COVID Can’t Stop Jazz – Words with FAYE PATTON

Faye Patton CD1

Advice and tidbits on how to keep your music and your brand on track.

Today’s inspiration comes from vocalist FAYE PATTON, who was in good company as being featured in the outstanding new book WOMEN IN JAZZ. She also had a “lovely gig” in mid-March and is waiting for the review to come out in JazzWise Magazine.

How are you getting gigs, whether performing or teaching?

As a performer, I relied on an ongoing relationship with small but good quality venues and promoters in London: Toulouse Lautrec, The Green Note Bermondsey Arts Club and Stratford Circus. The scene in London is small but rich and it’s taken a while but my foot is firmly in the door. 

My gigging world dried up almost overnight with my regular piano bar job – 2 nights a week – along with future bookings of my less- frequent gigs. As for touring – it looks unlikely. I have colleagues whose European tour plans, already affected by Brexit, are now gone for the time being. My worry is not just for immediate gigs lost but whether the venues I play at will be able to survive and recover later on in the year.

I admire some of my contemporaries who have transitioned almost seamlessly to live streaming and monetizing gigs from their living rooms. I am well behind the trend on this one and would rather use the alone time to woodshed and build repertoire without pressure to present it. However, I will have to get used to the idea as money runs short.

I have managed to adapt several of my teaching clients (singing/piano/guitar, university students and a toddlers group music session) to Skype/Zoom – which I find tiring and artificial – but better than nothing. Despite the frustrations of internet latency (no matter what platform) it makes for patiently communicated sessions that focus on learning by rote/ear and call/response. My teaching style is very physical and lively with piano accompaniment, so it has been very different.

How are you keeping your brand alive?

I worry as to whether I am! I should be updating my systems – website/retail portals/video content etc. – but have in reality been checking on family, chasing up wages/hardship funds and scrabbling to survive. I am a member of a forum called Jazz Fuel http://jazzfuel.com/ – which provides courses/podcasts/webinars etc. for independent jazz artists. It’s almost like an online management system, with checklists and reminders of how to set goals and keep the hustle flowing.

As I watch the news I get an uncertain forecast, which at times point to year-long lockdown and then seems like everything will be open again in two months – so I’m going to start applying for stuff/re-booking lost gigs soon.

What other tips do you have for your fellow musicians in these very challenging times?

Think ahead. Use the time well, you may not get it again. Experiment with being OFFLINE as well as online. You may get some excellent practice and songwriting done. Look after your soul. This is the forced holiday that many jobbing musicians long for but never take.

Clean out your cupboards, get some exercise and sunlight. You’ve been poor and hungry before, you will survive. Learn to live on tinned sardines, they are cheap and good for you. Stay in the present. Trust that at some point there’ll be a renewal. Get through the day and play your instruments as much as you can. Stay in touch with industry folk and make use of what is near to hand – it’s always more than you think. Go your own way, don’t follow tends. Different things work for different people.

For more information visit http://fayepatton.com.

Photos courtesy of and with permission of Faye Patton.
(c) Debbie Burke 2020

All About Jazz review

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