yellow rose on piano

Martyn Cook – Pixabay

Musicians are the backbone of our most memorable cultural and life events, so it’s particularly unfair that they’ve borne the brunt of the COVID-19 shutdown. Along with other freelance cultural workers, there are no rescue packages for most musos, even though they’ve always been first in line to help others after disasters.

The irony is that music has become a completely essential service for lots of us trying to hold on to our sanity at this time.

For free

Performers from all over the world have been stepping up with fantastically raw, personal little gigs from home, often on Facebook or Instagram. Big names include Norah Jones, John Fogerty, Brian May, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.

Closer to home, Jim Moginie from Midnight Oil has been doing live performances from his home studio on Facebook and putting out a tipjar in support of #supportact, which has been set up to support musicians and crew people facing their darkest financial hour.

You can get behind them at

Weddings, parties, everything

With festivals, weddings, concerts and public events all on hold for now, it’s important that people who love music (i.e. pretty much all of us) support musicians in whichever way we can, especially local Australian and Northern Rivers musos.

If you’re a Spotify user, stream the artists you love constantly. Every little bit helps. Likewise, support them on Apple Music/iTunes.

Unfortunately these services return a pittance to artists, so if you want to really put your money where your ears are, check out Bandcamp.

Luke Vassella at Tamworth in 2016

Luke Vassella and friends performing at Tamworth – pic Eve Jeffery

Old school

If the artists you love are still producing CDs or vinyl, buy them. Give copies to your friends. You may not be able to have musicians physically at your event or on a stage just now, but you can still enjoy their music, and they can enjoy not starving.

Many artists from the Northern Rivers of NSW have brought out new offerings recently. Here are just a few:

  • Luke Vassella, the much-loved wedding singer and bard of the Northern Rivers anti-gasfield movement, has recently performed on Live on Mars and brought out a three-track EP which you can get on Bandcamp
  • Irish and now Northern Rivers songstress Áine Tyrrell has been doing Virtual Cuppa Teas from her bus for 95 weeks now, but they’ve acquired new meaning since social isolation. Get on board at her Facebook site
  • Ash Bell, formerly of Starboard Cannons and recently seen on stages with Sara Tindley, has been doing one-on-one guitar and songwriting lessons live from his bush studio. See what he’s been up to and get in touch here
  • Andrea Soler of solo and Bella Fontes fame has recently re-emerged from having babies and living in the bush with a fantastic new song and video from her verandah called ‘It’s OK’ – check it out here
  • choir addicts who are missing Melia Naughton’s wonderful Shire Choir’s regular appearances can get their fix with Shire Choir Radio on Soundcloud and specially curated playlists on Spotify. Keep up with what’s happening on Shire Choir’s Facebook site
Ash Grunwald

Ash Grunwald at Bluesfest – pic David Lowe

Local blues legend and author Ash Grunwald has not let his cancelled tour slow him down, and is offering everything from private concerts to one-on-one vocal and guitar lessons online – even mentoring! He’s also making regular podcasts covering music, surfing and philosophy. Check out his offerings on FB here and Insta here.

For musicians, like all of us, these are times of great challenge but also new opportunities, so dive into the possibilities and show the musicians of our region and the wider world how much we really appreciate them.


David Lowe