Music

Robert Blake

From the kitchen table

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Everyone has adapted to our curtailed COVID existence in different ways. Some of us stockpiled food, fed sourdough starters and embraced our inner Betty Crocker. Some of us cleaned out our closets, started a workout regimen and dedicated ourselves to healthy self-improvement. Others of us became one with our pajamas, rediscovered that frozen cookie dough can be a complete meal and rewatched Gilmore Girls from the beginning (me, I’m talking about me).

Robert Sarazin Blake, on the other hand, did what he’s always done: played shows. As far as carving out a life in COVID times, I can think of few people that have adjusted as seamlessly as one of Bellingham’s longest-standing singer-songwriters. And doing so was no small feat. Unlike the rest of us who mostly had to transition our workspaces from offices to home offices, Blake had to figure out how to be a working musician without music venues or the ability to tour.

Taking inspiration from all those who have brought their work home and without missing a beat, Blake transformed his kitchen table into his new stage and where there once was an in-person audience, he now has a camera to livestream concerts. All that remained was to invite his friends to play along—and Blake has quite a few musical coconspirators from which to choose due to his decades as a traveling troubadour.

He began broadcasting his “Live From the Kitchen Table” series at the beginning of the shutdown and has shown up nearly every Sunday since, even taking the table outdoors during the summer months. Each concert comes with a suggested donation of $10, and Blake firmly believes in giving people their money’s worth. Like any good folksinger, the number of songs he knows is vast and varied. As a songwriter, he’s prolific, meaning he has a rich amount of original songs to draw from as well. Throw in the special guests and each concert clocks in at longer than two hours. In different times, that would be a solid and potentially cumbersome chunk of time to carve out. Nowadays, it’s a welcome way to spend a Sunday.

In terms of the collaborators he’s invited to join him, the guest list reads a bit like the lineup of the Subdued Stringband Jamboree. That’s fitting, seeing as how Blake always intended the annual festival he founded to be a casual gathering of friends who enjoy playing music together. Live From the Kitchen Table is just the pandemic version of that. Thus far, he’s brought the likes of Petunia, Meg Yates, Sierra Farrell, and others along for the ride, and his bandmate David Pender Lofgren has frequented the table as well.

Blake’s next trip to the table is scheduled for Sun., Nov. 29 and you can end your holiday weekend with him, Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms. The digital tip jar will be out, Blake takes requests, stories will be told and it’s the closest you can come to going to a living-room concert short of shacking up with a musician. Even better, no one will know if you watch while wearing pajamas and eating cookie dough.

For more info, see http://www.robertsarazinblake.com

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