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SoundCheck: Keeping the Music Flowing During the Pandemic with Solo Projects

Whitney Houseman

Guitarist Clinton Houseman took a departure during the pandemic from full band music to solo projects, including three (mostly) new records. Playing in bands including the Kursk and Grandma Strange, he has already released to solo projects since May 2020, with a third shortly on the way.

In early 2020 before the pandemic, he was already working on tracking a new solo project. He and the Kursk came back from a two week tour on the last day of February.

“And then maybe a week later, I did the last overdub, which Seth from the Kursk did some conga overdubs for my album. So the tracking ended at the beginning of March. So, COVID was kind of a thing, but it wasn’t affecting our day-to-day lives here in the Midwest yet,” Houseman said.

The album ‘Latchkey’ was released in May during the full coronavirus pandemic. It was Houseman’s third release, all which are under the name Krejad – a name borne of teenage angst – but only the first of his pandemic releases. Getting ‘Latchkey’ out to the world was met with its own set of problems.

“There were some pandemic-related factors that kind of stood in the way when I was releasing the album,” he said. “It was in the middle of the shutdown and at the time, it seemed like a new, terrible thing was happening every other day. So, at a certain point it just became, you know, ‘I think I’m going to release it on May 1st and hope that nothing bad happens.’ Because it got down to that point, I just want to put it out on a day that something terrible doesn’t happen.”

Houseman’s second project of the year was perfect for a musician in a pandemic without gigs to play. He revisited his first solo album, ‘Impasse,’ originally released in 2012, for a remix. 

“That was a really low-fi, DIY project, as my first-ever recording project way back when. And I was never fully satisfied with it and it was kind of a bucket list item to kind of step that album to be on par with everything else I’ve released. So yeah, during the summer when everything was shut down and no one wasn’t playing shows, I was able to just kind of finally finish that up. And I released that back in October to coincide with the anniversary of that album.”

For his third pandemic project, Houseman is putting together a “live without an audience” album. He’s revisiting songs from his previous three albums and rerecording them in a more intimate, acoustic setting.

“The studio albums are usually pretty layered,” he said. “There’s a lot of changes and structures and solos and things like that. But, when I kind of broke it down, when I was starting to entertain the idea of recording these songs just stripped down like this, a lot of them really stood out as sort of singer/songwriter material and I thought it would be cool to get recordings of them in that vein.”

From revisiting old songs in new ways, to a brand new album of some of his most personal songs yet, Clinton Houseman has proved that 2020 was a year of music, despite the pandemic putting its foot down on live shows. For now, we’ll just have to listen online instead of in person.

Jessica Gray Balisle, a Springfield native, grew up listening to KSMU. When she's not wrangling operations and compliance issues, she co-hosts live music show Studio Live and produces arts and culture stories. Jessica plays bass in local band the Hook Knives. She and her husband Todd live with their two cats, Ellie and Jean-Ralphio, and way too many house plants.
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