Live music returning ‘huge sign of things progressing positively’, musician says

Musician Joncan Kavlakoglu has said performing live music as lockdown measures are eased will be a “massive signifier of things moving forward”.

The flamenco funk fusion guitarist is performing at Cucumber Alley in London’s Seven Dials Market as limited audiences return to theatres, sports stadiums and music venues after months of shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He told the PA news agency: “I feel really, really excited.

“I’ve been pre-empting it for a long time and I’m really hoping that things were gonna be able to open up but equally, taking a massive side of caution as well.

“I didn’t want my passion, I didn’t want my profession to hurt people.

“At the end of the day, that was my feeling at the middle of last year.

“I’m very, very excited for not only the performance, not only just to be performing inside finally for live audiences inside, but just what this signifies for the industry returning and for people returning to their livelihoods in that industry.”

Kavlakoglu added: “In terms of audiences, and in general public, I think, number one, it will be a massive signifier of things moving forward.

“As the entertainment industry, and as part of the culture industry, we’ve been suppressed in the last year, and just over a year, and being able to see live music as a thing coming back, I think it will be a huge signifier for the public.

“I think it will be a huge sign that things are progressing positively.

“And in terms of the public mood, I think it will bring back a much needed facet of people’s lives that has been missing for the last year.”

While some venues plan to reopen with socially-distanced audiences from May 17, many will remain closed for the immediate future.

During lockdown, Kavlakoglu performed online and also volunteered with mental health charity Samaritans and to give vaccinations, because, he says, “you can only practise so much guitar”.

He explained: “I wanted to help people and use my time positively.

“I’ve also become one of the volunteer vaccinators so I vaccinate people and I tried to help get the industry back one person at a time, one injection at a time.”

According to the Help Musicians charity, despite restrictions easing, 96% of musicians continue to be worried about their financial situation with 70% still unsure they will be able to cope financially over the next six months.

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James Ainscough, chief executive of Help Musicians charity, which has supported the industry since live music was effectively halted in March 2020, said: “The return of live music is a hugely positive step for the entire music industry.

“For most musicians, music is much more than a job, it is their purpose in life.

“The effect of getting back to what they love, and the financial relief it will bring, cannot be understated.

“However, the music industry has a long way to go to fully recover and there is still uncertainty around how quickly this will happen.

“Musicians continue to need support while they wait and hope for the opportunity to return.”

Kavlakoglu has also been working on his debut album, which he hopes will be out near the end of this year or the beginning of 2022.

As restrictions ease in England, people can meet outdoors in groups of up to 30, and indoors in groups of six or two households, with pubs and restaurants able to serve customers inside.

Museums, cinemas and other indoor attractions can also reopen.