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Coronavirus Kent: Entertainers turn to Facebook to entertain county on lockdown

Robbie Williams famously sang Let Me Entertain You - and that is exactly what Kent's singers and musicians are doing.

Trapped at home because their live work has dried up, they have taken to social media to beat the boredom.

Neil Duncan as Tommy Cooper in Whitstable
Neil Duncan as Tommy Cooper in Whitstable

They range from veteran rockers like Steve 'Boltz' Bolton, talking about his days on the road with The Who from a garden shed in Folkestone, to former copper-turned Elvis impersonator Neil Duncan taking off comedy magician Tommy Cooper in his front room in Whitstable.

Self-isolated Sittingbourne band Marylebone Jelly have taken to holding on-line jam sessions and some, like Keith Barnes from Minster on the Isle of Sheppey, are simply singing and strumming guitars.

Professional musician Chris Wong, who tours with Toyah and is the Marlowe Theatre's panto musical star at Canterbury, got so fed up he decided to play along to 'hold' music while waiting on a telephone line and posted the result on Facebook. And Cornish-born singer and guitarist Jayne Snow, now living in Rochester, has taken to entertaining neighbours 'live from the drive'.

Even comedy stilt-walker and juggler Allan Swan from Faversham-based Juggleitall has jumped in on the act, proving the best way to beat coronavirus is to go viral. He uploads a new video every Sunday.

Among the new media stars is Fred Clark who has not only been keeping neighbours happy with his garden gigs but also people from as far as Brazil.

Fred Clark entertaining at Maidstone
Fred Clark entertaining at Maidstone

The 28-year-old from Maidstone is a full-time singer and so was out of work once pubs and venues started shutting.

But instead of dwelling on the situation, Fred has adapted and is now staging performances from his home and broadcasting them to the world via Facebook live.

His neighbour, scaffolder James Richards, helped him build a stage in the back garden and since then he has been performing a mix of covers and original songs almost every day.

With his girlfriend Carys' baby due in three weeks, on top of the stress brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, Fred says he was feeling rather anxious.

But the gigs have really helped by given him something to focus on.

Singer Fred Clark from Maidstone
Singer Fred Clark from Maidstone

He said: "Initially, I just wanted to connect with people and so asked on our neighbour's group chat whether they'd like me to put on some gigs they could watch from their garden or windows. I got a good response and now people from all over are watching. It's really helped me focus my mind, too."

Being self-employed, Fred was also looking for new ways to make money and so has asked people to tip him via Facebook if they enjoy the music.

For some performances, he's been getting as much as he would for his usual bookings and has had up to 450 people watching live at one time.

He added: "People have been extremely generous and I've had some lovely comments. They've been watching from Ohio, Brazil, Peru, and all over Europe.

"I just want to cheer people up and try to keep it as upbeat as possible. I also like to have a chat with people, as that's what I usually do at my gigs."

Garden gig by Fred Clark
Garden gig by Fred Clark

Fred has several shows scheduled for the coming days - some specifically for children and another for care home residents.

His next will be tonight (Friday) at 7pm live from the Potting Shed.

If it's more uptempo music you like, veteran DJs Colin Hudd and Gillingham lad Aadil Rasheed have both been hitting the decks in live sets from their homes, Aadil even being joined by his dancing daughters Nisa and Safia.

Others to watch and listen to:

Neil Duncan as Tommy Cooper in Whitstable
Neil Duncan as Tommy Cooper in Whitstable

Tommy Cooper jokes and tricks from Neil Duncan in Whitstable

Steve 'Boltz' Bolton from a shed in Folkestone
Steve 'Boltz' Bolton from a shed in Folkestone

Steve 'Boltz' Bolton from a garden shed in Folkestone

Keith Barnes on his guitar from Sheppey
Keith Barnes on his guitar from Sheppey

Keith Barnes on acoustic guitar on the Isle of Sheppey

DJ Colin Hudd hitting the decks
DJ Colin Hudd hitting the decks

Veteran DJ Colin Hudd performing a set to people walking past his house

The Marylebone Jelly-boys having a self-isolating jam from Sittingbourne
The Marylebone Jelly-boys having a self-isolating jam from Sittingbourne

Marylebone Jelly isolated jam from Sittingbourne

Allan Swan from Juggleitall
Allan Swan from Juggleitall

Allan Swan of Juggleitall from Faversham

Chris Wong hanging on the line
Chris Wong hanging on the line

Chris Wong hanging on the line at a call centre

Jayne Snow from Rochester singing Shotgum live from the drive (32567622)
Jayne Snow from Rochester singing Shotgum live from the drive (32567622)

Jayne Snow from Rochester is broadcasting 'live from the drive'.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


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