Part two of this interview is here
The work of the organisation has grown substantially over the years?
We now have a much wider orientation from simply advocating for more profiling of older musicians. We work with older people in care homes, we do work with people experiencing dementia and later stage dementia and we also work with people who are coming to music for the first time in their later years.
Has the organisation grown to match these new endeavours?
Yes, we have also expanded with regards people who work alongside me in these settings.
Liz Kelly and Bernard Jackson came on board a few years ago and they worked with me playing a range of events in care homes and other places. When they joined the team that expanded the repertoire; both Bernard and Liz added their ideas. That allowed us to work with a lot more authority in an area where you need expertise regarding the history of music because most people experiencing or living with dementia connect with music from the past.
Beyond that, the latest addition to the collective is Chip Bailey who has been with us for a year and his position has been enabled by support Help Musicians NI. Chip brings a professionalism and long career in the music industry and has added very positively to the Collective.
You are based in the Oh Yeah Centre?
Yes we are. I have been coming to Northern Ireland for the past 20 odd years as drummer/percussionist with local artist Duke Special, and a year ago I moved here. I have been a full time musician for a long time and it can be very difficult, you know, on top one minute and the next minute you have nothing.
I have travelled all over and worked with musicians all over the place but have never encountered a musical hub like Oh Yeah. It is unique. And even more unique for me is Over the Hill. Sadly I have never come across an organisation that caters exclusively for the needs of the older musician.
There is a strong focus of support here at Oh Yeah, quite rightly, for younger musicians, and there are plenty of programmes for people who are really just starting out. I have no problem at all with any of that. Most of my working life as a musician I have worked alongside people younger than me, and absolutely young musicians and artists should be given every bit of opportunity and support available.
But I do think that those opportunities, support, projects and programmes should be available for everybody including older people.
So the discovery of OTH has been a breath of fresh air to me. The fact that it is a collective is really important to me and speaks of respect. There’s something about collaborating with your own age group. And there are no ego’s, I have forged genuine and deep friendships and haven’t laughed so much in years.
It does sound that the organisation is moving forward?
We have to thank the Oh Yeah Centre for housing us and giving us an office space, and allowing us to do what we do but now especially we need to thank Help Musicians NI who have been very generous with their support.
We are aiming to move to where we will be part of Music Industry panels at various festivals or gatherings where we advocate for support for older musicians. I am hoping to go to South by South West next year.
We would also like to document in perhaps a book of the work we do.
Ultimately we would really like to see a more diverse membership, better gender diversity, more people from an ethnic minority background and obviously we would like more people to be involved.
Part one of this interview is here