How 5 Musicians Over 70 Are Dealing with Life and Loss in the Age of Coronavirus

“I got this husband and these two cats, so that’s theoretically three boys I have to clean up after. But there’s no coping. I posted something [on social media] about being hunkered down and holding on in West Orange, ‘I got some champagne and I got a good smoke.’ You talk about coping! If I didn’t have this champagne and this marijuana here, I’d have a story to tell you.”

I spoke with some of our most cherished musical elders about the perils of working and surviving during the pandemic, including Gary Bartz, Laraaji, Terry Allen, Hailu Mergia, and Ms. Bettye LaVette.

How Musicians Over 70 Are Dealing in the Age of the Pandemic for Pitchfork

Gary Bartz and Maisha

Bartz

“I was going to stop playing music as a career. I felt that with all this mess, we didn’t need another musician. I was ready for the Black Panthers, or to leave the country or something. I knew I had to do something.”

Gary Bartz and Maisha for Bandcamp