Monday, 22 December 2014

Beth Orton to lead February Wall of Sounds residency

Beth Orton has been named as the latest Wall of Sounds programme leader at Band on the Wall and applications are now open to female musicians, composers and vocalists from across the UK to join the week-long intensive residency.

Following successful artistic residencies led by folk group The Unthanks, jazz trio Snarky Puppy and most recently DJ Yoda, Orton is the latest artist to be invited by Brighter Sound to pass on her musical experience at the iconic leftfield venue during a week-long tuition period.

Her music CV includes two nominations for the Mercury Music Prize, collaborations with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams and Four Tet on her solo recordings and guest appearances on songs by The Chemical Brothers and William Orbit.

"I am thrilled to be asked to support and take part in this exciting and important project," she said. "Getting the chance to mentor, or simply the opportunity to stand as witness to the diverse, and possibly unheard, talents of artists from all across the UK fills me with curiosity and some apprehension!"

The programme will take place from 16 to 20 February, culminating in a live performance open to the public on 20 February.

The online application (here) will remain open until 5pm on 23 January.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A Christmas Carol @ The Great Northern Playhouse 04.12.14

What do you think of when you think of Christmas - festive food? Merry music? Marley, Scrooge and Tiny Tim? Well if you do you'll be pleased to hear that the good people at The Great Northern Playhouse and The Flanagan Collective have wrapped all these elements up into one big gift with their dinner theatre production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

The production starts out in the foyer, where Marley invites you in to Scrooge's parlour to try and turn the midwinter miser into a veritable Old Saint Nick. Seated at benches, Marley and the audience suddenly become apparent to Scrooge, who begs they quit his house and haunt him no more. What follows is a playful interaction between Marley and Scrooge, calling upon some of Dickens' best bits - like where Scrooge suggests a man with Christmas on his lips should be, "boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart," - while still engaging directly with the audience.

Of course it is all very well being entertained by a witty repast, but that is soon forgotten if the food itself is not filling. While I am no restaurant critic or gourmet I can certainly say this was simple, tasty Christmas food in quantities that went beyond generous. Scrooge and Marley took part in the meal too, staying in character to read jokes pulled from crackers and chat about their lives outside of the script - Scrooge on this occasion being inspired to start up his own company called 'Wonga' that would perfectly align with his principles.

After dinner came singalong songs, parlour games and more straight drama from the play itself, culminating in Scrooge's conversion. As someone who attended on their own, and is normally slightly apprehensive about participatory pieces, this would not usually be my idea of fun...but fun it was. From the very first the actors brought the audience into the spirit of the thing, and by the end it felt like a night spent with friends.

This is a great way to sign off on The Great Northern Playhouse, a space that has been filled with interesting things and has put on productions that do it a bit differently. The team plan to return toward the middle of next year in a new location - definitely something to look forward to for 2015 - but for now I suggest you enjoy them while you can with this fun night out that gets even the most hardened drama critics into the Christmas spirit.

Words: Andrew Anderson

Images: Courtesy of Flanagan Collective

Friday, 5 December 2014

Free Music Industry Workshops for 14-18 Year Olds

Independent Music Week is working with Cato Music and Band On The Wall to produce a two-day music industry workshop at the venue. Applications are now open for 20 students to take part in the course which aims to develop participants' skills in non-performance live music.

The 'Live Music and Touring' introductory workshop will take place on Saturdays 10 and 17 January.

"The Cato Academy focuses purely on live music and touring and we want to bring up the next generation of touring crew professionally and honestly, we don't sugar coat anything. The live music industry is stronger than ever and we need these new skilled 'roadies' to look after it” said Glen Rowe, owner of Cato.

If you are selected, the course is free to attend. You will need to email with the following information by midday on Wednesday 10 December:
·       Name
·       Gender
·       Age (Must be aged between 14 and 18 in January 2015)
·       250 words why you should to be given a free place on the course - this can include any live music experience, best gigs/live music seen and why and any other music related information
·       List of other work experience or jobs
·       Do you have any registered disabilities we should be aware of?
·       1 Reference (150 words)