Another successful year on the Norfolk music scene
PUBLISHED: 10:27 03 January 2012
Surprise, surprise, it has been another busy year for the local music scene; so much so that KINGSLEY HARRIS had to do a quick poll of Norwich's movers and shakers to compile his round-up of 2011. Apologies to all who didn't get mentioned…
The buzz word in January had to have been Ed Sheeran. As an unsigned artist his rap collaboration album was only kept from the top of the iTunes download chart by Rihanna and around 900 sales, so it was no surprise when Ed announced signing to major label Atlantic records weeks later. Since then he’s had top 10 singles and a number one album. What can we add to this that you don’t already know? Sadly his latest batch of PR is running with the Halifax-born mantle as opposed to hand reared in East Anglia, so it won’t be long before he was never really here at all. Apart from this the only thing that’s changed for those not quick enough to grab his tickets as they go on sale is having to pay £80 for them on eBay.
Saw the sad passing of local pianist Mike Capocci at 81. Mike was well known to many as Norwich’s King of Jazz and ran clubs at The Jolly Butchers and The Red Lion on Thorpe Road, before making the Green Man at Rackheath his club and home. Norwich band Show Me The Coastline progressed to the regional finals of UK’s Live and Unsigned competition but dejectedly no further. New Riverside based nightclub Project was all set to be the city’s new live venue sensation but the buzz fizzled out very quickly due to lack of turn-out and internal company problems.
Bearsuit and Fever Fever headed off to America to represent us at legendary music industry jamboree South by South West in Texas, while Context MC — aka George Musgrave — found his video for Off With Their Heads on the MTV playlist with the likes of Dizzee Rascal and Lady Gaga. George’s success didn’t stop there in 2011 as his October release Listening to Burial made the BBC Radio 1 Playlist. Ellie Hitchcock-Wyatt aka Ellie B got through to the regional finals of the UK’s Live and Unsigned talent contest, sadly the young 13-year-old didn’t go all the way, but a true talent in the making. Local act Swingball were featured on Channel 4’s Dispatches programme something about Government cut’s…blah blah blah.
Clear Talent Media kicked off The Sound and Vision promotion for 2011 with a Crash Course in the Music Industry, an all day lecture followed by a showcase of top Norwich acts.
Norwich Fringe Festival came up trumps again putting on 80 events in 16 days. Organiser Amy Wragg’s highlight was the festival’s Big Busk with over 40 musicians taking to the streets of Norwich. I find it hard to believe that the Festival is still unfunded. It’s one of the city’s mainstay cultural events and certainly warrants a little help from the Arts Council’s coffers. Playfest arrived in the grounds of the New Eccles Hall School, near Attleborough. The two stages saw local and national acts share the limelight for the festival’s sun splashed debut weekend. Pluses were good sized stages, a superb venue and setting matched with a great sounding PA, minuses were not being able to go to the toilet on Sunday and the food. This was an amazing first effort from the new promoters Norwich Rocks - bigger and better in 2012? The other most notable thing this month was the closure of The Marquee. The cesspit of a venue had become a home from home for the heavier local and national touring acts. Despite its unsightly appearance and pungent odour, it was much needed and now missed.
Norwich lost DJ pioneer Alex Skoczlas to cancer at 48. Known as DJ Lix, Alex introduced the concept of the sound system to Norwich under the Danger Zone banner.
The Outline organised Riverside Live Music weekend was in its second year; a mixed bag of local bands and solo artists playing outside the Odeon and Hollywood Bowl. The idea certainly has wings but has yet to fly with many local bands and punters. Unless I’ve erroneously overlooked some underground burgeoning talent, Norwich seemed poorly represented at this year’s Latitude festival. The highlight for many was Ed Sheeran on the main stage. It would be nice to see some kind of link between Norwich and the Latitude event; I know many have tried but as yet nothing seems to have succeeded. We were, however, well in attendance at Glastonbury (Fever Fever), Liverpool Sound City (Bearsuit, Hello Bear, We Can’t Dance and more) and Hop Farm (The Barlights).
The Howlback Hum Mini Summer festival stands out as the event of the summer month. A budget production but on a grand scale with an awesome line-up of good and varied local artists; this should certainly be an annual fixture.
The long anticipated Norfolk Spectacular went ahead. Aimed predominantly at a young dance oriented crowd with headliners such as Tinie Tempah, N-Dubz and Tinchy Stryder; the weekend was a success. Pluses were getting a Norfolk festival of this size off the ground and having some styling to the main stage line-up. Minuses were the hastily organised second (local) stage which just provided a handy shelter during the occasional downpour and the controversy over ticket prices. A great festival idea, but with lessons to be learnt. The second BBC Music Video Festival took place at the Forum and this time around the country as well. The highlight for many, especially Ian Johnson of Access to Music, was the Night at the Popera collaboration between local artists and the Norfolk County Youth Orchestra. I must admit it was one of the most original things I’ve seen and sounded beautiful. Pluses were lots more variety and great videos from around the world. Minuses were far fewer local videos. Norwich Sound and Vision also hit the city for a second time; the good weather went against the many great lectures lined up in the main hall, as everyone basked in the beer garden sun.
Open announced its plans to become a venue. The building was originally Barclays Bank on Bank Plain but after a major refit is now a refuge for the under-18s. It has the perfect facilities for all sizes of gigs and could be a serious contender as a major venue. While we are talking about venues, the Waterfront continued to be an inspiring place for bands floating around in the rags to riches ether to play. They also re-introduced band nights in their loft room. Acoustic and Eclectic nights at Olives, Elm Hill are in their third year and are bringing some inspiring eclectic acts to the city as well as nurturing many of our own slightly off the wall acts and performers. This year they had their first Norwich American Music festival headlined by Banjo legend Tom Paley. The Brickmakers continues to collect the accolades this year. Voted Best Live Music Pub in the country by Industry magazine The Publican and even the Norwich Arts Centre (NAC) got in on the act becoming the NME’s Best Small Venue in East Anglia. October for me also contained the gig of the year when celebrated punksters The Nightingales featuring ex-Violet Violet Fliss on drums visited the NAC. I’m a big fan of lead singer Rob and his lyrical wit and he was on top form. The band’s new sound albeit slightly poppier was amazing. Local singer song writer Kolin Durier won his way through to the regional final of Open Mic UK 2011 but sadly no further.
Blues man Oli Brown toured with legend John Mayall on a 25 date tour of the UK, with a European tour and new album planned for 2012; there’s no stopping one of the UK’s top Blues guitarists.
BBC Introducing under the guidance of Gary Standley and Zoe Applegate celebrated four years of BBC Norfolk Introducing. It seems not so long ago that a program this fine tuned to the local music scene would have been unheard of. Well done to the Beeb in general for this initiative and of course to the aforementioned for making the Norwich show one of the best.
GREAT LOCAL ALBUMS OF 2011
Lukes Anger — Live Wrong and Prosper
Cakes And Ale — Five Shillings, Three Bushels Of Corn And A Milchgoat
Bearsuit — The Phantom Forest
Sargasso Trio — Get To Grips
Lotte Mullan’s — Plain Jane
Dove and Boweevil — Getting Somewhere
Luke Abbot — Holkham Drones
Death Of Death Of Discotheque — Count My Face.
GREAT BANDS WE GAINED IN 2011
ONES TO WATCH FOR IN 2012
LOCAL ALBUMS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2012
Hello Bear — This One Girl…
The Kabeedies — Soap
Holy State — Electric Picture Palace
Vegas Fame Index — Leisureland