An artist like Abe Partridge won’t let a little thing like a pandemic bring his career to a stop. Since debuting on the local scene, this beloved singer-songwriter/visual artist has kindled a career that has maintained steady momentum.
As with many musicians, Partridge’s career was threatened by COVID-19 on a couple of different levels. His touring itinerary has emptied, and the debut release from his fiery underground rock side project, The Psych Peas, will have to wait.
Even so, Partridge has focused on his artwork and kept an optimistic attitude concerning the future of his career. Lagniappe’s Steve Centanni reached out to Abe Partridge to get an update on his career since COVID-19 tried to derail it.
Steve Centanni: All working musicians have had their career affected by COVID-19. What got disrupted in the career of Abe Partridge?
Abe Partridge: Well, you know, man, I had a tour. I was going to go up to Atlanta and meet up with David Childers, who is a singer-songwriter up in North Carolina. We were going up to Cleveland together and then go back and play the Bluebird [Café] in Nashville. Then I was going to work my way over to Texas. Then I was going to go to the U.K. That was going to happen in June. Pretty much everything through June was cancelled.
Centanni: You know, your career has experienced a steady rise. It’s one thing for an up-and-coming band to be making the most of their time during isolation, but you’re an established, working musician. You can’t stop. How did you make the most of your time during self-isolation?
Partridge: At first, I was a little upset about it. I was primarily making a majority of the money to take care of my family on the road every month. I’ve just been doing a lot of my art and painting. I started a monthly subscription-based art club called “Alabama Astronaut Art Club.” Every month, I send out prints to my most dedicated fans. That’s helped us out a lot. I think we got 67 or 68 members.
Centanni: One thing that you and I talked about recently was the release of The Psych Peas’ album. You were telling me you already have the vinyl versions of it. Was it a situation where you went ahead and decided to get them pressed, or did you get them pressed and then COVID-19 hit?
Partridge: We had already ordered the vinyl. Our intentions were to release it exclusively on vinyl and have it at the Soul Kitchen for a record release party that was supposed to be held on July 3. That’s not going to happen. Now we have 500 records that are just sitting in boxes in my room. We’ll release it when things get back to normal.
Centanni: Even though your folk music and The Psych Peas have totally different sounds, the one common thread is that they’re both raw. The Psyche Peas has this raw, heavy ’90s underground rock sound. What’s it like writing songs for The Psych Peas compared to your folk stuff?
Partridge: It’s really the same, man. It’s just me sitting down with a guitar and coming up with some kind of lyric. Some of those songs I wrote completely like that. Other songs, me and my guitar player, Dave Garrett, would get together and he would come up with some riffs to take the place of what I was working on to make it more of a rock song. Yeah, man, I don’t like frills or ornaments or decorations. Overall, I like songs as stripped down as possible.
Centanni: Another difference between The Psych Peas and your solo material is the live show. You go to another place on stage with The Psych Peas. What’s your favorite thing about performing live with The Psych Peas?
Partridge: I play shows all the time where I sit up there and play with an acoustic guitar. Doing The Psych Peas stuff, it gives me the freedom to get up there and let it all loose. It’s a good escape from all the other performances that I give. It’s good to get up there and roll around and scream a little bit.
Centanni: Is this strictly a studio project, or do you plan on touring with it?
Partridge: Right now, I’m trying to figure out a way to get it into people’s ears and make it in demand. I need to find the right person to realize that this is an extension of my art. Most labels or publicists or people in the business want you to be able to tour. I’m playing with two of the guys from the Red Clay Strays. They tour all the time. I tour as well. So, it will remain a side project. However, if the record got out there and created a demand, then I would like to find a way to meet that demand.
Centanni: Until the venues start to crack open again, what’s next?
Partridge: Man, I’m just going to keep painting and keep trying to find new ways to survive. I make my living as an artist. So, I’m trying to create new art and keep writing new songs and producing. Eventually, things are going to get back to normal. Honestly, I’m thankful for the really bad stuff, but I’ve been thankful to be able to pull away and think about my direction and what I’m doing. So, I’ve been thankful for this period. It’s been really good and I’ve really enjoyed it, even though the world is going through some kind of Armageddon and politically ripping apart at the seams. Me, personally, I’ve enjoyed it.
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