We all know that the entertainment industry has taken a massive knock recently with the whole lockdown situation. The people who were once using their creativity to bring happiness to many, all of a sudden have no job and have lost their ability to pay rent/bills - I cant even imagine what that would do to somebody’s mental health… especially when recently told by the (UK) government to retrain and get another job!

There are however, an awful lot of entertainers who have not allowed this situation to get them down and have moved to entertaining online with live streams and so on. It’s not the same as entertaining a live audience, but they can still carry on doing what they love.

One chap that I came across who has the best of both worlds is Pete Hartley from Worcestershire, UK. Even though he can also play Mandolin and Guitar, his instrument of choice is the Violin and he usually would be doing gigs/events such as weddings, care homes and on stage at his local Christmas market. Obviously, these gigs are on hold at least for now, but luckily for him he is also a talented Busker and the powers that be haven’t yet made busking illegal!

Pete initially tried doing the live stream thing from home, but understandably found it slightly depressing performing to a camera/computer instead of a live audience. It can also be a lot of effort for not a lot of money, as performers tend to work for “tips” rather than a wage and there’s so many people who have had to resort to this method of earning. He now only does these sort of live streams when he feels like it because your mood comes across on the camera, and he prefers the interaction of an audience. It’s also very difficult to gauge the enthusiasm of the audience on a webcam.

Pete started his professional music career in 1980, taking inspiration from the likes of Herbie Hancock, Weather Report and The Crusaders. When he was 19, he packed his bags and hitchhiked down to London - it seemed like the thing to do back in the day if you wanted to make it in the music world. He joined a jazz/rock band playing music that was composed by the Keyboard player. They were then lucky enough to enter and win a competition for The Greater London Arts Association, which was judged by Jon Hiseman and Barbara Thompson who asked Pete to join their band Paraphernalia.

Subsequently, he they went from playing fairly small gigs to playing huge gigs of about 5000 people which as you can imagine was quite intimidating at the time. He then went on to playing for the musical Blood Brothers, which is a musical by Willy Russell set in Liverpool. This tour lasted about 5 months before he decided to move on, as playing the same thing 8 shows a week gets a bit too much after a while.

Around 1985, new music technology started to make an appearance and Pete realised that he now had the opportunity to make his own backing tracks using what would now be classed as a primitive drum machine and cassettes (remember them?!). Along with an amplifier and trolley, he was now able to take his music to the public, anywhere he chose. This was an exciting time, as he was able to create his own material with the added benefit of being approached in the street for bookings.

He has since done seasons performing variety shows at places such as Alton Towers, American Adventure (which is an old theme park that no longer exists) and Blackpool Pleasure Beach where he was involved in a show called Mistique. As well as the various corporate events and weddings, there was also a period in the early 90’s where he was successfully selling his cassettes/CD’s in shopping centres and somewhere in his long career he even learnt how to ride a Unicycle whilst playing the Violin - a man of many talents!

Well, although he admits it wasn’t an easy ride we have to admit that Pete has had an extremely busy and varied musical career and even now with everything going on you can still find him out and about doing his thing. Thank you Pete for the chat; it was an absolute pleasure.

If you would like to find out more about Pete Hartley, You can find him by heading to the following links:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pete.hartley.9

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/PeteHartley

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