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1 or 2 — Episode 35: Hillmouse

Tip jar for Hillmouse

Songs that reach out for connection just hit different right now.

Such is the case when Hillmouse's Tyler Gordon sings, "Call me over when you're making trouble / 'Cause nobody / Should be alone on Halloween," at the start of "Occasional Love," which expresses the confused yearning we feel when we're enamored with somebody with whom we just can't figure things out.

For most of us, there were no Halloween parties last October — or at least, there were very few safe ones. It was just one more annual occasion for revelry and camaraderie called off on an account of coronavirus.

Gordon — whether it's with his rock band Barnwell or his sonically similar solo project — excels at probing creeping doubts, the interpersonal kind and the spiritual kind and the many varied kinds that exist in between, embodying them with an earnest twang.

He's starkly alone in this week's "1 or 2." Wide shots show nobody around as he strums and emotes in front of the Richland Library's large downtown location. A car is heard driving by, and the automatic lights turn on behind him, a dispassionate response to the setting sun.

Watching the performance (which takes place beneath Dogon Krigga’s "SYNAPSE" banner), I find myself thinking about life before the pandemic, how confused my days feel without the hallmarks that typically anchor and re-energize them, and how desperate I am to return to these loves that were once far more than occasional.

The "1 or 2" socially distanced performance series was started to connect Columbians with local artists during COVID-19, and to give those artists a chance to get a paycheck when such opportunities have become more rare. Free Times remains grateful to our partners in this endeavor — One Columbia, Richland Library and SceneSC — for helping us keep it going.

To check out more 1 or 2 videos, all of which are freely accessible without an online subscription, head to


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