Prior to taking a seat on the Fort Myers Beach Town Council on April 6, Bill Veach was like a lot of other islanders, stuck in isolation in his own home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is when his musical side took charge, and he produced a whimsical video, with the help of former FMB Mayor Anita Cereceda and several others, to hopefully lighten the load of Fort Myers Beach residents during these trying times.
“I would like to say that it was an original idea,” explained Bill, “but many other people are doing similar things with music and songs that you can see on YouTube and Facebook, so that is where I got my inspiration, as being a singer, musician and songwriter, it became a natural outlet for me. For the melody for ‘Let’s Quarantine,’ I chose ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’ because it has an optimistic upbeat feel and I wanted whatever we made to be positive.”
As soon as word about ‘Let’s Quarantine’ got out, “it was like herding cats,” he laughed! “Some people immediately contacted me about participating and on others, it left no impression. The first person to come onboard was then FMB Mayor Anita Cereceda, as we were chatting about several things and when I mentioned it to her, she jumped right in. I had no clue that Anita has such a wonderful voice, or that she has a drama background that she drew on for the video!”
The Chorus Girl!
“Bill and I were talking about a number of things one day,” Anita recalled, “back before the end of my term as Mayor, and we got around to music and my hope that I can resume playing the guitar one day, and he brought one over to my house, though I have yet to pick it up. He told me about his idea to take a song and change out the lyrics over the coronavirus situation and I thought our community needed something happy like that and the next thing you knew, I was part of the project. I assumed there would be other people singing than just Bill and I, but when I heard it was only us two, I asked if I could just handle the chorus!”
Unlike many others who are social distancing due to the coronavirus, her participation in “Let’s Quarantine” did not come about because she had nothing else to do. “In fact, quite the opposite, as I was still Mayor and that was a particularly busy day, so it was a nice aside. I remember thinking that we all must find ways to keep our spirits light or all the things going on can get you down, so being in the video did it for me.”
While Anita has a theatrical background, her innate love of music was more relevant. “I like to sing, and my sisters remind me I am constantly humming. I did previously do some singing, in auditions and at karaoke, but it is not something I do on a regular basis. The reaction I get from most people is, ‘I didn’t know you could sing!’ When you have been in the public eye as long as I have, people assume they know everything about you but often they know very little and that can lead to surprises. I am glad Bill asked, as I had a lot of fun with it.”
Most Lyrical Name Ever!
After recruiting Anita, Bill reached out to others with the idea, “Jacki Liszak and the folks at the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce helped spread the word. One person who responded not only sent me great visuals for the video but has the most lyrical name ever – Alejandra Bustamante! I saw that and immediately thought, ‘her parents must have used every available syllable to name her, unlike mine who stuck with just two single syllables: Bill Veach!’”
In reflecting on if he did “Let’s Quarantine” because he had too much time on his hands, the Council member let out a hearty laugh! “As we speak, I am getting ready to do another project on my ‘Honey Do List,’ so I understand people are holed up and looking for things to break up the monotony these days, so doing this helped fill that role for me, though I must admit that restrictions have not really changed the course of our lives that much, other than missing people!” As for whether “Let’s Quarantine” will become a staple in the set list of Bill’s band, The Pearl Street Band, his reply: “Probably not! We have a lot of songs we sing and are all songwriters, with lots of new material, but if someone requests it, I would never want to say, ‘No.’”
Fun & Not Political
“One of the great things about this period of confinement,” said Anita, “is that people are finding clever, creative and entertaining ways to reach out to each other and ‘Let’s Quarantine’ is a good example of that. My hope is that something really good will come from all this, and that everyone looks out for and takes care of each other, and that good feeling does not go away!”
“You can find ‘Let’s Quarantine’ online,” concluded Bill, “and last time I checked, it had around 400 hits, so I encourage everyone to take a look! (The song can be found on YouTube at bit.ly/FMBsong) Most people who see and hear it really enjoy it and are super supportive, but unfortunately, some of the comments take on a political bent, about reopening Fort Myers Beach and things like that, as well as those who think the whole coronavirus pandemic is a hoax, and that is a shame, as this was meant to be fun and never political. It was just a way to reach out to people on Fort Myers Beach who are stuck at home and hopefully put a smile on their face.”