Harrogate musician warns ‘threats’ from crowd members are growing on the live music scene

Howlin’ Mat from Harrogate says life for most artists has become increasingly difficult since the pandemic hit.

Solo solo bluesman Howlin’ Mat says life for most artists has become increasingly difficult since the pandemic.

In addition to the financial difficulties, the situation has been exacerbated by the change in behavior of some members of the public, he says.

“I have no complaints about the life I chose in general,” Mat said.

“I’ve had the chance to play all over the world and the experience has been amazing.

“Unfortunately, events over the past few years, ranging from Brexit to the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis, have conspired to make touring much more difficult.

“Traditionally pubs in the UK have been my bread and butter, but I’m finding more and more that some pubs aren’t a safe place to work.

“Being threatened, belittled, isolated is becoming the norm for my work week and I know I am not alone in these concerns.

“When I try to tell people what I and other musicians have to put in, they’re surprised.

“It seems to be a national problem. People have changed.”

The acclaimed Harrogate musician began his solo career 15 years ago playing material by Robert Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor.

In his time, he earned a reputation as a blues musician across the country, especially for his slide guitar skills.

But the occasional behavior of some audience members is so bad that Mat says he now suffers from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSD).

Mat said, “I still have to make a living from live music, so I decided to take control of my music and where I play.

“I am in the process of booking a series of arts centres/community halls in the area.

“In the future I would like to see a campaign to make pubs a safer environment for everyone, especially for all the hard working musicians who make Britain a great place for live music.”