McDonough uses musical talent to soothe during COVID-19

With many people stuck at home right now, Jim McDonough has taken to Facebook Live to help brighten people’s days. The professional pianist performs live twice a week, taking requests from his viewers. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     So many people around the country and around the world are cooped up, secluded to their homes as COVID-19 remains at a high risk. Now, more than ever, people need a break from this new “normal,” something to take their minds off of what has been a hectic and unpredictable lifestyle.

     Monticello’s own Jim McDonough, professional pianist, had intentions of doing a Facebook Live performance from his home in Cedar Rapids on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, something he planned for a couple of months.

     “With a name like ‘McDonough,’ I thought it would be a fun time to connect with the people who follow the ‘Jim McDonough Music’ Facebook page and play some Irish songs,” recalled McDonough.

     However, as Tuesday, March 17 arrived, McDonough was hearing about more and more people staying home due to social distancing and coronavirus. That was the date Gov. Kim Reynolds made her first social distancing and business closure announcement.

     “It became clear that the more important objective for that first broadcast would be to lift spirits and provide a respite from the news of the day.”

     That began McDonough’s semi-weekly live performances.

     He takes to Facebook Live every Tuesday and Friday at noon (Central time). Of his first performance, McDonough said, “The response was so overwhelming, and the session was so gratefully received, I decided to broadcast again that Friday.”

     If you follow McDonough’s music or have had the privilege to see him perform live, you know he enjoys taking requests from his audiences and can perform those requests on cue. So that’s how he manages his live shows, too.

     “People love to hear their favorite songs,” he said. “The ones that make their eyes light up or remind them of a memorable time in their life.”

     So many of those public requests have made it to McDonough’s many CDs such as “Broadway Dreams,” “Country Roads,” and “Projections.” His most recent CD is appropriately titled “Requests.”

     As McDonough goes live on Facebook, viewers can see the hundreds of comments viewers send his way, thanking him for taking the time to provide some respite.

     “The comments that people share – especially as they deal with such a disruption in their lives – have been so personal and touching,” he said.

     Each performance garners 500-plus comments, and McDonough personally reads each one following his performance. His first Facebook Live on March 17 brought together close to 8,300 viewers!

     Each time McDonough completes one of his live streams, they remain on his Facebook page for people to watch again and again at their leisure.

     “My second broadcast has been viewed more than 18,000 times,” he said.

     McDonough said reading the kind words from his fans “recharges his battery.”

     “It makes me feel really good to be able to do what I can to help during this time,” he said.

     McDonough said he sees what so many others in his hometown of Monticello are doing to lend a hand: making facemasks, delivering groceries, running errands for people who shouldn’t be out and about, and checking in on their neighbors.

     Throughout his performances, he’ll give shout-outs to those tuning in, asking people to share where they’re watching from.

     “I get a kick out of reading all of the locations from coast-to-coast in the U.S., and even overseas.”

     Like any other business owner in Iowa, or even those across the country, McDonough said COVID-19 has certainly impacted his life and business. The retail shops that sell his CDs have been forced to close their doors. Any public concert events have been cancelled or postponed through April 30, for now.

     McDonough is using this down time to work on “longer-range projects, launch a new website, and lay the groundwork for new ways people can find my music,” he shared. He hopes to look back on this time as having spent it in a productive way.

     McDonough also teased some exciting news and upcoming projects his fans can look forward too… He’s planning for a brand new, hour-long television special, as well as “Home Concert Series” events.

     “I hope to have a new album ready for release this fall,” he added.

     For now, McDonough is taking it week by week, as everyone else is doing. He said as long as people tune into his Facebook Live performances he’ll continue to offer them, especially during this hard time in everyone’s lives.

     “Like” and “Follow” Jim McDonough Music on Facebook to watch his live performances, as well as his archived shows.


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