Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

News, News, News + Reviews

Top news, The Trades is to open again.   The new Management team of Ashley the owner and Johnny the venue Manager met with Mick and Dickie this week to discuss a role for RAE.  

I shall be honest we didn’t know what to expect and given previous experience our expectations were to say the least low; to say that we were blown away by what we saw and heard would be an understatement. 

It was refreshing to see that many if not all of RAE’s suggestions (see previous Blogs) for the venue have been listened to and acted on and we were over the moon that the new  Management Team made it perfectly clear that The Trades was to become a primary music venue. 

The Trades is so important to Rotherham, it is the second largest venue we currently have and this reincarnation of the venue with an aggressive commercial approach has the full support of RAE.   Yes the product has to be right; the price has to be right; but for the operator there has to be a positive bottom line.    

Currently major refurbishments are taking place, from new colour sc   There’s to be a new reception area, and the whole concept of the business is to change moving completely away from the traditional Working Man’s Club model that had so plagued the previous operators. 
hemes for the two Bar areas, and the snug is being converted into a service area.

The venue plans to open for only two or three evenings per week, probably Friday to Sunday, with a programme of top music from across the genres, with some specialist entertainment events like the very popular Night Train Burlesque shows returning to the venue. 

There will be no television etc or traditional Club activities like bingo…………..    

But the main difference is in the overall organisation which will be more like the old Boardwalk / O2 venue set up.  On ticket night no one will get into the venue free. 

RAE have been offered one night a month to promote our shows.   We hope to bring you some of the very best Bands available over the Autumn, Winter and Spring starting in September.   Watch this space for news of the programme.   The programme will be based on what we know you want from the tickets you have bought for our shows in the past.  We will of course look to throw in something different from time to time.  

The Venue re-opens on 8th August 2015 just in time for the first Millers Home match of the season with a Rock and Roll spectacular to launch the Saturday night programme. 

Full details of the advance programme will appear on the RAE Listings pages and Live in Rotherham pages when known.

BUT the basic rules apply – USE IT OR LOSE IT my friends – this I think is the very last chance for the Trades.

Preparations for Slamfest 4 Part 2 are well underway.    Another FREE party for the people of Rotherham and again it’s music by the people for the people, helped by Queen II and The Vibrators who headline Saturday and Sunday respectively.   Make a weekend of it – and BOOK MONDAY OFF, so that you can enjoy the full Party and not leave mid evening.  

We are emphasising the FREE as some Land Lords around Rotherham were suggesting that Slamfest 4 Part 1 was charging £12.50 for entry, a complete fabrication of the reality.   

Once again The Cutlers will be playing host to the event - and we are really hoping that the canopy will be on for this one – with Bristol Street Motors (Chesterfield) and Chantry Brewery sharing the main Sponsorship.  

We do need more Sponsorship or advertising for the event so if you are interested in reaching the people of Rotherham with your message and would like to find out more Email us HERE

We also have vacancies for a limited number of Bands to play on the MyPlace Youth Stage – a stage especially for young people to experience LIVE MUSIC - we have space for three upbeat Bands.    There will also be an Acoustic Stage at the New York Tavern again.   This time the PA will be O 
K – I’m told.

You can find a list of the Bands appearing HERE

Final bit of Slamfest Part 1 news.  Your generosity raised just over £500 for The Rotherham Hospice, which is brilliant.   

We hope to at least match this amount at Slamfest Part 2

Mattfest proved to be a brilliant Party night at The Cutlers despite the bad weather on the night.    Opening the evening on the outside stage was Shock of The Fall who warmed the growing audience perfectly, rocking everyone a set of their original numbers.    Always difficult to open, but a job well done.  

Unfortunately the only rain cloud in South Yorkshire decided to pay us a visit and after a bit of hiatus we eventually decided to move everything inside.  Full marks to Jason for completely shifting the PA and setting up the sound inside so quickly.

Elvis entered the building for forty odd minutes of classic Elvis.   Cheesy, yes, but as always very popular as our Elvis belted out all the     Great fun – so much fun that Rotherham’s very own Elvis fanatic Mr Mick Hill got up to give us a song.  He really has a good voice (don’t tell him that I said so though).  
hits accompanied by The Cutlers Chorus Choir.

Finishing the night came some classic Mod set from Handsome Dan and The Mavericks.  Two of the very best sets of Party music that had the revellers jumping around and dancing.    They two managed to find a song that the afore mentioned Mr Hill knew, and for one number it was Ugly Mick and The Mavericks.  

Again the generosity of the audience raised £200 for the Matt Cryer Appeal which is good news indeed.  

That’s a total of £700 raised in donations over the two events.   Thank you on behalf of the recipients. 

 Another major event in Rotherham on the 11th July was Rotherham Pride, held at Clifton Park.   Pride is fast becoming one of the popular Summer events on the calendar in Rotherham, providing a range of entertainment from the sublime singer song writer that is Nic Harding to tribute acts including Lady Ga Ga.  Besides the music they also have an extensive range of stalls providing Community, Health and other advise.    

Well done to the organisers.  

11th was also the day that the 40s came to Rotherham Town Centre with a BANG.   Stalls, music and Dancing throughout the Town Centre what more could we want for.   It was great to see the Town Centre buzzing with activity in a celebratory mood.   A great success for the Town Centre Team that organised the event. 

And yes - there was even more going on in Rotherham on the 11th as Something Special opened their brand new Tea Room in the Old Mayor's Parlour.  

This is a brilliant addition to Rotherham's offer, with cakes and teas and more to get the taste buds going, all in the surroundings of some fantastic Rotherham Craft Work.

Next time you're in Town, check it out.

Sorry to say you’ve now missed the chance to see the thought provoking and challenging multi-media Exhibition from ROAR members at the Old Market Gallery.  I really hope that you managed to get into see it, if for no other reason than it was the last Exhibition to be mounted at OMG who now transfer their activities to Kepple House, that’s the building behind OMG and runs along the riverside.  

Old Market Gallery has been purchased and will become a Wedding Super shop – a one stop for wedding planning.   Ouch, but demonstrates how Rotherham is starting to attract inward investment again.  
I’m told the new building will have toilets, lighting etc., I’ve yet to establish if it will also have heating.

One of the first things the new building will be hosting, I think, is Dangerous Drawing, a new weekly art school for young people for the summer holidays.  There is an initial meeting on the 20th July and the School starts the first Friday in August.   Email for more details HERE

Watch out soon for news of The Exchange (formerly Yates) re-opening soon.   It’s another venue currently undergoing major changes.  That should really make the chappie in the flats who appears to have nothing better to do with his time than complain about The Cutlers sound really happy.   Strangely, as far as we know, SNAFU has escaped the moans yet is right on his door step.  

Also now two / three weeks in is The Big Bang, the weekly drumming School for young people at MyPlace.   Once a month Amy from Rotherham African Drummers will leading a workshop, with practice and skill development sessions taking up other sessions.   From my experience this is a very lively group of young people meeting at 5:00pm each Monday and the plan is to run it through to Jam & Slam from mid-September, all as part of encouraging young people to participate in music from across our Communities.


A word for Chris Matthews who painted and presented to me a magnificent portrait of Dickie in his Slamfest garb.   Thank you so much my friend and it's something I will treasure always.   

Sad to say that our Town was again invaded by a group of chanting morons disrupting normal business in Rotherham.   I’m all for the freedom to demonstrate, but this is not demonstrating, it’s an excuse to bring hate to our Streets and the Police, rather than disrupting Town folk by over policing these events would be better served and would go up a step in my esteem if they arrested some of the morons shouting hate slogans rather than march them around the Town.  

It’s a shame that instead of the hordes of shoppers and revellers seen in Rotherham the previous two weeks / three weeks, we instead saw only the hearty bothering to come to Town.   Let’s hope that not too much damage has been done and we’ll all be back on track again next week.  

Beanfest 2015 has passed over with 3,000 claimed to be in attendance, and if the speed at which the bar seemed to run dry, if you had the patience to queue for an hour, then I can well believe it.   There were also car parking issues with disruption to locals.   Apparently the organisers were caught by surprise and intend to put it right next year, which is exactly what they said last year.  

That aside it was another fantastic success for the Beanfest Committee with an estimated £2K being donated to Charity.  

Clearly we like to support other Rotherham Festivals like Beanfest, although it would sometimes be nice to see that support returned, lol   and I was intrigued by a number of comments on the event page that totally ignored the existence of Slamfest.   Anyone would think we were in competition, when in fact we are music Festivals with slightly different priorities as far as the music goes.   That said, many of the Bands appear at both Festivals. 

And let’s also go back in time to give the Conisborough Music Festival a big shout of congratulations.   All reports coming into my Inbox suggest that this was a great success.   It was also great to see a Local Authority in the form of Doncaster giving full support to the event from Council and Art Organisation Funding + some great Sponsorship from the local Community.

Dare I say what a pity that Rotherham cannot do the same? 

I should add it was a ticketed Festival – SLAMFEST CONTINUES TO BE FREE          

Coming up this next weekend Tramlines in Sheffield.    Another Festival that benefits from great local support.   So good to the Venues booking Bands and competing with each other to provide a top Festival experience.  The main Stage looks good, but I’m told that wrist bands are selling fast and a word of warning the drink and food regulations that caused problems last year are again in place.   Do not take food and drink into the main stage arena.

It's worth noting too that Online booking costs an additional Booking Fee of  75p  Not bad as things go for booking fees - but..............................

Don’t forget to visit the Folk Forrest, it’s free, and they have some great performers listed.  

All the Tramlines details and News HERE

On Saturday 1st August amongst all the great live music in Town, One Direction will be appearing at the Civic.   Ah that’s a One Direction Tribute Band -  One for the young Teenagers – I think it’s a Dads beware weekend.  

That’s it for this quick catch up.

Whatever you are doing until the next time, have fun, support your local artists and business and above all KEEP IT LIVE

Friday, 17 July 2015


SLAMFEST 2015, number 4.1 will go down as one of our most successful Festivals so far.   It was without doubt an amazing showcase of Rotherham and District ORIGINAL music and Bands and the people of Rotherham once again turned out in force to give their full support and enjoy the music. 

Over the weekend our “conservative” estimate of those attending was 1,700.   The fact is there would have been many, many more and we would certainly have been pushing last year’s record of 6,000 had we received the support to mount our Town wide vision for the Festival as in previous years.  

I have to say that the entire organising Committee are baffled by the total indifference of the Town Centre Traders and the BIG BOYS in particular to an event that now attracts people from all over South Yorkshire to Rotherham.  Head liners, infrastructure, stage and sound requires an investment of approx. £7.5K, which clearly brings in by far more business into the Town Centre, even if everyone were to spend only £2 per head in local shops.  
For three years Mick, Dan and I have subsidised the event from our own pockets.  Last year 2014 in particular found us dipping in to the tune of £4K, as several Sponsors one early and two late failed to pay promised funds, requiring us to make late changes to line up and structure of the Festival.    In fact, if it had not been for the late intervention of Chantry Brewery in 2014 the Festival would have collapsed. 

We were also let down by one venue who were given an all-day £2K show by Slamfest and donated a mere £100 to the cost, having taken in excess of £6K over the bar. 

For 2015 we cleaned the books paying off all historic debt allowing Chantry Brewery to partner the Festival with a clean run.  The effort proved to be more than worthwhile.  

Slamfest / RAE is never supposed to make money.  Any surplus (and we have never made one) was to be ploughed back into the grass roots Arts in Rotherham, and in 2015 donated to Rotherham Hospice.  

We cannot thank Chantry Brewery enough.  Their support of LIVE MUSIC at The Cutlers is becoming legendary; and in Sponsoring the entire Slamfest Festival in 2015 they have taken so much weight off the shoulders of RAE and the Slamfest team. 

And we also need to mention the support given by Mexborough Car Testing Centre who made a significant contribution in Sponsorship – the fourth year they have been associated with the Festival.   

Slamfest is "the peoples" Festival and completely FREE

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could once again return to the Town Centre in 2016 and give the Town the FREE show they deserve?   How do we do it?

1                1.        Write to the Advertiser and tell them how valuable the Festival is to Rotherham Town
2                2.       Write to RMBC and demand that they give substantial support to the Festival  
3                3.       Write to the Chamber of Trade and suggest that businesses in Rotherham should get behind the event.
4                4.       Talk to the Town Centre Land Lords with venues and suggest that they should be getting involved by supporting a stage in their premises. 

If everyone who came and supported the Festival over the two days at The Cutler, MyPlace and The New York Tavern + all the Bands were to send Emails / letters then we might see a positive mind shift in opinion.

Of course no Slamfest is without it’s drama, either major or minor and this year was no exception.   In the last day running into the Festival the Police charged a leading member of one of our Charities with crimes against young people, which meant that we hastily had to disassociate ourselves. 

And on the Saturday it was discovered that the printer had not delivered the Slamfest Brochures!   Our thanks to the Printer for specially printing on the Sunday morning and then getting them to us by start of play of Day2.    If you went on the Saturday and would like one of the free Brochures there may still be some left at The Cutlers, but they were going fast.

And there was of course the drama of the canopy which should have been in place for the Festival.  This was not the fault of Chantry – but enough said on that one.

The 2015 Slamfest was kicked off by Smokestack, featuring guest Mel Day on a mean harmonica, accompanying the magic guitar work of Tom Kilner and the vocals of Ryan.   From the first chord the Festival standard was set and this was a classic blues performance of the highest quality.  Tom Kilner has his new label CD coming soon, I believe a date for September has just been released a well-deserved accolade for one of Rotherham’s top musicians.

I have to admit that I was talking to volunteers during the Joker Amongst Thieves set, but it certainly filled the air with some cracking rock tunes and a band I shall be looking out for in the future.

Great to see Steve Milton back on the road and performing at Slamfest with his Blues Disciples in the form of Nick and Graham Shaw.  Top blues with Steve’s classic blues husky vocals.  

John Merrick’s Remains provided an electric rock and rap interlude.   I thought I was the only idiot to appear at Slamfest with a bag over my head, but these two gentlemen proved the lie of that the difference being that they were actually able to give a high level performance.   A super entertaining set. 

And at this point I headed out on my hike to visit the Youth Stage at MyPlace.  I was lucky enough to catch the end of Maxine and Dave Green’s set which was followed by Lawrence Bennett a young man with a definite future ahead of him as a comic dancer – brilliant – a performance he repeated on The Cutlers main Stage later in the afternoon to acclaim.   I also caught PMT a trio of keen, experienced, musicos playing a wide selection of music acoustically. 

Our thanks to all the artists appearing Phil Sinclair, The Ley Brothers and Nic Harding.

Our thanks to MyPlace for very kindly allowing us the use of the Youth Centre and their facilities, and to Tom for manfully looking after the sound. 

A quick head around the corner at The New York Tavern where there was a nice chilled atmosphere for the Acoustic stage.   I did manage to catch the end of Swansong Acoustic’s set.  I’d like to say that Karen and Nigel are real troupers, they have played at all Slamfests so far often under difficult conditions and they never complain.  Saturday was no different with a Soap Opera like story involved in the supply of the PA!   The PA for much of the day was less than satisfactory – but our thanks to MyPlace and Nic Harding for sorting something better out for the later part of the day.   

Our thanks to Bob for being Stage Manager for the day, and all the musicians and poets who appeared, Pete Mitchell, Noel Adams, The Ley Brothers, Phil Sinclair, PMT and Maxine and Dave Green plus others and numerous poets including Gav Roberts, Christine Turner, Christopher Mathews, Bob Roberts + + +  

Support for both the Youth and Acoustic Stage is really important to Slamfest and while often viewed as the “after thought” it is our intention to develop these Stages in future years.  Finding the right venue has often be the problem and it’s an unfortunate fact that both stages are a difficult sell.  This year the Youth Stage in particular was given a major push by The Advertiser, but I think it has to go further than that. 

Exposing young people to live music is important as they will be the audiences and musicians of the future.  Slamfest is aware of this and will be paying more attention to this at future Festivals.

Back to The Cutlers.  Reports of the Searching For Sylvia set that I managed to miss in its entirety were raving.  The “did you hear that” comments were ringing around the courtyard.  Well done my friends;  I’m a little biased as I love the laid back tunes of SFS and the fantastic musicianship – so as you might guess I was peeved to have missed it. 

But I did catch Conspiracy of Ravens really rocking the growing audience.   They had the crowd bouncing.   Great work lads and just what was needed. 

By the time the ever popular PaPa Legba’s entered the fray the audience had built up so much that there was little room for the PaPa’s famous “wriggling” to take place.   This was a super set using a wide range music genre fused into the Papa’s unique sound.   

We then moved into full rock mode to complete the evening.  

I’ve seen a lot of Carnival of Thieves lately as they have supported so many of our events.   In my opinion this was their best performance yet, it rocked, and rocked again.  The audience loved it, dancing, well bouncing up and down to the Band’s original material.   They gigging throughout the summer, so go and check them out.

Rocking on were top South Yorkshire Band Havana Rocks who quickly energised their audience, who by now were four deep at the bar and burger stall -  Havana Rocks has always given full support to Slamfest and it was great to see people singing away to their tunes.    Another Band to be checked out at a venue near you.

Day one was rounded off by ODS Saxon.  This was a set that will live long in the memory.   Live at The Trades had promoted a couple of nights featuring ODS Saxon always good value for money, but Mick and I agreed, this performance was on another level.   Eighty minutes passed in a flash as they reeled off rock hit after rock hit from their repertoire.   The Band also took the audience to a higher level as they clapped, jumped and sang along.  

And so ended Day 1. 

Day 2 was a lighter rock day, more electronic based, yet room for some classic blues.   It was also the day known as Bazfest, in recognition of the fact that Baz would be performing in three Bands while also enjoying the delights of the Sponsors area.    What a supporter of the local music scene this man is. 

The Day opened with a bang from Das Abyss with some bouncing Punk.   Loved the set and the enthusiasm that both young and old members of the Band through into the set.

I have to say that I personally enjoyed the Propane 4 set.   Full of right on political / anarchisticit lyrics set to a wild punk musical arrangement.   There was one song that took the form of a poetic rap backed by classic punk sounds – absolutely amazing.    I’ll be checking out more of this Band’s work.

From Doncaster we had The Jan Doyle Band.  Not what I was expecting, lol.   This was a throwback to the eighties electronic music with lyrics that rang true and clear for the 21st Century.  Entertaining, and I felt that as the duo warmed up the better they got.    An interesting Band and one to watch.

First of the Baz Bands, Sneaking Stupidity were next on stage doing a set of their Dr Feelgood and Wilko tunes.   Not a foot was still during this performance.    This is a Band that has built up a fine reputation around the South Yorkshire area over the past twelve months in particular.  If you’ve not seen them well worth an evening of your time.

Taxi For Bob a young Barnsley Band, seem to have been with us for years lol.   Fantastic to see how they have developed into a fine band playing their own Punk arrangements.   They certainly had the Sunday afternoon audience bouncing around. 

The clouds were gathering, the wind the starting to gust as Polybius took to the stage with their brand of electric experimental music.   Unfortunately they had the Masher set -  three numbers in a whirlwind destroyed the Minx Designs and Mesmerize stalls and burst into the courtyard -  this was followed by a down pour., at which point the lads had to be pulled off stage for their own safety, and of course the instruments.

Half an hour later, following some expert mopping up from the Husband and Wife Sponsor team – Baz Band two got the Festival underway again in the form of the Thurmanators.   A deluge brings complications, and a song in there was silence as the electricity tripped.    Fortunately no serious damage done and five minutes later we were underway again enjoying a super punk set;  by the end of the set all the disruption had been forgotten.

We were really pleased to welcome back to Slamfest a Band that had made an amazing impression on the Town Centre stage last year, The Torn, and they rocked the place big time.   Congratulations to them for a first class set and watch out for their new single coming soon. 

I’m sorry if I show a little favouritism here but the next Band are fast becoming legends if not having already reached that status.   An entertaining laid back Sunday afternoon exploded into full rock mode as The Shambollix took to the stage………………   forty minutes of high octane energy and worth the entry fee on its own.   A classic Punk set lads.   And if you can’t get enough of them make sure you get a copy of their “Live” CD from Kalvin -  a fiver, and worth every penny.

Following personnel changes we were all wondering what we were going to get from Danse Society, we needn’t have worried, what we got was a polished and high level performance of new and past material.

And then back to Rotherham.   Chapter three of the Baz show as My Pierrot Dolls took to the stage for another classic set of their work.   Lead man Ivor certainly knows how to work the audience big time, and certainly wound up the excitement level.   His only sin was to thank all and sundry for Slamfest and neatly forgot the egos that are Mick and Dick!!   He will have to work hard to regain credibility.  Lol  

And then to our Grand Finale for Day 2 Sigue Sigue Sputnik, one of the most colourful and entertaining electronic acts on the circuit and legends of the eighties.   They soon had the audience dancing and jumping with their classic songs.   They always give a show of full value and while not every ones cup of tea they certainly hold the eye and interest – even if Monday was a School day.

   AND COMING UP SLAMFEST 4 PART 2.   On 22nd and 23rd August.    Yes for 2015 only a second bite of the cherry.   The main reason for this has been the loss of two main Stages in 2015, namely The Trades and The Town Centre.    We shall not re-cover why those stages were lost. 

A full weekend programme is already in place, watch the Slamfest FacebookPage for details HERE.  What we can say is that Saturday will be headlined by the amazing Queen tribute Band Queen II and yes they are locally based and on Sunday we have The Vibrators with some classic original Punk.   Around them we are building quite a local line up with The Harringtons, The Thurminators and many other local favourites.    Details will also appear on the Slamfest WebSite HERE.  

There will also be an Acoustic Stage at the New York Tavern and an overflow Band stage for young people at MyPlace.  If you would like to play on either of these stages please Email HERE NOW. 

Pictures of Slamfest 4 Part 1 both days can be found in reel form  HERE

More news to follow soon.