Pandemic Blues and Opportunities Beyond: An Autistic Artist’s Journey in a Suddenly Changed World

Morgani Giosa Abstract

“I thought to myself, ‘I know all the professional musicians in the area. Why not bring them to my house for socially distanced jam sessions in front of small crowds?’ The results were more than I could have anticipated—seeing as I now have an ongoing concert series in my own backyard…”

By Morgan Giosa

It was February 2020 and I was visiting my father in Florida. I had traveled down from Connecticut by car with my mother. My best friend Frankie and very good friend Nick had flown down to spend a week with us, and I kept hearing about this “coronavirus.” I had no idea the severity of it or what it had to do with me, nor did I know that—flash forward to January of 2021—I’d be able to say I was a COVID-19 survivor myself (luckily, I had a mild case).

By March of 2020, I had made it back to my home in Connecticut—but, as everyone knows, that’s when the normalcy and routine of day-to-day life we’d all taken for granted completely changed.

It’s funny; I’m a blues guitarist, and I remember explicitly that on March 11th, I went to a weekly open jam like it was nothing. I just got up on stage, played my 4 songs with the house band, listened to the music for a little, and left, like I would do any other week. Then, I went to see my friend Michael play an acoustic guitar gig at a local farm on March 13th.

Suddenly, the very next day, everyone was ordered to stay inside and socially distance. Businesses, except for grocery stores and others that sold the bare essentials needed to survive, had shut their doors, including my favorite restaurants. Live music? Forget about it. It was as if it was a thing of the past. Even my beloved Boston Red Sox couldn’t start their season on time (and wound up having an awful season, though fortunately they’re more than making up for it this year).

The next few months were filled with a great deal of uncertainty, tension, and restlessness for me, until I decided to take matters into my own hands. I thought to myself, “I know all the professional musicians in the area. Why not bring them to my house for socially distanced jam sessions in front of small crowds?” The results were more than I could have anticipated—seeing as I now have an ongoing concert series in my own backyard (which has become big with not only my friends and my mom’s friends but our neighbors as well).

Virtuoso musicians from all over the state have come and played with me, the socially awkward, autistic computer geek/guitar novice. Of course, there is sometimes financial compensation involved for the artists, because these are artists with resumes a mile long. For example, my guitar teacher, a man named Frank Varela, was the guest artist at one of the concerts, and he has worked with jazz legends Jimmy McGriff, Larry Coryell, Lenny White, and other world-renowned artists.

While my ultimate goal for these jam sessions is the incredible thrill, catharsis, and rush I get from making music with such talented, accomplished artists, it is an added bonus that the crowds seem to be getting the same exhilaration from the music that I’m getting.

This year, after I recovered from COVID, I have had quite an incredible journey in the local music business—something that I never in a million years would have envisioned when I picked up the guitar a few years back after leaving a difficult job in the computer science/web development industry (I call this decision at the time a part of my “quarter-life crisis”). Music was a lifelong interest of mine, I should note, but I never had any readily apparent talent for it; in fact, it was quite the opposite when I tried to learn the guitar as a teenager.

Morgan Giosa Abstract 2
Morgan Giosa “Abstract 2”

In 2021, not only is my home concert series in my small Connecticut town still going strong, but I have successfully played gigs in a number of rooms that are considered fairly prestigious among local blues bands, including (but not limited to): The Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT (where I joined the ranks of bands doing socially distanced live streamed gigs, merely using their room as a platform for the event), the Hungry Tiger in Manchester, CT, and the Brass Horse in Barkhamsted, CT.

I have my first festival booking coming up in September, and a few bookings that are in progress, including at the Buttonwood Tree (who now want a performance for an in-person audience) and Brass Horse, who may want me back for an encore performance.

I also recorded my first live album and second album overall as part of that Buttonwood Tree event, which I released straight to YouTube. For those interested in listening to it, it is available on YouTube under the title “Morgan Giosa Blues Band – Live at the Buttonwood Tree (FULL ALBUM).”

I should clarify that being a gigging artist isn’t easy for me as an autistic artist – especially in my condition, where I’m an overweight asthmatic with a lot of anxiety and a very rigid, uptight desire for perfection. Each gig feels like running a marathon, because it requires me to exert so much energy, both physical and mental.

I am also still a newbie to the world of performing, writing, improvising, and recording music, and I continue to split my time between designing and developing websites, painting my abstract expressionist art pieces, going on walks and doing nature photography, and playing music—and that is only how I spend my “work time”. I also enjoy concert-going, eating at fine restaurants, and watching nearly every Red Sox game. I have also managed to watch every episode of my favorite animated programs, including South Park, Rocko’s Modern Life, Metalocalypse, King of the Hill, and Rick and Morty—at least once.

With my time split between many different forms of work and leisure, obviously I won’t be out there gigging every single night like my brother (who is a professional drummer) and some of his peers do. I do, however, intend to continue making the best of pandemic-life and beyond, doing my best to take things one day at a time while still continuing to build on the successes that 2021 has offered me.

Going forward, I have plans to re-enter the studio and record my second studio LP (and third overall, if we are counting my debut LP which was released under the name Fake News Blues Band), and also to exhibit some of my paintings. Right now, I am enjoying life as it comes to me and trying my best to think of what I want a post-pandemic life to look like for me.

Do I want to start my own tech firm or do I want to continue in the more right-brained, music/art direction? Only time will tell…

Morgan Giosa

Morgan Giosa is a web developer, blues guitarist, photographer, and visual artist from Windsor, Connecticut.

From an early age, Morgan was raised around music and the arts. His brother Alex is a professional drummer and a skilled visual artist. Many of Morgan’s friends and peers are gigging musicians. As such, Morgan has naturally discovered his own passion in blues guitar and the visual arts through this frequent exposure to creativity.

Morgan has composed original music with the guidance and collaborative input of his mentor, friend, and guitar teacher, Frank Varela. He has recorded an album under the band name Fake News Blues Band in late 2017, which was released in the summer of 2019.

As a web developer, Morgan operates the website temperasolutions.com (formerly MG Web Design) to showcase select portfolio accomplishments. Morgan has also worked as a contractor for established web development firms. He also studies computer science under Dr. Mark A. Friedman, a former college professor who has taught at Trinity College and Central Connecticut State University.

Morgan produced a documentary with his local public access TV station, Win-TV, which is about the trials and triumphs experienced in his unique life, with an overwhelming emphasis on and showcase of Morgan’s music, art, and achievements with technology. The film may be viewed at outsidetheboxdocumentary.com.

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