Outside of his log cabin, Jim Malone, R’88, adjusted the camera before sitting back on his stool and picking up his guitar. Malone was about to play a set for the University of Richmond Alumni Virtual Happy (Half) Hour, an event alumni relations has been hosting via Facebook Live since the start of the pandemic.

For Malone, the performance gig was a reprieve from the stress of quarantine and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was one of the highlights of my summer, to perform that show. It got me thinking about making more music and performing more,” he said. “It was very unexpected, and ultimately, it was just such a rewarding experience.”

Despite the distance and the global pandemic, Malone says that the comments during his short set reconnected him with many classmates. “It was hard to imagine that that would have happened had there not been something like COVID to put the brakes on everything and force the University of Richmond alumni office to be creative like that.”

Like so many small businesses, his company CounterEv Furniture has taken a hit during the pandemic, but despite the challenges, Malone tries to look on the bright side.

“It gave me an opportunity to slow things down,” he said. “My business was closed for a couple of months, and it's still not back to the capacity that it was before. But it kind of forced a general pause in my life, which was great. In that time, I was able to reconnect to the things that mattered most, and music was one of those things.”

In times of trouble, Malone often turns to music. “Whenever I’ve needed to feel some greater inspiration, music has always been there for me.”