We can’t wait to get back to regular performances and are so grateful to everyone who has reached out to keep our spirits up during this strange and challenging time.
We've learned the importance of keeping in touch with our supporters through social media. It’s so encouraging to know that people are anticipating our return to the live music scene and of course live music in general. It’s left a void for music lovers and by sharing memories, updates and inspiration online, we can all make it a little less lonely.
We've learned that you can’t force creativity, and if you just take some pressure off and forgive yourself, the ideas will come: the forced time off has created a bit of internal panic - a perceived pressure that we should have been able to write and record another album by now. But that pressure, for me anyway, is not a good space to be creative. So I’ve learned to appreciate the wins as they come, and relax a little…and in doing so, creativity and inspiration have found their own way in.
We've learned that if you don’t use it, you lose it – I certainly have not been singing nearly as much as I’m used to. When I got back into doing some at-home recording and smaller gigs when restrictions were eased last year, I realized my voice was a little out of shape. SO – I do more singing at home now and regular exercises to make sure I’m good to go when the time comes.
We definitely suffered a creative void through the first part of the pandemic - a combination of the circumstances and putting pressure on ourselves to make use of the forced time off. However last summer, Dave and I started jamming in our backyard. Ideas started to flow, and after a few fits and starts, we’re now gearing up to go into the studio for our second full-length album, which should be out before the end of the year. We’re excited about the direction it’s taking and about the recording process itself, having not been able to play much with the band recently.
Also – we started a small batch coffee roasting business over the last year called “Parkside Grind.” It’s super fun to use coffee to connect with friends and musicians we haven’t had a chance to see much over the last 15 months. The feedback has been great – and we have loads of caffeine on hand to keep those creative juices flowing."
Support Meghan and Dave by purchasing Bywater Call music from Gypsy Soul Records.
Get to know Bywater Call with this video for "Silver Lining", released on their self-titled debut album: