Those of you who’ve been following us through our sponsorship of the live music platform Jam in the Van may know of our longstanding romance with the Nashville-based Americana act Roanoke, and perhaps even got down to an impromptu jam our Brian Chaplin performed with the group’s co-founder (and Wellness Muse), Taylor Dupuis, on IG Live last September. We were pleased to speak not just to her again, but to do a formal sitdown with her songwriting partner Joey Beesley to determine how they’ve managed to keep the inspiration alive in these trying times, and what they’ve got in store for the post-pandemic era.
After a brief moment of science, Brian asked the duo about their origins as fledgling songwriters in Music City, each with a fondness for classic ‘70s country-rock artists like the Eagles, the Allmann Brothers and Neil Young. Those who have sifted through their Discover Roanoke video series know the band is no stranger to the road, which is where they focused most of their efforts before the pandemic hit. It may seem like a million years ago, but just before the pandemic hit, East Nashville was also hit by a deadly tornado which destroyed a coffeeshop the band was playing in 15 minutes after they packed up and left the venue — not to mention many other iconic spaces. The pandemic landed the second punch, and it took quite a bit of getting used to. “When it first happened. I was like, awesome, you know, I’m gonna at least try to take advantage of this. I have all this time to create. And I just was feeling so uninspired and I barely wrote anything over this pandemic. And I talked to a lot of musicians who experienced a similar thing,” Taylor recalled. “I think a lot of musicians kind of took it as a break, a very well deserved break. Musicians work their butts off. And they don’t have a lot of time to see family and stuff like that.”
Not too soon after the pandemic, Taylor and Joey parted ways with the band and took a journey through the US, filming it for their fans. However, even without an audience to physically confront, playing to a cellphone poses its unique challenges. But that which does not kill a musical commitment only makes it stronger, as Joey discovered. “One of the things that I found really great from the downtime was getting to kind of refine my own personal creative process,” he said. “I got really into writing poetry over the last year or so. And I’ve kind of worked on a book of poetry and it’s really kind of helped my writing expand, and it’s kind of given me a different outlook on writing. I’m less afraid of it.”
Like most acts, they’re starting to plan their return to the road, with their first show on the books in Nashville. (FWIW, Brian did offer to book them through a promoter in Reno for a gig.) As America seeks to envision a life past the pandemic, Taylor does hope that musicians and fans remember not to take the live music experience for granted. “Even speaking from like an audience point of view, um, there’s really nothing else out there, like a live show. I hope that people realize how, yeah, how special that is. And I hope that people flock to shows,” she hopes And Taylor did get over her writers’ block: before Roanoke exited the chat, they performed two new songs, “Wildfire,” which they wrote during the wildfires that sprung up in Colorado during their travels in the state, and “Every Secret in the World.”.
Roanoke’s Dream Live Venues:
Red Rocks Ampitheater, Morrison, CO, Wyman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
Roanoke’s Favorite New Acts:
Yola Carter, Brittany Howard, Dawes, Boy & Bear