5 Quick Questions During the COVID-19 Quarantine with Bassist Extraordinaire, David “Rook” Goldflies
David “Rook” Goldflies (who also records under the singular moniker ‘GoldFlece”) is a renowned musician in both rock and classical circles, whose diverse blend of musical experience has few rivals. From 1978 through 1982, Goldflies was the bassist in the legendary Allman Brothers Band; in subsequent years he has, among other projects, co-fronted the Allman Goldflies Band; performed with Southern Rock Legacy Group, A Brothers Revival (his current ensemble), performed and recorded as multi-genre artist, GoldFlēce; and is also a longtime performer with the Panama City POPS Orchestra in his residence, Panama City, Florida.
Indie Pulse Music has been interviewing select musicians about the current COVID-15 pandemic and how they’ve been able to persevere with their work, recording, lack of touring, etc. We recently spoke with Goldflies, here’s how it went.
IPM: Since the COVID-19 situation continues to impact the music business, how have your immediate and long-term recording and touring plans changed?
DG: The shutdown of most of American society was an awakening of just how tenuous activities such as booking and playing gigs, getting together (physically) to rehearse the band, casual gigging with various local groups, and of course performing with symphony orchestras can be. This came as quite a shock.
Where I live, here in Florida, everything just stopped on March 15th, 2020, the day after my piece Web Dance premiered with the Panama City POPS Orchestra. I was expecting a call the day of the show saying it was going to be canceled. But luckily it went forward, and we had a good performance, and no one contracted COVID-19.
Since then I participated in what I call The Great American Clean-up. Being more or less stuck at home, every nook and cranny (and hard drive) that had been neglected or ignored for years got a good shaking out. I found files on those hard drives and scraps of paper that I thought were lost from even before my days of touring with the Allman Brothers Band. In a way, I gained a new perspective of my growth as a writer and arranger over the years. This whole experience has given me a significant enough break from “the next gig” to allow some thinking toward why would a person choose to make music in the first place? I have joked in the past that the reason to play music is clearly the long hours and low pay. But if I think about it, payment is a byproduct of the act of creating music. The act of creation is a qualitatively different experience and one that I find preferable to practically all other activities.
Touring will return only when 1) venues are allowed to open and 2) when fans feel safe enough to go see the show. Right now, the future is too uncertain to know what is going to happen, so it is time to take those ‘lost but now found” ideas from the Great American Clean-up and finish them!
IPM: As the bars and restaurants where you previously performed continue to open back up, do you have any trepidation about performing at these venues right now?
DG: Honestly, the last few years I’ve not been working the beach scene here in Panama City Beach. Except for an occasional Sunday jazz jam and two or three times a year dinner club, I have been fortunate to have been doing concert work with area symphonies and my Allman Brothers Band legacy group, A Brothers Revival. Many of my friends make their entire living from local gigs and they are in a bit of a conundrum in regard to risk and rewards. Each of these musician’s love performing and love music. I just hope that the clubs, the audience, and the musicians themselves follow good health practices at venues (and everywhere else as well!) and are safe and don’t inadvertently spread this dangerous virus.
IPM: What have you done, music/performance-wise, to keep yourself active and visible in the music community during the COVID-19 period?
DG: Great question. Being able to focus on the creative part of music has given me a chance to not seek or be influenced by the public spotlight. That being said, I’m working toward the self-release of a number of pieces as the multi-genre artist GoldFlēce. The first piece was the previously mentioned Web Dance released on YouTube as GoldFlēce.classical. I’ll be releasing Space Rider under GoldFlēce.new-age, an interesting piece based on an improvisation by harpist, Katie Ott. For the Space Rider video, I’ll be making use of my new interest in astronomy. I have begun observing the amazing universe we live in using a 6” SCT telescope. For me, the world became bigger during the shutdown – thousands and even millions of light years across. With another innovative telescope, Stellina, I have been collecting images of deep sky objects (galaxies, nebula, etc.) which will be integrated into the Space Rider video. These projects and others are keeping me active and visible in the music community.
IPM: Do you think it’s justified for the Entertainment and Concert Industry to be the last ones allowed to re-open?
DG: It is not for me to judge if it is justified or not. Common sense says large groups of people can be an efficient way for the virus to spread. Nobody wants that. Huge gatherings are just one way for people to share their common interests be it sports, music, whatever. An unexpected gift from the shutdown was the chance to look inward to the relationships and situation each of us lives in everyday day. We are finding new ways to share our common interests. It is going to take innovation for an artist to thrive in these changing times.
IPM: What lessons do you think will be learned in the long-term, regarding the music and entertainment business, as a result of the COVID-19 music stoppage?
DG: Diversify. Don’t have all your eggs in one basket. If all you do is club work, don’t neglect building an online presence. I have been fortunate to be able to create and work in multiple genres and on multiple instruments (bass, guitar, violin, voice, Ableton Live). That diversification has been helpful over the years. In regard to specific lessons to be learned, we are in a period of uncertainty which is leading to experimentation of viable business models. The argument could be made that the business was in trouble before COVID-19 from the low rate of compensation to artists via streaming. Yet, there is so much media being created and all of it needs music. I’m sure opportunity exists for the artist that seeks to connect with it.
When I asked my friend, the world–class clarinetist Buddy DeFranco who directed the Glenn Miller Orchestra and worked with Charlie Parker, Nelson Riddle, and countless others, for advice for the young musician, he said, “Save your money. One year you’re on top, the next you are scraping up pennies to pay for food.” Still good advice since the cyclical nature of the entertainment business is apparently here to stay. Stay safe out there. Keep up the jams!
More on David “Rook” Goldflies:
A Brothers Revival:
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