With festivals, tours, and concerts canceled, and no end in sight, bands are feeling financially strapped. For a musician, touring is their largest source of income, and in some cases, that includes the salaries of guitar techs, tour managers, sound engineers, and more. So, what can we do to support our favorite bands during this tumultuous time? Aside from generous virtual tips during an artist's live streaming concert, you can also treat yourself to some of their merchandise. I don't know about you, but retail therapy is just what my anxious brain needs right now, plus, you're helping some of your favorite bands make ends meet 'til they can get back on the road. Win-win. (Also, just for reassurance, the Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance maintain there is no evidence the coronavirus is spreading through the mail.)
In this week's edition of Add to Cart, KEXP is featuring band merch that was directly inspired by the coronavirus pandemic, and, in most cases, proceeds are being donated to COVID-19-related organizations.
The Decemberists are right: everything IS awful. Of course, this was the title of a song off their 2018 album I’ll Be Your Girl, so in songwriter Colin Meloy's eyes, things have been awful for a couple of years now, but they sure aren't getting better. (Watch a rousing live rendition of the track here.)
This 100%-cotton face mask can bring a little comfort and camaraderie though. Two-ply fabric construction with filter pocket and all-around binding. Washable and reusable ('cause the environment is pretty awful, too, y'know). And here's something not-awful, for a change: a portion of net profits will be donated to the Musicares COVID-19 Relief Fund. See, Mr. Meloy? Maybe not everything is awful, after all!
Taking a cue from their 2004 album Sonic Nurse, New York noise-rock pioneers Sonic Youth have released this set featuring a t-shirt with a matching mask. You'll be safe and fully accessorized! 100% washable cotton and reusable face mask. Made in the USA. One size fits most. A portion of proceeds from your purchase will go to The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, Bed Stuy Strong, and ActBlue: AOC's COVID Relief Fund.
And as their landmark album Goo celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, they've also released a face mask featuring Raymond Pettibon's now-iconic imagery on it. (Although, maybe once you read the back story to that artwork, you'll change your mind.)
Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister sadly left us in 2015 at the age of 70, but his iconic mustache lives on with this face mask. The fashionable facial-hair topiary is apparently called the "friendly mutton chops", but any hairdresser worth his Barbicide will know what you mean if you ask for the "Lemmy." Don't have the follicles to pull off the look? This mask will help you look born to raise hell: made of two-ply polyester cloth with over-the-ear elastic loops that measure about six inches long. One-size-fits-most at 7.5 x 4.5-inches to cover both your nose and your mouth. (The style name is actualy "God," because... well.)
And, another reason this mask is the "Ace of Spades": A portion of proceeds, up to a $500K maximum donation, is being donated to MedShare, "a humanitarian aid non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people, communities, and our planet." As Lemmy would say, read 'em and weep.
I don't know about you, but now that I'm washing my hands more often, I've been looking for ways to make it more fun, whether it's changing up my 20-second song choices or using nicer soaps to add some aromatherapeutic qualities to the act. Our friends at Sub Pop Records can actually help in both categories! (Oh, the irony of singing Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick" when you should be doing the exact opposite.)
Over in their MegaMart, they've got this beautiful all-natural soap made by Seattle's Ash Soap, a small-business ran by Davey Brozowski (touring drummer for Modest Mouse) and Becca Zeller (of Ra Ra Riot). The white soap has scents of rosemary and clove, and is made from "oils of palm (sustainable), coconut, and olive." Maybe I should switch to singing "Float On" next time I wash my hands? (This website will let you know exactly which lyrics you need to sing for it to count as 20-seconds; check it out!)
First and foremost, we just gotta shout out the Wu-Tang Clan for their creative and generous response to the COVID-19 crisis. Back in March, they encouraged fans to "protect ya neck" by distributing a few thousand prints around New York City with a "W-U-T-A-N-G" acronym detailing ways to stay safe. (You can print out your own prints here and hang 'em around your hometown.)
And then in April, they tweeted out support for the Ottawa Food Bank, and in the span of 48 hours, thousands of fans stepped up and did the same, resulting in an additional $280,000 in contributions. Inspired by the response, they teamed up with Mayor Jim Watson and the City of Ottawa for the A Better Tomorrow Collection, writing "whether it’s through our music, or our actions, the purpose of 36 Chambers is to always see a better tomorrow." Proceeds from the collection of three exclusive items will benefit the Ottawa Food Bank, The Ottawa Mission Foundation, and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
Sadly, the "Protect Ya Hands" hand sanitizer and the "OttaWu" t-shirt are both sold out, but one item in the collection you can still purchase is The Saga Continues Bowl, a collaboration with Pure Kitchen. For every bowl purchased, another bowl will be donated to frontline workers from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), who are assigned to long term care facilities. Unfortunately, delivery is only available in Ottawa and Kanata, but fingers crossed that hand sanitizer gets re-stocked soon. (And check out a list of Seattle-based restaurants also doing frontline food donations.)
In this special edition of Add to Cart, KEXP spotlights band merch inspired by (and most often, with proceeds donated to) the coronavirus pandemic.
In this special edition of Add to Cart, KEXP spotlights the plight of independent music venues in Seattle and things you can buy to help support them.
Today, Friday, June 19th, Bandcamp launch an annual tradition of waiving their revenue share on all purchases for 24 hours to support racial justice, equality and change. KEXP's Digital Content Team has rounded up some of the things we'll be adding to our carts today.