Throughout July, The Wildwoods can be found flooding outdoor wineries with Noah Gose’s soft guitar strums and Chloe Gose’s powerful vocals. When the couple vowed to have and to hold each other “in sickness and in health,” navigating performances during the coronavirus was not on their mind.
Noah, a senior music composition major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Chloe, a senior psychology major, lead Lincoln’s indie-folk band The Wildwoods and have been married for the last two years.
When the duo performs as The Wildwoods, Noah mans the guitar and keys, and Chloe strums the violin and mandolin. However, The Wildwoods band isn’t complete until the two are backed by Noah Pinkman, who plays electric guitar, bassist Andrew Vaggalis, drummer Nate Morris, cellist Michele Bartos and pianist Jack Rodenburg.
The Wildwoods takes inspiration from nature in both its sound and its name. It relies heavily on soft vocals and the melodic hymns of acoustic instruments to develop its folky tunes.
At the start of 2020, the duo planned to do a small tour in Nebraska and record an album in Ireland. After going on tour in Ireland and other European countries last year, Noah wrote an instrumental album inspired by their trip and received a creative grant from the College of Fine and Performing Arts to travel back to Ireland and record there.
However, when the pandemic hit, the two had to postpone their trip and cancel their summer tour. Additionally, they had to find new sources of income, as they earned a living from teaching music lessons and playing in-person shows.
“It was a struggle at first,” Chloe said. “Music is what we do and what we've always done, so I feel like it'd be kind of weird if we just stopped because [of] the coronavirus.”
Despite their initial concerns, Chloe and Noah were able to channel their creativity into work. Noah started tuning pianos, and the pair moved their music lessons to Zoom. They also started hosting regular live-streamed concerts through The Wildwoods’ Facebook page where supporters could donate virtually.
After consistently producing live-streamed shows, Chloe said the duo feared viewers would become burnt out. They decided to direct their energy elsewhere and focus more on creating music rather than performing.
“It's almost like we've been given the gift of time to just work on other things like writing songs and focusing on that side of being in a band,” Chloe said.
Yet, they still faced challenges when it came to remaining inspired.
“One of the biggest struggles is trying to stay motivated to work on stuff when it's so easy to just lay there and sit on your phone for free for eight hours a day,” Noah said.
Eventually, the couple found the drive to keep making music. At the beginning of the pandemic, they moved from an apartment into a house. At their new home, they were able to spend more time outside, reconnect with nature and find inspiration to write.
“With the songs we've written during this time, [we’ve] definitely been trying to either capture nostalgic events or just taking stories that we've heard, maybe something in the news or just something from one of our friends,” Noah said.
Now, the band is recording an album at home, which is something they have never done before.
After spending three months working on music from home, The Wildwoods began to receive offers for shows in June. While Chloe said they were excited to get back in front of a crowd, they worried about the health and safety of others.
“I think it's just picking and choosing which gigs are smart to play because we don't want to put anyone in danger,” Chloe said.
While they’re not actively seeking gigs, Chloe said they’re assessing the safety of each offer that comes their way. They’re primarily focused on playing bigger, outdoor gigs where the audience is able to remain physically distanced.
“It keeps us [and] our minds sharp and healthy to play for a crowd and to interact with people that enjoy the music,” Noah said.
Despite the challenges and setbacks they’ve faced since the pandemic, Chloe and Noah said they are glad to be back on stage.
“What we do for a living is meant for people to just sit back and enjoy and maybe inspire them in their daily life,” Chloe said. “I think it's really important for other people's mental health for us to just continue to play and [to speak] our message to people to help them in any way that they may need at this time.”