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.
Arin Eaton of Karen Meat
Karen Meat has been performing their weird, delicious brand of pop music for seven years now. “There have been various incarnations of it,” says the band’s foundational member Arin Eaton, “but it’s what keeps it alive and interesting.”
Eaton herself has been making music, she says, for as long as she’s been able. She remembers her first piano lesson, at age 5.
In addition to Eaton, the studio version — Karen Meat and the Heat — includes Brad Turk and John Huffman, the team (along with Carlo Kind on drums) behind December 2019’s Meat Your Heart Out. When touring, Karen Meat consists of Eaton and in-demand sound engineer and musician Dana Telsrow, also of Dana T. Telsrow collaborated on the first Karen Meat album, You’re an Ugly Person.
Telsrow and Eaton were scheduled to head out on tour next month as Karen Meat. Their tours are typically 10 days long, but sometimes stretch to a full two weeks. Between the door and merch sales, they would normally make between $1,000 and $1,400, according to Eaton.
The tour scheduled for April was going to be big — 21 days — “the longest we would have been out on the road,” Eaton said.
Current associated acts: Karen Meat
Purchase: Order Karen Meat records or download the digital albums at karenmeat.bandcamp.com (today, Friday, March 20, from midnight-to-midnight Pacific Time, Bandcamp — to show support and raise awareness — is waiving their revenue share). Grab rad Karen Meat merch at karenmeat.com/merch.
How many gigs have you canceled or had cancel on you since serious social distancing kicked in?
We’ve had to cancel 12 shows on the West Coast. We were supposed to go out beginning of April, and Dana had a work event planned in the middle in Vegas which also got canceled.
Where do pandemics rank, on your list of primal fears?
Lol, well, I feel like this is the first pandemic we’ve lived through. It’s pretty scary! The unknown of when I can see my family, what happens when grocery stores shut down and how fast the virus spreads to anyone is terrifying. It’s hard to rank it in my primal fears since I’ve never experienced anything like it, but it is definitely working its way up there!
What is the role of art in a crisis?
I think it’s to uplift people. It’s a scary time for all of us. If you get to go online and watch your favorite band play a virtual concert, or maybe an artist you like is doing a tutorial on how they make things, it’s pretty cool. It helps us forget the darkness we’re living in for a moment. Hopefully it will inspire the creative side of people who haven’t exercised that muscle in a while. I think some cool art will come out of this!
What’s your favorite corny aphorism that you find actually helpful?
Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.
How can we help?
Buy the merch and stream music. Even if you’re not listening: Make a playlist of your local community and stream that sucker all day long on silent.