There’s a lot of uncertainty swirling around the coronavirus pandemic. So Glen Ellyn resident Ralph Covert decided to create some musical consistency online. The Grammy Award-nominated singer and songwriter has been performing free request shows twice a day on Facebook Live since mid-March.
The morning “Playcation” concert at 11 a.m. is for families and features his prodigious output of Ralph’s World kids music. The evening “Staycation” shows at 8 p.m. feature music stretching back to the early 1990s when Covert fronted the indie rock band The Bad Examples.
“I chose to do it every day because it seemed like having something consistent would be appreciated,” Covert said.
Covert acknowledges that all this forced time off from postponed and canceled concerts could allow him more freedom to work on projects. But he felt there was a need for isolated people at home to find community online.
“Just from watching posts and communicating with friends, really I’ve felt this enormous sense of void and need for comfort,” said Covert. “I’m trying to put some positive messaging out there instead of finding myself getting sucked into the news cycle.”
He also felt these times of social distancing would be tough on kids.
“One of my philosophies is that what happens in childhood, unlike Vegas, doesn’t stay in childhood. It fills the future,” Covert said. “And so it seemed really important to me to help folks fill that with hope and music and love.”
Covert has even enlisted the help of his 11-year-old son, Jude, for the occasional show as a puppeteer. The most recent Saturday morning show featured Jude’s nonchalant take on Rani the Squirrel, a character created for an educational kids TV show called “Time Machine Guitar” that unfortunately didn’t go beyond a pilot episode.
“He’s definitely not high-octane,” laughed Covert about his son’s low-key take on Rani. “I’m going to allow it to be honest and human and real because that’s an important thing to model for an audience.”
Covert also feels comfortable with direct interactions from Facebook commenters mid-performance. Covert likens it to his past Acoustic Army performance sets at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn where fans and amateur musicians could informally join in and hear stories tied to the songs.
For example, Covert shared an anecdote in one “Staycation” concert about how The Bad Examples were fired in the early 1990s for not playing enough country music covers at the Chicago venue Bub City.
And following the death of Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger from coronavirus, Covert wistfully shared a story of briefly meeting the musician and his band in Cleveland.
Covert says his online concerts take at least four hours a day. But he hopes the performances offer some uplift in these uncertain times.
“Providing that routine and consistency is really important,” Covert said. “I’m not doing it so much for me, but I feel really deeply and I’ve seen how it’s providing a lifeline for people that love the music — to communicate and connect.”
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Covert’s Facebook Live evening concerts are at 8 p.m. nightly at @ralphcovertmusic, and the Ralph’s World daily concerts are at 11 a.m. at @ralphsworld. For more information, visit ralphcovert.com.