Kansas singer-songwriter and adopted Oxford star PINEY GIR faced down coronavirus, but says musicians face an even tougher fight for their future on lockdown

Are we sick of Corona news yet? writes Piney. I guess it starts to sound a bit like a broken record these days doesn’t it? Covid this and CV-19 that…

It’s still surreal, like one day we’ll wake up and it will all be a terrible sci-fi nightmare that nobody saw coming, a cheese dream that will turn you vegan forever, the stuff that inspires horror films; for now I don’t have to tell you just how very real it is.

Banbury Cake:

The Oxford Times ran a great spread on my music ahead of the cancelled gig that I was due to play at The Deaf and Hard Of Hearing Centre in St Ebbe’s on March 13.

It was the weekend before lockdown, so official government advice was to wash your hands frequently, sneeze into your sleeve, greet friends with elbow bumps and, if you’re ill, stay at home.

Very quickly that advice evolved into the lockdown that we have now, and as a survivor of Corona, I can tell you first hand, stick to the guidelines and stay home.

Prior to lockdown we went about our business obeying the rules the best we could, trying to be safe and mindful.

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Our planned Oxford gig was in collaboration with The Oxford Young Women’s Music Project, and it was sadly but sensibly cancelled. We went ahead and did a BBC Oxford session with Lilley Mitchell as it was not a public-facing event, and it is streamable here if you’d like to listen back to the live session and interview here.

Banbury Cake:

We had planned to do a discussion for The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), which was changed from a public event to a private affair and will be streamable soon, if you’d like to learn more about a bird’s eye view of the music industry.

It features my fellow members of our backing band The Roxys, Emma Brammer and Amy Ashworth, talking to Oxford artist Nick ‘Growler’ Fowler about our experience as women in the music industry. In addition to being in the Piney Gir band, and singing backing vocals with Gaz Coombes and Noel Gallagher, we all have music biz day jobs.

Myself and Amy are music supervisors working on global ad campaigns, TV shows like The Grand Tour for Amazon, The Circle for Ch4/Netflix, Cold Feet for ITV and other hit shows, as well as award winning feature films (some Hollywood films; some smaller indie films). By day Emma is a professional topliner, which means she writes melodies and lyrics and pitches her songs to pop stars to sing and include on their albums and releases (Emma has hits in China and lots of fans!). So between us we have a wealth of music industry experience from all angles at many levels.

Banbury Cake:

I survived Corona and am nearly through the other side of it. I will spare you the gory details because you can find the list of symptoms anywhere online and I had them all, but what I will tell you is this: this virus is no joke! It really does live up to the hype, it’s bad, and in my case it lasted nearly a month and has left me feeling weak.

I’m now working on building my strength up again gradually, and I have discovered if I over-exert it sets me back, so recovery is a marathon not a sprint. I am relatively young and healthy, so it’s even more important to stay in for the sake of people who are vulnerable.

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As an indie musician smack dab in the middle of an album campaign, it came at a terrible time.

I released my album You Are Here at the end of 2019 and had just released my new single Puppy Love featuring Oxford’s own Willie J Healey on vocals, with a tour lined up for March-April (cancelled), as well as a few festival dates this summer (also cancelled). I was also set to go on a promo trip to the USA where I was going to meet some Hollywood bigwigs, do some recording at Palomino Sound Studios, have some music biz meetings in Nashville and meet up with The Mountain Stage team at National Public Radio (NPR) in West Virginia, and was finally going to achieve my lifelong dream of going to Dolly Parton’s own theme park – Dollywood.

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These plans were foiled, leaving me high and dry. Of course these problems are a hill of beans compared to the gravity of this virus and the severity of its consequences, but, for me, it’s a case of bad timing.

I worked very hard and those chances may not happen again, so it’s a bitter pill to swallow – but a small price to pay for safety in these troubled times.

If you want to help indie musicians like me, please go to Bandcamp and support artists in a grassroots way. As all the merch sales go direct to the bands this is the best way to buy and support indie music.

I can’t wait until the lockdown is over and I can come back to Oxford to play the show that didn’t happen and that we can celebrate music we love at festivals in a field with like minded people.

In the meantime it’s great to have resources like TORCH, which has gone digital at torch.ox.ac.uk – so you can exercise your mind, as well as getting fit and learning hot dance routines while remaining safe at home.