May 2020 update – music in the time of Covid-19

No excuses for the 18-month plus radio silence on here! Other than to say that my work as a promoter and booking agent really took off in 2019, so my own music has taken a back seat for most of the time. You can keep up with my adventures at my music promotion site True North Music – although this site is supposed to be a home for ALL my music projects, both creative and business related.

Since my last update, The Reckless Abandoners performed at quite a few festivals across the country in both autumn 2018 and summer 2019. Eleanor Wilkie (fiddle/vocals) and Julie Cross (double bass) moved on at the end of the 2019 festival season, due to their increasing commitments with Midnight Skyracer and as organisers of the fabulous Crossover Festival. We’re still planning to bring a full band line-up together occasionally, but my bandmate Phil Stott and I also formed a new Yorkshire based duo project Phrase & Fable, which is a bit easier to run than a six-piece band. Since early 2019 we have been busy rehearsing and working up material and have performed a handful of gigs too. So I’ve been returning to my songwriting over the last 12 months as well as putting in much more practice on clawhammer banjo and fiddle.

My booking agency business and my reputation in the bluegrass and roots community progressed enormously in the last year and a half. I was invited to the USA in September 2018 as a guest of arts organisation South Arts, to experience quintessentially American music on the Performing Arts Discovery: American Sounds programme. In March 2019, I  travelled to Nashville to participate in the prestigious Leadership Bluegrass course run by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and in the autumn I was invited to Canada by Music PEI for their showcase event on Prince Edward Island. This has all led to making valuable new contacts and meeting new artists that have since joined my roster. All in all it’s been a very exciting 18 months for experiencing top flight music at home and away, making new connections and new music friends across the country and the world.

Of course, that’s all come to a grinding halt now with the Covid-19 crisis having a devastating effect on live music and touring. I had already done many months of work for around a dozen 2020 tours, almost all of which had to be sadly cancelled.  We should also have been hosting our first one day Americana & Bluegrass Day mini fest this coming weekend, but of course that has also had to be postponed until 2021. I’ve decided to host a VIRTUAL event instead to mark the date, so please join us on the True North Music Facebook page for a live streamed concert on Saturday 30th May 2020, from 7pm.

I hope to see you for a gig, session or tune on the other side of this – whenever that may be. Keep on supporting live music in all its forms – it is so important for our individual mental health, and as a form of connecting communities. I’ll be looking at how I can adjust to this new reality with some digital projects and even perhaps try to take advantage of this pause and loss of work, to spend more time on my own creativity and songwriting. Stay safe, everyone!