Entering our 3rd winter since Covid came to town, what is the future of London’s entertainment industry?

With venues either shuttered or experiencing low attendance, where do aspiring musicians and actors practice their craft? Where do people gather to hear them? Where can London convene for celebration? Where does the city turn to remain an incubator for global talent?


“Outside, transmission of the virus is virtually zero,” says James Conole, a singer-songwriter from Galway, drawn to London as much for its music scene as his job as a General Practitioner at Morningstar Crescent Hospital.

Dr. Conole was one of three musicians who responded to a Bards on Boats Christmas time open mic at Kings Cross on the Grand Union Canal. He followed Khalifa, a singer-songwriter newly relocated from Bharain, and Shoji Kenta, a keyboardist from Japan whose English reflected the fact he’d only arrived weeks ago, but whose accent-free covers of Elton John and Adele revealed decades of training for his open air debut. Taking it all in was Pete Doherty, legendary leader of the Libertines, in town for a series of shows at the Kentish Forum, sitting on a ledge, taking a break from walking his Siberian Husky.

“Where’s the Irish guy? Where’s everyone else?” asked Peter when he showed up with part of his entourage and a guitar the next day, ready to play.

21-year old rapper Gabriel Rogers-Mullen signed up behind him, accepting the unenviable task of following punk rock royalty. Doherty played for half an hour, stripped down versions of classics, including “Arcady,” a bucolic vision that comes to life on a canal with the simple addition of song. People stopped to video as Doherty finished, plunked himself down in a chair, and backed the young rapper for another 1/2 hour until it was time to get ready for his own show that night.

Woodstock. Isle of Wight. Glastonbury. That people love music outside should surprise no one. Whether audiences would gather to listen in London’s wintery gloom was the question. And would musicians stand to pluck cold steel strings? To be part of an Arcadian vision, “where life trips along; pure and simple as the shepherds song”, it seems they will.

Our Christmas engagement stretched through New Years Eve. Then New Years Day. Then repeated one more time… the 1st annual Kings Cross “New Years Day After” open mic. We built it. They came… and kept on coming.

We’re in West London for the next few weeks. If you’re a musician, spoken word artist, actor or any kind of performer who needs a stage, find us on Instagram. Help us build what we call Brigadoon, what Pete calls Arcady, and what everyone can call a life ring for London performers.

Living at home in Chittagong, Bangladesh, Arif Raihan sang in secret while studying Computer science. He started playing open mics in London where his cover story involved getting a masters in artificial intelligence. IT is his side hustle while pursuing his musical dreams.