Sunday, 30 August 2015

Draw it, print it, put it up... See it get nicked. Lewes Herriot and the art of poster design

Depraved 19th century libertines, poster design, music promotion and Johnny Foreigner - the world of Lewes Herriot 

If you have muso facebook friends and you live in Brum, you've probably seen Lewes Herriot's work. Lewes is a man of multiple talents, which he cheerfully and resolutely refuses to shout about. As well as playing in a pretty damn successful band and having an exhibition throughout August at Birmingham's Digbeth Warehouse Cafe, Lewes has been delivering catchy and stylish posters for Brum promoters This Is TMRW for some time now. 

They're lovely. They get nicked. That's the trouble with great poster designs. 

It's always happened. I noticed this at first hand when I asked the amazing Hunt Emerson to do a brilliant, gently mocking design for Project X Presents. Hunt's poster placed West Midlands hipster heartland Moseley at the centre of the world, riffing on the classic Saul Steinberg New Yorker magazine cover. Instead of the Big Apple, Moseley was at the core of things; even King's Heath barely got a mention. It was fantastic. Hunt did us proud. 

And all the posters were stolen within days.  

The same has been happening with Lewes' work. It's led to some interesting discussions about creativity and context.  

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

We've still got that Fuzzbox somewhere...

Back in the day, big hair and big fun. Fuzzbox soundtracked the second half of the 80s. And now? 

30 years ago, We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Going To Use It were big. They got profile quickly, shooting fast from a bright idea to pop reality. At the height of their punk notoriety, Vix and crew used to sashay round radio and TV stations with ridiculously huge hair – pink, orange, red - bags of attitude, and an Elvis sneer. They kicked off with a silly name and punched out a few punk songs. Then, after three years of punk thrash, bingo! Fuzzbox hit the jackpot with pure late 80s pop.

And now it's 2015. I'm sitting in Yorks coffee bar with survivors Vix and Maggie. Vix is an old pal by now – I've seen most of her post-Fuzzbox incarnations. Then? A snotty kid with a great line in throwing shapes. Now? An accomplished trooper, comfortable on stage, with one very distinct new thing going for her and the band: Radio 2, the biggest station in Europe is paying attention.

Fuzzbox are having another go. 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

A West Midlands YouTube Top 50: August 2015

Here's the sixth bi-yearly local acts video views chart: who's making YouTube waves?

I do this ranking every six months. The exercise is starting to build up some long-term analysis potential. There's some interesting straws in the wind. I think YouTube viewing numbers are increasing overall, based on a rough analysis of upwards trends for many on the chart. But there are some caveats...

The headline? Laura Mvula still rules – just. But I think that she's going to be overtaken on the next chart by another spectacularly talented Birmingham woman who plays by her own rules. You may not have heard of her yet. But you certainly will.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

So what does YOUR station think you should be hearing?

Music tastes change. So should station libraries. 

More friendly advice for the Beeb from the Times    Flickr - Shawn Kincade
I'm getting tired of the endless government and rival media onslaught on the BBC. Pretty much every day, the Times or the Mail run smugly venomous pieces on the Corporation's failings. I hate this. The Beeb is not perfect. I'm one of many who want to see serious BBC production at all levels back in the Midlands. But as I've said before, the Beeb is unique; it delivers brilliant programmes; we need it.   

BBC Local Radio is in the frame now. An announcement that BBCLR might be a bit more personality driven met yet more carping: the BBC is reneging on its journalistic brief; more jobs to go; the beginning of the end. All that. Hard on the carping came strenuous denials that the Beeb was doing anything of the kind. And so on.

But much of this was about music on the radio. That's a wholly different debate.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The problem with promoting: you almost certainly won't get rich. But you may have big fun.

DieDasDer talk of many things: of promoters, cabbages and kings...

We take local gigs for granted. There's tons of them; I think we're spoiled. Given the growth of the past few years, the West Midlands (and pretty much everywhere else) is rich in quality bands doing vibrant gigs. This, at a time when everyone's skint, and we're not out of the recession that's hammered businesses and crushed earnings.

So you wouldn't think it's the best time to lay on gigs, especially risky ones. All that planning dates and venues well in advance, sorting PA, insurance, contract and liability issues, covering travel, fees and exes for everyone, usually on a budget you could put under a cup. Crucially, it means being quite ready to put your hands into your pocket if you need to. 

Welcome to the world of promoters.