Lockdown no barrier for Banbury Rusty Musicians

A group of musicians, brought together by an initiative to help older people in Banbury feel less isolated, have continued to jam despite being unable to get together during lockdown.

Published: Tuesday, 2nd June 2020

Banbury Rusty Musicians were formed with funding from Cherwell District Council, meeting every Thursday at The Mill Arts Centre. A similar project was also established at OYAP’s Studi02 at the old St Edburg’s School in Bicester on a Monday afternoon.


COVID-19 meant these sessions were suspended, but Banbury’s Rusties took the challenge head on and have continued to make music during lockdown.


Inspired by the technology helping members to stay in touch with family during the coronavirus pandemic, the Rusties have taken to email, Whatsapp and video conferencing platform Zoom to stay connected.


The group send track ideas to each other throughout the week, play and record their section and email them across to guitarist, Martin, to mix them down.


Martin says: “Everyone had missed our Thursday sessions at the Mill in Banbury. This has enabled us to still get some semblance of playing in a group. It’ll never replace the fun of actually being amongst a group of fellow musicians, but it’s the next best thing. And it has improved all of our musical abilities.”


Cllr Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing said: “Banbury Rusty Musicians are a great example of how it’s possible to continue to operate by adapting to the unique challenges of COVID-19. A positive attitude, a desire to carry on in the face of adversity and a willingness to embrace new technology has allowed these talented performers to continue doing something they love.


“I’ve had first-hand experience of how uplifting it is to make music together, having previously played electric fiddle for the Rusties. During lockdown, taking opportunities to improve your mental wellbeing is hugely important and I congratulate all those taking part in this fabulous project!”


One of the group’s first ‘furlough tracks’ was inspired by the weekly Clap for Careers, bringing communities out onto the street to applaud and bang pots and pans to show thanks to workers on the front-line in the fight against COVID-19.


Renee, a singer, percussionist and part time guitarist, came up with the idea to cover Mardis Gras and sent out the lyrics for other members of the band to add their parts. Rene said: “Everyone was so pleased with the result that we decided to keep doing it and now we are recording one or two songs a week from our normal rusty sessions.”


“This Rusties venture has been a bright spot for me in a very dark period, and I’m so proud to be a part of it!!”