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Lockdown FM: Broadcasting In a Pandemic is a 600+ page cultural documentation of a year in lockdown. Densely populated and rich in imagery, it records the response of London based DJ and Broadcaster, Gilles Peterson and the community network of global music and culture platform, Worldwide FM to the impact of Covid-19 and that moment in time when the world went into lockdown to slow down the deadly impact of the virus.
This radical book project was conceived as the nation emerged from the very first lockdown. It is built around the playlists from eighty Worldwide FM and BBC6 Music radio broadcasts Peterson made, following Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement on 23 March 2020. As the pandemic closed in, Gilles Peterson retreated to the Brownswood basement and his family “bubble”. He embraced his passion for running. For the first time in a long career of DJ-ing globally, life as he knew it came to a halt so this personal, and often intimate recollection, picks out key cultural moments during what was an incredibly unique time.
Lockdown FM actually kicks off pre-lockdown on New Year’s Eve and provides an insight into Petersons’ packed schedule which included a tour of New York, Chicago, Australia, New Zealand and London before his diary was wiped clean. As the timeline unfolds it’s impossible to ignore the deadly impact of the pandemic. The music world lost a host of great musicians and artists, who were well known and much-loved including McCoy Tyner, Manu Dibango, Tony Allen, Ty, Mike Huckaby… and this book pays respect to their lives and creative output. Offset against the fatalities, Peterson celebrates the birthdays of musicians close to him such as Stevie Wonder and Dee Dee Bridgewater. He also explores different genres via ‘The 20’ series which included Jazz Dance (Combat), Trip Hop, Jazz Funk, Modal Jazz.
The playlists provided the framework to bring in other creatives impacted by the pandemic and contributions to the book are made by Zara McFarlane, Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick, Simon Emmerson, Rob Gallagher, Emily Moxon, Louie Vega, François Kervorkian, Brian Bacchus, Adrian Younge, Kassa Overall, Jazz Re:freshed, Damu The Fudgemunk and Raw Poetic. To counter life in the basement he enlisted the photography of Dobie who cycled daily through an abandoned city.
As the summer sun shone, the impact of the death of George Floyd spread worldwide. The lockdown crumbled under the weight of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the book engages with its impact through contributions by Erica McKoy, Thristian (Global Roots) and Paul Martin.
Edited by Straight No Chaser’s Paul Bradshaw with design /art direction by Hugh Miller, Gilles Peterson’s ‘Lockdown FM’ concept came to life through a period of intense improvisation. The result is extraordinary. It follows a timeline we all lived through and cements the vital role that music, and those who create it, played – and continues to play– in helping us all get through a genuinely unprecedented time.