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GROOVES: Salute to 2020’s music industry heroes

31 December, 2020 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Lil Simz

THIS column is a tribute to the music industry as a whole. To the musicians, door staff, venue owners, roadies and the many other vital humans that have kept the UK’s music scene vibrant and creative for decades. A musician friend of mine has had one gig in eight months; another, who looks after gig ticketing and doors, has had zero work, and there are thousands of others in a similar position.

While the government provided belated limited support to struggling venues, others missed out and, like Café de Paris, will have to close for good, while many self-employed individuals have received zero financial support. Despite a need for it more than ever during lockdown, culture seems to have been overlooked in the new Brexit deal, meaning touring is going to be expensive and difficult unless someone manages to convince those in power to understand the value of the creative arts to our society.

But, while this sounds like a picture of doom and gloom, we should be celebrating the many people whose absence only highlights their value and the rich contribution they have made to our lives.

Music is a memory trigger, a mood-setter, vital to soundtracks and road trips, essential to the live experience and to social interaction. And this year, countless musicians have found ways to continue to make their work accessible, either as for free to inspire the locked-down masses, or by trying to make some kind of living from their art, although unlikely to measure up to a liveable income.

So, this is a thank-you to those who have managed to continue producing and sharing their work – and to those who have not been able to this year – as well as those who support and make this all possible.

A special mention to the venues that have opened and shut countless times (Dublin Castle – although unable to put on gigs due to social distancing rules; Jazz Cafe; Barbican and Roundhouse, which have made constantly refreshing content available online; The Green Note, with its live streamed gigs, and many others. Lafayette and Powerhaus (formerly Dingwalls) opened in the worst of times but look to have exciting new programmes planned when they are allowed to reopen.

To those behind the Music Venue Trust, working relent­lessly to lobby government and raise funds to support venues.

To Laura Marling for her live streamed Union Chapel gig, to Nick Cave for his Alexandra Palace solo screening, to the many bands and singers who put their work on YouTube and the studios/the parents/friends/bed­room settings that helped them.

Lil Simz used her lockdown time to inspire EP Drop 6, Beans on Toast put out two albums on his annual birthday release instead of the usual one, the DMC championships went online, while Glen Matlock no doubt played the tamest gig of his life to a socially distanced seated crowd at Electric Ballroom.

Next year may start in a more difficult place than the last but we have the technology, the thirst to consume music and the inventive minds to make it happen. It will return and perhaps the post-Covid roaring 20s will bring with it a ravenous crowd searching for the live experience, the new sound and a place to dance close to others to beats we just need to hear once more. 2021, we’re counting on you.


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