May – in hindsight

It has just struck me that it is June 16th already and I have not commented on last months activities. This tardiness is down in no small part to a combination of a deluge of new music of somewhat biblical proportions, coupled with a rather nasty virus which laid me low for a week. Anyway enough of my moaning what can I say about May?

Well three major gigs dominated the month.

And it all kicked off rather magnificently with a stunning day as part of the Sounds from the Other City Festival at The Crescent. All of the bands were excellent and the general bonhomie and beers of that fine pub make for a great venue for live music. A pity there are not more venues of a similar size about.

Cramming five bands into nine hours seemed almost brave when first contemplated but the combination of an excellent sound man and Strongbow fueled coordination meant it all went well. Apparently there was a lot of ligging going in the beer garden which I missed. The only downside of the day was I missed both Charlie Barnes and Day for Airstrikes who clashed with some of the acts at the Crescent. The highlights are too many to list but The General not endorsing a brand lager as part of The Blimp set sticks in the memory as hoot of the day.

A couple of weeks later the five bands of SFTOC seemed a tad simple in comparison with the dozen at Mayfest. Islington Mill was the venue and a combination of high winds, mixed messages, and other distractions made for a fraught albeit but very successful day. Again all the bands were excellent and we managed (thanks to Michael from Neuron No) to capture some of the sets live which will be played on the radio over the coming months.  The Souls proved to be as excellent as they always promised to be and Positronik’s debut outing demonstrated a lot of potential. A lot of lessons were learned on the day both collectively and personally. Ambition is fine (and you’ve got to admire it) but stress is a killer and if and  when it is done again it will be less complex. There is also a developing new mathematical formula built around Murphy’s law which roughly indicates that 20% of bands you book for an event are likely to drop out due to any number of reasons – so always have a back-up plan. Many kudos to Frog in the Wall for lending us their PA on the day which made the acoustic stage work much better than we could have anticipated. The award of “Gig of the Week” in the Manchester Evening News was a great honour and we  have to publicly thank all the bands and SCR DJs, managers and board members who turned up on the day to assist.

And finally, a week later, – Salford Against the Cuts – another excellent evening at the Mill with five bands and a lot less stress this time. Musicallly a little more challenging with three of out of the five being unknown to me but a great set from Death of the Strange – the third of their gigs I had seen in as many weeks – and a powerhouse bravura performance from Trojan Horse. And not being directly engaged in coordinating stuff  I was able to enjoy the music.

On the wider music front, as indicated at the beginning, there has been a serious amount of new stuff coming in – a very quick canter reveals:

  • Doctrines – excellent debut EP with a fresh sound and a challenging approach to form and structure
  • Positronik – initial tracks released which demonstrate considerable promise
  • A very catchy single from The Tapestry
  • A marvellous ambient album from Ian Breen under the guise of “Claw the Thin Ice”
  • A great piece of psychedelia from “Salford Media City” a band operating out central Salford.
  • A very interesting EP from Belle Vue demonstrating a unique math take on pop.
  • A slight change in direction from Day for Airstrikes into film soundtracks which was most enjoyable.
  • Excellent new tunes from Trevor Sensitive and the Locals.
  • A raft of great new albums from Efrim Manuel Menuck, Bass Drum of Death,  The Cosmic Dead and Verma, and many others far too numerous to mention,
  • Finding new (to me) bands like The Smitten Ones, Entangled, and Lilies on Mars.

And if you thought that was busy then wait until the June overview comes around.

There was been some considerable (as yet unfinished) discussion and work to bring a broader spectrum of local music to more of the DJs on the station and I think the Mayfest event assisted in doing that but what is clear is that there are a raft of bands/singists out there in Salford that we have not yet uncovered yet.

What is also clear that we need to establish a more consistent broadcast radio platform for our local musicians as it is more than evident that self-promotions and sales would appear to be the way forward as the traditional music industry processes wither slowly and inexorably in the context of the digital age. This is the age of Bandcamp I would suggest!

So in the context of the above we are developing some ideas around mutual promotion of local music in the spirit of the community based approach of the station. However it is clear that the SCR community is becoming increasingly global with the approaches we are getting from musicians around the world. Some ideas around this will emerge in the next few weeks or so.

I also intend to put together some ideas/advice from upcoming bands about the best way of getting music to us for broadcast as the variety of approaches we get from people is mind-bogglingly varied – from the detailed and professional all the way down to the plain weird. I was extremely  dumbfounded to find that the university courses for musicians don’t appear to include advice and assistance on music promotion in  radio/internet  and , whilst it is a broad and moving and complex church, I do feel it would be helpful to give people some pointers – which will also make our lives easier in volunteer radio.

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