The pandemic has proven that Vermont musicians' creativity while in quarantine knows no bounds. From tunes about propersanitation to social distancing, local artists have been dropping COVID-19-related music videos left and right. Now, a Middlebury family has put out a quadrilogy of comedic coronavirus-related music videos.
Middlebury musician Clint Bierman, of funk-rock band the Grift and Lion Tone Studio, got about a week into quarantine before he started working on the first of his family's four vids.
"I write songs all the time," said Bierman in a phone call with Seven Days. "I thought immediately about doing comedy, because everybody needs comedy."
Bierman started making videos after he was asked by Middlebury's Town Hall Theater to participate in its new video series, the Quarantine Sessions. As a full-time professional musician, all of his bookings had been thrown out for the rest of the year. Thus, he needed a new project.
"[The Grift play] 110 to 120 shows per year," he said. "The band is gonna lose three quarters of its annual income. I haven't started freaking out yet, but the freakout is coming. The videos and the writing process has been the best way for me to deal with the whole thing."
Though Bierman is a veteran musician, he had no experience with filmmaking or video editing. He said he watched 25 to 30 hours of YouTube tutorials before producing "Home School," the first of the Bierman clan's recent output.
A rollicking country tune, "Home School" chronicles Bierman's attempts at maintaining educational normalcy for his children Ty, 9, and Sam, 7. As many parents in the same situation can likely attest, things did not go as planned.
"Oh, home school / It's getting hard to keep my head cool / My house has turned into a cesspool," sings Bierman, along with his sons, who provide vocal harmonies. The rest of the tune details the family's rapid — and hilarious — slide from control to chaos.
"I liked pretending to yell at Dad [in the video]," said Sam.
Turning the tables, the next video showcases the situation from Bierman's kids' perspective. Sam, a budding young singer brimming with vocal talent, sings lead on "Not That Bad," a pop-punk tune reminiscent of peak Blink-182.
"[Sam] wasn't really into school that much, so I was talking to his teacher to spice up the homeschool experience, and she was like, 'Why don't you write a song with your dad?'" Bierman explained.
"Guess it's really not that bad / Get to spend time with my dad / He puts the old in old-school / He puts the cool in homeschool / Guess it's really not that bad / Get to torture my old man / ’Til he's good and mad / Then he lets me play on my iPad," sings Sam as his father desperately tries to keep him on track with distance learning.
For the third installment, Bierman rallied his bandmates for a facetious ditty called "Stay Home, Drink Beer." The sleek electro-rock tune has a very simple message, as noted by its title. And, for added credibility, Bierman got local brewery Lawson's Finest Liquids to sponsor the clip.
Bierman's wife, Lauren, who works as the director of health services for the retirement community EastView at Middlebury, has also gotten in on the action. She and her coworkers recorded an optimistic parody of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" called "EastView Strong" about how the staff have been keeping positive while combatting the virus and keeping their facility safe.
With nothing but time on his hands, Bierman will likely continue to make timely videos.
"It's been a great quarantine," he said. "The best [thing] is when people see [my videos], they reach out. I've reconnected with so many people from high school and college."