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Big stage for Islington musicians with mental health issues

PUBLISHED: 07:04 31 July 2012

Roadworks launch their album at the Islington Assembly Hall

Roadworks launch their album at the Islington Assembly Hall

Dieter Perry

A band of musicians with mental health issues played one of Islington’s top venues – following in the footsteps of pop heavyweights Bob Geldof and Tony Christie – to launch their debut album.

The RoadWorks group took to the hallowed Islington Assembly Hall stage in Upper Street – where Geldof played in June – to mark the release of their first ever record last Tuesday.

The 12-piece ensemble performed hits by the likes of Bob Marley, the Beatles and Elvis Presley as they rattled through their repertoire of covers.

David Oliver, 70, a trustee of the Islington Mental Health Forum, which brought the group together, said: “It was a great show and everyone was delighted as soon as they got their hands on the CD.

“When you have a breakdown, you lose your confidence completely. Performing and getting a round of applause does wonders for that. You can’t do better in terms of boosting confidence and self-esteem.

“Our motto is that a round of applause is worth a million anti-depressants.”

RoadWorks was formed in 2010 of people with a range of mental health struggles, from depression to more serious issues.

The band features guitar, mandolin, flute, bongos and a host of singers, including Elvis impersonator Dave ‘Elvis’ Holman. The CD also contains poetry recited by 92-year-old Jenny Cobbing.

Mr Oliver said: “It’s a very mixed group, with everyone from reggae specialists to the one-and-only Dave Elvis, who’s very popular.”

They meet every Sunday at the Isledon Road Resource Centre in Isledon Road, Holloway, and perform regular gigs at the Whittington Hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway.

A professional sound engineer was recruited to help lay down the tracks on the album, titled RoadWorks One – and a second album of self-penned tunes is planned if it’s a success. The record is on sale for £3.50 at the Isledon Road Resource Centre and all proceeds go to Islington Mental Health Forum.

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