Since I started my blog a few years back I have always begun the year with an overview of what my plans are for the year ahead. 2020’s list is pretty depressing looking back now, with my talk of live shows and improving the speed of my writing, both things which the pandemic managed to curtail.
So even though this year is hugely uncertain I think we can all benefit from a moment of reflection and positive planning. Here are some of my resolutions for the year ahead in music blogging.
1.Review Live Music Again
My simple hope for the year is to get live music back. The reality I dread, and fear, will not be that simple. Even with a vaccine we are in the midst of a chaotic struggle against an invisible and uncertain enemy. Who will get the vaccine and when are unknown elements of our future. Mass gatherings and travel are two things which must be controlled in order to contain the virus – two things which live music as we know it relies on. Mutations add another threat to the outcome of this pandemic.
My pessimism at least means I have accepted the worst case scenario of no gigs in 2021. Or certainly no gigs in the way we have known them in the past. By putting that hope to one side I can focus on the things that are possible, while still praying that a solution can be found.
So the way I will ‘review’ live music this year is to go back to some of my favourite concerts from the past and write about them instead.
2.Learn to Love Live Streams
If live streams are all we have and a clear way to support artists financially through this hellish time then I have to start actually watching them. The only one I routinely watched at all this year was Amanda Shires’s series ‘I So Lounging’ which kept me going during the worst time at the start of the lockdown. However since that series ended I haven’t watched any more. Many live-streams are now paid for and on during the night so they haven’t been something I have wanted to fork out money for.
I think I just need to switch my mindset to live-streaming not as a replacement for gigs (which they can never be) and instead think of them as a sweet bonus way to experience the music and connect with the artist and other fans.
I am excited to see what Celtic Connections do with their live stream programme this year – maybe my favourite festival will help me learn to love them. Here’s hoping.
3.Review As Many New Albums and Music Books As Possible
The joy of having so many new album releases to review in 2020 was something that I never took for granted. It seems even more remarkable now seeing how few big releases have been scheduled so far in 2021.
I totally understand why many artists may be wary of releasing this year when 2022 offers a more likely opportunity for something approaching normal touring and promotion. Maybe this will mean that in 2021 smaller, more unknown artists will get the chance to gain some of the attention. I never usually find writing about big names very rewarding anyway when so many other writers have already reviewed everything way better than I ever could.
So my plan is just to spend this year writing about as many albums and music books as possible, as a way of trying to keep any semblance of normality that I can. With no live music we all need to support artists as much as possible and I will do my best to help spread the word. I need something positive to do with my time that does not involve endlessly reading the news and worrying about the future of humanity.
4.Dolly, Dolly, Dolly
With so much quality Dolly Parton content recently from major book publications, a podcast and coverage in pretty much every single news outlet my little Dolly project to review all her solo albums at times has felt somewhat superfluous to requirements.
However by the end of 2020 I realised that these Dolly posts have now become a consistent driver of traffic to the blog and they are all moving their way up search rankings. I have also had some nice feedback from people who are interested in Dolly’s music rather than just reading about her current public persona.
Those things combined have helped me to recommit myself to finishing this series in 2021 with the hope I can do her duet/collaboration albums in 2022. I have 14 solo albums left to go including her bluegrass series, Backwoods Barbie and Blue Smoke which are some of my favourites of her career, so that is just the motivation I need.
5.Save, Save, Save
I’ve decided to try and save the money I would have spent on concert tickets/travelling to buy a nice camera so when live shows come back I can actually try and take some decent pictures. Maybe I could even afford a blog redesign to freshen up the layout. But I will probably end up just spending all my money online shopping for useless crap I don’t need, so don’t hold your breath for any major changes around here.
I have written this post mainly to be accountable to myself but if you have any suggestions for what I should do with the blog this year or for any topics you wish me to write about please let me know.