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An extended solo: Spokane musicians adapt to their lives in artistic limbo

UPDATED: Fri., March 27, 2020

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Just like everyone else, Myles Kennedy is going a bit stir crazy. The Alter Bridge singer-songwriter and his family have been sequestered in their South Hill home but are coming up with plans for socialization.

“My wife and I were talking last night about what we should do,” Kennedy said while calling from his home. “We’re talking about getting a bunch of people together on Skype or through FaceTime and having a social hour. We can have drinks and pretend we’re all together. This has been a huge social shift for us.”

However, professionally some things have changed, and some things remain the same for Kennedy. His tour of Asia with Alter Bridge, which was slated for late March through April, has been postponed.

“You can’t do much about that,” Kennedy said. “It’s disappointing.”

Kennedy, 50, has plenty of time for songwriting. “When I work on songs, which is what I’ve been doing since the end of the Alter Bridge tour (last month at the Knitting Factory), I typically hunker down and disconnect. So in many ways this is business as usual.

“What is happening with the coronavirus has not impacted the tone of the songs I’m writing, but check back with me in a few months to see if that is still true. All I know is that I’ve taken the coronavirus very seriously for the last few weeks.”

Kennedy was warned about the coronavirus from pals in Italy at the beginning of the month.

“I have friends in Milan who reached out to tell me not to take the virus lightly,” Kennedy said. “That was the sea change for me. I was told that this was not something to mess around with – we don’t have a cavalier attitude about it.”

Kennedy and his wife, Selena Frank, take their daily walks and watch Netflix at night. “I can’t believe the movie that is trending is ‘Contagion,’ ” Kennedy said. “The world has changed, and, until things go back to normal, I’ll be here at home in Spokane writing songs.”

The same goes for Jamison Sampson, aka “The Fishin’ Musician.” When Sampson, 21, isn’t working on music, he is fishing in area lakes – or he was until the state closed all fishing.

“Fishing is a great way to relax, and you’re away from everybody and everything,” Sampson said while calling from his Cheney home. “It’s the perfect thing to do with the coronavirus. I’ve been productive during all of this by writing and recording.”

Sampson just finished recording a new folk tune, “Find a Way.”

“It’s a really cool song that deserves to be heard,” Spokane singer-songwriter Chris Molitor said. “I can’t wait for people to hear it.”

Molitor produced “Find a Way.” “The song was written before the coronavirus outbreak, but it sounds like it could be about what we’re facing,” Sampson said. “I’ve dealt with a lot of personal stuff in my life. ‘Find a Way’ is my way of dealing with it. Chris had a lot to do with how the song turned out.”

While the University High alumnus enjoys fishing and making music, he’s bummed that his passion, performing, has to wait. Sampson often gigs at Rain Lounge and the Dry Fly Distilling tasting room.

“The worst part is not being able to get up and perform,” Sampson said. “But at least I can still write and record. I can’t say enough about how much Chris has helped.”

Molitor, 35, who resides near Audubon Park and often performs at Iron Goat Brewery, hasn’t been focusing on writing as much as honing his skills as a pianist-guitarist.

“I’m known more for my acoustic guitar playing, and so I’ve been working on the electric guitar and my piano playing. I’ve been writing a little, and I’ve enjoyed working with Jamison, who is a very talented, young musician.”

Local musician Sedona Ensminger, 21, recently returned to her South Hill home from Seattle, where she is studying geography at the University of Washington.

“I’m writing a lot of sad songs right now,” Ensminger said. “It’s a very difficult time, but it’s moving me as a songwriter. I’m also doing some live streams.”

The Ferris alum, class of 2017, has been juggling her studies with gigs. The singer-songwriter took some time from school to take part in the “Sail Across the Sun Tour,” which was a cruise in February throughout the Bahamas. “It was just before all of this (the coronavirus) started. I was on a cruise on a bill with Train, Allen Stone and Matt Nathanson.”

It wasn’t the first time Ensminger shared a stage with Train. When the pop-rock band played Northern Quest Casino last June, Ensminger sang “Bruises” with Train frontman Pat Monahan.

“Pat’s been an amazing mentor,” Ensminger said. “He lives in Issaquah, so he’s not far from me when I’m in Seattle. It was so great singing with Train last year. It feels like a lot longer than that. I can’t wait for this to end and we can just get back to normal.”

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