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

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.

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.

Calling All Local Acts.

Our colleagues over at The Stinger magazine have just announced a great opportunity for two separate local acts.

This involves grants they have been given by the Hastings Foreshore Trust which will enable The Stinger to help two lucky applicants.

Here’s what they told us:

One of the primary aspirations of The Stinger Magazine is to help deserving, hard-working local acts, by mentoring fledgling music projects through the initial development and recording process and promoting more established acts outside of the region and across the UK and Europe.
We are therefore delighted to announce that The Hastings Foreshore Trust have kindly awarded us a grant in order to support two unsigned local music acts. This fund will be split into equal parts in order to support two separate acts at different stages of development.

Core Development Fund: The exact nature of the support to be provided will depend on the needs of the act that is chosen, but in principle this will include: the recording, mixing and mastering of at least one song under the guidance of a professional producer; assistance in producing a music video in order to promote the song(s); the production of an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) and general support and advice with branding, website and social media development.

Concert & Touring Fund: The second half of the fund will be used to support a more established local act with a proven track record in live performance. The chosen band will be helped to coordinate and promote a series of UK and possibly (northern) Europe live dates. We will assist with the scheduling, promotion and logistic costs (travel, accommodation and general expenses), and provide an experienced tour manager.

In order to be chosen, you will need to prove that as well as being talented, you are ambitious and determined, which will need to be fully demonstrated during the application process, in order to satisfy the Submissions Panel and The Hastings Foreshore Trust, that the money has been wisely spent.

Applications for the grants close at midnight on 6th January 2015 and the ‘winners’ will be announced in the next issue of The Stinger magazine, due in mid January

Full details about the grants and how you can apply can be found here:

http://www.thestinger.org.uk/mentoring

Best of luck with your application.

Touring – Two Views

One of the main reasons that Pierless Music exists is to try and help local acts get out of the Hastings area and into the wider musical world.

There are, of course, several different ways in which this could happen. It might be via a video posted on YouTube, hence why we’re happy to showcase those videos when we can.

Then there’s the chance of an act’s music being played on a radio station, either local, national or international.

But, another main way by which a band starts to attract new fans is by touring. Many local bands play one off gigs in places such as Brighton, or London. But not that many venture further afield, playing several gigs in a row – a tour. Once again, there are a number of reasons for this.

Some bands are happy to stay local, but others are more ambitious and want to expose their music to a wider audience, hopefully kickstarting a musical career as they go.

Even if you are ambitious, there are still obstacles to overcome, before you can get out ‘on the road’.

We have come across two blog posts that highlight some of those obstacles, both for a band starting out and also one a bit higher up the pecking order, but still taking the DIY approach, which is what you’re likely to be doing.

The first is from a very good UK based website called Sentric Music. They often have very relevant, useful information and blog posts, including this one. It is a part of their ‘Fund Your Future’ series of posts and is called ‘Ask the Tour Manager’.

In it an experienced tour manager answers seven questions about touring, which are especially relevant to a band starting out, taking that DIY approach. It’s well worth a read if your band is thinking of gigging further afield:

http://www.sentricmusic.com/blog/2014/november/26/ask-the-tour-manager/

The second post is by the American band Pomplamoose. In it they explain how they went about booking and playing a recent 28 day tour of the USA.

As mentioned earlier, they are a more established band, playing to 1,100 fans at the Fillmore in San Francisco for example. This is obviously a USA centric post, but we feel it is still very relevant and an interesting, eye-opening read as well.

The post is written by one of the band. See what you think:

https://medium.com/@jackconte/pomplamoose-2014-tour-profits-67435851ba37

If this has whetted your appetite for playing gigs outsdie of Hastings, then we may be able to help you. The Stinger magazine will shortly be announcing some exciting news for both new and more established acts in the Hastings and St Leonards area.

Part of this will involve helping one act to get out ‘on the road’. More details will be revealed shortly, so keep your eyes peeled.

Yet More Local Music Videos

If you’ve seen the latest issue of The Stinger magazine, you may well have read in the Local News section about some upcoming new releases from a couple of our bands.

Well, two of the music videos for those releases have now appeared on YouTube.

The first of these is the new single from Skinny Lister called ‘Trouble On Oxford Street’. The song is taken from their album ‘Down On Deptford Broadway’, which is scheduled for release on 20th April 2015, on Xtra Mile Recordings.

Find out more about Skinny Lister here: http://skinnylister.com/

Next up are Hornet, who are back with a new video and a new sound as well. This new track, ‘Cry Wolf’, is taken from a forthcoming EP, due out in 2015. Currently, this is the only way that you can hear ‘Cry Wolf’, so get watching.

Find out more about Hornet here: http://www.hornetrock.com/

Two great examples of the diversity of the local music scene in Hastings, I think you’ll agree?

We’re looking forward to hearing both new releases in full.

Off Axis with Dorey The Wise

Another Stinger related post, or maybe it’s just that the magazine times these things well?

This Friday, 14th November at Flairz in Hastings, the first Off Axis gig in the South East takes place.

Headliners are Dorey the Wise who were featured in the latest issue of The Stinger and who played an Off Axis gig themselves recently in Chester. Read that article here:

http://www.thestinger.org.uk/article/545b7740568463a4058f0264#.VF-krIdwYvo

For the uninitiated, Off Axis is a new and exciting gig swap idea which allows bands from across the country to play gigs to potential new fans, outside of their own local area.

Off Axis is an idea that is fully supported by Pierless Music, The Stinger and also Hastings Fat Tuesday. The Stinger has already covered Off Axis in the magazine and we hope to be working closely with the Off Axis team in the near future.

We’d certainly urge Hastings based bands to get involved, as its free to sign up. For more information about Off Axis follow this link:

http://livemusicexchange.org/blog/un-convention-off-axis-network-jeff-thompson/

Dorey The Wise are currently enjoying some great exposure. The band recently released a new single ‘Brave New Light’, which has come to the attention of Amazing Radio DJ, Charlie Ashcroft, who said “I absolutely love it, (it’s) one of those tracks that seems to have a certain Britishness to it, a track that’s impressed a lot of us in the Amazing Radio office.”

‘Brave New Light’ was also played on BBC Introducing: The South, last Saturday. You can hear that show via this link. Dorey The Wise are played around the 10 minute mark:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p029rn16

Support acts for this Off Axis gig are a new local band, Follow and The Floodgates, who hail from the Tunbridge Wells area.

It promises to be a great gig, hopefully we’ll see you there?

(Dorey The Wise photo by Pat Pope: http://www.patpope.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?

Keep Hastings Weird!

As you may well know, Pierless Music has connections with The Stinger magazine, which is soon to bring out its 5th issue.

Well, here’s a post that was written for that 5th issue, but which got squeezed out in the final editing process. We thought we’d share it with you here, as we felt it would be a pity to ‘waste’ it.

So, here you go:

“As we’ve been trying to reach out to the local music scene’s in other areas, via The Stinger magazine, a not too surprising realisation has come to me.
We really are spoilt for choice, both musically and culturally, in the Hastings area. I’m sure many of you are now thinking, “we knew that already Andy”. I know, but please bare with me.

I’ve only got to think back to all of the festivals and events that The Stinger has previewed during our first five issues to reinforce that. We haven’t covered everything either, as some events haven’t fallen right for our publication dates.
And the sheer breadth of all these events is quite something too. From Blues to Jazz, from Sea Shanties to Seafood and Wine, from Beach Concerts to Beer Festivals, there really is something for everyone in this town.

In this issue (Issue 5, out very soon) we are covering the local music scene (specifically The Forum) in Tunbridge Wells, a town of around 100,000 people. Yes, Tunbridge Wells houses one of the best live music venues in the country, The Forum itself, a venue we’re very lucky to have on our relative doorstep. The town also has an annual mini music festival called ‘Local and Live’ and some other regular music venues too, but there appears to be nothing that compares to the variety and amount of events that we can boast here (I’m very happy to be corrected on this point by the way, if somebody knows better)

Another aspect is the amount of musicians, bands and acts that live and perform in Hastings. As we all know, every night of the week there is something musical going on within the town. This is something that most musicians who move to the area comment on, they just can’t believe it. It’s why so many of them stay here.

Why is this? I guess that’s the $64,000 question isn’t it?

I saw a piece of local street art recently, during yet another festival, Coastal Currents. It read “Keep Hastings Weird”, maybe that sums it up?

Is it that quirky nature, that we seem to revel in here, that makes Hastings such a vibrant and productive town? We tend to pride ourselves on being just a little bit different to everyone else, don’t we?
Why else would we all dress up as Pirates, adorn ourselves with garlands of leaves and daub our faces with green or black paint, depending on the season?

Hastings likes nothing better than accentuating all that makes the town different to anywhere else. Maybe that’s why we attract all those creative and artistic people in the first place? We draw them in like a magnet, with our strange ways and a realisation that in Hastings they can just be themselves and nobody will care, or bat an eyelid.

So, be very thankful of what we have here and don’t ever become complacent about it, as I obviously was until reminded otherwise.

Celebrate and support your local music, arts and cultural scene. There really is nothing like it anywhere else. Let’s make sure we keep it that way.

Keep Hastings Weird!”

Andy Gunton

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/)