Off The Stage: The Imaginaries

Photo Credit: Reagan Elkins

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 a band’s path to where they are and the things they do behind the scenes to stay there.

Oklahoma-based husband/wife duo Shane Henry (guitar, vocals) and Maggie McClure (keys, piano, vocals), who together make music as The Imaginaries, have had their share of setbacks over the past several months.  They’ve both come through medical procedures and illness, had multiple stops and starts with their debut album release and tour bookings/cancellations, and now are faced with the world on pause because of Covid-19. Through all of the heartache and disappointment, they are ready for a revival – figuratively and literally, with the release of their new single out today, aptly titled “Revival.” Recently, band member McClure filled us in on how they’ve been holding up during these interesting times:

Like it has been for many, this has been such a strange season for us. We were selected to open for the entire Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Rocks! Tour (25 nationwide dates) back in November-December 2019, when two days before the first show, the whole thing got canceled because Brian had a severe case of tinnitus. In January, I had to have an invasive gum surgery which kept me from singing for two months. During my recovery time, we worked on booking as many shows as possible for the spring and summer of 2020.

Not singing for two months was really hard for me. We were so ready to play our first festival show on March 14, the week that everything started to shut down due to Covid-19, including the festival we were booked to play. Since then, we’ve had about 20 gig cancellations for 2020; it’s super strange that we have yet to play a single live show in front of a live audience in 2020. We really miss playing live shows. Starting around March 14 we felt the need to do a video to update our fans and play a song or two. The response to that video was so overwhelmingly positive and well-received, we thought, ‘Maybe we should do this more often.’ We saw fellow musician friends start to do live stream shows online, watched quite a few, took notes, and decided to start “Quarantunes,” a Facebook Live Concert Series of our own. Having this bi-weekly/weekly show to do was a little stressful at first, but the more we do, the easier it flows, and the more we realize how good it is for our souls to be doing the shows. Not only are we interacting personally with fans all over the world, but we are also getting to perform (and although it’s not the same as a live show with a live audience at a venue/festival, etc., it’s still just as exciting and fulfilling). It’s been a lot of fun taking requests from fans, working up new cover songs, and re-visiting songs from our solo catalogs.

“Quarantunes” has been very therapeutic for us and I honestly think we probably would have had a much harder time through this quarantine experience if we didn’t do this. It has held us accountable to our fans and to each other. It’s also kept us playing and kept us tight as a duo. We’ve also been a part of about five live stream shows outside of our own series, including shows with Rockwood Music Hall in NYC and The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles (Monday Monday), which have all been a blast. We really feel like every live stream show we do is an opportunity to bring some hope and light into peoples’ lives, and we are honored to have that opportunity.

Outside of “Quarantunes,” to keep our sanity, we’ve been getting outside a lot. We love playing with our dogs and have enjoyed the extra time with them. We’ve also enjoyed spending more time with family (whether it’s in person or via Facetime). We have a few duplexes that we have set up as nightly rentals on Airbnb. When Covid-19 hit, all our Airbnb bookings were canceled, but it’s starting to pick back up now, thankfully. Shane has been doing some really hard labor-intensive work, and he also thoroughly enjoys working on his classic Chevy pick-up truck/s. I have been cooking and baking more often than normal. I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with making new dishes and trying recipes I had always wanted to try but ‘didn’t have the time’ to explore until now. I’ve also been teaching a handful of piano/voice/songwriting lessons weekly via Facetime/Skype, which has helped me keep my sanity. Together, we’ve been in our studio finishing up and working on new material. We’ve also been finishing up some videos that we started filming before Covid-19, and have been working on a few new videos as well. We’ve been a little inconsistent with exercising, but try to work out regularly each week. We’ve also been pretty religious about taking our vitamins and supplements every day!

Another very important aspect of our lives that helps us keep our sanity is our faith. Prayer has been instrumental in helping us maintain balance and clarity. It’s also been really important for us to intentionally connect as a married couple during this time. It’s easy to just exist in the same place and drift through the days, so we are making an effort to not let that happen. Through it all, we are doing everything we can to stay positive, be creative, and push forward.

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