Fifteen gigs in May wasn't a bad haul, I suppose, but whilst I look back and then at events to come I noticed how reliant we are on those unsung heroes of the music world; the promoters, the movers and shakers, the organizers and I came across a range of them in May.
Award winning FolkonMonday (http://www.folkonmonday.co.uk/) have started to cause a little confusion recently by organizing shows on different days, but the quality of the acts they put on certainly hasn't changed. There's a full programme of event running right through the year and the organize the London Folk Festival, now in its fifth year and going from strength to strength. Whilst, as the name suggests, the music is mainly “folk” you get a chance to see the rising stars, established stars and touring performers from all over the world and ticket prices are incredibly reasonable.
Another benchmark for quality, and another award winner, is Laurel Canyon Music (https://www.laurelcanyonuk.com/) who celebrated their 5th birthday in May with two excellent shows featuring 8 great performers and I was fortunate enough to be at both. The amount of work they put in is incredible but it isn't just organizing the shows. Through the website and other social media they have a song of the day, album of the month, showcases and awards. The legendary Gary Smith, who runs the organization, works tirelessly to put people in touch with each other, get names known, and give the rising stars the exposure they need to make a name for themselves.
A newcomer on the scene is Talentbanq (https://talentbanq.com/) who're already making big waves with excellent shows. Formed by Pablo Ettinger and Ray Jones, who both have considerable experience in the music industry, they're undoubtedly going to become major players on the independent music scene. This is fantastic news for both musicians, venues and audiences alike.
Whilst we have all these new people around let's not forget those who have been quietly working away behind the scenes for years.
My local Hitchin Folk Club (http://www.hitchinfolkclub.idnet.net/) have been running for over 50 years and for most of that time Maureen Jones, along with husband Kieron, has been involved. Between them they've built possibly the finest and most highly regarded folk club in Britain, as evidence by winning the BBC Radio 2 award for Best Folk Club in 2005. Looking back at the early recored they had some great performers like Nic Jones and Paul Simon and gave a young duo called Show of Hands their first professional gig. This tradition continues to this day with the brightest and best newcomers being given a chance alongside the established favourites.
In these days where people want instant gratification and consider themselves stars for doing the most ordinary things it's worth remembering those who work tirelessly week in week out, and we can add to the list the volunteers who run the local, community and hospital radio stations – not forgetting those who also run the internet platforms as well(!). I'm both proud and honoured to call many of them friends.
I can't finish this blog without mentioning one more organization, not quite as venerable as Hitchin just yet but celebrating its 30th birthday this year. FATEA magazine (http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/) is another great champion of independent music, producing the renowned showcase sessions every quarter, writing reviews, getting involved in festivals and producing a rather good weekly radio show you may just be familiar with. To celebrate this anniversary there's going to big a Big Birthday Bash over two days in November in Bournemouth, on England's south coast. Tickets (http://fateafestival.co.uk/) are on sale now for an event that promises to be outstanding with a terrific line-up. Of course there will be the big name head-liners but there are also plenty of local and rising acts to. I wonder if one of those rising stars will be the big name headline for the 60th celebration? I do hope so, but that would be the ultimate justification of all the hard work that goes in to bring us “on the front row” so many wonderful experiences.
There's normally a video attached to the blog, based on somebody I've recently seen, but this time I'm giving you that FATEA headline act so do enjoy Merry Hell as you book your tickets and I'll see you all at the seaside in November.