“I’ve never seen so many weak bladders,” said my partner, as yet another silhouette shuffled out, blocking the screen during Northern Soul, the film. “It’s because everyone here is of ‘a certain age'”, I replied. Indeed, about 90 per cent of the audience did look as if they could remember Northern Soul first time round.

Since Northern Soul’s heyday in the 1970s, the movement has been a continuous presence on the music scene, sometimes it bubbles under, then resurfaces again. At its heart are the devotees, the all-nighters and all-dayers, and any numbers of Northern Soul nights up and down the country. This summer at Festival No 6 I took myself off to a Northern Soul dance class, imagining I’d be with a few others set on mastering those twisty-footed steps. Instead, I found myself joining a queue of hundreds, far too many to fit in the room; eventually many of us were turned away. A good sign for Northern Soul, though.

Elaine Constantine‘s film Northern Soul has been brewing for a long time (it was originally to be a documentary) and she has obviously gone the extra mile to get all the elements right. The film is set in a typical ‘grim up north’ town, with its back to back terraced housing looking as if it’s on the point of being bulldozed, filled with a cacophony of 70s wallpapers. The film is shot by Constantine in a soft, murky light for an authentic period feel. The story follows John (Elliot James Langridge), a teenager with home and school problems. At the end of a first visit to his local youth club, where a few teens dance in desultory fashion to Cliff Richard’s The Young Ones, he encounters Matt (Josh Whitehouse), a lover of black American soul. It is as if a light goes on in John’s brain, and this incident marks the beginning of his identification with the Northern Soul scene. So begins a life of dancing, buying the right clothes, a burgeoning love interest, Angela (played superbly by Antonia Thomas), and an introduction to amphetamines.

Fairly early on in the film, John is invited along in a plan to go to the US, to Detroit, where warehouses of long-forgotten soul vinyl await, ready for the boys to spirit it back to England where it will be appreciated, played on the dance floors of Wigan Casino and all the other meccas of the movement. Their dream – America. The boys get their passports, if only they can save enough money they’ll be on that plane. Of course the dream never happens, it gets buried along the way, under the mess of drugs and all that entails.

The drug downward-spiral element of the film did dominate a little too much as the storyline developed, but Northern Soul is an engrossing, beautifully-filmed work, made by someone with such passion for the time and – most importantly – authenticity. What is evident is where Constantine’s heart lies: in the music. The extensive soundtrack of American soul is a labour of love, and she nails the euphoric, anything-could-happen dance-floor atmosphere, along with the 70s fashions and hairdos. During those dance-floor moments, I wanted to freeze the frame, and take in every lovingly put-together outfit, every bomber jacket and pair of baggies, every back-combed hairdo. And then I just wanted to walk right into the screen and join in with the dancing. That’s what the film does to you.

Northern Soul is showing now around the country.

For an interview with Northern Soul devotee and DJ Nigel Flood, click here


If David Bowie decides to tour again, the set list will probably feature The Next Day (of which I’m a huge fan), a smattering of crowd-pleaser tracks and the rest would be the next, much awaited album. But until the great man decides to tour again, Bowie fans have to either carry on playing his music alone in their bedrooms, or venture out to sate their Spider lust in other ways.

There are tribute bands who attract huge crowds (Putney’s Half Moon is always a sellout), but one can go one better than that this week and see a real Spider, as Holy Holy are appearing at the 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire for The Man Who Sold the World. Holy Holy are made up of Bowie’s drummer Woody Woodmansey who has teamed up with producer/performer Tony Visconti and a roving collection of friends and family, and including erstwhile Bowie bassist Erdal Kizilcay. Taking Bowie’s place is Heaven 17s Glen Gregory, who certainly has the powerful vocals and enough stage presence to do The Man Who Sold the World justice, although not quite the range of Bowie’s voice. He’s joined by other 80s mates including Gary Kemp and Steve Norman.

The first few songs belong to Glen, until – and this is one of the most touching moments of the evening – Marc Almond comes out on stage to sing After All – it’s a song which has a strange, Dickensian feel, and in retrospect suited Marc rather than Glen. Marc Almond seems to have reached ‘national treasure’ status as his stage entrance is greeted with huge applause from the audience.

Marc Almond sings at Holy Holy gig

Marc Almond

The Man Who Sold the World is a short album, so as it drew to a close we did wonder what was coming next – were we going to be turfed out early into the west London night? Indeed no, what followed was another hour or so of some Bowie greats, complete with guest performers. Of these, Watch that Man fizzed with power, and saw Marc Almond back on stage to accompany Glen on vocals.

Holy Holy in action Shepherds Bush 2014 A standout track for me was Lady Stardust, sung by Lisa Ronson, who up till this point had been part of the background as one of the three female backing singers. Perhaps the most moving Bowie moment of the evening was towards the evening’s conclusion: Woody struck the drums for the opening of Five Years. It sounded pure and thrilling. Here was an unadulterated moment in time, those beats, etched on our memories, coming at us down the wire from so many years ago.

The evening was clearly an emotional and euphoric experience for the performers, especially with support act Morgan Visconti – Tony Visconti’s son – rejoining the band on stage at the end, making it a real family affair. Glen and Tony communicated with us at length, relating the story of how the unique event had come together. It felt like a very special occasion, with an appreciative audience, many of whom looked to be of an age to have once been teenage Ziggy fans (I first saw Bowie in Hanley, Staffs, in 1973, my friend and I were right at the front, and I’ll never forget David looking down and smiling at us). But as the Bowie hits were rolled out at this fun, rocking concert, nevertheless I did find myself longing to see ‘the real David Bowie’ again, giving the audience what will be, no doubt, creative, challenging and provocative material again. Until that happens, this exhilarating evening brought together Bowie’s musicians and fans for a rousing journey through Bowie’s earlier classics.

Holy Holy finale Shepherd Bush 2014

WHO: Holy Holy Bowie
WHEN: September 22, 2014
WHERE: 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Over the summer, London’s Southbank Centre held a “Festival of Love”. It may be over, but pieces of hippy iconography remain dotted around the complex. They fit well with last Tuesday night’s psychedelic films at the BFI, Flower Children in the Blinding Light: the 60s Films of Anthony Stern. For lovers of 60s imagery and music, Anthony Stern’s films give us a window back into that world, its innocence, energy, naivety and expressiveness. The evening is introduced by Nicole Brenez, Curator of Avant Garde Film at the Cinemateque Francaise, Paris, who is clearly enchanted by Anthony’s work, regarding him as an important film maker of this period, and suggests that he is somewhat overlooked here in the UK.

Festival of Love sign, Southbank

Anthony Stern is a man of many guises: a film maker and editor who subsequently turned to glass making, through which he has achieved worldwide success, two mediums which he says possess similarities. He experimented with film in the 60s as the assistant to Peter Whitehead and was friends with Pink Floyd. Fascinated with and inspired by psychedelia and light shows of the time, he saw how music and image could create something “greater than the sum of their parts”. This idea resulted in the beautiful and exuberant early “music video” of See Emily Play starring the then girlfriend of Syd Barrett. Another is set to a unique live recording of Interstellar Overdrive.

Poster for BFI film evening, Anthony Stern

The evening begins with his first film, a beautifully constructed piece entitled Baby Baby, shot in Cambridge, 1965. This simple black and white film is, for me, the most charming and the most personal. It does, as Anthony Stern has said, set the tone for all his later works. The 16mm piece is about coming to terms with fatherhood, looking back over those early days of courtship, jealousy, and sexual desire morph into the responsibility of creating a new life. It is beautifully paced with plenty of 60s style to enjoy – the mini dresses with matching baker boy caps, the ubiquitous smoking a la Mad Men.

With a soundtrack of See Emily Play is the second film Iggy the Eskimo Girl, made in 1966, which could ostensibly be described as an early music video. It stars Syd Barrett’s then girlfriend, the captivating and beautiful Iggy, who as the programme notes say “playfully cavorts round London”. Snapshots of her explode with a powerful energy as she poses and flirts with the camera, trips along barefoot through leaves as the sun glints down, framed by the buses and trees around Russell Square. She seems to embody the idea of the 60s free spirit.

San Francisco is a psychedelic explosion of iconic imagery seen from the perspective of an Englishman exploring a new, vibrant and, at the time, troubled, nation: anti-Vietnam protest rallies are an important part of the content, as are shots of the vibrant counterculture. Layer upon layer of images assault the eye. The soundtrack is a powerful, unreleased version of Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive and at around the half way mark, features tantalising glimpses of a disarmingly youthful Pink Floyd in performance. Earlier at the BFI I happened to meet the well-known film maker and critic Tony Sloman, who was involved in the editing of the original version of the film, and is credited in the programme notes as Assembly Editor, and it was fascinating to hear about his early work with Pink Floyd.

Anthony’s final film is a recent oeuvre, consisting of extra footage from San Francisco, accompanied by a haunting soundtrack – songs from the era such Canned Heat On the Road Again, and For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield.

BBC4 are showing the series Oh! You Pretty Things – the Story of music and fashion, introduced by Lauren Laverne.

Pink Floyd are to release a new album The Endless River on November 10

Candlesticks by Anthony Stern

Candlesticks by Anthony Stern

Portmeirion is awe-inspiring on even the gloomiest, most drizzly day in January. So last weekend’s vision of the Italianate village set against a blue sky, fizzing with all the music, energy and colour of a festival, made it even more spectacular. The combination of Portmeirion’s ridiculously seductive charms combined with the glow of the Indian summer sun coated everything and everyone at Festival No 6 with a patina of glamour.

This is Festival No 6‘s third year. I had been curious to find out how they pack a festival into the village’s winding streets. What they have done is use the fields just above the village, which now sport the usual paraphernalia: camping areas, main stage, food stalls, bars. Except it’s all done with a little more aplomb, and there’s always the jawdroppingly beautiful backdrop of the estuary and mountains beyond, vying with the main stage action for visual glory.

You descend through an archway into the woods to find a market offering local Welsh produce from shops round the area, delicious veggie pies, game pates, and other local goodies to supplement the food stalls at the arena. From there you descend into Portmeirion village itself, where every corner appears to have something going on… cafes, bars, poets, processions, talks. During the day, crowds form orderly queues outside the Town Hall for sets by Steve Mason, East India Youth and Northern Soul dance classes; during the evening, crowds mingle with torchlit processions in the winding village streets.

Dancing at Portmeirion Festival No 6If there is anything that feels like the centrepiece of the festival, it is the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir, who happen to be celebrating their 50th anniversary over the weekend. Their rousing harmonies fill the Central Piazza and echo round the buildings, adding to the drama. On Sunday their performance of Go West is a tantalising clue to the evening’s main stage act.

Of the many acts we manage to catch: Friday evening on the main stage sees Bonobo deliver a swirling, atmospheric set to a large crowd. Bonobo’s chilled, sophisticated, dreamy music is perfect for a ‘sundown’ set; each number cleverly adds layers to the mix, with the addition of vocals by Szjerdene Fox.

I recall Radio 6 presenters announcing London Grammar as a headliner with bemusement –  should such a young band achieve this accolade? They certainly deliver a powerful performance and Hannah Reid’s voice has extraordinary range. From the opening notes of Hey Now to final number Metal & Dust, this is a note-perfect set.

London Grammar at Festival No 6Saturday is spent drifting from one blissful discovery to another. From the hotel terrace looking over the estuary where revellers soak up the sun, watching paragliders, drinking Prosecco… to walks through to the Lost in the Woods stage where emerging bands are playing. Beyond this is what became a weekend fave – Village Limits – a magical secret clearing with a pond set in the middle of dense, lush foliage. You hop over the bridge and onto a pontoon to dance, while balloons and bubble makers add to the atmosphere.

Dancing at Festival No 6

Down by the water, almost hidden under the rock face is the Estuary Stage, a perfect setting for more intimate performances. Jimi Goodwin plays an engaging evening set and it was fantastic to be standing so close. I haven’t seen him since seeing Doves several years ago, so this was a perfect chance to hear his newer material from latest release Odludek. Half way through the set, Jimi suggests we turn round and admire the view instead the band… an almost full moon in a clear sky; the hotel pool glowing, the estuary and the black dramatic mountains.

Tom Hickox at Portmeirion Festival No 6Tom Hickox delivers one of the most memorable sets of the festival. Intelligent, sensitively-crafted lyrics, a voice with the command of Tom Waits, yet with more than a touch of vulnerability, this was a captivating performance. Red Roses White is one of his stronger songs, with more than a touch of Nick Cave-style goth drama, and there’s something reminiscent of the 60s in the string arrangement.

The crowds – especially the Mancunians present – are then sent down memory lane with a fantastically energetic set by Peter Hook & the Light who delights everyone with some old favourites such as Love will tear us Apart. Later on, Beck assemble a massive audience for a headline set.

We enjoyed a talk by vocal coach Juliet Russell (www.voicecouncil.com), who teaches us different vocal styles. We improved our own voice techniques by singing along with Beautiful by Christine Aguilera. One member of the Welsh choir was sitting directly in front of me and hopefully wasn’t too offended by my singing.

Festival No 6 estuary

It is difficult to pinpoint the most spectacular events at Festival No 6, as it piles one dazzling event on top of another. Bands. dj sets, champagne by a castle along with Balearic style DJs, dancing on a pontoon. It all combines and melts into a blurry euphoric experience.

Village Limits Portmeirion dance pontoon

So – after so many superlatives, are there any downsides to Festival No 6? The beginning is not very promising. Due to its location, all car parking is at nearby town Porthmadog’s rugby club. Depending on the time you arrive, queues form for parking. After leaving your car, you drag all your stuff (ALL of it – there’s not really any ‘going back to the car’), to another queue which can last over two hours, to be processed through wristband exchange, and then to the car park for a coach to the site. My advice is to try and avoid 12-4pm on Friday. Those arriving early Friday apparently breezed through. Drinks are somewhat overpriced, especially the cider. I was expecting a pint and instead got a ring-pull can costing over £4.

Curating Festival No 6 cannot be an easy process. No festival in my experience has such a huge span of ages in attendance – there were younger people enjoying the fantastic lineup of DJs (Laurent Garnier in particular was superb), to ‘Cheshire set’ types at the hotel and champagne bars (where a Veuve Cliquot cost £13.80 for a small glass), to older revellers in their 70s and 80s. Festival No 6 offers a range of different types of experiences, rather than a more linear curation as offered by some other festivals. There is a lot to take in and the site takes a good half day to figure out, even now I’m not sure I discovered everything. Shops and food stalls had been thoughtfully put together with the unusual taking precedence, and the preponderance of Welsh businesses taking part was commendable. This year’s event has no doubt been a success (attendance figures are certainly higher), and the event will now be a permanent fixture.

Did you attend? What did you think?

Guided into my parking space by a convoy of friendly, and mostly older, stewards, I’m struck by how well organised Towersey Festival is. Although to be fair, they’ve had plenty of practice, as this year marks Towersey’s 50th Birthday celebration.

Towersey is 50

Towersey is 50

Towersey Festival is an institution on the local calendar, with a dedicated and enthusiastic fan base, many of whom arrive early on the first morning to claim their camping spot. No sea of miniature pop up tents meets the eye here, this is serious tent territory, with kitchen areas filled with equipment to rival Gordon Ramsay, and marquees acting as the social hub for vast family get togethers.

My last Towersey was three years ago, when I fell in love with Saltfish Forty, 3 Daft Monkeys, and the Monster Ceilidh Band (read an account of Towersey 2012 by Tessa Gordziejko here). I’m hoping to be similarly entranced by some of the acts  today. The first recommendation is for an upbeat young band called Rusty Shackle, who are playing in the beer tent at lunchtime, and they certainly feel like a solid outfit with a good future ahead of them.

The Big Club Tent, which was reconfigured a couple of years ago, is a capacious seated venue where latecomers can enjoy the music while basking in the sunshine outside. The afternoon sees one of the festival highlights – a concert dedicated to Topic Records. Screens show a visual potted history of this venerated label. The first half of the concert progresses somewhat akin to a relay race: a couple of artists perform a song, one artists leaves and another is introduced and so on, building a thread between them.The place is filled to capacity and the audience are clearly enraptured by the star billing of luminaries such as Eliza Carthy and Martin Carthy. After half of the concert I’m urged to join friends enjoying a Cajun couple, Sheryl and Russell Courmier. So we leave the festival site and walk along the lane, arriving at the picturesque village church, where the couple are holding a Q&A session interspersed with delightful tasters of their wonderful Cajun sound. They play Jambalaya and their own composition, La Boutille, which prompts several couples to start dancing in the aisle.

St Catherine's Church

Later, back at the festival site, evening approaches and there is a palpable frisson in the air. Towersey’s more dancey music venue, Venue 65, becomes the focus for the evening’s entertainment and cars begin to roll in for Seth Lakeman’s impending appearance. Just a quick aside about Venue 65 – it’s probably the most ‘workable’ big tent I’ve seen at any festival. At the back are a few rows of tiered seating, there’s a proper bar at one side (with draft ciders and beers, not just bottles), a small outside area, and a beautifully lit stage. As there is no photographers pit, you can stand at the stage’s edge, and the soft floor has spring in it, perfect for dancing.

The first evening’s act is Georgia Ruth, a softly-spoken and modest young Welsh singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist from Aberystwyth, who has justifiably won prizes such as the Welsh Music Prize 2013. Her voice has a touching clear purity and when teamed with the harp stirs something in the soul. There have been comparisons made between her and some of the 60s stars of folk. The song Mapping reminds me of early Joni Mitchell in the phrasing. Her compositions such as Week of Pines are hauntingly beautiful and the sound of the harp elevates the songs.

Georgia Ruth at Towersey Festival

Seth Lakeman is a returning Towersey performer, and his entrance onto the stage is greeted with waves of affection from the audience. The band commence with The Courier, a strong and dramatic song from his latest album Word of Mouth. The song has the perfect measure of excitement with its rousing violin, drama, and tribal drums set the tone of the evening. Already the audience are starting to gather as one, and it’s not long before the floor starts to bounce beneath our feet, echoing the beating of the drum. A few numbers along, and a parade of glowing, colour-changing balloons are brought in among the audience, adding a touch of festival drama.

Balloons at Towersey Festival

Seth is a consummate performer, polished, communicative, with a superbly talented band, including Lisbee Stainton who adds vocals, and Ben Nicholls (also from The Full English), with a magnificent double bass. The set takes in more songs from his new album, such as Portrait of my Wife (the album is a fascinating mix of songs which Seth put together from stories he had heard from locals of his native Cornwall and Devon). Other numbers are from Tales from the Barrel House and there’s Take No Rogues from Freedom Fields, his 2006 album. It is a brilliant, dazzling and exhilarating set and Seth fully deserves the rapturous applause.

Seth Lakeman at Towersey Festival

I would love to see Lau in their entirety, instead of the intriguing half-set that I hear after Seth’s set. Their delicate material needs to be enjoyed in a more peaceful and contained environment – but as happens at festivals there is a crossover, so they remain on my ‘to see’ list

Overview: There is much to enjoy at Towersey – the Ceilidh tent where you can learn all the steps, and which is in full flow for much of the day; thoughtful and multifarious children’s activities, including a climbing wall; and the craft tent where potters and jewellery makers sell their work. Oh and the film sessions, my partner joined a small band of people who watched The Mooman, an engaging, charming and interesting film about a dairy farmer. The toilet facilities are excellent, offering proper flush toilets and running water, as opposed to the increasingly usual hand gel option. My only criticisms is that there could be a few more food stalls, offering slightly more unusual fare. And day visitors would be better provided with wristbands rather than extremely easy-to-lose tickets, which constantly need showing to the stewards.

This is Towersey’s last year at its current venue. It is a quirky and charming site, split between the two venues, with the addition of some local village stops. From next year the festival will be sited at Thame Showground where things will be more streamlined, but one hopes, retain the quirkiness that makes Towersey such a pleasure. So for now – Happy 50th Birthday to Towersey.


WHO: Towersey Festival; www.towerseyfestival.com
WHEN: August 21-25 August, 2014
WHERE: Oxfordshire
TICKETS: £40 for day, festival plus camping £135 approx

Interview: August 7 2014.

It hardly needs to be said that I’m a big fan of The Bedroom Hour. I managed to catch up with their singer Stuart Drummond as he was rushing down to the studio one evening. He and the band are very busy at the moment with debut album Hinterland deservedly getting a great reception, a summer tour is taking up weekends, a pledge gig is on the horizon…

ME: You’ve all been in bands previously, but when The Bedroom Hour got together, did you know you had something special?

STUART: I think when we wrote Heart will Haunt, that’s when we realised we had something. There’s a real intricacy to the guitar parts and the drum parts, that was when I thought, well wow, we’ve got a special song here. I don’t want to sound arrogant but I knew we had a good song, an anthem. That hadn’t happened before and then that came along.

the bedroom hour 1

At Proud, Camden

What was the first album you bought?

I’m not completely sure, but I think it was (Whats the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis. From there I started discovering other bands like The Verve, then that led to older stuff like The Stones …  and of course I bought a few turkeys.

That’s interesting that your first album was by Oasis, as The Bedroom Hour have developed quite a connection with Manchester, there’s a bit of a love thing going on. 

It hasn’t happened on purpose but we do love Manchester bands, Doves, The Stone Roses, Joy Division, Oasis, north west bands, The Verve …  our music, does seem to resonate more up north. It struggles to transmit down south.  I don’t know if people have more time on their hands up there, or if it’s the fact they realise work is just something you do Monday to Friday, that’s all it is. People in London have more stress on their plate and don’t realise so much that the weekends are for enjoying yourself.

You’re a London band but before this all this popularity with Manchester happened, did you have connections with the north?

Pretty much, I played Manchester with my old, old band but that was in the days of My Space, which never was successful for us in the way that Twitter has been. That’s how we’ve built everything up. My own personal connection is with Scotland, that’s where my folks are from.

Your social media is really good, you really make an effort to connect with your fans in a very positive way

Being older guys, haha, we can’t always rely on our friends to come to our gigs, we’ve got mortgages and other stresses going on. So we have been trying our best to engage with people through social media, we try to engage with fans on Twitter and Facebook and build it that way. We make an effort with people. I don’t like the way some bands think it’s they’re god-given right to have people like them of follow them. You have to put the effort in with the people who are putting in the effort in to listen to you. You must give that back by showing your appreciation rather than expecting it.

When did you first realise you wanted to sing?

It’s a cheesy story but I was drunk… hammered. I was about 17 years old and in the pub with my mate. He was a proper karaoke whizz kid, and suggested we sing. We got up and he coerced me into doing a song together, I think it was a Blur song, Girls & Boys. Then I found myself singing on my own. I was a bit shouty but I felt a little buzz. I was already writing lyrics though, that was the other piece of the jigsaw. Karaoke night in a pub – not very rock n roll is it? I didn’t get into a band till my early 20s though.

The bedroom hour play camdenAre you going to concentrate on the north or try and get more of a London connection? 

Manchester feels like a second home, we launched our album Hinterland there and the feedback, the support of the room blew us away. We get such an amazing welcome. We did a similar gig just outside Doncaster, we got such a vibe back from the crowd. But we do want to get our name known in London coz that’s where we are from but we don’t want to swap one for the other. Somehow we want to bring it all together.

Your songs are emotional but everyone can relate to them. How do you go about the songwriting process?

I write the lyrics, Rob [Payne] comes up with amazing guitar parts, Mark [Dudley] adds the keyboard parts, Andy [Copper] and Lew [Cosham] are like the the engine room and they knock everything together… everyone adds something. Most people look at the lyrics as most important element, but I would say it’s a mix of everything. But the bass is just as important as the vocals or the melody. If you look at “I am the Resurrection”, The Stone Roses, it’s the bass line of that song that is the hook, brings that song alive. Obviously the lyrics are important, so everybody can sing along.

Do you get nervous when you go on stage?

Yes, definitely yeah, I don’t know why it is. The second Manchester gig at Night and Day Cafe I was really nervous, I think it’s because there was a big build up. The first time we played there we got such a great reception, so you don’t want to let people down. We’ve had a lot of support, and passion for us, it’s amazing to get this from fans. We are Keeping on and capitalising on the amount of time people have invested in us.

The new album Hinterland is doing really well. What are your plans for the future, after the summer tour is finished?

I think we are going to keep writing, trying to build up another batch of songs, as and when they come out I don’t know. But we want to keep Hinterland fresh. We’ve noticed that sales of Themes have picked up since Hinterland came out, which is also really great. So when we get to the next step, hopefully that will help sell more Hinterland and Themes, and that way we keep on bringing brand new songs to people.

Final question: as a band with some experience of the music industry…  if you could give one piece of advice to a new band starting out, what would it be?  

The golden rule for a new band is first of all to write your own songs and keep on writing them. Don’t settle for a sets’ worth, make sure you have at least 10 – 15 numbers before you even think about gigging. And make sure they are as tight as they can be. Be well-rehearsed before you get out on the circuit. The second thing is use social media. Reach out to potential fans, and don’t be too proud or arrogant to make the first move. Listen to what your fans have to say and take an interest in them, build relationships and friendships with them. Take the time to treat people how you want to be treated. And the third thing about starting out with a band is: do it because you really love it, and only because you love it.

Big thanks to Stuart…

The Bedroom Hour are playing at Wigan Live fest, Saturday August 30, Glastonbrewery August 30, The Lomax Liverpool, Saturday September 13.

The Bedroom Hour, Camden

 Are you a fan of The Bedroom Hour? What is your favourite track on the new album? 


Ealing and its jazz and blues festivals have been a summertime fixture over the years at beautiful Walpole Park. I’ve attended the last two Blues festivals (2013 here) but this time round we rolled up for the final Jazz day. I wonder if the organisers have a pact with the weather gods? Each time I’ve been to Ealing’s summer festivals, it has been warm and mostly sunny.

Ealing Jazz

Ealing JazzThe organisers have found a winning formula and each year just do some minor tweaks – after all, why mess with something that works? There’s a generous-sized bar (complete with pianist and double bass entertaining the clientele later in the afternoon), two large music tents, set at either end of the ‘arena’, almost enough (clean) portaloos to service Glastonbury, and plenty of merchandise for those who are fond of a spot of festival shopping. Food stalls punch somewhat above the festival’s weight, which is no bad thing. Vast portions of jerk chicken sizzle on a grill, Moroccan tagines bubble away, there’s the French La Grande Bouffe with its giant pans of wine infused creamy potato, and delicious salted chocolate brownies at the cappuccino stall are hard to resist.

We sat and watched Sarah Tandy and the Watertight Group with the expressive trombone player Tom White joining them. They had gathered a huge crowd in the main tent; the sound was relayed by speakers to the crowd picnicking on the grass outside. Later we were entranced by the sinuous Latin rhythms of Geoff Castle’s and Paz Reunion Band who particularly suited the occasion. They have been together, in various forms, over many years and it was intriguing to find out that their guitarist Ed Speight played with Ian Dury and on Tubular Bells.

Ealing jazz festival

Tom White joins Sarah Tandy

The other joyful performance of the day was a roving band who made their way around the festival site carnival style – Dick Cook and the Jambalaya Parade Band. Their New Orleans style jazz was utterly infectious and they got several members of the crowd dancing.

jazz band



WHO: Ealing Jazz Festival
WHEN: June 23-27, 2014
WHERE: Walpole Park, Ealing, London
TICKETS: £5 per day




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