Sunday, 30 December 2012

Looking back over 2012

Well, it's been quite a year. 

Old Father Time (at Lords) catching up
It's taking stock at the end of the seasonal break time. 

A week back, I was thinking about coming up with some sort of awards list, but I've dropped that in favour of simply noting  what I’d really enjoyed or noted this past year, both in music - live, recorded or on video - and a radio. So that’s the guts of this post. 

Lots of brilliant stuff to talk about, though. And sadly, some disappointments. But, this being our shiny and creative local scene, I'm not short of decent topics. The biggest problem was keeping it concise. And I know I've missed some people out. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Five things I learned this year

The Radio To Go 2012 review part 1: You can learn a lot from your blog's figures. 

Clicker is a freebie app in the Apple store
The total pageview count at Radio To Go clicked past 40,000 this week: mainly people checking out the 1EYE / Del Camino post.

I'm pleased. I launched the blog in 2007 to plug my radio consult business. A regular topic was how local radio and local music can do good things for each other. But as radio shrank - four years of systematic merging of local radio into national 'brands' - I found myself writing more and about my other great passion: music. Preferably fresh,  honest and local.

Up to Christmas 2011, blog page views were tiny: less than 9000 in four years. But this time last year, at the Destroyers’ Brum Christmas party, it struck me that the radio posts were now almost irrelevant. On the other hand, here I was, watching a band that people care about; much more interesting, and very different. And that's what put me on a new path. Thank you, Louis, Paul, and company. 

So this past year, I've focussed much more on music, and things have changed - a lot. Now it's the end of the year, so here's a two-part 2012 review, starting with how people have used this blog. I’ve learned a lot.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Mr Bailiff! Del Camino and 1EYE. 2 bands, one set of musos.

This post is about two bands with the same core personnel. They’re absolute killer musicians, by the way. On the one hand they operate as Del Camino, who bang out top notch Salsa; and on the other, they’re reggaemeisters 1EYE. And they’ve got an interesting take on where reggae is going. 

1EYE. Excellent moody attitude at the Custard Factory car park, guys
There are those who hold that Reggae is done and dusted. That it was all over and done with by the end of the 80s. But they’re quite wrong. Before we go any further, it’s worth pointing out that Reggae is now global. It's not just made in Jamaica. And Birmingham is, more than ever, a powerhouse for reggae, with a string of fine third and fourth generation bands flying the flag. 

For example, Xova, who are going from strength to strength. Or the fluid and infinite permutations of Robin Giorno’s Friendly Fire Band. Or brilliant ska groovers such as 360 and Tempting Rosie. And the fine work coming out of Elephant House. There are others too.

Now there’s a brand new video from 1EYE, after the jump, which is absolutely delicious… You owe it to yourself to watch.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Hare and Hounds: Keep On Running!

Towards the end of 2012, the Hare and Hounds came under threat, again. The problem was, once again, property developers planning to run up flats right next to a cherished music venue. 

People rallied round. Gaffer Adam Regan was interviewed, petitions signed, and on Thursday 21st December BCC Planning Committee voted to OPPOSE the planning application. But this post, written while the venue was under threat, is well worth re-visiting.

The Hare and Hounds is a great little music venue in boho King’s Heath. Two upstairs rooms, good PA, decent staging, staff who know what they’re doing, a great booking policy with a strong local bias, and drinks at pub prices. It’s been around as a music venue longer than most of us have been on this planet. When I was a baby rock DJ on BRMB, in the 70s (gulp), the Hare was a fixture on the gig guides I read out at the time; it was going long before then. I have been to more gigs at the Hare than any other venue in Birmingham. 

Now it could be compromised. It is essential that the Hare keeps on running. We need our venues, especially those that take a sympathetic view of new talent. Especially those that aren't part of some soul-less corporate chain. A music scene as good as ours needs the right platforms, and the Hare is definitely one of those. Whether you live in King's Heath, or indeed anywhere this blog reaches, you can help.