In March, COVID-19 locked down southeast Ohio along with the rest of the nation.
But the music kept playing at the Fur Peace Ranch (FPR). Andie Walla, a lecturer in the school of Media Arts & Studies in the Scripps College of Communication was there, as she has been for the past 12 years.
Walla began working with former Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane band member and co-owner of Fur Peace Ranch, Jorma Kaukonen, and his wife Vanessa, after finishing her undergraduate degree at Ohio University. The Kaukonens started Fur Peace Ranch in Meigs County as a place where aspiring musicians could learn guitar through instructional workshops.
Over the years, Walla has given many of her Ohio University students the opportunity to learn hands-on production skills at the ranch’s concert venue, which normally features live performances by well-known musicians. Those opportunities were interrupted when the University moved instruction to a virtual format and canceled in-person events in mid-March.
But Walla and the Kaukonens decided to keep going. They launched the first Fur Peace Ranch “Quarantine Concert” series on April 4. Their goal: to connect people from around the world to Jorma’s music and to one another.
“Jorma has a whole army of fans behind him who are so dedicated to his work,” Walla said. “We regularly have 3,000 people watching the live streams and tens of thousands go back and re-watch the shows.”
The series has received national attention from The New York Times, Forbes, News Break, and the Grateful Web. The Times listed the Fur Peace Ranch series as one of the 10 best virtual music concerts in the country.
“A lot of people look to the big cities - Los Angeles, New York City, London - for higher quality productions and they are happening right here in a little community in southeast, Ohio,” Walla said. “The opportunity for students to be involved in so many ways, in normal times, is such an incredible treasure in our community.”
You can stream the Quarantine Series on the Fur Peace Ranch YouTube channel. Weekly concerts also air on WOUB-FM Friday evenings at 7 p.m. and Sundays at midnight. Recently, the team at FPR have added a “Quarantine Vault” series featuring pre-COVID content, which many of Walla’s students helped create. New concerts are uploaded every Saturday.