Upcoming FREE music concerts from the School of Music and Fine Art in Medway

LEXY0982

Talented SMFA students will be performing a range of concerts on the University of Kent (Medway) campus in the Galvanising Shop Performance Space at the Historic Dockyard Chatham over the coming months.  All concerts are FREE and everyone is welcome.

Ensemble Concerts take place on Tuesdays – 13th February and 3rd April at 3pm.

Undergraduate lunchtime concerts run from 11am-2pm on Wednesdays: 21st and 28th March.

You can book via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/united-kingdom–chatham/music–events/

We also have our Popular Music student gig on Thursday 5th April, 8pm – late at the Cargo Bar, Liberty Quays.  No booking needed, free and all welcome!

 

IMAGE credit Stacey Cooper

School of Music and Fine Art – Little Big Band Lunchtime Gig on 15th December

8I3C8837

The School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent, Medway is delighted to present the Little Big Band Lunchtime Gig on Friday 15th December 12noon -1.30pm at the Deep End on the Medway Universities campus at Chatham Maritime.

Music will include a funk set, from 1970’s Stevie Wonder to Bruno Mars, and well-known, popular jazz standards.

FREE – book via Eventbrite. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/smfa-little-big-band-lunchtime-gig-tickets-40031665790

 

image credit Stacey Cooper

NEW Centre for Music and Audio Technology: At Kent Taster Day Saturday 11 November

Kent_Music and Fine Art_294_master

Located in the University’s Medway campus in Chatham’s Historic Dockyard, the University of Kent’s new Centre for Music and Audio Technology has a free At Kent Taster Day on Saturday 11 November from 10am-3pm.   These sessions are aimed at Year 12 and 13 students (or those returning to learning) who have applied or are considering applying to university to study in a related area.

The centre will offer three contemporary undergraduate courses from September 2018:

  • Music Business and Production
  • Music, Performance and Production
  • Music Technology and Audio Production

The Centre offers award-winning facilities, excellent teaching and superb industry links, with equipment and software including Pro Tools, and a new state of the art Neve Genesys Black Recording Console.

To find out more and book for the Taster Day go to www.kent.ac.uk/cmat or email CMAT@kent.ac.uk.

Twitter: @UniKentCMAT

Facebook: @KentCMAT

Instagram: @unikentcmat

 

 

 

 

School of Music and Fine Art: Free Autumn Concert series in Medway

8I3C0288

The Autumn SMFA concert series, featuring talented students performing a range of musical styles, continues on Wednesday 29th November at 11am. Taking place in the Galvanising Shop Performance space at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, all these concerts are free to attend but please book via Eventbrite.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/school-of-music-and-fine-art-undergraduate-lunchtime-concert-tickets-38497581302

The next concerts are:

Weds 29th November and 6th December, 11am-2pm, Undergraduate Lunchtime Concert

Tues 12th December, SMFA Ensembles, 3-5pm

And don’t miss the Popular Music Gig at Cargo Bar, Liberty Quays on Thursday 14th December, 8pm until late.

Photo credit: Stacey Cooper

 

School of Music and Fine Art Winter Concert, Wednesday 13th December

8I3C0186

The beautiful Royal Dockyard Church (Chatham Historic Dockyard) provides the stunning seasonal setting for a feast of musical offerings from University of Kent (School of Music and Fine Art, Medway) ensembles.

The concert, which starts at 7.30pm, features the University choir and band, University chamber orchestra and other ensembles, and the varied programme includes items by Tavener, Schubert and Queen.  These popular events always sell out fast – book now!

Tickets £5 from https://thegulbenkian.co.uk/event/winter-concert/

 Image credit Stacey Cooper

Make music in Medway!

page1

A fabulous selection of ensembles are up & running at University of Kent (Medway) this year. We’re lucky to be in close range of London, so top performers and teachers come down to coach our groups. Importantly, lots are OPEN TO ALL – students, staff & the broader community. You can simply turn up on the day and try a group out.

Note: Although you are welcome to simply turn up on the day we would advise ringing or emailing the SMFA reception, just so we know you’re coming and can direct you to the right space!

T: 01634 888980 Email: MFAReception@kent.ac.uk

SMFA Pop, Rock & Soul Choir 

TIME:  12-1pm   FRIDAYS. VENUE: THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE – Historic Dockyard, Chatham. OPEN TO ALL
The Pop, Rock & Soul Choir is led by choir director and vocal coach Kelly Fraser, Deputy Head of Vocals at BIMM,  who is currently working on this year’s X Factor.
http://www.bimm.co.uk/study/tutors/london/kelly-fraser/

Kelly writes: “The choir works together to create vibey, innovative arrangements of existing Popular Music repertoire. The sessions are open to all & guaranteed to be up-lifting!”

This is a fantastic opportunity to work with one of the top names in the music business. Don’t miss out!! ALL singers are strongly encouraged to attend.
https://www.songbirdsessions.com/

World Percussion Ensemble

TIME:  12-2pm   MONDAYS. VENUE: THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE
Our World Percussion Ensemble is led by Stephen Hiscock, founder of one of the world’s most innovative percussion groups – Ensemble Bash. Stephen studied in Ghana and has premiered works from Steve Reich to Django Bates. Djembes are at the core of this group – but plenty of other wonderful instruments from around the world besides!
http://www.stephenhiscock.com/

Improvisation & Advanced Improvisation Ensembles

TIME:  3-5pm   WEDNESDAYS. VENUE: THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE
The improvisation groups tackle all the important information for those wanting to explore their music in new ways, find fresh ideas for composition or bust out those face-melting solos. Over the year we’ll be exploring how to build those killer improvs, work well as a band and more as we improvise through pop, jazz and classical repertoire allowing you the chance to bring your ideas to the table. Multi-award winning sax player, arranger, composer and educator Phil Meadows (Engines Orchestra Founder) takes the groups through their paces. (Advanced group by invitation only.)
http://www.philmeadowsmusic.co.uk/

Little Big Band

TIME:  4-5pm   THURSDAYS. VENUE: THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE
Little Big Band is led by jazz and rock lead guitarist Lisa Davies. Line-up is rhythm section plus horns, flutes – and any other front-line instrumentalists that fancy joining in! A very friendly group covering jazz standards, rock and pop repertoire.
http://lisadaviesbigband.wixsite.com/bigband/lisa-guitar

Chamber Music Forum

Time: 1pm WEDNESDAYS. VENUE: THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE
Interested in duos, trios, quartets, quintets, usual and unusual combinations of instruments?  Chamber Music Forum could be for you. Music ranges from Baroque to Tango to Klezmer, including works by Khachaturian, Piazzolla, and Shostakovich. *Composers:  – get your small ensemble work performed! Dr Ruth Herbert, Music Lecturer, Head of Performance & founder member of TableMusic ensemble,  coaches these groups.
http://www.tablemusic.co.uk/

Strings Group

Time: 11am Mondays. VENUE: THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE
In the Strings Group, contemporary specialist violinist  Dr Stelios Chatziiosifidis works on the basics of string sound production, while enhancing players’ overall technical skills in different bowings, sound blending and sound projection. The emphasis is on practising difficult sections of the orchestral works, but other repertoire will be briefly explored.
http://www.festivalchamberorchestra.co.uk/stelios-chatziiosifidis/

Band Forum

Time: 5-9pm Tuesdays. VENUE: THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE & PODS
Band Forum is coached by Dr Rich Perks, Lecturer in Popular Music who has toured internationally with a range of bands – currently Ali Azimi and the Need, also leading the Diaspora Arts Connection World Music project 2017 in San Francisco. Predominantly geared towards first year undergraduates (though not exclusively!), Band Forum provides an opportunity for students to form bands and rehearse, whilst gaining advice and guidance from an experienced practitioner. There will be several department-led gigs throughout the academic year at which BF participants will be encouraged to showcase their work.
http://richperks.net/

University of Kent (Medway) Choir and Band

Time: 5-6pm WEDNESDAYS. VENUE: THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE & PODS
Open to everyone at the University of Kent and a lot of fun. The University Choir and Band take on different projects each year. From the complete B Side of the Beatle’s Abbey Road to Haydn’s Nelson Mass. This year’s focus includes Queen’s iconic 1975 album A Night At The Opera, featuring choir and rock ensemble. Directed by University of Kent music performance lecturers Dr Rich Perks and Dr Ruth Herbert.

The Zorn Project

Time: 6-7pm WEDNESDAYS. VENUE: THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE 
An ever expanding ensemble with a richly varied line-up (all instruments welcome) entirely focused this year on John Zorn’s Cobra. Cobra is a directed ensemble piece that will never sound the same twice. Elements of live direction, combined with free improvisation, allow the piece to be either idiomatically ‘free’ or to traverse genres seamlessly. It is crazy sounding at first, but trust us, this can (and will!) be a LOT of fun! Directed by Dr Rich Perks & assisted by Dr Ruth Herbert.

University of Kent (Medway) Chamber Orchestra

Time: 7-9pm WEDNESDAYS. VENUE:  THE ROYAL DOCKYARD CHURCH &GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE
Chamber Orchestra, directed by Dr Stelios Chatziiosifidis, provides a chance to explore the full breadth of the orchestral sound and familiarise yourself with different styles of performance, ranging from classical, baroque to pop. The discipline of orchestral playing, involving attentive ensemble playing and awareness of other parts, is a great way to advance your musical skills.

Guitar Ensemble

Time: 11:00 – 12:00  FRIDAYS. VENUE:  THE GALVANISING SHOP BACK SPACE
Guitar Ensemble is directed by renowned guitarist James Woodrow, member of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble, Icebreaker and Lontano. The group work on a wide variety of material, most recently performing Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.
http://www.a-change-of-light.com/site/james_woodrow.htm

photo credit Stacey Cooper

Wednesday 25 October: Workshop with two of the hottest young names on the British jazz scene

album

On Wednesday 25th October, 9.30am-1.30pm, in the Galvanising Shop Performance Space, the School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent, Medway,  is thrilled to present a workshop with two incredibly versatile award-winning young artists – trumpeter Laura Jurd and pianist Elliot Galvin.

This workshop is packed with improvisation, composition and creative music making.

Described by Lira Music Magazine as “two of the British jazz scene’s hottest young names … together a super unit that bubbles with musical and personal understanding”, both are prize-winning performers and prolific composers whose music crosses style boundaries. BBC New Generation Artist (2015-17) and Parliamentary Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year (2015), Laura has released two albums (the most recent Together as One, with her band Dinosaur (of which Elliott is a member), was nominated for the 2017 Mercury Prize). She recently joined the faculty at Trinity Laban Conservatoire as a composition teacher.

Elliot’s main artistic vehicle is the Elliot Galvin Trio, winners of the European Jazz Artist of the Year Award. The group have also recorded two albums, including Punch, their debut for the prestigious Edition Records label. Elliot’s commissions include works for the Ligeti Quartet, London Sinfonietta, RESOLUTION dance festival and the Theatre Company Cut Tongues. His music draws on a wide range of influences from Keith Jarrett to Stravinsky, Ligeti, Deerhoof and the Beatles as well as the films of David Lynch, the Dada movement and the literature of James Joyce. He was a founding member of the Chaos Collective.

FREE! to attend but booking via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/music-workshop-with-trumpeter-laura-jurd-and-pianist-elliot-galvin-tickets-38492736812

More info:

Laura Jurd (trumpet) https://laurajurd.com/about/ and Elliot Galvin (piano/keys) http://www.elliotgalvin.com.

 

Showcase week of events from School of Music and Fine Art, 8-12 May

Luisa Moonshine

From 8 – 12 May, there is a veritable feat of exciting, immersive and innovative events that showcase the final independent projects from third year students on the Event and Experience Design programme in the School of Music and Fine Art.   More info here https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/events/eed-projects-2017.html

The Events Schedule (subject to change) is below and although FREE to attend, booking is via Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/2pQPc8H

Monday 8th May

ShuXin Wong: “MT Playhouse” – 12.00pm – 2.00pm Namur Room in Mess Deck, CHDT.
A participatory product launch event for Japanese product MT (decorative reusable masking tape). Live entertainment – Malaysian & world pop songs and craft activities related to creative travel journals.

Jake Thornton: “Dock Box”, 2.00pm – 4.00pm – Galvanising Shop, Production Space.
An alternative video tour of the Dockyard, a constructed narrative of filmic space and time.

Tuesday 9th May

Elise Berdah: “Fight Flight Freeze”, Drill Hall Library, Café – Archibald Hay Mess, Tuesday & Wednesday 10.00am – 9.00pm.
An immersive experience examining participants’ attitudes to and understanding of the issue of consent and serious sexual assault in Universities in the UK & US. This installation contains explicit accounts. The installation is a collaboration with Kent Union Welfare and Wellbeing team and is part of a week of awareness raising events.

Kira Tisbury: “Festopia”, 1.00pm – 4.00pm Galvanising Shop, Production Space.
An interactive immersive event, sharing memories of festival participation and experience.

Kirsten Short: “Hooked”, 11.00am – 7.00pm – Tuesday to Saturday (11.00am – 8.00pm Thursday) Box Park, 2 – 10 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch E1 6GY. A London launch and live retail event for online retailer “Hooked”.

Wednesday 10th May

Kylie (Min Jing) Lee: “Through the Lens”, 12.00pm – 2.00pm – Galvanising Shop, Production Space.
A participatory photography & travel/cultural event.

Savannah Giorgi: “A day”, 5.00 – 6.00pm – St Bartholomew Hospital Chapel, 5 Gundulph Road, Rochester High Street, ME4 4ED
An immersive and interactive video engaging with the dilemma’s and drama of everyday life.

Thursday 11th May

Linh Chi Dinh: “Vietnam through my eyes”, 12.00pm – 2.00pm – Galvanising Shop, Production Space.
An immersive autobiographical video journey in Vietnam.

Luisa Armand Ugon: “Moonshine”, 9.00pm till late at the Deep End, Student Hub, Pembroke Campus.
Rewind to the illicit society of 1920’s America. Jazz, flappers and mafia come together for a unique prohibition bar experience.

Friday 12th May

Greta Pencheva: “Inside the Raindrop”, 1.00pm, Gulbenkian Theatre.
Live and mediated dance performance.

Leah Stewart: “Unwind at University”, 12.00pm – 5.00pm – Galvanising Shop, Café & Production Space.
Participatory well-being event in collaboration with The University of Kent Student Support and Wellbeing Team. Pets as Therapy, Drop-in Meditation and wellbeing tips and tricks and more TBC!

 

IMAGE from Luisa Armand Ugon: “Moonshine

School of Music and Fine Art End of Year/Graduation Shows 2017

reverblogo final

The School of Music and Fine presents the End of Year/Graduation Shows for Fine Art, Event and Experience Design and Music, celebrating the talents of our amazing students!

SMFA End of Year Show Schedule of Events (subject to change)

All events take place at Historic Dockyard Chatham. Entrance is via the Galvanizing Shop Café and reception.

Fine Art Degree Show: “Reverberate”

Open to the public: Sunday 21st May to Friday 26th May, 10am til 5pm (closed Tuesday 23 May) and Saturday 27th May, 10am til 5pm

Special Private View on Saturday May 20th, 1pm-6pm, with guest speaker, Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller, and special performances. For guest list contact mfareception@kent.ac.uk

Event and Experience Design Live Events: “Borderless”

Monday 8th May to Friday 19th May in the Galvanising Shop Performance Space

Event and Experience Design Showcase

Open to the public: Sunday 21st May to Friday 26th May, 10am til 5pm (closed Tuesday 23 May) and Saturday 27th May, 10am til 5pm

BMus. Final Public Performances Showcase

Talented graduating students on Music and Popular Music pathways offer a rich mix of musical styles. Not to be missed!

Venue: Cargo Bar, Liberty Quays

Tuesday 16th May 4-8pm

Wednesday 17th May 4-8pm

Venue: Galvanising Shop Performance Space

Wednesday 17th May 11am – 12.45pm

Monday 22nd May & Tuesday 23rd May: Technology in Performance

To get your FREE tickets go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/school-of-music-and-fine-art-end-of-yeargraduation-shows-2017-tickets-33004272668

For more info go to https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/events/degree-show-2017.html

 

University of Kent Choir and Orchestra (Medway) perform Haydn’s Nelson Mass on 29th March in Royal Dockyard Church

UKM_KBS_Church_EK4A9172

Haydn’s popular Nelson Mass will be performed in the Royal Dockyard Church, Chatham on Wednesday 29 March at 7.30pm by the University of Kent Choir and Orchestra (Medway)

The Mass will be conducted by Dr Stelios Chatziiosifidis and the soprano will be School of Music and Fine Art alumna Philippa Hardiman. It will be preceded by a talk from Richard Holdsworth MBE about Nelson and the Historic Dockyard Chatham.

Comments Dr Ben Curry, Lecturer & Director of Music Programmes, School of Music & Fine Art:

“The Nelson Mass is widely regarded as one of Haydn’s greatest works.  Its performance in the Royal Dockyard Church, built around the time that the mass was composed, provides a unique opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate the drama and beauty of Haydn’s music and the extraordinary naval history of Chatham.”

The first half of the concert will feature items from the School of Music and Fine Art World Percussion Ensemble, Pop, Rock and Soul Choir, and Chamber Music Forum, Guitar Ensemble and Advanced Improvisation Group.

Tickets, priced £10, are available for purchase from both the Gulbenkian http://bit.ly/2kiWFOJ and the Historic Dockyard.

More info here https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/news.html?view=2425

School of Music and Fine Art: Spring Events in Medway

whatson

We have an amazing range of – mostly free – creative events coming up in Medway between now and April in the School of Music and Fine Art, and our Spring What’s On booklet is out!  Print copies are available from our Reception and in various venues across Chatham, including the Waterfront Bus Station in Chatham and the library, but you can also view events online here.

Please do share with anyone you think might enjoy our concerts, workshops and events, which mostly take place in the atmospheric Historic Dockyard Chatham.

 

Image credit by Paul Stott

Music Student Lunchtime Concert series launches on 25 October in Medway

 

image6a

The new School of Music and Fine Art Lunchtime Concert series begins next week, with talented students studying band and ensemble performing a range of musical styles to launch the season at 12 noon on Tuesday 25 October. Taking place in the Galvanising Shop Performance space at the University of Kent on the Historic Dockyard Chatham, all the lunchtime concerts are free to attend and usually last for an hour.  What a great way to spend a lunch break!

You can find out more about all these events online here https://issuu.com/musicfineartkent/docs/smfawhatsonautumn16

There are more lunchtime concerts on 30 November, and 7 and 13 December.

And don’t miss the Music Masterclass with Joe Stilgoe on October 26th!

https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/events.html?eid=20190&view_by=month&date=20161017&category=&tag=

IMAGE CREDIT: Stacey Cooper

School of Music and Fine Art: Events in Medway

20160919_132252

We have some fantastic – mostly free – creative events coming up in Medway between now and December in the School of Music and Fine Art, and our Autumn What’s On booklet is now out!  Print copies will be available from our Reception and in various venues across Chatham, but you can also view events online here.

https://issuu.com/musicfineartkent/docs/smfawhatsonautumn16

Please do share with anyone you think might enjoy our concerts and events, which mostly take place in the atmospheric Historic Dockyard Chatham.

Our exciting programme of Artist Talks is currently being finalised – watch this space for more info or check our website www.kent.ac.uk/smfa

And we also have a TASTER DAY coming up on Saturday 26 November – more info here! http://bit.ly/2d1ZkpL

Image credit Jane Seaman

Wanted! Singers and Musicians to take part in our Christmas Concert in The Royal Dockyard Church

On Wednesday 14 December, 2016 at 7.30pm the University of Kent Choir and Orchestra (Medway) will be performing Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols as part of the School of Music and Fine Art Christmas Concert in the beautiful Royal Dockyard Church.

We are inviting the local community to join the choir or orchestra and take part in this festive event.  Rehearsals take place on Wednesdays 5pm 7.30pm at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, with the first rehearsal on Wednesday 28 September. (Note: Orchestral players should be Grade 6 standard or higher).  We look forward to hearing from you!

To find out more contact Dr Ben Curry: B.Curry@kent.ac.uk

 

bensflyer

100 University of Kent Students perform Beatles classic

abbey-672x372

100 students studying in the University of Kent’s School of Music and Fine Art will give a concert of one of the Beatles’ best-loved albums, the B side of Abbey Road. Starting with George Harrison’s uplifting and heart-warming song, ‘Here Comes the Sun’, the Abbey Road B-side then takes the listener on a kaleidoscopic tour of an array of musical genres and styles through psychedelia, soul, rock, blues, vaudeville, proto-punk, country and worksong to finish with a pulsating gospel number lavished with hard rock guitar solos. This performance ends with a gigantic symphonic conclusion and features orchestral and choral sections throughout.

Ben Curry, Lecturer in Music in the School of Music & Fine Art at the University of Kent’s Medway campus comments:  “This is a fascinating piece of music – yes, it’s pop music but its musical scope and dynamism is serious and compelling from beginning to end.  Our performance is true to the spirit of the Beatles’ album with great solo singers and instrumentalist, but the use of the 80-strong choir alongside the brilliant orchestral arrangements of the Beatles’ producer, George Martin, draws out the symphonic potential of this wonderful series of seamlessly connected song.”

The concert also features two very different 2oth century minimalist works: Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint for guitar ensemble and Gavin Bryars’ ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet’ for mixed ensemble and tape.

To purchase tickets, which cost £7 (£5 students)  please use the links below:

The Royal Dockyard Church, Historic Dockyard Chatham on Wednesday 9th March at 7.30pm  http://store.kent.ac.u

Colyer-Fergusson Concert Hall, University of Kent Canterbury on Friday 11th March at 7.30pm  https://uk.patronbase.com

IMAGE credit: Stacey Cooper

 

 

 

Three FREE December concerts showcasing students from the School of Music & Fine Art

cargoposter

A wide range of vibrant music making activities is available at The School of Music & Fine Art, from Chamber Choir and jazz ensembles through to the World Percussion Ensemble and the large-scale Choir and Band, comprising students from across the Medway campus. In December we will be showcasing the talent and skills of our students in a range of concerts that are free to attend.

On Wednesday December 9th in the Galvanising Workshop at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, part of the University of Kent’s Medway campus, students from the School of Music & Fine Art perform music from a range of traditions. The Jazz Improvisation Ensemble  will perform works by Juan Tizol, Fats Waller and Joe Harriott.  There will be a performance of Frank Martin’s exceptionally beautiful Piano Quintet in D Minor and the concert will be framed by works with a festive flavour sung by the Chamber Choir.  This free concert starts at 7.30pm.

In the following week, there is also a chance to hear students from the BMus and MA Music programmes studying band and ensemble playing.  This Ensemble Performance Lunchtime Concert is on Tuesday December 15th from 12 noon until 1pm in the Galvanising Workshop, and will include performances of jazz and contemporary popular music.

Finally, from 8pm until late on Thursday December 17th the award winning bar and bistro Cargo Bar at Liberty Quays welcomes bands from the School of Music & Fine Art to perform sets of original material and covers.  This stunning nautical and industrial-style venue is the perfect place to sample some of the best live music acts the area has to offer.  The gigs are free to attend, always draw a crowd and have a fantastic atmosphere. The SMFA gig at Cargo last Easter was a huge success, with three bands from across the stages of the School of Music and Fine Art giving powerful and exciting performances.

Says Director of Music Programmes and Lecturer in Music, Dr Ben Curry, “I always feel immensely proud and excited when I see our students perform. Whether they are playing innovative pop, soul and jazz or pulling off a challenging work from the classical tradition, they always give compelling performances.”

For more information on any of these concerts, go to https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/events.html?view_by=month&date=20151222&category=&tag=

The School of Music & Fine Art offers a wide range of degrees which include: BMus Music, BSc Music Technology, BMus Popular Music, and NEW joint honours BA (Hons) Music and English & American Studies, and BSc (Hons) Music Technology and Computing; MA Music, MA Music Composition, MA Popular Music, MA Music Technology, PhD Music and PhD Music Technology

POSTER CREDIT: Tayler Cronly-Dillon

 

RiverVoice Choir Christmas Concert

Christmas Concert (2)

An enchanting beginning to the festive season with community choir …

River Voice Community Choir is taking on a new challenge for its Christmas Concert this year. The performance is a big step change for the choir in that, apart from the congregational hymns, every piece will be performed a cappella – there will be no musical accompaniment.

Many choirs shrink from singing without accompaniment as it can leave singers feeling very vulnerable and subject to pitching problems. Additional funding received this term from the Red Nose Foundation enabled the choir to have extra rehearsal sessions, which supported members in the development of stronger aural and vocal skills across the group.

The choir aim to make music accessible to everyone and have a number of visually impaired members who take an active role in the group, including Choir Chair, Claire J Frewin, who explains: “We learn orally if we can’t access the score, as we are still able to hear what’s written. It’s actually a very quick way of learning as it’s relative straight away. I do try and look at the music when I can, but my head will be down using my magnifier and it’s much better for your posture to be standing upright and singing out. So automatically it’s better for learning, speed of learning, for posture and projection.”

Fellow visually impaired choir member, Michelle Bunce added: “I wasn’t sure choir singing would be my thing, but I’ve learnt so much, it’s been amazing, I didn’t go to the first rehearsal with many expectations and I can’t explain why it gripped me; a combination I think, of the people and the passion, and the interaction. Tania makes the difficult things easy, almost, dare I say it. Although we look at it and think, yeah, that’s really hard, she encourages you to have a go. She’s given me a lot more confidence in singing – she sorted out my breathing. I had no idea how to breath or anything. I love the camaraderie; we have so much fun doing it and it makes the learning easy. I can feel how I’ve improved my singing and my confidence generally.”

Musical Director, Tania Holland, says:The idea for a choir that would cater for people with and without visual impairment emerged following a large scale community opera project called Element Beyond Gravity.

“This was a new work devised specifically in response to Chatham Historic Dockyard and which brought together singers from across North Kent including a number of people with low or no vision.

“At the end of this project it was clear that many people taking part were keen to continue to make music together. So I applied to Medway Council for a small grant to trial a new singing group that would be accessible to all adults, regardless of ability to read music, and out of this short project a small group of singers went on to form the nucleus of the choir and to themselves lead the group into its current not-for-profit community group status.”

The concert will take place on Saturday, December 5 at 3.30pm in the St.George’s Centre, Dock Road, Chatham. Entry is free, although donations to help sustain the choir would be welcome – there will also be a raffle and refreshments.

 

For more information, please contact either Claire on 07890 705698 / email cjfrewin@gmail.com or Tamara on 07919 134154 / email t.s.gummer2@hotmail.co.uk.

FREE music events in Medway from the School of Music & Fine Art

lunchtimeconcertpage4

The University of Kent at Medway’s School of Music & Fine Art offers a range of FREE music events, ranging from masterclasses, concerts and talks, in the wonderfully atmospheric Chatham Historic Dockyard, where the School is based.

On Tuesday November 10th in the Galvanising Shop Performance Space at Chatham Historic Dockyard, SMFA students studying band and ensemble playing are performing a lunchtime concert from 12 noon to 1pm. Everyone welcome.  And there will be another lunchtime concert on Tuesday December 15th.

Friday 13th  November in the Galvanising Workshop Israeli composer, performer and improviser Guy Harries will lead a two-hour Technology in Performance Masterclass from 3-5pm demonstrating his method and techniques in utilising technology in live performance.

On Wednesday December 9th, the Galvanising Workshop is the venue for a Christmas Concert at 7.30pm – students perform music from a range of traditions. The jazz improvisation ensemble and choir feature works by Juan Tizol, Duke Ellington and Joe Harriott.  The Contemporary Music Ensemble, Chamber Choir and Multi-Keyboard Ensemble present music to both challenge and delight the audience.

And on Thursday December 17th at Cargo Bar, Liberty Quays from 8pm – 11pm,  bands from the School of Music & Fine Art perform sets of original material and covers.  These are exciting evenings with a fantastic atmosphere and always draw a crowd!

All of these events are FREE but please do book through mfareception@kent.ac.uk  and check out the website for regular updates at  https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/  

PHOTO CREDIT: Stacey Cooper

School of Music & Fine Art Open Day: Saturday 10th October, 9am – 2pm at Chatham Historic Dockyard

Kent_Music and Fine Art small square

Join us on Saturday 10th October for a chance to explore the fantastic facilities of the School of Music & Fine Art, part of the Medway Campus of the University of Kent located in the unique environment of Chatham Historic Dockyard and explore our exciting courses in Music, Fine Art and Event and Experience Design.  See the library and student accommodation and the NEW academic facilities and social spaces that opened in September 2015.

Talk to tutors and students and find out more about what we have to offer. Due to the popularity of our open days, we ask that you book a place online. Online booking will open approximately four weeks’ before the event. Please use the link here:  http://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/visit/openday/essentials-medway.html

Our courses:

Music:

  • BMus Music
  • BSc (Hons) Music Technology
  • BMus Popular Music
  • BSc (Hons) Music Technology and Computing
  • BA (Hons) Music Technology with English and American Literature

Fine Art:

  • BA (Hons) Fine Art

 Event and Experience Design:

  • BA (Hons) Events and Experience Design

We offer:

  • Award winning facilities, studios, equipment and workshops
  • Inspiring, supportive and award winning tutors
  • Great waterfront location on historic site with easy access to London in under an hour
  • An intellectual culture that provides the basis of cutting-edge practice, research and scholarship
  • Excellent career and professional outcomes
  • The chance to spend a year in industry or a year abroad
  • Flexible course structure, with full and part time options
  • Outstanding professional links and international work placements
  • Many opportunities for collaborative and autonomous practices
  • Financial assistance, fee waivers and scholarships available

For more details contact e.dhiman@kent.ac.uk

Community choir looks forward to new term

7-12-13-2MD Tnaia Holland-Williams

A new term begins on Saturday, September 26 for The River Voice Community Choir, with members looking forward to helping more people improve their musical skills by learning to sing.

There is no audition and no requirement to read music, simply come along to a session and see if you like it. The choir aim to make music accessible to everyone and have a number of visually impaired members who take an active role in the group.

Rehearsals take place at St. Stephen’s Church in Maidstone Road, Chatham, every other Saturday from September 26 (10am-12noon), and every other Thursday from October 1 (6.30-8.30pm). The first session you attend is entirely free so you can try-before-you-buy and make sure it’s right for you.

With two workshops also scheduled (24/10 and 28/11), new members are welcome to come along and prepare for the Christmas Concert taking place on Saturday, December 5 at the St. George’s Centre in Chatham..

Claire J. Frewin, River Voice Chair, says: “We’re delighted to offer this wonderful opportunity to people throughout Kent, and beyond, to learn these skills with us. There really are no barriers to participating so come along and give it a go.”

River Voice was launched in 2013 following a short programme of vocal workshop sessions initiated by professional Musical Director, Tania Holland Williams, for participants with visual impairment. River Voice has since grown and includes adults of all abilities, whether sighted or visually impaired.

For more information, please contact either Claire on 07890 705698 / email cjfrewin@gmail.com or Tamara on 07919 134154 / email t.s.gummer2@hotmail.co.uk.

For creative writers and music lovers: Two intriguing day schools in Canterbury

Tango from Mirabai (Barry Seaman)

Award winning Kent composer Barry Seaman offers an innovative day school series that will appeal to writers, dramatists, music and film lovers, and across the creative spectrum.

Music for Writers 1, on the 25 October, is called Love, War and Trains, and explores the connections and relationships between poetry, verse drama and music. This Day School will be of interest to creative writers and music enthusiasts, and anyone intrigued by the way that words and music can be combined to create drama and emotion. The vivid and imaginative use of language is discussed using a variety of dramatic works that include Samuel Beckett’s Words and Music, and atmospheric verse dramas for radio that include Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas and the extraordinary Love, War and Trains by celebrated author Ian McMillan. Ways that writers, poets and composers work together will be studied and celebrated.

On November 22, Music for Writers 2: Emotion, Music and Moving Image looks at the ways music can be used to express and convey emotion and atmosphere when combined with the medium of film. What is the relationship between sound and image? Using case studies that include films such as The Go-Between (Joseph Losey), Last Year in Marienbad (Alain Resnais) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Psycho, these issues will be explored and examined.

Both Day Schools, which run from 10am, – 4pm, cost just £29.50.

To book please contact April Doyle via email to education.communityarts@canterbury.ac.uk or phone 01227 863451.

For more info go to http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/community-arts-education/day-schools/autumn-2014.asp

Transmit:Project – Are you the next big thing?

tp

Are you a musician/filmmaker/artist/photographer/organisation etc who would like more people to know about your work and what you do?

Perhaps you always wanted to know what musicians/filmmakers/artists/photographers etc live and work and create in Medway?

Would you like to transmit your art?  Would you like to project your talent?

Transmit:Project is a brand new project all about getting known.  Its all about providing a platform for upcoming and established artist and performers.  It’s all about having one place where people can go to find out more about the huge amount of talent that currently thrives in Medway.

This is going to be the place for local talent to be seen and heard.  This is going to be the place where audience inside and outside Medway will come to see what talent is around.  A while ago I wrote about some of the Medway scene with the popular Medway Visions articles.  I hope these will morph into transmit:project files as well as adding new ones all the time.

But it needs you.  Without talents to write about/broadcast then this project won’t get very far.  Make yourself heard.  Contact us.

Here’s how it works:

You send me a bio and some details about your work.

You send me a link to your work/send a cd etc.

With these things I can write about you.

You also send me a video file of you performing or a music video (musicians), interview/sequence of pictures of art (artists), sequence of photos (photographers) a short film (filmmaker).

With this I can post a clip of you/your work.  (If you can’t get a video file to me then contact me anyway and we can sort something out)

This will then be shown from the transmit:project broadcast channel:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8NHTvq6pzCSPZVfrOzDmzg

In time this project might spread out, but, for now, it’s all about Medway.  And what better place to start.  Transmitting art.  Projecting talent.

The Moon The Eye

transmitproject@themoontheeye.com

www.themoontheeye.com/transmitproject

www.facebook.com/Transmit.Project

The Vision and the Voice: Part 2 by Jane Ayres

greentreesPhoto by Roger Hyland

How do you see the world? Is it ugly, beautiful, evil, good, exciting, depressing? A mixture?  None of these?  The mind’s eye is a strange expression. According to wiki (the fount of all knowledge!) it refers to the human ability for visualization using the imagination.

When you look at an object, or a place, do you see what is there – or beyond this? Can you see what it means, or meant; its place in history?  Does it evoke the past?

Recently, I spent an absorbing few hours catching up on programmes I recorded on Sky Arts (a brilliant source of material) which began with a film about my favourite artist Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) the Dutch pioneer of abstract art. Mondrian is my favourite artist. He sought through his work to find essence and truth using horizontal and vertical lines, to create a new kind of beauty through geometry. His art is about structure, distillation, order and emotional connection and he wanted his art to be part of a greater whole. Not surprisingly he saw architecture as living art.  On arrival in New York in 1940 he commented, “They told me New York was a hellish place, where you grew old before your time and gangsters made the law. That may well be true. But that is not the New York I saw, the one I loved and thought of as my own.”  He saw beauty in the lights, the sounds, the skyscrapers and the vibrancy. The film, called Dans L’Atelier de Mondrian (in the studio of Mondrian) shows the artist’s studio as a working art installation and moves me to tears every time I see it. Mondrian lived in poverty most of his austere life and did not receive critical recognition until he was in seventies. (A familiar story for so many creatives, regrettably).

The next film was a documentary called Hitchcock on Grierson, which offered further insights into the ways other creatives have seen the world. It’s always interesting to see what one film director thinks of another and how he was influenced. I admire much of Hitchcock’s work but knew little about Dr John Grierson, who I discovered was a prolific, influential and pioneering Scottish film director and producer (1898-1972) who used documentary to express his distinctive way of seeing the world, utilising stunning shots to find patterns in objects not usually considered art, such as scaffolding and cranes, and seeing beauty and meaning in geometric shapes and structures and feats of engineering. It reminded me of Mondrian, and also the French composer (and one of my favourites) Edgard Varese (1883-1965) a visionary who had been dreaming of new sounds and electronic music a generation before it was technically possible, and whose astonishing blocks of dissonant sound are incredibly beautiful. Listening to his music, it is not surprising to learn of his fascination with architectural structures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8FcxVKIAwo  extract from Octandre by Edgard Varese

Reflecting on the way that these contrasting but connected artists saw the world, I was also reminded of doing art classes at school, and learning about seeing the light and shade in an object like a pot or a piece of cutlery. For a long time, I just didn’t get this. I couldn’t see it.  Then, one day, I did and it was like a revelation which has never left me.  Like being let in on a wonderful secret.

Finally, I watched a deeply moving and hauntingly beautiful film called The Way of the Morrishttp://www.wayofthemorris.com/

Written and presented by Tim Plester (who was also co-producer and co-director) it is a personal, heartfelt journey, both physical and spiritual. Every shot was like a painting or photograph, with amazing lighting and stunning landscapes. Subtlely observed, like Grierson, this film used documentary to convey something profound about community, ritual, and the human soul, and what tradition and shared history can mean to us.

To see beauty is a gift. I’m a natural pessimist.  I get angry about injustice and passionate about causes I believe in. But I can get emotional about beautiful landscapes and wild birds; about music, art, film, and literature.

In the 1940s, Mondrian wrote: “Art today is condemned to a separate existence, for present day life is essentially tragic.  But in some distant future, art and life will be one.”

How do you see the world? Consonant or dissonant? Can you find beauty easily? And has your view changed over the years?

Links:

https://creatabot.co.uk/2013/08/13/the-vision-and-the-voice-part-1-by-jane-ayres/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Piet-Mondrian-Mondrians-Studio-DVD/dp/B004754TF6/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1374505365&sr=1-1&keywords=mondrian

http://go.sky.com/vod/content/SKYENTERTAINMENT/content/videoId/718a084b7c0ea310VgnVCM1000000b43150a________/content/default/videoDetailsPage.do

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind’s_eye

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/198800.html

http://www.pietmondrian.com/

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Edgard+Var%C3%A8se

To find out more about Jane’s writing and publishing experiences, visit her blog www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her recent e-book, Beware of the Horse, is available from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beware-of-the-Horse-ebook/dp/B00BEJTDUE/

Hello? Is this thing on? – The People Fighting Your Corner

publicRelations

It’s been a while! Too long, in fact. So it’s about time for another article, methinks

This time, I’m going to try and shine a light on the weird and wonderful world of PR (or Public Relations in layman’s terms).

For those of you who don’t know, these are the lovely people that will be sending your music out to the world to get you as much profile, and radio play as they can, as well as loads of interviews, TV spots, and features as they can, and they can be split up into these rather broad categories:

  • Print
  • Online
  • Radio
  • Club

Print

The print PR team are going to spend their time targeting magazines and newspapers, ranging from being featured in their Albums/Singles of the Week to reviews, features, Q&A’s and more. Traditionally, these guys will also be writing up your press releases (I wrote previously about these devious documents here) and even biographies on occasions. Print is where most of your press would have come from in the old days, but with blogs and online editions starting to take over, this is less true, though still massively important. If successful, and I say ‘if’, because  PR can work day and night at times to make the project big but seemingly hit a brick wall, this is also where your quotes will come from for posters, product stickers, adverts and more.

Print press is the grandfather of PR in the music industry, and is continually merging with online going forwards as more magazines and websites increase and improve their web presence, which leads quite nicely to…

Online

 …Online PR (Pretty sure I’m breaking a lot of grammar rules using an ellipsis to bridge paragraphs but hey, that’s why I work for a label and not PR!). This is now arguably as important as print, if not more in the modern game. I say that because blogs are now the heart and soul of new music and main tool for breaking it. It’s also worth bearing in mind that it costs a magazine or newspaper to print an article in its physical form. The only cost of putting a review or feature on a website is bandwidth, the writer and whoever they pay to maintain the website, so as a rule they are much more susceptible to putting things up for you, given the amount of content uploaded in a day. This isn’t a make or break type scenario, but just an opinion of mine – you take what you want from it. It’s also a damn sight easier to get people to listen to your music on a website, with a Soundcloud link for example, than an article telling them the music is available to buy. That’s not to say they won’t go and seek it out at the record shop or iTunes, but think about it – one click of a Soundcloud/Youtube embed versus trawling through iTunes to find it themselves. This is probably a good time to note that PEOPLE ARE LAZY. Shove it in their face and make it as easy as possible and you’ll find more people will engage. Don’t believe me? Think about how you surf the web/read magazines and you should be able to answer me.

Radio

Radio can make or break a campaign. If you get loads of radio play across lots of a stations, then great! It gives you something to talk about and also gets the tunes out to more ears. If you get a few plays across a few stations, that’s good. Something, at the end of the day, is better than nothing. When you end up getting little to no plays, it makes the whole campaign a lot harder. After all, where else do you expect to hear new music? Traditionally that is, don’t forget how strong online is now, with iPhones, Galaxy phones the size of a dinner tray and tablets that make you try and remember why you ever had that giant, windows ‘95 computer tower decades ago. I digress. Radio PR teams will go and talk to presenters and producers (usually producers) and harass them until either they play your tunes on air or get removed from the building. They pitch to get you into playlists.

Now, for those of you that don’t know radio stations usually have a set of playlists, from which they make up the majority of the music in their shows. It usually consists of;

  • The ‘A’ Playlist – Big stars, super popular tracks (Adele, Beyonce, 1D and the like).
  • The ‘B’ Playlist – Tracks that are popular, but not quite at A-list status yet
  • The ‘C’ Playlist – you get the idea by now, right?
  • The ‘Specialist’ Playlist – This is where the tracks that don’t quite fit the mould sit, like big tracks that aren’t ‘pop’

This applies to most commercial stations, BBC Radio 1 & 2 and more online stations too. Just switch the genre up depending on the station. Presenters usually get one or 2 free plays, which are usually tracks of their own choice they can slot in once in a while.

As well as trying to get the recorded track on the air, they’ll try and get you in to talk, co-host where possible or go on and play a track. Be prepared to sit around for a long time to then play 2 songs, say 4 lines then leave. You’re at the mercy of scheduling, remember this. Especially live.

Club

The mystical and baffling world of club promo. Now as a rule this does not usually apply to traditional bands, it’s always been for electronic music really. House, D’n’B, Trip-Hop, Glitch Funk and Mooba-core. They’ll take your package of tracks and send it out to scores of DJ’s, both radio and live, to try and get them to play it. You often get loads of feedback from them about what they think of it but it’s incredibly difficult to track this back into sales. Get a review in a paper, have a website premier a single or have BBC 6 Music play your track, and it’s very easy to track and analyse just how effective it has been, be it new Facebook ‘Likes’ or 500 people buying your single. Club promo is almost under the radar in some ways. It puts the tracks in the hands of a select few people, nudges them to drop it into their set at XOYO or Plan B, hoping that the crowd goes wild and then goes off in search of just what the hell track it was. And there is your issue. Radio, print, online, all say what the track is, who it was by etc. In the club, you’ve either got to ask the DJ (If he/she’s not holed up in his/her booth), pray your ‘in the know’ club buddy knows the track or you can get close enough to a speaker to Shazam the track without overloading your phone’s microphone. A double-edged sword, but if you get the right DJ behind a track and they pioneer it, you’re onto a winner.

Now, I would advise all of you to read this as it is. I work with PR through a label, not for a PR company. This is just my words and thoughts and a little insight into how I see it working, as well as some generalisations and opinions I read in ‘Music Week’ from time to time. Do your own research. Approach a PR company and see what they think of your tunes. Get them to pitch you their opinion of how they could work your track and where they think is a good place for it.

This is also a work in progress. Undoubtedly I’ve missed things that I know but don’t remember that I know. Pop a question in the box below and I’ll do my best to answer it. In fact, here’s a link to my previous articles. Read them and ask me questions. I started writing these blogs to try and give an insight and some help, so help me do that by picking my brain.

By Luke Crook

Garrets and Gatekeepers by Jane Ayres

Photograph by Chris Ayres
http://scubabeer.uk.to/jalbum

More than 30 years ago I wrote an article for the now defunct Composer magazine called Starving in Garrets.  It was all about how painfully difficult it was for composers to get their work performed and heard, and even harder to make a living from writing music.  In many ways, I don’t believe things have really changed that much for artists and creatives. There is still that struggle for discoverability.

I’m a writer, primarily.  But I’m also a musician and have worked with contemporary composers.   I recently read some sobering statistics for writers.  For example, in 2011 there were 211,269 self-published titles and out of at least 1.2 million titles published by the entire industry over the course of a year, almost 80% sell fewer than 100 copies. (source: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/09/7-book-marketing-mistakes/)

So how on earth do you get people’s attention? If you are a writer, it’s pretty tough.  If you are a composer, it’s even harder. We measure success by fame and celebrity status, regardless of quality.  So if you aren’t yet a “name” you are largely invisible.   How do you get the “gatekeepers” to listen to your music, or read your work? For anyone to take you seriously? If you are lucky, maybe 1 in 30 people you contact might reply and follow up your work. Many years ago, I decided to speculatively contact film production companies about one of my books.  I sent 35 emails with a pitch, had 2 replies, and this resulted in one meeting with a producer.  I was told this was a pretty good result!

The more successful you are, the busier you become.  Famous people have a whole raft of assistants (gatekeepers) which make it even harder to be heard.  Even a negative reply is a response, which acknowledges your existence.  You have been read, listened to.  Your creation is personal and precious and being ignored is far worse than rejection, though you may not agree.

But negotiating huge organisations like the BBC, for example, can be like scaling an impenetrable fortress.  If anyone knows how you manage to get a Proms commission I would love to hear from you.

Of course, the internet provides a global shop window on an unprecedented level.  Writers can publish without publishers, artists can create online galleries, composers and musicians can put their work on platforms like You Tube.  We can let the public judge.  As Natasha said in a previous post, artists don’t generally follow their calling for the money.  But they do need to be acknowledged, and better still, enjoyed.  They want to share their work.  That’s the whole point.

And so, with Xmas looming on the horizon, I’m including a recently discovered You Tube link to a moving performance of a haunting  Carol which a Canadian choir have used for their candlelit procession over the past 5 years.  The music was written by a UK composer who should be far better known.  Simply beautiful!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIyhg8e04cI

To find out more about Jane’s publishing experiences, go to her blogwww.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her trilogy of Matty Horse and Pony Adventures books for pre-teens and teens (and nostalgic older readers!) are available for Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. All profits from these stories are going to Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Leukaemia Research Charity Gig – Medway

http://www.facebook.com/events/443264375718033/

We hear all the time from charities that cancer effects 1 in 4 or us. For some of us this fact is closer to home than an appeal on TV. Would it surprise you to know that only one charity in the UK is actually fighting blood cancers? Leukaemia Research also boasts a 9 in 10 chance of survival in children because of their hard work and support from people like Andy Spring.

 In 2006 after a 2 year battle with Leukaemia Andy along with the support of his family began to raise money for the charity by cycling 35 miles from Ashford to Medway hospital. Raising £8000 along with nearly 50 other cyclist Andy managed to raise the bar again in 2008 and 2010 bringing a total of £26,000 towards the charity that is helping save lives like his. In Andy’s own words, “I wanted to give back something for the life I am so grateful to have, the whole experience has given myself and my family the chance to enjoy every moment we are together”.

Set for a fourth event, Andy unfortunately was set back when he urgently required a marrow transplant early 2011. Andy says: “I knew I could not cycle for a while but I was more determined than ever to do something, I just didn’t know what”. Next to two wheels music has always been Andy’s other passion. Picking up his bass he started to jam at practice sessions with Hesperian Wave. This gathering over the following months would bring a new outlook  and birth a new band a new style and a very new agenda.

Freshly formed and ready for their first gig The Furry Lovelickers shall be taking to the stage this Saturday September 29th alongside some of Medway’s longstanding and upcoming talents. Taking place at the charity cycle’s finishing line Medway hospital social club will be hosting from 7pm an awesome line up for a small donation of £3 entrance fee. See flyer for details. Also on the night Crybaby special and the monsters will be donating the proceeds of their EP on the night. you can check them here http://www.facebook.com/crybabyspecialandthemonsters

By Obi

Area: South East

Music Scenes: Time To Stop Complaining And Do Something About it!

Evening all!

Today I’m veering away from label based shenanigans (love that word) for a personal post to talk about the scene.

Now, for those of you that don’t know what I’m referring to, the scene is what people tend to call the representation of music, bands and gigs in their area. Every county, town and city has a scene, and they tend to have highs and lows. It’s a cyclic thing, music everywhere is like it.

I’m writing this article not as an educational piece (though there may be some good pointers in here), but as an observational piece. To be perfectly frank, I’m hacked off with people in the Medway Towns and surrounding areas complaining there is no scene in town anymore.

“Oh, I wish there were more bands to see”
“I remember when there used to be a gig on 4 nights a week”
“What happened to all the good music in this town?”

When I was working in the record shop I used to hear this constantly. In fact, to my knowledge people are still going in there and moaning to their mates about it, despite the array of colourful posters that adorn the entrance to the shop, informing them of regular club nights, one off gigs and album launches(!) from local bands.

It takes 3 groups of people to create, maintain and evolve a scene. Bands. Fans. Promoters. Now, I happen to exist in all 3 of these groups, so I feel I’m in a pretty good position to talk about it. There have to be bands to create a scene. That’s a no brainer. Following that, there has to be fans. You need people to go to the shows after all! Then finally you have the promoters, of which there are plenty in the towns, believe me!

The issue with Medway, I think, is that no one is ever happy with the music scene unless its uber cool, on the cusp and breaking ground. The problem here is that these things have to be built from the ground up. There are loads of bands that want to play. There are a good group of promoters covering an array of genres to book bands. Admittedly the venue situation is a bit tricky for us but we all talk to try and move forward. But where are the fans?

I, with 2 friends, run a Zing, Bang, Kapow Productions. We put on a gig every Sunday in Chatham with some great bands. We promote it hard, as do the bands, but I still hear people complaining about how there aren’t any good rock bands in town to go and listen to anymore. Admittedly, I know Sundays are tricky, but we start at 5 and were usually done by 10. What are people usually doing on a Sunday about then?! To add to that, you’ve got MotherBoy, Moogie Wonderland putting on Alt/Rock/Punk shows, as well as a few other guys (Even Bar Mojo/Command House!) putting on rock line-ups! And to address the “lack of good rock bands” quite frankly that is a load of BS. Frau Pouch, Z-Stacks, Dog Town, Houdini, Cry Baby Special & The Monsters, The Dirty Vibes, Yokozuna, Fishtank, Rageweed, Iron Iron, Wolfgang Special, and tonnes more that I’ve forgotten, apologies. And that’s just rock/alt bands. The Preservation Society have got some fantastic bands signed up to them, and if I’m thinking right, they’re part of the brains behind getting The Cribs to play in town and ME1, the Rochester Castle gig with PIL! Or have butchers at TEA, a local collective putting on some fantastic gigs in the South East. You have them to thank for Grandmaster Flash at The Casino Rooms.

A few quid isn’t a lot when you get to see 3 or 4 bands play.

I guess what I’m trying to say is GO TO YOUR LOCAL GIGS! Wherever you might be reading this. The only way to make and feed a scene is to keep turning up. Don’t complain when you know damn well there are probably 4 gigs on that week, but you just can’t be bothered to go. Venues are a premium these days. Medway lost Bar M years ago, RAFA club is a shadow of its former self and lets not even get started on what WAS the Tap’n’Tin, let alone what its become (You know INME and The Libertines played there right? NME features and all. What happened?!). We know it might be a bit of a grotty pub but you have to persevere, because once other venues see there’s a calling for places to play, they’re more likely to get involved.

Also, moan at promoters, not the bands. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt recently from being in the industry is that its not the artists fault if they don’t get that gig in your hometown. It’s the promoters. If they’re not playing there, it’s probably because a promoter didn’t think he/she’d make any money from it. So go shout at them and let them know you want to see that band on their club night or line up!

By Luke Crook

Creatabot Conversations: Music – 25th July 2012 – Rochester

What turned out to be an invite to a few people to come to coFWD to see the space has turned into something much more interesting. There are now a number of people coming to coFWD on Wednesday to have a look at the space – and they all have one thing in common – making music. 

Having spoken to various people recently about possibilities and needs in Kent, Medway is quickly becoming a place bubbling with inspiration and like minds who want to create and collaborate. 

If you would love to meet other musical creatives and discuss where there are needs and also help others find out about things they maybe didn’t know, then we would love to see you Wednesday: to indeed see coFWD but also to have a nice relaxed (emphasis on RELAXED) afternoon to chat about creativity, collaboration and ideas.

We would love there to be a wide mix of people attend such as:

Songwriters
Singers
Musicians
Photographers
Gig organisers
Music Video Producers
Record Labels
Social Media peeps
Web designers
Illustrators

Place – 161 Rochester High Street – ME1 1EH

Time – 3.00pm until 5.00pm

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/296198113812612/

For more details email: natasha@creatabot.co.uk

#creatabotconversations

Please note, our venue (http://coFWD.org/) is a very old bank building that is being slowly shaped by a community of individuals for long-term Community Interest. Sadly the startup project is in its infancy and being run on limited funds so the building currently has some accessibility issues. If you have specific access or disability requirements and would like to attend an event or activity please let us know at least 5 days before the event date so that we can do our utmost to resolve any potential problems to accommodate.”

This reason for the above is two fold:

1. by law we (coFWD/161/CreativeMedwayCiC) are required to make any ‘publicly promoted’ events or activity accessible to all and failure to be ‘accessible’ or not provide advanced notice of building/space accessibility limitations will likely land us in trouble.

2. it is very important that all of our events are measured for capacity and that we know who is coming to or has been through our doors, this is important for safety and security, and it also means the person running such activities can easily update participants of any changes or additional correspondence.

Area: South East

Working For An Indie Record Label – Part 4: Making Sense Of Social Media – By Luke Crook

So, one of THE most important parts of being successful either as a band, a label or even a brand is how you connect with your fan base and demographic. Despite what people say, there are pretty much 2 major ways of getting in touch with your fan base to let them know what’s happening, Facebook & Twitter. Most of the courses I end up on are either about Social Media full stop, or have a massive section dedicated to it.

It’s all about social media. You can’t get away from it, try as you might. The problem is, both the main social media platforms operate completely differently so different strategies are needed. Twitter never changes. 140 unadulterated characters of text to use and abuse as best you can, tag people in it and share that Instagram photo of your dog with your sunglasses on (don’t deny it, we’ve all thought about it). Facebook allows you to present music, videos, photos, competitions and all sorts of lovely things internally (you don’t have to leave Facebook to see them), but the buggers keep changing the format every 4 months, and by the time you’ve worked it out, they sweep the rug out from under you and change it all. Not to mention all their restrictions on advertising inside the website. Don’t put anything in your bands cover photo that tells someone where to buy a product. Facebook will take your page down without telling you. By all means say its out or available though! They do however have some insanely good (albeit slightly 1984/Orwellian) marketing devices. We’ll get to that later.

There are, of course, other ways of engaging your fans. That lovely website you spent £4k on development and that amazing feature that no-one else has done yet for example. The problem is, you’ll find it very quickly becomes a holding page for you to link to from your Facebook/Twitter account (We were actually talking about this in the office after I wrote this). However, it is an amazing way to archive your work and keep things neatly organized in a way that other places don’t. A good example is your gig list. Myspace makes it looks ugly in my opinion and that puts people off reading it. Keep it on your website, drive a bit of traffic that way and lay it out in a way you would like to see it. It’s your website after all!

Also, lets not forget the newsletter. Now this is still pretty effective, just don’t ever look at the stats, they’ll depress you. If memory serves, the average for people opening the email sits at about 9% and the average people that actually click a link in your newsletter is about 2/3%. Most good newsletter systems will give you a link to your newsletter too, so you can share it around to people to read in their browser. Some will even allow you to link up your Facebook or Twitter (Starting to see a trend here yet?) so you can spread the word further. Completely customisable from layout to content, its yours to design and make.

Now the major advantage of Facebook is the marketing aspect. No other social media does it as well, so if you’re looking to make some money and sell some product, its the place to be. Their marketing ability is spectacular, if not slightly bloody scary. The beauty of it is, is that you can spend as little as you like on it. £5, see how it does. If it does well, pump some more money in. If it doesn’t, you’ve only spent a fiver. You can tailor it to a fine point too. Target people that like similar pages. Show the punter that their friend likes that page too. The scariest aspect of it though, is the way you can target advertise through keywords. There’s a little text box in the Ad’s section where you can tap in keywords that, if people mention it in their status, relevant Adverts will start appearing in their news feed. “Oh fudge, I broke my bike chain” will soon become a little square box on the right hand ad feed saying “Cheap bike repairs in Chatham”. Incredibly clever, but a bit creepy at the same time. (It’s worth mentioning that you can turn all of this off, but it’s a bit of a ball ache (surprise surprise). It’s your privacy, think about it.)

So there’s a bit of an intro into Social Media. You might notice its heavily Facebook based, but that’s where you have to most control over what you can do. Twitter is much more to the point, so it’s fairly straightforward. Facebook is where you’ll make money from driving sales.

Oh, a few final things in this whirlwind social media ride, which were in fact my point in writing a blog on the topic.

There’s a technique that has various names but I’ll call it The Rule Of Thirds here. It’s very simple, and will prevent you losing followers and likes (although its rather difficult to mass unlike things on Facebook. Another advantage…). Don’t constantly spam your demographic with messages to buy your wares. People will quickly grow tired of this, especially Twitter followers (Twitter followers are much less forgiving than Facebook Followers. They tend to be a lot savvier and will drop you like a stone). So the trick is to make roughly every third message a marketing one. Buy the album, get my tour tickets, blah. Every third is also a minimum. I try and go for every five or six personally. Don’t forget to reward either. Free tracks or posters or a personal video of the band saying “HI WERE ON TOUR!!!!!  *cough*to support our new album*cough*” work very well, people love them, and are technically marketing without shoving it in the consumers face. Also, keep it relevant and not stream of consciousness type barrage of messages.

Which leads me into my final point. Keep it personal. If it sounds like you are directly talking to that fan, they’ll like it more. Now, for a label or a brand I can appreciate that might be a bit tricky, but for an artist its imperative. Make it first person. I can’t stress this enough. You do NOT want to make it sound like someone is writing your tweets for you. Don’t con your fans. One of them will work out that you can’t have tweeted that, because you were either onstage or being interviewed live. They are much smarter than you think. If it is someone else doing it for you/them, set up a little system that lets the fan know when its you and with its you’re assistant (E.g. Tom Cruise. His Tweets end TC, his teams end TCHQ…I think. You get the point.).

So there you go. A quick, scatterbrained take on social media. Feel free to leave any questions below and I’ll try and dig the answer out of my seminar notes! I’ll come back later with another article about social media thats a bit more targeted, but this should (hopefully) get you moving in the right direction.

By Luke Crook

Area:   UK   Britain   East of England   East Midlands   London  North East   North West    Yorkshire    Scotland    South East                South West    Wales   West Midlands

Working For An Indie Record Label – Part 3 : Pitching To A Record Label

So, we’ve covered a few bits about the thought process that goes into getting a record onto iTunes and into shops and also sourcing and producing artwork for the release.

Next up, I want to touch on Press Releases and Biographies. Record labels receive bucket loads of these together with a CD attached. Some are good. Some are ok. Some are downright awful!

Now, for those of you that don’t know, a Press Release is a piece of paper that contains a brief overview of the release you are trying to push out to media or radio or labels. Every release we do at the label has a press release to go with it, telling whoever reads it about the release, collaborators, interesting facts and angles, and also a little bit about the band too. Traditionally these are usually written up by the Print (Magazines/Newspapers) PR company you have on board to work the release. Throw a photo in if you like and you’re sorted.

A Biography is just that. A history of the band or act written by someone else. A page long should suffice, but obviously it all depends on how long the subjects of it have been going. Be honest, big yourself up and try and get someone outside of the band to write it. An impartial biography reads much better than a fan boy one.

Of course, if you’re signed to a label or management, then you don’t really need to worry about this, as someone else will be writing all these up for you. However, if like most of the examples I receive you’re unsigned and doing it yourselves, here are a few pointers for you, from what I’ve seen.

Press Releases/Biog

  • Keep them to the point. By all means, shout to the heavens about your achievements; you’ve got every right. Just don’t waffle. Lots of indie labels run small crews, so a 4 page copy about your band is not a smart move. Keep the meat of your text somewhere on your website or Facebook page where someone can find it, and make your press release interesting so people want to find out more.
  • Appearance and presentation. Humans make first impressions on another person in under a second or something ridiculous like that. Same theory applies when you submit your info to a label. I have received a press release written in crayon (by what appeared to be a 4 year old) on lined Winnie The Pooh paper (I think) with cut outs of the bands photos thrown in for good measure. Arty, yes. Easy to read, No. By all means be inventive and creative. You want to stand out. Just don’t make it difficult to read. The best one I have seen had a brief hand written hello, press release, a biography and upcoming gig dates with a sticker, a CD and some badges.
  • If you can afford to or you think it might help, throw in a few gig tickets. Personally, I will always try to at least make it to the show if someone sends some tickets through the post to us about their band. I’m a musician, and tickets are income. So if they’re prepared to lose £12 and send a few tickets through, I personally am more likely to go and watch. It’s a nice gesture.
  • Emails. We live in a digital age. However, here are a few tips for you guys sending links about over email…
    • DON’T ATTACH YOUR MUSIC FILES TO THE EMAIL! Trying to download 45.3MB of attachments is not only annoying; it slows down receiving the rest of your emails. Link to your Soundcloud/Band Camp/Myspace.
    • Write a bit more than “Hey, listen to my band. Thanks, J. Bloggs”. Throw a bit of your bio in, leave a few links to music and gigs and videos. Don’t drown the email with words, but give us some assets.
    • This is an important one. Don’t, for love of all that is good and tasty in the world, paste 300 email addresses into your “To:” or “CC:” section. Use BCC, A.K.A. Blind Copy. It sends the email to everyone, but the recipients don’t see the 299 other labels you’ve sent your band to. Personalization is key here. Talk to us directly, not a blanket “Hi guys…”.

I hope this helps you guys out when it comes to trying to pimp your band out to labels or management. I will leave you with one, final piece of advice.

Know what label you are sending music to. Sunday Best are traditionally Leftfield, Hip-Hop, Dance, and Indie with bands like Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Dub Pistols, Max Sedgley, and Beardyman. For example, the death metal band who sent me a CD of music for our consideration, I enjoyed. Next time though, send it to Earache or Nuclear Blast, you might get a better response. KNOW YOUR TARGET!

By Luke Crook

Area:   UK   Britain   East of England   East Midlands   London  North East   North West    Yorkshire    Scotland    South East               South West    Wales   West Midlands  

Working For An Indie Record Label – Part 2 – By Luke Crook

Hello again!

So, the last article was a bit of a ramble aimed at some of the tech/admin steps you go through at a label to take a release from X tracks on a CD-R or Pendrive and getting it out to digital and physical retailers worldwide.

This time, lets talk about something that’s a little more…well, creative!

Artwork.

Next to the music itself, artwork is in my opinion the next more important part of a release. Before streaming music became so incredibly popular, all you had to go on was if you’d heard it on the radio and how awesome the front cover looked!

So, where do you start?

Well, first things first, you need an idea. Whilst it might sound stupid, you can waste a lot of time if you don’t have some direction, because more often than not, the music is more or less done before the artwork starts, and no-one wants to rush. Following that, you need a designer to put it all together. This can take some time too, so make sure you’re looking out for one. Check out other CD designs you like, artwork, even book covers. Students are good, as they are cheap! Friends are even better! Discussions about whether you can gloss finish, matte finish, pantones/fluros (neon colours), metallic effects, how many pages you want in your booklet/inlay, how you want your digipack to fold and open will follow that. Lots of fun!

Then, once you’ve got a designer working on your great idea, you need to work out formats. CD/Limited Edition CD/LP/Digital/Magical Unicorn Edition.

Now, on the surface, a pack shot (Album Cover) is a pack shot, but format changes everything. CD’s are fairly straight forward and versatile. If it’s a jewel case, your inlay/booklet doubles up as your pack shot! Yaaay! All you need after that is your artwork for under the tray (where the CD slots) and artwork for the back of the case, which more often than not has the track listing. Digipacks are slightly different, because it’s all printed onto one piece of card and then folded. It can be gatefold, 2 fold, 3 fold (Rammsteins latest release opened out 5 ways if memory serves!). You need to remember where the slot for your inlay (if you have one) is going if you have one too!

Now, before I go any further, I’ve forgotten to mention one of the most important aspects of artwork. Label Copy. Label copy is essential the bible for the release. It’s a document containing everything about the album/single. Catalogue number, artist, title, track listing, publishers, copyright and publishing rights, collaborators, thank yous, websites and loads more. Most of this will go into your booklet and back cover for legal and information reasons.

Great, that’s the CD covered. Oh…what about the LP? No booklet there (Unless you’re feeling fancy!). So, you’ve not got to go back and ask your designer very nicely if he/she can do you a whole new template. Front and back sleeve (And center if it’s a gatefold) and stickers for the vinyl. This leads me back to my point about making sure you know all your formats before you go to design, otherwise you’ll: A. Irritate your designer or B. End up having to pay more for another format design. LP’s tend to have a far more stripped down label copy on them, purely for the sake of space.

Digitally, its pretty simple. Just a packshot. Bliss. Through iTunes you can also get a digital booklet to go with it if you want, as an added extra.

All of that, when all most people will ever see is the pack shot, when they walk past it in the shops or scroll past online. That’s your one chance to catch their attention and get them interested. The rest, that’s their reward for picking it up.

Always run it past your artist for approval. They don’t need to see it at every stage, just when there is a significant change or update.

Oh, and don’t forget to proof read it. Lots!

by Luke Crook

Area:   UK   Britain   East of England   East Midlands   London  North East   North West    Yorkshire    Scotland   South East    South West    Wales   West Midlands  

Working For An Indie Record Label – Part 1 – By Luke Crook

As some of you may know, I work for an Indie Record Label. It’s a blast, but not what everyone thinks it is. So, I thought it would be interesting to do a little blog about what the day to day is like working for an Indie Record Label because as much as I make it sound like gigs galore and nights out in reality, it’s really not!

Paperwork. Data entry. There’s lots of it.

 Before this job I thought getting a record made meant going to the studio, getting the tracks done and then sending them off for mass production. If only.

So, we’ve got the music. Great. Then you need to get it Mastered. Which is fine. So long as you remember to deliver the relevant ISRC codes (Unique, trackable numbers for each track) with it. Oh, and the correct track listing for the Redbook/DDP (final format for delivery to manufacture). Forgot to write “feat. Blah blah blah”? That’ll be an extra £40 to get it amended.

Then, you enter the lovely world of Metadata, or the spreadsheet of doom as I like to call it. You enter ALL the track/album info into a spreadsheet. Title, artist, feature artist, release data, catalogue number, publisher, composer, producer. Everything. 10 track album? Not to bad. 5 formats? Not so easy. CD, LP, Digital, iTunes Exclusive, German Exclusive? Yup, need to write a separate one for each. And make sure you get a new barcode for each. And the right catalogue number. Did you know Scandinavia can’t take iTunes videos? So an exclusive with video means a separate entry all together.

 Oh, and the price. Easy you think? “We’ll sell it for £xx”. But then you have to talk to separate countries about their price, and if you don’t, it wont show up on their system. And they don’t tell you till the last minute. Handy.

And between all that, you’ve got the Label Copy. Label Copy is a document that holds all the information about the release. Contributors, publishers, copyright holders. 9 guest artists? Better get all the separate publishing information for them, ASAP!

Whilst all this is going on, you’ve got artwork. Pricing for artwork. Working out the unit cost of each product. Did you know you can’t release a CD in Europe if it’s not shrink-wrapped?

 *Breathe*

That’ll do for now I think. For me, its fascinating to see what goes into actually getting a CD released to the public, and how it works. Above is just a teeny part of what goes on. There’s also marketing, sales notes, picking singles and remixes, track ordering and much more. I will be back with more about what it is like working for an indie record label soon.

By Luke Crook

Area:   UK   Britain   East of England   East Midlands   London  North East   North West    Yorkshire    Scotland South East    South West    Wales   West Midlands  

A Medway Vision 5 – Preserving Pop

Some places in the world are defined by music labels that, somehow, managed to capture a moment in pop history.  Think Motown (Detroit), Sub-Pop (Seattle) and Factory (Manchester) and, well, you get the idea.  Medway could well be on the verge of getting its very own defining record label in The Preservation Society Presents run by Neil Burrow.

Neil, Artist Manager and Record label boss at The Preservation Society Presents, has worked in the music industry for 21 years as a manager and label boss. Having worked with likes of The Bluetones and Jesus Jones, amongst others he is used to hit records and fostering success for bands,

The label was started in 2010 initially as an outlet to release records by Medway band Theatre Royal; they have since expanded, signing Dead Lovers from Dartford and Medway hip-hop act Kids Unique.

Neil believes that Medway is a special place right now “there are loads of great bands in Medway & wanted to give them a way of releasing records. It brings a focus to the local scene which can only be a good thing”

“The acts on the label are quite eclectic. Broadly speaking, Dead Lovers and Theatre Royal are alternative pop bands, Indie I suppose, but they take in Psychedelia, Folk Punk and County. Kids Unique are a Hip Hop band, but as well as Hip Hop, funk and dance music they are heavily influenced by lyricists like Morrissey and Nick Cave as well as acts like the Beta Band”

In keeping with the ‘Medway Vision’, that feeling of independence and artistry that permeates the Medway towns, TPSP is fiercely independent but is not afraid to ensure commercial success too.  As Neil points out “we have an emphasis on melody and hooks and working closely with our artists to try and create an environment that allows creativity to thrive but we also utilise commercial angels. We do not want to be pigeon holed by genre, we’ll release anything as long as we think It’s good and believe in the record.  We are proud of our independence & what we are trying to achieve”

This year will be a busy one for Neil and TPSP.  Three albums are planned for release this year from Theatre Royal, Kids Unique and Dead Lovers as well as a whole host of singles and free giveaways. On top of this there is the, frankly, already legendary, monthly singles vinyl club where two artist release exclusive recordings on ltd edition 7” vinyl.  There is a feeling about these releases that remind me of early Sub-Pop records.  Vital purchases and will probably be worth a fortune in years to come.

And that’s not all.  Alongside plans to open a TPSP rehearsal studio in Rochester, Neil is also promoting a new event coming to Rochester on 28th July 2012. Based on the hugely successful SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, this new event called Music Event One (ME1, geddit?!) will utilize the main stage in the castle (capacity of 4600) as well having 10 other venues along the High Street putting on various music , literature and art events. Neil explains “this first year is 1 day, next year 2 days building up to a 3 day event in 2014” Neil sensationally announced earlier this month that the headline act is to be John Lydon’s PiL.  Quite a scoop and one that will give this new festival the exposure it richly deserves

When you live in an age of independence, as I believe we do here in the Medway towns, then you need people to support that.  Luckily, for the Medway music scene at least, Neil Burrow is one of those people.  For years to come expect bands from all over Medway to long for their music to be introduced as ‘The Preservation Society Presents…’

Kids Unique debut single ‘Seymour Evil’ is out now on digital download.

Vol 1 of the singles vinyl club is out now featuring Theatre Royal and Kids Unique

 

Volume 2 features Dartford’s Dead Lovers and Margate’s Pantomime Villains.   Both can be bought exclusively through the website: www.thepreservationsocietypresents.com.

Mr Young

Independent Filmmaker

www.themoontheeye.co.uk

www.twitter.com/Mr_Young

www.facebook.com/themoontheeye

 

Area – South East

A Medway Vision 4 – Blues Misadventures

You probably think you know what blues music sounds like.  You’ve probably seen lots of bands in pubs with a blues-based sound.  You know the sort of thing, tribute acts; white men with a love of the blues singing about what it’s like to be a poor black man in 1930’s America.  You’re absolutely right.  It sounds good but it’s not REAL blues, music of genuine pain, anguish and hardship.  Happily, real blues does still exist.  And not just with that Detroit genius Jack White.  It’s right here in Medway too.  And this being Medway, it’s rather unique and somewhat brilliant.

Sounding like a blues singer from the Deep South, Stuart Turner has one of the most distinctive voices in music.  Straddling that fine line between Muddy Waters, Louis Armstrong, Tom Waits and out and out ‘man deranged’, Stuart brings new meaning to 21st Century Blues.  And it’s the first time I have ever heard blues sound scary.  Seriously, the combination of the man’s voice and the anguished lyrics take you to places you never thought blues could.

It has been said that to sing the blues you need to have suffered.  Well in that case Stuart qualifies.  That voice is not just an impassioned howl of feeling.  Stuart recalls, “I was diagnosed with cancer in my throat and had fairly extensive surgery leaving me with an interesting singing voice and a lot of things to write about.”  Many people would have given up.  Turner used this misfortune to his advantage.

After finding his voice again and working how he could use it he began gigging and met with Kris Dollimore (ex Godfathers, Dammed, Del Amitri).  They became friends and Stuart went on to produce Dollimores first blues solo album (’02/01/1978′) and helped him set up his own Sun Pier label. In return he offered to put out an album of Stuarts ‘A Gallon Of Water Makes A Mile Of Fog’.  Stuart now sees the album as “too long, too odd, too sweary, it got some great reviews, but sold badly” A second solo album, (File Under Carnal Knowledge’) sold better, and he was getting known around Medway as well as gigging all around the country. Stuart met Robbie Wilkinson from Medway band Theatre Royal who became his live lead guitarist, then writing collaborator, then half of the ‘Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society’.   Robbie and Stuart wrote and arranged a set of songs and produced ‘Gin and Bitters’ the first STFES album. Released by Medway based Brigadier Records, they then recruited Ray Hunt and Dave Sawicki and gigged the album, recording half a follow up as they went. “It sold modestly” said Stuart “but we got some radio and a good live reputation.”

Photo taken by Phil Dillon – www.phildillon.co.uk

Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society are not just a blues band though.  Their repertoire covers rock-a-billy, indie and pop.  Not to mention the sax on their last album ‘Gin and Bitters’ sounding a little like the soul of Dexys Midnight Runners.  Oh, and did I mention he plays ukulele live too?  But it’s the bluesy chug that works best for them, especially when mixed with indie-inspired pop dynamics.  Listen to ‘Essex’ from ‘Gin and Bitters’, simply the best 3 minutes Stuart has committed to record so far; it’ cocky, it’s raw, it’s bouncy, it’s all you need from a song.

However, as brilliant as that album was, the curse of the blues musician seemed to be hitting the band hard.  Stuart recalls how “Mark Lemar quit his radio show just as we were negotiating a session, gigs got cancelled from under us, ill health forced Dave out 

of the band and his replacement Jez, while a good player, never gelled as well and there was a personality clash with Ray”   Problems over?  Stuart wishes.  “Then there were a series of Jez-drunk-and-incapable gigs, Ray quit, just after we finished recording the as-yet-unreleased album ‘On the Brink of Misadventure’ and just after we were really getting a strong live following.  At the very next band gig Jez had to be carried from the building during the support act and I was forced to fire him.”

Bad luck indeed, but thankfully Stuart and band are raring to go and ready to put their new superb album out.  It will be out in April and if this album does not sell by the bucket load then there’s something wrong with the world.  The usual combination of urban distress, bouncy blues and indie attitude makes this a great record.  Listen to a sneak preview of the track ‘To The Nighthouse’ here:

http://soundcloud.com/stfes/to-the-nighthouse

With gigs lined up, Stuart says “this is a point of flux and anything might happen, it really is worth fighting to get this album heard” Perhaps, and most remarkably of all, Stuart accepts that this is what he HAS to do.  It’s that Medway Vision again, that desire to create.  There’s no giving up for an artist like Stuart, the music is in his blood and if fame comes then that’s a bonus “if I only ever play the Man of Kent a few times a year, but those gigs continue to be rammed, then in some way I have an ongoing achievement. Hopefully though we can go on to do more than that.”

I’m a big fan of Jack White and when I saw Stuart Turner for the first time I had that similar feeling of wonder, that feeling you get when you know you’re seeing something special, someone who means it, someone who is singing from the soul.  Jack White is, famously, a fan of Billy Childish and his raw rock and roll.  One suspects that if Jack had the pleasure of hearing Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society he would have another favourite Medway band.  This is not karaoke tribute blues as witnessed in so many bars up and down the land.  This is as real as it comes.  Stuart Turner has lived a life, he’s seen the bottom and because of that he’s breathing new life into the blues.  Once again we’re seeing a Medway Vision, an artist who makes the music because he has too.  His bad news is good news for the rest of us.

Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society release their new album ‘On the Brink of Misadventure’ on Brigadier Records later this month.

For more information visit: http://www.myspace.com/stuartjamesturner

Mr Young

Independent Filmmaker

www.themoontheeye.co.uk

www.twitter.com/Mr_Young

www.facebook.com/themoontheeye


Area – South East

A Medway Vision 2 – Spontaneous Soundscapes

Since my first article I have been absolutely overwhelmed by people recommending talented creative people to me, or people agreeing with me about the Medway independent scene.  It does indeed seem that I’m onto something here.  Medway is on the march.  So let’s continue with our list of its artistic generals.

This week I have been introduced to the sound work of a band known as Hand of Stabs.  A band?  Like a rock band?  No.  Not at all.  Imagine a soundtrack to a surreal film.  Or a soundscape to an evening walk in the woods where you THINK you’re alone but you’re not sure.  Hand of Stabs are avant-garde, yes, but don’t let that put you off by thinking that the music is impenetrable.  It has a beat, but it’s the beat of nature, the beat of darkness, the beat of Medway.  For that reason alone, this is essential listening.
Mind you, they probably won’t thank me for calling them a band.  They call themselves a ‘sound art collective’.  Hailing from Rochester their site-specific improvised work is recorded at points of significance around Kent and the South East providing a connection to sacred history and landscape. Inspired by regular, often night-time explorations through these spaces, they are creating a series of ‘aleatorical’ soundworks.  In other words, much of their work is left to chance.  Spontaneous.  Improvised.  Directly from the soul if you like.

Hand of Stabs are called, intriguingly, Captain R. Standish, Jocelyn von Bergdorff and James Worse.  Standish and Worse have both been active in a number in bands and von Bergdorff was active in the cassette underground during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The idea of playing together came together around year ago.  Their work is influenced by the writings of the historian naturalist and engineer, William Coles Finch (1864-1944), Resident Engineer of the Brompton, Chatham, Gillingham and Rochester Water Company and his vivid descriptions of Edwardian Kent in his books ”In Kentish Pilgrim Land” and ”The Medway River & Valley”.   Their sound is a reflection of the significance we place upon our surroundings.

One recent performance at the Hulkes Lane Brewery came about because their friend’s great-great-grandfather a storeman at the Brewery in 1863, hanged himself there. He had been barred from the Brewery’s social club over some minor infraction and the ignominy was too much to bear. His death meant that his wife and nine children, who lived in a two-roomed tied-cottage on Hulkes Lane, were made homeless and sent to the workhouse. The feelings that these stories evoke allow Hand of Stabs to create their soundscapes.  Less story-tellers, more mood-tellers.

Other performances so far have included, the open air at Kits Coty and at the studios of Turner Prize nominated artist Yinka Shonibare as part of an installation by Luke Otteridge.  Hand of Stabs are continually looking for opportunities to play in interesting spaces to interested audiences and are very receptive to suggestions.  Think about your favourite places and now imagine it with the emotions of the location played out in sounds.  Like a dream.  Or a nightmare.  Powerful stuff.

With two CDs already out “The Geometry of Dust” and “Aktion #2: Hulkes Lane Brewery”, this year has just seen the release of a lathe-cut vinyl LP featuring Hand of Stabs and a collaboration with Medway legend Sexton Ming in his alter-ego of Jude Hagg entitled ‘Old Bluster saw the Beauty’.

Two weeks in and we have discussed two new groups, both creating dark sounds.  Is this a theme of Medway?  Exploring the dark side of life?  It certainly appeals to me as a filmmaker.  But as I’m finding out, that’s the great thing about the Medway Vision.  It’s diverse.  The dark side of life is there for sure, but as we shall see in the coming weeks there is also a lighter side.  Keep listening because darkness needs light.

“The Geometry of Dust” and “Aktion #2: Hulkes Lane Brewery” are out now priced £10.  For more information on Hand of Stabs contact: spoon-unit@blueyonder.co.uk

Mr Young

Independent Filmmaker

www.themoontheeye.co.uk

www.twitter.com/Mr_Young

www.facebook.com/themoontheeye

Area – South East

ME1 – 28th July 2012 – Rochester – Kent

July 28th sees the launch of Music Event One, an exciting new music event to be held in the spectacular grounds of Rochester Castle. Music Event One are proud to announce that this years inaugural event will be headlined by the legendary Public Image LtdPiL top a main stage line up that mixes iconic artists with new and up and coming talent, all enclosed by the historic castle walls, in the gaze of it’s magnificent Keep. Joining PiL are heroes of alternative music The Wedding Present, hometown psyche-pop favourites Theatre Royal and hotly tipped alternative hip-hop act Kids Unique.

Widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential bands of all timePiL’s music and vision earned them 5 UK Top 20 Singles (including ‘Public ImageThis Is Not a Love Song’ and ‘Rise’) and 5 UK Top 20 Albums. With a shifting line-up and unique sound John Lydon guided the band from their debut album ‘First Issue’ in 1978 through to 1992’s ‘That What Is Not’, before a 17 year hiatus.  John then resurrected PiL in 2009 playing live worldwide. Now after 20 years yet another new and unique chapter is set to unfold in the shape of new PiL material as they confirm that their first new album in 20 years ‘This Is PiL’ will bereleased on May 28thPiL have seemingly returned as relevant as ever, of a recent live performance The Times commented “This was an evening of uncompromising art music, worthy of the total concentration of the audience.”

Joining PiL on the main stage will be The Wedding Present, one of the most influential and successful of Britain’s truly alternative bands. Led by David Gedge, the bands stubborn refusal to play the record industry’s game has seen them notch up an impressive 18 Top 40 hit singles and a heap of critical praise along the way.  In the words of John Peel “The boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Era. You may dispute this, but I’m right and you’re wrong!” In 2012 the band added further to this great canon of songs with the release of acclaimed new album ‘Valentina’.

Taking to the stage before The Wedding Present will be two bands signed to Rochester’s very own independent record label The Preservation Society PresentsTheatre Royal and Kids Unique.  Rochester’s Theatre Royawill release their 2nd album this summer, featuring more music that ‘heads straight for the melodic jugular’ –Artrocker whilst the articulate hip-hip of main stage openersKids Unique is fast finding fans from XFM to Q TV.

As well as a main stage in the castle grounds, Medway Event One will incorporate a fringe festival of live music in venues throughout Rochester. The fringe will feature a variety of acts both new and established, details of which are soon to be announced.

On July 28th the whole of Rochester will be filled with live music from big named acts to unheralded treasures and getting there could not be easier. Rochester Castle is situated just 5 minutes from two train stations (Strood and Rochester), with high-speed rail services making travel from London and the surrounding area of Kent swift and convenient.

Tickets priced £26 will go on sale May 4th  and will be available through Ticketmaster, the Medway Council Box Office and Rochester Visitors Information Centre. Tickets paid for in cash from Rochester Visitors Information Centre will not be subject to a booking fee.

www.musiceventone.co.uk

Rochester Castle
Castle Hill
Rochester
Kent
ME1 1SW

#musiceventone

www.pilofficial.com

‘by arrangement with Solo’

Album ‘This is PiL’ out May 28

Area – South East