On the small stage of this unassuming Camden venue, artists such as Amy Winehouse, Michael Kiwanuka, Anais Mitchell, Ed Sheeran and Jacob Collier began their careers. Now, as a response to the closure of venues around the country following the Covid-19 crisis, founders of this multiple award-winning venue Immy Doman and Risa Tabatznik have developed Virtually Green Note – an innovative and exciting online gig series – as a means of supporting artists and keeping the venue going during these difficult times. Every Wednesday and Friday evening, their live-streamed shows feature three artists playing live “in the round”. The “in the round” format, where multiple artists take turns playing songs and chat in between, is common in America but still relatively unknown here. The format transfers well online, and the intimate London venue has garnered fans from around the world who tune in every week to watch the music.
“Playing in the round makes it feel a lot more like a live show, as the artists are able to interact with each other. We’ve had such positive feedback – viewers have said that it’s the closest thing they’ve found to being at a live gig during lockdown and it has helped people to feel more connected and less lonely” says Risa. “Judging by the hundreds of comments which pour in during the shows on Facebook and YouTube, plus the banter and vibe between the performers, I can see why.” “It’s been exciting for us to be able to put on events without the constraints of capacity or geography. As it’s gone on, word is spreading, and we’re now attracting artists who would normally play much bigger venues and who we’ve been fans of for years” says Immy.
It appears music venues are going to be last on the list of those released from lockdown, and with new safety guidelines and social distancing measures, it’s going to be a lot longer than originally thought before the venue is able to reopen.
“We’re really grateful for the financial support we’ve received so far from the government, but as this is going on much longer than we first imagined, we’re getting increasingly worried about how long we’ll be able to survive. Our income disappeared overnight, but our overheads continue. We’re not sure how long we can stay closed for in a financial sense, but we’re equally concerned with the idea of opening with social distancing measures. Even with 1m social distancing in place, we’d only have space for an audience of about 15 people – it’s just not financially viable! But we also want to be able to keep our musicians, staff and audiences safe. It’s a very challenging situation!” says Immy. “Grassroots Music Venues contribute a huge part to British culture. I hope the government recognises this and accepts The Music Venue Trust’s plea for help. No one starts out playing in arenas! If it wasn’t for small venues there would be no Beatles!” says Risa.
Green Note are currently running a Crowdfunder in association with Music Venue Trust (MVT) and their #SaveOurVenues campaign: www.crowdfunder.com/SaveGreenNote
Venue website: http://www.greennote.co.uk/