A terrifying musical debut!

I’m playing my first gig as ‘Member No.11’ of The Union Choir tomorrow at The Star and Shadow Cinema with Brilliant Mind, O’Messy Life and John Egdell tomorrow… and I can hardly contain my excitement.

For this isn’t any old gig… this is a Halloween special!

Wig by Smiffy's, jacket by Religion, top by H&M and faux leather trousers, £38 by Topshop

I was going to go as a convict before realising that I should probably have some kind of matching stripy hat. I’d already ordered the handcuffs for less than a pound from Amazon so I invested another pound in a bandit mask. I don’t think I’ll wear the mask over my eyes much because it covers my nose and is a bit too wide for my face! I decided to keep the handcuffs for my costume by pretending that I’m a robber that has been ‘picked up and put in a police van in cuffs, but escaped en route to the cells.’ My amazing manager Kev at Amazing Radio found the wig in a cupboard and said I could have it so I’m wearing it to ‘up the bad girl status’.

If there’s any night of the year that you can go ultra vampy with deep, dark lips and messy black eyes it’s Halloween so I’m preparing to go all out with my crayons!

The Union Choir are playing last and I’ll only be practicing with the some of the band for the first time on the afternoon before the gig so personally, it’s going to be nerve wracking stuff! I’ve also been known for writing and interviewing bands for the radio so to suddenly make my Newcastle stage debut in front of a lot of them will be quite terrifying.

Me and Anna, the cellist from The Union Choir will be carving a couple of pumpkins before practice tomorrow so I’ll pop some photos of them on shortly. Apparently South Shields (where many band members are based) is all out of pumpkins so we may be a few jack o’lanterns down!

The doors for the gig open tomorrow at 7.30pm so I hope to see you there! And don’t forget to leave a comment telling me what you’re dressing up as!

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Transmission – Ready to take off!

In my previous post I talked about some of the bands who were about to play this weekend’s Transmission events.

Unfortunately I lack a camera so have no pics of my own, but head to Jazzy Lemon’s Flickr photostream to check out some amazing shots of Tom Robinson rocking out with The Union Choir and Brilliant Mind. Here’s one of me and fellow Amazing Radio broadcaster, Tom Cotton watching the spell binding Nadine Shah.

All eleven acts I saw (completely free courtesy of the wonderful guys and girls at Generator) were on fabulous form. I particularly enjoyed cardigan clad post punk rockers Cult Image, blossoming math rock act Toyger (as in ‘Toight like a…”) Vinyl Jacket turned in a tight performance of fantastic calypso pop tracks with fantastic energy and boundless charisma. What was even more shocking was the revelation that temporary guitarist Stuart (of interesting indie band Grandfather Birds) had only been playing with the band for a couple of weeks due to the normal guitarist’s incapacitated wrist!

There are two wagons in particular that I reckon you need to jump onto as soon as possible.

The first is that of solo artist Nadine Shah. Unafraid to plough through her songs with the emotional intensity of the ‘first play’, she transfixed the audience with her ability to command the room with just her stunning, full bodied voice and a keyboard. Her track ‘The Duke’ is currently on rotation in my head. She’s been working with top producers in London, so I’m looking forward to hearing the results. Shah is going on an O2 Academy tour with Shakespeare’s Sister very soon so I’d recommend going just to see her! She is going to be big news very, very soon.

The second band that entirely enthralled me was Chased by Wolves. Their set was packed full of sexy, edgy, bluesy numbers with singer Emma Siobhan Williams’ voice adding real colour to the set. Fellow vocalist Richard Smith’s voice provided a perfect contrast as well as extra power. James Brown on bass was a particular delight and completely addictive to watch – his five string bass was grooved and thrown around the stage, as if the instrument was playing the player.

Congratulations to all the acts, a huge thanks to Generator for throwing the ambitious events, and to Tom Robinson for being ‘glad to be gay’ (joyous.)

Tomorrow (Monday 6th September) I’ll be off to see Holy Mammoth support Fang Island at The Cluny 2, and on Wednesday I’ll return to the same venue to check out The Winter Hill Transmission play alongside Elliot Brood.

On the radio

I’ve moved to Newcastle to work full time as a producer/presenter/webbysocialmediapersonthing for Amazing Radio and I need ‘real people’ to help make my show sound fabulous.

So how can you do this? Well, in a number of ways…

Get your music onto amazingtunes.com

I know many an unsigned/independent band, particularly from Birmingham but I’ve always been a tad tentative about begging them to get their stuff onto amazingtunes.com. Therefore, consider this post asking. All of the acts that we play on Amazing Radio have profiles on amazingtunes.com, an ‘ethical’ music site where artists can upload their tracks for streaming, downloading or selling. If an act wants to sell their music it costs 79p per track and the act keeps 70% of this figure (about 52p.) This is far more than your average distribution/online marketplace (i.e iTunes) and cuts out the costly middleman. So far we’ve had some fantastic Brum-based acts on air including Tantrums, Tom Peel and OST – but I want to hear more!!!

Pick your own playlist

It’s easy… and wierdly addictive! If you create a profile on amazingtunes.com you can make playlists to your heart’s content. One of the features of The Afternoon Show is a user generated feature called The Four Tops. The idea is that you create a four track playlist, think of some reasons why it’s awesome… and then we play it! All you need to do is email it to me, and I’ll give it a good listen.

Prove your rock and roll credentials

We’ve got an awesome Operations Manager at Amazing Towers (HQ) called Kevin Read. He’s basically been to rock central and back. Every wednesday on The Afternoon Show we pit a competitor against the K-Train and see if they’ve got an edgier tale – essentially whether they can out hardcore Kev. If you think you’re up for the challenge get in touch! (It’s definitely my favourite feature of the week.)

Big up your music scene

We like to celebrate musical centres of excellence at Amazing Radio, and I can certainly think of a few musical regions I’m hugely impressed with, including Glasgow, Bristol and Birmingham. The Newcastle scene itself is incredible (more about that another time!) If you think your region deserves a week of celebration on the airwaves, let me know why.

Find an unsigned act to love

I have to admit, there’s an irresistable feeling of smugness that I get when I find a new act that not everyone knows about yet – I feel even better when I spread said act on and other people agree. We’ve got a feature on The Afternoon Show that aims to fill your weekly smug-new-music-quota called Matchmaker. All you need to do is tell me three acts you love (old or current) and our ‘matchmakers’ will find you an act from the amazingtunes.com ranks to love. The musical boffs at Amazing Towers absolutely love to compete to see who can find the best pick – so start sharing!

Promote yourself!

Got a blog? We want to celebrate music bloggers and sites by featuring a new Website of the Week every Monday. The winners will also have a special post on the site dedicated to them – it’s all about helping those who help new music. If I do have readers, they’re probably bloggers – so there’s no excuse not to get in touch!

Share your words, not just your music

I present the Amazing Folk Roots Show every Sunday at 7pm and Wednesdays at 6pm (as well as producing The Afternoon Show every weekday from 3 – 6pm), and we’re always looking for poets to send us their words and recordings, so let me know if you’d like to hear your work on Amazing Radio.

So…

Here endeth the shameless self promotion post, but I’ll hopefully return to more regular updates soon. I’m going to find a band and maybe start reviewing again, I’ve not quite decided yet. My first task is to find somewhere to live for September! I moved up to start working at Amazing before I graduated so I’m confined to a suitcase and am living without proper internet at the moment. Newcastle is fantastic, but I miss everyone back in Birmingham and Kent very much.

Don’t forget to get in touch! Email frankie.ward@amazing-media.com

Turn up. Trade in. Help Out.

I admit that I feel like a bit of a thief, what with stealing the following from the Amazing Radio blog! But it’s pretty cool news, and hopefully will get more people listening to DAB digital radio. All digital radios come with FM recievers (some AM too if you’re that way inclined) and there are some great quality stations available such as BBC Radio 6 Music and of course, my new employers Amazing Radio.

So Spread the word… and get listening!

Radio Amnesty – Because you’re worth it

Friday, May 21st, 2010 | Kevin Read | Blog

You’ll hear some ads on Amazing Radio from tomorrow. We’ve not carried ads since our Amazing Christmas campaign but this is another great initiative designed to get you a cheaper DAB radio whilst opening up a world of opportunities to children in South Africa.

Radio Amnesty 

The lovely people at getdigitalradio.com are offering an amnesty on your poor old radio. The plan is simple, you trade in your old radio and get a discount on a snazzy new DAB radio from one of a host of retailers. For more information on the amnesty and how it works, head on over to http://www.getdigitalradio.com/digital-radios/radio-amnesty where you’ll also find details of how the scheme will help the Children’s Radio Foundation and UNICEF in Southern Africa.

You need this unsigned music in your life…

As all of the acts featured on this post are unsigned, their recordings vary in quality. Therefore get ye to one of their gigs before you make a decision on whether you’d buy a properly produced LP. I’ve always felt very passionately about giving acts a chance in a live environment, as it tends to be more of a testament to their songs and musicianship. For example, many can get access to Garage Band, but not everyone has the money for Logic. When I watch a musician play their own music I know fairly early on into their set if I want to invest in their songs. I also feel cheated when I’ve heard a fabulously produced record, but been spectacularly disappointed with the act onstage. The only type of music I can think of that is not intended for live performance tends to be found in a lift, and last thing I heard, ‘elevator music’ was hardly up there with the greats…

So here are some acts I recommend investing in tickets and travel for. (By all means listen to their demos, but please don’t think of them as the finished product):

Jake Flowers – Bluesy, beautiful, delicate finger spun melodies with understated, sultry vocals courtesy of Shropshire born Flowers. Drums and bass give a welcome added kick whilst lyrics are effortlessly fascinating. Utterly charming, scarily talented.

If you like… Ryan Adams, Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, Mumford and Sons …you’ll love this!

Brilliant Mind – Newcastle bunch who blast out Johnny Marr inflected guitar riffs combined with self depreciating Morrissey-style lyrics without turning into a Smiths pastiche (although I just made them sound like one.) Features divine contrapuntal layers of guitar and organ melodies. Incredibly charismatic as a live act.

If you like… The Smiths, Young Knives …You’ll love this!

Ever Since the Lake Caught Fire – Newcastle rock orchestra with trumpets, occasional female guest vocals, splatterings of saxophone and lashings of indie pop goodness. A force to be reckoned with when live and always a joy to behold.

If you like… The Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Modest Mouse …You’ll love this!

Holy Mammoth Amazing Radio DJ Tom Cotton’s third favourite band (after Radiohead and The National.) A live act that bursts with onstage chemistry developed from years of friendship and experience from touring under different monikers.

If you like… GOOD MUSIC …You’ll love this!

My amazing radio debut and other news…

Today at 1pm my first Amazing Acoustic show will be played on Amazing Radio.

I’m a bit worried about hearing my voice – it’s annoying at the best of times. I’ve kept links short and arranged back to back songs to avoid upsetting Amazing Radio listeners who are used to hearing only music (presenters have been only been on the station some evenings this week – and currently there’s just a few of us.) You can see the presenters here. We each have our own Amazing Tunes page so you can see what we’re listening to and playlisting – and leave us a comment.

Amazing Radio plays only unsigned music which it collects from Amazing Tunes. Artists can upload their tracks onto Amazing Tunes and have the option of purely streaming the tracks to potential listeners, making them available for radio airplay or selling their music for 79 pence. They get to keep 70% of money raised through such sales. Listeners can get their favourite Amazing tracks onto the DAB Amazing Radio station (also online) by tagging them, rating them and generally giving public kudos. The site has a chart too so users can easily see which songs are getting the best feedback.

Other presenters new to Amazing Radio include ex Head of Music/partner in crime Fuzz Chaudhrey, super cool Our Beat is Correct podcast producer Tom Cotton and Trevor Dann, former Head of BBC Music and chief exec of The Radio Academy.

If you miss my show today, it’s repeated Wednesdays at 7pm. I promise to improve as the weeks go on!

In other news, Un Coupe de Foudre, my friend Alex Buckmaster‘s short, no budget (and no time), Custard-Factory-Jay starring film is going to be played at Camden’s Roundhouse Theatre at the opening of their new cinema on the 18th January.

Happy weekend everyone

F