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Festival performers

A nine-strong group of Popular Music Performance students have turned the restrictions imposed by the pandemic into a creative opportunity, organising a festival via livestream on Facebook.

Organiser, Callum Gridley (guitar and bass), said they would, under normal cirumstances, be working out in the local community, gaining hands-on experience of arranging tours, booking venues and organising performances. The lockdown had not only affected their studies but posed a financial threat to the creative outlets where they hoped, in future, to earn their living. They are staging their online festival to promote the national live music charity, Save Our Venues and fundraising efforts for Chester venue, Alexander’s Live, which is owned by former Chester Students’ Union President Jamie Northrop.

“We decided that we wanted to make the festival a charity one, and due to the effects of the coronavirus we realised that many grass roots music venues are going to close down all across the country due to a lack of income. This particularly affects us directly as we are small musicians looking to start our careers and if there are no small music venues then we will struggle to find work,” said Callum, who comes from Tyldesley in Manchester.

A lot of grassroots music venues are already operating on very thin margins and, since the lockdown, over 500 nationwide are at imminent risk of being permanently closed down. Monday nights at Alexander’s Live in Chester’s Rufus Court, for example, is just one of many venues currently affected by the lockdown.

“The situation is serious and it is up to music fans to do something about it. To be frank, if we don’t act quickly, there is a danger that we will lose many of the ‘live’ venues where artists and audiences can truly connect,” said Callum.

The ‘Keep Live Alive’ festival will be streamed live on the Facebook page:  and the “Save Our Venues” web page: with performances running Thursday, May 28 – Saturday, May 30, 6pm – 9.15pm. All artists will also be available to respond to their online audience. They are (in order of appearance):

  • Reanna McEvans, vocalist - Chill R&B
  • Kate McCullough, vocal guitarist - Folk and Acoustic
  • Erin Nairn, vocal guitarist – a variety of Chill Acoustic
  • Amy May, pianist - a variety of Classical/Pop/Rock/Metal/Ballads
  • Callum Gridley, guitarist and bassist - Made in The Nineties, hits from the 90s
  • Adrian Børsum, vocal guitarist - Multifønk (mix of acoustic/rap/multicultural songs)
  • Quintin Doyle, guitarist - mix of Rock
  • Alexandra Ryan, vocalist - mix of Rock/Acoustic
  • Leighton Smith, drummer - Rock/Metal.

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