Since 2019, Tuned In – a project aimed at combating loneliness in the London Borough of Merton – has been running jam sessions at the Merton Arts Space in Wimbledon Library. The project is a collaboration between Merton Council and the renowned musician Jah Wobble (aka John Wardle), the original bassist from Public Image Ltd who has also worked with the likes of Brian Eno, Bjork, Primal Scream and Sinead O’Connor among many others, who facilitates each session.
The project targets men, particularly those in the age group 50+ – where loneliness is at its highest – but is open and accessible to all. Each session allows participants to share and develop musical skills and build knowledge, as well as helping individuals build social connections and friendship groups.
However, since the pandemic prevented in-person sessions from taking place, the project has moved online with a focus on music production.
Now, one year after the lockdown came into force, participants have used their enhanced digital skills to record a number of songs ready for a commercial music release. The first single, ‘Uptown Lockdown’, from the upcoming album was released by Cherry Red Records on Friday 12 March 2021.
Previous jam sessions can also be viewed on the project’s YouTube channel.
Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills, said: “Tuned In provides our residents with a fantastic opportunity, not only to work with a musical icon like Jah Wobble, but also to come out of their shell and make new friends around a common interest.
“Loneliness has always been an issue of great concern, especially among older men who are less likely to come forward to receive help, and this problem has only been made worse by the need to go into lockdown. That’s why I’m over the moon that we’ve been able to continue these sessions online, keeping that social connection alive, whilst also developing our participant’s digital skills.”
Jah Wobble said: “Tuned In is close to my heart, it’s as if I have helped form a club that I am now part of. I’m really proud of the whole group for putting their heart and soul into this album.
The new single, Uptown Lockdown, is a song that explores modernity, and this strange shared experience we’ve all had over the last year. I’d encourage everyone to give it a download to support the project.”
- Jah Wobble is available for interview by contacting. Call 020 8545 3483 to arrange.