Usually when I look back on a year of music, I pull out my phone. And I see dozens of photos and videos from shows featuring all kinds of artists on all kinds of stages. Not this year. 2020 included very little live music, but it still offered some cool musical moments.
Scrolling all the way back to early March in my phone felt like traveling back to a time where we did things like hug acquaintances at breweries. And go to concerts. I almost teared up while looking at a video from The Lone Bellow’s beautiful concert at The Bluebird Theatre in Denver. It just so happens that this was the last concert I went to before the pandemic began. I’m glad it was one I really loved.
In place of the concerts we know and love, we saw an onslaught of artists take to social media and other platforms to sing into their screens in hopes of staying connected and filling our time. Weirdly, I dug these virtual shows. There was something intimate about seeing these impressive musicians strip down their playing from their couch or bedroom or bathtub.
New albums I loved
New music has never felt more important than this year. According to my Spotify Wrapped (and my own self), I loved the new music from Taylor Swift (more on her quarantine albums “Folklore” and “Evermore” later), Fletcher, Hailey Whitters, Kelsea Ballerini and Chelsea Cutler. Getting a new album from the Dixie Chicks after so long felt monumental. Getting a cover of “Iris” by Maggie Rogers and Phoebe Bridgers also felt extremely important. It feels good that we’ll keep getting great new music, like Maggie Rogers’ new project that’s out on Dec. 18.
All the Taylor Swift stuff
A surprise album. Another surprise album. News of rerecording her old albums. A movie about her new album. The past six months have been a dream for us Swifties. I mean I would’ve loved to see her in person at Loverfest, but the two-day festival getting canceled meant that Swift had time to use her brilliance to make “Folklore” and “Evermore.” That’s the definition of a silver lining.
Red Rocks concert
Near the end of a silent season at Red Rocks, the iconic venue announced it was going to give virtual and (very) limited-capacity concerts. We wanted to know what those shows, with just 175 people in the amphitheatre that fits nearly 10,000, would be like, so myself and a photographer attended a concert to do a story. When I think of the oddness of 2020, I’ll think of that very eerie concert.
Halsey’s book of poetry
Halsey is now one of my favorite poets. The pop star released her first book of poetry in November, titled “I Would Leave Me if I Could,” and I spent several nights gradually reading chunks of it, as if to savor it, as that evening’s sole activity. Thankful for her words and a way to break up the monotony of staying home.
Dean Dillon interview
When I think about music-related moments of this year and honestly of my lifetime, I think about driving to country singer-songwriter Dean Dillon’s house in Gunnison for an interview. After some texting back and forth, we had settled on a random Wednesday in August to meet up. On the way there, I looked at Twitter and saw some surprising news: The next inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame had been announced. They only choose three people a year. Dean Dillon was one of them. All the sudden we were sitting on Dillon’s back porch on one of the biggest days of his life. And we had quite a story to tell.