Thursday, 18 March 2021

A Life In Music: Ross Grant. Around The World In 80 Plays, and lots, lots more

Taking global collaboration to a new level

Ross Grant is a busy man. A very busy man. I'm going to touch on some of this activities in this post, and you can hear more from the man himself at his Lives in Music Episode, released this week. Or just stay here, and you'll find him towards the end of this blog post.  

Let me start with his fantastic current project, Around The World In 80 Plays. There's a link to the YouTube channel below.   

It's a simple idea, but it's also, naturally, a huge amount of work. It also calls for a massive address book, which Ross certainly has. Most of us will have seen those multi-screen YouTube videos where musicians collaborate together at distance. This was a central feature of the Lives in Music episode with Richard March, who played on and produced most of the Tonight Matthew videos that gave a lot of people much joy last year in lockdown. 

But that series ran to 11 videos in the end. Ross is putting together 80 such collaborations. Musicians worldwide have joined in with him, from brilliant local and European folk players to Ugandan and Malian traditional players and more. The guest player takes central stage, and Ross chimes in with multiple tracks of backing, on fiddle, guitar and lord knows what else. 

A contacts list to end all contacts lists

To do this sort of thing, you need contacts, and Ross has them. His address book has grown, first through his life-long involvement with the Bromyard Folk Festival, and also through activities like working with Sistema England, which has taken its inspiration from the spectacular original El Sistema in Venezuela, as have hundreds of music organisations worldwide. Given this work, mainly in the Classical field, it's not surprising his address book has grown.  

But that's not the only area where Ross has people to call on. As a boy, Ross benefited from his dad's folk contacts (he was good mates with Ian Campbell), and of course work with the long-established Bromyard Folk Festival, where Ross is now a director.

Planning a major Folk Festival in Lockdown

This year, after a barren lockdown-flattened 2020, the Bromyard Folk Festival returns. It's not necessarily going to be easy, as despite the September 2021 date of 9-12 September, there's still going to be the need for Social Distancing. Quite the challenge. The previous weekend, Moseley Folk in Birmingham will have the same dilemna. At time of writing, Ross's group 
Inlay will play at Moseley on Sunday.

There's more, lots more. But I suggest you give the podcast episode a spin. It was a terrific conversation, and a delight to put together.


Around The World In 80 plays on YouTube
Around the World in 80 Plays Tip Jar - show your appreciation!
Music Group: Ross plays in Inlay 
Going since 1968, the Bromyard Folk Festival
Classical Music project 
Sistema England

Ross Grant on Lives in Music 


The Lives in Music Podcast series   

I've been doing these for about two years now. These are interviews with local 
musicians and music enablers, looking at how music has shaped them throughout 
their lives. Series 3 also looks hard at how lockdown has had an impact. 

There are some lovely stories. To see who's in the list of artists, here's a link to 
review every episode.
One further footnote: the intro and outro guitar flourishes I'm using in this series of Lives in Music podcast come from Vo Fletcher, who is also featured, with Loz Lozwold (aka Kingsley), in a podcast in this series. I asked Vo for a bit of live impro, and this was the result.  

The Radio To Go blog

This blog has been going since 2007. I started it to focus mainly on radio stories, as the industry went through convulsive changes. Those changes aren't over yet, not by a long chalk. I then expanded the range of topics to cover local music, another subject close to my heart. I think it was a Destroyers gig that pulled me in that direction. I've banged out several hundred posts since then, and of course deleted quite a few. But if you're interested in thoughts on the local scene and/or radio futures, by all means visit the full topic index on the Radio To Go blog.

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