OTLEY musicians will sing their hearts out during an online festival which aims to raise money for charity and boost morale during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The festival, which starts on June 12, will be featured on the website https://otleymusicfestival.wordpress.com.

It is the brainchild of musician and sound engineer Paul Briscoe and will showcase a variety of local bands over several months. Working remotely, the musicians will each post videos of their work online alongside a fundraising link for those who can afford to donate.

Money raised will be split between The Woolpack Music and Arts Studios, and Otley Parish Church’s Local to Global campaign which supports Caring For Life, at Crag House Farm, Leeds, and Kisiizi Hospital in Uganda. A small percentage will also be used for professional performing musicians whose work has been badly affected by Covid-19 restrictions.

Paul said: “We very much hope people will tune in, enjoy the music and donate to some very good causes. We could all do with something a little different to cheer us up at this time, so we are hopeful that we can reach as many people as possible.”

Up until lockdown, Paul ran weekly Open Mic sessions at the licensed cafe Otta’s Leah. Blown away by the wealth of talent in the town, he spent months organising a fundraising festival, featuring singer/songwriter Kitty Macfarlane and dozens of local musicians.

The gig was originally planned to take place over the weekend of June 12 at Otley Parish Church and other local venues, but it was later postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Paul decided to move the festival online in a bid to support acts suffering during lockdown, continue with the original fundraising plan and give a small percentage of money raised to professional performing musicians whose income has been greatly affected by social distancing rules.

He said: “I was heartbroken once we realised that the festival wouldn’t go ahead as I had organised the event primarily for the love of our community of musicians.

“I wanted to showcase their music on a bigger stage and create an event everyone could enjoy and feel part of.

“However, in some ways, doing a virtual festival this year is even more important, given the circumstances. More than ever before, we all need things to look forwards to and things that can bring us together as a community.”

The opening act will feature guitarist and singer/songwriter Jon Budworth, who has written a song about Otley during Lockdown. Jon and some fellow musicians, will open the festival at 7.30pm on Friday June 12.

The videos will then be shared over a number of social media platforms including a dedicated @OtleyMusicFestival page on Facebook.

Jon will be joined in the first part of the festival by The Nick Wood Band Thing. Nick, who is a singer/songwriter, will be accompanied by Richard Currie, on guitar and backing vocals, and Rory McLeish (lead guitar). Also featuring will be Solo fingerstyle acoustic guitarist Paul Briscoe and Americana band Hazjak - Lynne O’Malley, from established folk band Yan Tan Tether, and her partner Steve Chapman Smith.