Gig Review – John Butler Trio – De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill

As you’re no doubt already aware, we don’t normally publish gig reviews of acts from outside of our local catchment area, but this is an exception.

We are currently having a few issues with The Stinger’s website, so to save delaying posting this review any longer, I decided to share it here.

So, without further ado, here’s my review of the John Butler Trio playing at De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, on Saturday 15th August 2015:

I’m sure the reaction of many friends of those attending last night’s John Butler Trio gig at the De La Warr Pavilion, in Bexhill, when told who they were going to see, was “Who?”

It’s fair to say that the Australian band aren’t very well known in the UK, but it did mean that just about everybody in the sizable audience were there for the right reasons. This was an audience of fans and fanatics, a fact borne out by this being one of the most enthusiastic audiences I’ve ever come across.

Preaching to the converted maybe, but to a relative newcomer to the delights the John Butler Trio like myself, this was a performance that showed exactly why those fans were here and why they are so enthusiastic.

For the uninitiated, the John Butler Trio play a rootsy musical melting pot of styles and genres, from rock to folk, with stops at reggae, funk, blues and more along the way. Formed in Western Australian in 1998, they are currently touring to support their sixth studio album “Flesh and Blood”, which was released last year.

John Butler himself is a virtuoso guitarist and banjo player, something he displayed to great effect during the two hour show. He was very ably assisted by fellow band members Grant Gerathy (drums, vocals and percussion) and Byron Kuiters (bass, double bass, vocals and keyboards).

I did hear a comment when leaving the gig afterwards saying that “he did drag the songs out a bit”. A fair point maybe, but when you have the musical ability of these guys and many of the songs in the set build in intensity and then maintain that for those extra minutes, as these did, that is forgivable and I don’t think many were complaining about that.

In fact, intensity is the one word I would use to sum up this gig. There may not have been a genuine hit single in sight, but that didn’t stop this, admittedly, biased crowd singing and dancing along throughout, and the band playing their hearts out as well.

John Butler is very much a musician’s musician and songwriter and he attracted a fair sprinkling of fellow players to this gig. His solo, acoustic rendition of “Ocean”, which lasted over 10 minutes, was just one shining example of why he is so well respected in the musical community. Just search on YouTube for a great video performance of the song.

A quick mention should also be made of the excellent lighting during the show and also the fact that this was standing gig, downstairs at least, something that always seems to add an extra level of atmosphere to a gig. Every little helps.

As an Australian friend of mine commented on my Facebook post, stating that I was at the gig, I was very lucky to see the John Butler Trio in Bexhill. I think that is a sentiment shared by everyone who was fortunate enough to have been present at the De La Warr Pavilion on Saturday evening.

Well done to the De La Warr also, for booking relatively unknown acts such as the John Butler Trio, and possibly taking a chance in doing so too. It certainly proved well worth while on this occasion and will no doubt do so in the future as well. Build it and they will come.

Andy Gunton

First Impressions Last

I’m in the lucky position of being a DJ on two local radio stations, Hastings Rock and Carnival FM, both of which only broadcast for a limited period every year. It’s something that I love doing.

A lot of what I play on both of those stations is new music and usually locally sourced as well. This has put me onto the radar for original bands from across the UK and even further afield too, especially because of Hastings Rock.

It’s a nice position to me in and I’m certainly not complaining about that, as I get to hear new music from all over, a lot of it very good. But there is one frustrating aspect to this and an example happened again today.

I get regular emails and the occasional phone call from bands and PR companies etc because my contact details are on the Hastings Rock website. But that website also clearly states the broadcast dates for the radio station, in fact that information is on the Home page, whereas those contact details aren’t.

So when I get an email, or a phone call as happened today, asking if I can play a particular new act as they have a new track being released, or interview the PR companies new rising stars on my show because they are playing a gig near Hastings in the near future, you’d think they would have checked to see whether the radio station was actually on the air at the time wouldn’t you?

While it is easier to forgive the sending of a blanket email, which is probably sent to radio stations and DJ’s across the UK, receiving a personal phone call from somebody representing a band is another thing entirely.

I know it is only a minor inconvenience for me, but doing a bit of basic research before you contact somebody you’re hoping to get interested in your band isn’t a bad idea. Especially when the relevant information is so readily available.

If you’re in a band, wherever you’re based, and you’re after airplay on a particular radio station or show, or you’re looking to be interviewed about that upcoming gig in a new town, then do your research first.

If you don’t do that initial research and you fail to notice that the radio station isn’t on the air, or you get the name of the station or DJ wrong, or you send a Rock track to a Jazz station, etc etc, you are not going to make a very good impression.

If you don’t get the basics right, the person or station you’ve contacted are going to be far less likely to give you the chance you’re looking for.

A person I used to work with once said to me, “first impressions last”. It’s something I’ve always tried to remember myself and I now know exactly what they meant.

Sometimes you only get one shot at making the right impression. So why not make sure you get it right?

Andy Gunton.

2015 RNLI Hastings Beach Concerts

Rumours of its demise have, thankfully, been rather premature because the annual RNLI Hastings Beach Concerts are going ahead in 2015 after all, albeit in a slightly different location.

This year the Beach Concerts are taking place on the Stade Open Space in Hastings. They will also be held at their traditional time, the opening weekend of Hastings Old Town Carnival Week. This year that will be on Saturday, 1st and Sunday, 2nd August.

The confirmed line ups for each day are as follows -

Saturday, 1st August:

2.00 – 2.45: Doghouse
3.15 – 3.45: Titus
4.15 – 5.00: Dr Savage
5.30 – 6.15: Highway
6.45 – 8.00: 1066 Rockitmen

Sunday, 2nd August:

2.00 – 2.30: Sean Fennessey and Friends
3.00 – 3.45: The Kytes
4.15 – 5.00: The Cajun Dawgs
5.30 – 7.00: The Blues Bros Show

The 2015 Beach Concerts have been arranged by Mike Raxworthy, who told me, “I’m putting on the music, staging and the sound, working in conjunction with the Old Town Traders Association who have been raising the money through sponsors in and around Hastings Old Town.

We are doing our own bar, and our own BBQ at very special prices, so we can plough absolutely every penny of the profit into the charity pot. We will also be selling candy floss and popcorn.

Mike added. “It’s a free concert, as usual, but we will have ‘Bucketeers’ circulating throughout the day. We are also selling t-shirts featuring our poster design at only £10….on sale from July 1st in some pubs and shops around the Old Town.”

So why the change of venue?

Well, it all comes down to work being done around the Lifeboat Station itself, which means that that area is unable to be used at present. It is hoped that the Beach Concerts can return to their ‘home’ once again in 2016.

In the meantime, lets hope for some sunny Hastings type weather for that weekend and indeed for the whole of Old Town Carnival Week.

I’m sure you’d all join me in saying well done to Mike Raxworthy, the Old Town Traders Association and the rest of the team for rescuing this event for 2015 and for all their hard work in doing so.

Enjoy the gigs, but don’t forget to put some money in the buckets, it’s for a very worthy cause after all.

PS: The organisers of the Beach Concert are looking for volunteer marshalls for both days. If you can help, please contact them via the new Facebook event page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hastings-Free-Beach-Concert/695268400595809

Local Music Shows on Mixcloud

You can now listen again to the four Local Music Shows that I presented for this years Hastings Rock radio broadcast, in May 2015.

All four shows, minus the adverts, have been uploaded to the Hastings Rock Mixcloud site, which you can find here: https://www.mixcloud.com/HastingsRock/

A full tracklist is provided for each of the shows.

These podcasts can only be streamed and not downloaded, this is to help protect the artists original work.

Other shows from the 2015 Hastings Rock radio broadcast are also available to be listened to again, via the same Mixcloud site.

Here’s the fourth and final Local Music Show, to help whet your musical appetite. Enjoy.

Local Music Show 4 – Hastings Rock 2015 by Hastings Rock on Mixcloud

Play at the Big Green Cardigan Festival 2015

Does your band, or act, fancy playing at a local festival in September? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then read on.

The Big Green Cardigan Festival, which takes place on the weekend of 4-6th September, are looking for original local acts to grace their stage.

Here’s what they told us:

“The Big Green Cardigan are proudly announcing the launch of a competition for up and coming and under the radar musicians, bands and performers to play at their festival in East Sussex, this September.

Entries are welcome and encouraged from all areas of the community, but emphasis will be on supporting local talent.

The competition opens on Monday 1st June and runs for two weeks.

To enter – bands and musicians simply post your music, or performance, to the Festivals Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TBGCardigan, sharing a Soundcloud (www.soundcloud.com), or YouTube (www.youtube.com) link to one of your songs.Then, please invite your friends to like and share those links.

The Festival are looking for original material please, rather than cover versions. 

The general public can also nominate acts, and provided the performer/band in question is happy to participate, they will be included in the competition!
 
All entrants need to be free the weekend of the 4th, 5th, 6th September 2015.

Small print:

Entrants are to travel to and from the festival site themselves; the winning entry will obtain tickets for the entire festival weekend plus a performance slot.They will also win a ‘rider’ courtesy of Langham Brewery; a case of their award winning ales.

All applicants must be over the age of 18.

Winning disabled applicants will also win an adult ticket to support or supervise their participation (discounts will also be available for additional adults and family members).

The winning entrant will be chosen by the festival organisers.”

The Big Green Cardigan Festival is held at a site on Hawkhurst Road, Cripps Corner, E Sussex, TN32 5SA.

More info can be found on the Festivals website: www.biggreencardigan.com

Entries close on Monday, 15th June 2015.

On The Road

A friend of mine shared the post below with me a few days ago.

It is called “Roadies – Unlikely Survivors In The Music Industry” and was originally published in the Wall Street Journal, not your average rock ‘n’ roll publication!

Although it’s not strictly about musicians, it is about a part of the music industry that even more people may be able to get into, maybe without realising it?

Roadies are often thought of as a bit of a figure of fun, but reading this post may make you see them in a different light, especially when you see how much they can earn per year. Yes, these may be figures from the USA, but road crew are used across the world and in ever increasing numbers too.

As mentioned in the post, touring is now an even more important part of any bands career than in the past, mainly because it’s often the best way for an act to make any money. After all record/CD and even download sales don’t exactly set any musicians bank manager wild with delight these days do they?

Another often missed aspect of a roadies world is that it’s not all about humping amps and drum kits from a truck to a stage anymore. Technology and stage shows have moved on and the skills needed and careers available are now a world away from what they were in the 1960′s and 70′s.

So, even if you’re not a musician, but quite fancy a life on the road with a band, take a look at this post. Maybe you are missing your vocation in life, or maybe you have skills that can be used to help get that show on the road, but you just never realised it?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/roadies-unlikely-survivors-in-the-music-business-1426780184

Photo by tgraham on Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Local Musical Meet Up?

Part of the recent Hastings Fat Tuesday celebrations was a two day music seminar/conference called Un-Convention, which was held over two days at St Mary In The Castle.

This was the 73rd Un-Convention event and the first to be held in the South East of the UK, that’s quite a coup. Musicians, promoters, writers, movers and shakers travelled from as far as Manchester to take part and share their own personal stories, experiences and wisdom to an engaged audience.

You can still see the aganda for the two days here, just in case you want to know what you may have missed: http://www.hastingsfattuesday.co.uk/2015/un-convention/

One of the panels was titled ‘Local Scenes – Collaboration, Co-Operations and Making It Happen’, which I chaired, and was focussed on the current music scene in Hastings, with the panellists sharing their observations of local music scenes across the UK, all with a view to attempting to see how Hastings can learn from those towns and cities and move forward itself.

One idea that came out of that session was the setting up an informal regular meet up of interested parties, whether they be musicians, promoters, venue owners, producers etc etc…

Past Un-Convention events have encouraged this idea, as getting all those people together in a room, in an informal way, can help cement and grow a local music scene. Something that Pierless Music, Fat Tuesday and The Stinger magazine are very keen to do.

On the day, people in the audience thought that a regular meet up was a good idea and that they would support it. But what about you?

Is this something that you would want to get involved with and how should we go about it? The initial suggestions is for a monthly meeting, maybe on a quieter Monday evening, in a local hostelry.

If that sounds like something you would go to, please let us know by sending an email, and any suggestions, to: contact@pierlessmusic.co.uk

As some of you may already be aware, Hastings Borough Council hosted a meeting recently all about the local music scene here in Hastings, as a part of their cultural policy.

Although this was very well attended, and the suggestion of a regular meeting was raised, many in the audience felt that any such meet up should be independent of any ‘official’ involvement. Hence why we are suggesting this idea of our own now.

Here’s your chance to get involved with the local music scene in Hastings, put your suggestions and ideas forward and maybe help make that scene even bigger and better than what it already is.

After all a collective voice is far better and more effective than a lone one.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Off Axis – Fat Tuesday

(Updated 12.02.2015)

This years Hastings Fat Tuesday celebrations have several new additions to the already hectic schedule and Off Axis is just one of them.

But what is Off Axis and what can you expect to see and hear?

We have mentioned the Off Axis idea on Pierless Music before, as you can read here:

http://pierlessmusic.co.uk/off-axis-with-dorey-the-wise/

The aims of Off Axis are to “help bands to connect together and build audiences and networks across the UK”. That’s something that appeals to us here at Pierless Music and the Fat Tuesday team as well, hence getting them involved with this years festival.

You can out more and get involved here: http://offaxisnetwork.com/

This year there will be a dedicated Off Axis event at The Carlisle, on Sunday 15th February. A total of 12 bands will be playing 20 minute sets, upstairs and downstairs.

The acts are coming from as far afield as Bristol, Kent, Brighton and even Rouen in France. There will also be some local favourites to see too.

Here is a list of acts and proposed stage times (subject to change):

1.30pm: WAX – (Downstairs)

2pm: Joe Corbin – (Upstairs)

2.30pm: Native People – (Downstairs)

3pm: Follow – (Upstairs)

3.30pm: A Billion Lions – (Downstairs)

4pm: Of Empires – (Upstairs)

4.30pm: Less Than Worse – (Downstairs)

5pm: Dorey The Wise – (Upstairs)

5.30pm: Kid Kapichi – (Downstairs)

6pm: The Scruff – (Upstairs)

6.30pm: Candela – (Downstairs)

7pm: Lascaux – (Upstairs)

For more info about the bands and the event, visit the Fat Tuesday website:

http://www.hastingsfattuesday.co.uk/2015/sunday/#off_axis

I Want Your Music

I’ve just read that the application to enable Hastings Rock radio station to return in 2015 is just about to be sent off. That’s great news.

What that means is that it is now time for me to start collecting together new local music for potential airplay during their broadcast. I already have some good tracks in my database, but there’s always room for more.

Apart from tracks to include on my own Local Music Show, I also sort out the local music that is used on Hastings Rock’s ‘A List’ Playlist. These tracks are played regularly throughout the broadcast, alongside all the new releases and album tracks from more established artists.

So, how can you get your music considered for airplay? Well the usual rules apply:

1 – Music must be original material. No cover versions please, they won’t be played.

2 – All songs must be of broadcastable quality and include NO swearing.

3 – Artists must be from the Hastings Rock broadcast area. That is Rye to Eastbourne and inland as far as approx Hurst Green. I may play music from places as far afield as Brighton, Ashford and Tunbridge Wells etc, if space and time allows.

4 – All songs must be on CD, or mp3. A good biog is also very useful.

5 – Your music doesn’t have to be ‘Rock’. I do push the musical boundaries, within reason, during the Local Music Shows, so other genre’s will be considered.

6 – There is no guarantee that your music will be played.

If you think you fit the bill, email me at: andygunton@hotmail.com

One more thing to add. I can’t do interviews, or live sessions, during the Local Music Shows, so please don’t ask.

By the way, Hastings Rock is pencilled in to run between Saturday 2nd and Friday 29th May 2015. Stay tuned for more news.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Andy

The Stinger – Issue 6

It doesn’t seem possible, but The Stinger is celebrating a year in print with the publishing of its 6th Issue, which hit the streets at the weekend. Happy birthday to them.

As you can see from this cover image, you can’t miss it!

Apart from the now usual features and news items, this bumper 64 page birthday edition contains a full programme to this years Fat Tuesday festivities in Hastings and St Leonards, between 13-17th February.

There are a few new events planned for this year, as well as all the old favourites. So check out The Stinger and also have a look at the official Hastings Fat Tuesday website for more details and updates: http://www.hastingsfattuesday.co.uk/2015/

Let the good times roll.