The sun is shining, the weather is sweet, and the summer clothes are slowly creeping out from the darkest depths of our wardrobes. The season of all seasons is upon us. It’s time for a festival. Ok. So I’ve not been living on another planet. I’m completely gutted that many of our popular events are being postponed due to the current pandemic, but I have good news. There are loving heroes amongst us who are spending their lockdown days busting butt to bring the party life to us at home. Dom O’Doherty is one of these stars.
Dom is the leading force behind Lockdown Festival, which will see a variety of independent artists from the Blackburn and Darwen scene, streaming live music to us throughout the weekend (April 18th-19th). We’re set to see performances from singer-songwriter Jamie Hamilton, saxophonist Paddy Higginson, and Jamie Dodd, former Searching For Seraphim frontman, to name but a few. If that isn’t reason enough to ditch those lockdown blues, it’s also all in an aim to raise money for the NHS. Beautiful.
I managed to steal some time out of Dom’s busy schedule to get the lowdown on Lockdown Festival.
Chelsey: Hi, Dom! So where did the idea for Lockdown Festival initially come from?
Dom: Well, shortly after the lockdown was announced, I started getting notification after notification of the cancelled gigs and events I was due to attend. Luckily, some of those artists managed to put on live concerts via YouTube, Instagram and Twitch, which softened the blow. Still, after a couple of beers and watching said streams, I had the dangerous idea of putting something together myself for the local music scene.
Chelsey: I salute you for taking the idea of streamed events to a brilliant new level. Thank goodness for beer and dangerous ideas. You mentioned doing this for the local music scene. How did you decide on who to reach out to?
Dom: Initially, I contacted a handful of people I knew from when I used to gig myself, and they snapped my hand off at the chance, especially when I mentioned raising money for the NHS. They then reached out to a couple of their musician friends, and twenty-four hours later we had seventeen acts confirmed. Fast-forward another twenty-four hours, and we had twenty-two acts and a full two-day festival to plan.
Chelsey: Wow, okay, so it all happened fast. I’m loving the personal touch of having artists from your home town. What kind of music should we expect to hear?
Dom: There’ll be a wide range of music across the two days. Logistically, trying to get acts setup would have been a nightmare in such a short period of time. Luckily, a few frontmen and women have agreed to mix down some tracks and perform along to them. Thanks to this, you will get a range of rock, rap, acoustic and indie with everything in between. You will hear music spanning every decade back to the sixties through to the present day, scattered amongst a plethora of original material from fantastic up-and-coming local artists to well-versed veterans. To top it all topped off, there will be DJ sets that are sure to have everyone dancing around the house or garden.
Chelsey: Sounds like there’s a bit of something for everyone. Do you think this will be a one-off or do you have more up your sleeve?
Dom: Well, the original plan was to do a three-hour live event, and we are now doing a full two-day festival streaming for eight to ten hours each day. As this little local festival has gained traction, I think my vision for what is possible down the line may have broadened somewhat. We’ll see.
Chelsey: I get a feeling we’ll need to watch this space. With musicians and music lovers such as yourself having to think more outside of the box at the moment, do you think festivals will ever be the same again?
Dom: I’d like to think this will be an addition to regular festivals in the future. We are seeing big names take on mammoth tasks doing this kind of thing and putting music out from the best in the world. I’m a massive fan of festivals, the whole atmosphere packaged up with great art and music is completely unrivalled in the events world and that will never change. What I hope to see in the future is for this platform to be used as an introduction to live music. I can only imagine festivals are a real chore for families all over the world and hopefully, organisers will recognise this and act accordingly.
Chelsey: I love that idea and have to agree. Streaming could be an excellent way for live music to reach more people, taking personal circumstances out of the equation. Before lockdown, had you ever considered organising a festival?
Dom: Not even for a second. I had always supported local festivals by way of either performing or attending as a music lover. Never, and I mean never, did I consider taking on the stress of organising one myself, yet, here we are.
Chelsey: It can’t have been easy pulling this all together in such a short space of time. It must be stressful. But what an excellent opportunity for local bands, and all for a great cause too. I suppose organising a festival is one way to keep busy, but how else are you coping with the lockdown?
Dom: As you say, I am keeping busy and staying marginally sane, having set up a weekly quiz (Risky Quizness on Facebook), but I do love to socialise as we all do. Thinking bigger picture, I would take a six-month lockdown if it meant we came out the other side of this with the least possible impact. With that in mind, stay at home!
Chelsey: Yes! Stay safe and at home. There’ll be a day we’re let loose on the fields again. When that finally comes, who would be your dream headliner?
Dom: I would have to say Paramore, Dermot Kennedy or Ziggy Alberts.
Chelsey: Thanks for your time, Dom. Is there anything else you’d like to say to potential Lockdown Festival goers?
Dom: Yes! Head on over to the Lockdown Festival Facebook page, like it, invite all your friends and share with anyone who will listen. This is all in aid of the great work our mighty NHS are currently undertaking so if you can dig deep and donate generously, great. If not, show support by tuning in on Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th of April from approx 14:30 (GMT) both days.
So! I think it’s time for us to dust off our wellies, dig out that trusty tent and add a few beers to our essential shopping list. We’ve got a festival to go to! For the full line-up and set times, follow this link to the Lockdown Festival Facebook page.