The annual Salford Music Festival showcases the best of the city’s musical talent whilst also raising vital funds for a host of local charities.
However, last year’s event was brought forward to the spring and moved online, to allow their artists to still perform and its patrons to continue to donate, despite the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
One of the festival’s founders, Ed Blaney, says he’s proud of what his team were able to achieve on such short notice.
He said: “Normally we do it at the end of September. So last year, we brought it forward to cheer people up, and we pulled it off amazingly online with just a few weeks’ notice.
“It was still true to its roots; we had lots of new music as well as some big artists as well which helped shed light on the new acts, which was amazing.
“In a way, we were able to ‘cash in’ on the situation, because lots of big artists wanted the exposure, so we were able to raise a few thousand quid for some great charities.”
Thanks to performances from the likes of Peter Hook & The Light, as well as a plethora of local talent, last year’s festival raised over £2,800 in aid of two Salford-based charities: Salford 4 Good, which supports charities and community initiatives across the city; and Salford Loaves and Fishes, which provides food for the city’s homeless as well as giving vulnerable people access to local foodbanks. A portion of the proceeds also went to the NHS fundraiser NHS Charities Together.
Despite the government’s current roadmap out of lockdown being set to allow all live music events of any size to resume by the 21st of June, Ed is still sceptical about the possibility of larger concerts and festivals being able to run this summer.
“I think the best way to go about this is slowly. I personally think it’s too soon to be opening things up again, and we risk the virus coming back again when people start mixing, so we could end up in another lockdown in the winter. So as much as I’d love live music to be back this summer, it just doesn’t make much sense to rush things to me.”
In addition to his work for Salford Music Festival, Ed also knows what it is like to be on the other side of the barrier. He is the vocalist in his own band, Blaney, whose latest recording session was cut short by the first lockdown: “We were recording our new album when the first lockdown came in, so we’ve not been able to get back into the studio since to finish it!
“But the tracks we have recorded we’ve been releasing online, and they’ve been getting some radio play and a really good reception. We have definitely missed playing live though!”
Currently, Salford Music Festival have no plans laid out for how the event will run this year, but Ed has assured the festival’s regulars that there will be some form of event later this year.
He said: “There will definitely be an event this year. Ideally, we want it to be in person, because I think people are getting a bit sick of online gigs now! But we are in the lucky position of being able to put this festival together in a matter of weeks, whereas the larger festivals can take months to put together. So, we’re waiting to see what happens over the summer before we make any decisions about this year.”
Despite the undeniable damage that has been done to the music industry over the past year, Ed has a positive outlook on the industry’s future prospects.
He said: “As soon as we get the green light for events to be safe again, I think the world’s your oyster when it comes to live music in England.
“While big events aren’t able to go ahead, that leaves the door open for smaller shows, whether that’s inside or outside, to go ahead. It will allow more young bands, promoters, journalists, photographers, to get involved – we should let the kids have a go! And that will be a real positive I think, allowing new smaller artists some time in the spotlight.
“To any young people in the music industry, keep going and doing what you’re doing. We will get live music back again, so if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, then keep doing it!”
To keep up to date with Salford Music Festival’s plans for the 2021 event, follow their Facebook page.