When the Covid pandemic shut life down in mid-March, Davenport singer-songwriter Jordan Danielsen was shocked to find his full-time work gone.

Danielsen performing last year at Tugger’s in Port Byron.

For years, he’s performed within a two-hour radius of the Quad-Cities, at casinos, wineries, bars, breweries, and senior-citizen homes — all places that closed. Like  other artists, Danielsen shifted his focus to online and outdoor performing, and he’s survived.

“August and September is usually my busiest time, and it was this year too,” he said this week. “A lot of private parties, stuff like that. It’s still nice enough to be out on the patio.”

Since the spring shutdown, Danielsen stayed as busy as possible, like playing birthday parties, virtual concerts and outdoor neighborhood parties.

He’s done three RME Curbside Concerts, which were a big help.

Danielsen performs at some indoor venues, but most have been outside. He was recently at Tugger’s Bar & Grill in Port Byron inside. Patrons typically enter wearing masks until they sit and eat, he said.

“I’m not too worried about it; I’ve also done a lot of weddings,” Danielsen said of Covid risk. “I actually just got tested and I was negative. I’m around people all the time.”

“I was really scared at first,” he said of when things closed in March. “It all fell into place. The virtual concerts were really cool too. People were very generous.”

“I also got into making my own videos, and video editing,” Danielsen said. “I’ve learned a lot about that, so I’ve reached a lot of people that I wouldn’t have reached before.”

An important video he recently completed was an hour-long movie/concert comprised of takes from several different shows and jams over the last few months, to premiere Sunday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. and will be available for 72 hours after the event.

Jordan Danielsen will premiere his video on Sunday at 7 p.m.

It will benefit an organization called Sounds of Saving, which is dedicated to suicide prevention through music. Tickets are only $7.70, available HERE.

“I think it turned out to be something really cool,” Danielsen said. Upon reserving a ticket, you will get a link and instructions on how to view the video.

“I didn’t want to sit there and play in front of a camera for an hour,” he said. “I just set up a tripod at tons of different gigs and it kind of captured my summer, too. I played at the Outing Club, played up in Dubuque; private parties that were neighborhood parties. It kind of like showed all the different places I’ve played, the wineries, and others.”

“I edited it all and made it into a movie. It’s kind of cool,” Danielsen said. His music can loosely be considered “Americana,” with strong tinges of country, jazz and classic ’70s rock and roll. His influences range from Van Morrison to Paul Simon to The Counting Crows, which can be heard in his many compositions.

He met the Sounds of Saving concert series facilitator Joel Pirchesky, who lives in Pittsburgh, through his father. A couple years ago, Jordan met Joel, who runs the social media network One World Blue. They did an electronic press kit for Danielsen.

“I’ve been making connections and Joel asked me if I wanted to do this,” he said of the new benefit. “I’ve been doing some research on those guys, and it seems like a really cool thing, definitely.”

Joel Pirchesky is founder and CEO of One World Blue.

Pirchesky, who has a master’s degree in public policy and management from University of Pittsburgh, is the founder and CEO of One World Blue, whose mission is to create “greater social harmony and a better planet one good deed at a time,” he said Friday. His website is www.blupela.com.

“We spotlight people making a difference, doing good, worthy of sharing,” Pirchesky said. “It’s a positive space, there’s no negativity…it’s completely apolitical.”

The co-founder of Sounds of Saving, Charlie Gross, partnered with him in building One World Blue, and since early September, have presented 14 online concerts, with half the proceeds going to Sounds of Saving.

“I figured a lot of musicians are suffering — venues are closed, they can’t play,” Pirchesky said. “Many of them are out of work. I want to help musicians make money and raise money for a good cause.”

Suicide prevention efforts are more important during the pandemic, since so many people are suffering – not just musicians, he said.

“It’s very frustrating — in the midst of all these people suffering, people are out of work, people are starving – that the two sides of politics can’t get an agreement to meet people’s financial needs. It’s beyond my mind to understand how they can function, that this becomes political. People are starving, getting kicked out of their homes, and politicians are worried about their side.

“The mental health crisis has skyrocketed in the last six months, and veteran suicide is a big thing,” Pirchesky said, adding that Sounds of Saving benefits are scheduled into February 2021.

Charlie Gross (a former personal photographer for the musician Beck) is a psychotherapist and photographer based in Brooklyn, and his work explores the overlap between creativity and mental health.

The logo for Sounds of Saving.

“I’ve gone through some depression in my life, and I know a lot of people – it seems like everybody has something going on,” Danielsen said. “It’s just a good cause, and definitely something I believe in. Because if it wasn’t for music, I don’t know what I would have done many times.

“It’s like my therapy,” Danielsen said. “Sometimes, I’d rather be on stage than anywhere else.”

From Galena throughout the Midwest

In 2005, he became the house act at Eagle Ridge resort and spa in the historic town of Galena in Illinois’ northwest corner. While at Eagle Ridge, Danielsen built his repertoire of over 10 hours of music, and learned to play to a wide range of audiences. Eventually, he branched out and began touring around the Midwest.

Danielsen has shared the bill with national acts such as G-Love and Special Sauce, Tim Reynolds, Better Than Ezra, Los Lobos, Lissie, and Tonic.

In 2011, he studied music performance at Black Hawk College in Moline, and released his debut CD “Night Alone In The City,” with a lineup of talented musicians with whom he headlined the 2009 Wells Fargo Fest in downtown Davenport. The CD was produced by Rob Cimmarusti, and included a horn section starring Edgar Crockett.

Sounds of Saving aims to fuel the hope needed to reverse the trend of rising suicides, ultimately improving mental health and reducing suicide rates.

“We fuel hope both by celebrating the power of human connection to music, and by directing people towards the resources they need before it’s too late — because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” according to its site, www.soundsofsaving.org.

Danielsen makes his full-time living by playing throughout Illinois and Iowa.

Suicide risk may be rising during the global pandemic, fueled by isolation, unemployment, and other crises roiling the nation – like protests against racial injustice, political polarization and natural disasters.

“It’s a natural experiment, in a way,” Matthew Nock, a psychology professor at Harvard, told The New York Times in May. “There’s not only an increase in anxiety, but the more important piece is social isolation.” He added, “We’ve never had anything like this — and we know social isolation is related to suicide.”

Research shows that an overwhelming number of people who survive a suicide attempt are glad they lived, and do not die by another attempt. And over 90 percent of suicide victims have a diagnosable mental disorder. “We believe that a connection to music, or to whatever treatment is best for a particular individual, can intervene and save lives,” according to Sounds of Saving.

Using music to become stronger

“Music is a powerful tool for strengthening mental health. It’s the universal human language of emotion, connecting us across genres and continents. And our personal stories about how music creates hope are especially powerful. Sounds of Saving works with musicians willing to share how music has helped them through difficult times, and who will use their platform to promote opening up and seeking help during mental health challenges.

“These relatable stories about overcoming hopelessness or distress, especially from those we admire, have been proven to decrease suicide attempts and can normalize conversations about mental health.”

Jordan Danielsen and Jef Spradley will play at Tycoga Winery in DeWitt on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Mass media can save lives by presenting non-suicide alternatives to crises, the group says. This phenomenon is known as the “Papageno Effect,” named after a lovelorn character from the Mozart opera “The Magic Flute,” who contemplates suicide until others offer him hope. For instance, after Logic’s 2017 VMA performance of his song “1-800-273-8255,” titled after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Lifeline received the second-highest call volume in its history.

Music, which resonates with everyone in individual ways, is a powerful tool for the Papageno Effect — and one that can use contagious hope to improve the lives of at-risk people and populations, the group says.

The three-year-old Sounds of Saving believes “that authentic human connection lies at the core of confronting mental illness. While social media can be a valuable tool for connection and we use it to share our content, we also recognize that it can have harmful effects on mental health in a variety of ways.”

Founder Nick Greto wrote that in late 2016, he attended an event for a suicide-focused nonprofit that a friend of a friend has founded after losing his brother.

“I didn’t expect to be majorly affected. But after recalling my Uncle Mike taking his own life, and the numerous friends that I lost to drug overdoses over the years, I knew I had to do something,” he said.

“For me, music had always been the thing. The thing that picked me up when I was low,” Greto said. “The thing that made me feel less alone. THE THING. But how could I use music to raise awareness and prevent suicides?

‍“It immediately hit me that everyone I know who loves or plays music says the same thing: ‘Without music, I don’t know where I would be.’ And on the spot, Sounds of Saving was created.”

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In April, the group posted on Instagram:

“Staying home does not always mean staying safe. For those affected by domestic violence and abuse, home is the most dangerous place to be. Now, in the midst of the pandemic, it is also the only place to be.

“The conditions to contain the virus — confinement, isolation from friends and family, and strict adherence to rules — are some of the very tools that abusers use to control, manipulate, and intimidate. Combined with current financial, emotional, and psychological stressors, the risk for violence and abuse in the home has surged.

“Shelter in Place has shattered support networks and forced victims into close quarters with abusers 24/7, making it extremely difficult to get help or escape,” the post said. “At the same time, hotlines, safe houses, and other resources are overwhelmed and underfunded at a time when demand has never been higher.”

The music and fashion star Rihanna stepped up to help address this crisis by co-funding a $4.2 million grant to the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles that will provide shelter, meals, and counseling for victims of domestic abuse during the lockdown.

Among Danielsen’s upcoming gigs are:

  • Saturday, Oct. 10: Stone Cliff Winery, Dubuque.
  • 11: Tycoga Vineyard & Winery, DeWitt.
  • 14: The Grape Escape, Galena.
  • 18: Highway 20 Brewery, Elizabeth, Ill.
  • 22: Harrington’s Pub, Bettendorf.
  • 23: The Pub, Milan.
  • 24: Galena Brewing Company, Moline.

To see where Danielsen will be playing in the next two months, visit https://jordandanielsenmusic.com/calendar. If other musicians are interested in performing to help Sounds of Saving, contact Pirchesky at info@oneworldblue.com.

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.