A SINGER is keeping neighbours cheerful by belting out golden oldies in weekly concerts from his front garden.

Steve Askew, from Chalgrove, sets up his microphone and speakers every Sunday evening to put on a show and get the neighbours tapping their toes.

He usually sings classic crowd-pleasers from the '60s and '70s, but often mixes it up with some recent tunes performed for neighbours sat in their front gardens.

Mr Askew's partner Caz Bowen broadcasts the live shows so her friends and family in Canada, the USA, Japan, and Australia can listen in.

While admitting she was ‘slightly biased’, Ms Bowen said: "Steve is a great singer and has lifted the spirits of the village."

So appreciative is his audience, that the couple have been receiving gifts of champagne, wine and homemade shortbread as sweet thank you’s from those watching from their homes or listening in from their gardens.

Ms Bowen said: “I had a really lovely Facebook message from the son of our neighbours who lives in Sydney, Australia.

“He said how joyful it was to see his mum and dad ‘hug dancing’.”

The neighbour can't move freely – so ‘hug dancing’ is the only way he can move to the beat.

She added: “Steve is a great singer, even if I do say so myself.

"He enjoys entertaining people.

“We’ve been so blessed with the glorious weather each time and we’re very lucky to live in a close.

"Everybody’s driveways are so generous so we can keep a safe distance.

“I have had so many comments on Facebook posts saying ‘I wish this was in my street’ and asking if he can come and do a gig for them.”

She said that the first concert from home was just ‘an experiment’, adding: “It was amazing to see people start emerging from their homes as he got into the next song.”

Now people walk by on a Sunday evening and stop to listen for a couple of tunes while her neighbours often make an afternoon of it – by bringing their chairs out and pouring drinks as they watch on.

She said: “It is quite a spectacle.”

One of the thank you notes dropped through their letterbox one morning quoted the familar Abba song, saying: "Thank you for the music, the songs you're singing, thanks for all the joy you’re bringing."

Oxford Mail:

Read more: Oxford has some of the smallest gardens in the South East

Last Sunday evening saw Mr Askew perform his seventh gig. One of his shows coincided with the Chalgrove Village ‘virtual festival’ on VE day where artists from around the area timetabled live-streamed performances that were then broadcast on social media.

Oxford Mail:

Read more: Oxford University data reveals how many people caught coronavirus during nine-day wait to lockdown

Ms Bowen said: “It is very atmospheric seeing people quietly sitting in the dusk listening. Some neighbours who live around the corner appeared right at the end and gave Steve a bottle of champagne. They said it had been a fantastic day attending in their back garden.”

Oxford Mail:

The gigs, which kick-start at about 4.30pm, are weather dependant but, so far, Mr Askew has only missed one Sunday since lockdown began.