Category Archives: REPUBLIC MEDIA

Dunlop shows he’s not in Kansas anymore as he follows a ReGilded road to success

Childhood actor turned musician, Blair Dunlop, heads to the Sage Gateshead on February 23 as part of is 2017 ReGilded Tour, a multi-date nationwide extravaganza that begins in Cardiff, finishes in London, and takes in a brief sojourn to Kansas for the Folk Alliance Festival.

Dunlop, who has acting credits from twelve years ago when he appeared in the TV drama, Rocket Man (alongside Geordie icon, Robson Green), and in the film remake of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (playing a young Willy Wonka who’d grow up into Johnny Depp), released his third album, Gilded, late last year and the tour promotes the music penned on it.

Following on from his 2013 debut, Blight & Blossom, and follow-up House of Jacks just months later, Dunlop spoke of his music, his acting exploits, and a little hopes for the future. He said: “The album (Gilded) was very well received and I’m pleased with the airplay afforded the album with two of the tracks being played on rotation throughout last summer.

“I was afforded the luxury of taking the time over putting the album together, a bit freer with it so I enjoyed working to the timescale, especially as I know the producer and owner of the record label but I’m looking forward to what to the next steps, especially with my being an independent artist with youthful exuberance it affords plenty of energy in which to do more.

“My voice though has cha a lot over the three albums, got somewhat richer so they’re all distinctly different but with the narrative, storytelling so I’m more than happy with my latest offering. Adding Kansas and the (yearly) Folk Alliance Festival into the tour adds to it, just a shame that it’s in the middle of the tour.”

With America already added for February 15-19 the Chesterfield-born 25-year-old is also looking at a possible trip down under to Australia later in the year, in essence following in the same vein prior to the release of Gilded last year.

“I did a general acoustic tour around the time of the album release last year and this time will follow along similar patterns with venues which I like going to, including the Sage,” Blair continued.

“When I was younger I had an option to go to Newcastle University but I took a gap year. I like the ethos and friendly nature of the people in the north-east so I’m looking forward to going there as well as Cardiff, Sheffield and London, that is at a historic venue and I’ve not done anything in the capital for a few years so really looking forward to going back there.”

As for his acting exploits, granted in his youth which is seemingly a lifetime ago for the musician Blair looked back on his early outings with fondness whilst knowing that acting could be a possibility in later life.

He added: “As time goes by it becomes increasingly distant in my memory as I was about 11 when I did the acting.

“I am totally focussed on the music side of my career now even though it is something I’d look at doing again further down the line. My housemate is in the acting industry so it does give me a little buzz at times.

“Being in Rocket Man, with Robson Green, was an amazing experience though. Robson is a lovely guy and I enjoy watching him in the things he does. It was only a short period of time though and I’ve spent more doing stage acting; the acting though helped me be at ease doing what I do now.”

Blair Dunlop appears at Gateshead’s Sage on February 23 alongside Kitty McFarlane, who he describes as being: “Really ace, she’s supported me on a few dates last year so I’m certainly looking forward to working with her again.”

Tickets are available from the venue now with the show set to start at 7:15pm.

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.”