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Rickety Desk: Videos provide needed light in uncertain times

With teams of experts reminding us daily of the defensive measures we must all take to fight off the coronavirus, we tend to think that's all we need to do. But now comes our moment to go on the offensive, to win the bigger war - a war not only for our physical health, but for our mental, emotional and even spiritual health - the war to maintain the bonds of our community, maybe even our humanity.

When Desiree Pederson, owner of Necessities Salon in Cloquet, thought about the challenge to her business presented by the pandemic, she didn't reach into the same toolbox that you or I might use to address the problem. No, she opened a whole 'nother box.

Pederson comes from a family of musicians and performers, and is a self-described "right-brained karaoke junkie." For her, problem + talent + inspiration = Facebook video. Lots of folks around the area are glad she did her peculiar math, as she came up with a solution that has its own viral qualities.

Pederson's video production, "The Quarantine Plea," appears on her Necessities Salon and Day Spa Facebook page. The video is her hilarious and hugely entertaining parody of "Good Morning, Baltimore," the opening number from the musical movie "Hairspray." Pederson rewrote many of the words to the song, adapting it to her own hopes and dreams for a post-pandemic Cloquet.

Posted on May 7, the video has had over 4,500 views with a viral reach into the community well beyond Necessities Salon's customers, followers, or Pederson's personal and Facebook friends.

"The Quarantine Plea" will make you want to laugh, sing along, and be glad that if we must all be in this same boat together, at least we are in it with people like Desiree Pederson.

Pederson said that she made the video "in about an hour and a half" using her iPhone 10 for the camera, and her boyfriend, Darin Bainter, as cameraman. She wrote and recorded her own rendition of the song, using a free download of GarageBand to capture her vocals with a karaoke backing track for the song.

She then used Apple's free iMovie app to bring the audio and video tracks together into one very clever and wonderfully heartwarming video. Pederson then posted her video to Facebook.

What happened next was a huge surprise.

"The Quarantine Plea" went locally viral. People loved the video, commented on it, and shared it 74 times.

"I never thought it would be like this," Pederson said about her newfound fame as a star of both the salon and the small screen.

Our community is a happier place because of it. Thank you, Desiree Pederson.

(Watch it here: https://www.facebook.com/174064552626162/videos/913622489067576/)

A song for solace

Speaking of community, it took a village to fashion this past week's locally produced "Song from the North Country: Flood Waters" video.

Twenty-one musicians (aged 17 to 78) from our region collaborated on this single-song project.

The Song from the North Country project launched just four weeks ago, as the collaborative held a Zoom meeting to kick things off. They chose a song, Bill and Kate Isles' "Flood Waters," then set each participant free to creatively pursue their instrument of choice and cooperatively work out the vocal parts they would sing with others.

Using smartphones, cameras, and whatever electronic gadgetry they had on hand, each musician submitted individual audio and video tracks to the producer (me), who cobbled everything together into one pretty awesome music video.

All of the recording and engineering work was done in COVID-19 isolation or with regard to social distancing. With a $0 production budget, the video was produced purely on the donated time, talents and caring engagement of locally grown musicians, and it's amazing what love and joy can do.

The musicians themselves loved the process of being able to work (even if only remotely) with musical friends and colleagues that they were missing or had always wanted to play music with.

As producer, I got to experience truly incredible moments as the audio and video tracks began to come together.

I laughed when Shane Nelson (Crescent Moon) supplanted his much-

anticipated guitar break with an "Andy of Mayberry"-style whistle solo.

I wept when the violin/guitar duet of Lauren Cooper and Nick Muska (One Less Guest) returned me to earth from a soaring instrumental and the road-burnished, blended voices of Don Brown and Colleen Myhre grounded me again in musical hope and love.

The Song from the North Country: Flood Waters video was released Sunday evening and in less than 48 hours it had almost 450 shares and more than 23,000 views on Facebook and YouTube.

People from all over the country with connections to our area are experiencing just a bit of "coming home" through this inspiring, locally based musical collaborative.

(Watch it here: https://www.facebook.com/songfromthenorthcountry/videos/2688651868046833/)

Once again, if you've got a social media video to share, or know someone who does, send an email to [email protected] with the subject line, "local artist video." We might share a link, incorporate it into a recommended viewing list, or even talk about your video, how you made it, and why. More into appreciating? Let us know what you're watching.

Tim "Mothy" Soden-Groves is a thinker, writer and humorist from Carlton. Find his blog at http://www.mothygroves.com.

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