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Art in the time of COVID-19: Blake Shaw

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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.

Blake Shaw at home. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Blake Shaw, bassist

Blake Shaw started honing his formidable chops in church, when he was just a kid. Now, he’s a regular in the Iowa City jazz scene, with his bass making an appearance in a wide swathe of area acts, as well as his own solo stuff. You can check out his quarantine collaboration with Jim Buennig and Dan Padley in the Facebook Live video below.

In addition to performing, Shaw teaches and is a composer and arranger. He has his Bachelor of Music degree in the classical double bass and an MA in jazz studies from the University of Iowa.

All told, he’s been working professionally in music for 13 years now, since he was a teenager.

“I’m lucky to be able to make half my income with live music,” says Shaw. “Obviously this time is hurting my friends and me pretty bad.”

Current associated acts: River Glen, Blake Shaw Quintet, Blake Shaw’s BIG(ish) Band, Dan Padley Trio, Thrio, Clinton ST House Band, Hot Tamale Louie, KCCK’s School House Jazz Band

Listen: Don’t miss his performance Wednesday night, April 22, as part of the Boundaries series, a program of CSPS Legion Arts and Dead Coast Presents. The online streaming series is in its second week, which, in addition to Shaw, will feature Mandey Lund, Dave Zollo and Alisabeth Von Presley. Tune in on the CSPS Hall Facebook page at 7 p.m.

Purchase: “I have physical CDs and T-shirts as my merch (that are sanitized),” Shaw says. Catch him on Instagram, @theeblakebass, to get them.

How many gigs have you canceled or had cancel on you since serious social distancing kicked in?

So far I’ve had 21 gigs get canceled.

Where do pandemics rank, on your list of primal fears?

Definitely a top spot on my list! I feel confident under pressure and high risk situations but this is most difficult for me because of what we don’t know. When will it really get better and all that. If it was a month for sure I could plan and make things work. Like a lot of other people, I just don’t know how to start planning for whats ahead.

What is the role of art in a crisis?

For me, art is my outlet of all the overwhelmingly happy or upsetting times in my life. I like to let them go so I don’t feel as heavy mentally. That’s why I love creating! I want everyone to have an outlet for those things and it would make me so happy to know it was with my music.

What’s your favorite corny aphorism that you find actually helpful?

It does not matter what temperature the room is, it is always room temperature.

How can we help?

Now more then ever you HAVE to shop local. Everything you use money for you should ask yourself “is this a service or something I can get from someone local?”. I’ve also been giving video chat music lessons to anyone for a negotiated price. All levels are welcome and I love the company.

Quarantine Sessions: My Shining Hour with Dan Padley and Blake Shaw

Very excited about this! Partnered up with Dan and Blake to play "My Shining Hour." Pertinent tipping information is at the end of the video, should you wish to contribute. We'll be bringing more performances like this to you soon!

Posted by Jim Buennig on Thursday, April 16, 2020


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