Edmonton man starts isolation jam group to encourage people to perform during the pandemic
'Some people bring a little happiness that other people are needing'
As David Neil adapted to isolation to deal with the current pandemic, he started to realize how much he missed open mic nights in coffee shops and jamming with friends.
He started a group on Facebook called the Isolation Jam Sessions, as a place where family and friends could post videos of themselves performing songs.
Neil anticipated about a dozen people would join but after opening to the public, there are now about 125 members. Many post videos daily, sharing a song they just learned or performing an old classic.
Some of the submissions involve singing, acoustic guitar, piano or poetry readings. Members are encouraged to be supportive and avoid negative comments.
"That's always been an important part of community for me, music," he said. "To still have that, to see how happy people are to join and to share things, it means a lot to me."
After being laid off at a planer mill cutting deck boards, the jam session group has given Neil something to do.
"I talked to some people, they were in a slump. [They were] kind of depressed not knowing what to do and then I gave them a place," Neil said.
"It cheered them up. Some people bring a little happiness that other people are needing."
Loren Marsden has been posting videos of herself singing on the Isolation Jam Sessions page almost daily. The songs include French pop classics, Broadway musicals, and traditional hymns.
She's currently unemployed after her contract expired last week. Isolation at home on her own has been a lot easier with somewhere to perform.
"It's really helped my mental health and it's kind of given me a sense of purpose as well. When I wake up in the morning I think of what song I want to do today."
There are members of the group living in Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, and even Ireland.
While Marsden and Neil both miss performing at open mic nights, they're happy with the Isolation Jam Session group that's filled the void.
"We're surrounded by a lot of bad news, tough news. This kind of gives people a spark of joy. I really hope it continues to bless people."