Category Archives: City of Culture 2017

Humber Street Sesh – The Unorganised Chaos Formula

So, tomorrow is the first day of August and I’ve realised two things. One, I haven’t been successful at keeping the blog busy this year. City of Culture, I have struggled to balance you with work. And two, Humber Street Sesh is this weekend!

As with every year, my best friend is moving herself North for the weekend of Sesh. We literally only plan that one day. But so busy have we both been that this year we haven’t really found the time for even that. So, instead of my usual organised band-by-band what you should see preview, here’s my plan on ‘winging it’.

I’m usually one of those people who can write up a plan months before an event, especially something like HSS which I look forward to for most of the year (I bought my tickets on October). But when you overly plan things, it is more likely that something won’t happen. Last year, what happened was standing in front of the main stage waiting for one of my favourite bands, only for them not to go on. I could see the lead singer, I watched the lead singer waiting, waiting, waiting…

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Festival Faves, Streaming Lights

The band subsequently announced that they were no longer a band the following month.

The moral: winging it means no heartbreak. I don’t plan to see much, so I can’t be upset if I don’t see certain elements. I can simply blame the Unorganised Chaos Formula.

So, this is how it works. We turn up on the day with three acts on the Must See List. THREE. One headliner and two other acts.

Disclaimer: I will miss out on amazing acts that I would love to see. I will feel disappointed at this. I will bump into a bandmember I am friendly with and feel devastated that we missed their act. But I will simply say, “We’re winging it this year” and all will be fine.

To decide on my Must See List of three, I have to consider the bands which a) we both love and adore, and b) will ensure we are not disappointed.

So, start with the headliner. This is a lot harder than it sounds, because this year there are four headliners that I love and adore. They are The Quicksilver Kings (Speak Easy stage), Fire (The Unstoppable Force) (Strummerville Stage – many brackets), LIFE (Main Stage – and totally deserving, because they’ve had an epic year), and finally, Counting Coins (Fruit 2 stage). Thankfully, my lovely bestie helps with this decision. If I ask her which Hull band she wishes to see, especially at 10pm when we’ve spent twelve hours watching bands, she will say two words: Counting Coins.

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Counting Coins from a previous HSS (when I didn’t have a great camera)

We will be at the Fruit 2 stage at about 9:45pm and we will dance our tired feet off, doing a little salsa when necessary, and singing to our broken throats content. Because that is what the lady wants, and it’s actually been a whole year since either of us have seen them live.

That leave two Must See acts for my list.

First on the list, performing at 3pm on the Fringe Stage, I’ve selected Loudhailer Electric Company. I’ve seen them perform a few times at Kardomah94 but never on an outdoor stage, so it’d be fantastic to see them in that different setting. They’re loud, they’re funky, they’re amazing performers and songwriters. And the bestie hasn’t seen this band perform, so it’ll be good to introduce her to something new.

Loudhailer Electric Company Paul Newbon
Loudhailer performing at K94 (photo credit to Paul Newbon)

The last of my Must See is a little tricky. I had two bands in mind for the last slot. The Mighty and Moon are fantastic and now perform with the addition of the amazing Emma Fee. I haven’t seen them perform with this line-up of musicians, and I’ve just built up this beautiful image in my mind of how they’ll sound. But there’s one band that’s always on my Must See List, and they’re playing at the same time. Mighty and the Moon are on the Main Stage at 1:55pm, and Streaming Lights are on the Fruit 2 stage at 2pm. It’s no argument: Streaming Lights are my festival favourite, they’ve not played for ages due to various reasons, and I just know that it’ll be a set which either meets my expectations of wonderfully blows them out of the water.

So, my Must See List is 2pm Streaming Lights, 3pm Loudhailer Electric Company, and my headliner is Counting Coins.

Aside from that, we’re planning to wander relatively aimlessly around the 14 stages.

hss app

And to help with the Unorganised Chaos Formula, there’s the addition of a Humber Street Sesh app this year! It’s got an hour-by-hour guide to the line-up across all stages. There’s a map so you can see where everything is (including the Caffe Gelato stand!). And it’s going to be the most up-to-date way of finding out what’s on.

You can download the app onto the usual platforms – just search for Humber Street Sesh in whichever app store you use.

In fact, with the app in my pocket, all I really need to plan is my festival outfit.

 

If you haven’t been organised enough to sort out tickets yet then you can pick them up at a range of stores across Hull. Go to the festival’s website for a full list: http://www.humberstreetsesh.co.uk/tickets/

Culture on the Cheap | Hull 2017

It’s been 2017 for over three months now and I’d started to beat myself up for not getting totally immersed in the cultural events which are happening in the city.

There were two arguments telling me to shut up. One: you’re often involved in cultural events, so all these additional events are no ‘biggy’. (That didn’t convince me much.) Two: You’re a busy working woman and the winter months don’t offer much motivation. (That angered me a little, but did seem justifiable.)

So, when my friend visited from London for the warmest weekend of the year so far, we decided to pack as much culture in as possible. On a budget, because, well…

Saturday started off as early as possible with a bus ride to The Deep. For me, this trip was free as I still had a couple of weeks on my year-long ticket from 2016. I never resent paying for The Deep and I think it’s absolutely amazing that they offer the year-long opportunity.

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There’s a couple of new attractions at The Deep which we were excited to see. The first being the new arrival of two Loggerhead Sea Turtles, named Mabouche and Sansbecco. It was explained to the crowd gathered around the viewing point that these turtles couldn’t be released back into the wild as they are missing their lower jaws – a result of being caught on a long line in the Mediterranean – and so wouldn’t survive. I was shocked by how large they were, and I think it was the smaller of the two that we actually got to see up close.

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The second attraction was an art installation entitled Washed Up Car-Go, part of the year-long Look Up programme. Coastline collected by artist Chris Dobrowski has been placed within three cars located in The Deep’s car park. The idea behind it was to represent the high-tide mark, where the debris collected by the ocean washes up on-shore, reflecting the idea of “our decadent disposable culture of mass consumption.” I liked the idea, and it linked in with previous artwork which has been exhibited at The Deep produced from the items washed up onto beaches. However, I found this particular installation was less impressive and nowhere near as striking. I liked the idea, but I wasn’t blown away by the actual pieces. We saw two of the three cars and they were rather similar, so we didn’t bother seeking out the third. For me, artwork is about creating a conversation and this didn’t work for us. We understood the concept and, after taking a couple of photographs, we were able walk away from it.

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We headed down Humber Street and stopped off at Humber Street Gallery to see the Raft of the Medusa which is displayed in the gallery space behind the bar. This piece reflected the dangerous journey of the crew of the Medusa, aboard the raft they salvaged together, as well as acting as a reminder of similarly treacherous journeys taken by slaves and migrants past, present and future. This got us talking a little bit more. The clothes strewn around the room, flowing from suitcases, could have represented anyone from almost any time. The raft itself told a vivid story and was a conversational focal piece. And the artwork around it was interesting. What I did miss was the “pungent smell” that was advertised, making this less multi-sensory. But we were talking about this artwork and we were linking it to stories from the news and our own experiences at sea.

We chose not to have a drink at the Gallery, instead opting to sit outside Butler Whites where we could take in the entire view of the Marina. We saw people standing at the podium for The City Speaks, another part of the Look Up programme. The idea is that you speak into a steel lectern where the microphone picks up your spoken words and translates them into a scrolling dot-matrix text on the tidal barrier at the top of Humber Street. We saw a few people standing up on the lectern but no dot-matrix, and with no Hull2017 volunteer around to guide us, we were unsure as to whether this was something we could participate in one the day.

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Saturday finished off with a trip to the Hull Maritime Museum, stopping before the door in order to take several photographs of the Weeping Window installation, significant to the pair of us as the thousands of poppies had made a similar journey to my friend, from London (the HM Tower of London, where they were originally exhibited) to Hull. It’s been massively photographed and a huge talking point in the city.

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The Maritime Museum was fascinating, specifically because I work with students who are studying Maritime Studies. There’s a huge whale skeleton and the exhibits take you on a journey of the former Town Dock offices which tell a story of the whaling community and the fishing heritage as well as including art installations. One installation which is there until the 28th August is the Offshore: Artists Explore The Sea.

This installation is shared between the Maritime Museum and Feren’s Art Gallery, which we visited on the Sunday. We enjoyed the aspects of this art collection in Feren’s; in particular, the outfit which represented coral. The outfit is on display and a video is shown of it being worn. It’s difficult to explain without sounded a little odd, because initially I found it a little odd. Reading the information and watching the video made it more and more interesting. The other video installation we noticed was of a squid currently residing in a formaldehyde tank the length of the space between two screens in which this artwork is presented.

I’m not one who has ever really shown interest in art galleries. I enjoy music and theatre and spoken word, artwork I can comfortably engage with. So I always get nervous when expressing my opinions about art and art galleries. There were several pieces in Feren’s which I was happy to simply walk past. One I stopped at specifically was the Rembrandt. Here until the end of August, The Ship Builder and his Wife is one of five loans from the Royal Collection Trust which will be displayed at Feren’s between 2017 and 2021. We discussed the story and of the painting and the details we could spot, within the expressions and the paperwork of the ship builder. It’s also just a little exciting to see something with the word ‘Royal’ attached.

Of the two days, we paid for one ticket to go into The Deep (between us both), and that ticket will last another 12 months. We purchased food and drinks, naturally, and had the option of donating to the museums and galleries. To visit an aquarium, a museum and two galleries for the total cost of £12.50 is pretty amazing.

We were blessed with the most stunning weather, which meant that we were happy to wander around and stumble on the new eateries that are popping up around the city as well as taking our time to snap photographs whenever and wherever we saw something which captured our interest.

If you live a bus ride, a train ride away from Hull, then you’d be silly not to pop by. You can make a day out of what we did over the weekend, and for very little money. With a bit of planning via the Hull2017 website, you can ensure that you fit as much in as possible. And if you can plan a couple of weeks ahead I certainly advise that you check out the ‘What’s On’ section of the website and check if there are any ticketed events happening which you don’t want to miss out on.

A day of culture and, with a Day Plus Pass from The Deep, a logical reason to return.

Hull Help for Refugees: A Night of Hull Talent

So often we read the horrific tales of refugees making their way to safety, some not surviving the journey. Hull Help for Refugees does everything it can to support those in need, not only here in Britain but further afield in such places as Calais and Greece.

On the night of January 28th, a cold evening with a scattering of stars marking the sky, the charity held a fundraiser at Kardomah94. It wasn’t an evening to wallow in misery. We can do that by watching the news. This was a night for likeminded people to get together and enjoy local music and raise some money for a fantastic cause.

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Emmie Craft opened the night with a cover of Guns and Roses ‘Sweet Child of Mine’. It was a fitting start for many reasons: it’s a popular and well-known song the audience could connect with; it highlighted elements of the images of refugee children shown on the slideshow which filled the brief intervals; it showcased Emmie’s fantastic, malleable voice. That opening song established the professionalism with which this young performer brings to an event, as well as setting the pace of the evening.

She performed a mixture of covers and own compositions, not sticking to one genre but mixing rock with modern and classic pop. What struck me the most was how much her own songs stood out against the cover tracks. One girl and her guitar, she owned the stage with her words. Singing about memories and love and the beauty of the world, she captured my full attention with an original track she has yet to name.

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One performer in, the crowd was surging, and the room was already buzzing with energy. Emmie had warmed the night, and we welcomed Warthilas to the stage. Warthilas is a man named Farid whose stage-name means Without Borders. His collection of songs were sung in English, Berber, Spanish and French, and his banter even chucked some Deutsch in there too. It took no time at all for the audience to join the stage: tapping feet, clapping along, singing the chorus of “Freedom” to one song.

The whole room became one body: a community brought together by the solidarity of passionate entertainment and a worthy cause.

Central to the evening, Little Crooked Weather took the stage; a stripped-back version of the main band, consisting of Will, John and Roy. I’ve seen the band in various guises – stripped right back to just Holly and Will, to the full six-piece ensemble – and timg_7074hey always deliver a fantastic set. Their sound is country, rock, folk. It’s catchy and soothing and possesses the soul.

Their sound has the power to engage with you one-to-one regardless of the size of the crowd. And I spend every set saying I love each song. My stand-out favourite is ‘Control Your Blues’ which I was blessed with having dedicated to me on the night. The guitar introduces the beat in which possesses your body, you’re swaying slowly to the sound, from one side to the other. Will’s deeply soothing voice enters your mind, releasing any negativity. You are liquid, floating above the floor as you are taken into the embrace of the music. And Roy’s harmonica is the final casting spell to take your mind drifting away.

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Sometime after performing this, they invited the next artist onto the stage prematurely. Cecil Jones, with his saxophone, was welcomed to join them. And his addition, which Will described as a battle between saxophone and harmonica, created such a powerful moment. The somewhat improvised instrumental with which their set finished lingered throughout the night, with people returning to it in their discussions.

And so when Cecil took to the stage on his own, we were all already enticed. His performance was a mixture of popular songs, with Cecil alternating between lead vocals and instrumental performance. Tracks such as George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ took on a new life, and brought every age bracket and nationality in the room together.

His final track was his own composition celebrating the twinship between Hull and Freetown, Sierra Leone. It celebrated the City of Culture and touched on the similarities between the two.img_7004

In a couple of the intervals, we’d had further entertainment from two young lads, Ronith and Shobal. They had performed a song together and Shobal had wowed the audience – shocking and very much impressing them – with his street dance moves and light-up shoes. As our final act, Rowland took to the stage, he was joined by Ronith. A young teenager, he’s not had many performances on a stage such as this, but his confidence was uncountable. Together they performed a couple of tracks, completely unprepared. It summarised the freedom of the night: it was one to celebrate any local talent that was willing to take to the stage. All the performers volunteered their time, and Rowland went that extra little mile to support another young and enthusiastic performer before completing his own set.

Mark Rowland’s sound has adapted over the last couple of years since I reviewed his EP. With a loop pedal, he is able to create a more layered sound, performing his own melodies and beats. His song ‘Bread and Butter’ talked to us about the need to embrace each other regardless of our background, and this ideology summed the evening up wonderfully.

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It was late by the time his set started, and as we’d had some young members of the audience, many of them had departed for the night. The handful of us who stayed until the end were able to enjoy his track ‘Tears Fall’ which was written with the current wars and violence in mind, and was first performed at his own fundraiser for War Child.

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I think Will from Crooked Weather actually summed up the night perfectly: “Eclectic, diverse and beautiful.” It was an evening of people who were enthusiastic both about music and the plight of refugees. The event didn’t pigeon-hole any aspect of the night. It was a night for everyone with the aim to support as many people as possible.

 

Thanks to all who attended the evening and donated money to the cause. Hull Help for Refugees raised over £400 with this event. To keep up to date with the work of the charity, please visit their Facebook page (link above).

 

Photos | © Melvyn Marriott

Finding the Right Words | Hull Language Cafe

Hull, like most cities, is home to a mixture of people. And every other Wednesday evening there’s an event which invites many of these people to share in the delights of their varied personalities.

A year and a half ago, Hannah Shaw decided to start a Language Café in this city where so many cultures live side by side. She got the idea while travelling in Europe, an opportunity undertaken through ERASMUS.  Living abroad, these events seemed common, and offered a chance for someone new to the area, and not always confident in the native lingo, to meet new people and immerse themselves in both the language and lifestyle.

Upon her return, she realised that Hull didn’t have anything available to the general public in the way that they were so readily available in mainland Europe. So, she set one up.

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 “The cake helps!”

Originally held at Wagons on Princes Avenue, it then moved to the intimate Lydia’s Cakeaway on Newland.

The venue is quaint and simple, and what makes it truly splendid is that it is open solely for the purpose of the Language Café on these nights. From 7pm to 9pm, people from all over Hull come to drink tea, eat cake and discuss whatever they feel capable of in whichever language they choose. Whether you’re studying a language, reengaging with a lost language or are holidaying soon and want to learn some useful phrases, you are made welcome at this fortnightly gathering – which has been known to get very busy, as Hannah described nights where there had been standing room only and she was filled with guilt as people turned away.

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“Friendships have been made here.”

When you first enter, the room is flowing with conversation. Some you can pick up; other segments are lost in a language you may not know. You’re given a sticker on which is written the languages you wish to practise: some have one language, while others have two or three. There’s tea, coffee and delicious tempting cakes.

The crowd is one which quickly feels friendly. On my first Language Café night, I was quickly invited to join the main group. It was a quiet night – the university students on a break – and I was nervous about testing out my shaky language skills on strangers. But after a few minutes of chatting in English, we launched into a conversation in German, learning about each other in a language in which I was once fluent. I wasn’t anxious for long, and, although my German is very unstable, I found I was laughing at the jovial stories and enjoying the broken flow of words. We stumbled over vocabulary, we jumbled the grammar somewhat, but we successfully managed a conversation almost entirely in German.

And two Wednesdays later, I was filled with anticipation as I took those steps along Newland Avenue. The lure of using my language skills again stronger even than the desire for a cupcake of some ingenious design.

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“This is migration to Hull.”

There are people of all ages and nationalities who attend. When asked how many languages she’d encountered over the eighteen or so months, Hannah stumbled. She rattled them off: French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Persian, Thai… languages spoken by people from Europe, South America, Asia… A true mixture and a reflection of the diversity in this small city.

Most advertising is done word of mouth. There’s a Facebook page and events are set up in time for each event. There’s the board in Lydia’s with the necessary details. But from that point it is people like myself who have attended for a few nights and then shared their experience with friends and family.

We all share language. Not everyone has the desire to learn several, but what can be enjoyed on the night is this one thing which joins us all together. The crowd not only share their knowledge but also their experiences and their differing cultures. People gather with the confidence that they will not be judged, that we are all there to enjoy this same thing and learn with enthusiasm.

The next meeting is Wednesday 8th June.

 

Originally written for Browse Magazine, culture section.

Hull Help For Refugees Fundraiser | 04.05.16

Hull Help for Refugees are always doing what they can to ensure they live up to their title. Last month, I visited their Spring Fete, and this month I was delighted to attend their Hull & East Riding Ukulele Night, hosted at Kardomah94.

It was an early start, and one I welcomed on a Wednesday evening. The sun shining outside, some would question the decision to enter the darkened back room of this venue, but with such lovely people inside it was impossible to stay away.

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I was welcomed by friends I’ve met through working with Open Doors Hull, a charity which aims to support asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers in the city, and sat amidst the busy room of personalities. It was the most bustling I have seen the venue, which I visit regularly for gigs and events.

There was an instant buzz, and during the first ukulele band – 13 members crowding the stage – the audience was clapping, singing and bouncing along. It was a fantastic way to start the evening, lifting the weight of the working day from our shoulders and bringing the entire room together.

Next up was a poet, Johanna, who read three poems: one about her husband’s job as a tanner in Hull, which had the crowd laughing; a more serious poem entitled “Refugee Baby” which fitted into the theme of the night; and her poem “On The Beach” which lifted the mood once more.

Another large ukulele group then took to the stage – apparently you can only Uke in large groups – and performed a range of songs which suited the diverse audience. I particularly enjoyed their use of the kazoo – well, four kazoos to be exact – which they used in a couple of tracks.

We were then entertained by a local theatre group who performed a snippet of their new production “Last Panto in Little Grimley”, which will be performed at the Lord Mayor’s Gala.

The final ukulele band performed after a short break, performing a full range of tracks. We’d enjoyed everything from ABBA to Bowie to “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book. And, as with the other bands, the entire room came together as one. It was wonderful to hear the acoustics of the room: the bass generated as people tapped their feet and vocals creating a 3D effect as they harmonised concurrently around the room.

 

What the evening was about was raising funds and awareness for the charity. I am delighted to announce that £690 was raised on the night, through ticket sales and donations.

But that is just a segment of what is needed. The current aim of the charity is to send a container to Athens to support the increasing number of refugees seeking safety here. It’s still possible to support the cause:

  • Donations of tents, gazebos, sleeping bags, clothing for all ages, food packages, sun lotion, toiletries and baby supplies are needed to fill the container. Donations can be dropped off at either UNISON 39, Alfred Gelder Street (Monday to Friday 9:30am-4:30pm) or Kingston House 50/54, Bond Street (Saturday & Sunday 10am-12pm).
  • Cash donations can be made payable to UNISON REFUGEE FUND (cheques) or via the gofundme page.

You can read more about what the charity is doing to support people here and on their Facebook page.

The Big Gig – a small person’s perspective

Adka (a small person)
Adka (a small person)

I went to my second festival of the year today. The Big Gig festival: a new festival to come to Hull, aimed at integrating those who often feel socially marginalised. I went with a small group of friends, one of which was the toddler from whose perspective I have decided to write this review.

Meet Adka: she’s just turned two and she loves to bounce, run and generally get under people’s feet. She’s been brought up with local music having me around. This was her second Hull festival.


Aunty Chidders (that’s me by the way) had told me there would be pirates. She hadn’t told me that there would be a big musical bird. It was so big. And it made good sounds when I hit it with a foam stick. The lady let me have as many sticks as I wanted, and we were all allowed to try and make as many noises as we could. This was fun.

With mama and the mermaid in the Pirate Experience
With mama and the mermaid in the Pirate Experience

But then I saw the pirates and I wanted to see their show. It was a Senses show, and we were allowed to join in. We went into a dark tent, where we were given musical instruments. I had two: a weird thing with beads and a maraca. We played the instruments loudly while a pirate sang a song about being out at sea. I was also given a glowing fan, which was cool and had lights which flashed and made the tent look really nice. Then, we met a mermaid who sang to us all. Then, there was a fight, which scared me a little bit. The pirates were fighting about gold bars, which the adults found funny.

I was quite tired though, as I usually have a snooze at this time of the day. So after this, the adults had something to eat while I slept.

Joining in with the Sunshine music
Joining in with the Sunshine music

When I woke up, we were inside again. There were more instruments, so I wasn’t even grumpy! We were asked to sit in a big circle  and then a Sunshine Music lady gave us all an instrument. I had some bells and Aunty Chidders gave me a drumstick which was really good at poking people. I tried as many of the drums out as people would let me – most were happy to share – and then I sat with mama while we made loud and quiet noises. I enjoyed this, but it did get too loud.

That was the only problem with the day. I like the bands – one of my favourite songs is ‘Modern Disco’ by Streaming Lights – but it was very loud in the main stage area. Aunty Chidders was going to introduce me to them, but that Nineties Boy was rapping too loudly and I got scared. There was a good crowd in that room, and other children were happy to dance near the stage, but I wasn’t sure about it.

Sorry that I didn't get to see you play, Streaming Lights. Did you play my favourite song?
Sorry that I didn’t get to see you play, Streaming Lights. Did you play my favourite song?

That was okay, because there was still plenty to do outside. I went to the big musical bird again, and then there were games on the lawn. I especially liked playing Connect Four (well tidying up the Connect Four and making it somewhat more difficult for the others to play when she found how to release the counters) with a couple of other children, who were very friendly.

Everyone was friendly. They let me into the Pirate Experience a second time and let me out again before the shouting pirates came on.

Aunty Chidders stayed a little longer to watch some of her favourite bands, but five hours was enough for me and my parents. I really enjoyed the Big Gig. Can I come back next year?

I did like the big musical bird.
I did like the big musical bird.

It was a day for everyone. Aimed at those with learning disabilities, there was so much thought into ensuring everyone had access. There were areas designed for wheelchair users to ensure that they could see the music stages and spaces made for them to join in all of the activities.

Though we didn’t have anyone in our group with a learning disability, toddlers and their parents can often feel there is not a proper place for them at a music festival. This was not the case here. Adka, her parents, and my other friends all declared that they had a really enjoyable day. Many festivals claim they are family-friendly; not all of them succeed in this. Big Gig did.

I, too, look forward to returning next year.

A Busy Day in Hull City Centre (20.06.2015)

I knew it was going to busy day, especially after a reduced sleep post-gig. It’s always busy in the city centre on a Saturday. But this was more than your average Saturday.

First of all it was the Lord Mayor’s Parade, an annual event with a ‘green’ parade walking one mile around the Princes Quay and Old Town section. This year the theme was ‘Hats Off To The Mayor’, with a competition open to the public to make their own hat.

Up until last year, I had been a part of the parade, walking with a local group of Rainbows. However, our unit has now disbanded and so I watched the groups of participants assemble along Princes Dock Street from the window of Cuckoos, where I ate a delicious lunch with a friend. A pirate ship (which my friend argued was inadequately entitled, as it held only two pirates) was parked directly outside our window, and we were able to see the range of costumes pass us by.

The Pirate 'Boat'
The Pirate ‘Boat’

Our lunch consumed, we headed to the bottom of Whitefriargate where Steel Trinity were positioned. They played music to onlookers awaiting their glimpse of the parade, which seemed to have timed itself perfectly with the heavens opening their bulbous clouds.

It didn’t dampen the spirits of any of the participants, even if it did affect the moods of some of the onlookers. There was dancing and singing, musical instruments and puppets, all joyfully playing to the crowds. Some costumes were very well designed for the troublesome British weather: umbrellas transformed into jellyfish and large hats designed to look like other creatures.

Underwater creatures getting a watering
Underwater creatures getting a watering

While all of this was taking place, there was a demonstration happening in Queens Gardens. An anti-austerity protest.

At 2pm, I headed over to The Warren, a resource centre which opens its doors to young people during weekdays. Saturday 2th June, however, the doors opened to the general public in order to host a special gig in partnership with the anti-austerity demonstration.

Hull Against Austerity gig poster

I entered as Joe Solo performed a song of revolution to a scattered crowd, some stood and some sat directly before the stage. He song further songs about protest – describing the mining strikes of 30 years ago – and songs in protest – one about a friend who was arrested for setting up a soup kitchen in a disused building. For his song ‘No Pasarán’, he had the crowd get involved. A song about a Hull volunteer who fought against fascists in the Spanish Civil War, the title means ‘They shall not pass’, and when this line was sung during the chorus we were invited to join in, producing a tuneful chant. “It sounds better with your fist in the air,” he told us, highlighting the need for strength in numbers but also representing the non-violent approach to this protest.

He also took time to promote the We Shall Overcome events which, similar to this gig, have no monetary ticket prices. Instead you are invited to bring along donations of tinned and dried foods for the local food banks. A positive reaction to the recent election results, there will be a series of events over the weekend of October 2nd-4th across the country, celebrating music and culture while supporting those affected by the cuts. This was met by the loudest applause of the gig, showing further the solidarity in those gathered.

Next onto the stage was the manager of the Warren with a few words about austerity and how his organisation fits into this. He opened with strong words: “the whole theory of austerity is bullshit.” He stated that it was fantastic to see so many people, young and older, at both the demonstration and the gig, explaining that this is “your future… this is where it begins again” and that we needed to “get angry in a controlled and measured and campaigning way” because “that’s what scares them the most”.

Performers in Queen Victoria Square
Performers in Queen Victoria Square

Following him was 12 year-old Eva Davies with her original songs. Not a protest singer like Joe Solo, she was singing about those things which affect teenagers in Britain; opening with a re-telling of Romeo & Juliet did elude to the theme however. The point being made here is that opportunities such as this will become lessened if too many cuts take place. With so many volunteer-run organisations struggling and venues being strangled with legislation, there are fewer chances for someone like Eva to share her talent.

Nothing’s Happening were next onto the stage; a punk band full of political opinions. The crowd – all besides one very young boy who sat right up front – were on their feet for this act. Lead vocalist Casey Stead referred to another punk singer: Jon Lydon, better known as Jonny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, who has quoted in several newspapers for telling everyone to make sure they use their vote and calling Russell Brand a “bumhole” in response to his political “revolution” last October.

Fact: everyone is talking about austerity. Even if they don’t fully understand what it entails, or how it will directly impact them, the idea of it is absurd. Martin Deane, MP for the Green Party in Hull North, spoke further to that which he had said earlier in Queens Gardens at the demonstration. He declared that “austerity is a con” and that “we’re a city of culture, not a city of cuts!” With a view of cuts to libraries and hospitals, not to mention the way education is falling down the plughole of politics, he said that he encouraged everyone present to fight against austerity.

Last to the stage were popular Hull band, LIFE, with Stew Baxter taking to the drums as Rich is unable to perform at the moment. Starting off with their first single ‘Crawling’, they encapsulated the frustration many felt at the election results. Guitarist Mick Sanders declared, “I hope everyone stuck it to the man today,” before they launched into catchy tune ‘Money’ – during which Mez Sanders added to the lyrics “who even likes money anyway?”. Their set was one which could bring the crowds in – a popular local band who are making their name across the UK – but also one which demonstrated the power of political beliefs and in giving words to your opinions and emotions. They performed as they would any gig, but embedded in the lyrics are the political views of these young men living in a torn society.

Steel Trinity
Steel Trinity

It was a day to feel accomplished, and a day to feel a part of something. I do what I can for charity, supporting local organisations as I do local bands. I wanted to be there for my students and for the local community and for those who had come together to fight a worthy cause. I managed all of this, though I left feeling that in order to do so I was unable to give myself entirely to any in particular.

This is true of many things. Hull is so alive with activity that it is difficult to attend everything – support everything. But I do my bit, and I hope that others too did their bit on this busy Saturday in Hull city centre.

Festival Fever – New to Hull 2015

On Saturday 11th July, you will be able to enjoy live music and family fun in two locations. In one corner, there is West Park Party. And in the other, The Big Gig, held at the University Union. Naturally, there are pros and cons with both, but which one best suits you?

West Park Party poster

Let’s start with the first one to be announced, back in November. Organised by Auxilium Events Ltd, West Park Party declares itself as “a music festival for all the family”. There is going to be one main stage, with a range of acts considered Heritage, Current and Local. Current Acts which have so far been announced are Labrinth, Union J (who were at the Launch Party in Princes Quay in February) and Ella Eyre: a rather diverse collection on offer. Heritage Acts currently announced include Sinitta (who is also helping organise the festival), Toploader (who headlined at Trinity Festival 2014), and Aswad. Local artists Emma King, Chiedu Oraka, Emmie Craft and Nineties Boy are also on the bill. A true mixture of genres. However, there are still acts to be announced.

Front page of flyer

The Big Gig, the first festival from local events organiser Hull Red, have given a line-up of eleven local acts, including headliner Endoflevelbaddie and the ever-popular Young Jack. The aim of this stage is to get your feet dancing, but there will also be an acoustic stage with a range of folk acts, well known and new to the scene, offering a full variety of genres.

Also pegged as “family friendly”, The Big Gig has a focus on those with learning disabilities. Red have been putting on disability friendly events for some time, on a smaller scale, and are now confident that they can produce a festival designed with these specific needs in mind. The aim is to get people together; making the area both accessible and comfortable for people with learning disabilities, while providing a fun day out for families and fans of the local music industry.

Big Gig - line up

West Park Party is also considering those who often find festivals inaccessible. They have “a whole area” specifically designed to ensure access for disabled people. They are also linked with several local charities, including Cash4Kids and Dove House Hospice, who are working with the organisers.

Families can enjoy themselves at both festivals.

At West Park Party there is a Familyzone, defined as “an area where kids can play and adults can relax” in earshot of the bands, so as not to miss anything. In this zone there will be the usual festival fun, including a marine life zone, shows from local drama groups and an arts and crafts area. The young ones will have no reason to say they are bored.

So, too, at The Big Gig, who will also have children’s entertainers and arts and crafts, alongside story tellers, dance workshops, graffiti art and bubble shows. Something for everyone and every taste.

It’s difficult for me not to be biased about this one. The family friendly activities are not at the forefront of my mind when selecting a festival, though I do attend quite a few with friends and their little ones. And, as much as I want to see international selling artists and those ‘big’ acts from around the world coming to Hull, I love the local scene. Having attended the launch party for West Park Party, I can see why people are talking about it on a grander scale than they are about The Big Gig. But, with most of this talk still seemingly hanging on Union J, I just can’t get as excited.

Give me a dose of Streaming Lights any day.

Besides, I haven’t told you about the main deciding factor for most families considering attending. Let us stereotype the two adults, two children which is often used in ticket sales. For The Big Gig, this will cost you a maximum of £20: that’s £6 per adult, and £4 per child over the age of 10 years. A family ticket for West Park Party is £70. Adults are priced at £30, with children over 5 years at £20, and “new age pensioners” at £22.50. But remember, what you are getting for that cost.

Bottom line: both festivals aim to involve everyone, offering a range of opportunities and experiences for the community. What sways your decision should be which acts you want to see. You may have seen Counting Coins and The Hubbards perform numerous times, whereas you’ve never seen Ella Eyre, who has also been announced as part of the West Park Party line-up. You may want the comfort of knowing that you will enjoy the day if you see the bands you see regularly – for many with learning disabilities, familiarity is essential, and so this is ideal. You may decide to kick off the festival season with something different.

Your reasons for attending one over the other are individual. This is a snapshot of the pros and cons of each. All I can advise is that you are there at one of them. Start the festival season as you wish.

Tickets for West Park Party are available online or over the ticket hotline on 0800 689 3016

Tickets for The Big Gig are available through Hull Box Office.

Teenage Cancer Trust Fundraiser

There were loads of events on this bank holiday weekend, but I’d had the tickets for the Teenage Cancer Trust Fundraiser on my noticeboard for over a month.

At a mere £3.50, I couldn’t turn this event down. Even with a free gig on at the Larkin’s Ale Festival, I knew I would be spending the majority of Sunday with my friends and fellow muso’s down at Fruit. Afterall, it was for a good cause and twelve bands had also given up their time to entertain us free, all for this charity. A charity which Luke Bowe pointed out was of equal significance to all in the audience as “we’ve all been touched by the Big C”.

Wayward Suns
Wayward Suns

Wayward Suns kicked things off. They’re a band of young lads, who I haven’t seen perform before. Their heavy rock sound filled the room, where quite a crowd had gathered. New to me, I noticed a similar thread to their sound as I hear in Young Jack (especially with songs such as ‘Get Along’). Sharing their vocal harmonies across the three lads at the front of the stage, the lead vocalist – who also has a mop of hair similar to Luke Bowe – had a voice which reminds me of Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz; melodic and raw.

Vulgarians lead singer Ryan Wilson-Preen
Vulgarians lead singer Ryan Wilson-Preen

Due to the scattering crowd, and the sudden sunshine, Vulgarians commented on the lack of people inside Fruit for their set. “We’ve emptied Fruit,” Ryan Wilson-Preen announced; I hadn’t even noticed until he mentioned it, but it was true that the crowd was more disperse. A shame, and rather a shock, as this band have built quite a following.

The gig was a near-sell-out and yet the venue never felt full; people came and went for the bands they knew and supported, with few sticking around for the duration. No single band had the full impact of the crowd because of this, and I felt this was a real shame.

The Froot '67
The Froot ’67

Looking rather 70s and sounding a little 60s, The Froot ’67 were exactly what I wanted to listen to on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I am most certainly one of their newest fans, will no doubt be purchasing their debut album ‘Seven Past Eight’, for which they celebrated on the 9th at Raine Club. Bouncing vocals from bassist Stevie Newby to guitarist Louie Donoghue, all four members performed with huge levels of energy. A real delight.

It was at this point that my friend and I nipped out for a spot of late lunch, missing Attack The Embassy. However, our return was quick, eager to not miss too much, and we re-entered to the loud noise and incredible power of Cannibal Animal – whose drummer had us both transfixed as he performed in a blur of swift movements – and Dead Hormones who are the band I have seen most recently. We were straight back into the swing of things, and ready for the night to continue, replenished and excited.

Dead Hormones
Dead Hormones

The line-up from this point featured some of my favourite Hull bands; those I rave, unashamedly, rather too much about. My friend and I settled into a spot before the stage, digging our heels into the concrete floor.

Tom Skelly has a stunning voice, and I am always amazed at the ferocity with which he and his Salty Beards perform. Much like the ocean and the allure as described in popular track ‘Morning Sun’, their music sweeps over you, a never-ending wave of sound, rising and dipping to cool you with Skelly’s softer tones.

BREEZE lead vocalist Aron Gilbey
BREEZE lead vocalist Aron Gilbey

Breeze, Streaming Lights, Coaves and Young Jack never get old for me. Eternally indulgent, I could write reams just about their sets.  From the point where Breeze sang ‘Goodbye, So Long’, I was my most energetic, and mirrored the vivacity of Coaves and the highlight of silliness, Streaming Lights, who always offer more entertainment than their electric tunes.

Streaming Lights
Streaming Lights

As a prelude to the final three bands, we also had experimental The Bodyfarmers, who perform with no vocals. Their mixture of guitars – during one song being played with a bow – drums and soundboard filled the space wonderfully. It can sometimes cause people’s minds to wander, having no lyrics to focus on or sing along to, but The Bodyfarmers seemed to have the opposite effect, pulling the crowd in. Their last track appeared to knock out each of the guitarists, who fell to the floor and left the stage to the drummer and bassist, who thanked the audience in an echoing quiet (with no use for them, the mics had been turned off).

The Bodyfarmers
The Bodyfarmers

Young Jack had a hefty crowd, with people moving further forward to welcome them on stage. Playing their popular tracks as well as new funky sound ‘Move’, they were the ideal headliners; indeed taking their second headline spot this week. So enthralled were the audience, we called out for more, and reacted very positively to their cover of Wild Cherry’s ‘Play That Funky Music’.

Young Jack lead vocalist Luke Bowe
Young Jack lead vocalist Luke Bowe

Overall, a very enjoyable way to spend the day – absorbed in the music which stretched from bright sunshine to the glittering night. And though the crowd altered as quickly as the bands did, there was always a buzz in the room. Taking that into consideration alongside the £500 raised for charity, you can’t argue that the event was a hit.

And a perfect warm-up to the festival season, when we’ll be able to soak up the tunes as well as those sunny rays.

Humber Street Sesh 2015 – a preview

A very important announcement has been made this week. Humber Street Sesh wristbands went on sale Tuesday 21sy April.

At an advance price of £5, you’re getting a huge collection of music, art and local culture packed into the one day festival.

LIFE
LIFE

On Saturday 1st August, over 180 bands will play across ten stages. There will be over 50 DJ’s in the new Original Brew’s Art and Soul Warehouse as well as at the Resident Association Disco tent. So, musically, there is something for every taste.

Humber Street Sesh is a 12-hour showcase of the huge wealth of talent Hull has to offer. For those who engage with the weekly Sesh at The Polar Bear, you get to see your favourite local bands up on the bigger stages, mingling with even more like-minded people. For those who can’t always get down on a Tuesday night, this is your chance to support those acts. And yet there is so much more besides this.

A new addition last year, returning to the Skate Park this year.
A new addition last year, returning to the Skate Park this year.

There will also be the usual markets, street food, live street art, children’s activities, comedy and cult cinema, in addition to breakdance and rap battles, a skate park, street theatre and much more. After last year’s brief downpour, there is the aim to have more sheltered bar areas this year. Not that the rain stopped many of us from finishing our drink or heading down to see  our favourite bands who happened to perform at that point.

Under 12s go free (collect your wristband as you enter the gates), and so this truly is a festival for the people; regardless of age or taste, you’ll have a fantastic day.

Streaming Lights
Streaming Lights

 

With 40’000 attending last year, we know we can get more through those gates this time.

Tickets are available from Hull Box Office or by phoning 01482 221113, and will be sold in various locations across the city at later dates. Note, a booking fee will apply.

Humber Street Sesh info poster

All photographs are by Paul Newbon, taken at last year’s HSS.