Sonoma musicians: Rockin’ in Place

The basic questions musicians answer focus on their newfound and largely unwanted free time, marked by no live performances.|

Here's a peek into the private worlds of local performers kept offstage during the shutdown. We asked them what musical things they're doing during so much newfound and largely unwanted free time, marked by no live performances.

Dawn Angelosante is a keyboard-playing local winery employee who's part of the local duo Tony & Dawn, has been able to spend time with her musical and life partner in their home.

'I have been listening to a lot of Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, '80s power ballads for kitchen-cooking dance parties,' she said. 'Also, Lilith Fair and all the amazing female '90s artists turned up loud for singing in the shower.'

Angelosante adds, 'My number one dance party song at the moment is 'This About Things' by Dadi Freyr. Turn it up and dance it out! Music is definitely helping me through this.'

Zakk Murphy, aka the Prince of Thieves, is another musician/winery employee. The singing bass player recently became a new dad; his little girl Sienna was born in late February.

'I have been listening to Bill Withers, Paul Simon, Ben Harper, on Alexa in the house with the newborn, but I put on earbuds when I want to hear Weezer, Motorhead,' he said. Good thinking, dad.

Murphy added, 'I am trying to teach myself acoustic guitar but I have mastered the kazoo, all while changing diapers.'

Zakk's dad, and new grandfather, is Johnn Murphy, aka 'King Daddy.' (More like 'King Gramps.') Murphy wrote via email from his house in Glen Ellen: 'I'm listening to songs I'd like to play live,' he said. 'We're always looking for new songs to perform. As far as practice goes, I live in an apartment, so I can only practice my washboard and tambourine.' Good and considerate thinking, Grandpa.

Folks who attend the open mic and Live Band karaoke events at Starling Bar know Randall Burrows as the emcee. He has been a singing guitar player for many years. He chipped in with, 'John Prine has been my main songwriting hero for a long time. So, in the wake of his passing, I have been focused on revisiting his catalog. I also have been listening to some Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Bob Dylan. I am spending more time on songwriting and wood shedding on guitar fundamentals, so definitely taking advantage of the SIP time.'

Another well-traveled local musician is Josh Yenne. Guitar is his specialty, and he has been very busy playing it on live Facebook concerts. Yenne said, 'I've been into Antonio Aguilar a lot. He was a Mexican singer and is killer. Especially the more traditional mariachi stuff.'

'I am almost always listening to some Bach — the cello suites. Classical gets played here more than anything. I'd say when we are just putting something on, Bach is probably both our favorite.'

With a twist, Yenne added, 'But when I put on my ear buds and walk the dog it is 100 percent of the time podcasts, never music. Usually history.'

His guilty pleasure? 'Maybe Depeche Mode, because I'm just not really into any music that is not real humans playing instruments, but that hits a nostalgic spot for me. Also, the lyrics/production/harmonies are just awesome.'

OK, but are you practicing? 'Yes, a ton. Because I am not teaching as many lessons, I'm doing lots of practicing on various instruments. I also do 'lesson videos' for folks where I will figure out a solo and then do a video for them.'

Leah Jones is a local songwriter/singer. Frequently performing on Thursdays at the Moose Lodge event and Mondays at Murphy's Irish Pub, Jones recently showcased her skills at a Westside Ramblers gathering at the Reel & Brand.

Jones answered thoughtfully, 'I honed in on John Prine's 'Speed the Sound of Loneliness,' because it made me cry and it reminded me of the times we are in now, how so many people must feel lonely in their homes in the isolation of stay in place orders. I live alone, I could identify.'

Jones said she is writing more songs than normal, partly to try to replace the time otherwise spent practicing with other musicians.

'Inspired by the birth of Siena Victoria Myna Murphy, I wrote 'Siena Love' because it occurs to me that it should not go unnoticed that this little person was born at a very difficult period in our history and her birth deserved to be recognized in a song. I also wrote, 'Faith Believes' because I miss church choir at St. Leo's in Sonoma.'

She is also practicing.

'After I punish myself with guitar theory and scales with my virtual Steve Stine lessons, I find slow blues tracks that I can apply my new lead talents on, in the privacy of my own home,' she said.

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