Wath Festival Young Performers Award 2013

Founded in 2011, the Wath Festival Young Performers Award was set up to nurture and support a new generation of performers in the ever popular folk, roots and acoustic music genres.

Organised by Sheffield singer/ songwriter Charlie Barker and her company The Partnership Media, applicants aged 16 – 24 years old, from all over the UK are invited to submit their music online.

Only three acts are selected to attend and perform at the finalists concert and one of them will be crowned the winner taking a main stage performance before the festival headliner, a cash prize, a promotional photoshoot with Charlie Barker Photography, a trophy and a booking at the 2014 festival.

This year the competition received a record number of applicants and York’s Chris Whitley, Lincolnshire’s Connor Bannister and Rose Redd from the West Midlands were selected as the three finalists, who would perform in front of a judging panel of industry professionals Bella Hardy (BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner), Anna Massie (Scots Trad Music Awards, Best Instrumentalist Nominee) and Danny Stockdale (Wath Festival committee member). Previous judges have included broadcaster Dave Eyre, musician Lucy Ward, record label director Tom Sweeney and musicians John McCusker and Kris Drever.

Rose Redd

Rose Redd presented by organiser Charlie Barker. Photo by http://www.ims-photography.co.uk

Following three outstanding performances from the finalists, the judging panel retired to a quiet room to deliberate the musical and performance qualities of each act, and choosing a winner was no easy job with each finalist having a distinct and different strength in their own right.

Chris, enchanted the audience with a strong sense of songwriting and story-telling. Connor, a fine guitarist, showed great depth and versatility in his playing and Rose, accompanied by her brother Sammy, won over the hearts and minds of the audience and judges alike with her soaring voice and entertaining banter between songs and was chosen to take centre stage that night and play on the main stage.

For more information on the Wath Festival Young Performers Award and how you can enter in 2014, go to www.wathfestival.org.uk/competition

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Theatre Review: Suddenly at Home

Venue: Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield
Company: Presented by Talking Scarlet
Date: 16th May 2013

The glorious Victorian, Pomegranate Theatre played host to a mystery thriller with several gruesome twists on the evening performance of Francis Durbridge’s, Suddenly at Home.

Starring former Brookside actor, Marcus Hutton, Ben Roddy (Innocent Crimes) and Patric Kearns, the audience are thrown into a complicated mystery involving cheating, scheming and a string of events, which lead to murder.

The story begins with husband, Glenn Howard (Roddy) who plans to get rid of his wealthy wife in a plot to inherit her millions and avoid moving to Bermuda at her wish, leaving his job and life in England behind him. In doing so, he enlists the help of his wife’s friend, Sheila Wallis, who appears to be the subject of his devotions. The duo appear to have a flawless plan in disposing of Mrs Howard, leaving her former lover, Sam Blaine (Hutton) in the picture, until the arrival of Remmick (Kearns).

The plot takes a series of credible and mysterious turns, acted out by a small cast of seven, taking you back into a setting in the 1970s where careful planning is crucial for success.

As a small cast, they hold the pace and plot well, with particularly strong performances from Shelia Wallis’ character and the short but sweet appearance of Patric Kearns.

On occasion, there were brief passages where dialogue between characters seemed hesitant and strained, although normal pace was resumed quickly it did detract slightly from the matter in hand.

That aside, delivery issues didn’t take away from the fact that the cast presented an entertaining, enjoyable and fast-paced performance.

– Charlie Barker

Interview with Orson

Kevin RoentgenLA rockers Orson have had a busy time so far after joining Robbie Williams on  tour and releasing their debut album ‘Bright Idea’. Guitarist, Kevin Roentgen talks to, Charlie Barker about the band’s inspiration, idols and his admiration of a Sheffield’s homegrown talent.

Orson have been a massive success in the UK, it’s almost like you’ve been adopted by the British public. How are you adjusting to working so much over here?
That’s exactly the way we feel about it. The UK has become our second home and none of us ever could have really planned it this way. We were a band in LA playing the clubs for about 4 or 5 years and decided to make a record on our own with an up and coming new producer. We came over here last year and one thing lead to another and here we are. We’ve really not had many days off since February, as we’ve been on the Robbie Williams tour all summer and it’s incredible! We’re loving every minute of it!

Are you now based permanently over here in the UK?
Yeah we’ve been based out of London since January. Like I said, there’s not many days we get to sleep in our own beds. But its home, we live here!

Do you have your families with you here and do they travel with you?
A few of us have had our girlfriends and wives come out. That was something we needed to do when we saw we wouldn’t be coming home any time soon. Most of our family and friends are back in the States, we miss them and we think we’re going to get some time around Christmas to go back, which we’re looking forward to. We feel pretty lucky to be doing what we love for a living and we know it’s not forever. We’re just trying to enjoy the ride.

Let’s go back to before you joined Orson. What did you do previously and had you always planned to do music or could you have seen yourself doing something else?
We had always hoped to do this for a living. A couple of the guys have had record deals before but I hadn’t. But the reality of being in this business is there’s times when you go back to doing your day job. We were all working day jobs back in Los Angeles less than a year ago. We just get to play more now, which is really exciting.

Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and do you find you draw upon elements of their music in your own writing and interpretation?
Yeah, we’re a band of many influences anything from Motown to heavy metal, to punk rock to cheesy 80’s pop. We’re all across the board and I think that part of the Orson sound is us embracing all of the music that we like and not trying to be specific to one genre. There’s just too much music to be enjoyed to let ‘being cool’ get in the way!

Have you ever shared a stage with any of your idols? If not who would you like to gig with?
No I haven’t. Personally I would love to be able to play a gig with U2 one day. That would be a big dream, although every guy in the band would tell you something different.

As a guitarist, do you have any particular guitar idols?
I think I picked up the guitar because I saw a picture of Ace Frehley playing guitar when I was a little kid. I like so many guitar players like Angus Young, Joe Perry and Jimmy Paige. I think probably my favorite guitar player is Lindsey Buckingham. I’ve been practically in tears watching him do some of the things he does!

You’ve played a lot of big shows over here. Do you have any favorites?
One of the most exciting things we’ve done this year is V Fest and that really felt like a homecoming for us. We’d been out in Germany and other parts of Europe for a couple of months on the Robbie Williams tour. The UK has really embraced this band, so it was total proof of that. They were telling us we had one of the biggest crowds of the day and the crowd was jumping up and down singing along. That was a really special moment for us to see that happen.

There are a few artists who’ve recently become more involved with current political situations. Do you think it’s wise to mix music and politics and would you feel comfortable doing that yourself?
You can’t ignore that people are affected by some of the things that happen in the world today. I think being from the States and now living in London and being a bit extra sensitive to some of the terrorist things that are happening. I’m sure somehow it inspires you in your music. You don’t have to include politics and I’m speaking for myself personally its bulls**t if you ignore it.

You’re coming to Sheffield next month to play. Have you ever been to the city before?
Yeah, we have. We came to the Leadmill last time and that was our first time playing Sheffield. We were pretty excited about that because I think it’s always exciting to go to a place in a new town where you’ve never been and a thousand people show up to see you. This time we’re playing Sheffield University. I know on this tour we’re playing bigger rooms and it’s exciting for us. We did our first tour back in February we were playing some of these places in the same towns to two or three hundred people and I think this time the numbers are something like two thousand close to three thousand people, so it’s really cool to see it growing for us.

Sheffield has got a good reputation for music, have any of our bands found their way into your CD collections?
Oh yeah I really like the Arctic Monkeys. It’s funny, I’ve been aware of them since we came over to Manchester last October and we played a conference for A&R people and they were playing the exact same time down the street. We thought ‘Oh man, we’re f**ked’, because there’s such a buzz about them. When I think about how old those guys are, not that it has anything to do with it, but it’s pretty impressive that they’re so young. There are some real creative minds in that band and I think that it’s more than just hype. It almost reminds me of the feeling that was around Nirvana. Hopefully they’ll stay together and we’ll keep enjoying their music.

Interview with Humanzi

Shaun, Colm, Gary and Brian make up Dublin punk band Humanzi, who’ve been touring the country from top to toe with Oscar-nominated actress and rock chick, Juliette Lewis. The boys made their mark on the UK music scene with their debut album ‘Tremors’ and have become cover stars of the Irish NME this month. Lead singer, Shaun Mulrooney tells, Charlie Barker about the band’s history and what they’ve been doing on the road.

Humanzi signed to Fiction Records in 2005. How long had you been together before that?
I think about two and a half years. We were in a band beforehand me, Gary and Brian. Brian was on keyboard then he took up the drums. Gary was on the bass. I played guitar in the last band but now I’m the singer.

After that you set up your own record label SFR. What made you decide to do that and how is it going?
Well we haven’t really had time to work on it as much as we wanted as we’re always on tour. We’ve just put out a couple of singles for Irish bands. It went really well at the start but we’ve started to slow it down now, but we’re going to come back and re-assess it. It’s to get likeminded people and give them a chance to get some singles out. Hopefully we’re going to start working on albums, but we’ve got to get our album out the way before we start doing that.

What genres of music do you cater for on your label?
It’s all pretty much heavy rock stuff. We don’t have any singer/ songwriters, so it’s pretty similar to us.

Your album Tremors includes a lot of passionate material, what’s the inspiration behind your emotive lyrics?
There are so many different inspirations. There’s something about everything in the lyrics, it’s not just the one genre. There’s a lot of frustration in the album; stuff about mass consumerism, American foreign policy and a couple of hidden love songs there that people don’t actually realize as well. Their not actually love songs, they’re actually hate songs.

Your sound is very recognizable with elements of punk and electronic music. Who would you rate as your main musical influences?
We’re really influenced by a lot of darker music like The Fall, Siouxie and the Banshees and Joy Division. Also other modern bands like Primal Scream and Queens of the Stone Age. We like everything and give it a chance.

You’ve not been shy about making political statements. How has this been received?
It hasn’t really been well received. We put stuff on our MySpace pages about Israel, what they’ve done in Lebanon and how outraged and disgusted we were by it. We only got four or five comments back and then you post a blog about wrecking a hotel and you get fifty comments back! I think people are just numb and don’t want to hear it. I think it’s like ‘Ah, someone else going on about America’. It comes up in most interviews and I can’t do anything about that. I was hoping for more of a response.

How did your tour with Juliette and the Licks come about?
Juliette’s a fan of the band, which is nice. We were asked to do it and we said yeah! You know she’s a good girl… (Laughs). How sexist is that? It’s a strange audience to open as it’s so mixed, people are really out there to see the headline, but we’ve been really well received.

Do you have any plans to go further afield since touring the UK?
We’re doing a tour of Germany and our album’s getting put out there and in a couple of other European countries. We’re doing this thing called CMJ; it’s a big festival in New York. We’re going to be traveling around doing nine gigs there, which will be good.

What’s in the future for the band, maybe a second album?
Yeah of course, we’re already working on our second album even though our first is only just out. Being the sort of band we are we just don’t really think about what we’ll be doing next year, we just roll with it. We’ll be together and making music. All the stuff we’re writing is better than our first stuff. We’re just going to keep rolling on.

Album review: My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade

Released: 2006
Label: Reprise Records

Black Parade coverThis latest release from the band comes in the form of a concept album. The Black Parade is the story of a man who dies before his time with death manifesting himself as a Black Parade, which is the man’s strongest childhood memory.

It’s an unusual idea which is effectively executed throughout the 13 track album. Each song draws you in with its individual story, reminiscing about the past and looking on to the end of the man’s life. It certainly demonstrates the band’s solidarity and gift as musicians with a varied offering of tracks with particularly attention to the intricate guitar solos which are reminiscent of Queen’s Brian May.

The touching, realistic sentiments of Cancer and the striking title track Welcome To The Black Parade stand out as the monumental tracks that will see My Chemical Romance remembered for all the right reasons.

– Charlie Barker

Album review: Tracey Thorn – Out Of The Woods

Released: 5th March 2007
Label: EMI

Out of the woods coverEverything But The Girl’s frontwoman, is back with a new sound. Her stunning solo album Out Of The Woods, boldly tackles electro pop, house, techno and orchestral accompaniments, mix that with a contagious bassline and you have a sound that is truly her own.

At first listen you can hear some shades of Imogen Heap, which are reflected in the complex arrangements. However, the real beauty lies in those tracks which are so pure and instrumental like Here It Comes Again.

Particular highlights of the album include A-Z, a slow, sad lament about gay teenagers bullied at school and the uplifting Hands Up To The Ceiling. But for me the clear winner is It’s All True, an 80′s New York dance track, which is set to be the first single from the record.

Those of you expecting an EBTG sound wont be disappointed. Every track takes you on a different musical journey, guided gently by Thorn’s beautiful, timeless voice.

– Charlie Barker