Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Birmingham Broadcast trail

Not quite a trail of tears, but close....

Before even more threats line up for the last remnants of local broadcasting - through a toxic combination of cost-cutting, indifference, incompetence and government hostility - you might like to take this walk. 

You wouldn't think it today, but Birmingham bristles with unlikely old radio and TV studio locations. Some are completely untraceable; some hold strong memories. You can still spot traces of some of them dotted across the city. 

So here's a guide. You really can walk this if you want to, although it's a bit of trek to get out to Edgbaston and back, just to see a building site...

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Pledging My Love with Boat To Row

A modest crowdfunding appeal to get their album pressed: 88% of target in 16 days. Great going. 

Wayne Fox Photography    
Chatting with Boat To Row is a pleasure. They're great company, and damn fine musicians to boot. The band has quietly built up a very loyal fan base in their six years. Now they're working that fan base to cover production costs for a first album, using that cornerstone of fan-funding, Pledge Music.

We met for coffee in Brum this week: me and three band members. The other two? Tied up with a very new baby and teaching paperwork. But the Colmore district was packed with celebrities: Perry Barr MP Khamid Mahmood was hanging at Yorks, and Julian Lloyd-Webber, the new Principal at the Conservatoire, was in the Wellington. Movers and shakers clearly surround this band.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Rich Bitch garage sale. Rob's slipped out the back...

There must be 50 ways to leave your studio 

Kit, lots of it. No reasonable offer refused
There's been a couple of tear-stained press pieces recently on the death of a local rock institution. Rich Bitch, the oldest rehearsal joint in Brum, is going after 34 years. The Bournbrook home from home for the likes of Sabbath and ELO reduced to rubble. The end of an era. Another slice of rock history obliterated. 

But... it's not quite like that. Owner Rob Bruce is having a clear-out, but he's not quitting the business. And if you move fast, you can pick up some tasty gear for very little money indeed, as ALL the old kit - amps, keyboards, drumkits and lots more - is going, to be sold or donated. I dropped round this week. It's really strange to see the place dissolving before your eyes. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Women in music; a shifting balance.

Live? That's one thing. But at Radio, it's already changed. And there's a programming rule for that.

Sometimes it helps to have a dinosaur perspective. I've been looking at music, local and mainstream, over 40 years or more, and I'm seeing changes. I'm only talking about these two areas in this post. But that's already a lot to be going on with. 

       Rebecca Downes     pic Mick Schofield
The week before last, I chased around Birmingham catching bands I hadn't yet seen. I started with Rebecca Downes - a two-person powerhouse blues/jazz set at the Blue Piano. Then headed to the Rainbow's seven-band indie night, to catch Shaake, a new project from Suzi And The Backbeats, and damn good they were too. Then to the Fiddle and Bone for some of Hannah Johnson And The Broken Hearts elegantly spinning tales of country heartache, love, and loss. 

I had a great time: one night, three bands, all led by strong women. It's part of a trend.