Many musicians have been at home bored since the pandemic halted touring, but Luke Bryan’s keyboard player Scotty Wilbanks has put the downtime to great use. He recruited an all-star cast of musicians to record the instrumental “Quarantine,” a smokin’ jam that features Brad Paisley, Steve Wariner, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Jonathan Cain of Journey and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Chuck Leavell of the Rolling Stones, among other accomplished musicians. Proceeds from the project are going to benefit MusiCares, a charity that helps music people in need.
“I just was missing the road. I was missing touring. I was really missing all the guys in the band, Luke and the team,” says Wilbanks, an award winning songwriter/producer/musician. Based in Georgia, Wilbanks joined Bryan’s band a year and a half ago. He previously performed with Grammy winning Christian rock band Third Day until they retired in 2018.
“After touring for 25 or 26 years and then not doing it, it kind of messes with you a little bit,” Wilbanks tells Sounds Like Nashville. “I was working late one night in the studio and I just started jamming and the more I jammed, it just turned into this tune. So I stayed up most of the night and did a demo of it, did the arrangement and sent it to a few guys the next day. They were like, ‘Man, this is pretty cool! Do you want me to play on it?’ Fast forward and the next thing you know, we’re the Quarantine All-Stars.”
“What a thrill to play with this caliber of musicians,” Wariner says. “A social distance jam with players like these certainly isn’t preferable, but it’s the right way to do it these days, and to help out our struggling musicians by supporting MusiCares makes it even more special.”
The video is available on the MusiCares site, and a donate button will be accessible for those interested in contributing to MusiCares Covid-19 Relief. Bryan provides an intro to the clip. “They got together and created a great song full of heart and intention to help our fellow musicians by raising funds for the Music Cares COVID-19 relief fund,” Bryan says. “MusiCares helps music people in crisis and we all want to do our part to help during these difficult times.”
For those who contributed to the track, it was a chance to play for a good cause. “It felt great to play on this smokin’ hot tune and fun video with so many other fine musicians in support of such a vital organization as MusiCares,” Leavell says. “I hope folks will enjoy it and join us in the cause.”
Wilbanks has a diverse musical resume that includes producing Dove Award-winning rockers DecembeRadio and country veteran Mark Wills as well as writing songs for both country and Christian artists. His multi-genre background influenced “Quarantine,” which provides a showcase for musicians who excel in different musical styles. “I love all kinds of music and I’ve always been a fan of all different genres,” Wilbanks says. “When I was writing certain sections of the song, there was one section at the top where Brad Paisley comes on where in my head, I thought, ‘This needs to sound like Brad Paisley is playing.’ I had Brad specifically in mind and then when it goes to the more 80’s rock section, I was such a Journey fan I thought, ‘Man, this needs to have that 80’s rock cool Journey kind of thing.’ I really just had a lot of those guys on a wish list in my head. The whole song is kind of a journey through different genres and just a ton of fun. When I shared it with my band mates that play with me in Luke’s band, there were all like, ‘We love it man! We want to play on it,’ so I started with my band mates. I just love my Luke Bryan brothers. Every one of those guys are on this song and really play a vital part.”
Next Wilbanks began reaching out to other musicians. “I’ve always been a Jonathan Cain fan and his manager was a friend of mine,” Wilbanks says. “Jonathan and I had talked a couple of times through text. I played it for Jonathan and he was like, ‘Yeah I’m in. What do you want me to do?’ And then I called my buddy that plays drums for Eric Clapton, that’s Sonny Emory, and my buddy Sam Sims that played with Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson. I said, ‘What do you all think about this?’ Instantly they were like, ‘We love it! We’re in!’ Everybody I was asking loved it and wanted to do it. It was like a domino effect. One thing led to another.”
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Thanks Jay!!! Just by watching the video U are helping…and please support if u can. 🙏Video link in my bio. #Repost @jaydemarcus @rascalflatts with @make_repost ・・・ My good buddy @thescottywilbanks has put together this all star line up, a one of a kind experience, benefitting #musicares It is a wonderful cause and you can participate…. The link to the video is in my bio…. #musicians #studio #jams #worthycausetour
A friend who works with the Grammys in Atlanta connected Wilbanks with Leavell. “The next thing I know, I’m getting a phone call from Chuck Leavell and he was like man, ‘When I heard this, it brought joy to me and made me smile. It makes me want to play, so if I can be involved, I’d love it,’ and man he did. He’s one of my heroes.”
Mark Wills suggested Wilbanks contact Wariner. “The next thing you know, Steve’s playing this incredible part on the song,” he smiles.
Bryan’s manager, Kerri Edwards, put Wilbanks in touch with Paisley’s management. “We connected and Brad was just really gracious to do it,” Wilbanks says. “He did his thing like only he can do.”
Each musician recorded his part and sent it to Wilbanks to put the song together. “I was like a kid on Christmas morning to hear each player sending in their part of how they interpreted my idea or how they wanted to bring their unique ability to the song,” he says. “I’d download the link, the guitar file or drum file or whatever and was like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is awesome.’ It was like a kid on Christmas morning unwrapping a present. That was the coolest part.”
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It took a team of AMAZING people to pull this off and I am grateful! With all that’s going on in the world today I hope this brings you some joy and a smile. Please share this with everyone and PLEASE donate to MusiCares, they do amazing work. If you’re a musician out there be encouraged and join with us in getting the message out there. Thanks for supporting music and the people who make it! #musicares #rolandfantom #roland #rolandfamily @roland_us Check out the video on YouTube. Click on the Link in my bio to watch full video and to donate ! http://bit.ly/quarantineallstars
Wilbanks wrote the song in late March and it took nearly three months to pull everything together. “It’s one thing getting musicians in a studio and cutting a track because you can all see each other. You are talking through it. You are playing at the same time. It’s a whole other deal during quarantine trying to get that many people playing their part, by themselves, in a room and sending you a file. It was a crazy amount of time and then once we got the audio done, I went into video world with a friend of mine Steve Thomason and he helped me put together the video. It took a lot of time, but hey we had time. We weren’t doing anything anyway,” Wilbanks says with a laugh.
Being off the road during the pandemic has placed a hardship on many people who rely on the touring industry for their livelihood. MusiCares is dedicated to helping people in the music industry who are dealing with difficult circumstances. The non-profit organization was established in 1989 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who oversee the Grammy Awards. “I’ve told people that MusiCares is almost like the Red Cross for musicians. They are there in crisis,” Wilbanks says. “One thing I want people to be educated on is that you may see the superstar on stage with a great band, the six people on stage up there making the music, but this is affecting so many more than just the six or seven guys on stage. We’re talking all the crew, lighting, catering, bus drivers, truck drivers, all the people in the offices. This spreads really far. The big message is this is helping not just the people on stage, but all the people whose lives that have been affected by this crisis that depend on touring to support their family, and that is whether it’s an emotional need from counseling to a financial need. MusiCares is there for all of that and you don’t just have to be the guy on stage to get it. You can get help because you are the lighting guy or the guitar tech or the catering person. If you are involved in music, then they are there for you. . . The industry that we poured into for so many years is just really hurting and it goes way deep. That’s why we made this video and this song and we’d just love it if people would watch it and consider supporting MusiCares.”
Wilbanks is proud of the project and hopes that people will enjoy the song and seeing the stellar musicians performing it, but more than that, he’s hoping it will help make a difference in the lives of those who need help. “It’s such an honor to be able to work with those incredible players who gave their talent and time. It feels awesome,” he says. “I’m excited to watch it do what it does. We hope that people will support it. We hope people will give and share it. You never know in today’s world what’s going to happen when you throw something out to the internet, but certainly my hope is people will love it and it brings joy to their life, and that it will grow legs and run places that I never really thought of.”
The following is a full list of all The Quarantine All-Stars (and the bands they usually play in):
Michael Carter (Luke Bryan)
Josh Reedy (Thomas Rhett)
Katlin Owen (John Pardi)
Dave Ristrim (Luke Bryan)
Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones)
Scotty Wilbanks (Luke Bryan, Third Day)
Jonathan Cain (Journey)
Sonny Emory (Eric Clapton, Earth, Wind & Fire)
Chris Kimmerer (Thomas Rhett)
Kent Slucher (Luke Bryan)
Sam Sims (Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake)
James Cook (Luke Bryan)
Kevin Arrowsmith (Luke Bryan)
Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band)
Keith Smith (Toby Mac)
Lee Thornburg (Joe Bonamassa, Tower of Power)
Mark Douthit (Michael McDonald)
Roy Agee (Lauren Daigle
Dan Falcone ( Lady Gaga, Celine Dion)
Greg Vail (Luis Miguel)
For additional information about The Quarantine All-Stars and to donate to MusicCares, visit quarantineallstars.com.