For most casual fans of music, the forty-five minutes that a band spends on the stage is all they can see. However, when the guitar cases are closed and the venue’s floor is littered with empty beer cans and trash, most bands load their gear into the van and return back to their normal lives.
Mother Church Pew’s Off The Stage is a series that celebrates artists’ paths to where they are and the things they do behind the scenes to stay there.
Atlanta-based collective the Good Graces, makers of ‘90s resurgence-style indie-folk music, released Prose and Consciousness in 2019, an album that tackles the challenge of accepting life’s uncertainties head-on, and an appropriate prelude to the current uncertainties plaguing our world. At the heart of the Good Graces is songwriter/singer and guitarist Kim Ware, who spoke to us recently about her labors of love in the time of Coronavirus:
“On Friday, March 13, I came home from my day job, poured myself a glass of wine, and got comfortable on my front porch. I began scrolling through Facebook and saw a post from a friend – she was looking for a way to connect Atlanta-area musicians despite the social distancing measures that had just started to take hold around Georgia and elsewhere. She set up a Facebook page, but I suggested that instead, she make it a group, invite a handful of Atlanta musician friends, and urge them to perform from within the group using the Facebook Live function. Another friend suggested the name Kimono My House (yes, I assume a nod to the Sparks record), and it stuck. By that night, there were a handful or so of us participating in Kimono and playing for each other. That weekend, it grew to a few hundred. And within a week, we had amassed over 2,000 members, from all over the world. We now have over 6,000. This all happened very quickly and without any advertising. We started getting a good bit of press from local publications early on, which helped spread the word, I’m sure, but most of the growth can be attributed to friends inviting more friends.
We’re treating KMH like a virtual venue; we have an event calendar and host an average of 2-3 shows each day. It’s become much like a second job for me, and it’s been super rewarding – just not monetarily so. But I can’t imagine what my quarantined life might be like without it. A few weekends ago, we held a virtual festival, hosting 40 performances in the group, mostly from Atlanta-based artists, to benefit three of Atlanta’s most beloved venues: 529, the EARL, and Eddie’s Attic. Because we sent people directly to the venues’ respective GoFundMe pages for donations, it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much money the group was responsible for raising. But we kept an eye on the GoFundMe pages during that time, and by following the donor names and donations over the weekend, we estimate that our efforts raised around $3,000.
Aside from Kimono, I’ve been trying to keep my indie-folk project, the Good Graces, rolling in this new world. I’ve been performing online, both in our group and elsewhere, as I’m able; I’ve written a few new songs; I’m setting up some collabs with a few folks. And I’ve been getting a kick out of how some of my songs have taken on new meanings in Corona Times; my little bedroom tune that I wrote about a forbidden crush, “Sit on Your Hands,” is now an anthem of sorts for not infecting others. (The first verse is just over 20 seconds long, so the perfect length for humming while handwashing, which I do every single time I go to the sink.) My song “7-Year Sentence,” with the refrain “I’m going to hell, but my friends are there, so it won’t be lonely,” was always somewhat bittersweet to sing, but now it is even more so. I miss my friends who used to join me on stage to sing along but knowing that we’re all in this same topsy-turvy boat together makes it a little more ok.