A recording studio in the heart of East Lancashire has been holding secret gigs and live streaming them on YouTube to help support local artists.
Staff at Darwen’s Sunbird Records have spent the last four years building a platform for local artists, but when lockdown struck, it was their industry that suffered the most.
So in an effort to continue promoting and supporting local talent they took to YouTube and Facebook and created ‘Sunbird Stream and Sunbird Secret Gigs’, to provide live performances of local bands, artists and DJs for people to enjoy at home.
Ramsay Lohan, who runs Sunbird Records said: “We decided to start the videos and live streams because music is everything to us.
“Many artists have not been able to perform since early March and are unlikely to be able to play again till April, so we felt an obligation to further perpetuate the local live music scene through lockdowns, and provide a platform for local artists and DJs to perform in a safe way.
“We started out live streaming with Sunbird Stream to some decent success, and became one of the most consistently watched live streams from a music venue in England.
“Then Sunbird Secret Gigs came after, where we could offer shorter form content with a much higher quality and the use of unique and cool locations such as a barn, a horse box and even our latest with Dead Cherry on top of a mountain.”
From local artists such as Dead Cherry, HAiG, Dropjaw Audio and Jack Anwyl, Sunbird have been championing organic sounds, keeping music-lovers across the region entertained while they are unable to attend in-person gigs.
They also did a live stream for cancelled East Lancashire music festival, Beatherder, which saw acts from this years’ line-up performing through submissions and in venue performances.
The guys at Sunbird are taking no revenue from the performances as they say ‘the music is more important’ than a wage.
Mr Lohan explained: “People have asked us how they can support us, but all we ask is that they like and subscribe to our YouTube and share our content.
“But also when everything becomes safe again, pop down to the venue and attend some of our events.
“As a music venue we’ve been under some of the harshest regulations in the entire hospitality industry, and while we are supporting our employees the best we can, a lot of them have had to get other jobs to be able to make a living, meaning they’re further detached from their main focus of music.
“So by supporting them in this way we’re helping in the best way we know how.
“The music scene is extremely important to Blackburn and Darwen, and if it were to disappear suddenly, Darwen would lose events and acts that are capable of pulling crowds who won’t just go to the performance at one venue, but who will feed Darwen’s night time economy by visiting other bars and pubs.”
With that in mind, Mr Ramsay says that once venues and bars can re-open safely, he expects the local music scene will explode, adding: “As a venue, we have some amazing projects lined-up that could make Darwen bigger than it already is and draw national attention making every artist, band or DJ want to come and play here.”
All content is free on Sunbird Records YouTube channel, with some also available on their Facebook page.
Local bands, artists or DJs who are looking for advice, or who want to get involved with the Sunbird Secret Gigs can email Academy@sunbirdrecords.co.uk.