Gig ticker     Moseley Folk Festival at Moseley Park B'ham Sep 4-6...     Mellow Peaches, Matthew Socci and Abbie Budgen at Southside Blues B'ham Sep 10th...     Rich Batsford (only Birmingham gig this year) at Birmingham Buddhist Centre Sep 12th...     A tribute to the late Rich McMahon at The Jamhouse B'ham Sept 22nd...     Misty's Big Adventure at The Flapper B'ham Sept 22nd...     5th Annual Trevor Burton Charity night with Steve Gibbons, Ricky Cool and Danny King at Hall Green Banqueting Suite B'ham Sep 24th Trevor Burton interview...     Rhino & The Ranters + EN at Hare & Hounds B'ham Sep 26th  2015 interview here...     

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

We've still got that Fuzzbox somewhere...


Back in the day, big hair and big fun. Fuzzbox soundtracked the second half of the 80s. And now? 

30 years ago, We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Going To Use It were big. They got profile quickly, shooting fast from a bright idea to pop reality. At the height of their punk notoriety, Vix and crew used to sashay round radio and TV stations with ridiculously huge hair – pink, orange, red - bags of attitude, and an Elvis sneer. They kicked off with a silly name and punched out a few punk songs. Then, after three years of punk thrash, bingo! Fuzzbox hit the jackpot with pure late 80s pop.

And now it's 2015. I'm sitting in Yorks coffee bar with survivors Vix and Maggie. Vix is an old pal by now – I've seen most of her post-Fuzzbox incarnations. Then? A snotty kid with a great line in throwing shapes. Now? An accomplished trooper, comfortable on stage, with one very distinct new thing going for her and the band: Radio 2, the biggest station in Europe is paying attention.

Fuzzbox are having another go. 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

A West Midlands YouTube Top 50: August 2015

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Here's the sixth bi-yearly local acts video views chart: who's making YouTube waves?

I do this ranking every six months. The exercise is starting to build up some long-term analysis potential. There's some interesting straws in the wind. I think YouTube viewing numbers are increasing overall, based on a rough analysis of upwards trends for many on the chart. But there are some caveats...

The headline? Laura Mvula still rules – just. But I think that she's going to be overtaken on the next chart by another spectacularly talented Birmingham woman who plays by her own rules. You may not have heard of her yet. But you certainly will.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

So what does YOUR station think you should be hearing?

1 comment:

Music tastes change. So should station libraries. 

More friendly advice for the Beeb from the Times    Flickr - Shawn Kincade
I'm getting tired of the endless government and rival media onslaught on the BBC. Pretty much every day, the Times or the Mail run smugly venomous pieces on the Corporation's failings. I hate this. The Beeb is not perfect. I'm one of many who want to see serious BBC production at all levels back in the Midlands. But as I've said before, the Beeb is unique; it delivers brilliant programmes; we need it.   

BBC Local Radio is in the frame now. An announcement that BBCLR might be a bit more personality driven met yet more carping: the BBC is reneging on its journalistic brief; more jobs to go; the beginning of the end. All that. Hard on the carping came strenuous denials that the Beeb was doing anything of the kind. And so on.

But much of this was about music on the radio. That's a wholly different debate.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The problem with promoting: you almost certainly won't get rich. But you may have big fun.

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DieDasDer talk of many things: of promoters, cabbages and kings...

We take local gigs for granted. There's tons of them; I think we're spoiled. Given the growth of the past few years, the West Midlands (and pretty much everywhere else) is rich in quality bands doing vibrant gigs. This, at a time when everyone's skint, and we're not out of the recession that's hammered businesses and crushed earnings.

So you wouldn't think it's the best time to lay on gigs, especially risky ones. All that planning dates and venues well in advance, sorting PA, insurance, contract and liability issues, covering travel, fees and exes for everyone, usually on a budget you could put under a cup. Crucially, it means being quite ready to put your hands into your pocket if you need to. 

Welcome to the world of promoters. 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Birmingham Broadcast trail


Not quite a trail of tears, but close....

Before even more threats line up for the last remnants of local broadcasting - through a toxic combination of cost-cutting, indifference, incompetence and government hostility - you might like to take this walk. 

You wouldn't think it today, but Birmingham bristles with unlikely old radio and TV studio locations. Some are completely untraceable; some hold strong memories. You can still spot traces of some of them dotted across the city. 

So here's a guide. You really can walk this if you want to, although it's a bit of trek to get out to Edgbaston and back, just to see a building site...

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Pledging My Love with Boat To Row

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A modest crowdfunding appeal to get their album pressed: 88% of target in 16 days. Great going. 

Wayne Fox Photography    
Chatting with Boat To Row is a pleasure. They're great company, and damn fine musicians to boot. The band has quietly built up a very loyal fan base in their six years. Now they're working that fan base to cover production costs for a first album, using that cornerstone of fan-funding, Pledge Music.

We met for coffee in Brum this week: me and three band members. The other two? Tied up with a very new baby and teaching paperwork. But the Colmore district was packed with celebrities: Perry Barr MP Khamid Mahmood was hanging at Yorks, and Julian Lloyd-Webber, the new Principal at the Conservatoire, was in the Wellington. Movers and shakers clearly surround this band.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Rich Bitch garage sale. Rob's slipped out the back...


There must be 50 ways to leave your studio 

Kit, lots of it. No reasonable offer refused
There's been a couple of tear-stained press pieces recently on the death of a local rock institution. Rich Bitch, the oldest rehearsal joint in Brum, is going after 34 years. The Bournbrook home from home for the likes of Sabbath and ELO reduced to rubble. The end of an era. Another slice of rock history obliterated. 

But... it's not quite like that. Owner Rob Bruce is having a clear-out, but he's not quitting the business. And if you move fast, you can pick up some tasty gear for very little money indeed, as ALL the old kit - amps, keyboards, drumkits and lots more - is going, to be sold or donated. I dropped round this week. It's really strange to see the place dissolving before your eyes. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Women in music; a shifting balance.

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Live? That's one thing. But at Radio, it's already changed. And there's a programming rule for that.

Sometimes it helps to have a dinosaur perspective. I've been looking at music, local and mainstream, over 40 years or more, and I'm seeing changes. I'm only talking about these two areas in this post. But that's already a lot to be going on with. 

       Rebecca Downes     pic Mick Schofield
The week before last, I chased around Birmingham catching bands I hadn't yet seen. I started with Rebecca Downes - a two-person powerhouse blues/jazz set at the Blue Piano. Then headed to the Rainbow's seven-band indie night, to catch Shaake, a new project from Suzi And The Backbeats, and damn good they were too. Then to the Fiddle and Bone for some of Hannah Johnson And The Broken Hearts elegantly spinning tales of country heartache, love and loss. 

I had a great time: on night, three bands, all led by strong women. It's part of a trend. 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Auntie, It's Time To Do The Right Thing.

1 comment:

This time, we didn't say it. Our MPs did.

Lots of discussion, since I last posted on the BBC's continued and very deliberate under-funding of broadcasting in the Midlands; not a lot of action. Well, not if you ignore what Cameron and Milliband both said at election time.

There's few signs that BBC powers that be are thinking of changing. But the issue won't go away. It's another elephant in the BBC room, lurking darkly, ignored in the hope that it might quietly leave. But this week, there's been a major development. MPs have stepped forward. Parliament has debated the issue. 

This was prompted by the Birmingham Post campaign, led by the extraordinary Graeme Brown, who picked up on the work done by the Campaign For Regional Broadcasting.

I went to the debate. It was fascinating.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Mahalia. Four years of development, and she's still only seventeen. Crikey.

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Ridiculously young and talented, with a major label deal... that might suggest you got it made. Great expectations then.

Four years ago, Mahalia played a Tea Room Tent debut slot at Moseley Folk. It was a gentle but excellent start, in front of some major Brum music faces. 

Four weeks ago, Mahalia made her BBC2 Later debut, fronting the irrepressible Rudimental. No build-up: the camera panned directly to her from Joan Armatrading. No pressure, then. To see how it went, scroll down for the video. Mahalia is still only 17. She is being guided by her parents, who were both active in the music business in the 80s, and have the scars to prove it. She already has a deal with a major: Asylum/Atlantic. This is not usually how things get done these days. Not anymore. But then again, Mahalia is unusual.