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

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

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

Communication Breakdown

This is a guest post by Jeff Thompson. Jeff is the man behind the Off Axis gig swapping idea that we’ve mentioned on Pierless Music and in The Stinger magazine in the past.

We read this post, agreed with all that Jeff had written and thought it was well worth sharing with you. Thanks to Jeff for letting us do that.

If you are a musician, or a band, looking for gigs and trying to move forward with your music ‘career’, you should read this and act on what is written here.

Hopefully it won’t apply to you, but you may well learn something anyway.

“Next week Off Axis (http://unconventionhub.org/off-axis) heads to Hastings for our first show on the south coast, which we’re really excited about. Once again we have some fantastic artists working together to make opportunities for one another. Things are coming together great, and as ever, we’re spending a lot of our time talking to bands from all across the country.

For this post I wanted to write a little something about my observations recently as I think there could be one or two useful pointers for artists at a particular stage in their career. Over the last year or so that we’ve been communicating with bands there’s something that’s really struck me – how difficult it can be to get in touch with some bands (and this certainly doesn’t apply to ALL bands, but I’m surprised how many it does include).

Anyone who works in the industry will know the struggles of trying to get through to booking agents, festivals, radio producers and so on – it can seem a relentless job getting hold of some people. Of course, people in those roles are usually inundated, and hence getting through to them on email may be a real struggle – your email is just one of hundreds they might receive that day, and if it’s not immediately relevant it could quite easily find itself in the trash without ever being properly read.

What we’re finding with artists though is they fall into two very distinct categories when it comes to communication – i.e. good and not so good. It’s worth pointing out that we’re working with a certain level of artist here – they’re usually experienced, have a good following, and are certainly passionate about what they do. I’ve done a few panels recently (I also run music conferences) about the distinction between being amateur and professional, and when music is more than just a hobby, but at the same time is some way from being a ‘job’. It’s an interesting debate in the music industry – there can be a huge gap between the need (and desire) to commit as much time and effort to making music required to pursue a career (or some level of ‘success;), and indeed the time when that commitment produces any kind of financial return. That in itself I believe has always been the case, the juggling of work commitments and mid week long distance gigs, sneaking out early without the boss noticing in order to make soundcheck, coordinating annual leave to book some studio time – these are things that all bands go through.

Off the back of that debate, another thing we’ve been talking about at recent events is the need to for a common understanding on the ambitions and commitment of band members. Being in a band (as opposed to a solo artist) is a curious position to be in. Each individual member will have his or her own understanding of what being committed means – and if there’s too much variation in that understanding then problems occur – after all, a band is only as strong as it’s weakest link, especially when it comes to taking opportunities. If three of the band are prepared to get out of work early to make that last minute gig offer in London, but the drummer can’t do it because he’s going to the football that night then tensions will occur. Of course, it will happen from time to time, and it can’t be avoided on occasions, but on the whole everyone needs to be in sync. It’s fine if everyone wants to be in a band because they enjoy playing once in a while, and gigs are organised sporadically, and months in advance. If that is clear to everyone, and everyone is happy with that then that is great, and of course in some ways it will determine the progress of the band. On the other hand if you have a band that has decided they are going to put everything in to making things happen – then that is a different commitment and again everyone has to understand and agree to that. Bands (and it can change at different stages of their lifespan) might be either at the ‘hobbyist’ (for want of a better word), or ‘going for it’ (for want of a better phrase) end of the spectrum. Both are great places to be, so long as all of the individual members are agreed on where they’re at.

And of course, back to the point about the definition of amateur versus professional – it’s too simplistic to think that you’re ‘amateur’ until you’re getting paid to do something – the truth is, in order to succeed you need to be ‘professional’ a long time (many years in most cases) before it becomes something you do ‘for a living’. The bands I work with (I also run a label) are as professional and committed, perhaps even more so, than many bigger artists – being a professional musician is determined by your mindset rather than your bank balance.

All of this brings me back to where I started. The bands we are working with on Off Axis are indeed the ones with the professional mindsets and an understanding of their collective commitment and goals. And yet, at times, there still seems to be an issue with communication. I wanted to point out this isn’t just my experience with Off Axis, I also booked bands to play at large events (with crowds in the many thousands), and at other events where there are good fees on offer, and the same issues arise.

Usually I contact bands using the email address on their website or Facebook ‘about’ section. Invariably the address is along the lines of ‘bookings@ourbandname.com’ or ‘bookings@bandname.hotmail.co.uk’. Now that in itself makes sense, again we’ve done many a panel at conferences about the need to portray a professional image, and how davybigbelly82@gmail.com doesn’t always give the right impression to promoters or labels. BUT – the only point of giving the bookings@bandname.hotmail.co.uk address is if you check it regularly! I saw a presentation recently about ‘deadly sins’ of social media where having things like a redundant Twitter account, or a ‘Latest News’ section on a bands website where the last entry was a year ago can be very damaging. Basically, if you’re not going to use something then don’t have it. This is kind of the same thing. Yes, there’s a paradox here – a ‘professional’ email address is a good thing, but it’s useless if it is not actually used. My believe is that in many cases it is because bands are expecting to be proactive rather than reactive – they are expecting to have to chase gigs themselves, rather than getting offers out of the blue sent to them. It may be that they are only expecting to use that address at certain times. Even still, if you set up an account like that, and then display it as your point of contact then this is where opportunities (expected or not) will be directed – and of course it isn’t too tricky to set up on your phone or email software, even if it’s only to receive the occasional message.

As I said at the beginning, there seem to be two kinds of bands. The ones that respond promptly and the ones who don’t. It’s not too tricky to work out who get the most opportunities. I was talking recently to a friend who worked for a national radio station about this very thing and she said she found it the same. She would find a contact online for a band, usually for a fairly last minute, but significant opportunity, and often wouldn’t even get a reply, or if she did it would be a week later, and of course those kinds of opportunities go elsewhere pretty swiftly.

Anyway, the way it usually goes with these kinds of emails is I send some information about an opportunity to the bookings@myband type address. I wait a few days (thinking the band are probably just ringing round to check availability – that always has to happen). Then nothing. Then, I’ll try following up on the bands Facebook (I don’t imagine many promoters would bother). Often this works, and as a result of course, Facebook is now often my first (although not preferred) port of call. The response on Facebook will often be along the lines of, ‘wow, this sounds great, we’ll check our email’, or ‘wow, this sounds great, can you resend the info to my davybigbelly82@gmail.com address’. Sometimes a message to the bands Facebook also doesn’t solicit a response – usually the last post on there is weeks old. In this case, I’ll try and find the personal Facebook of one of the band members (I imagine even less promoters would go to that effort), and usually that gets a response – again along the lines of ‘wow, this sounds great! Sorry, I haven’t checked the bands email in a while, can you resend the info to my davybigbelly82@gmail.com address’. You get the idea. In fact sometimes that doesn’t work (after all Facebook isn’t the keeper of all human communication yet) and I have to track down a band that I know have played with the band recently to see if they have a number. Phone numbers almost always work for getting an immediate response. People seem to act on a text or a phone call in a way they don’t to an email or Facebook message.

As a result, we’re tentatively looking into introducing SMS into Off Axis (although it incurs overheads we’d rather avoid), but for now, and a much better solution, we’re asking the artists we’re working with to give us email addresses they actually use and check (sounds obvious, but there’s a learning curve there). We would rather have the davybigbelly82@gmail.com address, over the ‘band account’ that’s gathering dust on a server somewhere.

When bands register they get this message:

Email Address (IMPORTANT PLEASE READ) The Off Axis site will send you notifications via email. Please provide an email address that is checked regularly to ensure you can respond to gig requests promptly – only use your ‘gigs@bandname.com’ type address if it is one that is checked on a regular basis – otherwise please supply an appropriate personal / work address.

As I say, it seems simple enough, but it’s vital for what we’re doing.

Anyway, what’s the moral of this story?

Well, if you’re a musician you may have read numerous ideas about how to find ‘success’ in music. Of course, that discussion starts with a definition of ‘success in music’ – that’s another blog post – but on the whole they cover things like, first and foremost be brilliant, write great songs, be unique, build relationships and networks (I wrote a blog recently about networking), find your super fans, and all these kinds of ideas. I want to add two more points to that list:

1) Successful bands have a common understanding of their commitment and goals

2) They answer emails in good time

And of course the flipside of all this is there are certain bands who are brilliant at responding to stuff. They often reply to emails within minutes (often just to say, thanks for the opportunity, I’ll just check with the rest of the guys tonight and let you know tomorrow – that kind of thing) – but that simple level of communication is priceless. I have a list of bands in my head (and the friend from the radio station said the same) that I know will get back to me promptly, and whether they realise it or not that fact alone has led to me offering them countless opportunities.

So check those accounts, you may have been offered a ton of gigs and radio sessions that you knew nothing about.

And if you want to drop me a line about this blog you can get me at jeff@unconventionhub.org – I promise a prompt response!

Jeff Thompson”

This post originally appeared on The Hub and we thank them for allowing us to share it. Find The Hub at: http://thehubuk.com/

Showcase @ The Forum

If you’ve read the latest issue of The Stinger magazine, you will have seen the feature about The Forum, in Tunbridge Wells. If not, follow this link:

http://www.thestinger.org.uk/article/545a57ed568463a4058f0260#.VFteQYdwYvo

In the feature The Forum’s new Showcase gig nights are mentioned, with details about how bands can get involved, even if they’re from the Hastings area and also what Showcase is all about.

Well, the first of the Showcase gigs is taking place on Thursday, 13th November 2014 and we’re very pleased to say that two Hastings based bands are part of the inaugural line up. The two bands are Kid Kapichi and Follow.

Well done to them for making up 50% of the line up. That’s pretty impressive as I’m sure there have been many bands, from across the South East, applying to play these Showcase gigs.

If you fancy going along to support our local bands, have a look at the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/316732041848993/

The reason The Stinger featured a venue such as The Forum in the first place was because of its reputation as a live venue and because of the amazing bands that they’ve put on in the past and continue to host now.

But, The Forum are also very keen on helping to promote new, up and coming, bands from the Kent and Sussex area. For example, the venue was a big supporter of Slaves in their early days and helped to kickstart their blossoming career.

So, why not get involved yourself and apply to play a future Showcase gig there?

Details on how to apply are within The Stinger’s feature, linked above and also via The Forum’s website: http://www.twforum.co.uk/

What have you got to lose? And who knows what you may gain from applying?

Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou

There have been many instances of musicians moving to the Hastings area in recent years. In fact I heard of another well known name, who’s just moved here, only the other day. I’ll leave you in suspense as to who it is….

One act who do now call St Leonards On Sea their home are husband and wife duo Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou. Having said that, they don’t seem to spend a lot of time in their new hometown, as they’ve been touring almost non-stop, with more dates to come in the near future.
In fact they have, literally, just returned from a tour of the USA and Europe with Tori Amos.

In October they go out on tour again, this time in the UK, supporting Danny and The Champions of the World.

If you want to see and hear why they are in such demand as a support act, they have a hometown gig this Sunday, 31st August at the Masonic Hall in St Leonards On Sea. On this occasion they will be the main act, supported by Dan Whitehouse.
I’ve not see Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou live myself, so will certainly be there for this gig. I did however play tracks from their 2012 album ‘La Ferme De Fontenaille’ on both Hastings Rock and Carnival FM recently and can heartily recommend that.

If all the musicians who decide to move to our area are in same class as Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou, I say keep ‘em coming.

Andy Gunton.

Stallion – Back In The Saddle

You wait 30 years for a gig by local prog-rockers Stallion and then two come along within the space of 9 months.

We wrote about Stallion here at Pierless Music back in August of last year, just before their comeback gig at the Big Green Cardigan Festival: http://pierlessmusic.co.uk/stallion-ride-again/

I was lucky enough to be at that gig and very good it was too. Obviously Stallion themselves must have enjoyed it as well, as they return for another gig this Friday, 11th April at The Carlisle, in Hastings.

Here’s the Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1389746621247897/

So, if you missed, or were unable to attend, that comeback gig, this time it’s all happening rather closer to home. It’s free entry too.

Keyboard player Phil Thornton told Pierless Music, “To play in Hastings again, the bands hometown, is a dream long overdue. It will indeed be a special occasion”. I’m sure many of the bands fans from back in the 1970′s feel the same way.

If you don’t know Stallion, or maybe you’re a bit too young to remember them first time around, here’s a video shot at that Big Green Cardigan Festival gig last year:

Friday’s gig is being billed as a one-off event once again. But I’m told that the gig is being both recorded and filmed, which rather suggests that Stallion mean business and that more gigs are on the cards. I have also been reliably informed that the band are even writing new material together.

I’m sure all of this is very welcome news to Stallion’s many fans from yesterday. And who knows, after Friday’s gig maybe there will some new converts?

Here’s the Stallion line-up for the upcoming gig:

Julian Carter – Vocals and Guitar                                                                                     Phil Thornton – Keyboards                                                                                            John Petri – Guitar                                                                                                           Phil Gill – Bass Guitar                                                                                                    Miles Gill – Drums

SXSE 2014 – A Judges View

A musical recipe.

Take one stage, seven bands, five and a half hours of music, four judges, two sound engineers, several photographers, and countless enthusiastic observers.

Add one pre event band break up, and one last minute replacement act.

Mix all those ingredients together in The Union Bar, and you get SXSE (South by South East), supported by The Stinger magazine. Just one of the many events that took place over the weekend of Hastings Fat Tuesday 2014.

All seven bands were competing to fill the prestigious final slot on the Fat Tuesday Tour, which would see the ‘winners’ play three gigs, in three different venues, over the course of one evening.

First up were The Piercings, who various judges said reminded them of both The Housemartins, and The Lightning Seeds. Not a bad thing.

They were closely followed by Great Snakes, another of the recent surge in guitar and drums duo’s. Passion, energy and solid drumming.

To showcase the variety of the acts, next was Tom Cole, who was described as a ‘1960’s style protest singer’ by one judge. Good guitar work and a nice rapport with the audience too.

At this point, it is worth mentioning that the acts were judged on three main criteria. Musicianship and Tightness, Lyrics and Melody, Stage Presence and Charisma. All acts were given a maximum of ten marks for each category. They also had a twenty minute time slot.

Next, and upping the ante, were Wax. A tight quartet with an 80’s feel, sound effects, and even electric drum pads. Stage presence, and a sound described by one judge, and not in a bad way either, as ‘The Pet Shop Boys with guitars’.

Keeping up the quality were Irie Method, another quartet playing what they call ‘Skindie’ (Ska and Indie). Lively, fun, catchy and with audience participation, these guys got the toes tapping.

Last minute replacements Xup Sup got the house rocking. Tight, energetic pop-punk, a phenomenal drummer, and a great cover of ’99 Red Balloons’. One judge said ‘Xup Sup would not be out of place on a bill with the likes of Green Day, or Blink 182’. Praise indeed.

And so to the final act, Riddles. An air of expectation was apparent and they certainly didn’t disappoint. A trio creating a tight, intense, relentless (in a good way) sound, not unlike Hawkwind, this was a perfect way to end a musically rich afternoon. Half the judging panel said Riddles were the band they would personally choose to go and see again tomorrow.

But, there could only be one ‘winner’. There were several contenders, and no clear front runner. Advice was sought on exactly what was being voting for. Was it the best band on the day, the act with the most potential, or (as it turned out to be) the most suitable band for the Fat Tuesday Tour.

Any one of those options would probably have produced a different result. But, after much debate, Irie Method were invited to play the Fat Tuesday Tour, and by all accounts did SXSE proud.

It’s a bit of a cliche I know, but on the day local music was the winner.

The judges were very impressed with the quality of both the bands and the musicianship.

Unique among the judges, I’d seen most of the acts before, and thought I knew what to expect. But even I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of the music, and the performances on the day.

That can only be a good thing.

(All photo’s by John Powell: http://www.johnnypowell.net/)

More Local Music Videos

Here are two more local music videos for you to feast your eyes upon.

First up are a brand new band who are already causing a bit of a stir, Riddles. They describe themselves as a “Garage psych rock n roll trio”.

This video of their song ‘Psychedelic Power Engine Iron Claw Thunder Mistress’ was produced by Pierless Music’s very own Richard Lock.

If you enjoyed that, Richard also filmed and edited a video from the first ever gig by Riddles, at The Union Bar in December. You can find that here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS32fnpFe8k

By contrast here is the new video, directed by Theo Watkins, from local popsters Dorey The Wise. It’s called ‘Love Games’.

Don’t forget to let us know if you spot, or produce any new local music videos. Thanks.

It’s Here

The all new Pierless Music Gig Guide has arrived and can be found here:

http://pierlessmusic.co.uk/calendar/

Thanks to all of those who have already sent in their gig details. But, as you can see, we are still missing many more.

If we don’t know about your gig, we can’t include it in our Gig Guide. So please help us by telling your friends, band members and local venues about us, thanks.

To submit your gig, whether you are a band, venue or promoter, send the gig details to: gigs@pierlessmusic.co.uk

We have been having a few issues with how the Gig Guide displays, so please bear with us if things don’t look quite as they should.

Happy New Year and here’s to an exciting 2014.

Photo courtesy of Nastassja Kaschevsky – Movietex.