Benjamin…Concrete Rose

When you look at the musical calibre of this new band, it just oozes quality! With connections to Unknown Era, Ferocious Dog and Idle Nova, you know you’re in for something really special.

Of everything queued up before me today, Concrete Rose’s debut track, Benjamin has the ear worm. I challenge you not to have the refrain in your head for the rest of the day after the first chorus!

This is a sunshine song. You feel as though you should be watching the cricket with a picnic and a long, cool lager as it plays.

With marimba sounds from the keys, rim shots and traditional second beat drop, this is reggae as it was meant to be played. With Philip Wilbraham’s expertise on production, this is a class track.

Benjamin is a happy song from a band who like to keep it happy. It’s bright, it’s cheerful and it will make you smile every single time you hear it.

Available to stream or download from all good music platforms now.

https://www.facebook.com/concreteroseband/

Code Blue…Jack Chapman

Nottingham is a city awash with young singer/songwriter talent and Jack Chapman fits the bill. Having decided to go solo at the end of last year, he is carving out quite a local following! He plays a cool guitar and has a delicious voice.

Code Blue is a passionate love song. The lyrics are emotional and Chapman’s delivery lives up to that. It’s not sweet and sentimental, but a modern love song sitting comfortably in today’s Indie airwaves.

Instrumentally, the guitar playing is spot on and the balance with the vocals in production make this easy on the ears.

This is my introduction to Jack Chapman and if Code Blue is characteristic of his work, then I will be pleased to hear more. He has my recommendation as One To Watch!

Search Code Blue on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and Deezer to stream or download.

Waiting For A Miracle…BlitZ

I came across BlitZ a few months ago when I was asked to review their latest album, Welcome To The Rock Show. I was so impressed; I made the effort to catch them live & now our paths cross on a regular basis.

As soon as Kev Simpson’s guitar riff begins, I am immediately transported back to my early days, the days of KISS, Boston and Journey. This is Blitz’s signature sound, signalling more than a passing nod to the days of poodle perms and glam.

Simpson, Stuart Corden (bass and lead vocals) and Mat Davies (drums and vocals) make the perfect classic rock trio, creating an incredible full, polished sound for a band with so few in number. Their songs are all originals and, like Waiting For A Miracle, you feel as though you should be singing along with the chorus as soon as you hear it, even though it’s only your first time through! BlitZ have a musical formula which works for them!

Waiting For A Miracle has a great hook, wicked guitar breaks and Bon Jovi-style harmonies. What’s not to love if you’re a classic rocker!

The single drops this weekend, 7th June, premiering the video from their FB page at 7pm. Most definitely worth scheduling for wherever you may be.

Four artists, one day and an abrupt, heavy sound of impact…

So after a few months away from Pin-up Session activity, the 12th of May went off with a bang. Or a clonk to be precise.

Learning from all our shoots to date, the Pin-up squad* have come to the realisation that we can minimise our costs and boost productivity by getting a number of sessions done in a single day. It’s difficult, to the wire and couldn’t be done without the grim sweaty sweat of all four of us pulling in the same direction. What it does mean however, is that we can get an awesome adrenaline boost of different music through the day.

*more on this team of heroes to come in a future blog!

With this new found game plan, I decided that what we should be doing is showcasing as wider range of music as possible within the sphere of people we know and want to get to know. I’m endeavouring to make sure there’s a mix of genres and backgrounds and hopefully we can keep growing The Pin-up Sessions to properly showcase the awesome music we churn out around these parts.

Every artist we feature does have one thing in common though; the fact that they’ve ‘wowed’ me at some point and have the ability to do an amazing live performance without any additional production aids like clicks or backing tracks. So how better to start the day than with Clonk: an obnoxiously raucous 4-piece from Nottingham.

Side note – whilst I can truly appreciate the time and energy put in by artists who perform with full productions and backing tracks (and sweet DJ’s for that matter) I think it’s nice to shout about the freedom of unscripted and uncontrolled performance in my own little corner of the world – a world full of glorious little imperfections and loud things!

I came across Clonk after hearing good things about them from my band mate and partner in audio crime(s) Rob. He’d seen them at a battle of the bands and couldn’t stop raving about how massive they sounded and how professionally and seriously they went about their work. It turns out Rob wasn’t the only one digging this band, and I kept bumping into people with the same impression.

My first encounter (of the rock kind) came when I was in University putting the final touches to a mix for the lovely and supremely talented Ben Haynes (which you can watch here). Whilst being in the zone, I’d noticed some earth shattering screams coming from the virtually noise proof studios next door – some feat! This required further investigation…as I popped my head in the door I was greeted with the sight of Clonk doing some live demos. It sounded massive and unique and after I’d picked myself off the floor and recovered from the jealousy of not engineering the session, I thought I better get them in.

I’ve never been much good at accurately comparing bands with an encyclopaedic list of musical references, but to me Clonk seem to embody the raw vocal power of a Gallows era Frank Carter mixed with the musical complexity of bands like Queens of the Stone Age. Throw in a nice dose of unique sounding evil epicness and I think it’s a pretty delicious recipe for people who are in to such things. Just don’t expect your granny to like it…

The boys, consisting of George (vocals/bass), Troy (drums) and Fraser and Ed (shred wizards) didn’t disappoint at Pin-up HQ. They were awesome lads and smashed through several takes with precision before identifying ‘the one’. They were sweaty, we were sweaty, even the cameras were SWEATY (really need to get some aircon init?), but  a thoroughly good time was had by all. Whilst you can view a little snippet of their upcoming Pin-up Session below, I implore you to check these guys out live and give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram. Bands with their level of talent, commitment, and infuriatingly young age (how do the kids get so good?) have all the tools to go on and do great things with a little support. You can catch their full session on Friday by SUBSCRIBING TO MY CHANNEL and also check out the likes of Pretty Babs, Scribble Victory, Reqs, MYOK, Myles Knight, Crazy66 and Boats on the Ocean while you’re at it. More artist sessions coming very soon!

Ta

Ben x

Post Remedy…new sounds

New release: Enemy

4-piece Alt/Rock band from Nottingham. I don’t know what else they do, but I’ve been listening to this track on repeat for around 20 minutes now and it’s so chilled!

The band are fronted by Jess, who’s vocals are a major feature of this song. To give you an idea, her voice is an amalgam of some of the most best rock/blues females I can think of: hints of Amy Winehouse; Cerys Matthews of Katatonia and the incredible Anastasia Walker, (Stars) of Bang Bang Romeo! It smoky, sultry and beautifully emotional.

Add to that a tight, rocky backing from the band and this sets the bar high for people like me for whom Enemy is an introduction to their work.

Enemy is the perfect late night chillax sound!

Give them a listen: https://youtu.be/R2xJu75qd_Y

Find out more: https://www.facebook.com/postremedy/

Catch them live on 25th June, (before The Maze closes its doors forever).

#upthebabs

Pretty Babs haven’t been slouching since they released their debut album, Graffiti Lights, back in 2017 (I had to check then, in my head it was only last year!) – with an ever-growing gig schedule they’ve released a new EP, #upthebabs – building on their debut by adding Craig to the ranks to beef up their guitar sound. 

For a bunch of fellas so young they have a mature gritty rock sound – the kind of thing Sam’s powerful voice has been literally crying out for since I first used to go see his acoustic evenings up at the Brown Cow in Mansfield. Coupled with the clear bond of friendship the four of them have, it makes for a really engaging live show.

Most recently I caught them at the always awesome Ey Up Mi Duck festival last month, and have subsequently been procrastinating about writing this review having acquired their EP there (thanks Andrew!). Oftentimes I find that my favourite live bands don’t always translate to recording – not that I don’t enjoy them, but it can lose the buzz you get from a live performance.

Not so here – clearly the band are careful to work with producers who aren’t going to smooth the edges too much when they hit the studio. Guitars snarl, bass thumps and drums crash across these five tracks, paces change and they give the perfect backing to counterpoint Sam’s voice.

The Fall opens gently before the main guitar riff kicks in joined by bass and drums, as the vocals join the guitar slows right up. There’s pace-changes in the pre-chorus leading into the chorus too before a treat of a guitar solo – the lyrics talk of lighting beacons and I suspect echoes of the horrendous political turmoil we find ourselves in at the moment. It’s a strong start! 

Tumbleweed comes with an accompanying video (well, okay, it’s more of an image!) – after initial guitar it’s very percussion led with some overlaid guitar intracies. Almost hypnotic verses are pretty much driven by Brad’s drumming with building guitar and bass input before a rousing chorus kicks in. There’s a nice instrumental bridge here too showcasing pretty much everyone before the backing almost drops out but for subtle guitar and vocals – then everything’s back for a final rousing chorus. More referencing to lighting of fires too!

Blue kicks right in with vocals and guitar strums and occasional stabs, then some drum fills kick in to the full track. If there’s an underpinning of political influences in the previous tracks then here it becomes much more overt “It’s such a pity she’s a Tory girl”is the lament throughout but this is a real barnstormer of a track – you could get a good sweat on having a dance to it.

Roadrunner kicks straight in after a cymbal count in – I do think they missed a trick to have a “meep meep” in there, but maybe it’s not about a cartoon bird trying to constantly foil a not-so-wily coyote! But on listening, perhaps not the right mood to set – we have heavy chugging guitar here and empassioned vocals – definitely much heavier, with an unfeasibly catchy riff following through most of the song.

Then finishing up with with the quieter lament of Death of the Free Man, starting with deliciously intricate finger picking and heartfelt vocals, which you can sample a live rendering of below. I’d half expected it to kick in with the full band – but even as Sam’s vocals lift for the chorus the guitar picking is all that accompanies him, and I think that’s the right call for this song – and rounds off nicely the multi-facets that Pretty Babs bring to the party.

Of all the unsigned bands on the circuit I’ve grown to know and love over the last few years, I’ve said before and I’ll say again that in Pretty Babs they’re the one that I could imagine crossing over to become more mainstream – and I certainly don’t mean that as an insult, but they have such an accomplished style that you could see landing well with a more mainstream audience.

You can catch Pretty Babs at The Bodega in Nottingham on 15th June with a glittering array of amazing support acts too for the sum of just ten English pounds. It promises to be a really awesome night – I for one am looking forward to it very much. You can avail yourself of a copy of #upthebabs from the band at a gig – and presumably digital releases will follow. 

Originally posted on FerociousBlog

The Last Netflix Show

The Last Netflix Show May 2019 

Everything comes to an end, Betamax lost out in the battle to  Video which became  subsumed by DVD which is becoming slowly taken  over by boxed sets stored on TV hard drives.

( Believe it or not I have just discovered the last Blockbuster video store exists in Bend Oregon and is still going strong)

I’m old enough to remember the 78 record the crackle and hiss of plastic discs which eventually gave birth to the 45 in tandem with  the 33 LP ( for those too young to remember plastic discs the number refers to the RPM, revolutions per minute, that your chosen disc would play at, was when placed on your turntable )

There are strong parallels  between film and music here. I don’t watch much television probably a couple of hours a month, preferring to listen to music or play and sing it at Acoustic nights.

There is a great joy and release in singing and playing, for myself and some of the people I play music with its the simple pleasure in the singing of the song but equally important is the community of singing and the discovery of new singers as they haul out their battered instruments and sing.

On many occasions  I’m at  a music night and the most unlikely of singers turn up and play and quite often are stunning and we all look at each other and say where have they been all these years. 

I recall seeing Steve Cartwright the well known  folk musician from Leicester at Wymeswold acoustic night some 18 months or two years ago. His songs were entrancing, fluid and resonant, he sounded as though he had been writing for centuries and was still looking for that elusive song. His dark dark song “Its Very Nice” is my favourite. Last nigh at the Guildhall Leicester he was in fine form.

I listen to his music on CD and in the car but nothing can beat the sheer joy of listening live to Steve and many others who make the  live music scene in the East Midlands so joyous. It’s sounds good on CD\record but to me listening live with other people  is the killer.

And so, for me so it is with film. I personally don’t think you can beat going to a cinema and seeing a film in the company of others and enjoying/hating  the film with them and then afterwards in the bar or coffee shop dissecting the whole thing, the bits you liked hated and so on. For me  its not the same as watching it in the quiet of your own living room.

Eventually Netflix will give way to some other format that you can watch films on, but it made me think that it would be incredibly ironic if the last film ever showed on Netflix before it closed was the wonderfully sad  and elegiac Peter Bogdanovich film The Last Picture Show. 

This is a synopsis for you

The Last Picture Show is a 1971 American drama film directed and co-written by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry.

Set in a small town in north Texas from November 1951 to October 1952, it is about the coming of age of Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and his friend Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges). The cast also includes Cybill Shepherd in her film debut, Ellen Burstyn, Ben Johnson, and Cloris Leachman, and features Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, and Randy Quaid. For aesthetic reasons, it was shot in black and white, which was unusual for the time. The film features many songs of Hank Williams Sr. and other recording artists. 

Faust…Infernal Symphony

‘Dissonance!’ In musical terms it means a general lack of harmony which, in Western music, our ears are unused to. In layman’s terms: think of the sound created when a cat walks up and down a piano keyboard! Got it? You need to know this in order to understand the context of this review and to appreciate that this is a serious piece of work.

Infernal Symphony is the moniker of Derby musician, Dom Bishop. Within this sphere, he is a one-man band, producer, artist, engineer, songwriter, instrumentalist working on a solo project as a challenge away from his previous work. Looking at the Facebook page, this is definitely a cross-genre sound, with influences as broad and Gothic as: Megadeath, Sepultura, Rob Zombie, Opeth, Slayer, Mastadon, Dream Theater and Iron Maiden. The narrative is taken from classical German literature; the tale of Faust selling his soul to the devil in exchange for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.

I guess by now that you are getting the idea of where this is leading…

Infernal Symphony wants to bring his music into ‘The deepest, darkest depths of your soul’ and in my opinion, he is successful. However, it certainly isn’t for me,then neither is the work of composers such as Philip Glass, Alexander Scriabin, Arnold Schoenberg, Thelonius Monk, John Cage, Jimi Hendrix and Pierre Boulez! I have always been challenged by dissonant music and this album does not change my mind.

This is an opus of truly epic proportions, taking an epic theme and drawing up an epic electronic orchestral chronical to accompany it. The work consists of a whopping 20 tracks with titles such as: Yearning for Burning, Seductive Decay and ending with, inevitably, Irrevocable Damnation, leaving the listener in no doubt as to the fate of the character.

This is not an album to listen to if you want sweet, memorable tunes, it is dark and disturbing; but there are people out there who are really into this kind of Gothic doom. Infernal Symphony has a clear demographic in mind. If you are even slightly put off by the artwork, track titles, general Satanic vibe, go no further; but if you like a challenge, give it a go!

Good luck, travellers!

Check out Infernal Symphony on FB: https://www.facebook.com/InfernalSymphonyUK/

You can purchase a digital copy from: https://infernalsymphonyuk.bandcamp.com/

From Angus Young Impressions to The Pin-up Sessions: an introduction to my Roots blog.

Last week I had a message from Chris asking if I’d like to join the writing team at Roots. Whilst I’ve become a bit sick of late night dissertation writing marathons this year, a head scratch lasting about 0.5 seconds led me to say ‘absolutely mate!’. Although I’ve always felt slightly uncomfortable bragging about my own artistic/producing ventures, I could rattle on infinitely about the talent around these parts. Before doing that however, I thought I better start off with an introduction to myself, what I do, and what I love about music.

Like many, my musical career started by telling people I could play guitar when I was about 10. Unfortunately for me (and my impending school talent show) this was a complete and utter fabrication of the truth; the truth being that I spent most nights pretending to be Angus Young in front of the mirror whilst blasting classic rock tunes stolen from my Dad’s CD collection. After being caught in the middle of a ‘duck walk’ too many times to brush off, it was put forward by my parents that I could actually try and learn to play guitar FOR REAL. After some apprehension, I agreed and set myself a goal: learn one ‘sick’ guitar solo which I could impress people with, and then retreat to playing the Xbox and picking my nose.

At this point however, I was introduced to an eccentric guitar teacher who unquestionably changed my life forever. He taught me all of my favourite songs with a focus on enjoyment instead of theoretical aspects like reading music, and before too long I was hooked. No longer was one solo enough – I needed more. Much more.

I was lucky enough to have parents who encouraged me every step of the way, and a teacher with patience and passion: though not essential, in my opinion these building blocks are invaluable in any music community.

The teacher’s name was Phil Brock and although I’ve lost touch with him a bit, I still see his crazy luminous green transit van knocking about from time to time, and I’m sure he’s still a guitar wizard (I endeavour to catch up with you soon Phil if you’ve finally got round to getting the internet!).

Me not long after breaking out of the bedroom (note terrified disposition: is this a chord? Am I in the right key? Is this jumper/polo combination really working for me?!)

Though I need to crank an amplifier to remind myself of it sometimes, the joy I get out of playing guitar is ethereal, cathartic and unsurpassable (apart from scoring a mint goal at 5-a-side obviously). That joy fundamentally drives me to write, perform and produce music and also dictates what I want to do with my life and career. Although it comes in different guises, I’m sure that this same passion is present in everyone involved in the artistic community and it’s why this whole ‘music’ thing is so important for us humans.

“So why are you recording music now Benjy?” I hear you ask.

Well, Roots readers, my passion for recording started with my first original (and current) band The Fine Art Society. After rising from the ashes of a school prom performance and going through a few members, me and my best mates Matt and Max wrote a bunch of songs. We had no money and were too busy going to ‘Mosh Mondays’ and being 17 to even consider approaching a ‘proper’ recording studio. Max was studying at Confetti and had some basic recording gear, so we decided to record and release our tunes ourselves. We stayed in a sweaty band room for nights on end until the sun rose. We got noise complaints. We smoked too much and tried to sing high harmonies we had no right reaching. The result was a handful of songs which sounded a bit ropey, but contained all the honesty and gusto you’d expect from 3 lads who had nothing to gain; no X-Factor judges to impress, no record deals to gain and no fans to consider. Just the reward of getting OUR songs recorded and out into the world. Like a footnote or a piece of graffiti on a school desk – a little memento that we were here together and we created something we were proud of.

You can actually still listen to these tracks on Sound Cloud if you’re brave. Check out how different Matt used to sound – ha!

It was at this point I came to the realisation that capturing and releasing a song was an amazing achievement. From nothing, a small idea you have in your head can become tangible. Like catching lightning in a bottle – a little bit of your soul can be kept, shared and enjoyed again and again.

After a few more professional outings learning this dark art became my mission. Over the past few years its led to me spending all of my money on gear (an occupational hazard for us muso’s) and leaving a sturdy office job to study the trade at university. Again, taking this step was much easier with the encouragement of the music community around me.

(a special note here to my girlfriend Lara here who has been forced to listen to more mixes than any human should reasonably be expected to endure and still continues to support me).

Whilst I’ve got a few more skills now (and continue to gain them at a rate of knots) I’m still fundamentally a chubby air guitar champion who loves putting that passion into helping people capture their music. I’ve been lucky enough to record some amazing artists so far and am proud to have founded a pretty cool live session called ‘The Pin-up Sessions’ which showcases some mind blowing local talent. The D.I.Y ethos is strong, and we share a lot of parallels with the roots community:

Let’s encourage and brag about every ounce of talent we have around here and have a blast doing it.

You can check out all of the artists we’ve featured so far by subscribing to the channel at the link!

I hope to spend future posts chatting about the artists I get to work with, music I think deserves your attention and maybe even some recording tips to help you get the best results for your budget and demos.

Thanks for the invite Chris and I hope I can write some interesting bits for you all to read in the future!

Ben Marshall

The Importance of Being Local

Whether you’re travelling from the borders of Sherwood Forest or the Derbyshire wilderness; it’s best to take a spare set of strings.

When Chris asked a few of his closest muchachos, amigos y compadres if they would mind surrendering some of their time, effort and finger movements to write more blogs, reviews or various other musings, my first reaction was simple.

Go away, I’m working.

Alas, if only that had been the case. On the contrary, the work and effort applied by the Roots Live Music team around the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire areas has been paramount to the growing success of this local scene. Moreover, let’s consider for a second the impact it may have on the performing artist themselves.

It’s a Saturday night. You’re 18-and-a-bit years old. Your kicks, pumps, converses, whatever, are torn at the seams. Worse more, you have a 12-year-old guitar in your lap- presented as a gift from Argos from a family member or overly-enthusiastic-possibly-pushy relative. The A string seems to be missing. Hang on, which one is the ‘A’ anyway? Well, it hardly matters, because you’ve just spent that night learning the ‘classics’ (the acoustic versions of tunes you’ve accidentally discovered on YouTube after hours and hours of superfluous browsing). There’s a G in there…and a D…possibly an A minor, but you can’t quite remember, but it seems to flow and sounds like something that’s popped up on your Spotify-suggested list.

Well, you see, after the first couple of covers learned, mimicking, re-writing, re-imaging…or simply copying…these well-known songs becomes a little too easy. Occasionally, an artist will make that leap between cover and original and attempt the impossible, unthinkable and unimaginable…

But the thing is, this also becomes addictive. Like a honey badger with a pair of human genitals, a dog with a bone, or me with ‘owt to do with Star Wars, the process of songwriting becomes sheer fandom. This could be for many reasons- pride, a sense of achievement, or just for the f**k of it. Nonetheless, it soon moves to the very next step- the final Orc guarding Mordor- performing these said songs.

Ben Mark Smith
I get by with a little help from cute ‘lil library workers

See, the thing is, this is the case for quite literally hundreds of bands, artists or poets around the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire area; scratch that, nationwide. Performing and songwriting must start from somewhere. The toad was once a tadpole, afterall. And that, you see, is where promoters like Roots come in.

Roots don’t just slap on live entertainment for the sake of satisfying a pub’s locals. Although, of course, that is fantastic when that becomes evident. Roots act as an anchor for local artists to be able to showcase material live. The fact of the matter is this: music lovers want to hear stories about chocolate biscuits, festivals, funny anecdotes, crippling heartache and sheer drama, which is of course no different from other forms of media ranging from books, magazines to social media itself. F**k it, isn’t that what all major soap operas base their foundations on?

I bet Wellington himself even liked music. Weird.

The only difference, of course, is that there’s a communal aspect to sharing these various emotions and fables, particularly when it’s coming from somebody who perhaps shares a similar cultural, social or even geographical likeliness to the audience. All these factors are circling the room in the 3 and a half minutes it takes to sing a song…we just don’t fully comprehend it yet.

Get me in a drink my friend; I swear that i’ll repay

What Roots pride themselves in is not simply music. We’ve had that for ages in Western society. And believe me, mainstream-wise, it’s only getting worse. So why not go ‘back to basics’, and see someone pour their heart out, shiver with nervousness so the chord shape seems wobbly, or stand on a table and make you forget that it’s Tuesday night and you’ve a date with the rat race the morning after? Community and melody go hand in hand with us. Ambition and performance compliment each other. Interaction and alcohol wink at each other like naughty friends. And, arguably most importantly, new music is born into the world…

…it could be at your local watering hole…

…in the middle of a crowded town, someone could be telling the greatest story ever told…

….probably in the key of C.

Sam

Roots Live Music

Now my life’s a little crazy, but I don’t give a s**t…

Blue Lighting with Captain Accident (& the Disasters.) The Maze, Nottingham. 03/05/19

Emergency! Emergency! The Maze is closing down! Captain Accident & the Disasters come all the way from Cardiff to this well-loved venue to bring some much needed cheer.

Adam Parsons (aka Captain Accident) sits alongside me in one of the big comfy chairs in the artists’ area. In profile I can’t help but notice he has cheekbones to die for! To begin with, he is a little self-conscious, but visibly relaxes when I tell him I won’t be writing as we talk.

I have been looking forward to this, having fallen in love with their music when I saw the band live at Rock City late last year. (More of that later.)

I discover that there is some truth in my deduction of the origin of the band name. I ask about the clumsiness? Dyspraxia? Adam hypothetically demonstrates his lack of spatial awareness with the corner of a table and a pint glass. Oops! From teenage years, ‘Captain Accident’ became his moniker and he now proudly wears three enamel school ‘Captain’ badges on the front of the hat he wears to establish to his on-stage persona.

In every day life, Adam Parsons is a husband and dad to a young family. He teaches Music (Performance) at an FE college in Cardiff 3 days a week. The studio where he writes and records is in his home.

As the child of hippy parents living in a part of the country which includes the dockland area known as ‘Tiger Bay’, Parsons was reggae and ska savvy from a very early age. His band has supported some huge names associated with the genre: Aswad, Less Than Jake, Bad Manners, The Toasters and Neville Staple; but he is proudest of playing with his personal music icon: Toots & the Maytals, on more than one UK tour! It was in this role that I first saw Captain Accident & The Disasters last year. To have the endorsement of such a great name is a massive achievement!

When I ask about festivals, I am told that current emphasis is on promoting the tour (of which this is Day 2,) but that there is genuine band excitement to be playing Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire for the first time this summer.

The audience at The Maze know their reggae! With warm-ups from Mat Crosher, Buenos Treehouse and the extremely popular Jimmy the Squirrel, people are already set for some serious skanking when the Captain and his crew arrive on stage.

The 7-piece plays true reggae, dub, lovers rock, rocksteady. Mostly original songs, with the occasional take on a classic, such as The Fugees’ Ready Or Not, concluding their set with a personal favourite of mine: Twenty Pence.

The line-up sees Captain Accident on lead guitar, with The Disasters providing bass, rhythm, keyboards, drums and additional full-percussion section. Together they are as tight as you please, sending good vibrations radiating from stage to audience.

‘I love what I do!’ Adam Parsons says as we’re wrapping up the interview. Those cheekbones resurface and the Captain’s smile says it all!

For full list of tour dates and where you can hear live summer sounds, visit their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/captainaccident/

Review: Ferocious Dog – Fake News and Propaganda

Taking you from the hearth of a fireplace to the heart of a rebellion, Nottingham’s own Celtic-punk Ferocious Dog have produced an album that has managed to infuse a healthy dosage of punk-style commentary into its diverse soundscape…

Ken Bonsall and co may not quite be as consistently ferocious here as they have in the past, but it leaves room for more harmonious anthems that will leave a smile on your face and beer on your breath.

Fake News and Propaganda stays true to the sound of Ferocious Dog; Bonsall’s attitude along with the intricate dynamic fiddle work of Dan Booth and the ravaging tones of an electric guitar complete the recipe of this folk-meet-punk genre. Instilled within this hybrid soundscape are ever-changing lyrical themes, whether it be unity in the face of adversity (a concept that strongly resonates throughout the track Cover Me), to the hearty “life’s for the living” message in Yellow Feather. Neither of which can shout louder than Ferocious Dog’s shoulder-worn political commentary.

With the chaos of Brexit and fake news still afoot it’s an exciting time in politics, making a perfect climate for songs like Fake News to have Bonsall striking up a chorus over the conglomeration of mass media chanting. As the latter half of Up All Night brings some ferocity and cynicism to the subject of the infamous EU referendum, it’s a great way to blow off some steam.

Great though it is, there is arguably potential for FNAP to edge even closer to perfection. While I would never want the band to compromise their signature motif, the electric guitar does seem to be limited in providing the underlying growl to tracks in which it appears. Perhaps giving it a little more space to stretch its strings — even for a moment — would add lightning to what is an already exhilarating package.

Nevertheless, looking back to 2017’s Red, this record is evidence that the Celtic Punk rockers from Warsop are evolving, or perhaps maturing their style as their track list construction gives equal amount of limelight to each of their emerging styles. You will see just as much devotion to the balls-to-the-wall tracks in Traitor’s Gate and Bedlam Boys as you will with the heart-string pullers like Justice for 96 and Lacey-Lee giving the record a more well-rounded aftertaste; something that Red simply missed.

It’s definitely an exciting time to be a Celtic-punk fan, and Ferocious Dog have once again shown us why.

By Alex Mace

Article originally posted on Platform magazine: www.platformmagazine.co.uk/music/review-ferocious-dog-fake-news-and-propaganda/

Start Me Up

For many people live music of any sort is the pinnacle, forget the genre the sheer joy of playing, singing or performing music is enough.The bad news is that music venues are closing at an alarming rate  across the country and for varied reasons. 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/apr/30/gig-venues-harley-sheffield-arctic-monkeys?CMP=share_btn_fb

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/feb/16/uks-first-live-music-census-finds-small-venues-struggling

The trend appears to be slower in places like the East Midlands but there is no certainty that we will hang on to our venues, certainly not if pubs often our biggest venue opportunities, continue to close down and be turned into housing (however laudable that might be).

There are some of us, quite a lot in fact who care about live music and seeing it performed, one of those is Roots Live Music another is Live and local East Midlands a free listing for live music within a 25 mile radius of Nottingham which is also available on a printed sheet for handing out at gigs

https://www.facebook.com/groups/128464954499751/

Don’t have a live venue in your area, then consider starting one. There will be a pub, coffee bar church or village hall, acoustically  suitable for music and song and many will be free they will want the business you may bring in . But, if you are starting a live music venue  there are pitfalls, which night will you run it, how will you advertise, it what sort of music will be played at it.

Some tips for your consideration, if you are looking at a venue, visit it in the evening as well as the daytime see what the acoustics sound like. A room in a pub in the day which sounds good may sound different at night if curtains or blinds are drawn they may affect the acoustics. 

Are the locals going to be happy if your performers play in the only bar. How do you find out, talk to the locals see if they are happy with the idea. A landlord may be happy with a music nights his locals may not. Does your intended pub venue/coffee bar have a separate room where you can go.

What sort of music are you going to have , many venues allow all sorts of musical genres some will only allow acoustic non amplified music.some will only allow 1 type of music eg trad Jazz  or trad folk. 

Which night will you run, what will the frequency be? On the Live and Local site there are groups that run 1 night a week every week (Melton FC) or once a month. (Wymeswold )

Will you charge admission for guests so you can fund a raffle for a good cause. Some well established music nights invite well know acts and charge entry (The Poppy folk club and also the Carrington Folk club both book and pay well known acts to play and on these nights there are no other players). 

However, most importantly your publicity material must be first rate and informative if you want people to turn up and  play you have to get your message out there.

Social media sites, fliers are all good but remember whilst your Tuesday night session has no live local sport competing with it you will have the competition of people wanting to watch TV, go for a drink /curry/ film etc etc so make it snappy promotional material.Most libraries will advertise events some free newspapers take local listings. Fliers in music shops and on notice boards are good. If you can’t do social media yourself get someone that can help you (Usually a 7 year old kid will have the knowledge you need😉

Make sure that you are fair to all the performers that turn up. There will be all sorts of players from  65 year old men who have been playing 55 years and can sing any song you name to novice nervous players just starting out. 

if you have 6 performers playing give them 3 songs each with a break in the middle don’t under any circumstances give one player more songs than another because he/she is a better player/singer. This will always cause resentment. It may get tricky if a band/group turn up will they expect to have more playtime than the solo players because either are 4 in the bandit they have travelled a long way with a load of instruments that’s a decision you will have to make.

Most of all make it enjoyable for all including yourself.


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Extermination Dismemberment gig review at Albert’s Nottingham

Everyone has a dream, be they young imaginations shaping the future, the first 30 seconds of the play button being pressed on a Walkman, images and dreams created by music, but behind the screen of melodies, poetry and rhythm one asks, “why can’t I” that is a question I wished I never asked. My name is Lee Stevens Dowling I am a gig promoter.

18th April 2019


The annoying buzz of an 11am alarm, better things to do but needs and must, magnet recording studios two cabs one long journey, no car, no taxi, no bus too skint, pushing both on foot from the back exit of snention just beyond the steel dragons eyes, to goldsmith Street at Albert’s, general public uncaring to my task, most look at me with a resenting gaze for occupating the sidewalk. Get to Albert’s, load in dying for a cider, my body sweats from the heat of a median sun and my own body begging to my like a widow to any who I will listen to give back what fate so cruelly took in jealously, miss my bed but block out the crys, for ciders sweet taste like rain in a desert, load in done, no foul ups they’re coming.

Food ready I meet them the stage set, friends old and past who’s name I recall barely though those mystic fogs of memories, stood before me Chainsaw Castration their guitarist Jack, we gigged together years ago with his old band Rational Choice, excellent Bad Brains cover. No shades of punk here tho as Jack sought higher pastures and exodus himself to Manchester where Chainsaw got their momentum and began building their temple and refining their craft, but joining them. A rival band of the Manchester death metal scene Sam Bramley from Visions Of Disfigurement. Tho nothing serious, friendly banter at best. Next to arrive the man behind this affair, the man who by tagging me in a post roping me into the night Daniel Phipps from Spawned From Hate, by his words I made this night, but why was it for my own ego, the unspoken urge of a promoter to bestow his city with the best offerings like the scene itself is a god and by offering the most richest of bands my existence be given deeper meaning then birth, work, death.

Phipps greeted me but the shock he presented me, never in 6 years did I have such feelings of the familiar dread. His bassist broke his arm, Dave approached arm in swing, his face painted with both disappointment but a cunning gaze, this man would be a dark horse as I would later see. Finally the headliners show up Extermination Dismemberment arrive four men from Belarus, horrible country, brutal right wing dictatorship, but lovely culture, where else could death metal be so savage and raw but the kindness and respect they showed, truly humble men grateful for the show, as if this gig is a fantasy from the void of crushing political climate and uneasiness paranoia of an Orwell dystopia, my smile returns.

First band shows up, Black Mass Tomb a young man with nothing but a guitar and backing drum tracks, first ever gig, the nervousness visable, “you’ll be fine kid” he sets up, the crowd shows up, names given, tickets showed, entry permitted. It begins Black Mass Tomb begins whilst his nerves still visable it becomes quite clear this man has a goal, riff after riff of brutality and quite intelligent song writing, one of his songs he wrote for a friend for his pro wrestling theme up in Chesterfield, if he was a rookie going in he would be leaving a pro the crowd cheered, a wave of shock and gratitude washed over him as he said “thank you” into the mic like a boy finding his place and becoming a man, “I’ll be in touch” I say to myself.

Spawned from hate set up, no drummer again just drum tracks, but Dave climbs onto the stage my eyes sharply turn whatever plan this man has will be put into action, I wait eagerly for what could be a magnus opus or a Greek tragedy, the set begins blastbeats, mid paced grooves, Phipps, Ewan kicking it like a normal day at the office but Dave the ultimate darkhorse, busted out maracas in between the chaos, madman, as this happen Colpocleisis the final band to arrive showed up, plesentrys where made.

Next up the first to arrive Chainsaw Castration, a blistering set of fast paced blast beats and mid paced chugs even tho the vocalist was not the official vocalist you’d think they’d have been playing together for years, not a single misstep but when chainsaw slowed down with those slamming break downs that’s when things really picked up with the audience more or less turning into crazed MMA fighters but the friendly atmosphere still lingered strongly over the heightened madness

Second to last Colpocleisis from Liverpool these boys are ventrans of the UK death metal scene and Chainsaw Castration’s drummer doing double sets straight after and he didn’t miss a single beat with them playing many tunes from their new Fallopian Fallout album showcasing this bands mastery of brutality be it 100 miles an hour or 10 miles an hour nothing was missed.

And final them Belarus boys Extermination Dismemberment came on, intro Samples from films, check, more of the same but somehow even more extreme then all the other bands combined, check, the crowd 50 plus in attendance going absolutely manic, stage diving, moshing and spin kicks, check, Exdis hit Nottingham with all the force of a sledgehammer every riff more intense, every blastbeat harder, at one point I stood on a table in angulation, whilst no stranger to slam death metal this was my first time seeing and booking it, the crowd both young and old wishing for more even after exdis finished the sheer intensity of the performance not only amplified their musical ability but they pulled no punched no wasted momentum. This style of heavy metal is truly the future of the scene, while the guardians of the old school may gauze with malus, for the change in the genres identity from their rose tint glasses and demo cassette tapes of bands who’s twilight years are behind them, believing themselves to be rockstars amongst mere mortals, however these new bloods of the Slam genre will soon be champion names we will be praising in joy and in admiration not just for their music but for their DIY ethics rooted strongly in punk and the people behind it all viewing their fans as not fans but equals. Whilst the names of old are forgotten and lost to the merciless wraith of time Extermination Dismemberment, Colpocleisis, Chainsaw Castration, Spawned From Hate and Black Mass Tomb will be here for years to come.

The one thing you have to understand to get more gigs

Not all gigs are created equal: how to get the right gig for you

So you want to play more gigs.

It seems like other artists you know are performing all the time, so surely there must be a secret formula to getting gigs. That, or all the other musicians up on stage are friends with the venue owner or have a manager getting the gigs for them, right?

Maybe. But nine times out of ten the singer up there on stage has no insider information, no manager, and no friendship with the venue owner whatsoever.

So the burning question is….what is the Secret Formula to booking gigs?

I could reel off a few quick bullet points to whet your appetite, but to be honest that wouldn’t help you very much and here’s why: if you came up to me tomorrow and asked me how to get gigs, the first thing I’d say is, “What type of gig do you want?”

You see, not all gigs are created equal. Some gigs will pay well but won’t help you build a following; some gigs will pay next to nothing but will be massive fan builders; and some gigs… well they don’t get you fans or money but can still be valuable if used properly.

Confused?  I don’t blame you.

You see, before you can get gigs you need to understand the type of gigs that are out there and what each one can do for you. Once you understand this, it makes going after gigs a whole lot easier because you can look for a gig that is going to help you with your business (yes, you are a business) and is suitable for where you’re at in this phase of your career.

Have a look at the Gig Matrix below. These are examples of just some of the types of gigs, placed into a matrix that works on a scale of high versus low pay and high versus low fan building.

Note: This works for any musical genre; you just have to rename the gig slightly. For example, the musical theatre  equivalent of an ‘Open Mic Night’ is doing a community theatre show for free.

Bear in mind that this is not an exact science. The music industry is highly unregulated and I know that some musicians have done very well with ‘low pay/low fans’ gigs like busking if they go on a regular basis, however this is not always the case. To make things even clearer, let’s take a look at each of the areas of the Gig Matrix and find out what the benefits of each category can be for you.

Low Pay/ Low Fan Gigs

If after looking at the Matrix you thought that you would scratch Low Pay/ Low Fan gigs off your list straight away… well, think again. Every gig in the Matrix has its purpose and each is more accessible to you depending on what stage you are at in your music career.

For example, busking and open mic nights are a great way to test out new material or to gain performance practice when you are just starting out, and they are the easiest gigs to obtain; you can busk in most places by obtaining a simple busking licence and open mic nights take pretty much anyone.

In fact, I personally use both of these types of  gigs for this very purpose.  I’m currently working on some new folk material and am playing guitar for the first time (I’m usually a jazz performer and play piano and sing) so when I’ve got my material ready, I’ll hit up an open mic night to take my new songs and skills for a test drive.

Similarly, if you are in musical theatre, the best way to grow your resume is by doing free community shows. You’ll meet people in the industry and can work on your performance skills while you hunt around for new opportunities.

High Pay/ Low Fan Gigs

On the flip side of the Matrix  there are High Pay/ Low Fan gigs. These are what I call ‘Bread and Butter’ gigs because basically, they pay the rent. For contemporary singers, these might be bar/ club cover gigs where the venue pays you to play music their clientele will like, which usually means well known covers.

For me as a jazz musician, these are corporate gigs at some stuffy legal firm’s cocktail client night and I’m there to provide background music and look pretty. Yep seriously. Why else would they hire a band if they just want background music? It’s all for show. This is definitely not the place to pull out my massive banner, set up my merch stand complete with flashing lights and plug my CDs at the end of every set. You’ll be lucky if you get to hand out a few business cards during the break and get a quick thank you from the head honcho.

😉

Use these gigs to fund the Low Pay/High Fan building gigs that we’ll have a look at next… and make the most of the free canapés while you’re there. 

Note: Some musos only want these types of gigs. This is when it’s not so much about building a name for themselves than it is making money as a musician without having to leave their local area (Which is totally fine by the way. I know plenty of very good musicians who make their living this way) — but for those of you who want to make a mark, raise your profile, and reach for what can happen when you do start becoming known (i.e. a higher charge rate, better gigs, a deeper connection with fans, getting your message out there, and all the possibilities that come with being a person of interest) then read on.

Low Pay/ High Fan Gigs

I love/ hate these gigs. I know they are going to be good for my profile but I also know I’m going to run at a loss and as someone who relies solely on income derived from music, the costs involved can bite.

Many support gigs with better known artists will fall under this category (initially at least.) As anything in the music industry, there will be exceptions but when you have no fans apart from your rent-a-crowd mates then you don’t really have much value (in terms of business dollars) to add to a gig and the opportunity to perform with a band that does pull a crowd is a good opportunity for you, because it means you get to play for fans of a similar sounding band. If they like that band, then they may become your fan too. However, it’s not such a good deal for the venue or the band with the bigger name.

The reason is because these type of gigs usually operate on a pay by door sales basis. If you have no fans then your ability to help with the door sales intake is going to be minimal and therefore you shouldn’t expect to be paid for something you didn’t provide. The catch here however, is this: if you are a singer who uses an accompanist or session musicians in your band, then you still have to pay your musicians and you will have to fork out of your own pocket to pay them. It is easier if you have a band dedicated to doing any gig they can to ‘break in’ but for singers, this is frequently not the case.

The good news is that if you make the most of these gigs, you should start building fans from the first gig and it does get easier. That, or you can do a heap of advertising to get people through the door… but that is a topic for another blog post.

The bad news is that every time you want to break into a new market (location) you will have to repeat the support gig process, unless of course you have a major radio hit and venues are clambering over each other to book you… and we all know this is definitely not the norm.

However, playing support gigs is the fastest way to go from zero to fans and get you one step closer to the juicy gigs we’ll have a look at next.

High Fans/ High Pay Gigs

Ah yes, now we reach the realm of the Rich and Somewhat Famous and I can hear you thinking ‘Now we’re talking. Ok just tell me how to get heaps of these gigs, really well paying and in front of heaps of fans.’

My answer? “Patience, Grasshopper. They are not YOUR fans… yet.”

I’m not saying this to hold you back by any means because on average, festivals and promoted shows with advertising money behind them are hands-down the best way to get your name out there as an artist. The gig in itself would be enough, however most Festivals are accompanied by advertising money to spread your name further and have media salivating over the opportunity to get you on their interview list. Yes these are the best gigs to get, but they are also by far the most competitive.

Festivals are expensive to put on and so the Festival Promoter needs to ensure they will attract an excellent turnout each year. They do this by booking artists that they know will draw a crowd, which means that you need to be doing pretty well and have a solid following  to get one of these gigs (that, or be good friends with whoever is in charge.)

Don’t worry, there’s a catch to Festivals which is your secret way in. Create a list of the Festivals that support your type of music in your local area (and beyond if you can afford the travel costs). Most bigger Festivals don’t even accept artist applications so scratch those off initially. Your best bet is to target smaller festivals and then build up from there.

Keep an eye out for contests to play at bigger Festivals but realise the competition is going to be fierce. Some Festivals do offer busking opportunities which you can snap up if you perform solo and acoustic, then make the most of it; get your banner out, play loud and promote, promote, promote!

The other type of show that can sit either under this category in the Gig Matrix or under the Low Pay/Low Fans category is a show that you put on yourself. You hire a venue or agree to a split of the door sales and then it’s your job to book the support acts and get people through the door (this is where that rent-a-crowd friend base comes in handy).

These gigs are great for a reason to promote yourself in the local media and can be decent earners if your door numbers are solid. Do a good job and your rent-a-crowd might actually become true fans and bring more friends along next time.

So let’s go back to the start and revisit our original question: how to get gigs. Now that you can have a think about the type of gig that you want, doesn’t that make it easier to know where to start looking?

My advice is to pick the gig according to what your needs are as an artist. If you are just starting out, go for the Low Pay/Low Fan gigs where you can get some performance practice singing in front of a crowd. That way, if you stuff up, it’s not going to be such a big deal. If you’re past this stage, then have a look at the bands gigging in your local area that sound similar to you and reach out for a support gig.

Whatever the stage you are at in your music career, go for the gig that will benefit you the most… and once you have it, make the most of it.

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