Salford Music Festival 2016

Dear reader it’s that time again, the last week in September, when I wax lyrical about the utterly wonderful Salford Music Festival. . Now in its’ seventh year this grass roots, no nonsense event, is part of the musical life blood of the city in which I live. Often overshadowed, in entertainment terms at least, by our noisy neighbours in Manchester, this Festival plays a big part in redressing that imbalance and puts Salford firmly on the map, where it deserves to be.

The difference between any other festival that you might care to join in on is that it is absolutely free for punters, no wristbands, no overpriced beer or food, and no tents. Ed Blaney’s desire for the events to be free is a key driver for the popularity and success of the three day celebration of music. And the added benefit is there isn’t a tribute band in sight.

The Festival has been stripped back to three days this year, Thursday 29th September to Saturday October 1st, and centres around the Chapel Street/Blackfriars area close to Manchester City Centre, and the peoples republic of Eccles and the delightful village of Monton, just five minutes up the road from where I happen to live. This more compact and focused approach makes this years Festival feel more important and vibrant than ever.

And of course I have a direct interest in that I am looking after two nights at the Eagle Inn – Friday and Saturday.

So what can you expect?  Well all the gigs are listed on the Salford Music Festival website so I encourage you to go there, but here are a few of my highlights from the three days……

THURSDAY

The ultra talented Tamsin Middleton (Mr Heart) has a solo show at The Crescent at 8:30pm followed by ded.pixel and The Kingdom

The excellent Salford Arms has Duke and the Darlings, Wintergreen and Crimsons

Bobby Peru close the night at the always  excellent Wangies in Eccles with support from The Comics and Sioux.

FRIDAY

The beautiful Sacred Trinity Church is the main stage for a headline concert featuring local big new things Cabbage, the excellent Blaney, Sound of Thieves and Jess Kemp

The Eagle Inn has the first of two German Shepherd Nights with The Junta, Bouquet of Dead Crows, The Scissors and Kit B.

Highly regard all female trio Liines play The Crescent.

SATURDAY

The second German Shepherd stage at the Eagle features Taser Puppets, Poppcock, JD Meatyard and West Coast Sick Line.

Highly regarded Death to the Strange play The Crescent.

A packed day at the Salford Arms sees seven acts on between 5pm and closing time.

Milton Keys duo The Rusty G’s play Wangies.

Y Key Operators with guest bassist John “The Junta” Montague play the Blue Bell in Monton.

Here are some examples of what to expect over the weekend. I hope to see you at the Eagle for what promises to be an excellent weekend.

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Urban Nature Album Launch

Friday night in Eccles, it’s warm. I’ve just left Old Trafford early after a rather poor display by Lancashire in the T20. I need cheering up. I wander up Church Street to Pacifica Cantonese, the upmarket chinese restaurant next the train station. Ed Blaney is launching his first “solo” album “Urban Nature”. Above the busy restaurant the clean chrome and marble lines of the room seem slightly incongruous as a place to launch a gritty urban rock and roll album. I grab a Tsing Tao from the bar and have a healthy chat with Jim Watts about music, progressive rock of a specific era being something we have mutual affection. There are a few familiar faces about including Terry Christian, Matt & Sue from Factory Acts, and a couple of members of Death to the Strange.

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It’s been a while since I’ve caught Ed live and it’s noticeable he is more at ease with this band than on previous occasions i’ve seen him. Kicking off with album opener “High On You” the band is tight, with crisp drumming from Ric Gibbs and pulsating bass from Garry Lewis, pushing the envelope.  Trigger Happy, and subsequently Fall, stomper “Rude All The Time” raises the temperature in the room. The wall behind the band is covered with TV monitors which display ambient scenes. By some strange twist of fate the monitors display an ocean scene as Ed delivers the pop stomp of “Poison Fishes”, stripped down to the four piece the album track gains a life of it’s own. Ed’s daughter Bianca joins in on vocals  for the moody “Mettle Claw” which, again, improves on the album version, to my mind. Father and daughter clearly have a strong musical chemistry.

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The added bonus on the night was the return of Jenny “Girl Peculiar” Shuttleworth, who has been absent from live work due to illness, on vocals for the excellent “Winner”. A highlight of the album, the song, written in a holiday retreat, has a certain resonance, implying that being the “winner” doesn’t always mean you actually gain any benefits in the long run.  New tune “Loose Man” is a tale of Salford Scallies, co-written with Granada TV man Tim Scott, and promises that there is more strong material for the Blaney band for future endeavors. To close Bianca rejoins the band for a heartfelt version of the excellent “Diamond”, brimming with Salford soul and rock and roll. The band is well honed and on the button with Jim demonstrating his always memorable control of the guitar and Ed putting his heart and soul into the performance.

A highly enjoyable gig, topped off by a good chat with Ed afterwards about the Blaney project and the Salford Music Festival. Whilst the band bears his name he very much sees the as outfit as a collective. You should check out the album which I reviewed here but also you should see the band live as they build on the excellent recorded  material and turn it into a great live performance experience. There is a strong future for this project.

Another beer, a chat with Matt and Susan about music and politics and then a quick walk over the M602 bridge into darkest Monton and home. I do wish there were more gigs five minutes walk away from home.

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Bianca, Jenny, Ed, Jim, Gary and Ric

 

 

The Sound of Salford

Blaney

Urban Nature

Yerrrr Records

27th May 2016

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The most listened to track on the German Shepherd bandcamp page is “Cheers Mate” by Trigger Happy from that labels “Salford Streets” compilation. It outperforms the next best track by around 250%. That fact is a testament to, and a confirmation of, the good music that Ed Blaney can and has delivered over the years.  Blaney has, of course, other than his first band, the aforementioned Trigger Happy, had a long association with Mark E. Smith and The Fall, whether in his role as band member, manager, or his joint work with Smith. This new release is the culmination of a long desired wish to produce and release his own material, and continues that solid working relationship with Mark. Other key partners in this release are Jim Watts,  who many will remember as a key writer in The Fall, as well as local legends The Inflictors and other notable bands like Ugly Radio; the exceptional Jenny Shuttleworth aka Girl Peculiar, and Ed’s daughter Bianca, a successful artist in her own right.

Across 33 minutes and 10 songs Blaney delivers a fascinating range of material.  Starting with the anthemic “High On You”, a track which echoes the working class rock and roll of Trigger Happy, with busy drums and bass, searing guitar and real Salford muscle. Blaney is the LS Lowry of rock, reflecting the area he grew up in, and lives in, through his art. The opener is a positive reflection of the city of Salford,  its vitality and variety. Next up is “Poison Fishes” a glam rock stomper with a strong political message and instantly recognisable interjections from MES.

“Thinking of You”, lead by Smith, is pure proto-punk in a Velvet Underground/Seeds style with a searing keyboard , a nod to Sky Saxon, and one of those guitar breaks which is magical because it is not overplayed. “The Coat” harks back to the original Smith and Blaney releases as the two protagonists discuss various matters over a rolling, punchy post punk/rock sound, before moving into one of Smith’s spoken word pieces. Fascinating stuff.

“Diamond” is a rock and roll love song with a great chorus. Things get a little more pop oriented with the more reflective “Time For You To Go”, Smith adopts his more recent gnarled vocal style for this tune, which has that 60s Nuggets vibe about it. Jenny takes the front seat for the ever excellent “Secrets” which has appeared previously as a Girl Peculiar release. Pure pop magic with a beautiful ear-worm of a chorus, a song which deserves a huge audience and great success.

The Blaney trademark tune “Rude All The Time” is up next, in a slightly different form, but still keeping it’s punk/rock core. It’s full of Pendleton swagger, good time vibes, and dynamic changes. The experimental “Mettle Claw” harks back to the initial “Smith and Blaney” albums and has an ethereal other worldly feel to it. The rich layering of vocals and guitars is hypnotic. Matters conclude, as they should, on a high, with the stunning “Winner”, a funky little number which is rich with emotional content and brutal candour. Along with “Secrets” this is the highlight of a fine album.

This release is proof positive, yet again, of the richness of the music scene around these parts – notably Eccles, Salford and Greater Manchester, and a further testament to the no nonsense hard work that Ed and his friends put into the local music scene.

Order the album now at www.blaney.co or grab it from your favourite local record dealer or on-line store from 27th May. The album is launched at my local chinese nosherie the excellent Pacifica Cantonese in the heart of beautiful down town Eccles on 27th May, a mere five minute walk from this computer.

Highly recommended!