Our series of interviews with those in the entertainment industry continues today with Joe Ringer, Musical Director, singer, and owner of the Joe Ringer band (JDB).
Joe always has something going on. The JRB are a premiere party band who are well know across East Anglia and beyond. Joe has created a band for all occasions – a 6, 8 or 14 piece bands are available as well as background jazz or acoustic music.
They have performed on Stages cruise ships (and were due to do so this year again alongside Lea Salonga and John Barrowman). They put on regular concerts including a Christmas spectacular and “Nights at the Musicals” shows. Their performances rarely have tickets to spare and if you want them for a birthday or wedding gig, you’ll to book months in advance. Alongside this, Joe MDs for local musical theatre companies and does all the musical arrangements for his group. So, with the corona virus putting a halt to all of this for a bit, I spoke to him to find out what he is doing now and how he is staying creative at this, to be frank, shitty time.
Playhouse Pickings: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our question. What do you think the importance of creativity right now is and how do you think people use it to manage in times of crisis?
Joe Ringer: I think Creativity is more important than ever. We’ve found ourselves in the middle of the largest Global crisis since WW2 without any preparation, so we’re being forced to use our initiative more than ever. 99% of job oppportunities in the entertainment industry have been taken from us – from theatres and shows, to gigs, weddings and even a sing-a-long down the pub. People are being forced to use their skills, be it guitar playing, dance teaching or singing in a way they would never have considered before, to try and eek out a living. Most are turning to social media and using video apps to either teach or perform, which means the industry that we know has evolved exponentially in a very short space of time. I wonder whether it will ever go COMPLETELY back to normal. Some (teacher/performers or students/the audience) may find that they actually prefer this way of consuming media.
PP: What do you think it means to people to be able to watch contemporary theatre and arts? Is art a counter to the anxiety of this time.
JR: For me personally, I am a bit of an anomaly as although I’m involved in the arts, I’m not really a voyeur. But some of the things I have seen and how much people are appreciating the chance to be able to watch them whilst stuck in their own homes is amazing. As I mentioned earlier, everyone is being forced to adapt and it’s quite amazing sometimes how resolute and resourceful we are as a race.
PP What do you think the impact is of not getting out and doing the things we enjoy like escaping into theatre, dance or music ?
JR: The arts is an escape for people. An escape from reality and their everyday lives. People want to be transported to a fictional world by a show, or get lost in their favourite song at a gig. Without this, I think morale and even mental health could suffer – especially in our current predicament. This is why it’s more important than ever for all of those amazing people out there to create content we can all enjoy.
PP: How do you make the most of your creativity and talents to cope in times of stress?
JR: Apart from the 25 ArrowWords I completed yesterday, I have been busy starting a new project to hopefully earn a little extra income as well as giving people somethings to enjoy from their homes. Our very first ‘Quaratine Quiz Night’ goes live this evening, and will give people in their own homes the chance to complete in a proper pub quiz alongside loads of other people in the same position as them. I think it will be a really positive experience for all involved and we’re hoping to create a great feeling of community whilst being able to lose ourselves for a few hours. On the music front, I have been doing a little bit of arranging and recording, but I’ve actually taken a little step away from it for the time being. It’s been quite cathartic. I’m usually a workaholic, so it’s been quite nice…in a way!
PP: What do you see the main impact will be on the industry?
JR: I don’t think there is a ‘main’ impact as such. The entire industry is suffering on the whole – from the bottom right to the top. All facets of art are being affected, and the way in which the whole industry runs has been destroyed. Without people being able to enjoy the arts, there are no arts!
PP: What are you doing at the moment and how has it affected you, both in relation to work and personally?
JR: As I mentioned above, I’m working on a new project and just generally trying to stay postive. I know this will all pass and we’ll all be fine – but it’s just getting though the next few months or so. We (us self-employed people) are waiting with bated breath on an announcement from the government, and there are whisperings that we may get some help towards our earnings. At the moment, whereas PAYE workers are being covered up to 80%, as self-employed workers we can only currently claim around £100 a week Universal credit, which is nowhere near enough money to live on! Fingers crossed that a bit of common-sense comes into it.
PP: What can the industry do right now for themselves to support each other and for the public? For example, there are many new streaming sites and a few companies starting up to do online shows.
JR: I think that is it. We just need to all support each other in our new ventures. Positive messages and sharing content really make all the difference.
PP: Are you working on anything now for when this is all done?
JR: We had Just filmed our new promo video a few weeks ago, so all of that has been put on hold. Once this has all passed, a lot will be going into getting that launched. As always, there are always a few projects i’m considering, but if I told you I’d have to kill you :p
Thanks again, Joe, for talking to us and good luck with the quiz and whatever other big plans you no doubt will come up with!