Paul Golder writes for the Brentwood Gazette
COVID-19 has had a devastating affect on everyone including our local musicians unable to play live gigs as the busy festival season approaches. However, thanks to technology they are finding ways to thrive and take away some positives.
One of our new presenters, Andy Gardener, has been talking to local musicians to see how they have been coping with lockdown.
Mabes from Billericay has been hardest hit by the lockdown as she is a full-time musician with high profile festival slots in Brighton, Leeds, Cambridge and Leigh all being cancelled. “This is a really frustrating time for artists as the world that we work, play and create in has been taken away. We all feel a bit lost and not knowing when this will end is scary. To think I might not play another gig all year seems unimaginable right now. The silver lining to all of this is that it has made us all digitally aware and there is a sense of community among artists on social media. I have been doing a live stream every Thursday at 4pm on Instagram and it is the highlight of my week!”. Mabes had recorded her new single ‘Keeping the Noise Down’ before the lockdown and it has been getting a lot of airplay on Phoenix FM. “These are trying times but like most artists I’m determined to keep myself motivated and inspired by using the time to reflect on myself and discover the art of others, be it through new music, films books or film. I’ve been doing a lot of writing on my guitar and teaching myself to produce music at home”.
Josie Beth from Brentwood was expecting to be knuckling down to her final days at school at the moment but with the exams also falling by the wayside she is enjoying the extra time to practice and write new songs. “I didn’t have many gigs booked this summer due to my exams but it’s given me a great opportunity to write and practice which I usually struggle to fit in with my schedule. I’ve also been playing some live streamed ‘Isolation room’ gigs from home that are great for reaching a new audience with more people being at home on their computers”
Gen Irving from Colchester has particularly been missing the gigging aspect of being a musician. She recorded her excellent new single ‘Said It Yourself’ just before the lockdown.
“Day to day it’s easier going through the motions just practising and writing as much as I can but I consider myself a live artist so my comfort level has definitely taken a hit but I’ve been doing weekly live streams to keep my audience interested and give them a distraction from the strangeness of reality.”
Finally, Genevieve Johnson from Billericay turned the lockdown into a big positive by playing a 75-minute live set on April 11th on her driveway to nearby residents and streamed it live on Facebook. By the end of the day it had had over 5,000 views and reached a lot more people had we been in normal pre-lockdown times proving there are positives to be taken out of the crisis for our local musicians.
Fortunately Phoenix FM is also an outlet for local musicians too! You can hear Andy’s show Under The Radar every Monday evening at 6pm, and local artists are played on a variety of other shows too.