Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April 2, 2020
Scott Mervis

Home is a natural work environment for musicians. While the rest of us were outside playing all those years, they were inside figuring out 1-4-5 chord progressions and trying to think of words that rhyme.

But they’re missing the going out and performing aspect of their trade during this COVID-19 shutdown. Many are alone in a room playing to us via Facebook or Instagram, hoping to see little hearts cascade upward on their screens.

Of course, the money’s gone, too. Whether it was their main gig or a side hustle, that income is missing and, with the mysteries of this novel coronavirus, there’s no telling when it’s coming back.

As many musicians will tell you, though, this is also an opportunity — to slow things down and find more moments to block out the world and work on their craft.

We checked in with some Pittsburgh musicians on how they are coping and creating during the shelter-in-place order.

Jimmy Hoyson

Jimmy Hoyson at The Vault Recording Studio in 2018.
(Jessie Wardarski/Post-Gazette)

Jimmy Hoyson

Right before the shutdown, the Grammy-winning producer who’s worked with everyone from Michael Jackson to Green Day was in Vault Recording Studio tracking three new songs with the Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers.

“I spent the first part of the quarantine mixing at my home setup,” he says. “Joe and I went back and forth perfecting them and they’re pretty much finished now. I was very impressed with Joe’s writing and lyrics. Great band!”

Along with turning knobs, Hoyson has been spending hours a day on his own guitar chops.

“I taught myself to play ‘Hideaway’ a la Clapton’s version from ‘The Beano Album.’ As I worked with him years ago, I still feel a special connection to him. I’m also trying to increase my music theory knowledge, so I’ve been spending time reading up on the subject. Helps when you’re producing.”

For his own well-being, he says, “I’ve been taking Zoom yoga classes with my friend Barbara Garcia-Bernardo [of Get Hip Records] to stay in shape and calm my nerves.”