When Covid -19 Stopped the Music
by Jennifer Mullins
This refrain from Joni Mitchell’s song Yellow Taxi, ‘Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,’ seems to sum up the situation of live music at venues being put on hold to stop the spread of the virus. Hopefully, the small venues and musicians that have created a community there will have a place to return once this pandemic is over.
Alex Mullins at the Rebel Lounge
I began to get into music photography when my son, Alex, began playing open mics. His first show was at Joe’s Grotto in Phoenix, Arizona. Because he was underage, I had to accompany him. It was the first time that I had seen him perform, though I had heard him play in the house. I was blown away at how calm, confident, and talented he was as he took the stage. A year into his playing at different venues, I began to take photos and videos. My primary photography focus at this time was on nature.
Top: Fans at Pub Rock
Middle: Alex Mullins
Coyote Tango at the Rebel Lounge
Once Alex formed his band, Alex Mullins and the Royal, I began going to different venues with low light. It was a whole new photography learning experience as I had to learn to adjust to low light photography. I met some of the nicest young photographers who helped me with camera settings and encouraged me to move from shooting in auto to manual mode. They also helped me with editing techniques as I found my unique style.
Top: El West at Crescent Ballroom
Bottom: Holiday Extravaganza at the Van Buren
In the beginning, I would stay and photograph only Alex’s band, then head home. As time went on, I began to stay and watch other bands. Before I knew it, I was driving around the greater Phoenix area to different venues to discover the vibrant local music scene. I found not only so much musical talent, but a community. Music is meant to be heard live with other people who come together to share their love of the sound the musicians create.
All at Crescent Ballroom – Top: Rival Coast
Bottom: Harrison Fjord
A camera gives you a different way of seeing the world and that’s true when photographing a gig. You have to move fast to capture the moment because each set is non-stop and there are no second chances. Since my focus was on the viewfinder, I would forget that people were seeing me in action. I was also posting on Instagram and people would get to know who I was through there as well. I would always introduce myself to musicians and they would say, “I know who you are.” It’s been great to not only see Alex grow as a musician but to get to know other musicians and fans.
Top: Jared and the Mill at Rhythm Room
Bottom: Jared and the Mill at the Rebel Lounge
Now all the venues are closed, the musicians are not playing live and the music community can no longer gather safely. It’s great when my favorite musicians livestream but I miss seeing them on stage as much as I’m sure they miss playing. The collection that I created was capturing the musicians and fans. The connection that only music creates can be seen in both the musicians’ faces and the fans’ reactions.
WHSTLE at the Van Buren
We recently featured some of Jennifer’s lockdown photos; you can view them here
10th July 2020