Phone a friend: Musicians share how they're doing during coronavirus crisis


Jill Riley, host of The Current's Morning Show.
Jill Riley, host of The Current's Morning Show. (James Napoli/MPR)
Phone a friend: Ben Gibbard (Part 1)
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| 00:06:24
  • Phone a friend: Ben Gibbard (Part 1) 06:24
  • Phone a friend: Ben Gibbard (Part 2) 02:48
  • Phone a friend: Lori Barbero 08:19
  • Phone a friend: Har Mar Superstar (Part 1) 06:16
  • Phone a friend: Har Mar Superstar (Part 2) 10:11
  • Phone a friend: Alex Rice 04:42
  • Phone a friend: Adam Weiner 08:14
  • Phone a friend: Chris Thile 07:41
  • Phone a friend: Ben Jaffe 05:37
  • Phone a friend: Merrill Garbus 07:44
  • Phone a friend: Jim James 05:41
  • Phone a friend: Colin Meloy 04:24
  • Phone a friend: jeremy messersmith 09:02
  • Phone a friend: Patterson Hood 05:18
  • Phone a friend: Dessa 12:23
  • Phone a friend: Har Mar Superstar (Part 3) 11:03
  • Phone a friend: Mark Mallman 08:25
  • Phone a friend: Caitlyn Smith 08:03
  • Phone a friend: Joey Burns 06:39

For the last couple of weeks on The Current's Morning Show we've been having our musician friends call in from their homes all across the country and beyond. It's been so nice to hear their voices and get some insight into what is happening in towns across the nation and what the lives of musicians look like right now, from the quarantines to the social distancing to online performances and recording new music.

One thing is clear, and that is how deeply these folks care about their fans and keeping the relationship with them alive, even if that means adopting new forms of technology or expanding their idea of what connection looks like. Here is a collection of the conversations Jill has been having, and we thank these musicians for calling in and taking the time to chat with us during these unprecedented times.

Above, listen to each interview. We're also posting transcripts of these interviews one by one, and adding links as those features become available. Some interviews are scheduled but have not aired yet; scroll down to find out when you can tune in to listen.

jeremy messersmith

"I'm actually terrible at meditating, but I am very good at sitting still for like an hour at a time, is how to think of it. But it does help kind of like, shrink the world a little bit."

full interview

Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie

"In this time, with what we are going through right now, people are really craving connection and kind of respite from their isolation. I think there are people out there who are fans of our band or my music. They're given an opportunity to kind of interact with me and, then conversely for me, getting a chance to interact with them feels really good. It feels like we're all kind of in this together because we are."

full interview

Lori Barbero of Babes in Toyland

"Me being an empath, I don't really feel sorry for myself. I feel bad for everyone else. I just wish I could save all the dogs, all the world, all the people."

full interview

Har Mar Superstar of Heart Bones

"We kind of came up with the idea to make a coloring book of a bunch of local artists including: Dillinger Four, Atmosphere, Nur-D, Gully Boys, Trampled by Turtles. The list goes on: Replacements, Babes in Toyland. [We're] making a coloring book that'll benefit the Twin Cities Music Community Trust that First Avenue set up for their staff and the performers that are out of work...I've pivoted to coloring book publishing, basically."

full interview

Alex Rice of Sports Team

"We're quite lucky, because the way we engage with our fans is very social-media-based. They're basically sitting at home looking for things to watch."

full interview

Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie

"This is a trying time but just like through the history of this country, there've been very difficult times, we rose to the challenge and we came out stronger. You know, the service that you guys at The Current provide on the radio is so important right now. Think about when we were in the Great Depression, and all of a sudden people were getting their news from the radio. That's really when radio exploded in this country, and people were listening to music and they were listening to President Roosevelt speak, and it was a way that people — as despondent as they were — they saw there was a future for us. I am excited to see the energy that I'm seeing from all my neighbors and all of my pals. We're all putting our heads together and we're going to try and make this a better world. Art is a part of that world. Art does not stop."

full interview

Chris Thile, host of Live From Here

"In the backdrop of all the fear and anxiety that we are all feeling, it's nice that we can still all work with that urge that we all have to make something and share it with people."

full interview

Ben Jaffe of Preservation Hall Jazz Band

"New Orleans is a very outside city. Everything happens outside. Music happens outside. People are outside. It's very unfamiliar to see a city quiet."

full interview

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs

"Any musician I talk to, artist that I talk to, these practices are our sanity. So I need my daily practices. I need my vocal practice, I need all these things. Yes we are recording, yes we are still trying to figure out how to mix our album remotely, perhaps, or do it in a way that we can get music out to the people sooner rather than later. And I think that one way of being present is to be in our bodies, and to, you know, as I've been talking about feeling what's going on in ourselves, but I think that's also dancing and moving — celebrating our lives and celebrating our bodies — so I love delivering kind of what's in the collective conscious with a beat to dance to."

full interview

Jim James of My Morning Jacket

"For year now we had to move on without making a living from our album sales, and we always said that they might be able to steal our album sales but they'll never be able to steal the live experience. Now that's gone."

full interview

Colin Meloy of the Decemberists

"It kind of is surreal, trying to fight the urge to refresh the Twitter feed, trying to establish better phone mental health hygiene standards for myself."

full interview

Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers

"Revel in the things you have and know you're not alone. We're all kind of in this together. God, I miss the rock shows. I miss playing, I miss going to see shows. I still go to as many shows as I did when I was much younger and I can't wait until this all passes and we can all go out and have a beer with friends."


"That impulse to write new material - I don't feel like I've totally been struck by that because I think a lot of my head space is occupied by wanting to stay abreast of what's going on. I don't think I've ever consumed news as voraciously as I have in the past couple weeks. On the other hand, like every other performing musician you have weeks and then months and then many many months of work canceled very quickly."

full interview

Har Mar Superstar

"We went full bore and made a 28 page coloring book in a 6 day span...I'm already sending out for the third printing of it which is insane."

Mark Mallman

"Music can increase your dopamine levels and music unites people and can remind you of times in the past and so if you can collectively recognize music that incites within you some type of positive mental attitude - you can weaponize your emotions."

full interview

Joey Burns of Calexico

"I've asked myself a lot of questions - what ifs, what's gonna happen. I have to be honest with you I started crying yesterday at the end of the day. It was a really tough day. Earlier in the day I wrote a letter to Elton John. I don't know why I did but I needed to reach out to somebody and I heard his music in the morning and I was touched by his voice and songs. I don't know where it will go but it felt good doing that, and I encourage everyone to write to your friends, your loved ones, your favorite artists. It helps to know that we're all here for each other."

full interview

Caitlyn Smith

"We released the album on Friday the 13th just as everything was shutting down this month. Everything got canceled a few days before. So it's been strange but it's been really cool because in this time where everyone is slowing down and things are shutting down people are turning to music as their healer and helper."

G. Love

Airs Wednesday, April 1 at 7:30 a.m. CDT

Bob Geldof

Airs Thursday, April 2 at 8:30 a.m. CDT

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