Sunday, 26 April 2015

A conversation with Swami: Simon & Diamond and S-Endz

A brand new band that's been going since 1999

Two months back, I compiled a local YouTube chart. It's a labour of love, and I can miss things. Happily, I'm usually swiftly corrected. S-Endz duly pointed out that his band, Swami, had scored very decent views for their new video. So I fixed things, bouncing the bottom entry (sorry, lads) to present a revised 50. And started thinking about Swami. 

There's lots of Asian bands in the West Midlands. But normally they aim squarely at Asian markets; Swami are different. Malkit Singh may sell millions worldwide to Bhangra fans, but Swami aren't cut from that cloth, not remotely. For a start, they're cross-cultural, in the grand Birmingham tradition. The website is slick and impressive. 

A swift introduction by Sharnita Athwal at Shaanti, and I'm sitting with Simon and Diamond Duggal, joined later by S-Endz. Swami has been Simon and Diamond's project, since 1999.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The game is changing: Goodnight Lenin


Goodnight Lenin want feedback on their new songs. See them in the bar afterwards. Oh, and there's three, count 'em, three festivals to talk about. With the Monkees?

The challenge for all performers is to know when it's going well, and why. That's why I so admire people who make great music. It's not just the uncanny talent. It's the pressure to perform, to deliver. Not only that: you have to work out how it's going: you have to manage it all. 

This blog doesn't just celebrate moments of inspiration and warmth, but also the stagecradt that goes with it. To have the balls to take your visions and dreams out to an audience, to lay it out in public, is one thing. That's where it really starts. That's when the game changes.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Destroyers lay fresh foundations

Eight years of constant change, and the band's hungrier than ever.

I'm sitting in the snug in legendary Moseley music boozer The Prince of Wales, with Leighton Hargreaves, Max Gittings and Aaron Diaz, three long-term members of the Destroyers. It's appropriate: if anything is, it's the band's home base. It's where members come to play at the open sessions; it's where they put on their legendary Christmas/New Year shows.

Now, after what seems like an uncomfortably long time, there's good news to report: the band are issuing an EP, on local label Stoney Lane. There may be more to follow, possibly building up to an album. And there's a tour planned out.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Horace Panter. Special.

He still loves it, all of it. 


Horace Panter is great company: courteous and affable. He is hugely knowledgeable about music and musicians, both local and further afield. He plays in three and a bit bands: blues band Blues 2 Go, and straight-up ska outfit Uptown Ska Collective. And he's also working with Champion Doug Veitch, collaborating with Martin Bell, once of The Wonder Stuff. 

But the big band is, of course, The Specials, who started in 1977, reformed in 2008, and are now bigger than ever.