Localism Rocks! Part One – Local Music for Local People

6 Nov


Here at Alphabet Bands, as we gaze out across the vista of our fine city of Norwich, we like to think that we are generally very supportive of acts from within the city walls and the vicinity, as well as promoting the best new music from around the world. We film sessions with local acts, write about and feature them and include them in our fabled collection of Alphabet Bands. We were feeling quite pleased with ourselves as we discussed this with some people we met at the Norwich Sound and Vision Festival recently. Except, as we spoke, we realised our efforts probably weren’t that impressive after all. In fact, only two of our Alphabet Bands are Norwich acts and both are now seemingly defunct as well.

For such a relatively small city, there is a tonne of musical talent here; diverse, exciting and covering practically every genre you could think of. They used to say of Norwich that there was a church for every week of the year, and a pub for every day. Now that we have been officially classified as the most Godless city in England the number of churches feels less important. We suggest a re-jigging of the saying to read ‘a pub for every day of the year, and at least a band a day for that matter’.

Why are we telling you this? Because local music is important, and there is probably a lot more of it in your city/town/village than you realise. There is certainly more here in Norwich than we realised. Of the 97 acts listed as performing on the Sound and Vision website, around 20% were from the city or the surrounding area, and while we knew some of them, we didn’t know them all. Nor did we know all the people we met at the various music panels who were singers, or musicians. When we took part in short-listing acts for this year’s Next Big Thing competition we had heard of hardly any of the acts (not entirely a bad thing as it meant we went in with no pre-conceptions). And then there are all the other bands that we do know about that didn’t enter the competition.

Again, you may ask, why are we telling you this? Because we, like many others we would wager, have become so obsessed with finding new music online, that we have almost forgotten about looking for it on our doorstep. We go to our fair share of gigs, but that’s mostly to see the touring acts that are passing through and the presence of any high quality local bands is simply a bonus. But where do these touring bands start out? Gigging in their home town. London Grammar burst on to the scene at the end of last year, have had a chart-topping album, appearance on Later… and are headlining dates across the UK and beyond. Yet rewind a couple of years and they were playing shows across Nottingham and at the University.

Now of course, not every band you see is going to be the next London Grammar, but there are a lot of great bands waiting to be discovered out there, not more than a few miles from your doorstep.
Small bands playing small gigs can offer a much more intimate and personable experience, you might get to know them, hang out and buy them a beer (they might like that). Social media had made big acts more accessible than ever, but it’s not quite the same as sitting down and enjoying a cold (or hot) beverage with a band and chewing the fat after a show.

Go and support them, if they are good, let them know. That encouragement could be all they need to get more gigs, record more songs and go on to be the next band to break into the mainstream and rule the world. We’re not saying it will happen, but for a couple of quid, probably less, it’s got to be worth the chance no? We’re certainly going to make more of an effort to go and see local bands in the city and if they are great, we’ll tell you all about it right here.

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