What I've been up to

Virtual Gigs

Shaz writes about his experiences of music moving online in 2020. He also promotes a music gig that he is co hosting for Grant Sharkey and Joe Peacock.

I try to attend as many gig as possible. The last gig I went to before Lockdown was Slipknot and Behemoth at the NIA. I’d also started playing music with other people. Playing with the Orchestra in the Shape of a Pear and Co-operative Songwriting. Lockdown ended my attempts to play music with others in person. It also stopped bands from playing to audiences in the same room as them. Music has struggled without being able to tour, but some have still found ways to keep the music going by moving online.

My own virtual gig

I’ve been learning the piano for about 18 months. Initially I had lessons at my tutor’s piano, but Lockdown stopped that from happening. Before learning the piano I had bass guitar lessons for a few years. but my bass teacher stopped teaching in Birmingham. I had a chance to evaluate where I was going with music. I had written about 5-10 songs with a friend, including Christmas and birthday presents. To develop my songwriting I decided to learn the piano. Getting back on topic, after some initial resistance from myself, I started having zoom piano lessons. I bought a better keyboard, with 88 weighted keys. In some ways I prefer zoom lessons. I’m not rushing to get to lessons and I’m less tired during lessons as I’m at home in comfort. I’ve been trying to have two lessons a week. The lessons focus me to practice. In the short amount of time when I was not having lessons during Lockdown, I stopped playing my keyboard entirely.

For my birthday I played a virtual gig from my living room at the request of a friend. I invited a small, select crowd of people to celebrate my birthday and listen to me playing the keyboard. Unfortunately for them I’m still early days in the learning process so my repertoire is very limited. This would have been ok with my fellow hobbyist piano player, but my other friends were very patient as I played the F Major scale to them, left hand and right hand separately. I played simplified versions of ” My Heart will go on. from Titanic” and “A whole new world” from Aladdin. I played a chord progression that I had written with my piano teacher, but not in the 32 bar structure that it was written in, I just kept repeating the loops of chords that I could remember until I thought it was time to stop. My encore was playing “Can you feel the love tonight” from the Lion King, right hand only. My select audience was very kind to me. Every time I made a mistake, I could clearly hear it. I suppose if you are watching somebody play, you don’t know if it is a mistake unless it is glaringly obvious. At this point I can just about play both hands of “Can you feel the love tonight” I’ll look to play another zoom gig once I’ve developed as a piano a bit further and can comfortably play some more songs.

Grant Sharkey and Joe Peacock gig Saturday 30th January. 7pm Pay as you feel

Grant Sharkey is a solo bassist who writes witty songs about topical political issues, such as Brexit and Wetherspoons. A couple of years ago I saw him play a gig in my friends living room. His songs are catchy and thought provoking. He writes two albums a year. When Lockdown hit in his album (15/40) Radical You! Volume 2. He specifically said that he won’t be doing Zoom gigs as they are not personal. They lack the feedback from a live crowd. Grudgingly (I think) he has had to adapt by performing virtual gigs. Firstly on facebook and now an upcoming Zoom tour. When Grant said that he was looking to do Zoom gigs, I jumped at the chance. We are not bound by geography when we use zoom. I’ve enjoyed his facebook live streams from his conservatory and will try to “encourage” a select group of people to watch him perform whilst having a chance to have a catch up and have a beer or two. The gig will be pay as you feel, so those that attend can decide how much they want to pay to be entertained by Grant and Joe.

I felt that Grant needed a support act so I got in touch with Joe Peacock, a friend, who has recently gotten back into writing music. He has written a guitar based album about people of historical interest. He’s also written two albums of “mood” music, which I think sounds like it belongs in Sonic 2. Joe has got his acoustic guitar out and rearranged some of his songs ready for the gig next week.

I’m fairly certain that I’ll end up hosting the Zoom gig. I’ll make it my number one priority to plug Shaziety.com as unofficial sponsors for the gig. I think it is important to support musicians where we can. It’s difficult enough as it is to survive as an independent musician at the best of times. At the moment it is becoming increasingly difficult for musicians to get by with their touring income gone and in some cases no government support.

If you are interested in coming to the Zoom gig with Grant Sharkey and Joe Peackock, unofficially sponsored by Shaziety.com, please get in touch. The Zoom link will not be publicly shared. It will only be sent to people that we trust. Check our their music before the gig.


Grant Sharkey and Joe Peacock unofficially sponsored by Shaziety.com Saturday the 30th of January 7pm. Pay as you feel.  Ask for the Zoom link. 




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