Play it Forward, the campaign created by Heartland Connections, through non-profit support of the Galva Arts Council, announced the recipients and lineup for its musicians’ benefit as well as asking the community for video submissions.

The aid program will distribute 20 grants, starting at a minimum of $500, to musicians who depend on income from live performances and find themselves struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will also broadcast a live stream of a performance by the artists, recorded without an audience, where additional tips can be collected for the performers.

A schedule of the performances as well as bio information for the artists is listed below.

Organizers are also asking the community to submit videos about how music is helping at this time or during challenging times in the past, inspiring stories from the community, or messages of hope. These videos will be shown in between the artists’ performances during the live stream. Videos can be uploaded at or emailed to

Contributions to the fund can also be made online at or by mailing a check with a memo of “Play it Forward” to: Galva Arts Council, PO Box 29, Galva, Illinois 61434.

Here is the schedule for the live stream concerts which can be seen on the Heartland Connections Facebook page or YouTube channel:

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

  • 4PM: Tom Sharpe
  • 5PM: Brook Hoover of Surf Zombies
  • 6PM: The Wildwoods
  • 7PM: Avey Grouws Band
  • 8PM: Craig Gerdes

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

  • 4PM: Barry Cloyd
  • 5PM: Daniel Watkins
  • 6PM: Bryce Janey of The Janeys
  • 7PM: Angela Meyer
  • 8PM: Joe Stamm

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

  • 4PM: Amber Hendricks & the Maintenance
  • 5PM: Lewis Knudsen
  • 6PM: Dee Mill of Art of ILL Fusion
  • 7PM: The Empty Pockets
  • 8PM: Kris Lager

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

  • 4PM: Tyler Sjöström
  • 5PM: Jenny Lynn Stacy
  • 6PM: Stone & Snow
  • 7PM: Edward David Anderson
  • 8PM: Chicago Farmer

About the Artists

Tom Sharpe

Bio: Tom Sharpe’s music is a percussive symphony – a sonic and visual feast for the senses. A classically trained musician, Tom has dramatically blended his orchestral background with world music instrumentation and cinematic imagery to create an experience that invites the listener into the heart of the musical moment – wildly emotional and technically precise, with a gutsy edge of percussive frenzy and tribal ritual. Weaving together powerful elements of sound and rhythm, Tom is equally proficient on a vast array of percussion and keyboard instruments. Seamlessly blending genres from Middle Eastern, African, orchestral, and rock music, Tom moves between traditional instrumentation and electronics with ease and precision. Tom’s current solo performances are in support of his latest release titled “Lifting the World”

Tom is an internationally recognized, critically acclaimed artist. His compositions have won many awards, including the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the Broadjam World Music Contest. Tom was featured in the PBS Special “Arts Across Illinois”, and has performed at the “Great Performers of Illinois Festival in Millennium Park, to name a few of his many performance highlights.  Tom was a keynote speaker at the Annual Self Employment in the Arts Conference in 2013 and 2016. Tom was honored in August 2016 as a hometown success story at Night Under the Stars in metropolitan Detroit, where he addressed the crowd and performed. He is alumni of the Interlochen Arts Academy and holds the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music from DePaul University. With a fresh approach to symphonic world music, Tom’s high energy, passion, and emotion, combined with superb musicality, leave audiences amazed and inspired!

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: All my concerts, master classes, and school assemblies have been canceled.  This is my main source of income throughout the year.  I had concerts scheduled throughout the Mid-West, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana, at performing arts centers, churches, schools, and libraries.  I have just learned that my summer schedule is completely has completely canceled as well, including Vacation Bible School appearances and summer music camps. I am currently living on my very limited savings and a few students that are Skype lessons.  I am a single parent with my 10 year old daughter in my full time care.  I also care for my mother, who is elderly.  I am continuing to post videos online of recent performances in an effort to lift spirits and inspire in this unprecedented time.  I am in very desperate need of financial support to keep my household running.  Thank you so very much.

Brook Hoover of Surf Zombies

Bio: I started teaching guitar and performing as a teenager. I went on to get a BA in Art Ed from UNI and went pretty much full tie musician/teacher after that. I have released over ten albums with my bands and have come to rely heavily on live gigs to survive. Became a member of the Iowa Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. I also made a book about chords which sells a few copies per month. I was performing 2-5 times per week before the pandemic.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: My income is reduced about 80%. No gigs. A small number of Zoom lessons, book sales and mowing lawns keeps us going but it’s a huge loss of income.

The Wildwoods

Bio: “The Wildwoods know exactly what kind of music they want to make. It’s not often we hear a sound this focused…The voices are very different in timbre and delivery, yet mix with each other perfectly…Bring a friend or go alone; either way you’ll find yourself reminiscing on the good times and finding peace with the bad ones.” Landon Kuhlmann, Paste Magazine & Daytrotter

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: Making ends meet is very difficult for us during this time. Noah and I make all of our money off of gigging and teaching music lessons. Because of the pandemic, many of our students have dropped out of lessons for the time being, and all of our gigs have been canceled. We have many band and life expenses to accommodate for, including the insurance for our instruments that we will be needing to renew here in a couple weeks.

Avey Grouws Band

Bio: Avey Grouws Band is an original roots/blues/blues rock band out of the Quad Cities. 2 time semi finalists at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, AGB released their debut album The Devil May Care March 20, 2020 amid the covid crisis and surprised everyone by hitting the Billboard Blues Album Chart for 2 weeks, ending in the #10 spot! No label, no agent, just gritty original music and a band that has a whole lot of fun doing it!

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: Well this is an easy 1. All 5 of us have lost our income. Music was our full time job. It’s how we pay the bills and feed our families. Not being able to work has been both mentally and emotionally stressful as well as financially stressful. We have been trying to do live streams with just 3 of us in the band but they don’t pay like a show would pay. We released our debut album with the publicist on March 20th. This had been set for months. The plan was to release the album and then take it on tour. Not being able to tour is frustrating enough. Not being able to tour an album that is topping every chart from Billboard to Roots Music Report to Australian and British airplay charts is downright heartbreaking. Touring and selling merch while on tour is our bread and butter and without it, things have been hard. We are staying positive and hopeful for the future We refuse to let this take us down. But days are challenging. We have been getting food from our local school since all 3 of my teenage daughters are enrolled there, and we’ve been sharing that food with the guys. We’re a family and families help each other. But yeah….. some of us haven’t recieved our stimulus and some of us still haven’t gotten unemployment. It’s frustrating and scary, but we’re pushing forward. Thank you for thinking of musicians right now. What a difficult job you have, but we’re glad you’re there.

Craig Gerdes

Bio: Steeped in the white lines, black tar and diesel smoke of the American highway, Tough As Nails—the latest LP from Craig Gerdes—is raw and real, a document of a road-tested band fast on the rise. Ever since the central-Illinois songwriter released his lauded 2018 debut LP, Smokin’ Drinkin’ & Gamblin’, he’s been on tour almost constantly, playing upwards of 150 shows per year, including opening slots and festival support.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: I am a full time musician and all of my shows have been cancelled since March 17.  We are continuing to get cancellations for large events planned throughout the summer.

Barry Cloyd

Bio: Barry Cloyd is a Midwestern based, full-time touring singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who performs more than 125+ shows of all types per year.  In addition to a concert schedule, he has been the resident stringed instrumentalist/vocalist on The Spirit of Peoria Paddlewheel Riverboat for 20 years, traveling the inland waterways.  Barry also has created and toured dozens of original, commissioned edu-tainment programs which focus on our own history with music. These are typically performed as concerts at Libraries, Colleges & Universities.
  He has shared the stage & recorded with many stars of the Blues and Americana worlds including members of Buddy Guy’s Band, The Byrds, Stephen Still’s, EmmyLou Harris’, The Oak Ridge Boys, John Denver’s, Dan Fogelberg’s Bands and extensive writing/performing work with David Raitt, brother of Bonnie Raitt and son of the famed Broadwayt star John Raitt.  Barry is also a recording artist with 10 CD’s, the last of which, the all original “Southland”, won an award for best Americana album in 2016 which resulted in his tracks “Spirit Dance” and “Know This River” being placed on radio stations in more than 45 countries worldwide. He recently won the “Artist Vision Award” award from the Akademia international promotional group based in LA.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: I am a full time musician/entertainer and had built a very busy performance season by marketing and promotion over the Winter, and was in Mexico on a performance/anniversary tour when Covid-19 happened. Upon returning 3 weeks early, I found that all of my shows, concerts & gigs were being cancelled for the foreseeable future.  At this time nothing is certain re: rescheduling or being able to make a living at all this year. The effect was swift, drastic & has left me without an income.

Daniel Waktins

Bio: Growing up with the Illinois River in his back yard, Daniel Watkins’s roots run deep in the valley. He picked up his first job as a gas attendant at the old lock and dam in Henry. There he would practice guitar while waiting on boaters and playing for tips. Several years later, Watkins wandered the Midwest festival scene as a music enthusiast when he wasn’t working shifts at the local factory. He began studying guitar with Walnut Valley Festival National Guitar & Mandolin champion, Andy Hatfield. Through a new found love of Folk and Bluegrass music, he discovered many artists including John Hartford, Norman Blake, and Steve Goodman who inspired him to begin writing songs of his own.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: Performing out makes up a large portion of my income. Clearly, I am unable to perform at the moment.

Bryce Janey

Bio: Bryce Janey has had a long career as a Blues & Roots musician and songwriter, beginning at the age of 13 in a family Blues band from Marion, Iowa called The Janeys, with his mother on drums and his father on guitar. The Janeys toured regionally and nationally playing many renowned venues and blues festivals in Chicago, Kansas City, and Minneapolis as well as other cities throughout the country. The Janeys opened for many national acts including Buddy Guy, Elvin Bishop, Johnny Winter and Delbert McClinton. Bryce has also performed on stage with Blues greats such as Koko Taylor, Tab Benoit, Joanna Connor and Kenny Neal. Bryce has continued to tour and perform as a solo artist and a songwriter with twelve solo albums to date, with all albums receiving critical acclaim in national Blues publications including Blues Revue and Living Blues magazines, as well as many international reviews. Bryce’s latest album Brand New Day is available on Grooveyard Records, with a new album planned for release in Summer 2021.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: COVID-19 has completely shut down any venues where I would have performed live (restaurants, bars, etc.) It has also forced cancellation of many larger venues and festivals throughout the entire summer. I have not been able to work since March and do not see that changing in the next few months, possibly until September. And because I have no income, that has dramatically impacted my ability to contribute at all financially to my family.

Angela Meyer

Bio: Angela Meyer has been performing professionally since she was just 16 years old, staying true to “writing songs for empty rooms & broken hearts in hopes to fill them up”.  A storyteller with a passion for her listeners, Angela pulls in the crowd with a sweet voice and brutal honesty. She isn’t afraid to tackle heavy topics within her songwriting, but also pokes at the humor in everyday life.  Her first love was the horse, and she knew nothing about this “western music” until committing a crime she swore to never do- falling in love with a cowboy. Now she has fallen in love again, this time with the tradition & respect within a community of folks passionate for preserving this beautiful way of life.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: Prior to COVID-19 I made the majority of my living from live shows. Just in the last two months I’ve cancelled dozens of shows and lost thousands of dollars in revenue. This time has made me rethink my business and craft- coming up with creative ways to play music online & still be able to connect with the folks who’ve been coming out to live shows for the last ten years. I fear that even once we are back to a “new normal” most of the small businesses who supported musicians will not have the extra cash to spend for live music in their business.

Joe Stamm

Bio: The Joe Stamm Band (JSB) is a Black Dirt Country Rock group rooted in the American Midwest. Born and raised in the fields and fence rows of central Illinois, Joe and the band play a soul pumping brand of music that is uniquely their own. told their readers, “If you are looking for a great new country/rock/Americana band to listen to, [Joe Stamm Band] is the perfect one.” JSB songs are laced with rural American imagery, hard-driving guitar, and songwriting that invites listeners into a deeply personal, authentic life experience.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: By last count, which continues to grow even as recently as yesterday, we have lost over 25 shows so far. If I were to venture a guess, I imagine that accounts for over $20,000 in performance and merchandise revenue. With shows now falling off our June and July schedule, there’s no telling what that number will reach. I must say, though, we have been fortunate to find generous support in our online merch sales, as well as a recent crowd fund. In short, we are not at risk to miss any mortgage payments 🙂 So if more stricken acts apply, please allow them a spot before myself.

Amber Hendricks

Bio: I am a cancer survivor who was driven to work harder to persue my dreams as a musician. I have two singles currently on radio play and was finishing my album and planning a small your before COVID-19 hit. Without shows and bookings and being laid off from my day job, I am financially drained and am struggling to fund the completion of the album I’ve worked so hard on for so long. I have come to far to give up now, please help!

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: I am falling behind on bills, projects I have worked so hard on for years are now on halt due to the lockdown as well as being laid off during this lockdown to pay for the rest of my studio time and merch, and  not having this income makes the future of my dreams very uncertain.

Lewis Knudsen

Bio: Lewis Knudsen is a mixed-genre, multi-instrumentalist songwriter based in Rock Island, IL. In the past few years Lewis has toured coast to coast in the US, as well as South Korea, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and the U.K.  Lewis has opened for bands such as Amy Helm, Jesicca Hernandez, Nicholas David, and Davina and the Vagabonds.

Influences include James Taylor, Randy Newman, Ben Folds, Hozier, Rufus Wainwright, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Jack White.

Lewis’ most recent full length album “Philip” is enjoying airplay on Iowa Public Radio and various other free format radio.  On Spotify the single “All I Want Is Everything” just reached 11,000 streams.  In January of 2018,  “All My Sins” was featured on FOX’s “UFC Road to the Octagon” and more TV/film placements are in the works.

In 2018 Lewis wrote and recorded one new song each week, and in mid 2020, will be releasing a full length album.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: As nearly 100% of my income relies upon gigs, the quarantine has essentially halted my income for the time being.  Other than live stream concerts playing for tips, I have not had income for the past two months, and am living off savings.

Dee Mill of Art of ILL Fusion

Bio: AIF from Peoria, IL has been touring for the last 17 years. Playing over 1500 shows nationally. Dee is the founder, guitarist and front man as well as the primary songwriter for the band.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: All of our shows have been cancelled. We have a whole team of crew, management and band members who’s income stopped immediately.

The Empty Pockets

Bio: Sincerity, pathos and powerhouse vocals. “Polished yet rootsy Chicago outfit Empty Pockets” (Rolling Stone) celebrates old-school classic rock, folk, and the blues, skillfully blending singer/songwriter catharsis with rich harmonies and real players. Bold Americana flavors straight from the soul.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: Over $100,000 of live shows have been cancelled for us. Crushing.

Kris Lager

Bio: For most of Kris Lager’s life he has been a traveling musician, a troubadour, who has spent two decades on the road honing his craft and message. 

Not only is he one of the funkiest and fiercest blues guitar players you’ll ever witness with a uniquely expressive and heartfelt voice.  He also crafts uplifting, interactive, and spiritual tunes with a ‘Celebrate Life Mantra’ that is woven throughout his entire performance.

Kris is a Lincoln, Nebraska native and a family man who has built a reputation for refusing to play by industry rules or pander for awards and accolades.  He is truly a one of a kind performer who hits the stage with an intense purpose of uplifting and engaging audiences while delivering his flavorful gumbo of rhythms and melodies.

Kris will also play a little keyboards, shimmy around the stage, attempt to connect with everyone he makes eye contact with, and offer up a healthy dose of his signature ‘soul clappin’.  This just scratches the surface of a genuine artist who has a powerful vision of what music can do to raise the human spirit and condition.  You must see it, hear it, and dig into the vast KLB catalogue for yourself to fully understand and appreciate this musician on a mission.

Kris’ longtime musical partner and rhythmic backbone of the group for over 15 years is Mr. John Fairchild AKA Scooby Sha Bo Bo.  He brings a hiphop flare to the rootsy compositions and also some funky Beat box, flows, and freestyles.  His charm, charisma, and silky smooth beats will make a distinct impression upon your backbone and have you wanting more and more of his signature ‘feel good grooves’.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: Well, without any shows the ability to generate income has greatly diminished.  I’ve been doing live streams and have gotten a lot of great support from our wonderful friends.  But, of course it’s a tiny fraction compared to what I’d bring in if we were able to play shows.  With no end in sight it’s definitely an interesting and sometimes stressful situation.

Tyler Sjöström

Bio: Tyler Sjöström’s gritty vocals and vintage arrangements have reverberated from the Chicago music scene since the release of his freshman EP, What We Say We Are, at the end of 2014. Following his debut, rooted in Americana and Folk, Tyler’s track “Red River” was given EDM treatment with collaborator, Chris Meid, and signed as a single with Warner Music. Following was a slew of collaborations  from across the globe resulting in tens of millions of streams on Spotify alone. Since, Sjöström has taken his new role as Singer-Songwriter to heart, working with DJs and producers around the world developing a taste and adeptness for topline writing, studio work, and live performance.

As a multi-instrumentalist and avid songwriter, Tyler finds his niche in spanning the genres, and in terms of music he is keen on distinguishing himself as a “jack of all trades”. Equipped with an honest and thunderous voice his live performance has been described as “bone rattling”. He’s shared the stage with Judah and The Lion, Joseph, The Mighty Oaks, The Secret Sisters, Corey Kilgannon–to name a few.

With studio work nearly done for a new album and several collaborative tracks in the works, 2020 is looking very good for Tyler Sjöström.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: At the beginning of the year I was attempting to finish a full-length album. Lots of money, traveling, time, and work was spent on the work. Because of the virus that is all on hiatus and my touring schedule, that is also probably cancelled for the remainder of this year as all venues have a lot of concerns. I have had coveted SXSW showcases cancelled, Arizona pride fest show cancelled, as well as a great show at SPACE in Evanston, and a ton of Michigan shows cancelled. I picked up my $700 worth of merchandise printed for all these shows within days of SXSW was cancelled. This merchandise along with others, and ticket sales have cost me thousands of dollars.

Jenny Lynn Stacy

Bio: Welp. I’ve been playing, singing, and writing for nearly 21 years nestled in the Quad Cities.  That’s really all I’ve done my entire life, music.  I am the parent of 3 teenagers, God help me, but they’ve taught me a lot, and have been a great muse for songs.  I enjoy a wide array of hobbies, from crochet to woodwork, but music is the constant in my life.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: Music is really the only career I’m in.  My husband and I also run a sound production company – which we were booked all through the summer.  Losing all of those shows on top of me losing all of my gigs, have really bent our budget in half.  I’m also high risk, dealing with 3 auto-immune disorders and being on immunosuppressive medication, so going out isn’t really an option anyway.  I’m currently trying to bridge the gaps with livestreaming for tips, while my husband tackles unstable delivery driving right now.  The mental-health toll having our livelihood ripped from us is a whole different story.

Stone & Snow

Bio: “Their rich vocal harmonies and warm vibe will leave you wanting to see more from this Illinois-based duo.“ -American Songwriter Magazine

Stone & Snow is an award-winning alt-folk pairing of songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson. In 2012, they began a collaboration filled with close harmonies and thoughtful lyrics. They gave it a name that gives nod to the mountain landscapes of the West– Stone & Snow. Their songs have taken them on the road to places like Summer Camp Music Festival, Mile of Music, the NAMM Show, and the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: All of our performances for the forseeable future have been cancelled or postponed. Rescheduled dates in the fall may be tentative based on how the country progresses. We have lost thousands of dollars in revenue that live-streaming cannot make up for. This is a full-time venture for us.

Edward David Anderson

Bio: Edward David Anderson is an American songwriter and veteran of the road who Edward David Anderson is an American songwriter and veteran of the road who spent his formative years fronting the revered Bloomington, IL band, Backyard Tire Fire. Known for infectious melodies and memorable messages he penned 8 releases for the band and played countless shows across the US and Canada.

When the band went on hiatus in 2011 EDA continued to write and play solo and with his band Black Dirt Revival. Backyard Tire Fire returned to the stage to headline the inaugural Black Dirt Music Festival in 2019 with plans to play select dates in 2020 and beyond.

In the live setting his delivery is dynamic and impactful showcasing a natural ability on banjo, acoustic/electric guitars and foot percussion. He defines his sound as Black Dirt Music. “Songs about people and places, about life and love and loss. It’s roots music, cultivated in the fertile soil of the Midwest.

EDA released Live and Solo on his own Black Dirt Records on 3/13/20. His vocal prowess, lyrical wit and polished guitar picking shine through on his debut live album recorded in front of intimate and engaged sold out crowds over the course of two nights. Half the material is previously unreleased, with the other half spanning a prolific career of three decades. 

While Live and Solo is a glorious representation of EDA in the live setting, his first three solo offerings Lies & Wishes (2014), The Loxley Sessions (2015) and Chasing Butterflies (2018) firmly established him as a force to be reckoned with in the studio. 

You can find EDA on the road solo, with his bands Black Dirt Revival and Backyard Tire Fire or with his side project Alabama Getaway.

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: As a full time working musician I had a full calendar of gigs booked that have all been canceled for the foreseeable future. My only means of income during this pandemic is tips from live streams on Facebook.

Chicago Farmer

Bio: “You can smell the dirt in the fields, hear the wind as it blows across the plains, and see the people that Chicago Farmer sings about. Each track captures a moment in time, whether for a person or a particular place. Imagine if a John Steinbeck short story had been written as a song, and this will give you a fairly good idea as to what Chicago Farmer accomplishes on his albums.”

How has COVID-19 affected you financially: Being a Full Time Touring Musician since 2004, Covid – 19 has brought said touring to a complete halt via the quarantine and stay in place order. This is unfortunately about 90% of my total income.