In her new documentary series, Front of House, Bolton photographer Marge Bradshaw hopes to raise awareness of the devastating impact of Covid-19, social distancing measures and lockdowns on musicians across Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
It comes after the Music Venues Trust revealed that over 550 grassroots music venues remain under immediate threat of closure, representing the potential permanent loss of over 5,000 jobs, over 100,000 concerts, over 300,000 performances by musicians, and over 1 million temporary employment opportunities for gig economy workers.
You can view the series in this online exhibition where you'll find personal stories behind each of Marge's portraits, as well as links to the musicians' work and projects. "As someone who works in culture, music and events photography, I know the devastating outcomes faced by musicians, production and touring crews as well as everyone who relies on the grassroots sector," says Marge, who wanted to do something to give back and show her support.
In one image we meet Rob Young, who plays banjo and guitar for The Two Hats Blues Band. He says: "A world without live music feels like living in a house with no windows. Live music is uplifting, it's nourishing, it's social glue. It's well and truly missed by me."
In another, we hear from blues guitarist Simon Kojo Sackey: "It's hard to keep motivated to play, knowing that you've no gig at the weekends. Finances have also been tight. My family has kept me going and I've spent a lot of time looking after our youngest one. On the positive side, I've started to record songs again, which I haven't done for a while, which is nice."
There's also Geraldine Green, who plays the clarinet. She played with the Bolton Symphony Orchestra, Bolton Chamber Orchestra, and for her local church music group before Covid-19 hit. "The toughest thing is definitely the loss of playing together in my orchestras. It was both my work and my social life - all now gone.
"I miss the spiritual feeding that music gives, our dear audiences, our chamber music concerts and the many fun rehearsals, my shows, church services, my teaching face to face, the musician friendships and comradery. The beautiful music and being amid it all. I am grieving the loss of it horribly."
Support Marge's Front of House project by visiting margebradshawphotography.co.uk. Marge is currently looking for local musicians to feature. If you know anyone or would like to nominate yourself, please get in touch.