All over the country venues are under threat of closure, and a whole range of staff from musicians, to technicians, to cleaners are suddenly out of work. In response Folk Weekend: Oxford have created an online platform to support artists and the community, and have pioneered a successful string of online events using Zoom. Each event has its own remote live sound engineer creating the perfect sound to be streamed live and unbroken throughout the world. Unlike most other streams, Folk Weekend: Oxford have created a 100% live setting where the audience and artist can see and hear each other; interact and applaud. Since lockdown the team have paid out £35,000 to folk artists, sound engineers, admin and support workers for these events. Artists and founder are available for comment or interview on request. Further information can be found HERE.
With 21 events currently planned over the next two months, Folk Weekend: Oxford is filling the void left by gig venues up and down the country with tickets ranging from £8 to £22 with customers able to choose the price band that suits them best depending on what they can afford for a two hour event. Each event is completely unique, live streamed directly to the computer or phone with sound engineers connecting remotely via desktop access software giving gig-quality sound.
Cat McGill, Director at Folk Weekend: Oxford says “With cultural venues and festivals shutting down across the world, lots of people who depend on their arts for their livelihood are suddenly finding themselves out of work for the foreseeable future. We feel strongly that if we can do something to support the sector through these difficult times then we should – so we will be continuing to promote live music events for as long as there are artists who want to play them and audiences who want to watch them.”
Previous performing artists Nancy Kerr and James Fagan says “There are a couple of major things standing in the way of despair right now for folk musicians and their ever-supportive audiences. Foremost, the Zoom concert series initiated by Folk Weekend:Oxford stands like a lighthouse for us all – a beacon of comfort, safety and great music on this rocky shore on which we find ourselves.
We knew our gig would be fun and worthwhile, from a few previous artists’ experiences, but we weren’t expecting it to have the adrenaline, anticipation and real contact with our audience that we have been missing so much. It totally did! This is better than ‘making do’. This is something new.“
Highlights over the next two months include Belshazzar’s Feast on 26th July who are some of the finest examples of traditional English folk music people are likely to hear; Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman perform on 1st August which are best known for their imaginative songwriting and musicianship. Children’s songwriter Nick Cope with a show on CBeebies performs on 2nd August while multi-instrumentalist folk musician Sam Sweeney is set for 8th August. Streaming from the USA, Tim Eriksen will perform his interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes on 15th August. Steve Tilston is coined to perform on 5th September with Sony Academy award-winning songwriter Jez Lowe set for 16th September.
This year as the UK went into lockdown Folk Weekend was due to begin. Instead of canceling the festival the team took the entire event online with a weekend full of live performances on Facebook and in Zoom. They streamed 49 events over four days with everyone being completely live, taking more ticket sales than the ‘real-life’ festival would have. Now the team has expanded on the original concept and are running two events per week streaming across the world.