Specialized in 2020

Every year typically has a few defining moments, but the past months have contained so many world-changing, challenging events that it’s difficult to really define the impact of 2020. Certainly, it changed everything for us and as the world around us entered into near shutdown we knew that we had no other option than not to just continue but to adapt, change and increase our efforts to ensure that The Specialized Project could continue to support our core charities.
An obvious factor caused by pandemics is the impact on other areas of health care. As hospitals were stretched to breaking point, support in other areas become impaired.
Throughout 2020 The Teenage Cancer Trust’s mantra was ‘Can’t Stop – Won’t Stop” and as we witnessed the increased pressure placed on healthcare in the UK we knew that we had to adopt the same attitude.

In addition to the impact on health services, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused a great deal of stress to the wider public. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. We decided that it was important to offer something that may offer relief or distraction.
So, as we lost live events we moved to virtual ones. Paul & Paul retrained, begged, borrowed and sourced equipment and began to climb a steep learning curve of virtual concert production.

Early in the lockdown, we set up an online home recording project that bought together an international collection of housebound musicians desperate to remain active. This led to us developing online training in home recording and video production to enable creatives to work from home. This, in part, was key to saving our ninth tribute series album, Blockbuster. We must thank the pool of international musicians that assisted us in both training and providing backup for struggling bands. Steve Cracknell, Nick Godwin, Carlos Russell, Pamela Anderson Buckley, Jenny Whiskey, Rob George, Pat Powell, Dunia Best and Aram Sinnreich
were all pivotal in Blockbusters creation. The home recording group produced some impressive reworks including versions of Ray Charles Unchain My Heart and Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain. We weren’t alone as 2020 saw an enthralling new trend of international collaborative recordings pop up on YouTube alongside impressive ‘balcony concerts’ from around Europe

Initially 2020s virtual festivals began in the folk scene. Suiting solo performers, the medium grew quickly and was bought to our attention by Steve Nevard. South America was also quick to build up an impressive array of virtual events and this led us to work closely with Joel Amaro, Lazo Gilberto and an array of musicians that had mastered homebased live performance for bands. As we end 2020, South America could perhaps be considered as leading the way for virtual concerts in the Ska community

Though it included many familiar faces to Specialized events like Nick Welsh and Lee Thompson, The Big One 9 Online remains the only virtual music festival to include artists from all seven continents. It raised five thousand pounds in donations and Michelle McGuffug’s auction as well as seeing increased visits to our webshop that bolstered the total further. Whilst we look forward to reuniting the regular Big One team in 2021 The Big One 9 bought about a new team including Jon Bravo, who had produced the Supernova Festival earlier in the year, along with Dan Vitale, Mike Bourne and Dave Woods.

Clearly, The Specialized Project couldn’t act as it normally would and as we move into 2021 and hopefully on from the pandemic, we know that The Specialized Project will never be the same again.
The Specialized Project is supported by an amazing team of volunteers and throughout 2020 a new set of people became pivotal to our activities and bought about another big change in how we will continue to work into the future. We are hugely indebted to those people, who like us, refused to stop and stepped up when we needed it most. If there was any time in Specialized’s history that we needed help, it was 2020. Thank You

In November we were finally able to announce that Blockbuster – a Tribute to Glam Rock was complete and available for sale
The 4 disc CD-Boxset comprising of 54 covers of the Glam era by bands across the world. Including an appearance by legendary producer Tony Visconti.

The Great Britain of the 70s could be a drab, monochrome place. The buzz of the Summer Of Love had long faded and in its place, it seemed, came the escalating tensions in Northern Ireland, economic and political crisis and a sense that the nation’s moment had passed. Glam rock (or “glitter rock”, as it was better known in the US) added a rare splash of colour and sparked a very different kind of cultural evolution. In part a reaction to that turgid zeitgeist of the time, and in part further evidence that the music scene still had some solid boundaries to press against.
It was working class scene and a response to the prevailing musical landscape that had grown more statesmanlike and serious. The glam rockers could see that the world wasn’t changing despite the efforts of the previous flower power movement, instead they wanted to escape it, creating a rich, out-there theatricality that strayed thrillingly close to performance art territory. However, They clearly wrote from direct experience, in the language of their brethren in the Different (working) Class: “Doc Martens and Crombies
The dancehalls of 70s Britain enjoyed it’s penchant for short, simple and loud guitar based tunes with anthem-like choruses, strongly prevalent in the glam rock hits of the day. It is those shouted choruses, like chants on the stadium terraces, cheering on the footy team, that resonate as a primal call to arms. The Glam scene acted as a proto punk movement sharing it’s unashamed desire to break fashion norms and push the boundaries of British society in the 70’s.

Blockbuster focus’s on the classic 1970’s era of Glam Rock. We’ll be splitting the style into a handful of scenes. The first rocknroll revival of Mud, Sweet and Mott the Hoople. The second generation of song writers like Roxy Music, T-Rex, Bowie, Elton John. The third generation of teen pop idols like ABBA, Bay City Rollers. We’ll also include American garage rock, Iggy Pop, New York Dolls, Lou Reed. Also, the sophisticated crossovers like Queen and Electric Light Orchestra.

Andy Laidlaw is the front man of Edinburgh ska giants Big Fat Panda. At the Big One 8 he pledged to grow his hair until the Big One 9. He smashed his target of 1k and raised £1,975.
You can watch Andy have his head shaved during Big Fat Pandas virtual performance for the Big One 9 Online

Chris and Keith Discuss Stuff is an video podcast by DyingScene.com/The Bad Copy staffer Keith joins up with musician and label owner Chris.
Earlier this year they interviewed the two Paul’s about the Specialized Project and virtual concerts

In November we broadcast a 28 hour virtual festival with bands from all seven continents.
Hosted by Dan Vitale (Bim Skala Bim) the festive began on Friday the 6th and ended on Sunday 8th.
The videos are still available for viewing at our Facebook Page

On the 3rd of May and the 8th of October we hosted two virtual festivals. This was a first for The Specialized Project and something tat we’ll continue to do in the future.
We also launched Masters Remastered, A series of virtual streams featuring classic live footage with remastered sound tracks

A massive shoutout to our friend, Cliff Evans – who DJd live on facebook all 8 Specialized albums over 8 nights and helped the Isofest fund raising link break the 3K barrier – what an absolute legend, swelling the coffers by an extra £500!!

We dd manage an actual live show in 2020. On February 7th The Erin Bardwell Collective The Reggaskas and The Decatonics Dj Terry Hendrick visited The Saints Pub in Southampton £1670.96
On 1st February Reggae Got Soul DJ’s hosted a night in aid of Specialized & Tonic at The Roundham Club Paignton Devon. They raised £350