"It wasn't a surprise when Ben (Levy '97) reached out to me in the early days of the pandemic letting me know he was organizing a virtual performance series, "Concerts & Cocktails." He is consistently coming up with ways to enrich others. I admire his ability to put his thoughtful plans into action quickly! He and his sister Liz (Levy) Karen '00 have always been proactive in their involvement and support of music and the arts, alongside their careers in healthcare. Ben's concerts are a wonderful blend of both his passions. It's been a pleasure being a part of, and watching the shows. I appreciate how Concerts & Cocktails gives a voice to frontline healthcare workers who are tirelessly operating at great personal risk to keep us safe. As artists, it's wonderful to have a space to offer solidarity and thanks through our music, especially while our entire industry is shut down.
In my community, there are many displaced musicians, and music industry workers who are struggling. On March 2nd, an EF3 tornado ripped through Middle Tennessee and destroyed a large part of our neighborhood, East Nashville. Most of us feel our quarantine began then. Currently, it looks as if we are frozen in time, as very few repairs and rebuilds are able to happen during the pandemic. It's a strange sight! What we've been able to address in our immediate "musical family" is a need that began after the tornado, and has only increased during COVID-19: Food! Many in our musical community are straining to meet basic needs now, prioritizing housing above all, and leaving little to no room for anything else. I've never understood the meaning of the expression, "Bread before Bach" more clearly. In March, a good friend, and stunning violinist, mentioned he pared down to one meal a day to stretch his budget further. I started dropping meals on his doorstep. We put the word out, and now have a food drop registry, which started with musician friends, and has expanded outward into the community. There are many layers of need in our communities at this time. Individually, we can help meet a need at whatever level we are able. Collectively, it adds up. I have gotten to know so many more people in my neighborhood in the last few months. There are many who are separated from family living too far away to safely travel home. Part of the meal drop's message is to let people know that although we are quarantined, we are not alone.
There is much uncertainty now, and lots of time to think about it! I appreciate Ben's concerts for the opportunity they give the audience to unwind, relax, and drift off with the music. Personally, it helped me stretch a bit; working up new songs in interesting ways, despite not having a full band or proper recording equipment, and realizing I'm technologically challenged...! Finding routine and consistency in setting small goals during the pandemic has been very helpful to me. I'm learning to use my time differently, yet purposefully. I've taken up live streaming, filmed a contactless music video, and have begun recording a new EP. Ben's concerts give me something to look forward to in imagining what I might come up with next, enjoying the beautiful compositions of various performers, and meeting the outstanding frontline workers across the country."