Flint, MI — Local musician Jason Waggoner is dealing with the closing of bars and venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing his talents from the stage to screen.

Although the entertainment industry has been hit heavily, the silver lining is social media’s pivot to live-streaming which has been leveling the playing field for musicians and entertainers.

“There are normally people who have no desire to go out,” says Waggoner of his online audience. “I’m kind of a music snob and I don’t go see bands generally. It’s interesting to be able to, in a flick, on a Friday night stop by and see friends I never get to see and float. It’s like virtual bar hopping.” 

During his broadcasts, Waggoner tries to focus on several Flint businesses to talk about between his songs. His advertisements are unpaid and just out of love for the people and places he supports, he said.

“Sunday I mentioned The (Flint) Crepe Company quite a bit,” says Waggoner. “I had the Flint Crepe Company mug. I know Robb (Klaty, owner), I don’t ask them for anything. I just want the people who don’t know about Flint to travel here. I’ve lived 30 minutes away in Clarkston and I never came here.”

Waggoner dubbed his Facebook Live streams Together Tuesday and Social Distancing Sunday, but it wasn’t the first time he’d dabbled in performing online. 

“When I lived in The Durant I would do a live thing every once in a while. I would play one song and do no promotion—nothing,” says Waggoner. “The people who were watching, my friends, would comment and ask for more than one song. Then people would comment about this yellow chair I have from IKEA that would be behind me. People would s

Jason Waggoner

ay, ‘I like that yellow chair.’ So then I would say, ‘I’m going live with my duel partner, the yellow chair.’ So when I needed a name for this, I called it Yellow Chair Diaries.”

The endgame for the Yellow Chair Diaries is to transition into a podcast, but until then under its umbrella, Waggoner launched two weekly Facebook live performances to keep entertaining his fanbase and friends both in Flint and his original home base of Clarkston.

“Sunday morning, living where I did, we would listen to WCSX and get their show Sunday Morning OverEasy hosted by Pam Rossi,” says Waggoner. “I used to listen to that quite a bit. It was all acoustic classic rock, but they would play all sorts of stuff. They weren’t playing anything too rambunctious. So when I do the Sunday morning that’s the feel I want to go for. So I’ll pick a couple of songs, or people will request songs and I’ll do one of those.”

After years of living in Clarkston, Waggoner relocated to Flint and his perception changed. His previous memory of the city was having his guitar stolen in the late ‘90s while playing the former downtown venue, The Metropolis. Now Waggoner has been championing the Vehicle City and all that it’s done for him.

“I’m just proud of this place. I see a lot of potential and opportunity here. Let’s say you’re a young person who can’t afford a $200,000 house in Clarkston that’s 1,100 square feet. But you can come here with your family for $100,000 and buy a house that’s 2,000 square feet. We need people to come and spend their money here. That’s why I talk about it. I love the restaurants downtown. I love the atmosphere. I look forward to the day there are more shops for people to come visit soon.”

You can tune into Jason Waggoner’s Facebook every Sunday and Tuesday for his performances, with his next Social Distancing Sunday will take place on Easter night at 7pm. 

Jonathan Diener is a world-traveling musician, comic writer, and freelance journalist having written for Vice, Alternative Press and The Hard Times. His charitable endeavors include the music compilation...