COVID-19 Out of Tune
With Musicians Across the World

By D.B. Pacini-Christensen

Resources: Portions of this article were obtained from Wikipedia, news sources, and from the Nu-Blu website.

iXimus: Pixabay

Award-winning acoustic band Nu-Blu, from Siler City, North Carolina, tours 200+ days annually, has national TV appearances, Billboard and radio charting, and a #1 song on Sirius/XM radio. They are popular hosts of the nationally syndicated TV show "Bluegrass Ridge," which airs in 160 million homes worldwide. The band formed in 2003 and has won numerous awards.

Nu-Blu Band

Members are husband-and-wife duo Carolyn and Daniel Routh, Austin Hefflefinger, and Justin Harrison. The band's 2014 release, "All The Way" featured a Rhonda Vincent collaboration "That's What Makes the Bluegrass Blue," along with their George Jones inspired tribute single "Jesus and Jones," featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer 'Soul Man' Sam Moore (of the iconic duo Sam and Dave).

In addition to hosting "Bluegrass Ridge" and their extensive touring, the band has partnered with MC1 Nashville and Turnberry Records on an upcoming dual-label release. The band also enthusiastically collaborated with Quilts of Valor Foundation® on the release of their new DVD, "The Stories We Can Tell," available September 21st. Quilts of Valor Foundation® make quilts for service members and veterans. It is their mission to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing. The Quilts of Valor Foundation® is a non-profit organization in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

Nu-Blu were excited about their 2020 tour schedule, and then, like many performing artists in America and across the world, their West Coast tour was abruptly cancelled a few days ago because of the evolving coronavirus crisis. One of the most disappointing blows was their much needed benefit show, for the SWBA Bluegrass Kids and the Southwest Bluegrass Association's Bluegrass at West Palms Conservatory in Victorville, which was cancelled because schools are now shutdown in California as a result of the virus restrictions.

sumanley: Pixabay

The coronavirus pandemic is a viral epidemic of infectious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The World Health Organization (WHO) labeled it a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Concern about COVID-19 has led to large-scale socioeconomic disruption.

geralt: Pixabay

Health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities have recommended postponement or cancellation of events and the closing of businesses. Shortages including pharmaceuticals, electronics, and food are causing widespread fear. Impacting the pandemic is online misinformation and "panic buying" of products such as spray and liquid sanitizer, sanitizer wipes, toilet paper, and water. Some call the pandemic the biggest global event since World War II.

Jasmin_Sessler: Pixabay

On March 13, a U.S. national emergency was declared that made federal funds available to respond to the crisis. This evening Governor Newsom ordered all Californians to stay at home, marking the first mandatory restrictions placed on the lives of all 40+ million residents in the state's fight against the coronavirus. Washing our hands frequently, social distancing, quarantines, and self-isolation are recommended for all American citizens.

Like many industries, the entertainment industry has been acutely affected. Some artists are exploring ways to continue to produce and share their work over the Internet as an alternative to traditional live performances, such as live-streaming concerts, or they are creating web-based "festivals" to perform, distribute, and publicize their work.

(Courtesy of Robin Frenette)

A Nu-Blu concert and special meet-and-greet after concert gathering at Shutts Fabricators in Long Beach, California was scheduled for 03-20-20. Because of the coronavirus this live concert has been cancelled. Mark Shutts and the band have decided the show must go on. A one-time $4.99 online purchase provides access to this concert and other select Nu-Blu live-stream concerts, plus exclusive content created for Nu-Blu fans.

Usually the events at Shutts Fabricators begin with an informative and hands-on workshop where individual band members break into groups and teach participants on their respective instruments. After the concert, the meet-and-greet often evolves into a late night music jam with the band members and audience members playing together.

The program is live fifteen minutes before each concert. Each concert remains online for 24 hours for viewers who are unable to view live, or who experience any connection issues. A portion of the 03-20-20 proceeds will be donated to the Southwest Bluegrass Association's Bluegrass In Schools Program, SWBA Bluegrass Kids.

Please watch this concert and help spread the word that this concert is 03-20-20. The Nu-Blu band tours by bus, and these generous musicians are a long way from their North Carolina home with no live concerts available. I hope our California music community will step up and show them some love; I hope we will support their benefit for Southwest Bluegrass Association's Bluegrass In Schools Program and SWBA Bluegrass Kids, and I hope we will help them afford to get back home. Please visit the RED web link below to purchase your one-time $4.99 online access.




Daniel & Carolyn Routh
(Courtesy of Nu-Blu Band)

03-19-20 interview with Daniel Routh, member of the award-winning acoustic bluegrass band Nu-Blu about his music career and how the coronavirus pandemic is devastating creative artists.

Q: Welcome! Thank you for answering my questions at this trying time. Have you always been interested in music?

A: As far back as I can remember I have been. In my early childhood, it was the music of the 50s and 60s that we listened to mostly. I remember coming home from a Saturday night shopping trip and listening to the "oldies" radio channel and loving it when I heard "Hold On, I'm Coming" by Sam and Dave. It was one night heading to church when I heard Flatt and Scruggs do Foggy Mountain Breakdown and heard that banjo. That was it, I was hooked.

Q. How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

A: That's easy for me. I handle the band business and management. I don't get as much time as I'd like to on the creative side. So, when I get that time I've always got lots of ideas that I'm ready to try out.

Q. Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like to tell us about?

A: We have a new single releasing next Monday on March 23rd called "Horse Thieves and Moonshiners." It's a great tune and one that's not what you think by the title. I hope everyone will go follow us on Spotify so that they get the first listen when it drops.

Q. What is something you wish other musicians understood?

A: I'm split on this. I wish they understood the business side of the music industry better. Which probably leads to the second thing. I wish bands would work together more and cross promote more. It's a small world of music we all live in. If musicians understood marketing and branding better, they could have a better handle on helping each other and not think the music business is so much of a competition.

Q: What is the #1 thing you'd like to tell up-and-coming musicians?

A: If you want to be a full time entertainer, learn the business side of things. Period. You can't make a living off music if you don't know this.

Q: What advice can you offer to a musician who is struggling with his or her inner critic?

A: I used to struggle with this. And still do. We should all always strive to be better. But I found that when I stopped playing for the other musicians in the audience and started focusing on performing for the fans, the entertainment value went up 100%. Remember the music is only a small part of it.

Q: Many artistic people struggle to develop a routine that allows them time for their creative work. What advice can you give that will help them create a balance between work and social life?

A: Well for me it is my job. But for others, I always tell folks to keep it accessible. Don't keep your guitar in the case. Keep it on a stand so you can pick it up when you have a few minutes. If you think of a line for a song write it down immediately so you don't forget it. Being social is key; it's relationships that make things happen in your career.

Q: How do you manage your time when you are working on more than one project?

A: Lots of yellow legal pads, LOL. I have an ongoing pad and checklist for each project. I also have the band broken down into categories: Radio, studio, booking, etc.

Q: What do you do to relax and to just have fun?

A: I love WWII aircraft. Amazon Prime has all the old training films on how to fly them. Currently, I'm memorizing the climbing settings for all instruments for the B-17 bomber.

Q: Do you have a support system?

A: Yes, it's everyone from family to fans. Each person is a part of that and I draw energy from each part to keep going. It's essential.

Q: What are some of the challenges and obstacles you have faced during your music career?

A: Oh wow. Record labels folding right after we were signed, Carolyn's strokes, you name it. I feel like we've had so much happen, but each thing has taught us more and we have learned.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

A: Being able to make this happen for Carolyn. It's always been her dream to be a full time performer. Being able to make that happen, that's the most rewarding.

Q: What inspires you?

A: I pull inspiration from seeing other artists be successful. It inspires me to keep pushing to get there.

Q: What is your greatest inspiration?

A: My dad. He taught me the value of hard work. That's the only reason we've been able to do what we do.

Q: What is the favorite question you were ever asked and what was your answer?

A: Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? My answer: Yes.

Q: What is the best advice you've ever been given?

A: At the end of it all only what's done for Christ will count.

Q: If, at the age you are today, you could spend a day with you at age seven, what would you take back in time, what would you say to that little boy, what would you do with him?

A. Don't listen to those that tell you that you have to fit into the norm. It's the outside of the norm that will be what you really want to do. Follow your joy.

Q. The coronavirus pandemic is devastating countless creative artists. Will you please give us an inside view of how it has affected you and your band?

A: Well, the first part of our tour this trip was normal. Almost sold out shows and good festival turn out. Sales were good. The pandemic hit right in the middle of our tour, that's when the shutdowns started. I could see what was coming and immediately started making calls and working on contingency plans, how could we get home and how could our whole band make it through this challenging period? We depend on our fans, both in ticket sales and merchandise sales to make 100% of our living. That is still the case, but now we must do this through online sources vs. in person attendance at shows. We could set back and freak out or worry. But that doesn't get any of us anywhere. I'd rather work to create a way to reach even more new fans during this time period.

Q: Your famous last words, will you share with us a piece of advice, a favorite quote, whatever you wish?

A. I'd like to challenge the music industry. We have a unique opportunity right now to take music back and change the landscape for all artists going forward. The more social media has driven our industry, the more we have to give away our music to just stay relevant. Our band has been forced to make our living from touring. Now with everyone at home and with sports shut down, folks are realizing the value of music again. We need to realize this and stop giving it away or play and then ask for a donation. Creative artists need to find ways to get online ticket sales and online merchandise sales. In the end, we will all be stronger for it and we will all be able to continue to make the music we love.

Daniel, thank you so much for doing this interview. Our California music family will appreciate your answers. We wish Nu-Blu the greatest success and we hope you will get home safely.