Written by Maria Arroyo
Recently, I had a chance to talk with John Taylor, the creator of the ever-growing Delco Quarantine Open Mic Facebook page! We stumbled across the page amidst this whole COVID-19 pandemic and found his Facebook page that created a space for musicians, singers, and even music lovers to share their love for music through performance. Thanks to the efforts of Taylor and his team, they are keeping live performances alive for the Philadelphia area!
“I’m a local singer/songwriter and I gig regularly around Delaware County and Philadelphia (@JohnTaylor’sMusic) so when all of my gigs were canceled on March 16th, I made a Facebook post about it. And on that exact post, my friend Zac Ciabattoni said “Hey why don’t you make a virtual open mic” because I host a local open mic at 2312 Garrett. Zac was a regular at the open mic. At first, I didn’t like the idea but then my girlfriend, Tara Ambrosine, convinced me it was a great idea! Then multiple light bulbs went off and I created Delco Quarantine Open Mic.” — John Taylor, Founder of Delco Quarantine Open Mic Facebook page
He had created the group the week after we were notified of the stay-at-home order. Being a musician himself, he knew what that meant. If people were ordered to stay home, that means venues wouldn’t be open, and if venues aren’t open, there’s nowhere for musicians to perform their music. For those who depend on live performances as a main source of income, this affected their lives drastically.
A whole month of possible revenue: gone. Wiped out and with absolutely no warning. This fear is not only something that Taylor faced, but many many other musicians in the Philadelphia area and beyond had to deal with.
“When we first started on March 16th, I thought it was just going to be me and my small group of friends. I made this group to be a musical platform for my friends,” Taylor began. “Twenty-four hours later, we had almost 2,000 members and I instantly saw massive potential in this group. Since we started, the feedback has been nothing but amazing. This group has given people so much joy. I had over 100 messages with people’s love and support of the group.”
Unfortunately, the stay-at-home order, the lack of performances, etc., didn’t only affect the performers themselves but affected the music industry as a whole. Some of my colleagues work in merchandising for artists and now lost all of their income because artists have no money to put towards these things. Venues who thrive on a daily basis are risking the possibility of shutting down, maybe even permanently. I could keep going on about the domino effect this pandemic has created, but I wouldn’t be telling you something you didn’t already know.
The rapidly growing page is much more than Taylor alone. He shares that this page wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of his supporters that help regulate the page. As a musician, I wanted to find some way to share my love for music and perform anywhere I could. When I found out more about the page, I realized just how open of a community it had created, and this community was growing exponentially by the days. Every three days, an admin from the group posts a sign-up sheet, and anyone who joined the public group can perform for 30 minutes on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“My girlfriend, Tara Ambrosine, is the backbone of this group. She does a lot for us. From setting up the daily line-up to working with sponsors and charities,” Taylor explains. “DQOM Management Team that helps us monitor the group throughout the day. Zac Ciabattoni, Brenda Keough, Mike Rush, and Mark Colvin…
Honestly, the thing that attracted our team to find this page in the first place is our love for continuing to be submerged in the music scene, even in a time as difficult as this. If we have learned anything from this whole experience, it’s that there will always be a need for human connection. That very connection can be felt through these performances by local musicians, singers, songwriters, etc., to keep our hope alive.”
“We want musicians and people of all art forms to still feel connected. And remember we will get through this. It’s a great networking opportunity for all musicians. And it’s giving a lot of musicians that never gig an opportunity to share their music!”
It gives the community and beyond, hope that, eventually, this will end, and I sure as hell have a new appreciation for live performances and in-the-moment experiences that I’m really missing right now.
Personally, I don’t have a whole lot of experience performing my own music due to personal situations, but when all of these events transpired, I went from going to album release parties and open mic nights at MilkBoy and seeing a bunch of new artists all over Philadelphia almost every night, to a dead stop in my tracks. I didn’t realize the impact it would have on me until I couldn’t even get out of bed to do any kind of music-related activities. It was definitely a hill for me to climb, but it was pages like Delco Quarantine Open Mic that gave me the opportunity to pick myself up and do one of the things I love most, which is giving back to my friends, family, and everyone else through music.
“My favorite part is being able to give back to the community. Last week we started to work with local charities and local businesses. We ran a week-long charity with The Headstrong Foundation where performers would put Headstrong’s donation link as a virtual tip jar! And with local businesses, every three days, we put out a new sign-up sheet. I came up with the idea to have a company sponsor the list for three days.”
Taylor also gives a HUGE thank you to the group and the platform that it has created for him and his team!
“And from the whole DQOM family, we love and thank you for all of the support!
This platform we have decided to start our own live entertainment business! If you are a local bar/music venue/theatre we want to help you connect with live bands/solo artists/DJs! Vice versa if your a performer/solo artist/band/DJ contact us!”
Taylor also hosts (and assumingly will resume hosting when this is all over) Open Mics at 2312 Garrett Road in Drexel Hill on Wednesdays and at Marty Magee’s in Prospect Park on Sunday nights! Taylor also shares that they are going to continue to schedule open mic performances for as long as people want to play!
I want to personally thank you for being strong and organizing this. These virtual performances are hopefully one step closer to getting back to the real thing.