SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — House Call Soul, a group of top-flight Bay Area musicians, doesn’t respond to medical emergencies but musical requests.
When coronavirus canceled their concerts, band leader Chris Hoog brought the artists together.
“This has been the one consistent source of joy since May really,” Hoog said.
Back in May, Chris performed in a front yard with some friends for his birthday.
It’s the first time they’d made music as a group since sheltering in place began in March.
“Pretty quickly, the neighbors started pulling lawn chairs out of their houses and watching,” Hoog recalls.
The artists realized they’d struck a chord.
“A lot of us locked away in our houses ’til that point. It got me out of depression,” Hoog said.
The experience got them out on the road again and the musical collective drummed up support over social media.
They’ve been performing two to three gigs a week, all over the Bay Area, nearly all of them in people’s driveways.
Driveways like one at 10th Avenue and Lake in San Francisco, at the edge of Mountain Lake Park.
The band plays everything from soul and funk to blues and jazz for an hour and a half.
They also remind their audiences to wear masks and stay distanced.
Rebeccah Kilian has hired the band before and says she always leaves their performances on a high note.
“Bringing people together safely at a time when we are desperate for connection, seeing people from the neighborhood, keeping their distance by boogeying together — it feels so good,” Kilian said.
The beat drew in Luba Rassouli and her one-year-old son from their walk where the boy danced right in front of the band.
“It’s great to take something like that, something smaller scale, take it outside — this is our living room essentially,” Rassouli said.
The musicians have toured with bands like Sly and the Family Stone, Jimmie Vaughan and Afrolicious.
House Call Soul plays for donations — $125 to $300 per player — less than a third of their usual rate.
The seven band members, like Will Magid, say it’s about more than money — it’s about songs that soothe the soul in a pandemic.
“I think a lot of people forget these feelings they have, people forget feelings of joy, feelings of community inside of them,” Magid said.
Kilian says, “We’re in the before times when they start playing.” (“Before” as in before COVID-19)
And that’s the medicine of House Call Soul: creating connection for communities in lockdown one driveway, street and neighborhood at a time.
Note: during the most recent December lockdown, House Call Soul has been back to doing mostly live, online performances.