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The seminars will be held every other Thursday at 12.30-1.30 - you will be prompted by email to sign up for FREE to join the seminar on ZOOM. Each seminar will have a key speaker and there will be time for Q&A
As an artist, my initial reaction to lockdown was one of panic, I had gigs lined up, a new single and video to promote and also songs for a film that I had spent the past few months writing that was due to be pitched to studios in LA.
It soon dawned on me, through my panic, that everyone was in the same boat, and although the boat was partially sinking, I sensed a spirit of solidarity within our global musical community that was genuine and very welcome.
So, I figured out how to film and broadcast a live video, not easy for someone who is a ‘technophobe’ and started doing fortnightly shows streaming through Facebook and Instagram and also put a shout out on my social media sites asking people to send in requests and dedications.
I was really surprised by the response I got. Initially the idea of doing my first livestream was daunting, I guess that for me and most musicians who play live, the performer persona needs a certain amount of feedback from an audience - or to put it bluntly, it's good to feel the love, we thrive off it, it tends to feed a performance, and can often be the difference between a mediocre, and a really good show.
I was unsure how this ‘love’ would translate into emojis and written comments, would it be enough? Would I be able to feel it, sitting in my kitchen with my cats wandering around and my teenage daughter blaring out Netflix upstairs?
As I sang the opening number I was pleasantly surprised to see heart and hug emojis floating up on my laptop beside me, and even happier to discover that they were making me feel good, little comments and requests bubbled up and people that I had not heard from in years suddenly appeared on the feed sending love and wishing me well.
I have since embraced livestreaming wholeheartedly with great results. I have experienced far more engagement with fans, my Spotify figures have increased by over 200% and the online launch of the video for my single, has attracted almost 5,000 views. Ok these are not massively high figures, but it is certainly a huge upturn for me.
I've had to find a much more relaxed way to perform. It's just not the same as performing in front of 300, 3,000 people in a venue, and so I don't need to have the same amount of energy.
I've found that if I can approach it in a Zen-like way, embracing any technical difficulties, cats or teenagers that suddenly appear, then it is far more enjoyable and far less scary.
Afterall, that is what the audience will be doing, you are unlikely to get the full attention that you would at a gig, they will be cooking, gardening, chatting, bathing and all the other million things people do in the privacy of their own home.
And that’s the beauty of it.
Photo credit : Jörg Detering
First of all, let me count my blessings. I’ve still got my health, so far. I’ve got my family around me, we’ve got a roof over our heads, and we’re surrounded by woods and fields where we can go for walks without getting into a car or meeting anyone else. We are fortunate.
But ... I’m still feeling blindsided. I’ve been a full time musician for over twelve years, and it was starting to seem like I was getting somewhere. I really thought that at the end of my 49-show spring tour I’d be able to pay off a big chunk of the debt that I’ve been building along with my career. Now 39 of those shows have been cancelled, and it could be a long, long time before things get back to the way they were.
It’s not just the money worries that are getting to me; it’s the loss of the magic that happens when a bunch of people are in a room enjoying music together, whether they’re listening to a concert or taking part in a singaround, session or choir practice. I miss that magic so much.
Live-streaming isn’t a solution for me; I’d never be satisfied with the technical quality, and more importantly, I don’t feel that the magic would be there. So here’s an idea:
I wrote those words in an email to my newsletter subscribers at the beginning of May, along with an invitation to contribute towards the costs of that idea: an album to be recorded “as live” (minus audience) in a beautiful, inspiring setting, and filmed for a series of videos. The response has been amazing: three days after sending the email I was already halfway to my goal, although contributions have slowed since and I’ve got a ways to go … but it looks like the project will be able to happen whenever the lockdown permits, and I’m grateful for that.
Of course, I’ll also need money to live on. I’ve been lucky enough to get grants from the Arts Council and PRS Foundation, and I should be getting something from the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, but it won’t amount to much, as my profits have always been minimal. So I’ve set up a Patreon page and am pinning my hopes on that!
It’s even worse for my sound engineer, who’s not eligible for the SEISS as over 50% of his income was from short-term PAYE contracts at theatres; he can’t get Universal Credit either, because his partner has a job. He’s been working and paying taxes all his adult life, and he’s left with nothing.
It is wonderfully heartening to see how the situation has been bringing out the kindness and generosity of so many people, but I worry for the future of all musicians, technicians and venue staff. Will we ever be able to get back to doing what we do and love best? I wish I knew the answer. Sending love to all!
The AMA UK Takeover of Shut-in & Sing featuring Elles Bailey, Robert Vincent, Ferris & Sylvester & Martin Harley.
3pm - 5pm BST
'Pay what you can' ticket so grab them while you can from Stage it and we shall see you on May 6th!
ABOUT SHUT IN & SING
A festival of songwriters joining forces to stay connected through music and community.
This project has come together as a response to the COVID-19 quarantines. We thought, “What if we get to be together even more in these times? Not in person, but in innovation, creation and connection?” Ours is a small and grassroots community. We take care of each other in the good times and in the challenging times.
Shut In & Sing is a roster of some of your favourite artists… and some people you’ve never heard of. Here is your chance to discover new music, to feel connected to one another and to us. By sharing resources, the artists have the possibility of making news fans and even ONE new person makes a difference in their world. Oh wait… ONE PERSON MAKES A DIFFERENCE? And we’ve reached the point of everything!
Shoulda Been and The Garden Gigs
When the lockdown began I started playing a game called ‘shoulda been’. April 5th, shoulda been in Aberdeen. April 11th shoulda been in Cottingham. Gilford, Cardiff, Kendal. Shoulda, shoulda, shoulda. It left me feeling pretty low, counting those losses, because that’s exactly what they felt like – loss. A grief for the sudden absence of structured time, of the excitement before a live show, and of the opportunity to connect with new and existing audiences. I tend to write best when I’m on the road, melodies arriving alongside me at each new venue, and I missed the chance to meet them too.
When it was suggested I play gigs online I resisted. I’d never done a Livestream before and was worried about not having any crowd interaction to bounce off of. If you can’t see the audiences faces or feel the room, how can you know if people are enjoying the gig? How do you adjust your set to match the vibe of the room when there is no room? The idea of it all made me feel more vulnerable than the thought of being on any stage. I had to start thinking seriously about how I could find the confidence.
The first step was to think about where in my house I would feel most comfortable and the answer was: outside it. I knew I would be happiest heading out to the garden to be with just the birds and the sun to sings some songs. The afternoon rather than the evening seemed ideal as the sun was still out and people could have a little break during these days which seem to last so long now. I wanted to make it a relaxed and regular event rather than a one off gig with the pressure to wow and impress. I took requests from the audience so I could continue to feel connected to them, and also so I had a challenge during the week learning and rehearsing new songs. This was to be a dependable date in the diary giving me – and maybe others - back some of the structure lost.
I did the first Garden Gig via Facebook Live on April 1st and, to my surprise, I loved it. I’ve found myself connected in a totally new way to my audience, a personal and intimate connection I could not have anticipated as we navigate these strange times together. My audience is also growing with people who click on shared videos sticking around, and with my neighbours who have coincidentally started rambling out to their own gardens at 2pm each Wednesday for tea. Through performing online I have found incentive to keep being creative, to keep writing, to keep looking forward. So while I’m still playing shoulda been my new game is trying to out-sing the local birds, and that is much more rewarding.
One of the unfortunate consequences of the current lockdown has been a dramatic rise in domestic violence and charities are struggling to keep up with the increase in calls for help.
The Blue Highways, started planning a cover of the classic Van Morrison track “Days Like This” to raise money for leading charity: Women’s Aid.
Wanting to maximise its potential to raise as much money as possible, they wondered if other UK Americana artists might like to contribute their voices and/or their instruments.
They got a fantastic response and the final list of artists reads like the line-up of a who’s who of British Americana, including vocals from the likes of Emily Barker, Robert Vincent, Pete Gow, Issy Ferris & Archie Sylvester, Lukas Drinkwater as well as Callum and Theo Lury from The Blue Highways.
The Blue Highways recorded the core track and then called upon the instrumental skills of Henry Senior (pedal steel), Lewis Fowler (guitar), Jake Stanton (drums), Rhona Carse (trumpet), Archie Sylvester (guitar) and Eddy Smith (organ). Together, they have given the song a new, distinctive sound.
“We chose the song because it somehow seemed apt. None of us have seen, or expected to see, days like this, and its message of coping with both the ups and downs of life reflects the current day-to-day reality for so many people” said Callum Lury, lead singer of The Blue Highways.
Translating the idea into a recording was the next challenge for the band. With even the four members of The Blue Highways being in three different houses and the guest stars spread right across the country, it has been down to technology and the expert mixing skills of Julien Baraness to deliver a completely new and unique interpretation of the track.
The band has put together a video of the artists performing from their respective homes alongside the track which is being pushed across social media. They are asking their audiences to donate to the #SupportSurvivors campaign to keep Women’s Aid’s Live Chat service available during this crucial period. The MP3 will also be made available to all individuals that donate.
Days like this was first released by Van Morrison in 1995 on the album of the same name.
Women’s Aid is a registered UK charity which has created a grassroots federation that works together to provide life-saving services and build a future where domestic violence is not tolerated.
556 Grassroots Music Venues in the UK are at imminent risk of being closed permanently.
The situation is dire, government support has been exhausted, and it now falls to artists, music fans, local communities and the wider industry to take action
Put bluntly, without these venues the opportunities for artists and audiences to connect in a meaningful way at a local level will simply disappear in a lot of cases.
And if they go they will never come back.
Please help us to help grassroots music venues to survive this unprecedented threat to their existence.
More information on the WEBSITE HERE
CROWDFUNDING PAGE HERE
It’s strange to think in these hard and uncertain times everyone around the world is currently in the same situation. For the greater good we are all staying inside and keeping our social distance from each other. It is easy to fall into a slump and for the first couple of weeks that is how I spent it. I then said to myself I could be using this time to be more proactive and productive and seeing all the hard work the front line NHS have been and are currently doing I thought what could I do to help.
Over Christmas we released a song to raise money for a local Swansea charity for the homeless so I decided to do the same to help raise money for the NHS. So I got to work and over the next week or so I wrote and recorded a brand new song called ‘Change. Grow. Save.’ with the message of using this time to look out for one and other and also the world in general and seeing the world healing whilst we are all locked away is something to behold.
We’ve set up a Just Giving page (link below) for people to donate what they can to the NHS and as a thank you we will send a free download of the song for every donation.
I have also recorded an interesting video to go along with the song for people to see. This video is currently viewable on our Facebook Page (link below). We would love it if you could all go and check it out.
We hope to see you all again soon!
Sons of Owen
Me: Jeb Barry
Songwriter/singer in Jeb Barry and The Pawn Shop Saints www/jebbarry.com
Based in : The Berkshires in Massachusetts, USA
Here, we've been doing social distancing for a month. All non-essentials; schools, churches, restaurants, music clubs, etc...are closed.
The plus side is that I have had more time to write and record music. When this all came down my group was just finishing up recording a six song EP as well as out new album titled "Ordinary Folks" It's the follow-up to our 2018 release "texas, etc.." which spent three months on the Euro American charts, peaking at #3
But since no one can come to my studio to finish their parts, we're stuck in idle. By now the ep should have been mastered and the vinyl pressed, but we still need to do two backing vocal parts so that will have to wait.
Also, we've had a few local gigs canceled, one a long-awaited show with Sierra Ferrell. And any plans for a summer trip to Europe (I had planned on doing some solo shows) is out the window.
The plus side is I've written a lot of songs and are recording some solo songs that I'll put out as freebies soon.
The best thing though is listening to all the streaming shows, from major artists to new discoveries, that are on Facebook and other sites. Some are great, some so-so, but all are contributing to a DIY rebirth for real 'folk' music.
Here is an announcement from the Black Deer team, please read in full, join us in supporting them and if you can hold onto your tickets for next year :
BLACK DEER FESTIVAL 2020
We are beyond disappointed.
It is of course the choice we had hoped we wouldn’t have to make; we really did try to hang on in there to make this happen. Our thanks must go to you for your patience, especially amid all of the uncertainty, in allowing us to take the time to do so.
We also took some time exploring the option of postponing to later in 2020, but the most important thing for us other than your obvious safety, is to give our
community certainty and so we have therefore made the decision to move this year’s planned festival to June 2021. We’re looking forward to welcoming you to our Americana playground on the weekend of 18th-20th June 2021, to what will be the best weekend celebration of Americana & Country the UK will have ever seen.
How do we know this? Well, thanks to some incredibly hard work behind the scenes and some overwhelmingly supportive artists and agents, we are delighted to bring you a line-up for 2021 equally as amazing as 2020. Added to this we have some previously unannounced brilliant artists to add to the line-up which, it’s fair to say, we’re extremely proud of.
We put on a festival, you built Black Deer.
Thanks to the journey we’ve all been on together, you’ve made Black Deer what it is and, what we always wanted it to be – a passionate community with a shared love of Americana. But more than that, a community accessible to all. A community providing opportunities to all. And a community inspiring to all.
In times of difficulty, communities tend to come together. And so we must now please ask for you all to come together and show your support as we move to protect the future of Black Deer and ensure that it continues to not only be a much-loved Independent festival, but also an influential platform at the heart and forefront of the growth of Americana & Country in the UK and beyond.
We would also like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to another incredible group of people. A special community of NHS staff, key workers, volunteers and everyone else out there on the frontline protecting us and helping to keep the UK functioning through these tough times. Some members of our team have been personally affected by the pandemic and have seen first-hand the incredible work and sacrifices made by so many.
Once normality returns (and it will) we will be proudly inviting many hundreds of these modern-day-superheroes as our guests to Black Deer 2021 to show them our appreciation and gratitude.
You are currently in possession of our highly sought after best priced
tickets, so please rest assured that we will not be selling Super Early Bird, Early Bird or Tier 1 tickets for 2021.
Keep hold of your current best-priced ticket and any add-on’s for Black Deer 2020 which will be valid in exactly the same way for 2021. By choosing this option, you’re doing all we could ever ask from you. So, as a thank you for transferring your ticket, you will have the opportunity to obtain a free of charge one-off, exclusive limited-edition Black Deer T-shirt.
Perhaps someone you love is a keyworker and you want to reward them by transferring your ticket to them.
You will be contacted directly by our ticket agency partners via email within the next three days to confirm how to activate your preferred option. Whilst we’d love for you to keep your ticket as something to look forward to during these testing times, if you need to claim a refund on your ticket, that option is available to you.
Here’s to 2021...
Stay safe, stay positive.
Gill, Debs and the Black Deer Festival team x
© Americana Music Association UK
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