Category Archives: MUSIC

Regional Scene Hots Up In 2017

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In 1970 Rod Clements and Alan Hull formed iconic band, Lindisfarne, who, this past week, have celebrated forty years of festive fun at Newcastle City Hall.

The internationally acclaimed, folk-rock band have performed over a hundred shows at the venue they proudly call home with it being that connected to the band now that, in 2012, Newcastle’s Lord Mayor unveiled a commemorative plaque in honour of the late Alan Hull.

“We’ve played some great shows and met some great people, some of whom last saw the band in the seventies so (the City Hall) is the perfect place to end what’s been a successful 2016, at our spiritual home,” began Clements.

“Next year, we’ve already got a few, big festivals lined up including the New Day Festival in Kent. There’s still plenty of old songs to play as well which the audience relates to.

“As for the band itself, we’ve a fluid, constant line-up for which I’m both the oldest, and newest member (he co-founded the band and re-joining in 2015 after a twelve year absence).

“Ray Jackson asked me to come back and it’s great, everyone has a long connection to Lindisfarne, as do the fans so, if you’ve not seen us for a few years now is certainly the time to come back as we’re better than ever.”

Lindisfarne may be the old hands but the future is in grand young ones with Tom Mouse Smith making an incredible name for himself.

With a cult following in tens of thousands the 12-year-old star has performed on big stages as support for Shed Seven, James Bay, and Catfish and the Bottlemen. Father, Andrew, said: “He (Tom) has a very busy year coming up.

“With lots of exciting festivals to be announced, including his own headline at the Surfcafe in Tynemouth on January 28.”

Another looking at an exciting year is country singer-songwriter, Chloe Chadwick. Already with several, high-profile outings on Tyneside lined up in the first quarter of 2017 she’ll be releasing a single, Love will find a Way, ahead of an album launch, Dustbowl Jukebox, shortly after.

Ms Chadwick has many reasons to smile saying: “Personally, I class myself as Americana but I’m still pushing the country genre.

“There’s lots of different acts coming from America and selling out over here, there’s a market for it and the sound is definitely getting noticed.”

Her first major outing will be at The Porters in Tynemouth, supporting US Grammy award nominee, Jeff Finlin, as she looks to build on the success of the past twelve months.

“I’ve had country feelings in me and learnt a lot about myself when I went on a mini-tour earlier this year. The upcoming album represents some of that, it represents the crazy, whirlwind life I’ve had in the industry whilst the jukebox is the collective mix of music I’ve written over the years not categorised into one genre.”

Numerous other females making waves include Jodie Fitzgibbon and The She Wolf Project making their indifference of noise, the stunning duo of Beth Macari and Abi Garrido bringing their own style and panache, and Sandy Smith becoming something of a risk-taker.

Then you’ve got Bea Garcia (Twist Helix), Caroline Pallister (Front Street), and Olivia Morley (as duet, JustSo, with The Longsands guitarist, David Stanyer) making impressions.

A former West End star, performing in Sunday Night Live and Chicago, in her “younger days,” Sandy is taking a leap of faith with her drummer partner, soon beating out a band, Sands of Time, thanks in no small part to a man she calls “my sidekick and confidante.”

“I’ve a passion and love for it with the joy coming from theatre to performing anything from ballads to sounds from the fifties to the present day.

“Next year though I’m performing abroad before returning in the winter as I take the plunge and just go for it. If I don’t do it now I never will.”

Of those nominated for Ubeat awards recently included Beth Macari (winner of best music video for Voodoo) and Abi Garrido.

The distinct, unmistakable Macari certainly had a year to remember including performing at the South Tyneside summer festival whilst continuing to write new material in the run-up to Christmas, something she’ll look at continuing next year saying: “I’ve started doing more singing teaching and next year is going to be all about the music, showing people who I am and what my voice is.

“There’ll certainly be lots of time spent in the studio, touring, and some really good collaborations on the cards.”

Pop-Rn’B starlet, and former X Factor contest, the sultry Abi Garrido, an ambassador for Metro Radio, is looking at bigger things in the new year having spent the current one gigging and maintaining a following.

She added: “I’m looking at releasing a single early in the year, then possibly an album later on whilst writing my own material.

“I’ve got people interested as well but there’s big decisions to make and I want to try and go everywhere I can, even abroad again, and sing.”

At Twist Helix, drummer James Walker, alongside Bea Garcia and bassist Michael Humble, recently announced a minimum ten-date tour beginning in London and taking in The Cluny, Newcastle, on January 21.

They’ve plans to release a second album adding to their debut, Manifesto, along with a darker, electronic-based single being released prior.

The She Wolf Project, consisting of Jodie Fitzgibbon, Ami Vaziri, Chaz Hall and Donya Ramak. Are an all-female fusion band returning after a brief, personal break working on individual projects.

“Everything is slowly coming together and we’re all writing original material which we’ll look at next year,” said Jodie.

“We’re all really good writers and could release an EP now if we wanted to but the main aim is to establish our name and create more of a following.”

Other bands see that of The Skapones and JustSo, The Heavily Brothers and Front Street making noise.

“We’re currently writing a self-titled album which is scheduled for release in October next year having had a great one this time around,” Stanyer said of JustSo.

“We’ve performed at Northumberland Live and Chester-le-Street FakeFest and we’ll look at hitting the festival scene again next year to promote the release of our debut album.”

Whereas Caroline Pallister and Front Street are looking to: “Create a definitive logo and branding to use across social media and advertising,” she said.

“Recently we’ve been in the studio recording a demo CD which will hopefully introduce other venues to us with the aim throughout 2017 to keep a regular slot at The Crown and Crossed Swords in Shotley Bridge, also finding additional venues who really appreciate original music written by a talented local artist.”

The Skapones and The Heavily Brothers are a flashback to a bygone era in musical genres with the former looking at releasing a new single and album, of original content, including a tour of Germany and France later on amongst other festivals ensuring they continue to go from strength-to-strength, performing in Darlington (21) and Stockton (28) in January; whilst the latter just enjoy the music having been going since the sixties in various guises now performing at the Whitby Pirates Day and charitable events before looking at a summer album release of their own.

 

Let’s Rock n Roll In 2017

Sponsored by EGH Radio Rocks, the home of unsigned rock music, 24/7 and the home of Anne’s Rock Show, Monday’s from 9pm
North East music, and particularly its rock scene, is positively thriving as we head into 2017 with a number of acts looking at making some incredible noise.
With Twister claiming the Best EP/Album for Designed State of Mind, and Best Band awards at the recent Ubeat Music Awards; Craig Roddam and his band blasting their way through Christmas Live at the Arena; and Black Nevada providing immense support for Dani Filth and Devilment at Think Tank, you’d think the close to 2016 would be hard to top.
Actually, it’s already being set up to do just that as Twister have recently announced that they’ll be headlining the O2 Academy in mid-May for a Refined/Combined State of Mind double release, an opportunity arriving off the back of a hugely successful Academy Two slot were they were more than ably supported by Roddam, Catalyse and Singapore Safehouse.
Black Nevada followed up the release of their excellent EP, Fragments, with that Think Tank performance and go into the New Year talking of a possible new music video release and an early year tour taking in Leeds, Nottingham and parts of bonny Scotland, and that’s before summer festival festivities.
Craig Roddam on the other hand has certainly taken his opportunities the past year, following up supporting Twister to playing in front of thirty thousand plus at the Metro Radio Fireworks in Saltwell Park, to Christmas Live, in a matter of months. His new single, to be released early next year, places emphasis on Where do we go from Here.
“I already have a few things I want to get done next year and I’ll be in the studio soon enough,” said Roddam.
“I’ll look at releasing a single first so I can build some momentum, some hype, towards either an EP or album. There’s also the possibility of a tour along with some big support spots at places like the Academy.
“The band also deserves credit and I can’t believe how good they sound when playing my music, they deserve the big stages.”
Big stages are places the like of Micky McCrystal and Kyle Hughes are getting used to, for differing but similar reasons. The pair, along with Edward Bell, are still coming to terms with a recent mini tour they embarked upon with former Guns n’ Roses guitarist, Bumblefoot.
Beginning at Trillians in Newcastle they also took in the Diamond Live Lounge in Doncaster and a date in Featherstone, leading to the duo being offered an opportunity, amongst others, for a trip to LA next month, ahead of Hughes announcing something pretty special himself.
McCrystal meanwhile been guitarist with local rock gods, Tygers of Pan Tang, since Belgium in June 2013. The band releasing Only the Brave earlier this year before a home, Cluny launch, of their mass-acclaimed, self-titled album, in late October where they were, in turn, supported by…..Twister.
Releasing the album through Mighty Music in Denmark McCrystal said; “I had in my mind tas to what the fans wanted to hear and that’s how we approached it.
“Now we’re gearing up to record another video next month which won’t necessarily be old school Tygers, but more a fun song with a hint of classic Tygers all the same. The record label is keen on releasing more if all goes to plan which will be a combination of that old school, recognisable but new.
“That and, with my filling the boots of John Sykes there’s been a level of expectation for me, I’ve had to put my own stamp onto the position whilst still being respectful.”
An exciting addition to the scene the past few years has been Teesside’s Lisa Kilcar, who parted ways with a rock covers band to produce an array of her own, rock originality. The trodden path of many a rocker, before and after, came as a surprise to friends and loved ones alike.
Pushing boundaries of the blues, rock and ballads, Lisa has already penned material enough to release an album in the New Year alongside her new band.
She added: “Things will happen quite quickly as most of the album is done.
“After leaving the covers band I picked up a guitar and wrote a whole new batch of songs. I’ve always wanted to sing as well and, although people were surprised I took this path it’s always been one I wanted to take.
“I’m hoping to release a varied range of material next year across several genres whilst doing some solo work at the same time.”
With The Firelight Opera, Death to Indie and Serinette also making loud noises there’s a trio of acts to watch in Tyneside all-girl rockers, Scream of Sirens, Sunderland’s indie stars, Social Room, and Durham’s unknown entity, Off Peak.
Firelight Opera are making a transition from covers to original whilst penning an album, something they’ve already begun with Lee Hardy stating: “We’ve been down Liverpool already and began putting material down on a new album and is something we’ll go back to in February.
“There’ll be an official video and single release in March with an album launch come the summer.”
Mark Rayner and Death to Indie are in a similar position album-wise with their heading to the studio late spring.
“We’ve had a great response this year, support-wise, so we’re keeping the early part of the year free in order to refresh social (media) and website presence,” added Mark.
“Then we’ll build towards an album later in the year with a live video performance as a teaser, maybe two to build momentum.”
Social Room successfully released their latest single, Be Forever Mine, at Independent in Sunderland and the new year will be a massive one for the six-piece fronted by vocalist, Matty Smith alongside Adam Jefferson, Adam Potts, Simon Bewick, Chris Leonard and Alex Gunn ; Scream of Sirens followed up an EP with the launch of Get Some which landed them a slot with Wipe Out Publishing.
Off Peak meanwhile are brothers Jamie and Robbie Pick with friends Kier Hutchinson and Jackson Raw from Esh Winning who have been providing indie music for the past three years now.
The past twelve months or so have seen them come into their own following up the release of debut single, Stay the Same, with an Academy launch, in 2015, before an EP and mini tour last year.
“We’ll be releasing a second EP in January with a launch gig at Durham University,” said Jamie.
“Afterwards we’d like to release an album but an EP would be great as we’re enjoying it which is why we do it, doing it all off our own back.”
All of this, and more, will be played out on international radio station, EGH Radio Rocks, with Anne and Stephen Lambert, on Monday nights from 9pm; they themselves are looking at a big year ahead and can followed on Twitter through @EGHRocks whilst the online radio show can be reached via http://mixlr.com/egh-radio/.

Twister’s Combined State Of Mind

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Twister, fronted by founder, Stevie Stoker, have announced that they will not only headline the O2’s Academy One on May 21, but add Refined State of Mind to Designed State of Mind for a Combined State of Mind uniting two EP’s into one album.

The band, which consists of Joe Major (drums), Jake Grimes (guitar & backing vocals) and new addition John Howard (bassist) have been around for an age, under different guises with the current line-up, on the whole, having been together for nearly two years now.

Earlier this year they sold out Academy 2 with their EP launch, ‘Designed State of Mind,’ and well supported by Catalyse, Singapore Safehouse, and Craig Roddam. The immense success of that led to Academy manager, Phil Beevers, contacting the lads the following day and offering them the main stage.

In what can only be described as a whirlwind for Twister they followed that up by being nominated for seven Ubeat TV awards and winning two further awards at the Heather Terry Memorial Music Awards at the Music Lounge in Stockton.

“We were absolutely over the moon to be able to sell-out Academy 2,” began Stevie.

“The response to the atmosphere and music on the night was great and then, to get the call from the Academy the following day asking if we’d fancy headlining the main hall, words can’t describe that.

“We’re aware as to how big a step up this is and the challenge that it presents but it’s a dream stage to play on and we’ve only been there once and that was a few years ago now (as support to Alarm). Granted we are there for the upcoming UBeat Awards but this is us, it’s something really, really special and we’ll certainly throw everything at it.”

Immediately after their last Academy gig they supported Tygers of Pan Tang at the Cluny and played at Trillians Rock Bar in the city centre and for Jake and Joe, the pair are living the dream.

“Playing the O2 is just surreal anyway and was packed out from start to finish, staying like that until the last song,” added Jake.

“So, already being on cloud nine with that, we get this as well. It brings back great memories for me going to gigs there as kids and the Ubeat Awards is just the perfect warm-up for that. Knowing its Academy One from the off, we hope to sell it out, and although it could be seen as a bit of a risk, it’s now or never really. It’s the first step in the next big thing for us.”

Several times the band have played Academy Two, each as good as the last with the band getting better as time moves on. It could add extra pressure, but it’s their living, and for drummer Joe there’s nothing better saying: “We will certainly push to get the place as full as it can be and make it as comparable to the big touring bands the Academy gets as we can.

“It’s not just a one-off though that’s for sure. So long as we put the work in as individuals then the band is certainly capable, relieving that pressure so we can concentrate on the putting down tracks, writing that new material and showing that we can, in essence, do whatever we like.”

With Designed & Refined State of Mind becoming a Combined State of Mind, Twister are putting together a ‘Battle of the Bands’ in conjunction with UBeat TV and Filthy’s Newcastle (application through the UBeat website from December 1) and will see prizes of support slot, music video, studio recording time, photoshoot and a Series 4 Ubeat TV appearance on offer.

Tickets for Twister Live at Academy One will be available soon and will be priced at £7 standard and £11 VIP (inc. Twister acoustic), further information via Facebook or Twitter @wearetwister

Official Event Page – Twister O2 Academy Newcastle

FEATURE: Longsands Year In Music (2012)

A year is a long time in anyone’s eyes and mind. In musical terms a lot can happen and times can change in the blink of an eye. When you are based in Tyneside and go by the name of The Longsands though, the rise and rise seems to be a continuous motion.

The five-piece, who hail mainly from Cramlington, on the outskirts of Newcastle, have been around for a good few years now (since around 2006), but it is only recently that they have gone full tilt into making their music matter. The only change in which they have had to really overcome arrived with the recent departure of Bass Guitarist, Gary Ormston, in late-November. His replacement came in the form of Callum Thompson.

The Indie Rock band though has had a year to remember, and a one that was predicted when they attended a talk-in with ‘Mad Frankie Fraser.’ The Gangland legend was quoted as saying back then that “the band has a great look and their music captures the way this generations feeling right now.

“I’m sure that they will do well and I’ll advise that people buy the album or I might have to pay them a visit.”

The album referred to was the soon to be released, ‘Meet Me in Spanish City’ which includes the classics such as ‘Little Britain,’ ‘Worlds Collide,’ ‘Affair in Manchester,’ and ‘Streets and Pavements,’ amongst numerous other well-versed tracks.

The year though began with the band supporting Simon Fowler, Oscar Harrison and Ocean Colour Scene when they were invited to perform at the second birthday bash for Factory 251 back in February. Including that outing, and by the time they appeared at The Cluny on the 9th December, the lads will have played some sixteen main gigs throughout the year of 2012, as well as appearing on weekly events in and around the Tyneside area.

March would see them perform at the O2 Academy in Newcastle as a support for CAST and was to be followed just three months later by their debut album launch gig at Newcastle University. The gig was to be a 90 minute set where they not only performed tracks from their album but also some new, unheard materials.

Ian Barnes, writer and rhythm guitarist for The Longsands, was quoted in an interview during the year saying that “we will put our all into the songs.

“They are ours and we love them.”

The album launch would be supported by that of The Bluetones and Ambershift. The year was getting better by the day.

Upon the final release of ‘Meet Me in Spanish City’ interviews would come thick and fast for Barnes and the rest of The Longsands – Trevor Cox, David Stanyer, Gary Ormston and Paul Stephenson. Interviews which included Purple Soul, Football Burp and Rocksucker amongst those with the usual named publications.

The year continued with their single, ‘Shut Your Mouth,’ gaining much welcomed airtime on BBC Radio 2 and was sharp followed by interest from the legendary Eurythmics guitarist and producer, Dave Stewart after he put a request out on the social networking site, Twitter, for a good support band when in Sunderland. Not surprisingly he would soon be inundated with messages suggesting that of The Longsands.

Album reviews would also come thick and fast, the lads were fast becoming the talk of the music industry, and rightly so, especially in the eyes of north-eastern musical aficionados.

The summer of 2012 would see the band announce their attendance at several festivals and which included the SKY fest Big Weekend in Edinburgh.

More recently the lads have also been back on BBC Radio 2, this time being invited to perform a live session for the masses.

Then there was the shock for followers of The Longsands, the departure of Bass Guitarist, Gary Ormston, ‘Gaz’. Upon the announcement of his impending departure, Gaz was quoted as saying that, “Unfortunately, on a personal level for me, as things continue to progress and the future prospects of The Longsands look brighter than ever, it is now time for me to hang up my boots (or bass, more specifically!).

“As some of you will know recent developments in my personal life and the demands of my job and the band over the next 12 months have made me reach this decision which, trust me, wasn’t one I’ve enjoyed doing or found particularly easy.

“Having been in The Longsands from the beginning, calling time on it has definitely made me appreciate what I have experienced. Pinching Bruce Foxton’s wine back stage on the FTJ tour, recording the album at stupid o’clock in the morning at the studio, the album launch night in June at Newcastle University and sharing various hideously coloured Travelodge’s across the country enjoying (or at times enduring!) minimal sleep and maximum alcohol consumption night after night!

“I’d like to sign off in style and take the opportunity to thank all the fans who have, and continue to make this all possible. My last gig as The Longsands’ official bass player will now be the DVD launch at The Cluny on Sunday 9th December, although I will remain close to the band and help out wherever I can.

“I’d appreciate it if as many of you as possible could make The Cluny show and join me in a beer or 10! I, more than anyone, want to see the band succeed and wish them all the best in 2013.”

This led to the search for a replacement, and, after strenuous auditions, Tynesider Callum Thompson, was successful in becoming Ormston’s replacement, if the term was to be warranted.  Upon his arrival with the band Thompson was quoted as saying that “’I’m a farmer’s son from the wilds of Seaton Sluice, brought up on Dire Straits, Rory Gallagher and Big Country. I picked up a guitar to impress the girls in school and found it only attracted the lads, stuck with it though!

“I have played guitar for 16 years now, played bass in The Din for 3 years. Recorded two albums at Trinity Heights and have performed at some awesome gigs around the region including The Sage. I have also worked on projects with Indria (traditional Indian music meets western stuff) I also play Banjo, guitar and ukulele.

“I’d like to thank the lads in the band for this opportunity and also wish Gaz the best of luck in the future.”

Now it is on to the show at The Cluny on the 9th December and then the eagerly anticipated first DVD, a live one at that, with the impending release of ‘The Longsands Live at Newcastle University’ due to hit music stores and beyond on the 12th December, just in time for Christmas, followed by a visit to Newcastle’s Think Tank where the band were deemed to be ‘unplugged’ in support of Echo & The Bunnymen and The Lightening Seeds. Several days after the band would be back again at the Think Tank, supporting Ocean Colour Scene’s Simon (Fowler) and Oscar (Harrison).

Continuance in the same vein will see The Longsands have an unforgettable 2013 that should, without question, eclipse the one they have just had in 2012.

You can follow The Longsands on Facebook and Twitter @the_longsands

FEATURE: Someone’s Gotta Lie ‘Cos This Isn’t Wonderland

Sponsored by EGH Radio Rocks the home of unsigned rock music, 24/7 and the home of Anne’s Rock Show, Monday’s from 9pm

From a little County Durham former pit village of Shotton Colliery stems a musical murmuring that is causing a rather large Twister across the airwaves and beyond as Stevie Stoker and his rock cohorts continue to tear up the music scene.

Having recently celebrated his 25th birthday, band founder and lead singer, Stevie Stoker has suddenly found himself looking back on over a dozen years of musical madness for the band in which he started when at school in early 2004 has this year shared the same stage as Electric Six, Status Quo, and Bumblefoot (Ron Thal of Guns ‘n’ Roses fame).

All that has gone between then and now has never wavered Stevie’s spirits and, as an only child, has had the full backing of his parents, Steve and Shirley Stoker, as well as partner Rebecca Rawlinson. It’s the kind of support network you could only dream about but for the Stoker’s, life on the road is their son’s life, and they encourage it with open arms.

Since that original formation back at school, Stevie included, there has been some eighteen members go through the doors, but the music has remained very much the same, and that is what keeps their loyal band of followers pretty much onside, so much so that they’ll travel any and everywhere around the country to support the lads, irrespective of incarnation.

“You have to think though, we had a steady line-up for five of those years but, if you want to be in a band, be in this band, then you have to stay grounded for nobody gives you a leg up, you have to work yourselves in order to get somewhere and that’s what we’ve all done,” began Stevie.

“When we first began, back in 2004, we were already doing bits of our own material and then, when Someone’s Gotta Lie was released we knew that doing that (originals) was the way forward, knew what the tracks we did, and would do, sounded like, and things would be made going forward.

“Now, when I listen back to the first album, I love it. Some of those tracks actually rock. It was all different though when we first began, we were just 13-years-old and although we set little goals, nobody wanted to be the lead singer, so I did it myself.”

From then until now Stevie hasn’t looked back with anger or regret. Far from. He is very much aware that everything happens for a reason whether it’s playing outside of school as a child entering his teenage years, those early gigs at the band’s long-term home at ‘The Fleming’ in Shotton, right through to being a full-time, gigging band who are pretty much always on the road, whether it be here in their native north-east or further afield.

“That first, proper gig we did, was at a place called Breathless at Blackhall and we but mere kids then,” continued Stevie.

“It was an amazing gig though and still one of the biggest buzzes I’ve ever had. From that moment on we all knew wanted more, much more. The Fleming, until it was knocked down, was a family haunt and where my parents met so everything was done there so it was upsetting, the end of an era, when that place went.

“Everything that we have done though has continued to build up to where we want to be and we know that we can give a lot to both the music industry, and to the people. That’s how we want to be and will always look to connect with them. We have fans who follow us everywhere, people like Jemma Henderson and Joyce Barugh, so we’ll always look to give something back.”

Over the years their many members have included that of Louis Sera, Niall Whittaker and Johnny Kell, the latter whom, other than Stevie, has had the longest individual run in the band stretching over eight years.

By the time they played alongside, and as chief support to, Bumblefoot at the O2 Academy in April this year the quartet, which included Kyle Hughes, Edward Bell and Karl Scott, where coming to the end of that particular band incarnation.

That was a special night in its own right and since then, the new quartet consisting of Matt Whitaker, Jake Grimes and Joe Major, have continued to go from strength-to-strength.  Firstly, the new awesome foursome went onto play at Lechlade within two months of melding, Quo legend Francis Rossi saying afterwards that their “songs are great,” “Pink Floyd cover was great,” and that they “were loud,” – tribute indeed.

“Although the Bumblefoot gig was the best we’ve played together as a band and served a purpose from which a lot of good came out of it,” added Stevie.

“Now it’s all been about a fresh start, a clean slate with three, hardworking people who want this as much as I do. Famous Last Words was a closure piece for me, a closure and launching a new beginning and to be able to move forward – we want people to know that we are still about, to know what we are doing, and that we care about our fans.”

With a new, short-play EP due for release in early 2016 the only other thing that Twister promise is festivals, more gigs, a double tour date of which one will be of their own making, and a New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Bowburn Community Centre.

It will pretty much be the same as they have been before, on a ‘Feeding Frenzy.’

You can follow the progress of Twister on Facebook or Twitter @wearetwister.

 

FEATURE: All Roads Keep Leading Back ‘Home’ For Fordham

Born in Portsmouth on the south-west coast, and having emigrated from blighty to the west coast of America and now residing in California, you’d start to wonder what international soloist, Julia Fordham, has as connections to the north-east of England.

Ms Fordham’s mother still resides on Hayling Island, across the Langstone Harbour from Pompey, family heritage traces its way back to the heart of the north-east, with Tyneside values instilled in her, with Gateshead and Newcastle very much running through the family veins.

Now in her fifties the delightfully humorous, ever-smiling, blonde bombshell saw her early career, under the name of ‘Jules’ Fordham, be a backing singer for the likes of Mari Wilson (the Neasden Queen of Soul) and Kim Wilde during the eighties, going on to sign her own recording contract in the latter stages of the decade.

Working with stars of that calibre meant that the British-born star was able to make it on her and some seventeen albums later, Julia Fordham was released in 1988 and The Language of Love in 2014, are testament to the strength of character and test of time an artist is willing to endure for success.

Julia is now preparing for a trip back to the UK, and a 13 date tour in November where she’ll begin in Worthing, take in Gateshead’s Sage, and finish in Portsmouth, an intentional stopping point for her family showing that, although a million miles away, home is never far from her mind.

“My mother was born in Gateshead, Emily Street to be precise, and went to St Cuthbert’s School as well,” began Julia, who only recently found out her family heritage.

“Gran is also from Newcastle before moving over to Fleetwood and when we talk to each, there is always a hint of Geordie slipping into conversation on the phone.

“I was here two years ago as well (for the 25th Anniversary of the Porcelain Tour) so when I knew of this tour I wanted to get Gateshead in immediately. I love it here and always take in some of the sights when I come back. With mum now living on Hayling Island I’ve intentionally finished the tour there, for her.”

Often likened to Canadian singer-songwriter, and her own inspiration in Joni Mitchell, Julia has seen her career move constantly upwards since that debut album was granted platinum status and made the Billboard 200 chart; her second album, Porcelain, in 1988, was afforded a gold certification by the British Phonoraphic Industry (her only album to make the top 100 in America).

Her success on stage has seen Julia gain spots on BBC1’s Wogan chat show (April 1988) and BBC Radio 2’S Richard Madeley on Sunday show (July 2013), the latter coming a week after singer Michael Ball played her single ‘Skipping under the Rainbow’ on his own Sunday night radio show.

“Going on Madeley’s show was such a wonderful thing for me and it put me back into the spotlight,” continued an ever-beaming Julia.

“It was wonderful to be able to do that, and do something that I love; it’s because of that I will certainly be looking at making some radio appearances this time around as well, although I will be rehearsing from November 5.

“It’s been 28 years now since the first album so I’m thinking of something for the thirtieth anniversary (in 2018) but this is certainly a fickle business which we call show business but I have a very loyal and dedicated fan base and it still surprises me that they come out as much as they do – it’s nothing short of miraculous though that I can do what I have done without being with a major record label.

“It’s not tiring, and it’s not glamorous though, it’s just something that I love doing and really enjoy; coming back to Britain (she toured in 2014 on her Porcelain Tour taking in the Cadogan Hall in London, The Sage in Gateshead, and the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool, before closing at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne).

“I love touring the country as it’s so beautiful, it’s stunning.”

The key aspect of her upcoming tour is that it is ‘Julia Fordham – Live by Request’ and that her ever-adoring fans have been given the opportunity to, by her choosing to do something different, perform what they want to hear so they were invited to choose their favourites as she’ll “play all the hits, and throw in some surprises.”

FEATURE: Jammin In The Toon

A long history with the north-east, and one of its flagship bands, The Longsands, brings Bruce Foxton and From the Jam back to Newcastle early next month.
Consisting of Bruce Foxton, Russell Hastings, Mike Randon and Andy Fairclough, the quartet have seen From the Jam go from strength-to-strength over the past decade which has included hit albums ‘Back in the Room’ and ‘Smash the Clock’ will come to rock out the O2 Academy on their ‘A & B Sides Tour.’
Now, having been promoted by Steve Wraith in Newcastle for what is a fifth successive year, and The Longsands having been their chief support on their tour in 2009/10, their ongoing success has often been accredited to an incredible, and increasing fan-base.
“The success was made possible by you the public getting involved, for which we can’t thank you enough,” began Bruce.
Russell and I are incredibly proud to be in the charts. It is a great achievement all round; it’s just simply good music that is ageless and timeless.”
Tracks have included down the years which will be belted out on the night include: “‘Just Who Is The 5 O’clock Hero’, ‘Carnation’, ‘Aunties and Uncles’ and ‘Life from A Window,’” continued Bruce.  
“The band are also looking forward to playing ‘The Dreams of Children’, the B side to ‘Going Underground’ that was originally intended to be an A side, were it not for a mix up at the pressing plant,” 
With a tour that starts in Birmingham on September 30 at The Institute, takes in Newcastle’s O2 Academy on October 2 where they’ll be supported by The Longsands and Charlie Campbell, through places like Manchester and Edinburgh, Nottingham and Sheffield, Leeds, London and Southampton before finishing in Exeter in mid-December.
In guitarist/vocalist Russell Hastings it’s been a surreal journey alongside someone, Bruce, who is more like a twin brother than a colleague, the pair often finishing each other’s sentences, knowing what the other is going to do next, even holidaying together, well except for next year, at present at least.  
The band have actually recently returned from a tour down under as well, jet lag is often a factor with the bigger bands and something they have to get used to quickly – they’ll go back next year, the same with a return to Newcastle, after all it’s the Jam’s 40th Anniversary. 
“Yeah, we’ve been on tour in Australia for a couple weeks, we performed nine shows taking in places like the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth,” began Russell.
“The majority of the shows were sold out as well which was amazing and somewhere like Sydney, that’s just incredible really.”
Performing tracks of the last two albums, as well as the old favourites keeps the fans wanting more and, as Bruce imitated, it’s because of them that The Jam name celebrates its fortieth in 2017.
“The two albums have been really successful indeed,” continued Russell.
“We’re fortunate that people are continually raving about the music and wanting to hear us play. When I began playing myself I was only about 12 and have been in bands since I was about 14 so I’ve always played, always known music.
“I’ve played with some great guys as well, Mark (Brzezicki) and Rick (Buckler) being two of them (both former members of From the Jam). Mark is a great guy and friend of mine and we just had a really great time with it all.
“Bruce though, well I think it’s about 11 years or so we’ve known each other. We have many things in common and often go on holiday together, share a lot and often found speaking for each other for we know what the other is like.
“I actually with From the Jam because of Rick though as he wanted some help and we just went from there and the fans love it, as do we.”
Coming to Newcastle though, on October 2, is something which the band are looking forward to and, performing their A & B sides, with a few surprises, will certainly one not to miss for music fans alike.
“Newcastle is certainly a favourite venue of mine and I love going there and seeing the people,” Russell continued.  
“They’re always up for it from the word go. It can be quite daunting being in the dressing room hearing them but once we start, it’s great. I love the place and it’s a really vibrant city – we can’t wait.
“It’s not just those A’s and B’s which we’ll be playing though as this give us a chance to put on some surprises as well on the night.
“We’ve got a lot of ammunition to work with and get the crowd going so we’ll aim to start off with a big bang and just keep it going.”

Blues Legends Visit Stockton

Fast closing on their fortieth anniversary, London Blues legends, Nine Below Zero, are heading to the north-east this weekend to take on the sights and sounds of The Arc.

Formed by Dennis Greaves back in the heady days of the late seventies only three members of the early line-up remains, Greaves being flanked by Mark Feltham, who talked him into reforming the band after a brief hiatus in the mid-eighties, and Mickey Burkey.

The band you see now though are an incredible eight piece, compared to the quartet that hit the London club scene back then and it was during the inaugural years they were known as Stan’s Blues Band, playing mainly at the Thomas A’Beckett Pub on the Old Kent Road before being managed by Mickey Modem and persuaded to change their name “to something sharper,” Greaves going with Nine Below Zero after a tune penned by American blue soloist, Sonny Boy Williamson.

Successful outings, and the subsequent name change, proved beneficial, being picked up first by A&M Records, releasing their first album in 1980 entitled Live at the Marquee; twenty-odd albums later and they are still going strong, especially after playing in and around the old London suburbs saw sessions with The Kinks, The Who, even going on to headline at the Hammersmith Odeon alongside respected bluesman, Alexis Komer.

“I thought we were the only people playing blues, but when we got on the circuit I discovered there were other bands out there”, Greaves remembers. “There was Red Beans and Rice, The Blues Band, The Little Roosters, The Inmates, Dr Feel Good – it was quite a big thing.”

 

They persevered, took the capital by storm, made sound-waves that continue aplenty today.

That is, in part, down to the incredible fan base they’ve garnered down the years and, having moved with the times themselves, moulded into the Blues band that appears today.

“We went to Woolworth School and the Thomas A’Beckett club backed onto that,” Greaves continued.

“It had a lot of music and boxing shows on and we managed to get a residency with them (in those formative years). We were paid £25 for each night that we did, usually a Tuesday, but there’s been many highlights since then.

“I was asked recently what the highlights have been and you can look at the twelve nights with Eric Clapton at the Albert Hall, playing with ZZ Top, the Kinks, the Who, appearing on the South Bank Show and the Old Grey Whistle Test and The Young Ones, there’s been many a highlight.

“Then we kind of went our own way a bit. Mark (Feltham) went off and did some amazing session work for seven years and I went Los Angeles with The Truth – all I did was eat Mexican food and write songs, getting lost in the band, getting ensconced into reading and writing music.

“Then Mark called me up and said we should all get back together, which we did, so it’s his fault.

“It’s different now though, a lot different and we’ve doubled the size of the band to cope with that, now taking around an RnB extravaganza. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do and felt as though the time was right with the extra material we have.”

With an impressive back catalogue Greaves, Feltham, Burkey et al take pride in working in an ever-changing music industry and, knowing that some of the roots, that club feel, has been lost in transition, aim to keep the sounds going.

He added: “We’re just about the music and getting that club intimacy right, but we can also float in our own little ocean and be able to deliver; so long as we can do that then the fans will be there. As for the new album (13 Shades of Blue) and coming back north, we love Stockton and the venue is great, has a fantastic vibe about it.

“We’ve always done something in the area as we love what it’s about so it’s a privilege to be able to do these and we certainly think they love their RnB as well.

“As for the album, it’s dedicated to those Blues singers who have slipped under the radar and is the versatile colour and styles of the Blues.”

 

FEATURE: Global Rock Star Returns To Tyneside

Last year rock legend, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, appeared at Newcastle’s O2 Academy where he was ably supported by Twister; the former Guns N’ Roses guitarist appearing onstage wearing a Newcastle United jersey, playing ‘Local Hero.’

Twister’s then drummer, Kyle Hughes, made that much an impression that he parted ways (on good terms it needs saying) with the band, becoming a session drummer working with Aurora Dawn and the Screamin Skulls whilst keeping in touch with, and having occasional dates with destiny, with Ron – it is a friendship that sees the duo re-unite in Newcastle as part of a mini-tour.

Ron has played music since his school days and now, forty years on, he’s still touring, as a soloist and with his own band, Art of Anarchy, playing with some of the biggest names on the planet (he’s just finished a tour with the ‘Platinum Rock All-Stars,’ with Carmine Appice (drums), Rudy Sarzo (bass), Geoff Downes (keys), Gene Cornish (guitar) and vocalist Phil Naro), as well as nine years with ‘the most dangerous band in the world.’

“I started playing very young and if you go by my first original song demos and gigs at the age of seven, it’s nearly forty years,” began Ron.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ve found that the roads to get from point A to point B have changed due to technology and business economy, but points A and B haven’t changed. It’s still about giving people something a real piece of yourself and giving people an experience that juices up their spirit.

“In those first gigs forty years ago, I’d cut up pieces of paper into home-made confetti and give out cups of it to the audience to throw in the air at the end of the show. Thirty years later and I’m standing on a stage in an arena with ‘confetti cannons’ spraying confetti it high in the air, colours raining down on a cheering audience of tens of thousands. And I think to myself, ‘Man, I’m glad I didn’t have to cut up all THAT confetti before the show.’”

The more things change, the more they stay the same, words which relate to all within an ever changing music industry, whether locally, nationally or internationally.

The same can be said of ‘that’ band, relationships Axl Rose, Dizzy Reed, Richard Fortus et al had en masse, Ron joining guitar greats with Guns like Tracii Guns, Robin Finck, Tommy Stinson, Buckethead, and DJ Ashba.

He joined as an experienced guitarist following recommendation by virtuoso performer Joe Satriani, officially to fill Buckethead’s previously vacated slot, making his ‘debut’ at the Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC, in May 2006.

Staying until 2014, Thal was involved with the Chinese Democracy album in 2008 and the video release of Appetite for Democracy 3D, along with numerous high profile tours, also partaking several solo projects before announcing in late 2014 that he would be leaving to focus on his solo career.

It was a solo career that had seen ‘The Adventures of Bumblefoot’ released in 1995, re-release as a 15-year anniversary issue in 2010, garner lots of reviews, and had Thal on the newcomer lists in many magazines.

He added: “That album got a good reception when first released in the mid-’90s, making ‘Best Newcomer’ lists in guitar mags, lots of positive reviews.

“The good thing about the re-release is that I had a transcription book of the album that I was able to release, 200 pages of extreme detail of every track played on every song, including music notation, tablature notation, including fingers used and picking details.

“I did all the transcribing and type-setting myself, it was 12 months of work. Early next year will be the 20th Anniversary of the follow-up album “Hermit”, which I’ve re-mixed and re-mastered this past Summer.”

It adds to what has been a rollercoaster ride that’s not only seen solo performances and a spell with Axl, but also release Art of Anarchy onto an unsuspecting, ultimately pleasing world, a band set up with John Moyer (Disturbed) with Jon and Vince Votta.

Five years on and they’re as strong as ever, and on the verge of releasing their second studio album after their self-titled album, ‘Art of Anarchy’ was released last year. The new album will be done with former Creed vocalist, Scott Stapp providing extra kick.

“Art of Anarchy was born out of a long-time friendship with Jon & Vince as I used to produce their bands in the late ’90s and we remained friends throughout.

“In 2011 they wanted to record ‘the album they always wanted to make’ ad we started doing that. Over time it grew wings and became something more, it became a real band, and despite many challenges it’s made it to the recording of its 2nd album and the beginning of live shows.

“Things have definitely fallen into place now though and you can hear the personalities of the band members in each song.

“Scott’s distinct vocals, Moyer’s grooves, the Votta’s metal sound, and I bring in some eccentricity. Put us all together and it balances into songs that wouldn’t happen the way they do with anyone else.

“We’ve all been busy with our own touring but it’s getting there, we plan to have the full-length album out in March 2017.  Our first single and video “The Madness” from the upcoming album was released October 7.”

Be Forever Mine Released At Independent

Sunderland certainly have something new and exciting to shout about as Indie Rock band, Social Room, successfully released their new single, Be Forever Mine, at Independent Sunderland at the weekend.

The six-piece, fronted by vocalist Matty Smith and consisting of Alex Gunn (bassist), Adam Potts (guitar), Simon Bewick (guitar) and Chris Leonard (keys), with the injured drummer, Sticks, being ably replaced by Tim Harker.

With support coming from Teesside band, Plastic, Independent was filling nicely by the time Social Room took centre stage, and what a performance they gave with debut single SR7 as much received as latest hit, Be Forever Mine was.

Not only did first and last go down well but others, One More Round, Great Escape and a very rousing rendition of Underworld’s Born Slippy added to what can only be described as exhilarating, thunderous, a classic show for the ages, was put out by Sunderland’s finest sextet.

The crowd were with the lads from the off and, as their set progressed, the vocal support increased peaking with football-esque chants of Social Room, chants the band not only played to, but increased their tempo of.

Looking towards an exciting new year these indie diamonds are certainly a one to watch with Be Forever Mine putting the band onto a new spectrum; if you’ve not seen them live then see them, if you have seen them then you certainly need to go back.

Social Room and Be Forever Mine were certainly not Born Slippy and if you want One More Round then Let Me See You Work It.