Northern Ireland news

Frustrated musicians offered free lessons and concerts by Co Down's Lowden Guitars during lockdown

Northern Ireland guitarist Colm McClean, known for his work with musicians including Foy Vance, Ben Glover and Ryan McMullan, takes time to `Stay at Home, Play at Home', in support of Lowden Guitars' campaign

IF you've just got your first real six-string from an online `five and dime', you can play it 'til your fingers bleed in the spring of 2020 - alongside with Foy Vance, Snow Patrol, and Ash.

Co Down's Lowden Guitars has launched its `Stay at Home, Play at Home' with a packed programme of interactive lessons and performances to keep players of all levels and backgrounds entertained while in lockdown.

Launching the campaign, musicians including Foy Vance, Ryan McMullan, ROE, Danny Jones of McFly, The Coronas' Danny O'Reilly and Drew Holcomb joined forces for a Lowden-produced video which encourages players to create from home, reminding them that "we will endure, together through music" as they turn to their instruments and the wider Lowden community for support and inspiration.

READ MORE: Arlene Foster says ministers will publish north's lockdown exit plans tomorrow

The family-run Downpatrick company is also connecting to Northern Ireland artists Foy Vance, Snow Patrol, and Ash to offer the public an opportunity to enjoy an exclusive series of concerts, 'Lowden’s Livingroom Sessions' in support of another local institution, the Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast's dedicated music hub.

Starting on Thursday, 'Lowden Livingroom Sessions' is a series of at-home concerts highlighting three iconic Northern Ireland albums - Ash's 1977, Snow Patrol's Final Straw, and Foy Vance's Joy of Nothing, played by three acts, over three weeks.

Dublin guitarist James Nash, a session player and teacher at music college BIMM, takes time to `Stay at Home, Play at Home', in support of Lowden Guitars' campaign

Meanwhile there are free weekly 'Lockdown Lessons' led by British folk guitarist Zak Hobbs, grandson of Lowden signature artist Richard Thompson, with each lesson designed to challenge the player's ability and focusing on intermediate through advanced techniques for acoustic guitar.

Founder and luthier George Lowden said: "We are privileged to have a tight-knit community of diverse and talented Lowden players and in this sometimes frustrating time of isolation, many of these players are confined to practicing on their own at home, away from their bandmates, collaborators, and teachers."

Managing director David Ausdahl said thanked Hobbs and the Oh Yeah Centre, "a Northern Ireland music institution which has given so many up-and-coming artists a start in their careers, for helping to make our 'Livingroom Sessions' a possibility".

"As we pay tribute to iconic Northern Ireland musical talent and albums, we are recognising the more than 45 years our local artists have continued to play Lowden guitars at home and around the world," he said.

The sessions will see live performances played and re-interpreted by their original artists as well as a range of diverse supporting performers from across Northern Ireland from 8pm on Thursday evenings until May 28.

Dublin guitarist James Nash, a session player and teacher at music college BIMM, takes time to 'Stay at Home, Play at Home', in support of Lowden Guitars' campaign

Supporting acts for Lowden’s Livingroom Sessions will be announced via social media.

Players following the weekly lessons can upload a video to social media, tagging #LowdenLockdownLesson to show their progress and stay connected and the Lowden team will share their favourite attempts at the lesson material, with those featured also winning a Lowden gift card which can be used to purchase Lowden strings, parts and guitar care products.

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