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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 - S/T

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, leaders of the Yellow Movement, the funky flag bearers of communal lunacy, the multi legged groove machine, and more, have finally managed to get their debut album out, and with a great deal of blood, sweat, tears and slugs of buckfast they have managed to out black grape in the black grape stakes.
And I say that with the utmost respect as the debauched and randomly sprawling debut album from the ex members of The Happy Mondays and The Ruthless Rap Assassins was an anarchic sonic revolution that was akin to a glitter-bomb grenade being tossed into the mainstream.  
The difference between it and this is that while that was a grenade this is like an A-Bomb.
Totally irrelevant, and relevant simultaneously  
Hilariously funny while being scathingly astute at the same time.
This is the onion release of the year that will reveal increasingly more and more as your ears peel layer after layer off until you reach the centre where for all I know will be revealed the secrets of the universe.
It’s a sprawling mess of nothing making much sense individually, but everything coming together to work pretty much perfectly.
You could get lost in it and never find your way home from the party, but who gives a fuck when the never ending party is providing so much fun.
All hail the revolution, the Yellow Movement is on the rise and what they are offering is the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life.

King Tuff - S/T

Here it is.
A psychedelic bubblegum rush of spaced out pupil widening summer of love acid trips set to music.
A garage-psyche masterpiece of fuzzed out tooth rotting sugar pop.
If the thought of a garage punk version of The Flaming Lips with a hard on for Marc Bolan ticks a few of your boxes then King Tuff are the one stop shop for all your needs right now.
Damn, there’s even a song that sounds like Bob Dylan found a sense of humour down the back of a Hanna-Barbera casting couch.
Press play on this little beauty and its instant sunshine filling your head.
From start to finish it sounds like a far out fantasy stereotype of the sixties filtered through the belief that it’s possible that nothing was every as good again.
Even when Chuck Manson’s Creepy Crawl (Good name for a band) gets a mention the smile doesn’t slip from King Tuffs lips.
The sign of a good album is when you click on play, or drop the needle at the start again, as soon as it finishes, and this is one of those little darlings.

Next stop King Tuffs debut. I’m coming for you.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Matt Scott - Red and Black - Classic Grand - 24/514 (Glasgow

It's been a long drawn out process for Matt Scott to get his material down in a way that reflected the power of his live performance.
There's been many aborted attempts and many hours of studio time eaten up looking to capture that certain something.
It was only when he went back to basics, with his brother at the helm recording him, that finally the deed was done and we could all finally hear how the songs were supposed to sound.
And now a similar bit of magic has been done again by Titan Cams who graciously recorded the set he did as a guest to Alabama 3 at their recent Glasgow show.
The full performance from Matt has been recorded, and hopefully that will see the light of day soon enough, but here in all its glory is Red and Black from that night.
Please do share the footage, and namecheck Titan Cams as they have just made my day with this.
If you are in a band or a solo artists I am very happy to recommend their services.
Put their name in your book.

The belly rumbling blues.

I wasn't going to blog post anything about the UKs part in the Euro elections.

The reason being that I didn't feel that it would be worthwhile adding to the slew of articles, facebook updates and tweets as there is an element of political fatigue creeping into a great deal of the discourse.
I can understand why this is as regardless of the hue of the political flag being waived there is a great deal of fundamentalism and brain dead bollocks being shared, and that is always a turn off rather than a turn on.
Scottish independence yes voters and those who support the union are digging their opposing trenches ever deeper. The left and right are stepping further away from each other. UKIP, Britain First, and others of a similar ilk, are distastefully stoking the fires of fear, and the mainstream parties appear unable to make an utterance about anything unless the pros and cons are run past big business for their seal of approval first.

It’s all a bit too much of a tumultuous mess really.

If we carved out a pie chart then there would be a large portion that could be set aside for the people who feel more alienated than apathetic.
A very big slice fairly given over to those who feel that their psych has been battered and bruised by the strident tones of the people whose mindset is similar to a radio that has been tuned to transmit, but is unable to receive.

However, even with this being the case here I am writing an update and maybe providing the straw that breaks the camels back for some.

The difference is that I am not looking to ask you to vote for one party or another, or to follow a political ethos, or even argue with anyone.

Instead I am going to just ask for a few favours.

The first being that could those who don’t know what they are talking about maybe just take some time to look into the subject before promoting what you think is the case rather than what is supported by facts.
And yes I am talking to you who shared the Britain First meme about “illegal immigrants’ getting benefits.

Also could those who don’t know their Mahatma Gandhi from their Pol Pot maybe desist from voting as you may just provide us all with a party whose policies reflect more of the latter than the former.

Then there are those who as mentioned earlier have a knack for talking and not listening.
If you can support a view, and rationalize it, then that’s great.
Even if I don’t agree with you I will respect the fact that you have actually thought about it all and come to a conclusion.
Who knows, you may offer a factual nugget to me that will be the catalyst that will lead to my own views changing.
The only thing is that if I am extending you the courtesy of listening and engaging with your view then you better be open to listening to mine as long as I can support it with facts and reason to.
Also, and I have come across this a great deal recently, is the habit of some to turn off whatever part of their brain deals with reason if what is being said to them doesn’t fit with the conclusion they have already reached.
Just gonny no dae that.*
An example would be how I was recently told about why the firefighters shouldn’t be on strike and the person supported their view with factually inaccurate information.
When I pointed out that they weren't actually looking for a pay rise as thought, and the action over the last few years was really rooted in the pension goal posts being moved, safety issues through cutbacks, changes in hours and working practices that would negatively impact on how they actual do their job etc, I was met with……………nothing.
None of the above fitted with what was claimed, and in a way I think the person just internally overdubbed my response with the mantra “you’re an idiot, you’re an idiot, you’re an idiot” and because of this was reluctant to process what was said as ultimately all they could take on board was that I was saying they were wrong and no one likes that.
To anyone like that then all I can say is could you do me the favour of growing up?

Basically what I am asking everyone to do is think about what it is that they want to say and not base it on the surface buzz.
Actually think about it.
Please don't commit to an opinion or an action based on genuine ignorance.

If I was asked to comment about a subject I knew nothing about I would decline to do so until I had furnished myself with some rudimentary understanding of it.
Anything said prior to that would only highlight my own ignorance at the same time as I added nothing to the discussion at hand.
It’s stupid to do that. So please don't be that person.

So there you go.
If people in general stuck to maintaining a healthy debate and refrained from the spouting of misguided inaccuracies to bold lies then maybe, just maybe, others wouldn’t be so alienated.

Just a thought though.

*Translation – Don’t be a cunt.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Holy Ghosts - Ride Them Down.

The sound of classic rock never really dies regardless of how often some may try and claim its demise.
Like Mark Twain it could equally lay claim to the quote that “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
There are of course times that it may take a backseat to what is being promoted in the mainstream, but most people are well aware that any slow ebb in popularity normally just precedes a fresh flow.
In a sense you could say that as a genre it never says goodbye, but instead just winks a casual au revoir as it knows in time its coming back around to do what it does best.

Some have claimed that it is being a bit tardy on its return, but maybe they should consider waking up and smelling the coffee as right now there is a vanguard of talent already crashing onto the beach with acts such as The Temperance Movement, and touring mates The River 68s, garnering rabid plaudits with every gig they play, and now after years of slogging it out and paying their dues we have the equally talented, and entertaining, Holy Ghosts looking to release their debut album and carve themselves out a space in the wider public consciousness with their own original material.

With just weeks to go to the launch of “Ride Them Down” it can be comfortably said that they haven’t stumbled in delivering on all the promises they had made either.
Every box is ticked; every step has been carefully placed, and as debuts go this is as good as it gets.
With bands like The Rolling Stones and the Faces you could argue that they took a few albums to get into the swing of things and for them to take more control of their destinies, but that was then and this is now, and what you can hear from the opening track “Leave No Stone Unturned” onwards is The Holy Ghosts hitting the ground running.
The country twang that Gram Parson brought to Exile On Main Street is there, but the band are far from being a weak facsimile of another acts former glories as this is a vibrant modern take on a classic sound.
Let’s just say that no one in the Holy Ghosts is looking to re-enact the summer of love, or even looking to root what they do too heavily in the past.
Instead with each song it becomes obvious that as a band they are genuine music fans who have allowed themselves to partially subscribe to a magpie tendency and take the best bits of what they love and bring them forward into the present, but only if they can be framed within their own vision of who they are.
“Devil On Your Side” is a prime example of this.
The shadows of Neil Young and Steve Earle loom large, but fail to swamp the band in their shade.
It’s in this ability to maintain a balance between their influences and their own approach to song-writing that the magic may well lie.
There’s so much that is reminiscent of material we have heard before that the songs can comfortably bed in and then start revealing more of themselves as the listener allows the band to lead them to where they want them to be, and that’s keyed into what they are doing rather than what their heroes did.

As an introduction it’s safe to say that The Holy Ghosts have put their best foot forward, and it’s doubtful that after anyone listens to “Ride Them Down” that they would consider the future will be anything but rosy for them.
I would suggest that people get in early and enjoy the ride they are on.
No matter how good I claim this to be it will fall short of really conveying how good it really is.
Words sometimes just fall short of doing that, and this is one of those times.

A stunning debut in ever sense. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Nine Inch Nails - Hydro - 20/05/14 (Glasgow)

Cold Cave fall short of being able to engage with a stadium sized venue.
It’s not their fault.
Some things just don't, or can't, translate to the bigger stages.
I've seen full bands with backing singers and more being beaten down by the experience, and equally I've also seen an individual project their personality to tens of thousands of people comfortably.
It’s not an easy thing to do, and Cold Cave at this point aren't quite there.
In an intimate club they probably strip the paint off the walls, but they are like a kid wearing their parent’s clothes in this instance.
Dwarfed by them and striking a bit of a ludicrous stance as they desperately try to gain a foothold with the audience.

Part of the problem may however be that virtually no one is there to see them.
The night belongs to Trent Reznor.
He’s been breaking musical ground for decades now and where he leads others are keen to follow.
Initially it’s a minimalist performance that eases forward to touch the audience lightly, but then with the gradual introduction of the band, and an increasingly more obvious light show, it grows larger, feels more muscular, and ultimately builds to a monstrous level.
At times the imagery behind Reznor is a subliminally delivered dystopian nightmare that sits well with the broken beats that aurally assault the senses, and perversely it all makes perfect sense even though it probably shouldn’t.
It is this, and a hundred other things, snapping like bolts of electricity across the synapses that push the audience to the edge of sensory overload, but then manages to hold them hanging on the precipice to give them a taste of true anarchy without dropping them into the madness that is a hairs breadth away that impresses most.

I expected it to be a breathtaking and exhilarating experience, but it was more than that.
Words really can’t do it justice.

Stunning from start to finish.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Coldplay - Ghost Stories

Listening to the new Coldplay album is akin to dragging your cock down a roughcast wall, but without the perverse pleasure that the act may draw from the more deviant among us.
Calling it abysmal would win you an award for coming first in an understatement race.
It is mind boggling that it has been receiving a great deal of praise in the national press.
I've deduced from the fawning that the majority of national mainstream critics either have their ears painted on, or are in the deep pockets of Mr Martin.
There are actual diseases, real fuckin’ diseases that severely impact on your life expectancy, that I would welcome into my system before I let this album ever get anywhere near any stereo equipment I have.

Some will claim that as the album revolves around the death of his relationship to that woman who won the award at the Oscars for most traumatic acceptance speech ever that we should tread carefully around the subject, but put this pile of steaming shite into the ring with Trent Reznors Pretty Hate Machine and it would be a David and Goliath battle with Trents Goliath picking bits of Coldplay out of his teeth for months to come.
It’s an insipid, turgid and overblown wankathon for the masses.
Woe is fuckin’ me writ in neon.

It does have some uses though.
If you want to end a relationship but don’t have the backbone to pack your partners bag and leave them in the driveway them just buy this and play it daily.
Within a week you will find a note on the table stating that there is no future for you both and that if you try and find them then they will have you killed.

Remember how really fuckin bad Kula Shaker were?
This is worse.

I fully expect to read of someone’s gaff being broken into and the poor bugger had everything stolen apart from this CD.
“Last time they broke in they did the toilet on the mantelpiece, but this is worse”.

It’s entirely possible that Gwyneth sucked whatever talent they had out of them as she needs something to fuel her acting career.
Maybe she’s a talent vampire and Coldplay were the young virgins that she fed from and now that she drained them of everything they had in them this is what is left.

Instead of poison pen letters to neighbours the sad and eluded will start dropping this CD through the letterboxes of their perceived enemies.

From here on in no one is going to use the words “jumped the shark” anymore. Anything that goes that step too far and is bereft of any enjoyment will be referenced as “coldplayed”.
“Did you see the new Star Wars film mate? Lucas seriously coldplayed it.”

There’s only one way back from this.

A bloody apology, and a promise never to make music again.

PS - And the landfill award for 2015 goes to Coldplay and Ghost Stories.
Chris Martins' global footprint is now the size of Bono's ego.

Crash Club

While the name of Crash Club seems to be breaking a great deal of ground and it sits comfortably on the lips of the movers and shakers it would be a mistake to consider them the latest over inflated great white hopes for the Scottish music scene.
A mistake as it is within their grasp to be something far more than that.
Similarly to how the tag of dance act is far too constricting to describe them, it would be limiting to frame them within a geographical scene to.
They are in fact bigger than a genre tag, and even a country wide scene.
They are, for want of a better term, a globally respected act in the making.
Right now they are putting the graft in to lay a foundation, but even at this early stage what becomes obvious when listening to them is that they are creating a foundation that they will build on until they reach a level that only a minority operate at.
A level where artistic integrity and mass appeal rub shoulders and rubbish the claims that you have to have either one or the other but never the twain shall meet.
They are that good.
There are of course those who may not feel an inclination to dip their toe into a pool of processed beats, but where they are at right now is just one step on a path that will take them anywhere they want to go.
I’d suggest setting any preconceived ideas aside and getting on board with them now as the journey is going to start getting very interesting very soon.

Crash Club will be opening for The Sunshine Underground on Friday 23rd of May in The Classic Grand, Glasgow.
More info can be found here.
If social media is your thing then click here.

Now wrap your ears around this. Vocals are provided by Tragic O’Hara.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Sonics - The Arches - 09/05/14 (Glasgow)

Sounding like a head on collision between the beat groups of the sixties and a tour bus filled with a festival line up of the Velvet Underground, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Glasvegas and The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Velveteen Saints may be unashamedly displaying their influences on their collective sleeves, but there’s not much wrong with the noise they make.
It’s a glorious cacophony of primal rock and roll exuberance that screams that they are alive.
Even with the horrendous support band sound that they received, and the muddy mess that was their shared vocals bouncing off the brickwork of the Arches, you can’t dismiss the muscle they are flexing for the benefit of those who arrived early enough to see them.
With a fine balance of technical ability and attitude this quartet can very obviously walk the walk, and as more people start to whisper their name as a band to watch out for they aren’t going to be looking to disappoint anyone anytime soon.
Today The Arches, tomorrow the world.
Vive le Velveteen Saints.

The Primevals neatly fill in the central position between the new that is The Velveteen Saints and the old that is The Sonics, but there’s no aural middle age spread on display.
Having been there and bought the t-shirt regularly enough over the years the Glasgow RnB/Garage stalwarts aren't letting the grass grow under their feet and used this performance to air four new songs that will feature on their next album that may be out prior to the end of this year.
The addition of these tracks fitted neatly into the over all flow, and left those of us who would claim to be aficionados of their sound embracing the comfortable aural missive that all is going absolutely fine in the Primevals camp and no huge change of direction is being considered.
Once again the sound couldn't be described as crystal clear though, and instead spent its time dipping its toe in muddy waters, but similar to the young guns of the night The Primevals sound couldn’t be lost completely in the mix and they valiantly powered on through to the end and snatched a victory from the jaws of the cavernous venue.

Now the Sonics are a different story altogether.
There’s no surprise that any sound issues vanished as they took to the stage, and the band I had first heard over thirty years ago, and who I never ever thought I would see, hammered straight into a set that simply reinforced why they have a legendary tag attached to them.
Were they the first blossoming of the sound of punk?
Who cares really?
Click to enlarge.
Velveteen Saints
Copyright Martin Windebank
It’s not something that anyone attending cared about as the music itself is rooted in something more organic.
It sets some chemistry going as it thunders along.
Blood pumps through the veins.
Muscles jump and set toes tapping and that then eases into more exuberant movement as we loosen up.
This is the moment when musicians like modern day alchemists can turn sound into something more physical.
I have always felt privileged when I have seen The Stooges, MC5, The New York Dolls and Mott the Hoople to name a few.
Especially when they smash the high ceiling of expectations that I have created, as individually they are my childhood heroes who I genuinely never thought I would experience live.
Yet as the years roll past I have managed to score band after band off my own bucket lists with nary a disappointment and this show was to be no different.
High praise and hyper excited plaudits had been rolling in with each UK date they played and with each review I nudged the bar ever higher and then as familiar song after familiar song was powered through they left that bar in the dust.
Best of all was the inclusion of new material, that similar to The Primevals songs, did nothing more than promise more excellence to come.
The band should have surf funded the new album and kept the lions share of the profits from the forthcoming album as they richly deserve to have a financial pay day after jolting a certain style of music in a different direction way back in the early sixties.
Maybe they weren't confident enough to do that, but with the UK dates now completed they must be sitting somewhere right now and greeting a dawning realization that people are there for them.
That they are respected, loved and supported more than they may have actually realized.

With a promise that they will returning to Scotland sooner rather than later I am happy to commit to seeing them again.
After all, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
So don’t be that music fan.

Some Velveteen Saints.
Primevals website.
The Sonics website.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

I heard the news today oh boy.

I have no link to 'Loaves and Fishes', yet that doesn't matter.
What matters here is the truth in this mans words.
He is talking about the unvarnished reality of life for many people in the United Kingdom right now.
We should be ashamed.
Ashamed that we have let those who pull the strings take us to this precipice.
Ashamed that we have turned away from each other and gravitated to wantonly pointing the finger at those who are least to blame for the ills that our country faces.

I sincerely hope that readers of the blog from other countries listen to this man.

This is not what the news channels will tell you.
It's the raw and unfiltered news from a  frontline that too many  people refuse to acknowledge exists.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Welcome to the Cheap Seats (if you can afford them)

It’s all becoming a bit too much.
I’m talking about concert tickets.
Just today I read an article about the forthcoming Aerosmith/Slash tour over in the US with the tickets going for over 30% more than is the average norm.
To see your idols it could cost the UK equivalent of £162 plus some change.
Please keep in mind that this is prior to the booking fees and more being added on and that price has nothing to do with how much the legalised scalpers will charge.
For me it is just a step too far.
I was one of those people who splurged out all their savings to take my son and girlfriend to see The Who, and while I baulked at how much it was it didn’t come close to this.
Few people go to gigs solo so the reality is that you can double the ticket price and fees straight off the bat.
So if those prices were emulated here then for a big gig you could be looking at £324 plus booking fees for a couple before you have even left your house.

I remember this was a hot topic many years ago with the argument being that tickets for football matches were easing fans on lower incomes out of the picture.
Some could claim that this never eventually happened, but I suspect there are quite a few seats in stadiums across the country that were vacated by the poorer of us and now are being warmed by the bums of the upwardly mobile.
Attendances may not have changed much, but the demographic of the crowd probably did.

And now we are seeing similar with live music events.

To paraphrase Lennon “Would the people in the cheaper seats just rattle your jewellery."

If you can score a cheap-ish ticket for a show in an enormo-dome then the seating reflects what you will have spent with anything less than fifty quid leaving you sitting in the nosebleeds miles away from the stage.
I’m left wondering what the attraction of that would be.
Maybe opera glasses and a Sherpa should be thrown in with the ticket price.

The problem isn’t really about the prices though. It’s all about the acceptance of them.
If an artist can sell out a venue with the tickets going for over a hundred quid then who is to blame really?
Is it the artists, or is it those who will spend that amount?
Are we really just feeding this beast with our patronage?

There is always the point that with physical sales of music dropping that this is where the money is now, but should we the music fans be dragged into a situation that was created by the industry itself?

As a US friend pointed out, the poor are already out of the equation so it is the more affluent that are being targeted, and who could argue with that?

Tot up how much a ticket is for a Hydro date in Glasgow, then add on travelling expenses, cost of drinks and merchandise, and a night out for two can touch on £200 at a minimum.
If they are minimum wage earners then they are working 31 hours between them to cover that.
That’s nearly four eight hour shifts for one night out.

Of course music fans aren’t looking at it in this way, but maybe they should.

It’s a game that I am out of.
I can’t play it anymore.

There could be some exceptions, but in the main I have been frozen out of it.

I struggled to find any figures for the UK, but get ready to have an eye watering look at last years summer tours of the US here.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Some Tips For Running A Successful Gig Night -Some Thoughts From NHC MUSIC and ItsaXXXXThing Blog

In what will be an ongoing meeting of minds this is the first of a co-written update from my friends at the New hellfire Club and myself.
Comments can be posted over at NHC or following this.

One question we get asked a lot from the bands on our page is a simple one, but also an extremely important one.
It’s “How do we pull off a successful gig?”

It is one of those things that if you get it right then it can help your gig take off and hugely increase the size of your crowd.
Get it wrong?
Well, get it wrong and it could spell disaster for both your gig night, and your me on that as I am someone who has had nights fall apart due to a poorly planned and disastrously timed gig!

So first things first.

When is the best, and when is the worst, times to plan your gig night?

Well it's a tough one to answer, but there are certain things you can certainly do, and some instances you should avoid, to give you the best chance of success.

We will list them below, and also tell you a wee bit about our own badly planned nights of days gone by, so that way you can hopefully learn from our mistakes, and not have to make the same ones yourself.

1. Remember that time we didn’t look to see what else was on?

In a perfect world promoters and venues would all chat to each other, making sure that their big nights didn't clash with each other, thus pulling the fans away from each others gigs, rather than sharing the same fans on the same nights or over a couple as people can’t afford to attend everything..
Unfortunately it isn't a perfect world and more often than not no one talks to anyone else about anything.
So be prepared to lay the groundwork yourself.
One of the first things you should do is make sure there isn't a similar gig on the same night as your own.
If you are holding a metal night in Glasgow, then of course there are going to be other metal nights on elsewhere.
There is no way around this.
There are just too many bands and too many venues in the one city not to have competition nearby.
This means that you have to consider the competition.
Make sure the competition isn't a David and Goliath style night though, as in real life those types of situations rarely work out good for the David's.
So while another couple of metal nights in the same city is manageable, a super metal extravaganza all-dayer is not.
This might sound like common sense approach to most of you out there, but it's actually one of the most common problems on the local scene when booking a gig.
It will happen that sometimes the big gig nights are launched after your own night.
If that is the case then you will probably just have to suck it up and accept that some of your target audience will be elsewhere, best then to ignore the other gig and just get on with making your own night the best damn night you ever held!
Step up a gear on the promotion and push hard on it.
We had a gig booked last year and had a three months run at promo, then on week 6 of promoting it, we had an all day mini festival announce in a venue five minutes walk from ours.
There was no way to avoid it.
What did we do?
We got drunk and enjoyed our own half-filled gig.
It was still an awesome night with great music that cost us a fortune because we never made the target numbers that the venue wanted for a lower rate.
Nights like this are why I drink.
Also worth noting that it's not just other gigs you are competing against either, one of our other quieter nights was on a big Champions League final night, and there is also the festival season to worry about!

2. Remember that time we booked a gig on the Tuesday in the middle of the month.

Some people swear by Friday and Saturday nights, but it really does depend on who you are putting on the bill as NHC MUSIC has had some of it's busiest nights on a Sunday...and also had one of its (unexpected!) quietest nights ever on a Friday. Generally in our own experience Friday and Saturday are of course good nights for a gig, but you also have to take into consideration that there will be more competition from other venues who would also be scheduling 'big nights' on a Friday/Saturday. The venue will probably be more expensive to hire too, and there will be less drinks promos for your fans (drink prices are something we get asked about a lot, hey folk don't want to be charged 3.50 for a warm can of Red Stripe at a gig!).
So there is something to be said for NOT having your gig on a Friday or Saturday.
If you feel the bands you have are strong enough then just book it on a school night, the fans will still come, although don't be surprised if there are more 'early leavers' than normal.
 Personally we ourselves would avoid Monday and Tuesday though, but that's just us, there are pros and cons for both midweek and weekends, you just have to work out what's best for your particular line up.

3. Remember that time we thought that everyone would want a gig on a national holiday weekend?

'Hey, let's have our punk night on Easter Sunday to see how well it goes, the Monday is a holiday anyway and folk might be wanting to do something different on Easter night!'
That particular idea was one of our worst to be honest and a lesson learned the hard way.
Just because people are off work, doesn't mean they are willing to go out, (to be fair to us a pissing down, cold and windy Glasgow night also kept some bodies at home with their families).
Bank holidays weekends, and national holidays might look attractive for gigs due to people getting a lie-in the next day and thus more likely to hit the town on the previous night, but remember people also have other plans for holidays too...that's why they are called holidays.
Other popular holidays look attractive for gigs too, such as Halloween and New Year, but again remember that the competition will be huge on these nights, so it'll take a lot of work...or deep pockets, to pull off a sell out gig on these nights.

4. Remember how that band thought playing every week was a good idea?

Bands who gig constantly in the one city don't do anyone any favours, (themselves or good promoters) and a few times in the past we have realised that a band who has asked to play one of our showcase gigs, was actually playing the week before it in a venue nearby...and the week after it...and a couple of weeks later too.
Now it might seem a good idea for a band to gig regularly, but doing it in the same city, while always pulling from the same fanbase (no matter how big that fanbase is) just leads to ever diminishing crowds.
While you may get better at what you do, the fans won't be there to appreciate it as there won't be any excitement in coming out to watch you play anymore...who wants to see the exact same show every week?
Try and get bands on the nights who aren't playing in your city that same month, or at the very least a few weeks either side of your own night, that guarantees that the people who want to see that act live come down to your show to do it.
A bigger crowd is better for everyone on the night.
It stops the promoters arse making buttons, stops the venue moaning, and most importantly it gives the bands on the nights a bigger crowd to play to and the chance to pick up more fans for their next gig, which is what it's all about after all.

And now the common sense bit about promotion.

I expect you have all seen people talking about lack of promo leading to no one attending a gig.
Do you know why that is?
It’s because a lack of promotion means no one will come to your gig.
Honestly. That’s it.
It’s not code for something else.
It means that if you don’t cover the bases then the chances of you enjoying a good well supported night is nil.
So if you think that creating a facebook invite page and booking a venue is all you have to do then think again.

1. Posters for online and distributed around the city/town is always a good idea.
Something eye catching that has the basic details on it.
Names of bands, venue, date and cost.
It’s not rocket science.

2. Flyers. Same deal as the posters. Hit the gigs in the lead up to your own and hand them out.

3. Listing sites Use them.

4. Social media. Don’t just use it yourself. In a perfect world every member of every band playing on your night should be sharing links, posters and inviting friends.
They won’t though so be prepared to give a nudge. It’s not as if you are asking them to stand on street corners with a placard.

5. General promotion. Hit up online radio stations, the local press.
All of the above can swell your audience by a solid percentage, and the thing is that f it doesn’t then that’s okay, because no one can accuse you of falling short and not doing what is required.

So there you go.
When to put on a gig, when not to and how to promote a show.

Print it off and pin it to your wall, fold it up and carry it in your wallet.

Do what you want with it, but remember it. 

Joseph Miller - I hope you know

I had the distinct pleasure of being in a very small audience a few weeks ago that enjoyed a performance from Joseph Miller.
While there are so many very talented solo artists earning their stripes in the bars and clubs there is also an element of them all morphing towards delivering a sound that defines them as a group rather than an individual.
So it was refreshing to hear a young man slightly veer away from the folk leaning of his peers and shade his songs with a bit of a country sound.
It's not the country imagery of a Johnny Cash though, but something more modern and partially rooted in the current crop of female artists that dominate the US scene.
It may sound like a strange mix, but live it makes complete sense as Joseph has an asexual tone to his voice that allows him to explore this route, and he does it with a great deal of aplomb.
So it was very nice to get a timely reminder of how much I had enjoyed his set with his video being released today on Youtube.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Ayrshire Calling - Kilmarnock Dirty Weekender

Over the last few months there’s been a great deal of local talk about how realistic it is to deliver original live music events in Ayrshire.
Much of it has been less than positive.
It would be easy to dismiss the naysayer contingent as glass half empty miserablists, but are they really prophets of doom, or merely individuals calmly assessing the landscape and making an honest appraisal?
As usual the truth may lie somewhere between the polar opposites.
If anyone was to lay claim to Ayrshire being bereft of talent or having an audience for it, then that would be a blatant lie, but equally would it be true to say that the area has enough music fans to support anything other than small club sized gigs?

Of course some may point at the sold out Kasabian show in the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock as an example of healthy support for live music in Ayrshire, but does that really hold up to much scrutiny.
This is a band with huge UK wide success, a band who are headlining this years Glastonbury festival, and one who are playing three Scottish venues that are a fraction of the size that they normally would as they want to road test the material from their new album.
The event is as far removed from the norm as we could consider.

I would even question how many tickets were sold to locals?
(Check Gumtree and the like to see how many non-Ayrshire residents are selling tickets)
And even if a great deal were purchased by locals could we then maybe ask ourselves how many of those who did secure a ticket will be attending anything else all year?
Are they the type who seek out new music to listen to, or do they lean more to going to see the big acts in the big venues with their gig going calendar marked off with Hydro and SECC events and an appearance at T in the Park thrown in to pad it out?
In short do they lay down safe, but expensive bets, when considering what entertainment options are out there for them to indulge in?

Basically I am saying Kasabian is an anomaly.
The success of their show says nothing about Ayrshire and everything about the bands pull.

Similarly the recent gigs by The Darkness, Glasvegas and Enter Shikari can’t really be put forward as examples of Ayrshire providing a ready made pool of music fans that can be dipped into either, as all three acts have a pull that extends far beyond the ‘shire itself.

So if we exclude these events then what are we left with?

Would it be fair to state that in general what the Ayrshire public want is karaoke nights, tribute and cover bands playing, and maybe going to see a mate play for a couple of quid in a bar?

Or is that a harsh take on it?

None of this is to say that locally we have no music fans, no one who is willing to take a leap of faith and see what is on offer.
Of course we do.

It’s more to do with asking if we have enough to support anything larger than an event in a club that can hold a couple of hundred.

The answer will probably be provided in a few weeks when the annual Dirty Weekender festival winds down and the organisers consider how much of an artistic and financial success it has been.

The event in its totality already has a rather large mountain to climb.

Apart from the issues mentioned when asking if we have a large enough music fan base to dip into, there has been a run of obstacles to success thrown up that have been beyond the control of MFM who are promoting the event.

Shortly after they announced the dates, and started drip feeding the line up to the public, it was announced that Radio One would be having a three day event on the same weekend in Glasgow featuring everyone from Kate Perry to Kings of Leon.
For a local promoter that is a nightmare announcement, and the thought that the competition couldn’t get any worse must have crossed their minds.
But then it did.
The Kasabian show was announced with their performance being days before the Dirty Weekender kicking off, and then tickets for Prince went on sale for a show in Glasgow the night before the festival.

So in one week what we have is Kasabian followed by Prince and then at the same time as the Dirty Weekender pretty much any chart topper of the last five years playing.

Click on image to enlarge.
It’s a situation that could be described as a David fighting Goliath one, but to be more accurate it’s more like a David forgetting his slingshot and bumping into ten Goliaths who have been drinking all day and fancy a game of football with his head.
The odds are certainly stacked up against the Dirty Weekender, but there is another angle that people in Ayrshire should consider here.
That angle is that if the Dirty Weekender suffers a devastating blow with people failing to provide enough support then it could be the death knell for events of this stature in Ayrshire.

It’s been a long and always uphill trial for MFM to get from its humble roots to where it is now, and all that work hangs in the balance.

Those of us who live in Ayrshire may be about to lose something far more than just a weekend of live music here.
If it goes then so does the 2015 event, and with that hammer blow it will stand as an warning that may put off others trying to make a positive change to.

Do we want that?

I don’t, but I’m bracing myself for not getting what I want.
Only the support of the people of Ayrshire can really turn this around.
I think it’s worth making the effort, if only to secure a future for live music in Ayrshire, but the reality is that it is down to you.
Even if Kasabian, Prince or Radio One weekend tickets have been secured it is worth trying to get to something so that we can all be part of sticking one in the eye of Goliath.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

CJ Wildheart - Down the Drain (Mable pledge campaign)

The pledge campaigns are coming hard and fast from The Wildhearts and Ginger associated acts just now.
The Eureka Machine lads have been at it, Jon Poole had a go, and now he is back with Willie Dowling for a second bite, while CJ has just released this rather nifty video as a taster to the forthcoming Mable album.

You can get on board here.
That's not a recommendation.
It's an order.
Jump to it.