As she approached her sixtieth birthday, Cathy Loughead made a brief listing. She wished to be taught a brand new talent, and go on an journey. However deciding what kind of journey was tough. She imagined one thing bodily – “a mountain someplace”.
Someday, a buddy shared a put up on Fb for Unglamorous Music, a venture calling for ladies of all ages in Leicester, the place she lives, to begin taking part in devices and kind bands. The assembly was on a Sunday afternoon. “I assumed: ‘It can get me out of the home,’” she says.
Within the wake of Covid, she labored (as a venture supervisor within the NHS) principally from the house she shares along with her husband, Steve. “I used to be getting actually aware that I used to be spending plenty of my day not seeing different individuals,” she says. “It simply wasn’t fulfilling.”
Loughead would by no means usually have entered the Stayfree music studio by the canal in Leicester. When she arrived for the introductory session, there have been “younger lads in black hanging out on the steps”.
Inside, all of the devices supplied had been electrical. “I hadn’t realised it was about being in a rock band,” she says. She gravitated to a keyboard: as a pupil she had purchased a piano for £14 in a jumble sale and “tinkled” on it. She joined the “absolute learners” group. “It didn’t matter that I didn’t know something,” she says. “It felt good.”
She went again the next week, and the following. When the organiser noticed Loughead taking part in chords, she moved her into a unique room, with a drummer and three guitarists. “Proper, you’ve obtained a keyboard participant now,” they had been informed. Loughead was abruptly in a band, with a gig lined up for Worldwide Girls’s Day. She gasps on the reminiscence. The band – they rapidly got here up with the title Velvet Crisis – had 66 days to prepare.
Loughead had grown up in Liverpool, working-class, she says. Her dad labored as a printer, and cherished opera. She most well-liked home, funk and rap. Now, at 60, she was keyboardist and a vocalist in a storage punk band. However then, “with all music, you utilize it to inform a narrative or to say one thing”. She has written songs in opposition to capitalism, and about her son and daughter leaving residence.
Storage punk is “extremely forgiving … When you’re thrashing it out, no one is aware of that you just’re urgent a G as a substitute of an A.” Velvet Disaster have carried out six gigs to this point, at bars and pubs, and the Chainmakers festival in Cradley Heath. At their final present, Loughead says: “Individuals had been saying to us: ‘Have you ever obtained any merch?’”
Her 4 bandmates vary in age from their 30s to 70. Loughead sports activities purple nail polish. She wouldn’t have worn that earlier than, she says. Lately, when she excursions the charity retailers for brand new garments, she’s considering: “Will that look good on stage?” She is drawn to “extra Doc Marteny types … I’m being extra adventurous,” she says.
It seems that she discovered what she was in search of. “It was good,” she says. “Getting some affirmation, studying one thing new, being with a very various group of ladies. It’s given me a confidence that I didn’t have earlier than.”
She remembers being known as “ugly” as a toddler. The hurtful remark caught along with her and made her assume: “I’m not enticing as a result of I’m not fairly, and likewise I’m large.”
“For me to be on a stage – singing, for goodness sake!” she says. “And have individuals take a look at me, and for that to not be crushing, or for me to stroll away.”
Loughead takes singing classes now. She and her bandmates have acquired their very own devices, “our personal amps and bits of equipment”. They’ve a gig subsequent month on the Soundhouse, Leicester, and are recording two of their songs for an Unglamorous Music EP.
“We practise, we play, we sing … It offers me absolute freedom from the rest that’s occurring in my life,” she says. “I come out of the studio, and I’m at all times buzzing and elated.”
As she says: “The journey doesn’t need to be on the opposite facet of the world. It may be simply across the nook.”