IT'S EASY enough to categorize Bottles & Cans as a blues band, but the reality is that they’re so much more. The group, which has been together for many years and is made up of a collection of top-notch local musicians, plays a serious mix of Americana, blues, rock, country, and soul. It’s something they’ve been doing for a long time and had no intention of stopping.
That is, until three months ago when everything came to a halt. Gigs had to be cancelled, and Bottles & Cans was put on hold. Bandleader Ray Lundy says this is the longest stretch they’ve gone without playing a gig.
“We have not played together since February, and then everything started dropping off. One after the other, we were losing gigs,” Lundy tells Connect. “It’s been so long that we said, ‘Hey, maybe we should knock the rust off and play some of these songs.’”
Lundy says he hasn’t gone three months without a gig since he was in his 20s.
“It’s been a hell of a learning curve. And certainly when you’re in that rhythm and you’ve got a routine with gigs, you look forward to it. And when it’s all gone, you’re like, ‘Hey, I’m missing something!’ It’s been strange,” he says.
Though it’s been tough not being able to play regularly with his band, Lundy says he’s been doing all he can to stay safe and isolate with his wife at their home. It’s particularly important for Lundy because of his long battle with pneumonia, which he had for two years in a row.
“When this stuff started happening, I took it very seriously. I was like, ‘Well, I’m staying in.’ But the house has turned into a pretty nice green room!” he says with a laugh.
When we caught up with Lundy, he was getting ready to meet up with his bandmates for the first time in months and rehearse for their upcoming Quarantine Concert on Sat., July 13.
“It’ll be the first time we’ve seen each other together,” he says. “I’m ready to see these guys and hang out! This is the first time I’m going to be in close quarters with anybody but my wife or the odd person at the grocery store. I want to see these guys, but I don’t know if I’m going to hug them!”
As far as the show goes, Lundy says the band is sticking to their main catalog of songs rather than pulling out any new surprises. Considering that they haven’t played these songs together in months, it should feel just as new and exciting as playing an entirely new song would.
“We’re going to stick with what we know pretty well,” he says. “I don’t think we’ll have too many surprises, but we’re for sure going to try to be entertaining. I think we’re all looking forward to it.”
One thing that will be different for this show is that the band will be playing a few songs with drummer Paul Cooper, who filled in for the band’s regular drummer Josh Safer when he underwent surgery. Both Safer and Cooper will be on hand for the show, and it’s possible that they may even play together in a dual drum setup.
It’s not lost on Bottles & Cans that this opportunity to do a full band show is a rare one these days, and may be their only one for the foreseeable future.
“The future of performing live in a band is very well in jeopardy, you know? But thinking about it, it’s like, what do you expect anyone to do? And if the clubs can only operate at a certain percentage of capacity, then they don’t have room for a band anyway. And who can afford it? So naturally, live entertainment is the first thing to go. But who knows when it’ll come back,” Lundy says.
One thing that’s certain is that outlets like Quarantine Concerts are a necessity for musicians and music fans alike right now.
“It’s great that it’s happening. It’s why I appreciate all the work that these guys are doing to make this happen,” Lundy says, “and it’s nice to see people coming together to make something.”