I hope you are all safe and well. I think we’re into week 6 of lockdown in Ireland now, or is it week 7? I’m really not sure, I haven’t been counting. I think as a musician, it’s best not to think about the time frame too much because it can cause serious anxiety and stress. Reality for me is, many months will pass before I can get back to performing in public again. But I’m prepared to deal with that and learning of new ways to reach out to fans and followers.
Learning To Pivot…
“Pivot” is a word I came across in the first few days of lockdown and I have adopted that attitude. I’ve turned my living room into a virtual gig space and I’m performing my weekly residency gig for The Dingle Whiskey Bar on Sunday’s from the safety of my home. I’m happy with one gig per week at the moment and will possibly build on this.
As well as adapting to the situation myself I’ve watched others do the same. Local cafes trying out some new ideas to keep their businesses afloat, Irish distilleries changing their production lines in order to produce hand sanitiser, local schools using their resources to manufacture PPE gear etc. While we have to obey the restrictions we can still live within them and learn to respect each other and enjoy a slower pace of life just for a while longer. We all need to pivot a little, support our front line workers and support local and national businesses who are in turn supporting us.
One thing is for sure – I’m glad I built up an online store in the last number of years. Now, more than ever, my fans have been so supportive in going online and purchasing CD’s, Tote bags etc. I guess the fact that they have more time on their hands to do this is a plus for me. But the years of looking at boxes and boxes of merch I thought I’d never shift is now finally worth it as I am happily sending out a few packages per week. Click here to have a look at what’s in the Barry Jay Hughes store.
Getting Giggy With It!
While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused so much tragedy and death around the world, I can’t help but think of the positives that will come from all of this. I have been able to perform to people from all around the world. It almost feels like I’ve built a community of music lovers who meet every Sunday and I can see that they are starting to connect with each other during the gig. During my live streamed gigs I’ve had viewers from not only the 4 corners of Ireland but from USA, Poland, Sweden, UK, Canada, Spain, Italy, Norway, Czech Republic to name just a few and the great thing is I’ve met most of these people at one time or another either. But now I can perform online concerts for them all at the same time – that’s magic to me! While I’m entertaining viewers in Ireland just after dinner, I’m also keeping someone company in Canada while they have lunch. It’s crazy really.
Lights, Camera, Action…
The online shows are a completely different realm for me. I usually have 2 devices operating (one for Facebook and one for Instagram) and an average of 200 viewers for each gig. So I quickly discovered that these gigs would take getting used to. Planning setlists, brainstorming ideas for themed gigs, lighting the room properly, interacting with the viewers, taking occasional requests, thinking of ways to keep people “at your gig” for the duration, …. the list is endless and to be honest, I reckon I am working harder at preparing these gigs than any I’ve done in the past. Monday to Thursday are spent planning, Friday & Saturday I work on the set and rehearse everything and then Sunday is showtime!
As I write this I am also thinking of ideas for this weeks theme “Girl Power”. A night of music from some of my favourite female singers. I’ll be including music from Alicia Keys, Tracy Chapman, Adele, Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries), Sheryl Crow, Eva Cassidy, Wallis Bird, again, the list is literally endless. Be sure to tune into “The Dingle Whiskey Bar” on facebook from 6.30pm (IST) every Sunday to catch the gigs and say hi to me and all the Barry Jay fans.
If you’re reading this after May 3rd and are curious as to how the “Girl Power” gig went you can catch up with all the Lockdown Sessions on my YouTube channel.
Giving Something Back…
I feel it’s important to remember that every society is suffering during this pandemic. Charities are needed more now than ever but may be struggling to find the funds and resources to help people. So, I have pledged to dedicate at least one Virtual Gig per month to an Irish Charity to help raise awareness and much needed funds. You will find details of these gigs on my own facebook page “Barry Jay Hughes” every few weeks. April’s Charity gig was in aid of AsIAm.ie – Ireland’s Autism Awareness Charity and in late March I helped raise funds for The Irish Cancer Society as they had missed out on their annual Daffodil Fundraising Day nationwide.
Before I go…
I want to thank everyone who has supported me over the last 6 years. It’s been a mad journey so far and 2020 will certainly be one to remember. There are many nice memories being created amidst all the sadness and tragedy. I hope you can keep following my adventure, keep watching and keep listening to my music. I’ve lots of exciting projects to come your way in the next few weeks. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Take care, stay safe and please stay home as much as you can.