I could have died.

Sorry to use shock tactics to get your attention! It’s not a lie – but it does require a long winded story [disguised as a review!]

Last night I popped over to Digbeth’s Rainbow for a night of sober fundraising recklessness. The University of Birmingham’s Oxfam Outreach society were holding their annual Rainbox charity event (I believe this may be a national thing – although I’m afraid I’ve not researched properly – I’m on a bit of a tight schedule atm.) £3 on the door, cakes for a donation. Bands. Brilliant!

First up on the bill was gifted singer Bethan Court, who used to sing for a band called The Harbour Lights who have unfortunately now disbanded. This may, however, be a plus for Bethan as it will give her a chance to experiment with younger, edgier material. Last night she performed a range of covers including Emmy The Great’s First Love and Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees. There is a fabulous ethereal quality to Bethan’s voice – it’s depth of tone lulls one into a sense of security which didn’t quite fit with the latter two songs, particularly when performed in such a musically sound way . I would love to see her perform material that she herself has written or has been written for her so that she can explore the content of the songs truthfully. That, in time, will guarantee a more affecting performance. I hope that she finds a band to work with soon, because I really want to see her perform again.

Next up, the Miles Bradley fronted LookiMakeMusic who haven’t had a great deal of gigging experience as a group. This wasn’t, however, an issue to themselves or the audience. Miles is a witty orator rather than virtuoso singer lamenting love, breakups and Supersonic Vague/Snobs in a self effacing way. Like a less enthusiastic Eddie Argos I suppose! He’s got a very good sense of rhythm, particularly when reciting very very fast passages of lyrics – almost like a MC crossed with a slam poet. Musically the band allow themselves to vary their accompaniment between sparse and robust – the robust, collective sound being particularly effective (as one would expect.) One moment where all members sang in enthusiastic harmony was particularly impressive. More please lady and gents! One thing that did stick out was the occasional use of violin by muli-instrumentalist Caitlin Price. To me I didn’t always feel that the timbre of the violin quite fit with the rest of the music, particularly at the end of a couple of songs where it was played for a couple of phrases longer than the other instruments. This was not due to Caitlin’s abilities – she is a very capable, impressive musician. It was purely a concept that didn’t quite gel for me. The synth, however, went down a treat!

Third to take to the stage were Young Runaways, an event looked forward to by many of the event attendees. The Wolverhampton wonders burst into their set and never lost a drop of energy throughout. They produced a set of well crafted, musically interesting pop songs, with a wealth of experience clearly on their side – it’s not hard to tell why they’ve been played on Tom Robinson’s BBC6 Music introducing show… Theirs is music of the heart swelling kind – that is to say, you can stand (perhaps sway a little) and watch respectfully, or you can jig to the music joyfully – the resulting rapture is still the same. Gorgeous.

The penultimate act of the night was SDF. I can honestly say that I have no idea who they are and still don’t (as I was in the bar during their set… whoops!) Although my housemate DP reviewed them as ‘confusing.’ Basically he had no idea if they were ‘trying to be ironic as they stood in a line and danced campily.’ However DP admitted that he rather warmed to the band and others I spoke to from the audience ruddy appreciated them. If you like your electro, check them out.

The act that the audience had unanimously braying for all night was uni musicians The July Days. I’ve been a fan (and, hopefully) a friend of the band for a while so haven’t written too much on them so as to remain unbiased, however after last night I really felt that seeing them for a measly £3 donation (they have the potential to command a lot more) meant that they deserved a little more of my time (and words – if they have the potential to be worth anything.) The band always kick off with singer Reece Lipman’s introduction; ‘This song is called I Said, You Said and it goes like this.’ – which is fast becoming a bit of a trademark! The band had a generous 45 minutes onstage (which rushed by as furiously as ‘badger haired flemmy skeleton’ Sam Lewis’s mighty drumbeats.’ We were treated to classics such as ‘Babe Ruth’ and ‘Hollywood’s Future’ as well as similarly older, less played songs such as ‘Broken Lyrics’ plus newer material such as ‘Empire State’ and ‘Quirky Isn’t Working.’

I think it was halfway through ‘Babe Ruth’ when I looked over at Sam Cowley (Sir Digby himself) and realised that we both knew the words so well that we should audition to be backing singers/dancers (I have choreographed a rather fetching dance, you see.) Unfortunately, from the looks of the rest of the crowd, we’d probably have a lot of competition!

For the grand ‘Quirky Isn’t Working’ finale myself and Ms Helen ‘Shaniqua’ Shepherd (one of burnfm‘s newest DJs) took to a rather wobbly picnic table and gave it some ‘Kevin Lyttle‘ dancing. When the audience demanded an encore (and the band repeated ‘Babe Ruth’) we were joined by more jubilant dancers. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where I nearly died. The table bounced up, down, forwards, and backwards, but myself and Shep did not mind. When I did get a little scared however, we hopped off and headed to the stage in preparation for invasion…. just as the song ended. Rats!

Get Frank are playing an acoustic at the Bristol pear this Saturday so I hope some of you can join us. It’s a mere minimum £1.50  donation for entry (proceeds to the DEC Haiti earthquake appeal I believe.) Rainbox raised (at last count) a massive £700 for the Oxfam earthquake appeal so I hope we can raise a sum too!

The July days also sold a special acoustic EP for charity yesterday (an amazing £1) yesterday. Here’s mine:

Aren’t you the jealous ones?

Right I’m off to rehearsals.

Frank. x

p.s

To those of you reading on Facebook, this post, like most of my ‘notes’ originated from http://www.getfrank.co.uk, just so you know!

My nearly-the-end-of-the-year resolution!

Who says you can’t attempt to make ‘fresh starts’ before January?

I’ve become slightly concerned about my little grey bubble that I’ve begun blowing recently! The thing about being president of a society, and a substantially sized one at that is sometimes it’s easy to take it all too seriously! I tend to think of myself as a radio station manager rather than a student club leader which means hat maybe I invest too much of myself into it.

Take the Burnfm mousemats situation. The mats, which cost burn £700 and the Guild £300 are far bigger than the size we asked the Guild to order. Apparently this is the fault of the supplier. The biggest issue is that the Guild logo takes up over half the space on the mat meaning that although Burn’s investment was of a much higher sum, the Guild appear to have much more of a visual benefit. These mats are going to be placed in computer clusters where the Guild – or Burn – have ever been able to advertise before so I don’t accept the counter argument that ‘the Guild need the advertising less than Burn so should pay less.’ At the end of the day advertising space is advertising space! The Guild also need to raise awareness about their own site. The biggest issue is that perhaps a smaller mat would have saved Burn money (as well as meaning that the Guild logo wouldn’t stand out as much.)

So that’s the stressy bit out of the way. On a positive note we’ve got them! After around 4 months of planning (since June) the mousemats are now safely with University IT services. Hopefully the mats will last around 3 years a provide a unique way of connecting with potential audiences – after all, all they need is headphones and they can plug into the library computers.

I guess I need to think about the positive things achieved this year at Burn! It’s just frustrating when you put time, effort and most of all passion into a project and it’s not entirely perfect, it can be hard to swallow – particularly when there are over 100 people looking to you to sort things. Any mistakes ultimately fall to me – if someone says something incriminating on air, for example, I may be the one who is ultimately disciplined. When you try and work with people who have less interest in a project than you have your sense of urgency isn’t matched and priorities are different – therefore wires have crossed.

I had a really stressful day last Wednesday. There’s no need to go into details really – there’s not much point, although I’d like to say that it is unfair that the way that staff talk to guild members is not seen as important as how staff are approached by members. I usually communicate everything by email, but not being able to be at the Guild every day I sometimes cannot wait for a reply and have to have a face to face conversation. These conversations are best had in comfy chairs (or at least sitting down.) When there’s an imbalance in the room – i.e someone is seated and another is stood awkwardly by the doorway, it can escalate to something unintended all too easily – tense body language is read wrongly etc… I’d also had the stress of showing the 27 strong committee the mousemats. I’d been frightened that they would be upset with me for giving the go ahead with them but luckily they were supportive as ever.

So, anyway (onto the point!) I went home when I’d finished Burn duties and wrote on my twitter an angsty (borderline hormonal sounding) tweet about how I was ‘fed up of the guild’ and that the ‘VPSAD’ was going to have a meeting to tell me off (or something along those lines.) Actually, upon reflection I shouldn’t have brought the VPSAD into it – and as such I’ve deleted the tweet. It wasn’t a personal attack on the VPSAD herself (I didn’t name her, because it was a general moan about the structure of the guild rather than the way she does her job – I was annoyed at how the VPSAD has to carry out the potentially uncomfortable council of disciplining a student rather than the student and the offended party having that discussion themselves. Had I been asked for an apology, I most certainly would have given one – I had my deputy manager with me and had I been offensive I’m sure he would have had a quiet word with me post event and I would have immediately tried to rectify the situation. I have never set out to deliberately offend anyone.

This is why I want to publish a public apology to the Guild’s VPSAD, Emma Packham, because I understand that my public tweet may easily have been offensive. Emma has been a great support to Burn, myself and all other students involved in societies since she took to her role and has always been open to chats with me – and I’m honestly really sorry if I caused her any upset.

Tomorrow Emma and the Guild gang will be campaigning with a flashmob at the Old Joe clocktower on the University of Birmingham Edgebaston campus (12.50pm.) This campaign is to try and ‘tell David’ Eastwood, the uni’s Vice Chancellor that a rise in tuition fees to £7000 plus is unreasonable. David will be One of the six people sitting at the Governmental table making such a decision. If you are reading this and are available then please come down and support. At 1pm we’ll be heading off to Joes Bar in the Guild to find out more.

Hope you are all well!

Frankie x

Operation Mousemat

Today in the Burnfm studio I came up with…an idea!

Basically in the OLRC (library on the Selly Oak campus) there are old mousemats next to every computer. These were sponsored by a now defunct computer company called DCS plc. My idea is to replace these mousemats with Burnfm.com mousemats. It’s a hugely ambitious idea, even if it doesn’t sound like it (I mean mousemats for goodness sake!) However mousemats are not posters – they are likely to last for a few years at least and remain where they are. They will be next to the computers, hopefully inspiring people to listen as they work and they will also imprint Burnfm’s name and image firmly in people’s minds. There are students who haven’t heard of us.

If we can get Burnfm mousemats into at least the Main Library and the OLRC then we will definitely be reaching out to people. Then if we can branch out to the other 7 computer cluster areas we’ll be getting somewhere.

If anyone has any idea who to approach about this, be it through printing or in terms of who to approach at the Uni (I really don’t know, but have tried emailing the IT services as a start…will talk to the Main Library staff in person as soon as I can.)

Budget wise I know that unless we get some kind of sponsorship, we won’t be able to get enough mousemats, but ideally I’d like to start at 500 and see where we can go from there…

Any ideas give me an email at frankiepromotes@googlemail.com or comment….

 

Thanks!

Frank x

Easter Holidays? Art Brut Vs Satan and Going gigging…

There is a question mark in my title.

I doubt very much that I’m going back to Kent this Easter for a number of reasons, mostly because I need books and have a lot of work and also because one piece of work, a 10-15 minute radio play requires me to use the computer network at uni.

One of the biggest common problems with Uni is it has a distinct lack of books. With thirty people or more writing the same essay often you can’t get the right book before the deadline. I’m popping into the library later before band practice with Pyschonaut  to see if I can find anything and then tomorrow I’ll begin my radio play. Its a play called Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World by Louis de Bernieres. I’ve got some ideas but not sure if they’ll work yet so I’m sure I’ll spend tomorrow finding out. My aim is to get this done by the end of the week. I wrote a 2,000 word essay over the weekend. To be honest my aim is just to get rid of my current backlog of work. I want to focus on bringing music back into the guild.

My music ‘manifesto’ as it is shaping out is to try and get Guild Venues to put on music acts. You can find out more and join the facebook group I’ve set up too and have your say. The group has only been in existence for a few days but its growing nicely. I’m going to email Adam Craig, head of venues at the Guild of Students later and see if I can set up a meeting.

I think I’m starting to get a reputation as a workaholic. 

I just like to get things out of the way so I feel responsibility-free…except that never happens because I take something new on! However I can’t afford train fare home so if I do get rid of all ‘to dos’ I still can’t go back. My real aim is to start recording better Get Frank demos, but my guitarist Nick isn’t around and he always plays my stuff differently to me! Martin from Urbanfly has asked me to play an unsigned showcase at the Victoria pub on the 4th June and even if Nick can’t make it, I’ll figure something out.

I was reading Eddie Argos of Art Brut‘s blogspot blog and read a Drowned in Sound article he wrote for them about new album Art Brut Vs Satan. I’ve just reviewed the new single Alcoholics Unanimous for Culture Deluxe and wrote a review of the album earlier today. I now wish I’d read the article first. I really really like the record, its another brilliantly realised collection of songs with more than your average share of wisdom. On my uni course we learn about postmodernism/challenging perceptions/going against the grain etc… and I completely ignored my own intellect and gave the record a 7 out of 10, when in my own personal opinion I’d probably give it a little bit more, I was just thinking in a ‘person reading the review’ rather than writing the review way. The band are playing the Academy 2 on the 28th April so I’m hoping to go see them. I’ve seen them a couple of times and both were awesome. The last time was at Lounge on the Farm in Canterbury. I managed to grab a quick interview with Eddie and guitarist Jasper Future for my BBC Blast page  but my bloomin’ dictaphone ran out of batteries without me realising. Grrrrrr…..

On thursday I’m playing a headline gig at the Birmingham Academy 3 with Pyschonaut . I play bass. It’s fun but I’m running out of time/ diary space so not sure how much longer I’ll be a part of them. I also want to concentrate on my own stuff – I need to find a bassist, possibly another guitarist, a drummer and a keyboard player but haven’t got my bum into gear yet. The gig on thursday will be my third gig at the Academy 3, having played there once with Psychonaut, and once on my lonesome (literally last minute supporting The Rileys.) Tickets, I believe, are £5. I’m not even sure who we’re playing with to be honest but details on request folks!!!

Frank x

A Brief History of Helen of Troy (or Everything Will Be Different.)

I’m writing some songs for a Mark Schufler play called A Brief History of Helen of Troy (or Everything Will Be Different.) One of these is ‘Bedspread’ which I’m playing as part of my Get Frank on sunday at the Yardbird.

You can find out more here. The gig is free!

Helen of Troy is going to be performed at the Custard Factory on the Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th March. Find out more here!

Frank x

ps

hope to see you sunday. It is free after all!

My name in ink

When I was six and being ‘groomed for stardom’ by a weekend stage school the only ambition myself (and my mother) had was for my name to be up in lights on Shaftsbury Avenue.  Thirteen years later I have seen my name in super shiny ink and I couldn’t be happier.

On Saturday morning a bubble wrapped package lay in the hallway of my student house. On seeing the Channel 4 logo I realised the package was for me and spent the next ten minutes joyfully trying to work out how to actually hack my way through to the gloriously bright magazine inside.

It came as quite a surprise to me when I discovered that, despite not winning, I could still make an appearance in the winter issue of 4Talent magazine. I entered the wrong category, without preparing a proper portfolio or giving myself enough time to post hard copies off to Birmingham based 4 Talent Central. (Ironically I usually live in Birmingham for university but was in Kent working for the BBC when I discovered about the awards and it’s nearing deadline for entry.)

Reading through the magazine has given me inspiration for the future- not only because of the advice and professional insight provided by the contributors but also due to the fact that the age cut off for entering the awards is thirty. This means I have eleven years to get myself together!

Without realising, my first foray into journalism came on my16th birthday when I decided to make a documentary on the ‘chav culture’ of a local nightclub titled ‘Ikon or Pikon.’ When I showed this, and other videos to my year eleven form tutor he insisted I show them to the head of media studies and consider the subject itself for A level. I declined the option to study the subject however; I wanted to create media- not study it.

When it came to choosing University I decided to do a subject I could actually stick at for three years and enjoy. I went into uni thinking I wanted to be a theatre director. As I sat in a student union bar full of student drama fanatics I yearned to be in the meeting next door, where my friend was applying for a radio show. A few days later I found the studio and blagged myself a specialist music show. A few months later I was on the committee and in a few days time I will stand for Station Manager.

At first, trawling through online work experience applications and email rejections I imagined I’d never find a placement to set me on a broadcasting career path. I was of the opinion that to get work experience you had to have already had experience and the whole system was an impenetrable system. Now I realise you have to make your own. My way of doing this (again without realising it) was through writing and contributing to blogs and radio.

One of the great things about being a student is the freedom of having an interest free overdraft! I worked for BBC Blast, BBC Radio Kent, Myspace Radio and 4Talent over the summer and found myself owing a lot of money to the bank. The good thing about education is I have a while to pay it back, and as far as I am concerned, the more experience I get, the more likely I’ll be able to once I have graduated.

Recently my University held a ‘Breaking into Broadcasting’ event that I unfortunately missed. My friend, however, didn’t. “It was all scaremongering” my friend said, “They basically said there’s 100,000 British media students and 60,000 broadcasting jobs.” (both of us, not studying media, are not included in that 100,000.) Suddenly I was glad I’d passed up the opportunity to stay at home and write.

These days broadcasting has become increasingly focused on the ‘360’ of television, radio and online. I realise that it’s been three years since my debut documentary and now may be a good time to return to the moving image.

Since getting a Macbook with a built in camera and getting involved in the Internet Zombie Movie (which was referenced in the current issue of 4Talent magazine.) I’ve developed a keen interest in the way that You Tube works. How do you get subscribers for starters, and then how can you become a You Tube Partner and actually make earnings from your home made efforts?

This process I am aware, will not be as simple as creating a blog: I have no budget. My three year old camera makes a horrible whirring sound when I press record and all I really have is my Macbook, but something tells me I can do it…

Well I made it into 4Talent magazine didn’t I?

 

Focus.

Looking at my blog posts for the past few days I feel like I’ve been a bit unfocused with this.

The joy of blogging is it’s your own free space, but at the same time you can use it for a particular purpose. Currently my purpose seems to be just type up everything I’m working on. I guess its kind of eclectic.

As I’m busy with three drama practicals (for assessment in december) and a couple of assessed essays I’ve had to clear my diary out in terms of reviews and getting out and about and ‘meeting creatives.’

I was on twitter when I discovered Ed Walker’s blog. Being a student who dabbles in journalism I found his site really interesting and left a couple of comments. It was his blog that also made me rethink my own. I want to continue writing for Gigbeth but I also know that right now I’ve got to sort my degree out. Being ill in various grades of seriousness for three weeks has set me back a bit. It turns out I had a kidney and a chest infection at the same time so I’m still doing delightful tests for the doctors to make sure all the nastiness is gone.

As Gigbeth was my music focused blog, this was more about everything else. I may keep it general. Currently it seems to focus on Burnfm, other people’s music, my own music, youtube, internet zombie movie and a bit of drama (degree). I am starting to pick up on other people’s websites as well, which I quite enjoy doing so I may continue.

If I achieve my ultimate year old objective of Station Manager of Burnfm on the 2nd December I believe this blog will focus more on radio, but I’ll address that idea if and when I come to it.

If you have an opinion, then I welcome it. This isn’t youtube so I doubt I’ll get “Your fat, give up already” comments!

Frank. x

Sian the superstar and halloween eve…

One of my best friends, Sian, was in a play last night. Along with a few members of UoB charity drama society Infinity, she helped put on and star in a performance of John Godber’s Shakers, a multi rolling one-act play about four hard working cocktail waitresses. It was a high energy, well directed show and I enjoyed it immensely. They even set it in Beorma Bar (upstairs bar in the Birmingham Guild of Students) which meant we could feel more ‘there’. The proceeds from Infinity throughout the year will go to Banardos Birmingham.

The day before I casually got the train down to london and a couple of tubes in a not so casual dress (well not too over the top but very pink and in my opinion, very cute) to see the edited footage and vlogs for Internet Zombie Movie. Unlike everyone else there I didn’t have any guests, my sister and eternally busy boyfriend couldn’t make it and I didn’t ask anyone from Birmingham (ridiculous cost of train fare.)

The work itself was amazing. Directors Tim Keeling and Pete Curran and of course, project originator Bryony Matthewman stood up to introduce the film and following a couple of video ‘Hi we couldn’t be there’ clips (including the lovely October Road Film boys) The film started. 

The film we saw was brilliantly begun with clips of different vlogs contrasting with each other and building up tension. All the vlogs were unscripted and filmed by IZM contributors from around the world. A low synth pedal note accompanied these and just worked beneath the surface, building up tension. The film then cut to the footage we filmed in Shoreditch which was awesome. I couldn’t help laughing at some of the memories though…..swinging haha!

Hat Trick, the company making a BBC Three documentary about the film wanted to film us entering the cinema with everyone clapping but I felt a bit silly as I felt I hadn’t done that much! I’ve been fairly active on the forums however I felt like my image being used might give people the wrong idea, or cause irritation. However I think the actor who played Ethan, Joseph Ripley had his head in front of mine in the shot anyway so I think I’ll just be a flash of pink anyway. 

Frank.