Let me be the thousandth person to tell you, “What an unusual year 2020 was!” I know you’re sick of hearing it, and while I think many of us wish we could put it out of our minds, the chaos and uncertainty have seeped into almost every facet of life. Music has been no exception to this. Live concerts have been decimated, tours have been canceled, venues are struggling to stay afloat. But the thing about musicians – indie musicians in particular – is that we’re no strangers to hard times. We survive the three-hour drives to $50 gigs, the rowdy bar crowds that would rather drink to Brown Eyed Girl than listen to original music, and the set times that start at 11:45 pm on Tuesday night. We’re perseverance experts. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that even while the industry suffered as a whole, hundreds – if not thousands – of individual musicians created beautiful works of art in this time of crisis.
This is perhaps a good time to introduce myself. My name is Jess Chizuk, and I’m the current owner/operator here at The Ark. I took over for founder Noah Hittner back in June of this year, and I’ve been settling into the role for the past six months. As an indie musician myself (one half of the Americana/folk duo The Rightly So), I know the challenges that face independent artists all too well. We’ve been DIY touring full time since 2018, and this year has wreaked absolute havoc on our current and future plans. The Ark has become my sanctuary in a time of crisis – a passion project to pour myself into as the world ground to a full stop. I’ve always been an avid writer (and blogger – my tour blog is here if you’re interested in more free-form aspects of my work), and being able to combine my love of independent music with my writing abilities has been an absolute joy and blessing in this highly turbulent year.
But the music has played on, in spite of it all. In spite of my troubles or yours. The amount of sonic beauty that I’ve been treated to in this role is unprecedented. Nearly every single work that found its way into my inbox managed to impress and inspire me. I feel very fortunate to have been privy to so much excellent music in such a short time, and for that, I will be permanently grateful.
So, one final and hearty thanks to Noah for his absolute dedication to building and growing this platform. He’s left large shoes to fill, and I hope to spend many years working to fulfill his goals for The Ark, while still making things my own. Another thanks to each and every musician I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my first half a year as a small business owner – you’ve shown me unprecedented talent and musicianship in a time where so much was taken from the world. Thank you for being one beautiful consistency.
And thank you to you, dear reader – however you came across The Ark. Thanks for riding out 2020 with us. Hopefully, we can now all look forward to a new dawn and a new year, with perhaps a live music renaissance on the horizon.
But for now, take a listen below to some of 2020’s highlights – the best of the best. Enjoy our Top 10 Albums and Singles, as well as a handful of honorable mentions. If you’re unfamiliar with these artists, go stream their music, buy their albums, and follow their socials – thank them for continuing on with their art the rest of us can enjoy, no matter what each day brings.
Be well, and Happy New Year!
— Jess Chizuk & The Ark of Music team