How Lancaster venues and musicians are planning to return to the live music scene as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted

Several pubs and venues have already announced gigs and shows as residents are urged to "support your local and keep music alive".

By Nick Lakin
Thursday, 11th March 2021, 12:30 pm
Lancaster trio Rock It Man.
Lancaster trio Rock It Man.

The current roadmap out of lockdown - which is subject to change - suggests pubs will be able to re-open their outside spaces from April 12, with indoor pubs, venues and entertainment being able to open from May 17.

There will still be social distancing and limits on group numbers in place, but the government has said it is aiming to lift all limits on social contact from June 21.

As a result, venues in Lancaster are already planning events for the coming months, whilst musicians are gearing up to start performing once again.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Lancaster musician Sam Frank at The John O' Gaunt.

Lancaster musician Sam Frank, said he was "scared but determined" to return to the live music circuit as soon as it is allowed.

He said: "The local music scene is unique in that there's a huge amount of talent in a very small area, yet it exists as a community where everyone helps each other out rather than competes.

"The industry is a delicate one anyway and has never been as damaged as it has in the last 12 months, but knowing the love and support the Lancaster area has for independent musicians, venues, and live music as a whole, it'll stand a good chance of recovery.

"I'm scared but determined.

Carnforth singer-songwriter Molly.

"Now, more than ever, support your local and keep music live!"

Carnforth singer-songwriter Molly Warburton, said: "I can’t wait to get back gigging it’s been such a long year and I’m just so excited for some live music.

"I’ve had lots of people message me for gigs, festival season is back!

"I think my first gig will back will be a little nerve racking but I’m sure I’ll soon get back into the swing of things when I see all your lovely faces.

Gritty Britain at The John O' Gaunt.

"Music is such a big part of peoples lives and I think lockdown has made people realise how much you miss it when it’s not there.

"Here’s hoping we’ll be back in the fields, drinking beer and singing along to our favourite tunes in the summer '21."

David Howarth, from Lancaster band Rock It Man, said music helped to keep the band going through busy working weeks.

He said: "To say we’re looking forward to the return of live music would be an understatement. It’s our hobby, our passion, and the thing that keeps us going through our busy working week.

The Pub in China Street, Lancaster, is undergoing a refurbishment.

"We’ve been playing loud and lively gigs, at least once a weekend, for nearly a decade, and built up a really good following.

"When it all came shuddering to a halt a year ago it was quite a shock.

"One of our last gigs was in early March at the John O Gaunt.

"The place was rocking but everyone seemed to realise it was the last time for a while – we felt like the musicians on the Titanic!

"Since then, to see such wonderful pubs shut up has been a genuinely sad sight.

"We’re waiting for the day when the tambourines are out and the guest vocalists are up on the mic; when the whole pub erupts in a mass sing along, or when the crowd bounces as one to a cheesy hit that everyone knows the words to.

The John O' Gaunt in Lancaster.

"It’s always a treat to meet the out of town visitors who flock here every weekend just for the live music, and it will be so good to see the city alive again, to see familiar faces, punters, publicans and pals."

Gregory Wright, bar manager at The Pub, in China Street, said the venue had been busy revamping its indoor space, as well as creating a new outdoor beer garden and performance area on a piece of derelict land next door.

He said: "The Pub has taken the opportunity during the lockdown period to give the much loved music venue a serious overhaul.

"Considerable investment has been put into improving the building, whilst maintain the pubs unique character and retaining and restoring a number of recently uncovered original features.

"On the first floor of the building, the rather neglected function room has been re- modelled, soundproofed, networked and a separate bar created.

"New toilets have been fitted throughout the venue, including an accessible toilet on the ground floor and two new blocks on the first floor.

"On the long empty site adjacent to the Pub, a beer garden is being constructed to allow further outdoor socialising and events to take place.

"New world-class sound systems, PA and lighting rigs have been purchased to ensure that when gigs can restart at the venue, that the bands will have the best technology at their disposal.

"Once the lockdown period comes to an end The Pub will focus on keeping music in Lancaster alive, expanding their offer of original acts, nurturing emerging musical talent, and continuing to be a welcoming and inclusive hub of creativity in the city centre."

Jon Davis, landlord at The Golden Lion - a popular venue for live music in many ways due to its intimate space, said: "Initially we will look to open in May with restrictions in place.

"I do have a plan for getting live music going again which is looking like June at the moment.

"I am waiting to see how things play out before putting a programme of live music together but I am confident we will have a great line up when the time comes."

The Borough, in Dalton Square, has booked former Hacienda DJ Graeme Park to play on Friday June 25, when it is hoped all restrictions on social contact will be lifted.

Landlady Hannah Horner, said: "Martin (Horner) used to work with Graeme Park a lot in the past from his nightclub days and when the government's 'roadmap' was released we thought that it was time that we organised a much needed celebration of normal life resuming.

"We are a sociable bunch and have missed seeing our friends and family over the last year and knew that others would feel the same, tickets sold out within hours but we hope to release more when we feel comfortable with any social distancing guidelines that may still be in place.

"We also will be opening up the Borough's new outside seating on April 12 and truly can not wait to get back to work after a tough 12 months."

Kanteena, one of the city's biggest venues, which also has a large outdoor space, has also announced some relatively big names on the underground alternative dance music scene.

Glasgow based Mungo's Hi-Fi have been booked to perform on June 26, while dance music legends K-Klass are heading up a party on July 17.

Liverpool DJ Yousef, with Sonny Wharton, James Holroyd, Leon Wanless and Krysko, appear on July 31.

Cafe Del Kanteena is also scheduled to take place outdoors on Saturday May 1.

Claire Tomlinson, landlady at the John O' Gaunt in Market Street, which has been the home of grassroots live music in Lancaster for decades, added: "Finally seeing some light at the end of this tunnel is so reassuring!

"Pubs and venues have really suffered throughout all of this, but let's not forget that musicians have too!

"The two are entwined and at the Gaunt especially I can't see one without the other.

"Live music in Lancaster is such a strong and vibrant scene. It's a tight knit community much like a family!

"Now more than your pubs! Support live music!"