For musicians, 2020 was a turbulent year to cap off a couple of turbulent decades. Seismic shifts in the way people find and listen to music had artists fighting to build far-flung audiences online but marketing the experience of live music locally, as well.
Local country musician Craig Mecham could be a microcosm of those divergent efforts. On Wednesday, Mecham played tunes from the Great American Songbook as well as his own notebook in Legacy House of Logan’s common area. At the same moment Mecham was serenading seniors from behind a Plexiglas shield, one of his latest songs was charting on an online showcase of unsigned artists.
“This is a very rewarding indication that people like my work, especially this song,” Mecham said. “I’ve had other songs on the charts as well, but this one seems to have some traction.”
Mecham’s tribute to traditional cowboys “Ain’t No Quit” hit No. 1 on HUGS, or Homegrown Under Ground Sounds, weekly Top 100 chart of unsigned country artists run by Pennsylvania radio station WRGG-FM on drooble.com. The song debuted on March 10, and Mecham said it’s been climbing since.
“Ain’t No Quit is about a lonely old cowboy who has been so wrapped up in his cattle ranch that he never had time for anything else in his life,” Mecham stated in a press release. “Driving through some very desolate parts of Utah last fall and seeing cowboys working with their cattle and then thinking about some departed family members who lived that life, I was just struck in my heart with the recognition of how incredibly difficult it must have been for them.”
WRGG host Cyrus Gray said when he started the Top 100 chart two years ago, he had no idea how much interest it would generate.
“We get an average of 1500 new track submissions each week from all parts of the world,” Gray said. “We pick the best of those submissions to air on the show each Tuesday and Wednesday night. We get a tremendous response from our 75,000-plus audience.”
Closer to home, Mecham is slowly resuming in-person performances. He owns and runs marketing firm The Mecham Company, and he says he feels lucky to have clients stick with him through the pandemic. Musicians who rely more on their craft for income have not always fared as well. Many have turned to soliciting donations during livestreamed concerts, which Mecham says even some local artists have found luck with.
Even so, it’s been difficult to replace the energy of live performances.
“When the pandemic hit, I had a large number of gigs scheduled that had to be canceled, and we’ve just barely started once again doing live performances,” Mecham said. “My first live performance was in February, and slowly things are coming back. I have quite a few bookings this summer and into the fall. We’re glad to see things coming back.”
After helping load his equipment into their van after the Legacy House performance, Mecham’s wife, Tammy, described herself as “the best roadie he’s ever had.” She’s enjoyed watching his music evolve and improve over the years as he’s moved from church meetings to weddings and funerals to a prime-time slot at the upcoming Summerfest.
“Every time he sings, I fall in love with him all over again,” Tammy said.