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Surviving the stay-at-home order, creatively

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Christina Stock Photo Matthew Palmer is a local musician who had been booked until August. Though all his events have been canceled, he has high hopes that the scene will bounce back even stronger. Meanwhile, he concentrates on bringing his music and talent to a new audience online.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Roswell musician keeps entertaining with ‘Quarantine Sessions’

Since March 24, New Mexico has been under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home order to help combat the spread of COVID-19. That includes local artists such as musician and songwriter Matthew Palmer.

Palmer is known for his performances at Roswell’s festivals, local restaurants and breweries. Within the last couple of years, Palmer has steadily improved his performances, mastering the guitar and his vocals, which range from a surprising soft baritone to a rough, powerful rock voice — fitting for his various music preferences from Americana, folk and country to rock songs.

More and more gigs were coming in for the young musician, and he was looking forward to a promising year of traveling to perform in Ruidoso, Portales and of course, in his hometown of Roswell.

Then, the new coronavirus broke into his life. Instead of waiting, Palmer started to look at what he could do. On March 30, Palmer and his mother Carla DeAnn Overmier sat for an interview outside the Roswell Daily Record — making sure that social distancing was in place.

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Asked what Palmer’s reaction to the pandemic has been, he said, “This (his music) has been my only source of income for a year and a half now — this is a major hit. All the musicians I know are hurting real bad. The ones that have separate jobs are even hurting, because a lot of musicians that I know do both their jobs in the same place. A lot of musicians I know work in bars and work in restaurants. The way we are getting over it is selling our merchandise online; that’s been great for some people. We’ve been doing live streaming online on multiple different platforms. I’ve been doing Facebook. I drop a PayPal on that so I can get donations through it.

“The other thing that I am about to do — this was suggested by a friend — I’m going to start teaching guitar via Skype. I can hopefully maintain a little bit of an income right now while we’re all hit really hard.”

Most up and coming musicians depend on recording their music in professional studios — this is impossible right now. Asked how he handles this challenge, Palmer said, “At the moment I am using a cellphone, but I also have a laptop and I do have some recording software that I recently purchased. I can start doing some very basic, very crude recordings, so I can get content out more often.”

What Palmer describes is something that reminds one of a trend in the late ’80s, when musicians ditched technology to go “unplugged.”

Palmer is looking out for his grandparents, with whom he lives. “My mom Diane Courter has been the major backing of Matthew’s music,” Overmier said. Overmier is a visual artist, and is fully supporting her son’s creative endeavors, she said.

“Like everybody else, this mess hasn’t just hurt (music) artists,” Overmier said. “Those that sell physical art hurt, those who paint or sew, they are hurting as well. The events all have been canceled, For me personally — in my shows — I’ve had four canceled, two in March and two in April. And I suspect the ones in May will be, too.”

“All my shows are canceled until August, that is assuming that this blows over,” Palmer said. “But the other good things I’ve seen is that the breweries in New Mexico have been hiring musicians still, and have them doing live streams and support the brewery from their home. A good buddy of mine, Jim Dixon, has been doing this with Bonito Valley (Bonito Valley Brewing Co.) in Lincoln. So that’s a nice thing. I’d love to see more of that, because that helps both.”

According to Palmer, most artists like him live on tips one night per week, on Saturdays. If they are lucky, they are booked on Fridays as well, but that is rare for him. On a good night, it can amount to anything from $150 to $350, which is his weekly income.

Palmer has hope that out of this artistic vacuum due to COVID-19, a new creative movement will follow.

“I have a feeling when it’s all set and done, it will be a little better for musicians. The way it is looking right now — because people can still create content, actually get it out there — there might be a boom in the industry. After this, I have the feeling we’ll see a lot of more musicians come around. A lot of restaurants will figure out that they need that live entertainment, not only here in Roswell, but in a lot of places. I hope Roswell will have a boom on venues and places to play because at the moment, we are limited on the venues where we can play.”

Palmer is upbeat and believes in his friends and neighbors in Roswell. He is, however, hoping that some behaviors will change.

“At this point, be kind to each other. There has been a lot of bad things happening. We see it here in Roswell often. Ever since the start (of the pandemic) there has been an increased level of terrible things happening. If people just take a moment, realize, we will be OK in time, not overreact, freak out in that moment, I think this would be a lot easier to get through.”

Palmer’s next Facebook event will be April 3 at 6 p.m. His event title is Matthew Palmer Quarantine Sessions. Palmer is planning to have a live streaming session every Wednesday. He also has a CD out, “Put Me Away,” which is available by contacting him on his Facebook page, Matthew Palmer @guitarfeller. For more information, visit reverbnation.com/matthewpalmer.

Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.

 

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