NORFOLK, England (Reuters) – When the world was told to stay at home to escape the novel coronavirus, one British band had a choice: abandon live music or come together to jam. They chose rock.
Below a glass chandelier in a mansion beside the North Sea, the band – called the Sharpville Show – play on drums, guitar, keyboard and double bass as a one-eyed Shih Tzu named Genghis sleeps.
Instead of isolating like millions of others, the band members decided to come together for an orgy of live music in a luxury estate in Norfolk, eastern England.
“While the world was locking down and running for cover, I realised that live music was deficit on one side of the fence and needed to be accommodated in some form or fashion,” said Todd Sharpville, 50, who drew the musicians together.
Used to the vagaries of lives lived on the road and in gigs, the musicians had been left homeless.
“It felt a bit like Noah’s Ark. Certain things needed preserving and I had to find a way of preserving it and getting it into a safe place,” said Sharpville.
Dave Swift, a bassist who usually works with English pianist Jools Holland, said the COVID-19 crisis had left many musicians isolated in a creative wasteland.
“Being here with a working band, rehearsing, learning songs, doing performances – I am so glad because it is painful for a lot of musicians,” said Swift, 56.
“Luckily we are not all sharing a bedroom – that is one of the great benefits,” Swift quipped.
Sharpville’s plan is to collaborate with other artists who are performing remotely but need a full backing band, and to carry out charitable works. Band members have also been writing songs about the crisis, which have been livestreamed.
Though the bandmates say they feel cut off from the rest of the world, all said they were lucky to be there.
“We have good friends on the outside who are just desperate to go and jam – they can’t wait – so we are very, very blessed,” said drummer Dan Hale.
Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Janet Lawrence