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COVID & the Arts: Musicians Out of Work

Freddy Allen

Among the many people who've lost their jobs because of COVID-19 are professional musicians.

Freddy Allen and Jordan Danielsen have been full-time musicians their entire adult lives. And as freelance artists, who live gig to gig, the closing of bars and restaurants has shut down their livelihoods.

Allen is a 50-year-old jazz pianist and singer who moved from Chicago to the Quad Cities in 2017 to be closer to family. He’s played professionally since he was 13, and locally he's played at The Grape Life in Davenport, the Hauberg Estate in Rock Island, and the Sunday jazz brunch at Hotel Blackhawk in Davenport.

 "Well since I am a full-time musician, this is what I rely on for my income. And it's kind of devastating and I'm not is this boat alone, so many of my friends and colleagues are right here with me. It's very frightening, it seems surreal."

Credit Jordan Danielsen
Jordan Danielsen

40 year old Jordan Danielsen, of Davenport, is a guitarist and singer-songwriter. And he's also shocked to be out of work. He plays within a two-hour radius of the Q-C, at casinos, wineries, bars, breweries, and senior-citizen homes, all places that have closed. 

"Because I haven't really had to think about any alternate way of making a living for a long time, I felt pretty secure. The thing is even when things open up some of these businesses may go under, if they're smaller businesses, and you know if you put something out for a month that's going to really hit somebody."

Danielsen – who has a 15-year-old son and found some relief in refinancing his car payments - has been posting himself online and looking for financial support that way. Allen has taken his piano online by live-streaming and looking for “virtual tips” through GoFundMe, PayPal, and Venmo. On March 21, his trio streamed live on Facebook for 90 minutes, where they took requests. He's also hoping to play private parties. 

To hear Danielsen, visit facebook.com/jordan.danielsen. 

For Allen, visit facebook.com/freddy.allen88.

Formerly the arts and entertainment reporter for The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times, Jonathan Turner now writes freelance for WVIK and QuadCities.com. He has experience writing for daily newspapers for 32 years and has expertise across a wide range of subject areas, including government, politics, education, the arts, economic development, historic preservation, business, and tourism. He loves writing about music and the arts, as well as a multitude of other topics including features on interesting people, places, and organizations. He has a passion for accompanying musicals, singers, choirs, and instrumentalists. He even wrote his own musical based on The Book of Job, which premiered at Playcrafters in 2010. He wrote a 175-page history book about downtown Davenport, which was published by The History Press in 2016. Turner was honored in 2009 to be among 24 arts journalists nationwide to take part in a 10-day fellowship offered by the National Endowment for the Arts in New York City on classical music and opera, based at Columbia University’s journalism school.