This series, Art in the time of COVID-19, highlights musicians and artists in eastern Iowa whose life and work have been upended by the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state.
If you would like to recommend someone to be featured in this space, please reach out to Little Village.
Anthony Worden, Guitarist
Anthony Worden has been working his ass off in Iowa City. In just a few years, he has ingrained himself into the local scene, rising up from (while remaining deeply committed to) a DIY ethos, playing his heart out and filling his hours with both live gigs and DJ work.
He’s been playing guitar, his main instrument, for about 11 years — professionally for six. His work is lyrically intriguing and sonically just plain fun. LV reviewer Michael Roeder said of Worden’s latest album, Voilá, that it “is a record both timeless and out of time, drawing inspiration from an earlier era when bands focused not just on songwriting but creating an album as a full artistic statement.”
“I don’t rely on music to pay my bills,” Worden says, “though merch sales and DJing at Gabe’s once a month has allowed me to not live paycheck to paycheck as of very recently.”
But, he insists, “I feel really lucky. My day job is basically doing manual labor type stuff in the food and nutrition department at the University Hospital. As of right now, it looks like I have a job for the foreseeable future. I have more friends that don’t have a job than do right now.”
Current associated acts: “I just perform under my name,” Worden says. “I have released two records under that name and most recently I formed a band called the Illiterati, and with that band I released my third record just last month.”
Purchase: Get the full range of Worden merch at anthonyworden.bandcamp.com/merch.
How many gigs have you canceled or had cancel on you since serious social distancing kicked in?
My band had the blind luck of having all of our album release shows last month. If I follow the CDC recommendations, though, between DJ gigs and performances by the band I’ll have to cancel or postpone around eight gigs. I really feel for my band member Penny Peach (Elly Hofmaier), though. She had to cancel open slots for Keven Morby and Mdou Moctar. I know she was really looking forward to them.
Where do pandemics rank, on your list of primal fears?
To be honest, the only time I have even thought of that word was playing a board game by that name. Right now, as far as music goes, I’m weary to how the economy will effect many people in the more DIY part of the music industry i.e. small venues, publications (such as yours) and the artists themselves.
What is the role of art in a crisis?
I think of people like Woody Guthrie. He was able to bring together song and social issues — a sort of documentarian approach that highlighted marginalized folks during some down times. In a time where the only thing that is pure seems to be evil, artists can spread awareness about those that have been forgotten in the cacophony of despair.
What’s your favorite corny aphorism that you find actually helpful?
“Don’t change the feed on a winning horse.”
How can we help?
I would ask that people donate to places like The CommUnity Crisis Center and Foodbank before supporting me monetarily. I don’t feel right asking for money right now because I am employed.