GTPulse: May Erlewine is At Home
May Erlewine is a Traverse City-based singer, songwriter and musician who draws her inspiration from time, emotion and experience. She’s involved with other bands as well as having a solo project of her own. Like other musicians, she would typically be on the road right now and be especially busy as the warmer weather picks up, but being home hasn’t stopped her from playing music for fans. She dedicates an hour every week to play for fans through her live-streamed Mondays with May.
She has been writing her own songs since the age of 12 and supports herself through her music. The folk, Americana music is like a wildflower with prickly edges. Naturally beautiful, but upon closer examination, laced with a little pain. A song she released on her Youtube channel in February called The Life I Had is indicative of the pain someone experiences when moving on from an old love. The title and the song now feel a little like foreshadowing for what was to come.
“I’m a mom, too so when I’m not with my daughter I’m usually traveling and working pretty hard, and when I’m home I’m mom-ing pretty hard. So, that’s the way my life is usually stacked up. I’ve been home more which has been nice.”
Being home hasn’t looked too different for May in terms of writing and playing music on her own. She said that the pandemic has not affected her having a consistent writing practice, however, working on songs and new music with bandmates virtually has proven to be more of a challenge.
“It’s really hard to not be in the same room. I’m so used to writing a song, sending it to them, and then we work it out together in a room. They all have their talent and their ideas and we share those and shape the song together. I had no idea how much fuel I got out of that, creatively. I miss it so much. That’s one of the hardest things for me in this, not being able to work on something in a room with my bandmates and then just play together.”
Performance art feeds off of the energy from the audience, but playing for some is always better than playing for none and she’s been happy to put her music in front of new and old listeners every Monday.
May has partnered with Oryana Food Co-op in Traverse City and Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology in Bellaire to sponsor Mondays with May. In exchange for groceries, May plays her music for an hour beginning around noon and lasting around an hour. The Mondays have been a nice way for her to keep playing and to connect with the fans who love her.
“They’ve done that for a long time. They’ve had a long-standing arrangement with artists where you can play in the local cafe and you get cash to buy food at the co-op. They’re supportive of local artists, they’ve supported me in a lot of ways throughout my career.”
Crosshatch has helped support local artists with a relief fund used to help ease some of the financial strain that many artists are feeling right now.
“I’ve been really trying to keep an ongoing list of the requests. It’s been really interactive which is fun. People are commenting and talking to each other and at the end of every song, I check all of the comments. I respond, welcome people. I feel like I’m connecting with people even though I’m just sitting in my house. It feels that way more than I thought it would. It’s something I look forward to. It feels like I had a visit with people, and fills that need a little bit.”
To catch May and her music live, check out her Facebook page May Erlewine every Monday at 7 p.m.
“I feel grateful. It’s a testament to the Michigan community that I can make a living doing this. It’s a very cool thing.”
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