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.  

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