When they settled into their home in downtown St. Petersburg, Danielle DeCosmo and Anthony Goodwin worked hard to soundproof it. The last thing they wanted was for their band, Blackbird Morning, to upset the neighbors.
The irony? These days, their house is one of the few places anywhere in Tampa Bay where it’s possible to hear a band playing live music.
“There’s an apartment complex across the way, so people would have to open their windows and stick their heads out,” said DeCosmo, Blackbird Morning’s singer. “We haven’t had that yet.”
Once word gets out about the band, that might change.
While there’s been no shortage of streamed-from-home performances during the coronavirus pandemic, most are by socially distancing solo artists, not bands. Or they’re by bands virtually linking and syncing via Zoom.
Alt-rockers Blackbird Morning are an exception. DeCosmo and producer-guitarist Goodwin are married. Drummer Vince DeCosmo, Danielle’s brother and Goodwin’s business partner, lives in a home connected to theirs.
Bassist Richard Jimenez lives in Tampa. But the other members’ close proximity and family ties mean most of Blackbird Morning is still able to jam on the porch and write new music.
It’s a little like being on tour together, Goodwin said. Except none of them can really leave their homes.
“Being creative in any kind of situation is sort of like being in a marriage or being in a family, so there’s a lot of similar dynamics,” Goodwin said. “If you’re on the road with your band, you’re obviously stuck with each other for at least two or three months at a time. It sort of comes with the territory. But we do a pretty good job of maintaining social distance even without that.”
“We have to be very open about being, like, ‘Okay, you can go home now. Love you! Have a good night!'” Danielle laughed.
It’s not that they’re not taking the quarantine seriously. DeCosmo and Goodwin are both working remotely for Tampa General Hospital, where she does music therapy for patients. Since the coronavirus hit, they’ve been streaming live, guided relaxation sessions to help health care workers and staff.
But they are making the most of their unique situation by keeping Blackbird Morning (mostly) together at a time when so many other bands can’t be.
Goodwin and DeCosmo have a 2-year-old son — Vince’s girlfriend is their primary babysitter — and another child on the way this fall. Their growing family meant they were already planning a light summer, gig-wise, before the pandemic. So they’ve been streaming jam sessions on Facebook and writing music in their downtime, with Goodwin and Jimenez swapping audio files online.
Jimenez joined the rest of the group for one recent live-streamed concert organized by the Hideaway Cafe. During that show, Blackbird Morning played a new song they’d written during the quarantine, tentatively titled Let Go. Goodwin came up with the main riff during the band’s last practice before the quarantine. Jimenez wrote a chord progression. And Danielle put together lyrics, inspired by sitting on the porch, wondering, What am I going to do today?
Counting the days, watching the waves wash over me / Counting the time, no rhythm or rhyme to my days ...
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to get things done and perform and have accomplishments every day,” she said. "And during this time, you’re finding it difficult to uphold those standards. And so it was a reflection of saying, ‘I’m going to let go of all the lines I’ve told myself, and let go of all this pressure that I put on myself. And just kind of be.'”
This era of forced isolation, DeCosmo said, may end up helping artists figure out new ways to be creative, just as it has for Blackbird Morning.
“It is pretty sad and scary that there’s nowhere to see music," DeCosmo said. "But there are a lot of people coming out online that you’ve never seen before. Maybe it’s giving them an outlet to express themselves, when they might not have felt comfortable to be on stage. I’m seeing a lot of people say, ‘This is my first time trying this.’ That’s cool, you know?”