FEATURE: The Notts HGV driver who’s now steering the local music scene

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From old roots to new, it seems there is nothing stopping one Notts man who is on a mission to help the area’s music scene.

Chris Barlow, aged 39, from Eastwood, runs Acoustic Roots Evenings - music events taking place across Nottinghamshire, as well as his own radio station, and he keeps finding new ways of putting local talent in the limelight.

And coming from a very different career in the cabin of HGVs, he is now a major driving force for local artists, even running his own radio station online.

Chris said: “My sister used to run a pub and when I went on holiday to Whitby, they had a folk night at one of the pubs.

“When I came back to my sister’s pub and it was really quiet, I said to her she should do a folk night.

“She said if I think it will be a success then I should do it, o I got a poster together and that’s how it started really.”

That night was a complete success and set Chris in good stead on his new journey into the world of hosting music events.

He said: “After the first event, we started getting what we were doing out there more and more.

“More people turned up, then with the artists we would pre-book it and give them half -hour sets to get their songs out.

“It then enabled me to promote singers a bit more and I started to really enjoy being part of that process.”

It was a spontaneous move for the former trucker, who freely admits having had no previous music or event experience prior to taking the new venture.

He said: “I wasn’t into it much before.

“I started to help my sister out but then once I got introduced to all the artists and read up on their stories, it really affected me.

“I don’t listen to national artists, it’s all local.

“I’m really empathetic toward the artists – it’s hard work for them sometimes going out four to five times a week and I just want to help them. I want everyone to enjoy it and I want the singers to do well.”

His newfound passion quickly turned into more than just a hobby as he started getting more events in.

He said: “Once I started to get more people interested I then started approaching more venues and as of right now we hold three nights – one at at Thorntree Inn, Ripley, every Sunday from 6.30pm, one at the Wellington in Eastwood every Tuesday at 8pm and one at the Crown Inn in Heanor every Thursday at 8pm.”

It is a far cry from humble beginnings in his sister’s pub.

Father-of-one Chris said his nights have not only brought to light hidden talent in the area, but also brought a sense of togetherness back into the community.

He said: “Quite often I go and help the artists with the equipment at these events and you get to know people by doing this.

“I’ve made so many friends along the way, it’s like a big family.

“What I love most about doing this is watching people’s journeys and seeing their progression.”

Chris has become so invested he quit his job as a HGV driver in September.

He said: “HGV driving was proving difficult to do as well as this, so I quit to focus on the music.”

But it was a huge leap to switch careers and take a massive chance on his passion for music.

He said: “I cant decide if this is a mid-life crisis, but I feel like I can make this a good opportunity for everyone. If I didn’t do this I’d always be asking myself ‘what if’.”

“I’m hoping the events will help with the household bills and I’m hoping it eventually turns into a non-profit organisation.

“Hopefully if it can help generate extra money to go toward the musicians and help them to become more self sufficient.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure, but I want to be for the greater good, not just the money.”

And he is hoping to move on to bigger and better things.

Chris said: “Next year I’d perhaps like to do my own festival, but this is a whole new experience for me.”

Visit rootsacousticevening.com