Well who’d have thunk it – that YOU are the last Christmas star in this year’s Papal Advent Calendar. And probably some of your mates too. And probably some of their mates as well. Congratulations – you are the vital piece in the bigger scheme of the wonderful world of live music. You’re the fuel, the encouragement, the feedback, the fans and would-be fans, the discoverers of new music, the supporters of what you know, the energy many of the bands feed off, multiply and give back to you. You’re also what venues and promotors rely on because without you, the bigger bands won’t come.
So at this festive time of year I’d like to say a festive Gawd Bless Ya to The Forum for its constant willingness to open its doors to anything from a handful of people to a full house and be a melting pot for bands at the very start of their journey all the way to national and international stars. Then of course there’s Mr Dunton and the Grey Lady Music Lounge which for many bands has also been a first venue to cut their teeth and for many fans, their first experience of new, original music. You can’t mention either of the above with mentioning Unfest and Local & Live, two very different festival approaches to celebrating local original music which the town massively benefits from and which we culturally are hugely blessed by. They will of course be featuring in the Courier’s year review of the town for their services to music, the arts, the cultural richness of the town … ahem ….
And then there’s the powerhouse that is Mr Mark Southgate (Moles Music) who tirelessly works to bring some of the bigger names to the town at the Forum and Assembly Halls, often to a full house. And let’s not forget the powerhouse that is Dan Littlechild and the musical ventures, invariably with a charitable focus, that he and team have brought to the town. There are undoubtedly others and let’s have a mention of the various jam nights that seem to be gaining (again) in popularity … Yes yes yes, and the Ukulele phenomena that is also steadily growing ….
And YOU are vital to the ongoing success of all the above. The fact is with such a diverse range of music available across the town, there will be music you absolutely love and stuff, well, let’s say it might not be your cup of tea. But like it or not, one thing we can all do is share what’s going on with our friends (real people and not not FB friends or Twitter followers) because they might end up really liking something new they had never heard of. As FB gets more and more restrictive about what it does and doesn’t circulate where no money is involved, artists and bands alike are more reliant than ever on us, as past, present and future crowds, passing the word around.
It’s so easy to take for granted what we have and the reality is much of it so often hangs in the balance. We have a part to play in keeping it alive, keeping it healthy and keeping it growing.
So here’s my Papal top tips for 2015 on how we can all play our part.
1. Go out and enjoy some live music.
2. Take the plunge and go and see some bands you’ve never heard of and actually listen to their music and not talk all the way through their set.
3. Why not make an effort to see the support band when there is one? I’ve found on several occasions I’ve enjoyed an unknown support act more than the main well known act.
4. Ask a friend to go with you to a gig you know you’re going to love. Live music is wonderfully infectious and despite the fact WE might know what’s going on, the truth is the abysmal coverage in the local media and the increasingly restrictive practices of FB means that many people don’t have a clue what talent is often right under their noses.
5. As mentioned, spread the word around to the people you know about what’s happening music wise.
6. Maybe take the time to buy a beer for any of the people involved in running the above venues, or promoting the music in our town. And maybe thank them for what they’re doing. Yes I know, for some of them it’s their job but bloody hell, I for one am glad for that they do. And human nature being what it is, it’s all too easy NOT to thank people …
7. When you DO go and have a great evening, buy some music from the band (or some merch!). This is often the main way the band keeps things ticking over financially and hey, even if it means having a beer or two less, you get to keep and enjoy some tunes ….
So very briefly, who’s in the pic and why do I love this photograph?
This is none other than up and coming band Spector (more info HERE) and I love the photo because it captured for me one of the stand out moments of the evening, the regular connection at a very deep level between the band and yes, the crowd. Front man Fred Macpherson worked the crowd fantastically and the give and take between crowd and band was awesome. The connection was electric and there were moments where you could see band and crowd as one. This shot captures that connection in a most intimate way.
What gig will YOU be on the front row of this coming you?