I’m sure all of us have had the realization that our social networks are more important than ever right now. We’re talking on the phone to people we’ve not heard from in years, writing letters to friends we can’t gather with and attending more Zoom meetings (hopefully ones that involve virtual cocktails) than anyone could have ever imagined. Even my dad has figured out Zoom and my 101 year old grandmother had my Aunt dial her in to the Cousin’s Zoom gathering this past Sunday where we drink martini’s in her honor in three different time zones and two different continents. She may be the oldest Zoom user to date…how can I check the stats on that?

It also has been really great to see how friends come together to support one another in a time when all of us our facing some unprecedented moments of stress, loneliness and uncertainty about pretty much everything. If just one person on what seems like a sinking ship can keep it together and remain calm, (thanks Gil) there is more of a chance all of us will survive this storm. We SHOULD put our own masks on first, and then go help as many others as we can. But how can we be effective on this life-saving mission if we are all stuck at home. Sometimes the task at hand is quite simple, so simple we might overlook it.

What is the one thing you are really skilled at and how can that one thing be useful to someone else right now? We aren’t all nurses, or manufacturing PPE’s, (although the homemade mask movement is an amazing example of regular folks doing what they can to keep people safe) but we all have the ability to be exactly the person someone else needs us to be at any given moment, we just need to see it for what it is and go do it.

I talk a lot about music and how important musicians are for the greater good of society. I say it because I know it to be true personally and I know how my mood can change with the right song or the perfectly curated playlist to amplify a mood, (current vibe is a LoFi House Mix from 1996 I just discovered). I wanted to mention what one of my close friends is up to musically and remind everyone to keep supporting whatever artists, musicians, and creative projects have inspired you over the years. Whether it’s collaborating, donating, buying some merch or just checking out what people are up to right now, it will mean the world to a lot of people in many different ways. It might be a small act, but for me sharing the work of artists in my community has always felt like a good place to start.

Putting your own mask on first means you care for your health and well being in order to be able to do the same for a greater number of people who might need a hand. It means being smart about how you walk into a potentially dangerous situation in order to save the most lives. It means if you are skillful and take right action, you will have the ability to help far more people. It means a jewelry shop owner can share the things that make her feel good with others so that even just one person might benefit, and for this shop owner one of those things is music!

All this mumbo jumbo is basically to say, I wanted to shine a light on some friends doing cool things right now. I’ll try to find someone at least every month and tell their story. The first installment of what I am calling Sounds Like Community, highlights the music of William Steffey. With Esquina Chicago on hiatus, this is a good place to let artists continue to share their creative projects with a few more people.

If you are a music fan, check him out and be sure to read  his latest blog post because he talks about the various musicians (including a certain sax player, AKA TK) he collaborated with for his project Airport Hookers, in turn highlighting each of their individual projects in the Playlist he created. Lots of great music here (that’s 2 playlists in one day…you’re welcome!) There is something very right about this way of thinking; we exaggerate the essential and leave the obvious vague. It is about the sum of the parts, yes, but please take an even closer look at all of the parts. An artist who can stand out of the spotlight to highlight the voices, talents and abilities of others is what we need more of in this world. You can pre-save the Airport Hookers single which drops Friday! And I see there is a T-shirt giveaway as well! Power couple Maux B. and William Steffey, making masks and music!

A bunch of the musicians on this project are friends, (and one, a boyfriend) so I am happy to promote what they are up to as well. Not being able to preform is pretty gut-wrenching for these artists but knowing people like us are taking a listen online at least is a reminder that we’re all still here, listening, creating, working on ideas that make us FEEL (not just that make us money) and that will be exactly the thing that keeps this ship afloat! So here’s to all of you, the mask-makers 😷 the frontline mask wearing heroes and all of us whose small acts of kindness, in whatever way they occur right now are helping to keep community safe and sound.

Know someone doing something really cool, creative, positive or just a rad human we should mention in our little Sounds Like Community segment? Leave a comment or get in touch by email here: esquinachicago@gmail.com



Featured Image from early days at Esquina Chicago (pre-windows / post-superhero art)