Now that's what we call music 2009

Kingsley HarrisIt's been another busy year on the local music scene. Our Music Notes columnist KINGSLEY HARRIS casts his eye over the winners, losers and trends of 2009.Kingsley Harris

It's been another busy year on the local music scene. Our Music Notes columnist KINGSLEY HARRIS cast his eye over the winners, losers and trends of 2009.

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Just before we all pay the price for over indulgence, let's recap the regional musical events that shaped 2009.

The rebirth of the Norwich music scene, arguably re-ignited in around 2004/5 and has been gathering pace ever since. I've found over the years that our highlights normally come in five-year chunks, give or take a year, 1965-69/1982-87/1991-96 before we regenerate and with this in mind you have to wonder what's in store for the future.

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If you've ever been in a band you will know its uniqueness, from the strains of just tolerating someone because you make a great sound, to bonding with someone for life, long after the band has gone.

John Lennon was once asked about the life expectancy of the Beatles and in true visionary fashion replied: 'I could be big headed and say 10-years but when you think about it, you're lucky if you last a couple of weeks.'

Bands we lost in 2009 were 2006 Next Big Thing winners Rosalita, Pistola spin offs UH OHs, Bambi Get Over It, Lot 55, Rigo Jancsi and, I hear, we are soon to lose the Mustard City Rockers.

Bands that came into our lives and look set for success are Alloy Ark, Witchers, Follow Your Heart, Death Of Death Of Discotheque, Console Wars, Claw Of Panther, Cakes and Ales and Darwin and the Dinosaurs - to name a few.

Bands that continued to improve and impress included NDX, Hair Traffic Control, VFI, Cold Hands and The Great Shakes.

Quiet this year but coming in at the back post for big things next year are The Lost Levels, who just pick themselves up a major gig booker.

Institutions that break the decade are: Buster James, The Floating Greyhounds, Bearsuit, The Neutrinos, Magoo and Pure Passion, who incidentally release their debut album after 11-years this New Year's Eve.

Barry Newman hosted gig of the decade as the Wilde Club hit 20. The Joy Formidable headlined but the band of the night must have been the re-formation of The Bardots. Not so many name changes this year though, the most notable being F**k Dress becoming Scumbag Philosopher.

It was another mile stone for first man of Norwich blues and jazz Albert Cooper, who turned 76 and released his first jazz album, Songs For September.

The Fringe Festival (May) Hot City Sounds (June) and BFest (Oct) waved the flag high and proud for local music and songwriting talent but sadly a break for Wombat Walk About.

On the fringe of Norwich connections we had Jack Foster and Archie Lamb managers of Tinchy Stryder getting to number one in the UK Charts. On the rawkus scene we have Deaf Havana and The Boy Will Drown signed and out on the touring circuit. Just across the border Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds became half as Cheeky when re-launching as The Cheek but were grinning all the way when signing to A&M.

The Brickmakers once again won the publicans 'Best Regional Music Pub' award; that's three in a row now.

I suppose my highlights have to be the response the label, NROne, had to its albums from The Barlights, The Brownies, Violet Violet and The Kabeedies - all received good national and international press and airplay, I couldn't have asked for more.

I think from a breaking band perspective the biggest accolade of the year came from the NME in August when they placed Norwich 15th in their Future 50 list. Let's recap what they had to say: 'It's unlikely, but Norwich is the hotbed of goodness. With 8,592 people per square mile 8,591 of these own a heavy fringe and a record player. The isolation of being stuck in the arse of England has nurtured more independent labels per head than any other town in the UK. DIY imprints such as NROne, Milkbar Records and Hungry Audio, and venues such as The Crypt and Unit 5 are flourishing - there is no reason why we shouldn't move to England's most improbable city of dreams.'

There are many unmentioned bands who did great things in 2009 and will continue to do so but whatever 2010 brings - I'm sure the talent in Norwich has a lot more to give.

I'm personally looking forward to a good final year running the label and then taking on the mighty challenge of getting the East Anglian Music Archive online as a free resource...has anyone seen my ZX81 Spectrum!

t Kingsley Harris is head honcho at NROne Records and curator of the East Anglian Music Archive.


Kingsley caught up with some of the areas other activists to get their views.

t Amy Wragg, of Soap Box: 'My hightlights must be Hair Traffic Control at Unit Five when Ben joined on trumpet, fantastic and Drums Not Guns at St Gregory's, 50 drummers on stage with belly dancers, a magical noise.' Soapbox puts on its 100th show at the Arts Centre in January.

t Ian Carrell, booker at the Norwich Arts Centre: 'It's been a busy year but I've enjoyed Crystal Antlers and Duchess Says at Twee Off, especially when the lead singing crawled under the stage to sing. At Latitude, I enjoyed Regina Specktor and at the Maverick Festival, The Groanbox boys. I've booked them for next year.'

t Annie Catwoman, booker for Wombatwombat: 'Obviously our 9th Birthday party was a milestone with the fantastic The Joy Formidable headlining. It's only our second gig to sell out in advance. I also really enjoyed the Fever Fever single launch at Take 5 and Magoo's album preview and can't wait for its release.'


t New albums from Rory McVicar, Bearsuit, Magoo, The Barlights, Vanilla Kick and The Neutrinos.

t The Fringe Festival and the launch of the Eastzone Underground label.

t The Norwich Music Convention.

t Wombatwombat's 10th anniversary.

t The Norwich Musical Express at the 100 Club.

t Some serious mainstream and cutting edge talent at the UEA, Waterfront and Norwich Arts Centre (always check this publication for details and previews, just like you are doing now).