By day, Chris Hames manages guest services, valet services, and volunteer services at Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota.
By night? He’s an accordionist for a rock polka band, Meat Rabbits.
Hames has played music since he was young. While his primary instrument was the piano, he’s deviated to the accordion since five-member band formed.
“When my grandpa passed, I received his accordion. It sat in a closet for about eight years and I never picked it up,” said Hames.
But once he did, the band’s sound changed forever.
“It’s really changed the kind of genre that we play. We’ve got a really unique sound that mixes polka, rock folk, and bluegrass. It sets us apart from a lot of other local bands,” he added.
The problem? It’s not often easy to catch the peculiar, and popular, Fargo band.
“We’re mostly a garage band.”
Hames and his other four members are professionals, who do perform at festivals and weddings, but, “gigging isn’t our thing. We want to play music, and we mostly do it in the garage,” said Hames.
The niche band’s popularity and demand makes their song, dedicated Sanford and health care workers, all the more special.
‘Hold Me Now’
Hames says the COVID-19 pandemic has “brought a lot fear.” Fear he and his wife experienced firsthand.
“I was in the Dominican Republic, like any idiot would be, on March 1st. I was there with my wife when everything flipped. The United States started taking it seriously, and then all of the sudden local, regional, and state governments began putting in place their restrictions.
“We were down there when the school was closed. Having three children my phone was lighting up with emails, incident command was started, and we made the decision to fly home mid-trip,” he said.
“I returned home to a very different world. I returned to work, and saw this exhaust. You saw people working around the clock, we were trying to prepare for a pandemic, and you saw people’s fear, and it was overwhelming.”
However, that fear inspired Meat Rabbits’ song, “Hold Me Now.” While the pandemic served as inspiration, Hames says the song isn’t solely about the novel coronavirus.
“It’s about being brave in the face of uncertainty.
“It’s acknowledging that loss. Acknowledging that change. Acknowledging the choice that still comes in crisis, and acknowledging that when the crisis is over, we aren’t the same. It changes us.”
Everyone has had to put on a brave face in the midst of this pandemic, especially those working in health care, which is why Hames dedicated this song to them.
“We’re called to hold and care the sick. Called to hold and care for the families of the sick, and to be brave even when we’re experiencing the same fear that the rest of the world is feeling.”
Recording while distancing
Hames and the rest of Meat Rabbits say they’re proud of the song, and the solace it’s offered.
The song is unlike anything they’ve ever recorded, including the way they recorded it.
While the song was produced, the band was following Sanford Health and CDC recommendations by social distancing. Meaning, none of them were together.
“None of this was recorded together with the band, which is really interesting. I wrote the song, met with the studio, Asunder Audio, and we laid all of the tracks down separately. I went there separately and laid down the piano, the accordion parts, and some background vocals. We brought in the lead singer on a separate day. He laid down his vocals. Then, all of the guitar, drums, the bass, all of those are individual tracks that were recorded individually. So, it’s a very different way,” said Hames.
“To bring us in, while still honoring that social distancing, that was kind of cool. So now when we play it all together, it doesn’t even sound like the same song.”
“Hold Me Now” is available on all major musical platforms for download or streaming.
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