If we are to believe Boris, Covid has come and gone, but we all know that it’s still here, it’s simply not grabbing the media attention like the terrible Russian war on Ukraine.
However, with all restrictions lifted, the music world has been given tacit permission to get back to normal. But what does normal mean in 2022? It’s almost two years since the business we love fell off a cliff. Lockdown was imposed, theatres, arts centres and folk clubs closed, and we all grabbed whatever online music was available, ticketed or not.
Artists were suddenly faced with the prospect of an indefinite period with no work and no income – and so were booking agents, managers, sound-men, lighting engineers, studio engineers, and all those music industry workers who don’t appear on stage but who are vital to the industry. Venue staff were furloughed if they were lucky. Some self-employed music business folks who had tax records for the appropriate years got the government’s SEISS grant. Others fell through the cracks and had to find other sources of income.
At the time of writing, venues are opening their doors once more, though there are a lot of changes as international artists’ tours are cancelled and last minute substitutes step in to fill the gap. Attendance is variable. I hear reports that some artists are selling out venues in one area, but getting minimal audiences in others. There appears to be no reason for the differences. Other venues report a general downsizing of audiences by about 30%, which is not surprising, given some people are still voluntarily self-isolating because they don’t believe Boris either.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Venues are booking artists again to fill in their gaps for 2022 and also into 2023. And some foreign artists are taking all their Covid shots and braving the UK.
What about me?
I’ve taken a deep breath and reassessed my business. I’m stepping back from doing Certificates of Sponsorship for incoming foreign artists. So I’m concentrating on booking gigs in the UK for home grown and foreign performers. This has always been the main focus of my agency, but I’m now actively taking on a select few new artists. Anyone interested in joining my agency should read this article first on why you don’t need an agent – and what to do when you do. Please consider carefully before dropping me a line. I’m (mostly) looking for artists who are already established in the UK.
As I write, Over the Moon are on their first tour of the UK. They are a fabulous duo from Canada playing Canadian Cowboy and Western Swing with a bluegrassy feel and a bunch of great self-written songs. Their multi-instrumentals are complemented by delightful vocal harmonies. Their tour runs to early April 2022 and they’ll be back in 2023. We’ve just had the terrific news that their new album, Chinook Waltz has been nominated for a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of an Emmy).
Dan McKinnon is coming over from Canada soon (May/June). He’s emailed me to say he’s bought his plane tickets and I have twenty-one dates lined up for him. He’s a songwriter in the vein of Stan Rogers, i.e. story songs with intelligent lyrics. Dan is a true troubador. One man, one train ticket, one guitar. He’s been touring over here for close to 18 years and his fans love him. He was caught by Covid in 2020 and had to cut his March tour short after only two gigs. I rebooked it for 2021 (which didn’t happen, of course) but now he’s returning in 2022. Hoo-ray!
I have taken on a new duo, Donnelly and South, yes that’s Keith Donnelly (who is already on my agency roster) and Lauren South, singer and instrumentalist. Keith, one of the most popular, and, yes slightly crazy, figures in the folk world, teams up with the scene’s most exciting new voice – Lauren South. Keith’s superb songwriting and guitar-playing too often take a back seat to his onstage madcappery. Not so in this duo (He promises!). Lauren’s stunning vocals on Keith’s songs, her own originals, as well as the odd ‘trad’ song, not forgetting her violin, guitar and Shruti box playing, never fail to ‘wow’ audiences wherever she goes.
I’ve also taken on John Wort Hannam, Canadian singer-songwriter, who will be touring with fiddler Scott Duncan in May June of 2023. John has been nominated for (and won) so many awards that I’m not going to start listing them here. He’s a real slice of Canadiana, with intelligernt lyrics and tunes that catch your ear. Scott’s fiddling seems to add much more than one instrument. These guys are well worth a listen.
I have a lot more artists on my website, of course. Please take a look at http://www.jacey-bedford.com/ for the whole list.