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When COVID-19 Took Away Performances, Musician Launched Quaranchella

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Social distancing may have stopped hundreds of people from packing together in concert venues, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a little live music, like in Los Angeles where Adam Chester lives. He's a piano player subbing in for Elton John when his band rehearses, even appearing at a tribute to the musician at Madison Square Garden. He also plays clubs and gigs as himself. But when the coronavirus shut down all of his opportunities to perform, he started his own Quaranchella (ph) outside his house in the LA neighborhood of Sherman Oaks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING")

ADAM CHESTER: (Singing) That's why I'm easy - I'm easy like Sunday morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Adam Chester, thanks so much for joining us.

CHESTER: Hi. Thanks so much for having me, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is a fun idea. Where did it come from?

CHESTER: Well, it came from not really having much else to do here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter).

CHESTER: I mean, it really was just a bummer not playing anymore. And I thought, you know, wouldn't it be fun to do a streaming concert from inside my house? There was such a good reception on that. I thought, once a week, let's take it in our front yard. You know, my wife and kids played the roadies, and they dragged my keyboard outside with a 30-year-old crate amplifier and a microphone. And we started it seven weeks ago.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And I gather you've been raising money for charity. How much have you raised?

CHESTER: So far, we're at just past 7,500. Every Saturday, we pick a charity that we're close to that helps with COVID-19 and people who are - have been affected by it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you performed, obviously, in lots of different venues. How does this one outside your own house and in front of your neighbors feel different? And tell us what it looks like to the neighbors. I mean, how many people are attending this?

CHESTER: The neighbors sit out on their yards and listen. People were driving here and pulling over and listening from their cars. How it differs from anything else I've done is just the immediate satisfaction of knowing that I'm trying to make people feel better. And I try to make every show different. Like, last week was Mother's Day, so I did all songs about mothers. And it was cool.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what are some of the songs that you played last night - 'cause you play on Saturdays, right?

CHESTER: Right. We play Saturdays at 6 p.m., so I did a tribute to a little boy named Andrew (ph) who dances the whole time here. He's one of the neighbors. And I thought, wouldn't it be cool if I did the Bee Gees song "You Should Be Dancing"?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU SHOULD BE DANCING")

CHESTER: (Singing) Hey, you should be dancing, yeah - dancing.

We did "Bennie And The Jets." It was just a blast.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wow. Well, that - I wish I could be there. That sounds like a lot of fun. It really does.

CHESTER: Thanks.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Adam Chester, who started his own Quaranchella, performing in front of his house in Los Angeles.

Thank you very much.

CHESTER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU SHOULD BE DANCING")

CHESTER: (Singing) What you doing on your back? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hey, thanks for reading.
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