Gig ticker      Brum Radio LAUNCH PARTY with Terry & Gerry + Vix & Her MsChiefs + The Bank Accounts + Anthony Price + Brum Radio DJs at Hare & Hounds B'ham Feb 17th...     The Little Band with members of Curtis Little's legendary bands, including Roy Adams, Brian Badhams and more + guest appearance by Jim Hickman at Brass House 3pm B'ham Feb 14th...      Brum Radio LAUNCH PARTY with Terry & Gerry + Vix & Her MsChiefs + The Bank Accounts + Anthony Price+ Brum Radio DJs at Hare & Hounds B'ham Feb 17th...     Rebecca Downes at Wolves Bluesfest, Slade Rooms Wolverhampton Feb 27th...     Folkin' Great with Duke Special + Edwina Hayes + Kim Lowings & The Greenwood + Chris Cleverley + more at Crescent Theatre B'ham, Feb 28th...     Ed Geater + Hannah Brown at Sunflower Lounge B'ham March 6th...     

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The wood from the trees


Taking a mile-high view of your local music scene is tricky, but it's worth a go


It helps to have a sense of perspective.  Photo Elliot Brown
Posts here are mostly on artists and their stories. Everyone has a story; some are amazing. But this week, and probably next, it's about lots of artists. Next week, I'll publish my six monthly survey of local artists who smash it on YouTube. It's interesting, but not definitive: YouTube numbers can be, and are, fiddled for marketing advantage.

No, it's good for spotting early trends. It's fascinating to see who's coming on fast, what genres do well, and to try to work out why.

And recently, with some colleagues, I've picked up a new way of looking at what's happening. Imperfect it certainly is; rankings are subjective and based on reputation, not numbers. The sample is tiny, and taken at a specific point in time. So I won't get carried away. But I'm astonished and pleased at what we found.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Thank you, Paul Murphy


We've lost one of the greats. We've lost a friend.

Photo Richard Shakespeare     
Paul Murphy passed away last week. His family announced his passing on Friday. It was a difficult day. The news was met with an explosion, a passionate outpouring of grief which rippled out across the world. Rightly.  

Paul was a wonderful, open, extravagantly talented man with a razor-sharp mind,   boundless optimism, and lively curiosity about anything and everything. There didn't seem to be anything he could not do.

And he told stories. Oh, how he told his stories...

Sunday, 24 January 2016

A cuppa coffee with Tom Walker


A preposterously talented young guitarist, a power-packed rhythm section, and a studio with history 


It's still cloudy, grey and wet as I climb up out of Five Ways station, drop round the corner and zig zag up to Arc Studios. Arc was set up by Bob Wilson; it's a place that's ridden a lot of changes. 

Now, Arc is pretty much run by son Toby, who drums with a range of local bands. Having effectively grown up in the studio, Toby's a dab hand at production.

They're halfway through a session. Clutching mugs of coffee are Tom Walker, Deano Bass and Jim Simpson (the musician one, that is). 

I give you the Tom Walker Trio, sounding excellent, as you can hear further down this post.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

There's a new online kid on the radio block.


Our city. Our music. Our stories.



Radio tells stories better than almost any other medium. Take it with you. You don't need to look, just listen. 

It's been that way for close on a century. But now, the rules and the tools have changed. 

It doesn't break the bank to get started. Anyone can get on air. So there's tons of internet stations. Some want to turn the clock back - big mistake. Some are vanity vehicles. Others have specialised agendas; I approve. And all the time, mainstream media shrinks its offer, cuts costs and shuns local. The gap between large and small is now a chasm, a yawning gulf, financially and creatively.  

Can this gap be bridged? I'd like to think it can. And here's one way we might find out. Welcome to Birmingham and the world, Brum Radio

Sunday, 10 January 2016

When did you last sit down and listen all the way through an album?


Grazing is the new norm. And that's not good.


Thanks to Acid Pix at Flickr
I was asked this week what album I had listened to most recently, just for pleasure. 

I couldn't name one. I was astonished. 

Back in the day, I always, always, always had an album to champion and play till I wore the grooves out. Now? Not so much. It's far more about the artist. Or the song. Or the video. Or the Facebook like. 

That's a clue right there. Like most of us, I'm not dealing with grooves any more. Now, it's streams. But I think there's a lot more to it than that. And I'm certain I'm not alone. 

So I sat down and thought a bit. Here's what I came up with, after the jump. It's not pretty.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Richard March, he say.... THANK YOU!

It's all about the Bass. And good people doing good things


****  Stop Press **** 

Amazingly, Richard has been re-united with his bass. 
See his message at the bottom of this post. 


Richard March is a happy bunny right now. He plays double bass: you stand up and wrap your self around the instrument. He's in one of the fastest rising bands in town, Rhino and The Ranters, among others. 

Double basses are physical. They're actually bigger than the people who play them. It means intimacy and engagement. Players are on their feet, dancing. All musos have physical bonds with their instruments. But basses are already deep and primal. String basses take it deeper. 

So when Richard posted on Facebook, just before Christmas, that his bass, his amp and bits and pieces had been stolen, it came across like a howl of pain.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Loves, losses, gripes, glories and gratitude in 2015

A rueful, joyful look back 


It's been a full-on year. I wrote, a lot. Did audio production, a lot. Halfway through the year, I pulled out of a draining work situation and cleared my head. Then, naturally, I took a deep breath and promptly hurled myself into new fields of work, scrambling up fresh and steep learning curves. Some of it has been difficult and disappointingly fruitless. Other stuff has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. You think I'd have learned by now. 

Here's some of the things I stumbled across this year, some gripes and some regrets... and a few little treats, after the jump.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

80s band invasion! Some are zombies; others, rosy-cheeked and twinkly of eye.

Everybody's re-formed. Some do it better than others. 



Ocean Colour Scene are back in the Irish Centre in Digbeth for their 20th anniversary tour gig.  I just spotted a flyer for a gig in Manchester next year, with The Wonder Stuff headlining. Also on the bill are Bentley Rythm Ace. Richard March of that band plays with Rhino and The Ranters, who supported the Stuffies' acoustic gig last week in Birmingham. The Ranters' drummer, Pete Hammond used to be in the Au Pairs. And lo, Au Pairs head honcho Lesley Woods is back in Brum next year. 

There's a lot of it about. In August 2014, I met up with Terry and Gerry as they plugged a comeback tour. We were kindly given the back room at the Hare and Hounds, and they ripped though 'Butter's On The Bread' live for me to use on the blog. It's here.

I went to the local gig, full of excited 50-somethings and some of their kids. The full band played: Sue and Mick on washboard/percussion and guitar, with Terry on Bass, and Gerry fronting on guitar.

Mile-wide grins all round. Since then things have moved on apace. 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Beeb big boys in Brum! For a bit anyway...


It's been a fun week


The BBC came to town; about time too. Well, yes, I know there is a much shrunken BBC here already, but this was important national network activity. So a load of network types swept in to be all networky and relevant at the BBC Music Awards on Thursday afternoon at the NEC, oops, sorry, Genting Arena. 

They made a big of a fuss about this. I'm glad they did, and glad they're coming back in 2016, but, really, this is a wannabe version of the Brits: international acts there to shift product in an identikit concrete hangar. Who gets most out of this? More on this whole process later. 

The upside of the week was a lot of local action. And as well as the music events, some old radio hands got gongs. Nice.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The BRILLIANT Levitate video.


A short blog this week, belated too, for which I must plead events beyond my control. Good events, mind; I'll explain in due course.  

Watch this video. It's a brilliant production, even if I do crop up in it a bit. If you read my blog, you'll know my thinking already. It is, however, so nice to see so many fantastic people saying and doing the right thing.



Congratulations to Tessa Burwood and the Levitate team. This expresses exactly why I love the music scene in my town, and why it deserves both our support and greater media support. 



More music posts on Radio To Go



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