Friday, 30 April 2010

The Jazz has arrived!

Today Cheltenham hails all jazz - for one weekend only
What a night it was! (from my point of view, which was Imelda May)
But before that, guest performer Joe Stilgoe opened the all new and all free Budvar (Budweiser) stage with so much enthusiasm I thought the sun might come out of hiding. The grounds were packed with jazz lovers despite the moody sky, while an array of originals and unforgettables launched the weekend's offering of free jazz. The Lady is a tramp was a triumphant intro with I Like This One, the second of his four song tease, a highlight of the launch. Waterloo Sunset was played and Kiss, with some clever vocal sax was a fitting final song with the sweet atmosphere filling the square.


Festival goers got a taste of the local talent when Thrill Collins took to the stage on the opening night of the festival and all new Budvar stage.
Despite the rain, Thrill Collins received a hefty response out of the audience with the spirit of the 80s and 90s. Jazzing up songs by the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Peter Andre and Dolly Parton they forced the festival spirit into everyone.
Cindy Lauper's Girls Just Wanna' Have Fun put a bop in everyone’s bonnet early into their set and followed through with Shaggy's It Wasn't Me, performed with a humorous swagger. Last year’s Christmas number one, Killing In The Name Of (the kiddie version!) by Rage Against The Machine, was a surprising choice but certainly didn’t fall short of entertaining. Mocking the summer weather that was vacant for the evening, Mysterious Girl was an amusing and enjoyable addition to the set list.
Englishman In New York, originally by the police, and Lionel Richie's Hello toned down the jokes which exposed a serious side to the Cheltenham trio.
The funky Thrill Collins was on top form, their unique interpretations and witty comments had everyone laughing and no-one left before the end.
The Prince of Bel-Air theme tune closed the first night on the Budvar stage, though I'm not sure jazz lovers of Cheltenham really knew where it came from.
Thrill Collins could jazz up or dust down just about anything. They don't tag themselves 'Cheltenham's best band' for nothing, and all for free!


The first to play the 2010 Jazz Arena was sassy songstress Imelda May.
A seated encounter made for a lack of energy in the arena but Imelda made up for that with her bubbly spark. She performed title track Love Tattoo as the first from the 2008 album along with Big Bad Hansom Man and an array of others. Smokers Song was a highlight and got people going with its on cue chuckles, put on perfectly. Knock 123, a song about after-life love was performed like a lullaby; the beautiful ballad broke up the lively set list. Imelda has the ability to play true to her rockabilly recordings, adding a little extra so you know she's authentic. The bluesy single Johnny Got A Boom Boom went down a storm. Her covers included an unexpected Tainted Love which added some spice to an already spectacular performance.
Teasers for the forthcoming album included Pullin' The Rug flaunting funky bass lines, and a gospel inspired tune that lead to a vocal focused serenade, in which the feisty front woman playfully challenged the audience in echoing her hums.
It's no wonder she was back following high demand and she was more than thankful to be here, she said: "I want to thank the organisers for welcoming us, and the support they give to all kinds of bands, big and small. This is such a fantastic festival that they put on every year. It's lovely to be back, thanks for having us again."

With an irresistible line-up over the bank holiday weekend be sure to lend your ears to the radio station if you can't make to the Imperial Gardens.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

On the flip side... meet Ted O'shay, Electro DJ

"Tough beats, driving bass, sweeping synths and uplifting melodies all rolled into 8 minutes of pure filthy highly charged trance"
Filthy, Dirty, and downright doin’ it. Releasing a new album that is.
I sat in a call centre hating my job, in a recession where there was a lack of jobs going in the country. I realised one day that I have a passion for music, the drive to succeed and a bank of tracks all ready and begging to be released to the world.”
He’s back. Ted O’shay, a Gloucestershire house DJ, producer and big name among the electro lovers is on a mission to fade out the fade out of underground trance vibes that commercial clubs are beginning to reject.
Founder of Filth Factory and a member of The Deck Whores, O’shay is using his wicked ways to bring the intensity of electric beats to a paramount position on local decks.
Exposing a darker, aggressive side to the genre
But his upcoming, forth album Facebonk is taking a down-tempo turn, being released in time for the festivals.
Facebonk is a little different to what I would normally write. It came about by me just playing around with a few sounds and rhythms, and a progressive track was born. I love it when I sit in front of a blank screen and watch this track blossom in front of me, each track is like a journey. I base the singles on up and coming styles of the time, for example you tend to find the dirtier tracks released spring and autumn and the more progressive tracks with the Ibiza vibe for summer. I will be out and about at club nights across the UK and listening to tracks that other DJs play. I tend to over analyse them; how they are written, what sounds they use, how they are constructed and how the DJ mixes in and out of them. Dakota seem to be doing it really well at the moment, they’ve had Simon Patterson, Judge Jules, Pete Tong and Dave Pearce all playing along-side our home-grown talent. So, hats off to them! There are actually loads of people like Lizzie Curious, Simon Pisani, Siytek and Ash Scott who are doing so well for themselves in Gloucestershire. Trouble is, when you get massive nights happening around you in Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham, promoters tend to get a little wary of bringing in the big names. It’s feared the people of Glos are already heading out of the county and won’t appreciate it. So, if we could get some more big nights going in Gloucestershire, I think we would be on to a winner!”
“It would be amazing if I heard it some-where like Global Gathering, Creamfields or Dance Valley!”

 I’ve spent years writing and producing the tracks as well as a year networking, building websites, getting contacts from social networking sites, accepting friends on Facebook etc. I know the hard work hasn’t finished either, there’s so much more to come! But it just goes to show that if I can do it, any-one can!”

Personal Playlist: Rob Champion

“It’s not easy choosing just 5! But these are my favourite tracks from BBC Gloucestershire Introducing..."

BBC Glos Introducing DJ, Rob Champion has managed to (after much deliberation!) chose five of his most memorable plays on our local radio show.

WTF - Love and Lies 

This reminds me of many a long blurry night in capital during my student days.

Audiophobe - Wells Run Dry

I love this guy's voice and the way he manages to fuse so many different genres together in one track, resulting in a chaotic, hectic, busy sound. Head bobbing, foot tapping and the occasional finger click are mandatory when listening to this one!

Sam Holmes - Fool For Love

The first track I ever played on BBC Introducing, so it will always have a special something about it. I remember how nervous I was waiting to do my first link after it finished!

Aspen Sails - So Pretty

The simplicity and raw naked emotion in this one always get me going. Harmonies that cut right though you. Just pure class.

The Divine Secret – Deacus

You've got to have one to get a bit crazy to! Heavy riffage and angst never sounded so effortless.

Tune in to BBC Radio Glos (104.7FM) On Saturday at 5:30 to hear the latest and greatest from our scene.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Young Blood Merch - New business launch!

THREE ambitious students are launching an online merchandise firm this month.
The business will be aimed at unsigned bands, or those on independent record labels.
The site will not only link indie bands cartel together for customers to view in one destination, it will also have a bio and music sample from every band signed up.
Co-founder of the company, and student at the University of Gloucestershire Aidan Rossiter, 21, said; “There are three of us and we are all in a band called Ciaro, through which we realised the difficulties of selling merchandise from gig to gig and on such sites as Myspace. The idea was to link all of us bands together, both to get exposure for the bands and to allow the customer to come across similar music that might interest them.”
Ashley Baker, 21, and Ben Crutch, 22, both students in Redditch will be running the site alongside Aidan.
The three are also in the process of setting up their own cartel to be able to ship the merchandise from their location. As well as the main site, there will also be a Facebook and Myspace profile.
“The company currently has many bands signed up but until contracts are drawn up and finalised I unfortunately can’t say who,” Aidan added. 
The official launch party will be held at Subtone on 22 April. Doors open at 9pm with free entry all night.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

EMA®s 2010

Saturday was a big night for our South Central music scene as Gloucester’s Guild Hall hosted the 2010 Exposure Music Awards after a last minute venue change.

Twenty awards and 15 live performances made for a flair fuelled evening as the EMA®s kicked off its third year running. Two Gloucestershire bands walked away with awards and gave eager performances. Respected music advocates wholeheartedly presented the rewards, including Stefan Edwards of Kiss My Face Music and Jo Heatley of Cheltenham Folk Festival. Joe Schiavon of Gloucester Guild Hall handed over the best indie award to The Divine Secret, and 2000 Trees Festival’s Andy Rea presented the second Glos victory to Nuk Chorris, who walked away with best punk song.

The Wired season saw Birmingham’s The Locarnos triumph, beating Bristol performers The Naturals who put on a stunning set, and one of Cheltenham’s house bands The Young Vinyls. George Moorey, the producer of Wired said; “All of the bands from the Wired category have played one of our showcases, they are all lovely guys and they all make wicked music.”
Other presenters were Nick Ford of Madrigal Music and Artist Management, Joe Wilson of Sneaker Pimps, Trash Money and University of Gloucestershire, Jarrod Robinson CEO of Tour Dates and Lisa, Jai and Laura of Mardy Fish Promotions.

Joe Green, singer for The Divine Secret said; “It’s interesting winning two very different prizes, last year was best alternative and this year was best indie. It’s quite flattering to look at it as if we can appeal to broader audiences.” Band mate Ben Newham added; “What Dean and Martin are doing is amazing, especially to do it in the South West. It gives other people a chance to stand in the spot light for a change.”

Last year’s Welsh winners V0iD opened the show, and went on to win two awards including best out of area act, and best rock song, stating; “EMA® are the only people who would let us have a flop and give us the chance to do it again and be better, so we are chuffed to bits!” Southampton locals The Rebs were also double winners of best pop, and best overall song. Bristol picked up a few awards when Goodness won best live act after playing a more than worthy set, and Alonestar secured best male act and best urban song.

Other live highlights included Londoner Sam Sallon who deservingly went on to win the best folk song, Maker who performed after winning best blues / jazz / soul song, and Alonestar who closed the show. The London Underground picked up best dance song, and was pleased they travelled “300 miles for something!” Far Outlaw, another London winner bagged best alternative song. Overseas conquests comprised of the USA’s Firebug for best international act, and from Belgium, for best world song was Kenka.

Dean Hill of Raven Black Music, co-founder and organiser of the EMA®s said it was “Another great night in EMA®’s road to creative success.
“We manage to program an amazing night of live music which entertains and occasionally bemuses and amuses. More new winners are about to enjoy the attention of Raven Black Music as we now decide which of them to offer global distribution and assisted promotion deals”

Host and co-founder of the EMA®s Martin Brown showed appreciation for the venue’s efforts in saving the 2010 awards; “We would like to thank the Guildhall crew who have pulled together and been so efficient at such short notice, they responded well have been excellent to work with.”

Other winners were:
Mudball – Best tourdates video
Monsters in the Attic – Best metal song
Joni Fuller – Best female act
Arketta – Best easy song

Other performers were:
The Evolvers
Rookie Error
Purple Spiral Project
Jason James
The Echoes
Hey Jupiter
Juliana Meyer

Photographs by Carl Hewlett
In order of appearance: Chuk Norris, The Rebs, Maker, The Divine Secret  

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Review: Ellen and the Escapades

Location: The Conservatory Cafe
Date: 26 March 2010
Stars: *** (and a half)

It was fresh to see some out of town talent who fit so perfectly in the red rooms of the Conservatory Cafe. Straight from Leeds, and the Glastonbury audition stages, the tender tunes from Ellen and the Escapades got quite a respected response from pub loungers and music listeners. With so many instruments accompanying them on stage, and the noise they could make with them, the quintet surprises you with something completely unexpected, charming, enchanting and alluringly delicate. It has to be said that some of the tracks were samey, but in the best way possible.  Yours To Keep stood out among the melody of songs. Coming Back Home was another magnificent track which is to be their new single, due out in May. Their folk sound is nostalgic but by no means out of date, as identified by appearances in NME, and interest from Q editor Paul Rees.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Gecko - Leading the life of lizards

Their dreams concede of headlining the mother of all UK festivals, Glastonbury. Bristol fest is fulfilling their need to play for the moment, but the way Gecko is handling their cards this could all change in the future. The Wotton-Under-Edge trio are making a name for themselves with matching pinstripe trou’s and a convenient charm that has be-fanned the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Mike Davies and The King Blues. I caught up with them to talk about life in general, and their latest EP ‘Stop, Look, Lizard’. The most important thing, it seems, is that it’s yellow. I was curious as to where the reptile obsession came from; “It’s always been there, really, we don’t know.” Expecting something a little more inventive I was reluctant to tell them that “It just kinda’ happened” didn’t cut it. “We’ve had the Beatles, we’ve had the Eels...let’s take it lizard, It’s an evolutionary scale” was what they finally came up with.   
"This is our first steps with a producer, which is really good!"
Despite London introducing its self as a new muse for the record last year, Will, Simon and Nathan headed back south to record their EP in Devon under the control of popular music producer Peter Miles, who has previously worked with Sonic Boom Six, Failsafe, and The King Blues to name a few. The advance from having home brewed their earlier albums, to countryside camp site surroundings was a big achievement for Gecko, who identified recording the EP as one of their career highlights. Front-man Will explained with smug accomplishment; “I’ve got a lot of the album’s he’s produced so working with him was pretty exciting.”
“The two old albums have been totally self- produced. The first one was literally done in my house, and the second one, all but drums which were recorded at a studio in Bristol. This is our first steps with a producer, which is really good.”       
"Stop, Look, Lizard is Latin American rhythms, reggae, sort of ska-ey, a bit of African guitar, skatty singing... We fit a lot in" 
To launch the late August, and very yellow release Gecko embarked on a ten show ‘Aint That Like a Lizard’ tour, which kicked off on the 7th.  They played shows from Plymouth to Edinburgh, and on their travels were able to sing along to opening track on their EP, What you gonna do? on the radio. “Hearing it for the first time was good, second time you got a bit complacent, and third time (in utmost cliché) was a charm!” Pre tour the three were rocking it up at pub festivals around the country, and played to their largest crowd on the main stage at Bristol Festival. To top it off, Gecko performed with new pals The King Blues, and the Blockheads at the vegan faire. More rewardingly, was lending them-selves to a good cause by headlining Exeter’s Leukaemia fund charity show in October.
Where do they want to be in five years time? Well seeing as a duet with reggae legend Bob Marley isn’t feasible, headlining Glasto is their ultimate dream. “Or”, Simon piped up; “You know you’ve made it when you have an island named after you.”...  Keep the dream alive, Si!  
Although their songs provide the motivation needed to dance in a drunken-like way, the witty lyrics are fuelled by current happenings in the world, with underlying meaning that might surprise you. “What you gonna do?” Will clarified; “is a call to live life for the sake of living it”. The lyric “Cos' you can't live a life without having the pictures, I just threw down the camera and kissed ya” relates to the constant and somewhat unnecessary documentation of people’s lives on social networking sites. I mean, what would I do if I didn’t know my neighbours neighbour was watching Jeremy Kyle on a new leather sofa? On a more controversial note, Falling Down unexpectedly picks up on religion. The tropical vibes and dark lyrics underlined with hope, relate to many people’s mixed feelings on the matter; “It’s basically saying I don't know if there is a God or not, but if there is I reckon that he/she'd be pretty decent and understanding that I don’t know who to believe.” 
 Stop, Look, Lizard is four of the band’s latest songs, two of which were written after London sparked inspiration in singer and songwriter Will following his move there. As well as referring to living life, What you gonna do? is a positive song written about feelings of excitement, and opportunities that allowed the band to prosper after the move. With all appreciation flowing, he continued “The song Woke Up was started on New Year’s Day, and was, in a way, a resolution to not take things for granted” 
Give Gecko a listen and you’ll soon discover they pack a punch, you can’t quite decide where to categorise them in the music world, and it appears that neither can they. Unlike most bands that enter the scene with a vision; “It’s singer songwriter dance music. Especially the EP, it’s got a bit of a carnival vibe to it. A lot of Latin American rhythms, reggae, sort of ska-ey, a bit of African guitar, skatty singing and I dunno’ what the bass lines are” He concludes; “I think we fit a lot in.” You think? Well it certainly highlights a hole in the market that a band like Gecko could fill, and I’d like to think that in the near future, on a bigger scale, they will.  

Photo by Kaja Brockington