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Lockjam concerts give Cambridge musicians a new stage

The #Lockjam band in action
The #Lockjam band in action

The first #lockjam concerts took place last week, organised by Cambridge-based Andrea Cockerton who runs We Are Sound, the musical collective behind the award-winning In The Dark performances.

Andrea came up with formula for a pay-what-you can concert because musicians are unable to play live during lockdown.

“I’m really keen for the band to get paid because they’ve lost their jobs but this is not about handouts it’s to pay them for what they do,” Andrea says.

The tracks – including numbers from Ed Sheeran, Mark Ronson, Reef and Katy Perry – are put together in a process which sees each band member record their parts during the previous seven days, with Andrea playing and singing live on the night.

“It’s like a layered cake,” says Andrea. “I lay down a 45-minute track, that goes to the drummer, then to the bassist and so on and then it goes on to the sound producer, so it feels like a set, I talk with them and then the sound and the video files are edited and then it’s all wrapped in some gaming software because games developers use a mega-file platform which uses an RTMP - Real-Time Messaging Protocol - server which is crowdcasted.

“Then my foundation track is stripped out and I’m playing and singing live, it’s high pressure because I’m in charge of all the streaming technology, so if I press a wrong button... But it feels like we’re playing live, and that’s the feedback I’m getting too. It’s best played through bluetooth or proper audio speakers because it’s high-quality audio - the quality is in a different league, and that’s because of the gaming tech. I’m not a gamer or a tekkie but everyone says it’s so far ahead of everything else.”

The good-night-out theme began when Andrea had lined up a spring tour of souther England: then the lockdown kicked in and she pivoted.

“ I started #Lockjam because I saw first-hand the devastating impact the lockdown is having on our music scene. I had a sense that people being tightly packed together was not going to be encouraged for quite a while,” she says. “The #Lockjam idea started three weeks ago, it came about because lots of music professionals have lost their jobs - musicians, sound crew and technicians - and I thought of it in the middle of the night actually. The musicians I asked were all very enthusiastic and Matthew Moon, the producer - he produced Lonely the Brave’s early stuff - is also based in Cambridge.”

The prices started off at £6 a gig but since then Andrea has had a rethink.

“We’ve changed the pricing for next week to a ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ model, rather than the fixed £6.We want to welcome as many people as possible.

If you want to suggest any tracks for the band to cover, go to the Facebook page and post there with the tag #pleasejamthisone.

“It’s closest you”ll get to being at a gig whilst locked down at home,” adds Andrea. “We promise you’ll have a blast! Behind every well-known performer, there’s thousands of sound engineers, technicians and musicians, who are all currently out of work and facing an uncertain future.”

100 per cent of all the contributions go to the Dosoco Foundation, which Andrea founded to support people through music. The foundation has recently teamed up with Swavesey-based digital audio manufacturer dCS, who is supporting its work with a significant contribution to the grant which will be channelled “to support local people and initiatives that use sound and music to unlock the world through music therapy, music access, music education and through the innovative use of sound and music for social good”. The collaboration will unveil further initiatives this summer.

Andrea concludes: “#Lockjam aims to keep the music alive for fans everywhere whilst offering a ray of light to the industry. The more tickets we sell, the more musicians we’ll be able to help, so please join us.”

The weekly gigs will be streamed live on Wednesdays at 7pm and 9pm: details here.

Lockjam creator and Cambridge musician Andrea Cockerton. Picture: Jules Klass Photography
Lockjam creator and Cambridge musician Andrea Cockerton. Picture: Jules Klass Photography

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