Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Look back at Slamfest 2013 and onto The Next Project


The much over hyped Slamfest Blog is upon you.  As exciting as the Festival itself some say.  Let’s start with a huge and mammoth thank you to everyone who took part and made the Festival such a fantastic success in 2013. 

This was our second attempt at a FREE for all grass roots Music Festival featuring and showcasing mainly Rotherham based Bands – but certainly 99.8% South Yorkshire Bands.

Thanks to the musicians who gave of their talent and time freely; “freely” in all its meanings.  From the first chord played by Temptation (making their on stage debut) in all Saints Square on Saturday, to the final one from veterans of the local music scene Haze on the Main Marquee Stage at Clifton Park on the Sunday it was music of an incredible standard throughout. 

To get the musicians to stage though took a herculean effort by RAE’s Rock God, Mick Hill, to bring together 86 Bands across ten stages, eight of them on the Saturday.  He in turn was being given amazing support from the whole RAE Team of Volunteers, Sponsors, local business advertisers and the Council Teams in the Town Centre and Clifton Park. 

Special thanks to Dan Cooper for donating the Main Stage Sound, The Minx for whipping the Volunteers into order and of course Bristol Street Motors (Commercial) Chesterfield without who’s support the whole event would not have got off the blocks and RMBC via Ken Wyatt for saving the Park event by finding the money for Security and Portaloos, and Amanda’s Blinds for supporting the Marquee stage. 

There were a couple of hiccups.  Once again The Trades who seem to be jinxed were inconvenienced by a late start due to technical problems and two Bands failing to turn up and not telling us.  Over at Memory Lane where the Youth Stage had played out during the Saturday afternoon, the Indie Stage starting at tea time had a few problems when Bands failed to check what they needed to bring by checking with us prior to the event.   Then on Sunday complete horror, the electricity supply to the Band Stand failed, and then under the heat of the sun we had an equipment melt down, but managed to get going in the end.  Our thanks to Clive Davies, he of The Chequers, Whiston Open Mic fame, for Managing a difficult situation, and our thanks to the two Bands who failed to show, once again not having the courtesy to inform us, who made it possible to give everyone their spots with the exception of Phil Sinclair to whom we apologise completely for the circumstances that caused such inconvenience.   Our thanks too to the Bands that hung around at the Bandstand not really knowing what had happened. 

On the subject of equipment, we try our best.  We did not have the money to buy Sound in as we would like, we know that in at least three venues concerns were expressed.  It’s something that in 2013 we not able to do anything about it – please be assured we will be better equipped in 2014.

So, it’s pleasing to report that 99.5% of Slamfest went off without a hitch. 

Behind the scenes I can assure you that things were not quite so relaxed and on the Friday night, when nothing more could be done Mick and I were wondering just why we were putting ourselves through the wringer for a second year running.   By 8:00pm on the Saturday we knew.  The smiling faces of music lovers of all ages amongst the audience and on Stage said it all, many of whom do not get access to live music, except for free open events like Slamfest.

Open access is what Slamfest is about and while there remain some sceptics and knockers , and some who consider themselves too big or established to play for free it’s noteworthy that most musicians enjoyed the chance to play the Festival and joined in the fun of the event.  

To those who knocked the organisation of the Event, I say, the door is always open to you to come and help make Slamfest 2014 the best yet.  Email or pop into the Drop In Centre

This year Slamfest started with debts still outstanding from Slamfest 2013 despite personal injections of money from Mick and I.   Fortunately the businesses concerned were supporters of Slamfest and we thank them for their patience.   Thanks to the great efforts of our Volunteers over the weekend and our Commercial fund raisers it looks as if we’ve “broke even”, not bad given we didn’t have a penny on the 1st February this year.   Thanks to everyone who bought raffle tickets (fantastic prizes from Key Automotive Solutions, Amanda’s Blinds and RAE) T. Shirts and or put money into our buckets, every penny will help us mount Slamfest 2014. 

The official estimates of audience throughout the weekend was around 2,500 – 3,000, as people sampled the music on the main stages in All Saints Square and Clifton Park and around the venues: at least three of which were packed from noon to late. 

One thing about Festivals is that you can’t always get to see the Acts you would like.  What follows is simply a sample of the Bands I got to see over the weekend. 

Temptation – a new Band to the Rotherham scene, doing pop and light rock covers.  Slamfest was their debut and a great job they did of opening the Festival with a really entertaining set – the Band are still building their repertoire, but I can see them being ultra-popular on the Weddings and Club circuit.  

Up the Hill the best kept secret of Slamfest, the Acoustic Stage was in action at the Imperial Building with smooth blues from Chris, a bit of Indie from Sam, the wonderful voice of Karen accompanied by the smooth guitar work of Nigel – collectively known as Swansong Acoustic.  Ian Whitehouse made up the full Bill.   Thanks to ROAR and Gemma for making such a brilliant environment for the artists, and the tea. 

Up at the High House Clive and the guys of the Makeshiftz were rocking it out to a packed courtyard.  Clive proved to be a God send for the whole weekend, taking charge of the High House Stage on Saturday and taking over at the Bandstand on Sunday.  Volunteers like Clive can join us any day.  Thanks mate. 

Thanks also goes out to the other stages where at Memory Lane the young bands did their stuff and some of the Indie Bands also played.  The Trades, a little bit late in starting but they got going in the end and of course The Bridge where the Punk and Alternative Stages were housed.  We've already been approached by some new venues for next year's event.  

Back to All Saints Square and I got there just in time to see X-static.  This was an amazing thirty minutes of high octane Punk and one of the highlights of the afternoon, made even more special as they were called into action at only fifteen minutes notice.  Having finished on the Main Stage, off they went to the High House where lead singer Kelvin Caudwell gave a second stunning performance.  Jump forward to 8:15pm and Kelvin was again in action at The Bridge this time with his Band the Shambollix, where he treated us to an hour of Punk at it’s very best.   Dedication from these brilliant musicians to the Slamfest cause has not been missed and I know that real cash Gigs will soon be offered this side of the Doncaster line. 

I also caught the end of a really interesting set from Mynas.  A wonderful mix of instruments making for a truly unique sound that enthralled the audience and won the Band an exceptional cheer at the end of their sets.

Finishing the evening in the Square came Blind Drivers, quickly followed by Havana Rocks, and rock they certainly did, holding the audience captive until closing time at 8:00pm  
I also called in on a packed Charters where I wanted to catch another new Band to the Rotherham music scene, Naked Punch.  Coots new project along with Volunteer Sam and his ladies.  It was a bit hot and uncomfortable so I didn’t really get to listen properly, so I’m looking forward to taking a more relaxed listen when they play Live At The Trades on the 10th August. 

Sunday turned into a bit of a special day. 

All the Bands playing the Marquee Stage turned in outstanding performances, from veterans of the Rotherham Rock scene Black Toad, who kicked off the day’s festivities; the tree climbing exploits of Pocketful of N’owt had  the sound engineers climbing the walls;  the young developing talent of Whiskey Spirit; the outrageous and brilliant musical theatre of Rob Tarana & Third Gold Bird ; Swansong in magical full rock mode, the best I’ve seen from the outfit;  The original sounds of Lesoir who had travelled from Holland: local heroes Searching for Sylvia smooth as ever;  Goat Leaf who we had to transfer from the Bandstand at the last minute really rocked with people dancing around throughout the Park; and all being topped by the superb Haze with their very individual folk rock fusion, and also boasting the youngest person to appear on stage – it certainly won the ahhhh of the day.  I doubt that we could have put a better mix of music and entertainment together for nine hours. 

And let’s not forget the Bandstand, where we saw some brilliant solo performances from Nic Harding, Em who after smelling burning bravely played through her own mini PA.  Loved both these super singers, two very individual and different styles, and both very effective. 

Mark Jacksons Criminal Waste of Talent put on a brilliant comic punk experience, that had the audience jumping around, while the bits I caught of Red Jester and The Torn certainly had the Bandstand vibrating to the beat.

Finally special thanks to Diamond Velocity, who finished the evening off on the Band Stand as unexpected headliners, and had the audience rockin’.    

You may have noticed that there were a lot of photographers at Slamfest.  RAE will be mounting a big Exhibition of the best pictures at the Drop In Centre starting 16th September, but more of that later. 

And one final thank you to Delta Audio Solutions – lead by Dan Cooper and his team Sound Engineers who provided the sound for All Saints Square and the Marquee Stage and sorted the problems on the Band Stand Stage FREE OF CHARGE.  Without this support Slamfest would not have happened.  Here is a Company that understands what RAE is all about and have done so much to make our projects a reality.  The debt we owe to Dan and his Team is beyond measure. 

End of Slamfest reflections.  You can find pictures from the event HERE

Slamfest will be back in 2014 and while not giving too much away it will be bigger and will retain it’s FREE to all price tag.  The planning has already started.

Other RAE News

The Get Creative Workshops held at the Drop In are gaining in popularity with every session.  They take place every three weeks or so and cover a different Craft each evening.   They are going to try a few Saturday Workshops very soon.    Pop into the Drop In to pick up a flier. 

The Live at The Trades has been bouncing along.  There has been some comment concerning the upcoming excellent Autumn and Winter programme because of the number of Tribute Nights.  We make no apology for this, as we will be having local original Bands playing in a supporting role and we retain a number of evenings which will be exclusively original Bands from the area.  Unfortunately we have to face up to commercial realities, as do some Bands; it all comes down to pulling power and we have to answer to The Trades for audience numbers.  As was pointed out when we launched the project, we have to put 100 bums on seats minimum for each event and frankly some of the attendances have been very disappointing while on the positive side we’ve had some fantastic nights, and we’ve taken note of what pulls an audience.

And to prove how experimental Live At The Trades remains our next offering is top European Psychedelic Acid Rock Band, Vibravoid and Rob Tarana’s Spriral Navigators st July.  We then have Led Into Zepplin, one of the best Tribute Bands in the UK followed on 10th August a FREE NIGHT featuring no less than FIVE local Bands.  Habberdash; Waiting for Eddie;  Naked Punch; The Hearts and topping the Bill Sneaking Stupidity.
for only £4 on Wednesday 31

RAE will be playing a role with RMBC; ROAR and Inspire Rotherham on 31st August 2013, originally our Busking Day which is now incorporated into Rotherham’s Street Art Ferretstival – yes you read correctly.  Hobby Ferrets will be made and raced, there will be buskers, circus, pavement chalkers, street theatre, moving models, puppets and puppet making, story making and telling – all packed into one fun day.   Oh and real ferrets too.

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS:   We’re holding an initial meeting of the Volunteers at the Drop In Centre on Saturday 27th July.   If you would like to help make this fantastic day to finish the Summer Holidays a sensational day, come along and join the team.  Or if you can’t make it this Saturday Email your interest HERE

WE NEED BUSKERS AND STREET ARTISTS:  If you would like to perform, Busk, etc.  please contact us, and describe what you do by – Email HERE and we will pass the information onto the relevant Organiser. 

RAE are also building a series of Workshops to run at The Drop In Centre during the Autumn and Winter.  We would like to hear from anyone with a skill that they think might be of interest to others and will make an interesting Workshop,  We are hoping to get funding, so don’t be shy.    Email HERE or drop in to The Drop In. 

RAE have also developed a relationship with Rotherham Titans Rugby Club.  We’ll be approaching Bands and Acoustic Acts in the near future for a bit of noise on Fridays and a regular Monthly Sunday  Acoustic  Evening.


I’ve got a file bulging with stuff that I should be telling you about – and I will, but not now.   I will simply point you towards

Acoustic Rotherham 18   28th July more detail HERE

Word Pit 4 – some of the best words from our local poets.  HERE

Slamfest Pictures.   HERE

Live at The Trades Booking and Programme  HERE

And of course our regularly updated LISTINGS PAGE, HERE

So, whatever you are doing, until the next time, please have great fun, support your local artists and events and KEEP IT LIVE