Melissa Etheridge coming to the Fraze, shares lessons learned during COVID-19 lockdown

Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge, who shared video of live performances from the newly-constructed studio in her garage during the pandemic, performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge, who shared video of live performances from the newly-constructed studio in her garage during the pandemic, performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The Grammy Award winner performs Saturday.

Unlike the artists that turned inward during the early, uncertain days of the COVID-19 lockdowns, Melissa Etheridge found new ways to reach her fans. The Grammy Award winner, who performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 30, launched EtheridgeTV, where she began sharing video of live performances from the newly-constructed studio in her garage.

Etheridge, who released her self-titled debut in 1988, is on the road in support of her 16th studio album, “One Way Out” (2021). As her local concert date approached, she answered questions by phone about life during the pandemic, songwriting and more.

Question: What did you learn from launching EtheridgeTV?

Answer: That was just so I wouldn’t go crazy during the pandemic but I learned that you never stopped learning. When I figured out it was going to be a serious, long term thing, I built the studio in my garage. Then, I learned about the Internet. I learned about streaming and cameras and sound and lights. I was my own guitar tech again. I hadn’t done that in a long time. The necessity taught me so much. I’m a much better musician because of it. I just learned so much in that time.

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge, who shared video of live performances from the newly-constructed studio in her garage during the pandemic, performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge, who shared video of live performances from the newly-constructed studio in her garage during the pandemic, performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge, who shared video of live performances from the newly-constructed studio in her garage during the pandemic, performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Q: What was the biggest benefit of live streaming from home?

A: As lockdown went on and I was doing my shows from my garage, I ended up performing every single song I ever recorded. That was digging some songs up I haven’t played in years. There were newer songs I did that I just let go and I don’t really know why. It put me back in touch with a lot of my music so now I’m digging deeper into my catalog. I made my band learn 150 songs so we have it where every single night is a very different show.

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Q: In addition to original material, you also performed cover songs on some live streams. What did you like best about that?

A: Playing the cover songs was one of my favorite things. I used to do that. For many years, at the first part of my career, I played in cover bands and I played solo. I played in bars and it was other people’s material. I got to play songs that I loved but I was also learning about songwriting. Getting back to that was so much fun. I was like, ‘Oh, right, I remember why I love Bruce Springsteen.’ I got to perform a lot of his songs. That was a real blast and I learned so much.”

Q: You’ve discussed the long gestation period of “One Way Out,” how you wrote the songs in the 1980s, tracked them in 2013 and released the album last year. What did you take from that experience that is applicable to songwriting?

A: Probably the big thing I learned was I don’t need to be so hard on myself. Most creators are really hard on themselves. We criticize a lot and we think most of what we do is junk so I just let some of those songs go. When I found them again, I was like, ‘Wait a minute, what was I thinking?’ Now that I’m out of that situation and I’m older and feeling better about myself, I can recognize these are good tunes. I need to be a little more delicate with myself, recognize when it’s a good piece of work and give it more of an opportunity. The song may not make it in the end but I need to, at least, let myself grow and experience it.

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge, who shared video of live performances from the newly-constructed studio in her garage during the pandemic, performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge, who shared video of live performances from the newly-constructed studio in her garage during the pandemic, performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Combined ShapeCaption
Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge, who shared video of live performances from the newly-constructed studio in her garage during the pandemic, performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Q: Etheridge Island, your musical getaway in Mexico, is Aug. 30 through Sept. 5. You have a big lineup with Elle King, Ani DiFranco, Larkin Poe and others. How involved are you with selecting the acts on the bill?

A: That’s all me. When I agreed to do this, I told them I really wanted to oversee everything. I wanted to make it a place where people can come and hear really good live music. It’s music that is going to move them. Most of the people that like my music really like meaningful music and artists that write and sing and play. I give most of the opportunities to women. People don’t understand the amount of talent out there and some of them just need to be in front of people. This is a place to give a lot of women a chance to perform but everyone is invited. Men, women and everything in between are totally invited to Etheridge Island. I’m ready for it.

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Q: In addition to Etheridge Island and the subscription streaming service, you have diversified beyond music with your foundation. How’s that work going?

A: I have been so happy with what the Etheridge Foundation has done. That came out of my son passing away from opioid addiction. I had a desire to really understand this more and help other people. So many families are going through this and it’s hell to have a family member who is struggling. It’s really hard to see their life going away. The foundation is raising money for medical research into alternatives like plant medicines that are proven to get people off of opioid addiction, methadone and heroin. These are medicines that can help with pain and be an alternative to opioids.

Q: What’s next creatively?

A: I’m in my writing phase for another album. I’m hunting and gathering and being inspired but I’ve got some other things in mind. There’s a thing brewing at the end of the year that I’m hoping turns into sort of ‘Melissa on Broadway.’ I’m also working on a memoir of the last 25 years of my life. My first book was the first 25 years and so much has happened. I’ve grown so much. I’m a different person so I want to write something that might inspire folks. There’s a lot of creativity happening but I’m not pushing one thing too hard. I’m letting it come about as it does.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

Who: Melissa Etheridge with Cecilia Castleman

Where: Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 30

Cost: $20 Tix pack, $30 lawn & terrace, $40 orchestra, $45 plaza in advance, $25 Tix pack, $35 lawn & terrace, $45 orchestra, $50 plaza day of show

More info: 937-296-3300 or www.fraze.com

Artist info: www.melissaetheridge.com

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