Creative Quarantine: Singer/Songwriter John Humphrey

John Humphrey

1. How are you holding up?

Great.  Despite what you might read Michigan really only has any measurable Covid-19 impact in about 5 of its 83 distinct counties, those with a large population density. Our county has minimal cases and no real net growth the past 6 weeks, so while active cases numbers remain consistent its not spreading beyond that and that is leaving people optimistic. The summer influx of tourists may change that, we will have to see. My family and I are healthy and doing as well as can be expected with the stay at home orders in place. Let me add, that in no way am I trying to marginalize the dangers of our pandemic, I personally knew 3 people we’ve lost to it, and another whom we almost did, I am just pointing out my own situation.

2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?

It has, but only because I work for the local school system. I am lucky it was a state requirement that we got put on paid leave. I keep up with my music students online but we are definitely missing the measured progress on meeting face to face 3 times a week. My wife is on PUA so financially we have been weathering there storm “ok”. School ends here next week and my summer gigs are in limbo. I still do some freelance audio work as well but that’s impacted by clients’ schedules and own struggles with the pandemic, but I don’t have that many clients so its loss was marginal! LOL! but I’ll be scrambling like so many others I know soon.

I guess if we are looking for an upside all this downtime however has allowed me to pursue many an unfinished project. I have been working on completing digital archives of my past musical projects.

My post-hardcore band from my early 20’s, God and Texas (1988-1994) and my blues punk duo; Cash Audio (nee’ Money) 1996-2002, the former is currently available on Bandcamp, the Cash Audio is in progress but I expect to post it soon. 

Other than that I’m working on my current project and like everyone else,  any gigs I had were cancelled.  I did end up doing my first impromptu live stream on Facebook so that was new for me. I’ll probably keep working on getting better at making videos and hopefully get my Ragged Timbers project released soon.



3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?

I’m a woodshedder in general and still manage to play a couple hours a day no matter what, I do need to spend more time recording and you’d think after running recording studios in Chicago for 18 years I’d have that figured that out by now but I guess I spent most of my time then playing guitar too.  Since music is purely a hobby for me at this point and I’d don’t have to worry any sort of livelihood impact, I’d say this quarantine period has provided me with a new focus and perspective on end running my own terrible procrastinations and just getting stuff done. I’m not getting any younger that is for sure.

4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?

Well, I don’t personally keep up with a lot of people these days outside of what they are doing on social media but there are certainly a few that come to mind. Jon Langford, as such as prolific performer. He seems like he’s barely lost a step, just translating his non-stop gigging to live stream gigging, he is certainly one of a kind. I need to give props to Ike Reilly too, I caught a few of his family band jam session’s he streamed and to be able to do that with your kids/ family is just plain awesome. Then there is Chicago guitarist Joel Paterson‘s Friday show on facebook. It is just a must if you are a guitar nerd like me, He is just inspiring. I dont think he’d be able to do that sort of thing if he was gigging regularly, so I will enjoy it while it lasts!


John Humphrey is a Chicago ex-pat who now resides on the shores of western Michigan. He’s been recording music since the late 1980’s for numerous independent labels including Restless and Touch and Go records. He also served the Chicago music community for almost 2 decades as a recording studio manager at Idful, Engine, and Soma Studios.  His new acoustic/ folk project is an exploration of American Primitive guitar and is called Ragged Timbers.

Check out Ragged Timbers on Bandcamp or YouTube, or his earlier project God and Texas on Bandcamp.