In The Middle Of Difficulty Lies Opportunity – How One DMV Crew Keeps The Music Playing - The Lockdown Sessions

Contributed by Avik Ray, the co-founder of, a DC based YouTube channel that brings artists together to create unique musical experiences.

Our show is based on the fundamental belief that as a society, we can be creative through collaboration with others and that there is no better platform to show that than through music. We film our episodes live and in person and it is an unexplainable pleasure to feel the electricity in the room when artists perform together. We had been filming our episodes at 7DrumCity and were excited about an upcoming collaboration at the iconic Inner Ear Studios.

It was all going great, we had started to build a portfolio of performances on our YouTube channel with musicians from the DC area, collaborating with other artists to create some great music videos. We were hitting our stride and had booked a ton of local artists to film for our show when suddenly everything came to a grinding halt courtesy of the virus that must not be named. 

With the pandemic in full flow we knew that it would be some time before we could get out and film our shows again as we had been doing. - The Lockdown Sessions - The Lockdown Sessions

Despite the chaos, somewhere in this vacuum, we felt there must be an opportunity. As if overnight, the playing field had been leveled. Artists around the world with huge recording contracts all of a sudden found themselves vying for attention with independent artists through Facebook live streams and a whole host of other creative solutions to getting their music to new audiences. If you are talented, all of a sudden there were no boundaries to being heard. 

Video is our chosen medium for dissemination of content and we also felt there was an opportunity to pivot and find a new way of differentiating ourselves. We tried out different ideas and tested a number of platforms to see if we could record live remotely and continue with a bastardized version of our current format but the latency issues made it very difficult to guarantee a high quality output. We saw bands using apps like Acapella which was pretty cool but being film guys, we wanted more flexibility. Our channel is built around the idea of collaboration and bringing artists together, it seemed like there was no time more important than now for that as well as an opportunity to try something we had been thinking about for a while: have artists perform together from anywhere. - The Lockdown Sessions - The Lockdown Sessions

With the constraints of not being able to film or capture audio in person, we decided we had to rely on the artists to do that for us, guiding them through the process, helping with shot framing and the technical aspects of recording. The track would be passed around in a "postal service" style with the next artist adding their layer to the track. With the folks that responded to our initial call for artists, we also had the opportunity to partner artists together that would not normally have had the chance to cross paths. In every difficult moment, there is an opportunity to do something special. 

We started with two streams straight away and there was a very special buzz. One stream started with our friends Andrew Burleson and Joey Jenkins from the DC band Most Savage Gentlemen who we teamed up with Lil' Maceo, a national recording artist who has played saxophone with the likes of Prince and Alicia Keys. With the recent passing of Bill Withers, the team found common ground and wanted to pay tribute to the great man with a cover of "Use Me." Andrew had the idea to call in Jeff Madonna from LilWhiskeyKids and told me "this guy's voice will really blow your hair back," (or something to that effect!) and he was not wrong. Maceo recently moved to DC from NY and recruited his former band members from the tri-state area and the squad was complete.  

It is always difficult to go first, but we are very proud of the artists that helped bring volume one of "the lockdown sessions" to life. We learned a lot in terms of process for these types of videos, made new friends in the process and had a great time doing so.  

You can see the end result here: 


  • Andrew Burleson - vocals & guitar  
  • Jeff Madonna - vocals & guitar  
  • Joey Jenkins - vocals & tambourine  
  • Lil' Maceo - saxophone 

  • Andrew Marsh - drums  
  • Max Michael Jacob - bass  
  • Antar Goodwin - guitar  

Audio mix: Rich Russman  

Edit: Avik Ray, Chris Whitmore  

The Lockdown Session - Volume 1
The Lockdown Session - Volume 1

“I had a great opportunity to collaborate with some DC area musicians for’s lockdown sessions, which has been helping area artists collaborate and create in the midst of mandated seclusion. I’m honored to be a part of such a cool project.”

    // Jon Tyler Wiley

We simultaneously started the second stream with DC’s very own looping violinist Bellweather Bayou, bassist Rob Lee from Sweet Pickles and multi-instrumentalist Jon Tyler Wiley. Jon had been on our show with Ashleigh Chevalier and pulled out one of the most epic guitar solos we have had on our show so far. Sweet Pickles were due to record with us at Inner Ear studios just one week after everything shut down so we were especially disappointed not to film them but happy that they joined us for this new initiative. We knew of Bellweather Bayou through Instagram and had always been interested in working with her and were amazed by the demo she sent us. 

Our thoughts were that each of these groups would record covers but were pleasantly surprised when our initial Zoom meeting for stream two went down the path of writing an original song. The song is a credit to the talent of the three musicians who have produced a masterpiece at a distance called "Try." The artists also requested that all promotional efforts be used to drive donations to DC Central Kitchen, a local non-profit doing great work in our community.


  • Bellwether Bayou - violin and vocals
  • Jon Tyler Wiley - guitars, mandolin & backing vocals
  • Rob Lee - bass & cajon

Audio mix: Rich Russman

Edit: Chris Whitmore, Avik Ray 

The Lockdown Session - Volume 2
The Lockdown Session - Volume 2

“So glad to have been a part of this, and to see this song come together like it never could have if I was working alone!”

    // Bellwether Bayou

We don’t know what the future looks like or how we might all collaborate going forward, all we know it is not easy working alone and this was a whole lot of fun.

Even through challenging times, we are always looking to turn it up a notch in terms of new ways for artists to create together. We already have the next episodes of the lockdown sessions in production but if you are an artist in the DMV and are able to record from home, please send a mail to We would love to find a way to have you collaborate with new friends you don't know yet. Stay safe and subscribe to our YouTube channel if you haven’t already 🙂

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From time to time DC Music Review features the contributions from a special guest writer. You should find a link to the guest contributor at the beginning of the article.