Category Archives: music feature

How To Approach Music Journalists (And Get Online Coverage For Free)

All unsigned artists are looking for the same thing from music journalists – more coverage online. Whether that be to help drive ticket sales for their shows, sell albums and EPs or just gain more streams of their music online, a few lines from an influential publication or blogger can help send them in the right direction.

With the printed music press being somewhat dwarfed by online publications, bloggers and even social media, the days of sending off demos to record labels and music magazines and waiting to be signed or covered are long gone (and many would say that they never even really existed).

Artists in 2017 need to utilise a whole different skill set to get coverage for their musical projects online. Whilst larger sites undoubtedly carry a lot more Klout online and a link from their site to yours can do great things for your search visibility in Google and the like, it is important to build yourself from the ground up. In truth, a lot of popular publications will look at your social following and if they don’t think you already have an audience, they may not even consider mentioning you, even if you are the next Hendrix or The Beatles.

This post won’t deal with building an audience, as that is a massive project and even the basics would take a great many posts to get to grips with. Instead, it will give you 6 simple questions to ask yourself before sending out that email to music journalists to help you get in the writers’ good books and maximise your chance of gaining coverage.

What To Ask Before Approaching Music Journalists

Do they cover your genre?

The first thing to ask yourself before sending an email to anybody is “does the writer or publication cover my genre?” If the answer is no, find somebody who does. There is nothing more frustrating to music journalists than receiving unsolicited emails from bands that you have never heard of and whose genre that doesn’t fit in with your publication or website. If you only write about metal bands, you will likely not be interested in the next Johnny Cash. A little bit of research will save you a lot of time and give you a higher success rate.

Summary: Only contact writers who are likely to cover the type of music that you make.

Where are they based?

A lot of publications such as MOJO, Q Magazine and NME cover national music news, including festivals, album releases and other wider musical news. There are also national publications that only focus on a particular genre, such as Kerrang!. You will then get location-based publications, such as BN1 Magazine and Brighton’s Finest, which tend to only cover news in the local and surrounding areas.

A lot of local music bloggers also tend to cover artists who are performing in their local area and who are from their local/surrounding area. I fall into this category myself, and whilst I do some work reviewing festivals and artists nationally – e.g. Bill Laurence at The Glee Club, Birmingham – I generally spend about 90% of my time covering artists who are performing in and around Brighton.

Summary: Only contact publications that cover the geographical area that you want to target.

What do they do best?

Just like dating, wooing the press to cover your band or act is a game that requires patience, practice and a reasonable amount of online stalking. When approaching a music journalist, make sure that you know a bit about them, rather than giving a generic ‘we love your blog’ and hoping that their ego will persuade them to give you the time of day. Find out what types of content they do and see how that can help you. Do they specialise in reviews, interviews, gig previews or album reviews. Each website has its place in promoting your music, with its audience that you hope will take an interest in you. Most publications will probably only cover you once, unless they become real fans, so timing is key. Don’t approach a reputable live reviewer if you only have 3 tracks and no shows lined up. It’s a good idea to keep a spreadsheet with all of the local publications, their specialisms and contact details of the writers.


Summary: Find out what type of content websites like to produce and tailor your request to meet this.

Do you know them?

As you can imagine, even smaller blogs and websites are inundated with bands and solo artists who think that they deserve the audience of the press. The best thing you can do is find a way to bridge the gap between yourself and them – and a good way to do that is through your network of other local bands. If you know somebody that has recently been covered by a publication that you are looking into, ask them how they got coverage from them.

If nothing else, don’t be afraid to name-drop in an email. Whether it’s a local act that you often play alongside,  plays the same genre as your music, or your friend’s band that you know they’ve written about, the writer is going to be much more interested in you if they feel like they know you (even through a friend of a friend) so make it a bit more personal.

Summary: Find a link to the writer, ideally in their previous work, to get them interested in you.

Do I Need A Press Release?

I don’t know how other music journos feel about press releases, but personally, I hate them. While some larger publications may copy and paste them into their news section, from an SEO point of view this is bad news for the website and the artist, so it is something that I don’t do. The problem that I have with most press releases is that they are written like a new story and it takes a lot more work to turn them into something original than something a lot more stripped back.

The bare bones of a what you should send a music journalist are;

Band name, genre, line-up and home-town/based in

Latest release – release date, title, bit about the release, where available, link to video/audio

Next gig/tour – link to full tour dates on website, mention local dates and link to Facebook event for local date if available

Social Media Links – only up-to-date profiles please

Link to high-quality images to use (do not attach to the email)


Tom Sayer (singer-songwriter) from Brighton

Latest release: Remember Us (July 2017), written about the characters from The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Listen on Soundcloud

Next gig: Open Mic at The Greyhound on Thursday 17th August 2017

Social media: Twitter: @tomsayeruk SoundCloud: @tomsayeruk Facebook: @tomsayersingersongwriter 

Images available on

Summary: Don’t feel like you need a lengthy press release. Keep things simple, intriguing and easy for the writers.

What makes it news?

The problem that I have with most press releases is that they are written like a news story and it takes a lot more work to turn them into something original than something a lot more stripped back. By their nature, press releases are blanket statements written to give the facts to multiple writers in hope that they will cover the story, but in general because they are so broad, they cannot cover the local details that might make the story interesting for you and your website.

For example, a band performing a UK tour and having a show in Brighton might not be a real scoop to your publication, but if the band haven’t played in Brighton in 10 years and the venue has just been refurbished following a council grant, then that is something newsworthy. It’s all about how you present that information to the writer.

Try to think of it from the other side. How is a press release stating that “BAND NAME is performing at VENUE NAME on DATE” or “SINGER NAME releases NEW ALBUM NAME” interesting?

Summary: Turn what you’ve done into a unique story and it will be much easier to gain coverage.

Approaching Music Journalists: A Summary

Save yourself a lot of time and effort by only approaching the writers and publications that are likely to have an interest in what you have to offer. The scatter gun approach will only end up in you being blacklisted by the press. Remember that writers are human too so be polite, make it easy for them by giving them a good story and then hopefully you’ll make some good contacts to help your band on their way to stardom.


Ten Triumphs of Love Supreme 2015

After an almost wholly sunny Festival this year, I look back at some of my highlights and what is hopefully be developed for Love Supreme 2016.

1. The Jazz Lounge

New for 2015, the Jazz Lounge was a great addition to the festival, showing a really nice collection of live sessions and jazz footage. Some of the popular films were shown on multiple occasions, giving you another chance if you missed it the first time. There were also some plug sockets, a cafe and free Wifi, so it was overall a great place to come to chill out. The seating in the area was a little sparse, particularly for the makeshift cinema and with a rough material resembling the outside of a coconut on the floor, it was not the most comfortable place to be unless you got there early. Lets hope they have a few more seats next year.

2. The Schedule

An advantage to smaller festivals such as Love Supreme is that you don’t have to make as many compromises as you do at larger festivals. There is no taking 45 minutes to trek across 4 fields to be 1/2 mile away from the stage as is sometimes the case at Glastonbury and other larger-scale festivals, and you will often miss a lot of what you want to see through clashes in stage times. The well organised staggered set-times between the stages enabled you to see a lot more music for your money, and with a reasonably small festival site, you are never more than 5 minutes away from who you want to see next.

3. The Main Stage

Quite a pop/mainstream line-up on the main stage this year,but what they may have lacked in a traditional jazz sense they made up for with experience in abundance, with headliners Chaka Khan and Van Morrison certainly having a few years behind them. If you are the parents with younger children or have come along with a group of mates/work colleagues, odds are this is probably where you will frequent.

Love Supreme 2015 - Big Top Hats

4. The Big Top

For me this was my favourite venue by a long way, not least of which because it was still audible from the campsite so you could still clearly hear the music whilst sitting in your camping chair, eating your picnic of bread, fruit and pimms whilst lazing the day away. The line-up was much more “jazz”, covering a wide spectrum from crooners to experimental jazz, all of which was performed very well to what looked like a slightly depleted audience from last year – and from the quality of the acts I can’t see why!

5. The Arena

Having spent a lot of my time in the Jazz Lounge and The Big Top, the Arena fell a little by the wayside for me this year. However the few acts that I saw there, who seemed to be geared towards a slightly younger audience, were fantastic.

Love Supreme 2015 - Bandstand

6. The Bandstand

Located near the main food area (nice thinking guys!), the Bandstand was programmed by local venue Verdict Jazz and was showcasing a range of local jazz acts from youth ensembles to much more established south-based jazz groups. By cleverly placing this near to the food stalls yet still just within earshot of the main stage, the area had a steady audience throughout the weekend, giving some of the younger performers an attentive and receptive audience.

7. The Late Night Sessions

For those who like to keep the party going, the late night sessions in the Blue in Green Bar in the woods and the late night sessions in the Arena were considerately placed away from the main camping area, so as not to keep those who wanted to get to bed from doing so. The White Mink night was a very popular choice on the Saturday night, with Flash Mob Jazz getting the crowd (and even me) dancing along to their collection of swing tracks.

8. The Campsites

There was a main campsite which housed most of the overnighters, and separate campsites for the VIPs/Glampers, Campervenners and families, which people all seemed to be quite content in. The main campsite was a little far from the car park, and the wheelbarrows available to hire were and expensive option for a poor solution, not a touch on last years giant wheelbarrows which came with a pusher for you and your stuff so that you weren’t worn out by the time that you got there. Lets hope that they return for next year.

Love Supreme 2015 - Gaucho Meats

9. The Food & Drink

As with most festivals these days, the food selection was broad ranging from fish and chips and burger/hot dogs to more worldly dishes from Caribbean Jerk, Soul Food Company and a number of specialist vegetarian providers. The prices were a little steep for the food but the bar prices were about the standard for central Brighton, circa £5 per drink, but the £35 per bottle of Prosecco was a little out of my price range this time. Maybe next year!

Love Supreme 2015 - Flags

10. The Atmosphere

Finally the atmosphere, as it has been every year, is a friendly and welcoming one. The average attendee is slightly older that the usual fesival-goer and perhaps a bit more cultivated with their musical tastes, but they are there for the same reason: to see the live music and to eat, drink and have a good time.

The festival, which just completed its third year, is still in its infancy but has been learning quickly how things should be done and is growing and changing each year. I look forward to seeing what form it will take next year. Tickets for Super Early Bird are on sale now for just £108.90 Weekend Camping and £97.90 Weekend Non-Camping (including all fees). Book online and start brushing up on your jazz repertoire.



What’s On Brighton June 2015

After a physically exhausting month of gigs and city festivals, including Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe, The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City, I am still catching up with my writing so will have a lot of content coming this month including interviews, live reviews, EP/Album reviews and a music book review, so keep your eyes peeled for those over the next few weeks.

Highlights from last month include #TGE, interviews with Hein Cooper (see image above), Half Crown and JP Cooper and finishing The Beatles and Me On Tour by Ivor Davis.

My top gig from last month was Melting Vinyl and Serious Presents Bill Laurence at St. Georges Church. The show was really something else, showcasing the material from the trio of Snarky Puppy musicians with a string trio and french horn in accompaniment. Bill Laurence’s compositions are definitely in my favourite style of jazz: it’s like taking a long journey without ever leaving your seat.

So here are my picks for the next month with my What’s on Brighton June 2015 gig guide:

Tuesday 2nd June

What's On Brighton June 2015 - Sylvan Esso

Melting Vinyl Presents Sylvan Esso
Komedia – Doors 7:30pm. Music 8pm.
Tickets £10 – BUY TICKETS

Returning after a sellout show in Brighton last Autumn, folk singer Amelia Meath and electronic producer Nick Sanborn will be looking for a repeat performance at Komedia this month. Sylvan Esso, a recent project for both artists, released their debut album last year, which was well received by both their fans and the press. Combining the warmth and emotion of the folk songs with the beautiful soundscapes created in the production, Sylvan Esso give charismatic performances that will leave you spellbound. Don’t believe me? Check out their video for Coffee below.

Support comes from Foreign Skin and Mount Bank (DJ Set) so you can expect to hear some great live and mixed local electronica from start to finish!

Saturday 6th June

What's On Brighton June 2015

Battlejam Presents A.SKILLZ & JFB
Komedia – 11pm
Tickets £5 adv – BUY TICKETS

In association with Brighton Music Conference (Friday 5th and Saturday 6th June), Battlejam is returning to Brighton Komedia (here’s 10 reasons to check out the Komedia) for the latest installment of their sellout nights, featuring legendary scratch-master JFB and highly sought after and award-winning DJ, A.SKILLZ. If you’ve been before, you will know to expect a display of technical wizardry with great audio and visuals until the early hours. Tickets always sell fast so don’t risk missing out or pay more on the door! Check out the video of JFB doing his thing below with the Raiders of the Lost Arc theme! Enjoy!

Sunday 7th June

What's On Brighton June 2015 - Hippodrome Benefit

Save Our Hippodrome Benefit
Komedia – 8pm
Tickets £10/8 – BUY TICKETS

A cause that a lot of local people from all generations (including myself) feel strongly about is the preservation and resurrection of the Brighton Hippodrome, a former jewel in the crown of Brighton’s live music venues, hosting everybody from The Beatles to Laurel and Hardy and Sammy Davis Jr. In a benefit to raise money for the charity trying to protect it, Horlock’s Hippodrome and the Lost Theatres of Brighton will be looking at the history of the venue, alongside several other former great Brighton venues which fell by the wayside. For anybody with an interest in local history this is a must, and you’ll be helping a great cause too! Buy your tickets here.


Tuesday 9th June

What's On Brighton June 2015 - Blind Motive EP Launch

Blind Motive EP Launch
Prince Albert – Doors 7:30pm

Based on a recommendation from a highly musically in the know friend, I was advised to check out Blind Motive. Whilst they are still in the very early stages with just a hidden EP online, this gig is a free entry EP Launch show at a great live music venue,  so what better way is there to spend a Tuesday evening?  With a blend of psychedlic rock and Red Hot Chili Peppers grooves, Blind Motive are one to check out if you like catching bands before they’ve fully formed and polished.

Support from Silver’s Got Strings (another band recommended to me) and Mantras, so I am looking forward to hearing a lot of great new music this night.

Friday 12th June

What's On Brighton June 2015 - Marc Halls Hadleigh Ford

Marc Halls and Hadleigh Ford + Support
World’s End – 8pm

If you’re into acoustic musicians with a penchant for shameless pop covers and classy originals, in a place that serves great food and a nice choice of booze, this is one for you. If FREE is the only price that you pay for live music, then again you won’t be disappointed – and don’t think that because it’s free that there is a compromise in the music. There really isn’t! Headlining are Marc Halls and Hadleigh Ford, recent collaborators who you can check out in the video below.

Supports from four of my favourite local singer-songwriters Gazz Marlow (InMe), Matt Bonner, Chris Marsh and Edd Mann so I can guarantee that you will be in safe hands from the first time you hear “Testing 1.2….7“.

@marchallshv @hadleighford

Wednesday 17th June

What's On Brighton June 2015 - Grasscut

Melting Vinyl Presents Grasscut + Support
Otherplace at the Basement – Doors 7:30pm
Tickets £8/10 – BUY TICKETS

Electronica/ambient duo Marcus O’Dair and Andrew Phillips return to their hometown for what is sure to be a packed out show at this cool venue on Kensington Street. With rave reviews and a number of high profile collaborators, these guys are at the top of their game right now so catch them while you can. Their latest release,  Everyone Was A Bird was released in April 2015, so why not give it a listen and see if it tickles your fancy like it did mine.

Support comes from local composer/musician The Creaking Chair and DJ D.

Sunday 21st June

What's On Brighton June 2015 - Howard Blake

Brighton Philharmonic Presents Howard Blake
Brighton Unitarian Church – Doors 4:30pm. Music 5pm.
Tickets £15 – BUY TICKETS

Far from taking a breather over the summer, Brighton Philharmonic are running a summer season of intimate performances at Brighton Unitarian Church, showcasing the work of Brighton composers, both living and dead, as well as a few other favourites. The season begins this Father’s Day with some music by Howard Blake (the composer of The Snowman), which he will be performing himself (piano) alongside Peter Adams (cello), and other members of the BPO. With a successful 90th season this year and a snazzy new website, BPO is showing that they can reach more than just the older audiences, so why not check them out? You might just like it! Tickets for all the summer shows and the 2015/16 season are available online.

Wednesday 24th June

What's On Brighton June 2015 - GAPS
Image by Bex Wade

Love Thy Neighbour Presents GAPS + Support
The Hope & Ruin – Doors 8pm
Tickets £6 – BUY TICKETS

Fresh off the release of their debut album ‘In, Around The Moments’ (on Maya Jones’ I/AM/ME label), Brighton duo Rachel and Ed will be playing this hometown show to showcase their new material. Describing themselves as “Two drummers from Brighton making new music with electronic toys and acoustic guitars“, gaps blend intricate electronica with simple joyful melodies which work just as well in acoustic versions as they do in the fully produced album mixes. I look forward to seeing them live for the first time and hope that they throw in an acoustic track or two into their set.

Support comes from Foreign Skin, who impressed me earlier this month with their support slot for Slyvan Esso, plus one of my local favourites, Beautiful Boy. See my interview with Dane from BB here.

Tuesday 30th June

What's On Brighton June - Frank Fairfield

Wildwood Promotions Presents Frank Fairfield + Support
Prince Albert – Doors 8pm
Tickets £9 – BUY TICKETS

As announced just a few days ago, Frank Fairfield has decided to end his career as a musician, opting to pursue other avenues with his time which he feels he can devote himself to fully. With a string of dates left, Frank will see out his current commitments including just three dates in the UK, one of which being this gig at The Prince Albert. So if you’re a fan, don’t wait until next time, as there will likely not be another time. Frank’s blend of Americana and as he describes it “Parlor music” is something unlike anything you’ll hear this side of the Atlantic so if that kind of thing floats your boat then don’t miss out!

Support comes from local blues/Americana artist Gwenifer Raymond so be sure to get down early to catch her set.

If you think there is a gig that I should be going to, you can drop me a line on or via twitter on @tomsayeruk.

The Beatles and Me On Tour Review

Having previously finished reading the epic One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, I was looking for a significantly lighter read when I started reading The Beatles and Me On Tour (and hopefully one that wouldn’t take me months to finish).  This request was granted with a book that I couldn’t put down – in fact I don’t think that I have ever digested 300 pages so quickly .

The Beatles and Me On Tour Review

The author Ivor Davis, a then young journalist writing as a foreign correspondent for The Express working in America  was called up by his boss early one fateful morning in August 1964 and told to head to San Francisco to meet this group who were  a sensation in England, but were reasonably unknown in the US, apart from three performances on the Ed Sullivan Show six months before. The group in question is of course The Beatles.

Starting with a Mission Impossible style “your mission Ivor, should you choose to accept it…” gives the opening to the book a real punch, which drives you all the way to the back cover. As somebody who has previously studied The Beatles in a module at university, I can guarantee that unless your surname is Lennon, McCartney, Harrison or Starkey (Starr), there will be something new for you to discover in this book.

Written in retrospect, the author is quite critical of his early efforts as a writer, but as time has gone by and a whole career has taken place, it is clear that the book is written by a very experienced writer who knows how to put something together that will keep the reader turning the page and wanting to know more – a background in journalism rather than novel writing really shows with the sharp copy, short chapters (all of which starting off with quotes from The Beatles and those who knew them best from within the inner circle of the entourage for their first US tour) and well sourced material.

Learning about The Beatles from a primarily UK perspective, the US tours and the role that this had in their career was somewhat overlooked in the brief studies that I undertook about the band, but it is clear from Ivor’s writing that the US definitely had a significant role to play in their career,  from their meetings with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a host of other influential figures to the cultural changes across the pond, a plane crash that nearly took their lives and the largest gig that the band ever played (in Shea Stadium).

The author tells the story in an almost fly on the wall way, without trying to oversell any relationship that he had with the band. Instead he provides his unique unbiased journalistic account of what he witnessed on the first US tour in 1964, from the crazed fans hounding the band in their hotel rooms to the role that drugs played in the Beatles lives and the inner politics within the travelling circus that came with the band for the tour.

The book was released late in 2014, marking the 50th anniversary of the tour, and considering the subject of the book (The Beatles) is the most written about topics in music history, Ivor does a fantastic job of adding a new light to an already very well lit stage, revealing far more than I ever thought he could, without selling the band down the river just to sell copies of his book. Garnished with 40 B&W photographs, the book is well structured, easy to read and quite sad to finish – I almost wish that I took longer to read it.

If you have an interest in the band, pop music history, or American musicology this book is a must read and a true pleasure to do so.

Buy online from just £2.49 (kindle) and £9.49 (paperback).
Official Website


Listening to at . Should definitely be a bigger crowd! Embedded image permalink

7:50PM – 14 May 2015 – Fraser A Gorman @ The Haunt2015-05-14 19.50.22

8:32 PM – 14 May 2015 – JP Cooper @ Spiegeltent

Time for T Tom Tom – New Single Preview

Tonight at Green Door Store in Brighton, Brighton-based folk/world music fusion band Time for T will be launching their latest single ‘Tom Tom’.

With support from Yonaka and Bosco Rogers,  Time for T’s free single launch show will be kicking off at 7pm and is sure to be a busy one so make sure to get down early to you can get in!

With a string of European dates lined up later this month after a number of solo shows and a full band show for The Great Escape and the Alternative Escape, the band are also on the bill for a number of summer festivals this year including Larmer Tree, Kendal Calling, Forgotten Fields and Shambalaya. With these movers and shakers always moving and shaking, you have to catch them when you can in Brighton, as you never know where they will be playing next!

I caught up with the guys almost a year ago, just before the release of their self-titled EP – see the full interview for Brogue Magazine here.

Meanwhile, I am pleased to give all you fans a sneaky listen to their new track, named after either the Sat Nav or perhaps their favourite local music journalist? 😉

I present to you lovely people “Tom Tom”. Enjoy! And hopefully see you at the gig tonight!

Brighton Music Conference – DJ Mag Feature

Brighton Music Conference (BMC) is back for a second year this June 5th and 6th for a two-day showcase of all the latest industry developments, DJ equipment and innovations in music technology.

With a mix of industry heads, aspiring next generation DJs and producers, music professionals, students and dance music enthusiasts, BMC is the perfect place to meet your next collaborator, equipment supplier or even your DJ/producer role models.

Read my full update on DJ Mag online –

Who To See in Brighton in May 2015

May is here and we have before us one of the busiest months of the year for Brighton’s culture rich nightlife and music scene. This month sees the town filled with performers of all shapes and sizes for THREE Festivals: Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe and The Great Escape.

With over 400 bands coming to Brighton for The Great Escape, I will be looking at this separately next week so keep your eyes peeled for my picks of that very large crop. Meanwhile, I have selected a handful of my highlights from the Brighton Festival and will be updating some Fringe highlights as the month goes on!

If you think there is a gig that I am missing out on, drop me a line on or via twitter on @tomsayeruk.

So here it is, without further ado, Who To See in Brighton in May 2015. Enjoy!

Saturday 2nd May

Who To See in Brighton in May 2015 - Half Crown

Redaux Music Presents Half Crown
The Haunt – 7pm
Tickets £8 otd – BUY TICKETS

Since reviewing their LP Everything Goes back in August last year, Half Crown have been busy writing songs, playing shows and recording new material. Unfortunately for HC, as their LP title suggests, things rarely stay the same and this gig will be the last with founding member Frankie Harper before he and the band are moving on to new things. Come on down to celebrate the band and the music that they’ve made over the last few years at this gig which will include all the hits from their extensive back catalogue.

Support comes from Renegade Twelve who will be playing at 7:30pm. Advanced tickets have sold out so get down early if you need to buy a ticket!

Wednesday 6th May

Who To See in Brighton in May 2015 - All Things Must Pass

Brighton Fringe Presents ‘All Things Must Pass’
 The Brunswick – 7pm
Tickets £10/12 – BUY TICKETS

My first pick from this year’s Brighton Fringe is the wonderful George Harrison Band’s show, ‘All Things Must Pass’. Celebrating the music of the former Beatle, including his songwriting contributions to the Fab Four’s back-catalogue, such as ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, as well as his post-Beatles hits including a number of hits from the triple-album which the show as named after. This Brighton-based 10-piece will take us on a journey back through time, from the sixties forward to Harrison’s final works at the end of the nineties.

I’m particularly looking forward to this show as I am currently reading a book by a music journalist who went on tour with The Beatles in America in 1964, called “The Beatles and Me On Tour”. Read more about the book here –

And the great news is that if you really love the show, it’s on again the next night (Thursday 7th May)!

Sunday 10th May

Who To See in Brighton in May 2015 - DakhaBrakha

Brighton Festival Presents DakhaBrakha
Brighton Dome Corn Exchange – 8pm
Tickets £14 – BUY TICKETS

I don’t quite have the words to describe this group – and that is saying something. Broadly speaking, world music would be the best way to describe them, but this broad term does them an injustice to capture their multi-style music – the band describe their sound as ethno-chaos which says it all.

The name means give/take in Ukrainian and refers to the gift of giving music and the “take” of inspiration from everything around them. Their music can have heavy European folk elements, tribal rhythms and a strong avant-garde contemporary harmony all at once. They are really something that needs to be heard to be believed, so go forth and hear them when they are in our city.


Wednesday 13th May

Who To See in Brighton in May 2015 - Thea Gilmore

Melting Vinyl Presents Thea Gilmore
Komedia – Doors 7:30pm. Music 8pm.
Tickets £15 – BUY TICKETS

To mark the release of her forthcoming album Ghosts and Grafitti, Thea is embarking on a UK tour, kindly stopping of in Brighton on the way to showcase the new tracks. Described by the British music press as being “one of the few world-class female singer-songwriters Britain has ever produced”, I have high expectations from this gig.

Gilmore is blazing her own path towards classic status as a songwriter” – The Guardian.

‘Vituperative, intelligent and sharp as a tack..’ –The Observer

It’s not just the press who seem to admire her work: her professional supporters include Bruce Springsteen and Joan Baez, so she really must be a force to be reckoned with! Come and see her play on the main space at Komedia, with support from Jo Rose. If you’re still not sure, here’s 10 reasons to visit the Komedia

Thursday 14th – Saturday 16th May

The Great Escape 2015

The Great Escape Festival
All over Brighton
Tickets £59.50 for a 3-day pass/ £200 for a delegates pass – BUY TICKETS

Read more about TGE15 in my guide here – Tom’s TGE15 Guide

Thursday 21st May

Who To See in Brighton in May 2015 - Julie Fowlis

Brighton Festival Presents Julie Fowlis
Brighton Dome Corn Exchange – 8pm
Tickets £15 – BUY TICKETS

Multi-instrumentalist Scottish singer-songwriters usually have a fair few strings to their bow,  and Julie Fowlis is no exception! Between co-hosting the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards last month, receiving a nomination for ‘Best Artist’ from Songlines Music Awards 2015 and doing a number of interviews and shows, it’s surprising that Julie has time to sneeze, let alone finish a tour of Ireland before popping down to Brighton to play as part of the Brighton Festival this May. Her delicate folky sound reminds me of the Welsh group 9Bach, whom I saw last year at Komedia, crossed with Twelfth Day, as Scottish duo who were actually supporting 9Bach at that gig.

If you’re into gaelic music, or just have a soft spot for a folk singer with a pretty face, then this will be a great gig for you. Tickets are limited to don’t faff about and buy yours today – BUY TICKETS

Friday 29th May

Who To See in Brighton in May 2015 - Bill Laurence Project

Melting Vinyl Presents Bill Laurence Project
St George’s Church – Doors 7pm. Music 8pm.
Tickets £15 – BUY TICKETS

Founding member/keyboardist of Grammy award-winning jazz pioneers Snarky Puppy Bill Laurence will be performing some of his solo works with the help of his brothers from the rhythm section of Snarky Puppy, Michael League (Bass) and Robert Sput Searight (Drums) alongside the incredible Katie Christie (French Horn) and the Metropole Orchestra’s own West Side Trio: Annie Tangberg, (Cello) Issabella Petersen (Viola) and Vera van der Bie (Violin).

Recently receiving a nomination for Breakthrough Artist from, these guys are seriously hot right now so don’t miss the chance to see them play in the wonderfully atmospheric venue of St. George’s Church in Brighton and check out the recent album Swift.


Saturday 30th May

Hans Chew

Brighthelmestone Promotions Presents Hans Chew + StevieRay Latham
The Verdict – Doors 7:30pm
Tickets £9 – BUY TICKETS

I previously attended a gig at The Verdict earlier this year, to see Amelia Curran who was also put on by Brighthelmstone Promotions, where I was treated to a lovely evening in a beautiful setting which created an intimate relationship between the performer and the attentive audience. I can only hope that this gig is just as enjoyable.

Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hans Chew sounds like a mish-mash of Star Wars characters (by name of course). His music is a cross between MOR and edge of the highway, with blues riffs interspersed with driving percussion, honky-tonk keys and vocal harmonies. For this show, he will be performing on the beautiful baby grand that the Verdict has on offer – and some tracks on guitar too. Expect rocking Americana of the highest calibre.

Support comes from London-based singer-songwriter StevieRay Latham, whose debut LP Modern Attitudes has earned him comparisons to Jake Bugg, Leonard Cohen and other folk songwriter greats. With a BBC Young Folk Award nomination already under his belt, this guy is clearly on the road to somewhere and I look forward to catching him for the first time live to see where that may be.

The Great Escape 2015 – 10 Reasons To Not Miss TGE15

For anybody who has been in a musical black hole for the last decade, I would like to introduce you to Brighton’s great metropolitan music festival – The Great Escape. This three-day inner-city festival and convention is held annually in May and this year is to be its tenth, so I thought I’d give you all a brief history of some of the great acts which have played at the Great Escape:

2006 – Bat For Lashes, Paolo Nutini, Rumble Strips, The Fratellis and The Kooks
2007 – Adele, Foals, Kate Nash, Laura Marling, Passenger and The Magic Numbers
2008 – Bombay Bicycle Club, Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, The Futureheads, The Wombats and Vampire Weekend
2009 – British Sea Power, Kasabian, Metronomy, Mumford & Sons, Noah & The Whale and The Maccabees
2010 – Chase and Status, Ellie Goulding, Ghost Poet, Michael Kiwanuka, Stornoway and Tinie Tempah
2011 – Bastille, Ben Howard, Daughter, Ed Sheeran, Foster The People, Frank Turner, Lucy Rose, Rizzle Kicks, Sufjan Stevens and Warpaint
2012 – Chet Faker, Django Django, Foxes, Jake Bugg, Mystery Jets, Slow Club and The Temper Trap
2013 – Chvrches, Klaxons, Kodaline, Kwabs, London Grammar, Luke Sital-Singh and Tom Odell
2014 – Alvvays, Clean Bandit, Dry The River, Fat White Family, East India Youth, George Ezra, Kiesza, Marika Hackman, Rae Morris and Royal Blood

(You can see more highlights from the earlier TGEs here – TGE HIGHLIGHTS)

If like me you were pleasantly surprised at how many names in the above list that you have heard of, seen performing locally or seen at a music festival, then you too will realise that The Great Escape is THE place to go to see and hear the latest and best music talent from across the country, often before the radio stations and your friends have even heard of them!

So here is my guide of 10 reasons why The Great Escape 2015 is a music festival not to miss!

1. The Bands

The Great Escape 2015 - Full Line Up
The Great Escape 2015 – Full Line Up

TGE15 will feature performances from over 400 bands and solo artists, with many giving more than one performance to help ease the inevitable problem of clashing sets. There is a huge variety of bands on display cross-sectioning most popular music genres and sub-genres, with an arsenal of formidable local acts and others from around the country and the rest of the world.

The main problem with so many bands is deciding on who it is that you really want to see, so I suggest heading over to The Great Escape Website to have a browse and see who your top festival picks this year are. You can then plan your festival using the handy online festival planner to see who is playing where and at what time. Aren’t they helpful?!

2. The Price

TGE2015 Tickets

With TGE15 tickets originally going on sale at just under £50 for a Super Early Bird 3-day pass (including all booking and transaction fees), the festival is fantastic value for money with over 400 bands playing at 35 venues, spread over the three days – Thursday 14th – Saturday 16th May 2015.

Please note that all super early bird, early bird and saver tickets are now SOLD OUT, but there are still a limited number of full price 3-day tickets available for only £66 (including all booking and transaction fees). There were also 1-day and 2-day tickets available but these have completely SOLD OUT.

3. The Venues

2013 TGE Venues Map
2013 TGE Venues Map – Some venues will have changed for TGE2015

As I have mentioned, there are around 35 venues being used for The Great Escape this year including a number of well-used music venues and a number of alternative venues including churches and pub takeovers. For a new visitor to the city, it is a great opportunity to discover many of the hidden coves that Brighton has to offer, and if you are a local, it will likely have you discovering some new venues away from your usual haunts.

4. Alternative Escape

Alternative Escape 2015

In addition to the main festival, The Alternative Escape is an official associated fringe festival, filled with showcases and with a particular emphasis on local artists. With over 200 artists performing at 15 different venues, it is safe to say that there won’t be a dull moment during The Great Escape weekend. TGE has lulls in the programming between 4pm and 6:30-7pm so this would be a great time to check out some of the local talent in the Alternative Escape which will be running throughout the festival.

Find out more about the line up for The Alternative Escape

5. The Convention

TGE Convention
TGE Convention

In addition to TGE15 festival there is also TGE Convention, a music conference which runs during the day times including talks on music marketing, branding, licensing and streaming. The Convention ticket grants the user access to TGE Convention, networking events and priority entry to all core venue gigs over the festival.

Find out more information on TGE Convention or to buy tickets.

6. The Location

The Great Escape Beachhuts

If you’ve not been to Brighton before, TGE15 is the perfect way to combine all the live music that you could want to see and hear with the sights and splendours of the city including The Royal Pavillion, Brighton seafront and Brighton Pier. The city is also filled with quirky shops, markets and boutiques in The Lanes and North Laine, as well as all of the major high street brands in Churchill Square Shopping Centre, so if you want to shop between the gigs there are plenty of places to do so!

7. No Transport? No Worries!

Brighton Fringe Festival Bus
Brighton Fringe Festival Bus

In short, you don’t really need to use any transport at The Great Escape, other than travelling to Brighton if you from outside the city. Brighton has a very compact city centre, with the majority of TGE venues being within a 10 minute walk of each other so you don’t need to spend time and money on public transport, but you should check where venues are if you haven’t been to them before and aim to arrive about 15-30 minutes before an act that you would like to see to make sure that you can get in and don’t miss them!

If you do want to explore the surround areas of Brighton and Hove, our bus service is very regular and is an easy way to get about. A day saver ticket is £4.70. Find out more about Brighton and Hove Buses.



8. Food and Drink

Eating Out In Brighton - Donatellos
Eating Out In Brighton – Donatellos

Brighton is renowned for being a culturally diverse city, with a high population of tourist visitors from overseas as well as a thriving population of students and locals from all walks of life. As such, the city caters for many cultures with a wide array of restaurants and take-aways to suit any palette. With a particular lean towards vegetarian and vegan food, Brighton has a lot to offer – and at reasonable prices unlike a lot of traditional festival food.

9. Accommodation

Accomodation at TGE
There are a number of seafront accommodation options for TGE2015.

Instead of sleeping on a hard floor in a questionably insulated sleeping bag inside a leaky tent during a gale force wind, as may be the case at a traditional music festival, why not treat yourself and sleep with a room over your head?

TGE15 offers a number of accommodation packages from luxury to basic, starting at just £82.50 for 3 nights including breakfast. Find out more about Accommodation Packages.

10. No Wellies Required!

Muddy wellies
Image by Anna Penrose.

Finally, for those of you who are put off of going to music festivals because of the inevitable slug through a large muddy field dragging behind you a broken tent and three times your bodyweight in ‘festival essentials’, TGE15 is definitely the festival for you.

Set in the city centre of Brighton, you won’t need a tent, wellies and the rest of the usual festival paraphernalia. Plus if you forget anything, there are shops all around to buy whatever you need!

For more information about TG15 visit or follow on the TGE Facebook and TGE Twitter #TGE15.

There will also be more updates on the festival here on my blog so keep your eyes peeled!



Sofar Sounds Brighton @ Lick HQ

On the unsuspecting industrial estate just a stone’s throw from Brighton station, inside the inconspicuous New England House concrete tower block lies the location of last night’s Sofar Sounds Birthday Relaunch Party – in the HQ of Brighton-based fat-free frozen yogurtists Lick.

Surrounded by quirky pictures and photographs, fluorescent Lick lips sign (reminiscent of Rolling Stones), a projector, deck chairs and the Lick-mobile – a bicycle with a frozen trolley for portable delivering of delicious frozen Lick tubs – the musicians seemed to blend right in with the American High School vibe – imagine Power Rangers crossed with Saved By The Bell and you’re almost there!

  • Open Up at Lick HQ
    Open Up at Lick HQ
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Froyo Logo
    Froyo Logo
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • B+W Lick-Mobile
    B+W Lick-Mobile
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Lick Those Lips
    Lick Those Lips
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Marianne Dissard
    Marianne Dissard
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Youth Club
    Youth Club
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Youth Club + Audience
    Youth Club + Audience
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Bosco Rogers
    Bosco Rogers
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.

The first act was the eccentric French-speaking American raised Marianne Dissard who was only a Swan dress short of Björk. Currently couch-surfing across Europe whilst playing a string of tour dates, Marianne’s songs were diverse, ranging from serene in the opener to quite angry in the following track – almost with a Sex Pistols meets Rage Against The Machine style performance. Despite her confetti, poetic French language and disco-ball-come-helmet, she still felt more like a musical petit pain and not a full-sized baguette, not quite reaching her potential just yet, but being well on the way to doing so with a truly captivating performance, just requiring a little bit of work on her backing track production.

Following on was Youth Club, an upbeat indie pop 6-piece from Southend who really reminded me of an old favourite local band called Two Spot Gobi.  Their music is very catchy, melodic and not over-egged – subtle backing vocals and a real feel-good vibe like Jason Mraz or Jamiroquai. I’m still singing their songs today so they are definitely one to keep an eye out for! They’re even playing the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekender this year, so it seems that somebody somewhere must agree with me!

Check out their ‘Brothers EP’ on Soundcloud below. The tracks ‘Breathe’ and ‘People’ which were played from the EP last night were both fantastic with strong melodies and real head-nodding toe-tapping funk. I hope you enjoy the EP as much as I have.

Finishing the night off with some gusto, after an interval for complimentary Lick froyo, were 5/7ths of Bosco Rogers. Their surf rock groove was quite authentic with hammond organ keys and grungy distorted sounds from the lead singer’s Barth’s Rickenbacker.  With a tall blonde bashing a tambourine and singing BV’s, the bassist chugging along and a cajon to finish, this stripped back setup still packed a punch with their snappy lyrics and hook lines.

You can listen to a track off their new EP ‘French Kiss‘ which is to be released on 27th April Worldwide below.

To find out more about Sofar Sounds Brighton, visit the Sofar Sounds Website or their facebook page and sign up to receive gig updates to apply to be a part of the next Sofar Sound gig.

Check out my review of the last month’s show  – Sofar Sounds at Hotel Peliroco.

Sofar Sounds Brighton - April 2015 Lick Lockers
Lick My Locker. Photo by Nicola Jackson.