Rewind Presents – “Libraries Change Lives” Award

For the past couple of years Claire Thompson of Skipton Library and I have been working with a bunch of young songwriters on Tuesdays at the Library. Originally under the name “Skipton Songwriters, they’re now Rewind Presents, and an enterprising bunch of young people they are too.

As well as writing and performing music of their own, the young people of Rewind Presents have, amongst other things put on shows, a mini-festival, made a profit on merchandise they’ve designed/commissioned and (even in these days of arts funding cuts) have managed to secure some bits of funding from various places, to contribute to the continuation of the project. They’re an enterprising bunch

For a couple of months now, we’ve had to sit on our hands and hide our excitement about some very exciting news. I’m now very happy to reveal that from thousands of Libraries across the UK, Skipton Library’s Rewind Presents have made the final three of the Libraries Change Lives Awards.

We’re up against two other really interesting projects, Reminiscence Collection (a project using collections of objects, photographs, music and scents to stimulate the senses memories of those suffering with dementia) and The Digital Bazaar (a digital inclusion project in Lambeth)

A few weeks back we were visited by the Libraries Changes Lives peeps. We sat around the big table, talked & enthused about the project, played a bit, workshopped and were interviewed for camera. Here’s what came out of that.

What’s next, well they’re off to big fancy London (today in fact), to the Houses of Parliament no less, to find out how we’ve got on, if we’ve been successful, Rewind Presents will be awarded £4,000 prize money, the Libraries Change Lives trophy, as presented by Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey (anyone got any words of encouragement, or questions you want to ask Ed Vaizey? Tweet ’em!).

The afternoon will include some speeches, a showing of the videos for all the shortlisted projects, a performance of a brand new song written by the Rewind peeps, and a last minute pitch.


Awards, Competitions and The Funding Trap

It’s an interesting one for me this. I tend not to like competitions so much when it comes to music and culture. X-Factor, and The Voice on TV, and Battle of the Bands’ competitions closer to home have a focus on winners and not the losers, as opposed to just sharing the good things. Plus I think the televised star-making shows discourage enterprise in the creative industries, and promote the Lottery style “You’ve been chosen for stardom” approach that the traditional, industrialised music industries seem to favour. There are many (healthier) alternatives, mainly that you can choose to build a career in music, and one that’s sustainable.

Funding is clearly essential for projects such as this; the young musicians involved may make some profit on events and the like, but it doesn’t break-even if you include things like instruments, amplifiers, space, and staffing time. Rewind Presents is partly funded and supported by the lovely people of Connecting Youth Culture (a part of North Yorkshire County Council), the Libraries Service, Youth Music and NYMAZ, who are all coming under increasing financial pressure due to cuts (I’m now at Rewind every other week and not weekly, which makes a big difference). It’s because of that pressure that we’ve been trying to find additional ways to bring in money.

Seeking funding is a time consuming act, and there’s a fair argument that spending time actively seeking funding can detract from the main focus of a group such as this. Also, as this rather elegant blog-post, “The Funding Trap” by Aspire 4U details, sometimes the desire to win funding can shift the focus of a project – you fit the project to the funding-bid requirements rather than focussing on the important stuff. Certainly as a group, I’ve found that the focus of Rewind has shifted somewhat from a songwriting group, to the more public-facing stuff like the gigs, the events, and definitely some funding-searching.

What’s really great about the Libraries Change Lives award is that it is target-neutral. i.e. if we win, there are no tie-ins in terms of the project’s scope, no prerequisites. Simply put, it’s an award to support an already great project. It’s significant this… and if we do succeed, there’s a whole range of things that we can utilise this money for: Recording, a weekend residential, and doing some public facing stuff too.

Exciting times.

So, if you have any words of encouragement, please do tweet Claire, and the Rewind bunch today… they get to the Houses of Parliament for 3pm UK time.

From me here in Singapore all I can say is “Sorry I’m not with you guys… and Good Luck today!”

Unconvention Belfast: Live updates

I’ll be live blogging from Unconvention Belfast today. There’s plenty of interesting stuff happening up on the #UnConBelfast hashtag on twitter too.

Panel One: Success Through Failure

L to R: Brett LeBoff, Marty Neil, Steven Houston & Rich Dale at #unconbelfast

L to R: Brett LeBoff, Marty Neil, Steven Houston & Rich Dale at #unconbelfast

First panel of the day is discussing how failure can be useful in the journey to success. Moderated by Rich Dale of Planzai, with Marty Neil (AIRPoS), Brett LeBoff (Monumental Music Group) and Steve Houston.

“If something you’re doing is failing, don’t plod on with it for years. Fail quickly, and move on!”

For Sale Part One

The time has come for me to part with a couple of the tools that have been part of my rig in years gone by that I no longer have use for. It’s with a tinge of sadness that I say good bye to some of this equipment. Some of it has been used to make records that I’ve been on, some of it was with us when Four Day Hombre played live on Radio 1, and one item in particular tugs at my musical heart-strings but, I have no practical use for these day to day any more, so it’s time to have a clearout.

To start, I’m going to be selling my Marshall 20/20 amp, Hughes and Kettner Tubeman pre-amp and an Ibanez RG “Prestige” and TC Electronic Triple C Compressor on my eBay account here (There seems to be a little issue with the “My eBay” link at the moment, but clicking the direct product links above will take you straight there). In the coming weeks I’ll also be parting with a Danelectro U3 and a Zoom 9050S amongst other things. Here’s some photos of the stuff via my flickr account:

The Marshall, the Tubeman and the TC-Electronics compressor were used extensively in the making of Four Day Hombre’s first Single “The First Word is The Hardest, which (in our dim and distant past) caused quite a stir for us. It was playlisted on Radio 1 (more on that here too), and they were all also used when we played live on Radio 1 with Chris Moyles.

If you want to hear the gear in action, here are the tracks:

The First Word Is The Hardest – Single by Four Day Hombre

First up, the heartbreaking sale of my…


Music Monday: Zoey Van Goey, Dan Lucas & Singing Adams

A record, on my record player.

Zoey Van Goey

Zoe Van Goey… Part band, part cultural exchange programme, Zoey Van Goey hail from Scotland… and Canada apparently. I saw them down at Gary Stewart‘s ace Monday night Gaslight Club at Oporto, Leeds. I bought the vinyl… I didn’t however have a record player.

After acquiring a long loan Technics from my friend Leon Ross (@qrtzcntrl), I popped this little beauty on and it’s become regular listening at the House of Huxley. It’s not so easily available or sharable so far as I can tell, you can goto the Zoe Van Goey website and click through to iTunes, but I found this little fella up on Souncloud via Zoey Van Goey’s label Chemikal Underground.

Zoey Van Goey – Mountain On Fire by Chemikal Underground

Music Monday – Independents Day

It’s the 4th of July

… and what better way to celebrate than by championing a load of great, independent music?

Incidentally, this is my first blog on my new (and to be fair, still very much in development) blog at I’ve decided to move things over here from for a number of reasons, as has been a bit of a test-space for my installation. But enough of that… I have music to share!

She Makes War

You may recognise the ace Laura Kidd (aka @shemakeswar aka @warriorgrrl) from the recent Amplified meets New Music Strategies sessions from the week before last. (You can see our first discussion about the internet and music here). In addition to having a load of smart stuff to say about the music industries, Laura also does great stuff with cameras… and music. This weekend she’s been combining both for her track Slow Puncture. Treacle heavy, grinding and listing like a waterlogged ship, Slow Puncture is a favourite of mine. The video is technicolour London, playful, dreamy and features storm-troopers so you’ve gotta like it really. #nobrainwer

Better still, you can get a bit of context for the music, and a making of video (of the making of of the video) here. Best of all, you can get She Makes War music as a Pay What You Want download. You know what to do. ;)