There is nothing left to lose..

It’s really hard to explain my feelings right now, I’ve been in a daze pretty much all weekend.
Saturday morning, I woke to a message. ‘Oh No. Taylor Hawkins’ with a broken heart emoji. I wiped my eyes and scrambled to the news sites, Immediately I saw the statement issued on Foo Fighters social media. The brief flicker of hope that this was a mistake was extinguished just like that. Since then I have seen an outpouring of love like never before.

How can I grieve and mourn a man, i’ve never met, who didn’t even know I existed? How can I feel a hole so big, over ultimately, a face in a magazine, a person on a video screen. Sure I’ve been in the same room as him, but these were pretty big rooms, or fields, and whilst I was focused solely on him and his bandmates, I was ‘just a face in a crowd, a tiny hole in a cloud’ as Feeder once eloquently put it.

Let me take you back, almost 21 years, to #V2001, the 18th August 2001, Hylands Park in Staffordshire. My girlfriend at the time was a huge, huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, my long time schoolfriend Barry was the keyboard player in Starsailor, so we decided to jump in the car and sleep over in the car park, it was only one night, so why not. I’d not really been engrossed in music until my early twenties, well, live music anyway. The lineup was scattered with familiar names now, but back then, I think the most notable ones in my head were Kylie Minogue and Nelly Furtado, that’s where I lived back then.

As the day progressed, we wandered aimlessly between stages, I saw Starsailor and met up with Barry, and we made our way to the main stage as the sun began to set, wanting to get a decent vantage point for RHCP. The band on before them, were the ‘Foo Fighters’ I liked their name, so that was a start. As they hit the stage, I was instantly mesmerised, this ‘normal’ looking frontman, in a world dominated by long haired grungy types. At one point a small moshpit formed near where we were stood, this frontman, oozing charisma, stopped the show. Got the crew to shine a spotlight to this area, and told them to go to the front and middle if they wanted to mosh. Foo fighters were rock and roll, but they also gave a shit. Dave Grohl said he wouldn’t play another note until they moved and everyone took a step back so no one got crushed.

For what it’s worth, RHCP came on late that night in their headline slot, and truth be told, they were blown off the stage by the Foos. They may have been a bigger name, but they absolutely were not a better act for me.

So, that’s where it began. I followed them avidly since. Another Foo’s tale was not long after their album ‘One by One’ was released. They announced a stadium tour and I was tasked with getting tickets for my girlfriend, and her best friend and his gf, (mainly because I got a 25% discount with my bank account). I desperately wanted standing tickets and sadly the Manchester gig only had seated. I wracked my brain and checked the tour, the next closest one was the Telewest arena in Newcastle, joy, they had standing tickets left. I got four and broke the good and bad news to everyone. I was driving anyway, so no one could really complain.

We arrived at the arena in good time, found a decent spot, and agreed a meeting point in case we got split up. We watched the support, ‘Cave-in’; got drinks and made our way back for the main event. I edged further forwards and of course, I lost my group. I was about twenty rows back, as the crowd packed in. Now, I’m not sure if youre familiar with the song ‘All my life’ but the intro has these repetitive guitar chords that build until Taylor Hawkins unleashes that incredible sound on the drums, the arena had this huge Foo’s curtain with the album logo displayed and the guitars played for what seemed like forever. The tension and fervour of the fans was amplified as the band’s silhouettes were lit up behind the curtain.

As the drums hit, the curtain dropped and an almighty surge carried me to the front. My feet were off the ground, I had zero control, I was clamped between bodies, with this euphoric sound playing out in front of me. I didn’t panic too much, but I had lost control. I looked to my right and the girl I was stood next to, probably only 5’3 or so, looked at me in sheer panic as she started to go under as the crowd surged. I hooked my arm under her armpit, and lifted her as best I could, keeping her from being trampled and serious injury. As the wave of people finally swayed backwards I mouthed to her ‘Do you need to get out’ she nodded, and with help from the guy behind her, we lifted her above us and pushed her towards the security at the barriers. They grabbed her and took her to the side and that was that. I never planned on being so close but as they belted out the songs I knew and loved, including ‘The One’ which was a song I was desperate to see, I was lost for 2 hours.

At the end of the gig, saturated in sweat in my Houston Astros ringer tee (the closest I could get to Daves ‘Diablo’ one) , I ventured to the sound desk, the meeting point we’d agreed and saw my group. Just as I got there, I heard a squeal ‘THAT’S HIM THERE’ and felt a thud on my back. The girl i’d helped was proudly showing me off to her friends, ‘He SAVED MY LIFE’. I am not sure about that, but the initial panic I felt faded away.

There have been many memories over the years, my musical tastes have ebbed and flowed, but the Foo’s have always remained, like a trusty old dog, never letting me down. I’ve bonded with people over them, Cheryl has become one of my best friends (sure we connect over Rugby and F1 too) but the Foo’s was always the main thing, Carolyna as well. All three of us watched the Foos lockdown gig together when they played in LA.

My heart goes out to anyone affected by Taylor’s untimely death. A drummer in one of the best drummer ever’s band. That’s some accolade. His wife and children will be devastated. I am a catholic, no longer practising, but I do believe in some aspects of religion, however once again my faith is challenged. How can Dave Grohl, one of the nicest men on the planet by all accounts, be subjected to loss again in such a cruel manner. It’s simply not fair. He’s lost his bandmate, best friend, and ‘brother’ once again. He has the biggest heart but that simply means he will hurt the most too.

Regardless of the reasons behind Taylor’s passing, I will fondly remember him as a real life ‘Animal’ from the muppets, with the biggest grin. His music will stay with me forever. I will never EVER take a gig for granted again, esopecially when it’s one of my favourite bands, as you never know if that cymbal crash, will be the last one you hear from them.

Rest in peace Taylor. You will be forever missed.

The State of the Arcade…

Arcade State, one of Glasgow’s as yet undiscovered gems, finally hit the north west. Manchester, was the welcoming host, on a crisp mid March day, clear blue skies throughout. You know, those kind of days that take you back to the carefree times of being a teenager, where summer seemed never ending.

As the sun set, and the temperature dropped, music fans from the length and breadth of the country descended into the cities ‘Northern Quarter’, and the cosy, welcoming 33 Oldham Street. Listen Up Music are at the forefront of the independent music scene in the city. Since we’ve started to acclimatise to ‘living with covid’ and gigs have returned with a vengeance, Listen Up have started to ramp up their live offerings, with some of the most talented undiscovered acts on from all corners of the UK.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

I can’t remember the last time I went to an ‘underground music’ gig, without bumping into someone I knew. It’s nice to be able to grab a ticket and not worry about being alone (not that I ever was too bothered). I’d imagine some of the women involved in the new music scene probably feel a little more safe, knowing they have friends, male and female alike, at gigs to look out for them too. The scene is really buzzing at the moment and there is so much talent around, bursting to be heard.

First up on the night was Midlands native ‘Jay Tennant‘. Jay has been on my radar for the last 18 months or so. A talented male solo artist, a throwback to the rock and roll stars of days gone by, great look, great sound. It’s a crowded market place and difficult to stand out, but Jay has done that with each and every single release since I came across him. Accompanied on the night by scottish singer songwriter Martin Leary, Jay was the perfect opener for the show. Serenading fans with his catalogue of tracks, ‘Spectre’ being a real crowdpleaser live, as it did as a single. A wonderful touch was Jay singing ‘Eminence’ one of Martin Leary’s own tracks. A sign of the times was Jay having a reminder of the lyrics, on his phone as he performed. Considering these guys had only ever jammed via video call, it’s a testament to their talent that they managed an accomplished set which really got the crowd firing. Jay’s decision to end his set with the classic Verve track ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ only amplified the volume. One can only imagine Jay’s presence with a full band behind him at future gigs.

Following on from Jay’s set were the accomplished ‘The Shop Window‘, a band almost thirty years in the making, when charismatic frontmen Carl and Simon first forayed into music with the band ‘Westpier’. After enjoying varying degrees of success the pair reunited in 2019 and ‘The Shop Window’ were formed. Last year saw the release of the acclaimed album ‘The State of Being Human’ and a rare appearance up north, was a must see for their adoring fans.

The band were extremely tight, you could tell these guys have ability and experience in abundance. The harmonies were incredible, with almost a psychic connection between Carl and Simon, and the band rolled back the years. Latest single ‘Lighthouse’ really set the pulses racing, with the band offering the crowd a glimpse of their next track to boot. The venue filled up further, the temperature rising both on and off the stage as the fans awaited Glasgow’s Arcade States arrival.

Despite the absence of Scott Frank from Arcade State’s line up, the anticipation of seeing one of Scotland’s rising talents was palpable. Frontman Ciaran Murray hopped up on stage, and gave a little introduction. As the lights dimmed, his stunning vocal echoed around the silenced room. Showcasing his guitar skills on an unreleased track ‘A slave to the waves’ until out of the darkness, bandmates Jordan Murray, David Daly and new member Kieran Robertson joined him on stage.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

‘Welcome to Arcade State’ – As the nights line up was complete, the sound went up another level. The beauty of this band is their ability to convey meaningful lyrics, melodic sounds, and hard hitting guitar and drums all in a matter of seconds.

The band shone throughout, delighting fans with their established tracks, like ‘When it hits home’, ‘Alone again’ and ‘Follow’. Freshly released ‘Even in the dark days, you draw a smile’ is hauntingly beautiful when live.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

Ciaran, complete with cheeky grin, and oozing charm, wowed the audience with his warmth, and undeniable talent, a vocal range that took me a little by surprise in the best possible way. Sometimes, bands and artists can’t convey the vocal found on their recorded tracks, to a live environment. Ciaran positively shone on this score.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

Standout tracks ‘Splinter’ and the beautifully heartfelt ‘Silence’ were delivered superbly before the set finished with ‘Hard to grow’, well I say finished, the fans were desperate for more, and in an unplanned encore, the band went again with ‘Dance like the flames’ another as yet unreleased track.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

It’s nice when those with talent shine, even nicer when they are grounded and grateful to their fans. There is something special cooking in the Scottish music scene at the moment, and Arcade State are without doubt one of the core ingredients.

Image Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

Images Courtesy of Ricky Atterby

Give Arcade State a listen on Spotify

In Your Ears Music – The Radar Awards

In Your Ears Music has been a beacon for #NewMusic. Particularly over the last 12 months as the world was locked away during a global pandemic. An online station, borne from a passion of sharing music from the independent scene, the brainchild of Dan, Lewis and James. The station has become a goto for many in the new music community, particularly on Twitter, where like-minded souls have found a home.

Not only that, In Your Ears has fostered a community spirit by offering many of those passionate souls a chance to broadcast shows and share the music they love to a wider audience. Each show has it’s own unique format and it’s very obvious style which comes directly from the presenter.

From the wonderful mind of Mobytanner, a blogger of exceptional talent, comes the Radar awards. Something to recognise the artists that have embraced this fantastic community. A small nod to acknowledge those who have gone above and beyond, both musically and personally.

The In Your Ears team got together and selected artists from a wide range of categeories, and there were so many nominations that they needed a hand to whittle it down. So they engaged 20 people from the community and industry to help narrow it down further to the entries you see below.

Ladies and Gents – I present the class of 2021

Best Newcomer

Dictator

West Lothian four piece Dictator have roared onto the scene since forming at the end of 2019. With eclectic influences that flow from Gorillaz to London Grammar, it’s better to expect the unexpected. A mixture consisting of Electronica and classic psychadelic guitars merely scratches the surface.

Also Nominated for :

Best Single -Best Merch

The Heavy North

Scouse five piece The Heavy North are dragging Rock and Roll kicking and screaming to the present day. With a blues vibe thats straight out of America’s deep south and a gravelly gritty voice that won’t give up, 2021 is shaping up to be a huge year for the band.

Also Nominated for :

Best Band – Best Single -Best EP/ Album

Rianne Downey

Bellshill singer/songwriter Rianne Downey has grafted the hard way. Busking on the famous Buchanan Street in Glasgow at the age of 15 and gaining a cult following with her videos on social media throughout lockdown. Rianne recently released her first single after being signed to her first recording deal and has an amazing future ahead of her.

Sam Lambeth

The Codsall Crooner (it’s in the Midlands in case you didn’t know) has been playing the guitar for well over a decade now and is beginning to see great success as he embarks on a solo career. Citing Counting Crows, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty as his inspiration, Sam has a sound not widely heard in modern day singer songwriters which sets him apart from the crowd.

Vela Incident

Welsh residents Vela Incident have spent lockdown putting Port Talbot on the map. The best new old band you’ve never heard, having been formed over twenty years ago, the guys added that little missing ingredient and revisited their older tunes. With ambient vibes and melodic tunes, 2021 looks like being a breakout year for the lads.

Also nominated for :

Best Twitter

Mawpit

Another Welsh entrant in this category comes in the form of pop, soul and jazz inspired trio Mawpit. Formed in cardiff less than two years ago, the band use their melodic music to great effect tackling many current issues with their hard hitting lyrics.

Revivalry

Cleethorpes teen rockers Revivalry shot into the limelight during lockdown. With their catchy lyrics and beyond their years musical talent, the pesky kids are sure to go far. For all their fantastic talent though, it’s their incredible attitude and support of the community that sets them apart from their peers. With Cheeky replies full of their boundless energy they just ooze charm. (Just stop calling me Sir) 😉


Also nominated for :

Best Twitter

Jonny Ash

Making it a hat-trick of Welsh nominations in the best newcomer category are Wrecsam (see I even wrote it in Welsh) natives Jonny Ash. The four piece cite inspiration going back as far as The Beatles, with a thick slice of Thin Lizzy, not to mention The Stone Roses and current super heroes DMA’s. Their debut EP Blurry Vision landed just before Christmas and a bright future is predicted.

Mercy Kelly

Finishing up the Best Newcomer nominations are Oldham based four piece Mercy Kelly. The band have spent lockdown recording and recently debuted single ‘Anymore’. With catchy guitar riffs and and punchy percussion, the influences of James and Inspiral Carpets are pretty easy to pick out.

Best Solo Artist

PG Ciarletta

Better known as Phil (to his pals and those who can’t pronounce his surname) this singer songwriter from Kirkcaldy in bonny Scotland rose to the public’s consciousness during lockdown with his single ‘The Sesh’. With relatable lyrics and catchy guitar riffs, it’s hard not to be excited about what the future holds for this talented young man.

Jen Dixon

Marske resident Jen Dixon has really come into her own since swapping the drumsticks for a guitar. Gigging up in the musical hotbed of the North East of England, Jen’s love of the outdoors shines through in both melody and lyrics. Deep reflections of love and romance couple perfectly with a beautiful vocal that echoes around your mind for days.

Lissy Taylor

A transatlantic artist with roots firmly planted between Kentucky and Manchester, Stoke born Lissy Taylor has an unmistakable vocal which blends perfectly into dreamy guitars and laid back drums. With a fantastic future ahead of her and an authority that belies her tender years, 2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year.

Ade

Dr Fabola has fantastic charm to his music. With a beautiful tone accompanying his intricate guitar work, his style transcends genres, but if ever anyone could be described as easy listening, it’s Ade. With Nigerian heritage, and Manchester roots, you can see the influence of incredible artists like Nina Simone, Otis Redding and Bob Dylan have had on his style.

Cobain Jones

Another resident from the suburbs of Manchester, young singer songwriter Cobain Jones has roared onto the scene with his catchy chords and relatable lyrics. Singing about everyday life on the industrial north, the talented youngster just oozes charm and charisma. Having been picked up by Modern Sky, 2021 seems to be a breakout year for Cobain.

Also nominated for :

Best EP / Album

Amelia Coburn

Another north eastern rising star, Amelia has a wide range of influences, but her musical arrangements and beautiful vocals take you to another place entirely. With her trademark Ukelele, Amelia has made waves with her catchy choruses and fantastic unique sound.


Also nominated for :

Best Single

Joe Astley

Proud Wiganer Joe Astley burst onto the scene in 2020 but really came of age with the catchy and contemporary ‘Television Fantasy’ at the turn of the new year. Joe has begun assembling a band to showcase his eclectic style but has an array of solo work which has left a mark on the New Music community.

Jay Tennant

Warwickshire rocker Jay Tennant has brought a swagger back to solo rockstars. Echoes of Ian McCulloch (get it) and a style not dissimilar to Richard Ashcroft in his pomp, Jay has used his years of gigging to great effect and shot into the spotlight with the brilliant Knoxville. Bringing a little bit of 90’s indie and 80’s sounds to the modern day scene, Jay has a bright future ahead.

Michael Forsyth

Finishing off the solo nominations is Huntly singer-songwriter Michael Forsyth who became a feature of the New Music community during lockdown. He showed his softer side with the beautiful dedication to his sister Kimberley ‘She Can Fly’. Coming from a musically ingrained family, 2021 could be a defining year for the proud Scotsman.

Best Band

Apollo Junction

One of Yorkshire’s finest. Leeds 5 piece Apollo Junction have a sound custom built for arenas. Soaring guitars, gritty vocals and punchy drums leave you singing along to the catchy anthemic chorus’. As gigs start up again, these guys will be on many peoples ‘must see’ lists.

Also nominated for :

Best EP / Album – Best Merch – Best Twitter

The Capollos

2020 feels like a landmark year for the fantastic Aberdeen fourpiece The Capollos. A throwback to Britpops heyday, the boys were catapulted into peoples ears with the standout track ‘ Electrify’. Comparisons to Artcic Monkeys. Oasis and Catfish & The Bottlemen increased the spotlight but the canny Scots seem certain to live up to the hype.

Citylightz

Midlands outfit Citylightz have a distinct style which has been described as rock and road. Catchy riffs, harmonic vocals and a little bit of rap thrown in set them apart from many other acts. Their singles each have a unique style and charm which have all gone down a storm with their dedicated fanbase.

Also nominated for :

Best Merch – Best Twitter

Crimson Bloom

Teesside outfit Crimson Bloom are one of the funkiest outfits on the New Music scene. With incredible psychedelic guitars and powerful vocals, tracks such as Stir it up have been greeted with widespread acclaim. Another must see ticket now that gigs are back on the menu.

The Heavy North

Scouse five piece The Heavy North are dragging Rock and Roll kicking and screaming to the present day. With a blues vibe thats straight out of America’s deep south and a gravelly gritty voice that won’t give up, 2021 is shaping up to be a huge year for the band.

Also Nominated for :

Best Newcomer – Best Single – Best EP/ Album

Moonlight Parade

If ever a band summed up the DIY ethic of the Indie scene it’s Moonlight Parade. The Worthing trio not only do all the music themselves but get stuck into the covers and posters for their tracks too. Paint the Sun found it’s way into the hearts of the New Music community as lockdown took a hold and gigs planned for the end of the year will see their profile raised even further.

Also nominated for :

Best EP / Album – Best Merch

The Outcharms

Doncaster quartet The Outcharms are seeing the fruits of their labour pay off. Formed in 2014 the lads have gained notoriety across South Yorkshire, even headlining the famous Leadmill in Sheffield. Taking a new direction at the end of 2020, the single ‘To Be Young and In Love’ brought them to a wider audience.

Also nominated for :

Best Single

The Reytons

Keeping up the South Yorkshire element in this category is Sheffield outfit The Reytons. Despite the obvious comparisons from fellow city dwellers The Arctic Monkeys, there is an unmistakable sound from the punchy guitars to the relatable lyrics. Could 2021 be a watershed year for the band?

Also nominated for :

Best Single – Best EP / Album

The Voyd

Sunderland four piece The Voyd are another breakthrough act flying the flag for the incredible North East scene. Anthemic bangers, with resounding guitars and catchy choruses are a staple of their music. With a dedicated fanbase and an unrelenting resilience to find the next big anthem, 2021 is shaping up perfectly for the lads.

Best Single

The Heavy North – Lying To Yourself

Funky guitars, hard hitting drums and soulful vocals typify the sound of the Liverpool outfit. The laid back tempo personifies the unique blend the band seems to have. Released in May 2020 the track has more than 10,000 streams on Spotify.

Also nominated for :

Best Newcomer – Best Band – Best EP / Album

Dictator – Days Gone By

A track that builds from the haunting instrumental intro, the fantastic Days Gone By showcases the full plethora of the Scottish bands talents. A catchy and powerful track released in August 2020 has approaching 8,500 streams on Spotify.

Also nominated for :

Best Newcomer – Best Merch

Skylights – Darkness Falls

Proud Yorkshiremen Skylights gained widespread praise for this resounding anthemic and moving track. Pacy drums and soaring guitars show a different side to the bands prowess. Released in October 2020 the track has over 34000 streams on spotify.

The Outcharms – To be young and in love

South Yorkshire outfit the Outcharms enjoyed great success with this melodic catchy song released in November 2020. With well over 100000 streams, the track has gone down a storm with listeners as the vocals pair perfectly with the poppy indie sound.

Also nominated for :

Best Band

The Reytons – Headache

Lyrics that echo everyday life coupled with energetic and memorable riffs mean you can’t help but singalong to the chorus “I don’t need the headache”. Released in March 2020 the track was one of the earworms of lockdown.

Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best EP / Album

The Silver Bars – The man in the sky

North West outfit The Silver Bars released this catchy upbeat atmospheric track at the turn of 2021 and it has already amassed over 10000 streams. With echoes of the Strokes, the tight punchy drums are a perfect accompaniment to the beautiful vocals.

Amelia Coburn – Dublin Serenade

The melodic Ukelele and Amelia’s stunning vocal lend themselves perfectly to this catchy, jaunty single about the wonderful city in Ireland. Perfect laid back summery vibes echo out of the speaker whenever this track plays.

Also nominated for :

Best Solo Artist

Best EP / Album

The Heavy North – Dive Bar Blues.

Scouse five piece The Heavy North are dragging Rock and Roll kicking and screaming to the present day. With a blues vibe thats straight out of America’s deep south and a gravelly gritty voice that won’t give up, 2021 is shaping up to be a huge year for the band.

Listen here
Also nominated for :

Best Newcomer – Best Band – Best Single

Moonlight Parade – Paint The Sun EP

If ever a band summed up the DIY ethic of the Indie scene it’s Moonlight Parade. The Worthing trio not only do all the music themselves but get stuck into the covers and posters for their tracks too. Paint the Sun found it’s way into the hearts of the New Music community as lockdown took a hold and gigs planned for the end of the year will see their profile raised even further.

Also Nominated for :

Best Band – Best Merch

Cobain Jones – She Plays

Another resident from the suburbs of Manchester, young singer songwriter Cobain Jones has roared onto the scene with his catchy chords and relatable lyrics. Singing about everyday life on the industrial north, the talented youngster just oozes charm and charisma. Having been picked up by Modern Sky, 2021 seems to be a breakout year for Cobain.

Also nominated for :

Best Solo Artist – Best Merch

Apollo Junction – Mystery

One of Yorkshire’s finest. Leeds 5 piece Apollo Junction have a sound custom built for arenas. Soaring guitars, gritty vocals and punchy drums leave you singing along to the catchy anthemic chorus’. As gigs start up again, these guys will be on many peoples ‘must see’ lists.

Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best Merch – Best Twitter

The Reytons – May Seriously Harm You And Others Around You

Keeping up the South Yorkshire element in this category is Sheffield outfit The Reytons. Despite the obvious comparisons from fellow city dwellers The Arctic Monkeys, there is an unmistakable sound from the punchy guitars to the relatable lyrics. Could 2021 be a watershed year for the band?


Also nominated for

Best Band – Best Single

Red Rum Club – The Hollow of Hum Drum

North west act Red Rum Club received critical acclaim for this album which matched catchy chorus’, sublime guitars and not often heard brass. Big things are expected from the Liverpool outfit but all signs are that they will fulfil their incredible potential.

Working Mens Club – Working Mens Club

West Yorkshire outfit Working Mens Club self titled album brings that electro rock vibe that New Order managed to pull off so brilliantly. A sound that’s often mirrored but very rarely pulled off so successfully sets WMC apart from so many artists that have tried to emulate but failed to do so. 2021 could be the year that electro rock returns with a vengeance.

The Mariners – The Tides of Time

With a sound that takes you back to the psychedelic sixties. The Tides of Time from the Mariners has a familiar yet fresh sound. Catchy vocals and jangly guitars are al over this brilliant album from the Nottingham outfit.

Best Merch

Citylightz

Tees tees tees. The standout colours and vivid images have been a massive hit with their loyal fanbase.
Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best Twitter –

Apollo Junction

With tees proud of their Yorkshire (and in particular Leeds heritage) the bands Merch releases have been one of the highlights for their dedicated fan base.
Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best EP / Album – Best Twitter

The Superlatives

With their iconic typeface, the bands tees have been a resounding hit amongst the new music community with their stylish designs and understated colours.

Moonlight Parade

With the bands creative input to their Covers and artwork, it’s even more impressive that their tees in particular have become must have items.

Dictator

With stylish designs and quirky characters, Dictator have some of the most sought after merch on the indie scene.
Also nominated for :

Best Newcomer -Best EP / Album

42’s Records

With an impressive stable of talent including Skylights, Shader and Reclaim Vienna, 42’s records have probably the widest selection of merch on the indie scene with some standout tees that reflect the individuality of the bands.

Cobain Jones

Simple yet standout probably describes Cobain Jones merch collection. With an eyecatching logo and easily identifiable covers, it’s easy to see why the merch is so popular.
Also nominated for :

Best Solo Artist – Best EP / Album

Best Twitter

Ynes

With an insight into the life of an artist, Ynes offers thought provoking tweets, brilliant videos and an awesome collection of songs. Engaging and never afraid to tackle topical issues, Ynes is a must see twitter account.

Apollo Junction

Fantastic fan engagement, using every platform available to them, Apollo Junction have every angle covered when it comes to their socials.
Also nominated for :

Best Band – Best EP / Album – Best Merch

Citylightz

Let’s start a riot! Always creating new ways to engage, always involving fans (see the back of their live at Rockfield vinyl) and always involved with other artists. A shining light in social media use.

Revivalry

Those pesky kids, the most supportive twitter account there is. Always grateful, always shouting out others, and always tweeting with a smile. An infectious account that you can’t help but love.

Vela Incident

Flying the flag for Wales and another engaging and insightful account where fan interaction is king. When accounts do things right it doesn’t half make a difference.

Best PR / Management

The #TuneArmy

With a cult following for the best new music on Twitter, the #TuneArmy has gone from strength to strength as the hashtag was used far and wide for the go to place for the best new tracks.

Dan Potter

DP’s Happy Hour fast became one of the biggest movements during lockdown. The charismatic Geordie gained a cult following and was snapped up to move the show onto the InYourEars platform and following the introduction of FNL and with upcoming live events, there are big things afoot for Dan.

Moonbase

Boasting the likes of Amelia Coburn and Crimson Bloom, Moonbase have fast built a reputation of spotting incredible talent and pushing them to the next level. All whilst having a fun and engaging social media presence.

Happy People Music

Happy People Music is fast becoming the bible for new music blogging. With a relentless energy of promoting artists far and wide, the blog has received critical acclaim and rightly so with thought provoking and insightful reviews.

42’s Records

With an ever growing an increasingly impressive portfolio of talent, 42’s Records is fast becoming the go to label on the Indie scene. With an impressive line up and ever increasing Merch lineup, 2021 is fast becoming a huge year for the label.

Scruff of the Neck

Manchester label Scruff of the Neck boasts an impressive roster including Lucy Deakin and the Reytons. Coupled with engaging posts and creative publishing the label looks like it will go from strength to strength.

So There You Have It…

https://www.inyourearsmusic.com/the-radar-awards-2021/

Please make sure you cast your vote to support these amazing artists and remember stream share and buy. Something special is happening with #NewMusic and you can be a part of it.

2020 Vision

As the clock struck midnight to usher in the New Year, I was filled with optimism. Despite 2019 not being a great year, I convinced myself that this was going to be better. I was eagerly anticipating moving into my new home. I had got my running to a really, really good level. I was healthier than I had been in a long time. I’d spent alot of time managing gigs and becoming more involved in Softlad Promos, and despite losing one of my best and longest standing friends I was looking forwards not backwards.

Sure, I’d made a couple of mistakes in my personal life. Forgivable, if not forgiven. I regret the hurt I caused, but don’t think I deserved the hounding I got over one of them in particular. But that’s in the past and not the point of this blog. I even had a date lined up for the first week in January with someone who I had admired from afar and man was she beautiful. On top of this there was also the Smut Marathon to look forward to. It was going to be a busy year no doubt.

Fast forward 3 months and St Patricks day. The dating was going swimmingly. Despite it never being a relationship, it was fun, exciting, sexy. We connected and had the best of times for those fleeting months. I never knew St Patricks day would be the last I saw of her, but I don’t regret a thing, not even the gesture that in my opinion ruined it all, despite it just being read completely wrong. It’s just who I am.

After my twitter drama in January/February (with reprisals in April and June and September) I had to change my account for the Smut Marathon and little did I know how important this writing competition would be for me. The competition had to be shelved, which was a really sad state of affairs, as once again the ugly side of social media was laid bare. However, It did bring me closer to the organiser Marie Rebelle. We spoke often. We listened caringly, we shared tales both happy and sad. Marie always takes the time to read and comment on my blogs. To have that from someone who writes so wonderfully is incredible. The fact I get to call her a friend blows that out of the water though. Along with Marie I made some amazing writer friends along the way. Myself and Jae Lynn bonded over a love of music and most notably Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way‘ and now rather than being a writer friend. Jae is simply a friend who writes.

Not only did I connect with Jae but I also stumbled across Carolyna Luna. We bonded over stickers (who knows, 2021 may be the year I get them) as well as writing and music and Star Wars and Bourbon to name a few. She inspired me to write when I didn’t have the words. She encouraged my confidence when I’d found my way with my new twitter but more than that, she became a huge part of my daily life.

As lockdown continued, I stumbled across the #VirtualPubCrawl when Shiner Sam posed a selfie one day with a beer and a band tee. All of a sudden I was engrossed by this wonderful community. Raising money for charity whilst drinking beers and listening to exquisite music. I mean… what is that about! Too good to be true right? But as the clock struck 3 every other weekend, the chords to Primal Screams ‘Loaded‘ signalled the start of the madness. There are far too many people to mention that have made this an amazing part of my year and everyone that has spoken to me or tweeted or done a down in one or donated to charity are all legends. However it would be remiss not to mention a handful. Al Burke was the first person to speak to me and become a friend. Then there are a ton I plan to meet in 2021. Andie, Ems, Danny, JD, Kirsty, Jake, Paula, Ady, Andy, Al, Dom, Rob, Matt, Sarah, Sarah, Russ, Redders, Dan, Amy, Michael, Lisa x 2, Johnny, Richie.The list really is endless and that’s before I even mention all the bands.. again special shout outs to Revivalry and Citylightz, you guys are the absolute bomb.

Now I make no apologies for mentioning these next few people who made my year much more bearable. People that transcended Twitter and I met in real life.

Lilycat – You gave me confidence and support in the unlikeliest of circumstances. You were the best part of the first quarter of 2020. Thanks for the Peanut Butter Latte and well just for being you. Keep swishing your pony.

New Indie Sounds. Mate. That night in Manchester was just the best. Never met someone that felt like an old pal within a few minutes. I promise I’ll get you that drink back when tier 4 lifts.

Indie Rob and Gems. Rob. You gave me so much this year buddy. You helped me through an awful time and I cannot thank you enough. Gems. Who knew we have probably been in each others presence so many times in Wigan and never even knew we existed. So much love for you two.

Scott and Kay. What an amazing couple you are. The kindest people I know.. how you treated 12 was the most warming thing I witnessed in 2020. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sam. Thanks for giving me some much needed confidence over summer. Amazing to think 12 months ago you never knew I existed. But I did with you. Yet here we are now and I can class you as a friend. Probably the craziest thing to happen to me in 2020. Keep being that new music champion but more importantly keep me posted on my fav, Beryl

Dating was a bit hit and miss in 2020 some incredible highs and some earth shattering lows. So let’s just leave that eh.

A special mention to my twitter bro and twitter sis. Syriz and Vimtotime. Again 2 absoluye shining stars. Both with amazing twitter accounts that I just connected with.

To Amy, who’s been there on twitter for me for over a year. Making me laugh daily and sharing her beautiful blogs and amazing pics.

To Splintercat who keeps me in check, never let’s me get too big for my boots and keeps me in tea and cakey. A smile is never far away.

Finally, my last memory of 2020 is dedicated to my mum. She’s had the toughest of years. 2 strokes, losing friends with alarming regularity (nooo not falling out with em, them sadly passing, no she didn’t do it) . One of the best things about seeing 2021 in will be the fact my mum gets to see it in as on more than one occasion I was frightened that she wouldn’t.

So as 2021 arrives. Here’s to health and happiness. To kindness and care and to getting back to doing the things we enjoy with those that we love.

Television Fantasy – Joe Astley & The Wallgate Band

Sometimes you hear a song which sounds like a medley of songs fused into one (think of Greenday’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams). Occasionally, you hear a song which tells a real story. Rarely, you hear a song which brings the two together and resonates so closely with your day-to-day life that you immediately sit up and take notice.

But Wigan stars Joe Astley and The Wallgate Band have absolutely nailed it with their latest offering, ‘Television Fantasy.’  

From the funky bass introduction through to Joe’s vocals building to the anthemic singalong chorus, you can’t help but be infected by the song’s catchiness. In a year when Covid-19 has dominated the planet and the world has been locked away, the lyrics hit just the spot.  It continues whilst touching on subjects such as the political chaos in the United States and the Black Lives Matter movement, which gained momentum following the tragic death of George Floyd.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, television fantasy is all you know for certain, pay no attention to the riot at the front door, television fantasy is all there is worth living for.

Television Fantasy

The cultural shift that occurred as result of the pandemic seems such a lifetime ago. Mentioning this, the song takes another twist. The removal of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol gets a nod as the song covers the endless news stories that have dominated 2020.

They’re pulling down the statues and they’re breaking down the walls. Stranded in the no man’s land of someone else’s war. There’s chaos in the streets tonight, there’s panic in the halls.

Television Fantasy

Then, when you think the song has given up all it can offer and you feel it’s coming to an end, it shifts again to a soaring guitar riff, delivering a poignant message.  

These streets won’t show you mercy, these streets where you call home.

Television Fantasy

You know when a band has a signature tune at their live gigs? You get the feeling this could be Joe Astley and the Wallgate’s band song where it all goes off. And having featured on the Brits and Pieces Compilation and worked with Citylightz at Rockfield Studios, you can’t help but feel excited about 2021 for this outfit.  

Television Fantasy is available to preorder from Apple Music now by clicking here and available from all other streaming sites on 1/1/2021.


Edited by : H.Caine

Strong

Strong – Adjective – Able to withstand force, pressure or wear.

Excuse me for a while, While I’m wide-eyed and I’m so down caught in the middle

I’ve excused you for a while, While I’m wide-eyed and I’m so down caught in the middle

And a lion, a lion, Roars would you not listen?

If a child, a child, Cries would you not give them?

Yeah, I might seem so strong, Yeah, I might speak so long

I’ve never been so wrong

London Grammar – Strong

Like love and hate, there is an incredibly fine line between strength and vulnerability.
Two people who I have become close to, underneath the surface, have been dealing with so much, even disregarding this shitty covid year.
They have faced very different but nonetheless difficult times. However to a casual observer, you wouldn’t know a single thing was hurting their beautiful hearts.
I mean, I feel privileged to have become close enough to them that they allowed me to see them at their most vulnerable. It displays a huge amount of trust to be given this no holds barred, soul bearing view.
They’ll get through it, I know they will, even if they don’t. Hopefully I’ll be able to help them raise a few smiles along the way.
That being said, there’s a friend of a friend who’s having just the absolute worst time possible. Like hand on your heart, blow after blow, crushing time.
It’s not at the hands of a malicious ex though, or anything at all like that. They are facing the biggest battle, and man does my heart ache for them.
I mean, why does it happen to the beautiful souls, with so much to give? Why does it always home in on their greatest attributes to weaken them?
It’s in these moments though when they see who’s got their back. Who’s worth their time. There is a phrase,

Darkness can only be scattered by light and hatred can only be scattered by love.

Pope John Paul II

It’s true on both counts. When you’re down and you’ve reached the bottom. In your darkest moments, there will almost always be someone there for you.
A little beacon of light for you to gravitate towards. In this case, this person has at least one that shines brighter than a light saber. AT LEAST ONE, and to be honest, even if they only had this one person, I know that would be enough.
Nothing is ever too big or too much trouble. So when you’re reading this, know that you can focus on what’s ahead, as you know your back is covered.
You’re stronger than you think, but let others take up the slack when you want to be weak. No one will judge you for it. Be kind to yourself above anyone else.

When those times hit, have a listen to the playlist. I hope it helps you get through a moment, because ultimately, that’s all they are, just moments in time. And each one that passes is another big win. If you ever need anything then know you have someone else to call upon, unconditionally……..

You got this.


Nobody’s perfect

I hate that I let you down, and I feel so bad about it. I guess karma comes back around, cos now I’m the one that’s hurting.

Jessie J

This song randomly came on this week, and back in the day I listened to it alot. It’s been noted before that music touches your soul and creates memories. Sometimes the memories are good, often, not so good. It’s always the lyrics rather than the melody that cut deep when you’re feeling sad, and that makes sense. When you’re happy, you want to dance like no one’s watching. When you’re sad you simply want to curl up, be numb and let the world pass you by. When this song came on, I listened, I was mesmerised, in a glassy eyed daze and I just kept repeating it over and over and over. Every single word resonated deep inside me.

I’ve been thinking alot about Karma, social media is rife for people wishing Karma on those that have wronged them. One recent incident was someone who’d been hurt by their partner years ago. Their partner came home one day and said they’d connected with someone else and it was over. The ‘wronged’ person, years later had connected with someone that was already in the burgeoning steps of a relationship. Incredibly they were wishing that their new connection would choose them ahead of this person’s partner. Quite happily praying that this would be the universes way of paying it forward.

I mean that’s gross isn’t it? Wishing ill on someone you have never met, who you don’t even know, who has done precisely nothing to you. That’s not karma,  that’s just vile. Two wrongs definitely don’t make a right, and surely if the person you snatch is capable of doing that to be with you. They are capable of doing that to you?

Having read up on Karma, it’s more about getting back what you give. You send kindness to someone, anyone and at some point down the line, that kindness comes back to you. Not in a mirror form, not in the same way it was sent. It’s like yin and yang, it’s like the theory that every action has a reaction in a way. Everything you say,  everything you do, has a cause and effect. That being said, I was left disappointed recently. Something that I was looking forward to happening didn’t, I was hugely excited cos you know things like this don’t happen to me, (and I was right, they don’t). I’m sure this person never meant to cause any disappointment, I won’t say hurt because it really wasn’t. You can’t miss something you’ve never had. Ultimately, they owed me nothing, having never met. Things change and that’s when people can’t cope. Change scares alot of people, when something is planned or scheduled, alot of people don’t bank on needing a plan B, C or D. Thankfully, I can process things, one of my closest friends always is in awe of my ability to compartmentalise things. Once something is done, I accept it, box it up, and move on. There’s literally nothing to be gained over mourning or stressing about things you can’t change or influence.

Anyway, the more I replayed this event in my head, the more it reminded me of something I’d done to someone. The parallels were there for all to see, even the month it occurred was the same. As the lyrics from Jessie J chimed out

And I hate that I made you think that the trust we had is broken
So don’t tell me you can’t forgive me
‘Cause nobody’s perfect,

Jessie J

It is almost like this song was written for what I did. I connected with someone, didn’t believe it was going to go anywhere and just before we met I let her down. She did forgive me, and tried and tried to keep that connection, but ultimately it was just too hard. I guess that’s because it was a very real connection. That’s my only consolation from that mess. At the time, I was upset, but also kept convincing myself that we hadn’t met, we’d made no promises, we ultimately didn’t owe each other anything.

Fast forward to a similar event happening to me, and albeit it was a much smaller disappointment, and less had been invested in it, but ultimately it made me realise how badly I had treated someone. Everything for a reason and I guess this was my lesson.

Never underestimate the power of your words and actions on another person. You can lift them up and slam them down far more easily than you can ever imagine. Behind a screen it’s even worse because you know, you can’t see someones tears behind a screen.

It’s strange how the world operates, but just as I’d began to compute what I was dealing with, I saw an unusual message from someone I’ve known on and off for a while. Someone who lights up wherever she goes, someone who never ceases to make people smile. I reached out and checked in. The conversation flowed and I must have struck a chord because just like that, everything came out. It was like I’d undone the pressure cap and my word my heart ached. I completely forgot about my insignificant woes and listened intently to someone who was struggling so much. I had no idea, but why would I? Take a happy selfie, post a silly picture, tell a stupid joke (they are stupid mate) and everyone behind a screen smiles and laughs. Who’s making you laugh though?

Social media is a blessing and a curse, it can lift these lonely moments, on demand company from people who share the same interests. But, let your guard down and it can consume you, take over your life, so much so that you find yourself checking WhatsApp last seen, hoping upon hope that someone who doesn’t deserve you is okay. You become a social media version of yourself and when the screen lights up, it’s show time, put on your happy face and please your audience when inside you heart is shattering.

It’s okay not to be okay, Karma really doesn’t work as a mirror and I know my incident wasn’t karma, it was just a way of ending a connection that wasn’t necessary and leading me to a new one that absolutely was, for both of us.

Everything for a reason, no matter how hard it is and how many tears it causes. People that are meant to be there will be, and people that care will always step up, even when you don’t know you need them.

Swinging Bombs

Come out the corner, trade swinging bombs

Citylightz

Twelve months ago today, I didn’t even know the song ‘Swinging Bombs‘ existed and I’d never even heard of Citylightz in fact, even up to mid march when lockdown happened, they’d not even come on my radar. That’s understandable though, life was busy and I was on the periphery of new music, mainly focused on the scene in the north west.
I mean it’s not a bad place to be, being involved in gigs on Merseyside and Cheshire. There’s such a hotbed of talent in and around these areas, no doubt inspired by the likes of the Beatles, Cast, Oasis, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Joy Division and the Verve. I mean that’s a stellar line up of music that any area in the world would find it impossible to match, yet you can circle a small part of the UK and cover every single one of those bands and probably travel to each of their birthplaces within a couple of hours!
But enough about that, before I go on to the point of this blog, Citylightz have been around the block but in their current guise have only been around since 2018. Finally defining the rock and road sound, that has a touch of indie, a touch of rap and a touch of ska, the boys from the west midlands are certainly striking a chord with their fans, and are probably one of the most engaging bands you will ever see on social media.

So, what does Swinging Bombs mean to me. Well, with 2020 being the way it is, sometimes it feels like no matter how many things this year throws at you, you have to dust yourself off and get back up and come out all guns blazing once more.
My 2019 was shit, it started horrendously and didn’t really improve. I made a few little mistakes and they came back to haunt me tenfold. I won’t go into detail as it’s absolutely boring but needless to say, it changed how I was, how open I was, who I trusted and how I behaved to people. No more protecting peoples feelings, just the bluntness and honesty people deserve but sometimes don’t want.

Fast forward to 2020 and a new year began full of hope and anticipation. Days by the sea, someone that cared and stuck by me on a bumpy road, things were indeed looking up, but once again a gut punch. Just after St Patricks day, lockdown hit and brought the country to a standstill. Slowly but surely that connection faded and after a while, I was faced with the reality that my heart had already become accustomed to. I can’t say it was all lockdowns fault. I believe it was just bad timing, but even if it wasn’t, another lesson learned after a whirlwind couple of months. Remember, what’s meant for you, won’t pass you by.

Dust yourself off, pick yourself up, get back into it. No matter how many times 2020 has had me on the ropes, I’ve inevitably discovered who is in my corner. One by one, as people have drifted, others have stood up, pep talks, sustenance, new approaches, and a little bit of vaseline (steady) to mask over those wounds, NONE of which have cut deep. It’s amazing what a little confidence and belief can do for you. If you never get hit, you’ll never be tested. It’s okay to dodge a few jabs, but the true test is when you get that unexpected uppercut. Do your knees go and you fall to the floor, or do you stand tall and come back.

For me, as we approach the final 3 rounds of 2020, I can see the finish line, and the prize is right in front of my eyes, I can almost touch it. I’ve been gifted a golden opportunity, but the secret will be holding onto it until the final bell rings on 2020. So as of next week, this is where I come out fighting with my very own Swinging Bombs…

TBC..

Chasing Rainbows

I could deny, but I’ll never realise, I’m just chasing rainbows all the time

Shed Seven – Chasing Rainbows

Following on from the ‘Better Man‘ post, I was listening to the Radio when Shed Seven’s ‘Chasing Rainbows’ came on. I have been lucky enough to see them perform a few times now and it still astounds me that they were never as big as they should have been. At Shedcember a couple of years ago at Castlefield Bowl this song literally gave me goosebumps.

So I just thought I’d give this song a go and see what words fell out of my mind, and knowing its Andie’s favourite song and some of the challenges she’s faced, I thought i’d write it with her in mind.

‘There’s things that I regret chimes out the opening line.
What do you regret?

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take

Lewis Carroll

I try not to regret anything, after all, we are where we are meant to be. I was absolutely certain I would end up living in Australia. If I did, I wouldn’t have 12 and I wouldn’t swap her for the world. I’d have probably had kids with someone else no doubt, but it wouldn’t be the same. I might be living a better life in a better climate or I might have been homesick and missing my family. There’s no point wondering though as I can’t change that now. It’s all about how you play the hand you’ve been dealt and to be honest, my life is just fine at the moment. I have a job, a roof over my head, food on the table, things to keep me busy in music, writing and rugby, plus great family and amazing friends, both real and virtual.
In fact, I took a chance a few weeks ago. Something I was hugely nervous about doing, but I did it, encouraged by the belief in me that people had helped instil. I know if I hadn’t, I’d have forever wondered and would have kicked myself had I left it too late. I guess this was my real chasing rainbows moment of 2020, and whilst the pot of gold isn’t quite in my grasp, it’s closer than it’s ever been. This stuff just never happens to me! It’s too early to judge if it was a success, but as for now, it paid off handsomely, and I genuinely couldn’t be more excited or happier about it, but maybe that’s a story to be told on another day.

Back to ‘Chasing rainbows’ though. What I wanted from life in my younger years has changed vastly. When you’re a kid, you want to be a footballer or an astronaut or a rock star. Fame, fortune and all the trappings appeal don’t they? As I got older, well, that really did change. When you ask people what they want to be or what they wanted to be, no one says ‘Happy’, or ‘Content’.

We always want things, I remember as a kid always wanting a new bike, or games console. Don’t get me wrong, although we didn’t have alot of money, I never wanted for anything. However, now I am older, the things I remember are the little things, drinking the froth off a Mackeson Stout out of my Grandmas vase like glass. My neighbour taking me on long walks with ‘Midge’ the German Shepherd and pointing out all of the constellations. It’s not the activities that made those things though, it’s the people. It wasn’t what I did, it was who I did it with. People full of love and kindness, who cared and wanted to make ME happy.
Just yesterday me and 12 took a trip to Blackpool and met Scott and Kay and the best part of the day was seeing how welcome they made my daughter. She will remember Blackpool, and the walk on the prom, and the rock and the keyrings that she was so kindly bought, but she will remember how interested they were as she regaled tales of Ariana Grande, and her pets to them. It truly warmed my heart to see how they were with her and I will be forever grateful. She is good company, but the ease at which she felt with them wasn’t a fluke.

So yes, Chasing Rainbows for me is all about finding your happiness, but surround yourself with the right people, and the rainbow chases you.

VPC and Me…

As I sit writing this, the final preparations are being made for the twelfth and final #VirtualPubCrawl. Over the course of the last 4 months, the airwaves of Radio Matlock have, on every other Saturday been filled with the best in Indie music courtesy of Redders.

If you stumbled upon this blog by any other means than twitter, you probably will wonder what on earth I am going on about, so here’s a brief summary.
#VirtualPubCrawl started out as the brainchild of Indie Rob as a way to cope with lockdown and spend a Saturday with your mates down the virtual pub. It quickly grew and once Redders was on board, the platform was set. Add in some awesome logo’s and merchandise from Russ (Brandsintheair) and everything was good to go. Saturday afternoon’s consisted of music, drinking (not essential but recommended to cope with the mayhem) and a whole army of twitter folk, commenting, sharing and liking posts.

I first stumbled across the crawl at the end of May courtesy of a selfie from the beautiful Shiner Sam. Sam posting selfies isn’t anything new, and to be honest with you, there are many MANY worse things to see on the internet aren’t there (even on a bad day with bed head she’s a solid 9.5)? However, this selfie was different. She was posing in a fancy tee and having a drink. I clicked on the hashtag and my screen filled with tweets from a whole host of people from different places. I had followed Sam on my old account and she just struck me as someone always smiling, obviously loved music (new and old) and just had something about her. So, I started following the crawl and whilst not joining in, I listened to the show. Sam later became a part of the team officially, and following the crawl will be hosting a regular show all about new music. Giving bands that wouldn’t get airtime much needed publicity. She really doesn’t see how valuable the tweets are for the artists she merely listens to, but she brings them to a wider audience and sends them on their way of reaching people they probably wouldn’t otherwise. It’s a wonderful thing she does without even realising and even better than that I get to message her most days and call her one of my very closest friends.

Back to the story, I saw that the next VPC was on the 6th June and made sure I wasn’t busy.. (jokes) Lockdown was in full swing and this community was not only making the most of the Saturdays, I also discovered that they were raising money for a little hospice in Hartlepool, (Rob’s home town). Alice House Hospice is a small hospice doing incredible things for those with loved ones affected by a life limiting illness. Ensuring people get the care and support they need at the most difficult of times. I think I am right in saying that Rob just wanted to raise £300 for them initially. As it stands right now, the VPC has just raised £8000. YES EIGHT THOUSAND POUNDS. I can’t imagine what that does for a small charity like this, but regardless, for a group of folk that just love music, it’s a pretty outstanding effort for just having a laugh every other Saturday. It’s what Rob intended the VPC to be about in the first place and has exceeded all expectations. What Rob didn’t realise, was by having this aim of raising a few quid for the hospice and having a laugh with some friends, something far greater was born.

Anyway, now you have the background, I’m gonna tell you about what the VPC means to me. It’s been an incredibly humbling experience. I get teased endlessly, but as often is remarked, I bring it on myself. It’s always in good spirits and full of affection. I remember being completely lost at first, not knowing anyone, like the new kid at school, and I will always be thankful to Al Burke for talking to me that first day and being my OG. She’s a brilliant young lady, a great writer and full of enthusiasm for new bands. I mean we won’t talk about the DM slide she received because of talking to me, but needless to say it set the tone for the hilarity of the VPC for me.

Throughout the VPC, my following has grown and grown and grown. I have spoken to so many people and now I even get followed by bands just because of my involvement. I really don’t think they know what they are letting themselves in for.

It’s the community that I don’t think Rob could have ever dreamed of being formed. I have already met 2 people purely because of the crawl and even without the VPC live event in Octber, I know that would have grown, because the crawl is about the people.

People supporting people, strangers bonding not only over music but just the strangest of things. Who can ever forget the Flamingo’s. Now, I am going to let you into a little secret. The flamingo pants were just an accident. I had ordered myself a VPC t shirt from Russ, and was excited at debuting it on the crawl. I tweeted that when I had finished work I was going to slip into something more comfortable. Meaning the tee. HOWEVER, the gaffer (ROB) picked up on this and tweeted about it. I panicked a bit as every fecker had worn the t shirts so it wasn’t nearly as exciting for anyone but me. I tried to blag Rob by saying I’d only show if I got something like 25 RT. (bear in mind Rob had thousands of followers but I’d never had even 5 retweets on a tweet so I though I was safe). OH NO. Rob made sure I wasn’t so I then had to think of something that would stand out. I’d done my washing (you know cos I am a house trained, clean conscientious bloke… form a queue ladies) and there were my flamingo boxers.So bingo, I have a decent arse (I know, I know) so i lay on my plush rug and took a couple of snaps and away we went. I didn’t think it would get any attention at all and would be forgotten about by the Sunday morning hangovers, yet here we are 2 months later, and it’s there in VPC folklore. The amount of love I got on my birthday, Chippy and Mrs.Chippy with Dave the flamingo. Jake and Kirst with their flamingo tribute on their new garden bar. I can never ever tell people how important that was for me.

Lockdown was shit, Like really shit, but thanks to everyone, it won’t be what I remember 2020 for. I’ll remember despite being alone for 12 gruelling weeks, unable to see my daughter or mum or sisters, I never once felt lonely. When I felt rejected in other parts of my life, I never felt anything but welcomed by the VPC crew. To think I have grown up in the same town as Gems and Matt but never crossed their path, but thanks to the VPC, I know I have friends for life in my home town. It’s hard to put into words how much everyone has been a shining star for me. Further afield there’s my Scottish pals Sarah, Robbie, Alan, and Kris. Sarah called me last week, and despite not being able to understand a word she said, (think Jimmy Crankee on acid) shes an absolute beaut. We have a shared love of Alan Partridge and again I know that we will be pals for life and see each other, whether in Wigan or Scotland.

Then there are the guys, like Gary, Danny, Richie, Mike, Rob and Ady. All legends in their own lunchtime. Gary took my VPC tweet up virginity and it was just the best. We sat and chatted like old friends, he was as nice in person as he seems on twitter (when he’s not being a tw4t) . Again another friend for life and a salt of the earth guy. Danny sent me a flamingo gift, just well, for nothing and it made my day. Richie always checks in and has a giggle, usually at my expense. Mike with his unending love of the Lathums and just the funniest dancing vids ever! Rob, I recently discovered lives near to me too, so that is another excuse for a pint. Then Ady, another one to get his own show soon, who always checks in, and gives you the most precious gift anyone can. their time.

Onto the ladies, Lelly who produced the amazing video for VPC and who along with SSC never lets up about my arse pic, when we speak, along with 3 beautiful women who will have the pleasure of my company in a few weeks. Andie who, despite me previoulsy often wondering if she actually likes me or tolerates me (tw4t), has shown herself to be one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. Then Paula another beaut with an accent to die for but who has the kindest biggest heart. The first person to send me anything and she just makes my wee face hurt from smiling. Finally Emma completes the terrible trio. Someone who I only started talking to properly recently, after she restarted a thread that blew up not long ago and I dmd her to tell her off. Again, a surprising connection that came from nowhere that I just cherish so much with the weird and wacky convos we have.

I could go on all night with bands like Revivalry immersing themselves in the community and just being amazing, and I know there are others I will have missed out but you are probably all bored now.

I am going to finish by saying thank you. I love you all incredibly. You have changed so many lives, not just mine, and the world is a much better place for the VPC. Rob you should be immensely proud mate. You have genuinely created something special that will never be forgotten. You have probably unwittingly connected people that may have saved each other, if not literally, mentally. You have given people a platform to create bonds and friendships that have literally changed lives. I just cannot express how much this means to so many.

Just Thank You….