One of the area’s leading live-music venues believes that a campaign to raise money for grassroots venues hit by the sudden loss of revenue from gigs is vital for its survival, writes ADAM AIKEN
#saveourvenues, which is being run by the Music Venue Trust, has been backed by a number of high-profile brands and artists, including Dereham rockers Bad Touch, whose latest single has been adopted to help the campaign.
One of their first live gigs was at the Brickmakers and B2 Venue in Sprowston Road, Norwich, and co-owner Charley South said the lockdown had been “financially crippling”.
During normal times, the venue offers live music every night, with more than 100 bands performing each month, but that has all changed during the pandemic.
“With landlords only deferring rent, and no sign of rescue from the government, the future looks bleak,” she said. “Already we owe our landlords £28,000 in rent from March to date, and the debts keep accruing every day.
“The Music Venue Trust is working tirelessly to try to secure a rescue package from the government for us and other grassroots venues across the nation. This campaign is vital for our survival. Without it we are just one of many venues that face permanent closure.”
Marshall Amplification – a brand known for the iconic music equipment used by some of the world’s leading artists – has launched a T-shirt as part of its support for the campaign.
The “I’ve Got the Music in Me” T-shirt is inspired by the new single from festival fixtures Bad Touch. The Dereham band included their cover of the 1974 Kiki Dee hit on their fourth album, Kiss the Sky, which was recently released by Marshall Records to widespread critical acclaim.
Frontman Stevie Westwood said: “What is a band without a venue? We’ve been together a decade now, and over that time we’ve been very fortunate to play in some awesome venues – not just the ones with the big stages or professional sound systems but some that had next-to-nothing and were still electric to play in.”
Bad Touch had already shown their support for #saveourvenues by recording an isolation song, Keep On Smilin’, in support of the campaign.
“Sadly, many of these culturally integral places, both big and small, have now shut their doors for good,” said the singer. “Some have been holding on by the skin of their teeth and with the support of their local gig-going community for years. With the added weight of the lockdown, the pressure for some has proven too much to bear. So when the chance for us to work with the Music Venue Trust came up – an excuse to make a noise, share some love and smiles, and hopefully prevent some more doors from closing – we jumped at the opportunity.”
Charley, who is a musician herself and who played her very first gig at the Brickmakers 30 years ago, said: “Our venue is just one of many around the UK where musicians cut their teeth and hone their craft. Without small venues such as ours, there are no bottom rungs on the ladder. Bands need to have somewhere to start out, to learn, to make mistakes and to improve and then to grow.
“Without these fundamental starting points there will be no future Rolling Stones, Oasis or Ed Sheeran. All those legendary artists started out in grassroots music venues and Ed Sheeran played B2 Venue several times when he was starting out.”