A Border musician is welcoming live music back to Albury and its power to bring people together as he prepares to play his first gig now the city is released from lockdown.
Guitarist Leo Abnes will play blues and jazz to a crowd hungry for live music at Two Fingers Bar and Barbershop on Friday night.
Mr Abnes said people were eager for live music because it was a "universal language" by which they could connect after being isolated at home.
"It's a great relief and joy to be out and playing live music and making people happy," he said.
"It touches them ... I can connect with them.
"The songs, the lyrics and everything when I sing, it relates to daily life and what people are going through.
"They want to escape from their daily challenges or life, and they come and they listen and they get connected with you and that's what music does.
"It's a bridge; it connects people together."
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Mr Abnes said it had been hard not playing during lockdown.
"A great portion of your life is sucked out," he said.
"It's like oxygen.
"If I don't perform I'm losing my oxygen, that's how it is.
If I don't perform I'm losing my oxygen, that's how it is.Leo Abnes
"When you give that energy to someone and make them happy, you receive it back as well, it's a two way street."
The semi-retired musician said he had a second income stream through teaching guitar lessons, but the COVID-19 restrictions had hampered him financially as well.
"More than that I miss it spiritually as well," he said.
"You know, they come and say 'man that song you did was great' ... it's all of that feedback that you get from people, so you get that energy back into you too.
"By the time you get that you're all full, pumped up."
IN COVID-19 NEWS:
Two Finger Bar and barbershop owner Chris Maney said he too was excited to be out of lockdown and back to business as (relatively) usual.
"It's a great feeling personally, it's a great feeling for my staff and just a great feeling for the community," he said.
"People are itching to be out again, we've already got bookings and people are ringing.
"People are ready to get out the house and have some fun again."
Mr Maney said the last two lockdowns were "a killer".
"Obviously Victoria has been dealing with that off and on for two years and we're lucky in NSW, but it's been our time and hopefully with everyone getting vaccinated we can knock this thing on the head quickly," he said.
"But I've got a great team of people that accept what's happening and we've been able to keep everyone employed, that's my biggest thing."
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