Graham Winchester didn’t know he was going to be stuck in his home studio a good part of the day after he and his wife, Erica, and their children Miles and Everlee moved into their Midtown house last November.
Winchester, 31, a drummer, pianist, bass player, guitarist, and vocalist who performs in Turnstiles, Sheiks, Jack Oblivian Band, the MD’s, Cassette Set, Devil Train, and So Gung Ho, is at home because club gigs have been canceled and Sun Studios, where he is a tour guide, closed until further notice because of COVID-19 virus precautions.
“My two ways to make a living are selling records — dropping them off at people’s doorsteps, selling records online — and the live-stream thing,” Winchesters says.
He recently spent four or five hours dropping off records. “To people who had tipped me Venmo money or PayPal money. People send me money and I drop the record off at their doorsteps. It’s personal, but it’s also social distancing.”
He’s selling his recent 45, “I’ll be the One/People,” which is on Madjack Records, as well as his albums.
Winchester began live-streaming from his home studio March 14th on his Facebook page, with a show featuring himself performing original songs on acoustic guitar. He held a record release party the night before at DKDC.
He held his first Facebook live stream with himself and another band March 19th. Winchester played drums with the Tennessee Screamers, which includes Frank McLallen, Jesse James Davis, and Keith Cooper. The Tennessee Screamers is an acoustic group, but when Winchester plays with the trio, the group is called “Electric Screamers.” McLallen converts to electric bass and Cooper, electric guitar. “We bring in some amps and I get on the drums.”
The sound was better on the Tennessee Screamers show, Winchester says. On his first show, he says, “I was stomping my foot real hard which was making the camera glitch. Last night, we had studio microphones recording direct audio so it wasn’t your usual bad cell phone audio. We spent more time on the audio and the visual last night, so it was more successful.”
McLallen is my nephew, and the others on the screen are my "nephews," so, of course, I wasn’t going to miss the show. Based on the comments, the guys noted that all the parents were watching. So were the uncles.
I listened and watched on the last night of winter while, sitting in my yard. The balmy weather, which was in the 70s, was perfect. The music from where I sat was accompanied by the singing of frogs.
The best part about the experience besides the music and the performance, with all the jokes and back-and-forth banter by the band members, were the Facebook comments. People made wisecracks, complimented the band, talked about what the musicians were wearing, and about what they themselves were doing at home. Someone was frying chicken. Others were on their porch. It was like you were at a big party even though everybody was miles away.
I read and commented while I listened and watched the guys perform. It felt like I was at a big party with old and new friends, even though everybody was miles away. With no parties happening right now, it was great to enjoy a “happening.”
“We definitely got that vibe,” Winchester says. “Even though it was just the four of us in the actual room, it felt like all of our friends were in there with us. It felt very personal. Very real.”
The show, which featured original music as well as material by Waylon Jennings, Roy Orbison, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Bobby Helms, Carl Perkins, Warren Zevon, and Alex Chilton, went on for two hours. They planned to only play an hour and a half. “But we had so much fun we decided to keep going. And the longer your stream, the more engagement you get, naturally.”
Ross Wiley, who lives in Montgomery, Alabama, commented: “This is by far the best thing I’ve seen in a long time.”
Comments were from all over the world. “We had people from Germany, Japan, tuning in. Canada. Holland. Norway. France. We had friends from 20 different countries tuning in.”
And, he says, “We’re up to 4,000 views in less than a day. Usually these things pick up a couple of more 1,000 as the week goes on. If you think about it, 4,000 people watching is like filling out the Orpheum twice. It’s pretty crazy.”
Winchester was pleased with the overall experience. “It felt like the best we’ve got, you know. It felt as social as we can possibly be right now.”
To hear the March 19th show, go to Graham’s Facebook page, which is public: Facebook.com/gwinchester3.
Winchester’s next Facebook live show from his home studio will be a performance with Seth Moody at 6 p.m., March 21st. “We’ll be trading songs back and forth and playing some together as well.”