Alright, I’m here to ask for money. Not for me, but for the heart of Belfast music.
The Oh Yeah Music Centre is an essential lifeline to musicians and small businesses like mine. And it needs a boost. Just as with many organisations, Covid-19 has punched Oh Yeah in the gut, and we need this place to thrive. It’s a music venue. A rehearsal space. A mini museum. A café. You’ll also find a professional recording studio, songwriting rooms, workshop spaces, and business units housing local enterprises vital to the health of music and entertainment. Best of all, it’s smack dab in Belfast’s city centre, in the Cathedral Quarter. It really is a place for everyone.
Maybe in these times of government penny-pinching and furlough schemes, you’d be tempted to say that local music is a frivolity, unnecessary, not worth the money. I couldn’t disagree more. Music is vital to our sanity. Whether we write it, play it, listen to it, or work behind the scenes, music helps us keep our shit together – dare I say it, probably moreso than horse tracks and garden centres. So if you’re any fan of music – doesn’t matter what type or genre – I’m asking you to donate, or get involved with fundraising for the Oh Yeah.
Why should I care about local music? I don’t like any local bands.
Are you sure? Because every band you’ve ever liked was, at one time, just another local band in their town. (Forget anything involving Pop Idol etc.) Your favourite bands all had their first gigs somewhere. They probably played in front of ten otherwise bored people, but then their audience grew and grew until you got to hear them. That wouldn’t have happened without curious music fans supporting local musicians right from the start. Those fans can now say with pride “I liked them before they got big.”
That’s where the Oh Yeah Music Centre plays a vital role. Small, independent venues are disappearing. People care less and less about nurturing talent, opting for ready-made, soulless marketing projects masked as bands. In the age of tiny attention spans, budding artists can fizzle out before they get off the ground, never reaching anywhere near their full potential. So it’s absolutely crucial that we support local talent and give it room to breathe. In an increasingly horrifying world, we need our humanity. Civilisation doesn’t come from profit – it starts with reaching out and telling each other how we’re doing. We’re civilised, right?
There’s just nothing like the Oh Yeah anywhere else in Belfast. As far as I’m aware, the only other place like it is the Nerve Centre in Derry. And that’s a wile distance for struggling muso townies to thumb a lift. So please please please please please donate to the Oh Yeah Music Centre. When the world resets, maybe you can even volunteer to help get the place buzzing again. Hell, call in and say hi to me, working on local musicians’ guitars. But for now, just stick your hand in your pocket and donate what you can.