The impact of Covid 19
The Tower of Song is a small music venue located in Cotteridge south west Birmingham. It’s primarily a blues music venue, but hosts a whole variety of musicians. I’ve seen several solo bassists play the Tower of Song and as a bass player myself, I can say that it does not get much more niche than that. Watching a solo bassist play the bass like a synth is not for everybody. The Tower of Song is a musician’s venue, where blues, jazz and experimental music thrives. Live music outside of the Arena headliners is struggling to get by. Small music venues that serve non mainstream music genres are vital community hubs. Gems similar to the Tower of Song continue to close down and this was before Covid 19 changed the live music landscape.
Like the rest of the live events industry Covid 19 has had a catastrophic impact on the music venue. It has been closed since March. A Crowdfunder for the Tower of Song successfully raised enough money to keep paying the bills during Lockdown and for the near future. Several artists held virtual fundraiser gigs from their living rooms. I watched a gig from Lobelia Lawson online that was in support of the Tower of Song. With the economy slowly reopening, the live music industry is one of the last industries to be allowed to reopen. Last Sunday marked the first live performance at the Tower of Song in a long time. The performance happened outside of the front of the building, with spectators sat socially distanced outside too. The bar was open, but nobody could sit inside. The performers had cover in case of rain. Luckily for us, the rain held off. About an hour before the gig started there was a heavy downpour of rain and so we feared that the gig would have to be cancelled.
Musicians get to play in front of real life people!
I’m not familiar with most of the acts that played, but I do know that owner Tom Martin opened proceedings. His voice can sound like Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. The Springsteen sound is strengthened when accompanied by a Saxophonist like Tom was in this gig. Once Tom had finished playing with a band, we had a whole host of musicians playing short set lists on a wide range of instruments. We had a solo pianist, several solo acoustic guitarists and a couple more bands. Folk, blues, pop and lots of other genres of music were represented. Sadly, for Shaz though, there was no Nickelback or death metal, but maybe I’ll fix that one day. Everybody who played has been involved with the Tower of music since before Lockdown. Everybody watching on had also been fans of the venue for a while. The sense of community was strong with those involved in the gig. We had all missed live music and we were delighted to be able to watch some in person once more. Social distancing rules were adhered to and the weather played nicely. I enjoyed four beers, which is the most amount of beers that I’ve had since March. The re-opening gig was a success. We hope that the Tower of Song can survive this continued period of turbulence. There will be more socially distanced gigs in the future as the venue looks to see how it can operate long term. At some point I’ll try to sneak some death metal in via the keyboard or better yet Nickelback. I reckon most of the clientele would not recognise Nickelback so I think that I could get away with it.