Strumming and Dreaming - from Les Ray

On the Crosby Stills Nash & Young album 4 Way Street, when introducing his song, Neil Young says: “Here is a new song, it's guaranteed to bring you right down; it's called ‘Don't Let It Bring You Down’”.

In contrast, this issue’s Strumming and Dreaming is genuinely designed not to bring you down, after all, there are plenty of other things that are doing that right now. That’s the aim, and the means is by telling you about a couple of very positive initiatives intended to bring you live music during the lockdown. Hopefully it will succeed.

Of course, the Mardles website includes lots of other pointers to where to find great music online coming from our region, but I thought I’d focus on a couple of initiatives that are close to my heart... and my home. 

Many of you will be familiar with the Flying Pig pub in Cambridge, a fine long-standing music venue that in recent years has been threatened with closure but continues to forge on. Like Cambridge’s other live music venues, the Flying Pig has suffered the effects of the lockdown, as have the musicians who play there. So in March Simon Edwards set up the Facebook Group “Flying Pig Promotions - Keeping Cambridge Music Live” to help keep live music thriving and the community connected during this challenging time. 

Simon explains his aim as follows: “For me it is all about keeping the Cambridge musicians and music lover’s community together and making sure there is a forum for musicians to continue their live music performances. I created Flying Pig Promotions Keeping Cambridge Music Live as I was concerned that without this, the community would suffer and in particular during isolation the potential long-term closure of venues could have a detrimental impact. Since then I have organised over 160 live stream events, with an average of 20 events each week, and the group has grown to over 800 members. It is important to me to recognise all the musicians that have been involved in the live streaming events of the past 8 weeks, and the incredible impact this has on the wellbeing and mental health of the live music community, enabling them to remain connected and enjoying what they are passionate about”. 

Although not far from Cambridge, Royston is far from overshadowed by it and has a thriving folk scene in its own right, with a fine folk club and a summer festival (Royston MusicFest) involving dozens of musicians and large numbers of the town’s pubs. Not deterred by the lockdown, Royston Folk Club is running “Royston Shutdown Showcases” via their Facebook group on the evenings when they would have been meeting. And Carl Filby of Royston MusicFest has created a Facebook page to provide a platform for musicians who are releasing their music during the lockdown.

The links for all three initiatives are below, so please do check them out.

Looking forward to more uplifting times, but in the meantime ... keep safe and keep making music!

Les Ray

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