A Ukrainian Village neighbor takes a selfie during his nightly social distancing "concert series." Credit: Emily Muzzy / Provided

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Inspired by recent quarantine sing-alongs in Italy and Chicago, a Ukrainian Village man decided last Sunday to play his music from his front porch every night.

Since then, he’s continued playing tunes through his speakers at 7 p.m. every night from his home at the corner of Rice Street and Hoyne Avenue.

From The Beatles to Elton John, the music sets have cheered up neighbors who are feeling the brunt of self-isolation.

Emily Muzzy, a pediatric occupational therapist who has been working from home, said she looks forward to breaking away from her computer each day to hear her neighbor’s music.

“We all need to be supporting each other even if it’s from a distance,” she said. “There’s this crazy thing happening, and we can’t get together. Just saying hello and trying to exchange some nice words on the street, like you’re still part of the world.”

The person who playing the music, Zak, declined to provide his full name. But he did tell Block Club about his process for selecting music.

Firstly, he tries to limit the music to a 10-15 minute set. He looks for music that is either upbeat or “not too chill.”

“I’ve decided not to play David Gray’s ‘White Ladder’ from start to finish,” he said.

Some sets are themed. For a night of The Beatles, Zak chose “Get Back,” “Help,” “Blackbird” and “Yesterday.” (“Get Back” and “Help” were a humorous nod to social distancing, he said.)

On Elton John night, he chose “Rocket Man.”

If songs have a Chicago connection, that’s a bonus, he said.

For example, he has played The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight.” Some evenings he begins the set “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project — the song played at the beginning of Chicago Bulls games.

“It’s not supposed to be a big important thing,” he said. “If it breaks the tedium, or better yet brings a little bit of joy to some passersby, that’s great.”

Zak said he was inspired by reading about singalongs in Italy and a Rogers Park resident’s idea last Saturday to have a Chicago-wide singalong to “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

His first music set on Sunday involved only his immediate neighbors. Since then, however, the event has attracted neighbors from up and down the block — even as far as Walton Street.

As neighbors gather to hear the music and talk with one another, Zak said, he hopes they continue to keep 6 feet of distance between themselves.

“Social distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation,” he said. “These gatherings, if you can do them responsibly … It is nice to just know, hey, we’re in this together. … We’re gonna get through this, let’s be neighborly.”

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