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Art in the time of COVID-19: Brook Hoover

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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.

Musician Brook Hoover at home in Cedar Rapids. March 26, 2020. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Brook Hoover, Guitarist

Over the past years, Brook Hoover has solidified his status as something of an elder statesman on the Eastern Iowa music scene. Along with his formidable performance career, he’s had bands in his basement studio, taught countless youth and adult students and written a chord book (reviewed for LV by Michael Roeder, who said of it, “it’s Brook Hoover in book form. Every page is lovingly illustrated in pen and ink: a testament to his love of teaching music.”).

Perhaps his best-known musical outlet, the Surf Zombies, is a community staple as well, with a delightful IPA from Iowa Brewing Company bearing the band’s name. Hoover and his music are woven into the fabric of Iowa music.

Hoover, who has been playing for the past 43 years — professionally for 40 — estimates that his overall income has been reduced by about 95 percent due to coronavirus-related losses.

Current associated acts: Surf Zombies, the Flamin Camaros, Meerkats, Brook Hoover

Listen:

Purchase: Explore the full array of Surf Zombies available recordings and merch at surfzombies.bandcamp.com/merch, including, Hoover notes, “vinyl, CDs, shirts, lighters for the kids, koozies, key chain/bottle openers, picks and stickers.”

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

We lost three really great gigs so far. (Also lost a bunch due to blizzards.)

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

Pretty high. Normally I do not fear much and am very happy-go-lucky. After I play some finger-style guitar, I calm down. Any soothing guitar playing really helps. I thought that was a bunch of nonsense but have noticed it calming down my students. I have a student who is an attorney and he came in late to a lesson all buttoned up with his suit and tie. I got him playing some simple chords, and he said he had a headache all day, a migraine. It was gone within a few minutes. He was really stressed out from being in court in three counties that day. A public defender. He transformed right before my eyes from a ball of stress to a happy man. It was miraculous!

What is the role of art in a crisis?

It allows us to express ideas. Crisis inspires the artist. My life has been a little too easy for a while; maybe this is a good thing. I have two or three albums worth of material I might be able to finish now.

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

I am the Bob Ross of guitar. Happy little chord!

How can we help?

Just keep being awesome and I hope we get through this thing.


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