Alistair Griffin begins The Tour of Social Distance in Runswick Bay

With music venues closed and social distancing in place for the foreseeable future Alistair Griffin has created an innovative music experience - The Tour of Social Distance to bring music to his fans.

Friday, 21st August 2020, 4:25 pm
Updated Friday, 21st August 2020, 4:28 pm
Alistair with the spectacular Runswick backdrop

It's a journey that started back in March at a kitchen table in a one bedroom flat in York, broadcasting to his fans on a mobile phone throughout lockdown.

Since then his online following has grown with regular shows and an album "Songs From A Room" created entirely in isolation.

Now Alistair's lockdown adventure takes a new twist with a tour that respects the rules of social distancing but takes music back out on the road putting fans in the driving seat…literally.

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Alistair performed at the home of Helen Massey

The idea was sparked by Margaret a fan from Ireland who as a consequence of her receiving cancer treatment faces a continued lockdown. Margaret has been a regular on the Facebook sessions but is desperate to see a real live performance and meet Alistair who’s career she’s followed for 15 years.

As that is looking unlikely for some time Alistair decided to take the live show to Margaret’s home in Skibbereen and the Tour of Social Distance was born.

He chose 18 addresses widely spaced around the country and kicked things off with a spectacular hillside concert at the home of Helen Massey in Runswick Bay on August 19.

Alistair said: “It was great. For the first one I wanted to pick somewhere local and spectacular and Runswick Bay was just the place.”

A socially distance performance

The one drawback was that Helen lived halfway up the cliff!

Fortunately the family helped him carry all of his gear up to the house, Alistair said: “Helen was very accommodating, and it was worth it for the view!”

Helen said: “Alistair is very chilled out, but get a camera on him and he turns into a different person.

“We’ve followed him since Fame Academy, which we felt was stolen from him, he was streets ahead of her [winner Alex Parks]

An amazing gig location

“It was great to see him. Alistair live streamed in the evening and a few hundred people tuned in.

“Our house has three stories and we had people downstairs, my mum was in the middle and the kids were looking out of the window at the top.

“Alistair even sang happy birthday to my mum, because it was her birthday on Monday.”

“He did loads of songs, he was on for over an hour, there were 10-15 people listening by us, plus people in their gardens across Runswick Bay who said they could hear him, but they couldn’t work out where the sound was coming from.

Alistair had help from the family to carry his music equipment

“He’s a fabulous talent, really gifted, he’s a very clever guy.”

Thursday saw Alistair play two gigs in a day, the first in Skipton on a narrowboat to lots of passing tourists and the second in a back garden in York.

On Saturday Alistair will play at a miniature railway museum in Norfolk complete with Merry-go-round backdrop.

Alistair said: “A lot of the people I’m playing to are only just coming out of lockdown themselves, after Norfolk I’m going to Suffolk, Bristol and on to North Wales, I’m even going to Silverstone where I was supposed to be playing at the British Grand Prix, but I’m now playing in a garden instead.”

Alistair returns to North Yorkshire on August Bank Holiday weekend with a gig at the Fox & Hounds, Ainthorpe on Sunday 30 and another in a garden at Cowbar, Staithes on August 31.

Alistair had intended that The Tour of Social Distance would finish on September 3 when he plays to a group of nurses in Galashiels, but after a rash announcement on BBC breakfast, Alistair has offered to play one more gig in the most picturesque , interesting garden he is offered.

Special memories for all

And how is he finding it so far? Alistair said: “It’s quite a hard thing to do, I’ve already done quite a lot of travelling in the first two days.

“It’s good to be out playing and making people happy. It’s one of those little things that can make a big difference to people. Give them a bit of a lift at a bad time.”