It doesn't just warm you up
The lockdown rules have changed recently, but as usual, the government didn't bother reminding people what is appropriate or what the rules are this week. In an exercise of trapping your hand in the stable door long after the horse has bolted down to the pub, Boris Johnson urged everyone to "behave responsibly". I'm sure he thinks his job is just to click his heels and say "Irreversible" three times.
First, the Wheatsheaf news
You have almost certainly heard by now that the planning application to turn the Wheatsheaf into flats has been withdrawn after the applicants realised the planning committee would have serious reservations. It has been great to see such good support for live music from city councillors, and to see the way the music community rallied against this plan. Exactly where this leaves us with regards to gigs resuming there is less clear at this time but of course, if we hear anything definite we will let you know.
Frosty the Snowman,... no wait, that's Christmas
Currently groups of up to six people can meet outdoors, so on a bitterly cold April afternoon, with numb fingers, toes, and other extremities, The Mighty Redox got together in a garden where I helped them record a video for their fans about the progress on their new album. Here it is, a message from Phil, Sue, Sandro, and Rick. It includes a couple of snippets of two of the new songs, "Feel the funky", and "Cars".
Despite the danger of frostbite and not being able to feel the camera (or anything else for that matter), we had a lot of fun making the video, and I hope that comes across in the edit.
Rather like the supermarket slogan, every little helps
Making an album isn't cheap, as I am sure all of you musicians out there already know. It requires a lot of upfront expenses and most bands end up with piles of unsold CDs gathering dust in a box in the attic. Sometimes you have to think outside the box in the name of art. When The Mighty Redox wanted to record a new album, they worked out that they needed to find about £4800 to make it happen, and even before covid came along and complicated life, that's not the sort of cash most of us have lying around.
So they turned to crowdfunding, asking fans, friends, families, if they'd be willing to make small donations to the project, and they created various ways for people to donate including, of course, a good old "Go Fund Me" page. A lot of people willing to give small amounts quickly adds up to an affordable project. In return for donations and pledges, funders will receive a copy of the finished CD (or a digital download if they prefer), as well as the limited edition lyrics booklet, and an exclusive invite to a family-friendly post-pandemic gig and launch party.
Quite honestly, we've all been absolutely blown away by how amazingly generous and supportive people have been. The band has so far been able to raise about £3500, around 70% of their target, and it has made a world of difference to getting the album recorded. It isn't just the money that matters, or that it gives peace of mind in being able to book enough studio time and know you can cover the bill. It is also the encouragement and vote of confidence that it creates which has spurred the band on.
The pennies and the pounds
I hope this will give you some inspiration too in your own musical endeavours. I know it is really hard to ask people for money, but the way we fund the arts has to change. If you can afford to fund your own recording, that's great, it gives you all the artistic freedom you could ask for, but if not, please remember it's totally okay to ask your friends and fans to help, (although please do so without pressuring anyone and please accept that some people simply cannot afford it). You might be surprised by how much your friends would like to help you, how much they'd like to feel they've been a part of making an album happen. Asking your closest friends to buy one of your CDs, or asking them to pay to attend your launch gig feels really really awkward, but ask them to effectively pay for that in advance in the form of helping to fund your album, and some will jump at the chance to help, and could become your biggest fans.
I will caution you though that crowdfunding isn't a magic money tree. Please don't think you just need to sign up for Kickstarter or something and sponsors will come rolling in. If that's your plan, you will be disappointed. Crowd funding requires a lot of work and planning, a willingness to genuinely engage with your fans, and you have to be prepared to give great value for money.
Two girls, one sound
Here is a bit of insane-looking landscape for you. I'm not sure where or what this place is, but it is a great backdrop for a pretty stylish video. This piece is called "Black Feather", and the artists are Arianna Mazzarese, a classical violinist from Italy, and Eleonora Loi, a rock guitarist from Sardinia, who together perform under the name Golden Salt. They too have financed their music by crowdfunding.
I think the violin and guitar work really well together, but have you ever considered the differences between the two instruments. The obvious one is that the violin is a bowed instrument so the notes tend to have less attack and more sustain. Less obvious is that a violin doesn't have frets, so the violinist needs much more precise finger positioning to hit the right notes, but enjoys more ability to smoothly slide from one note to another. That's about the limit of my knowledge on the subject. I'll be honest, I thought portamento was a type of suitcase, legato is those building blocks for kids, and glissando is obviously a lubricant of some sort.
Here is a completely different sort of video to inspire you, one which was made last year by one of the more interesting bands on the London punk scene, Polly Pikpocketz. Where Golden Salt is polished and precise, the Pikpocketz are vibrant and chaotic, and this crazy video reflects their character so well. I really enjoyed it.
I love it when bands don't take themselves too seriously,... well, I assume they are not taking themselves too seriously,.. I mean..., you don't think,.... hmmmmm.
So remember, we should soon be on the last leg and hopefully able to put pandemics behind us. Right now, pubs with outdoor seating areas are open for business, and up to six people are allowed to meet outdoors, but indoor meeting is still off limits. A month from now, provided we keep vaccinating and don't go crazy, the plan is for up to 30 people to be allowed to meet outdoors, or two households indoors, and pubs and cafes will be allowed to open indoors but with limits of six per table. From June 21st, all restrictions are meant to be lifted, and it should be possible for indoor performances to resume, assuming we still have venues to go to. So please keep yourselves healthy until then. It isn't long now.