INTERVIEW; We speak to YEOVIL Chamber of Commerce PRESIDENT Dave Woan about the future of the local music scene.
The Future of Live Music is still unclear in the first weeks of March, but it’s fair to say plans are being made for events later in the summer.
However, there have been many cancelled events already, including the likes of Glastonbury, Home Farm Fest and Abbey Hill Steam Rally.
We spoke to the Chamber of Commerce in Yeovil and regular Antix performer Dave Woan, about the current and future music scene.
Frazer Mitchell: Hi Dave, I hope you’ve been keeping well!
Dave Woan: Thanks Frazer; it’s good to hear from you again, as always. Although I’m incredibly busy in my day job, my gig opportunities have pretty much stalled; although I’m still putting in around an hour a day into practicing and pushing musical ideas around.
FM: That's great to hear. First of all, what have you been up to since the pandemic started? Has this time off inspired you to write more songs?
DW: I was fortune enough to squeeze a trip to New Zealand in January & February 2020. We visited relatives, travelled around, and managed to just get back to the UK before lockdown happened. The time in New Zealand, and the head space it offered, inspired me to write several sets of lyrics, two of which have turned into songs, which I’ve already played live at a couple of 2020 appearances between lockdowns. Despite the pandemic experience dominating most of our lives since March 2020, only one song inspired by lockdown materialised; the early lockdown experience was like living on the set of a weirdly real sci-fi movie, and inspired ‘You’re In This Movie’, a first-person tale of someone pleading with a less-than-conscientious friend, to stay safe.
FM: What I’d really like to talk to you about is the current state of the local music scene - obviously things were very active before all of this, and now they’re the complete opposite. What advice would you give to local musicians at a time like this?
DW: Take each day at a time; set realistic expectations, and don’t wish too hard. The good days will return – we just don’t know when. Adapt and explore the changed circumstances. It’s like I’m in a long, curved tunnel; the light behind me has disappeared from view, and I haven’t quite got to the point where the curve allows me to see the light in front of me. I keep practicing my art; even though opportunities for gigs are rare, I always need to stay on top of my game. If lockdown lifts tomorrow, I know I’ll be ‘gig-fit’.
FM; Some of the local festivals have already announced they will be postponing for yet another year, Home Farm Fest, Glastonbury Festival, Abbey Hill Steam Rally, yet some like Flashback are still planning to go ahead this year. What’s your thoughts on the festivals having to postpone for 2 years?
DW: As someone who organises corporate events, I understand the impact of lockdown. Try not to get upset with the organisers; they and festival stall-holders invest time, effort and usually a lot of money, only to see it all evaporate, due to something which is entirely out of anyone’s control. Apart from the loss of opportunity to create more happy memories, all the festival-goers lose is the cost of their ticket. As a regular attendee at Home Farm near Yeovil, I used to joke: “No year would be complete without Home Farm.” Here we are now looking at the second consecutive cancellation. Sure, I’m upset, but I'll just have to find something else to do on that first weekend in June.
FM: So looking a couple of steps into the future, into a post covid world. What do you think we, as a music industry, should be doing now, to make sure the industry isn’t as badly affected when we’re all allowed out?
DW: Tough question. A lot of the responsibility lies with musicians and promoters; no one is to blame here, and the fans remain hungry to see the artists. For enthusiastic amateurs like myself, I just have to keep practicing, with the cushion of a day job to meet the bills. For musicians whose livelihood depends on their art, and the ability to perform in front of an audience, technology can be used. I’m aware of some very creative use of technology; such as performance on stage in a hall full of screens, with the audience paying to watch and interact via the Zoom link. Not ideal, but needs must. As humans we’re incredibly inventive and adaptive, musicians are also going live from home, charging people to watch, and bands have been recording from separate locations for several years. As you know, I’ve been involved in a handful of your Antix virtual open mic sessions, which were incredibly good fun – are there any more planned? If the commercial and logistical opportunities are given airspace, and we harness the technology, when the good days return, all we have to do is replace the screens with the people again, and the audience is back in the same room as the performers.
FM; There aren't any Antix Virtual Open Mic Sessions - interestingly, we found there was a real need for them, and then everyone seemed to be 'going live' and the market was very flooded very quickly.
There have been a lot of musicians who have turned to social media, live streaming since last March due to the lack of gigs. Is there anyone that has caught your eye? Someone, or a band you think we should be listening to?
DW: Check out the soulful guitarist/vocalist Michael Kiwanuka and Saint Vincent, the ‘Talking Heads for the twenty-first century’. These are just two of the artists I’ve gotten into since seeing them on TV during lockdown. Another artist who is inspiring my writing and playing is the young English folk-inspired songsmith (and actor) Johnny Flynn, seven albums under his belt, a great voice and guitar technique. Locally, I’ve been listening to Juniper Roots, Jack Saunders, Mel Muryn, and Bruce Soord’s prog band The Pineapple Thief. There’s plenty going on. Musicians are harnessing their ideas and inspirations; the different circumstances are unearthing some great music that I may have otherwise missed.
FM: Thanks a lot for chatting with us, hopefully see you in the very near future!
DW: Thanks Frazer, great to hear from you!
Frazer Mitchell - Producer, DJ, and Events Coordinator at Antix Music Network