Monthly Archives: July 2010

Blackburn Festival – The Local stage…

On Friday just gone (23 July) we did a small night as part of a new festival in Blackburn, Lancashire. It was a great pleasure. I drove up with Alex Highton and Oh Ruin, and we met Dark Sky Singers up there. More on the bands in a bit.

I have been in touch with James at Playhappy Promotions for some time now, having had She Keeps Bees up there with him before. This here is a man of great taste (naturally) and also the balls to set up a few decent shows in a town which doesn’t see much to shout about. He’s put on shows with Blitzen Trapper, the Fence Collective (King Creosote, Pictish) and many other crackers besides.

The thing with this event is that it’s similar to what we’ve been doing in Rochdale with the Feelgood Festival. It’s an attempt to get some stuff moving which is good and relevant and decent and current and I hope to get up there more. The venue was called Jazzy Keks. Honest.

Alex Highton is my friend who’s been making music for yonks and yet now as a solo dude it all seems to come together. He was excellent and the folks dug it too. Nice. Songs written about his move from the city to the country and about his kids and family. Very Ray Davies/Paul McCartney/Graham Nash.

Oh Ruin is now officially just as excellent on his own as he is with a band (he played at Barbican with band Thursday night last and that ruled). I’d never really seen him do all the bluesy stuff he can do but he did and it was great and again the kids of Blackburn dug it.

Dark Sky Singers is a band you’ll be all clamouring to see in next little while. From Newcastle, and with a bunch of excellent songs and NINE actual people on stage, they’ve a release coming out on Static Caravan soon. Pretty dark and pretty pretty too. Not your usual, and it goes all repetetive and nice. I love it.

Francofolies au revoir

MAN what a decent festival this one is. Right in town, on the port. They say it sold over 80,000 tickets over the week, and adds a whole extra month to the economy of La Rochelle. This is a good model. Loads of sponsorship though, and 26 years in, it’s pretty well established. Bands I have seen since last post are Phoenix, Carmen Marie Vega, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dominique A, Arnaud Fleurent Didier.

All the above were pretty excellent in their ways but I am an absolute sucker for Dominique A. Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant.

Meeting up with the Phoenix guys and reminiscing about our tour in US when I was with Joy Zipper, was nice.

OK, so this one was a quick post. I ought to get better at this the more I do it. Let’s hope so.

Francofolies de la Rochelle

I am very lucky to be here at Francofolies in La Rochelle at the behest of the French Music Office in London. I get to see loads of interesting French artists. But frankly loads of quality and a good distance (not just geographical) from the usual suspects of many a European Festival this summer. You know the drill.

First – as is often the case with things like this – I get to meet a bunch of people I have not yet met from the UK, despite having working with or been in touch a while. So now I count among my friends and in my network Sarah from Cargo, Alex at Curious Generation, Ben from Eurocultured, Kieran the Mojo Journalist, Andy from Jazz Cafe… no doubt more from today.

Second – we get a speed meeting session which we did yesterday, and loads more good work can now be done having put a face to a name. Thanks to the French office for sorting that out.

Third – and should be first – some music. Malicorne played last night and it was one of the best things I have seen in years. They bring all the shadowy atmosphere and mysticism without any suggestion of contrivance. It is clearly a very special event given the talk of not having played together for 29 years and sell out crowd, and the spectacle didn’t disappoint in the least. Some very weird instruments. Some excellent time signatures and phrases you’d only pray for from some of the more up-to-date psyche and freak folk acts. Stunning. Original members have all gone on to do different things now, and one of them – Hughes de Courson – is part of a kind of comedy string quartet, who provided a hilarious interlude. I have to confess to getting tired of some music these days. I have been suitably re-injected with enthusiasm thanks to this show.

Opening was Michel Rivard who used the killer bassist who played the day before with Catherine Major. At first I was not really moved so much but in fact he was excellent. Very witty between songs (I’m the great great grandad of Coeur de Pirate). Given he’s a Canadian,  a kind of North American style of play/delivery (if I even know what I mean). Reminded me of Warren Zevon. But in French.


La Rochdale

I am writing from La Rochelle in France where I’ve been invited to attend the Francofolies festival which starts today. Superb and very exciting, and I get to go for a swim in a bit, ahead of the shows starting. I’ll post updates from this in a bit… first… let me tell you about an event I hosted last Saturday in my hometown of Rochdale.

It was a battle of the bands. Not good. Not competition this music or art, for me anyway. I don’t like having winners and losers at music. It’s one of the things that bothers me most about early evening Saturday TV. The channels laud it as arts TV programming yet they are ALL (without exception) some kind of contest, a winner, and a loser. Not just a celebration of what is good about something. Someone has to win. It’s like the Premier League and all has interrupted everything. Anyhow.

It wasn’t my idea this Battle of the Bands but I accepted it was something the council and organisers of the festival in August I am programming wanted to do. It was also a way of bumping up the amount of locals on the bills for the festival. So with that in mind I thought. Let’s do it.

Glad I am too. In spite of the competition element there was a great atmosphere. Not everyone took it TOO seriously (thankfully) and the quality of the acts was pretty good indeed. Far better than their myspaces (proof of my theory that you have to be good live above all – but that recording is an art worth spending time to master).

Congratulations to all the bands that played and whatever winners there were. I suspect especially in the North West, you’ll be hearing a lot more from all of them. (some of their names are well dodgy mind):

Dead Kestrels – all energy and confidence and powerful

Nonprofitorganisation – noisy and aggressive and singing drummer (always a winner)

Red or Black – Rock n Roll with Eddie Vedder soundalike!

The Mysterons – Morrissey adorers with two seemingly twin brothers and a chick on drums. Moody. Gothy. Would make a decent opening acts for The XX.

Valium Skies – As the name suggest, prog pretentions from the young band. They do a grand job too. (Keyboard player could use another 4 keyboards though). Have made themselves some teeshirts.

Woop Woop! I hope to help out on far more live music events in Rochdale, just not that many more of these naffy competitions please!