Friday, September 06, 2013

Ramsbottom Festival 2013 preview

And just like that, the summer's over. The tan is fading and the weather has turned cold and clammy. Which means only one thing: wrapping up warm for a few days of cracking music, great beer and all-around funtimes at Ramsbottom Cricket Club for Ramsbottom Festival. With The Bridgewater Hall joining Bury Met as a partner this year, the lineup looks stronger than ever, and they've expanded the range of family performances and activities too. Here's a little taster of what we can expect musically:

Friday is raging rock and roll night for all the young folk who still have the joints and livers for it.  Rage, rage against the dying of the light... and pray for good weather.

The Futureheads:  Catchy jingly-jangly guitar indie that makes you jump around. I have much love for their famous cover of Kate Bush's Hounds of Love.


Public Service Broadcasting: Interesting band with a penchant for building songs around sound archive samples. Elegaic, epically British stuff.

Twisted Wheel: Manc indie outfit widely hailed as the natural heirs of Oasis (god help 'em)

Saturday is a mixed bag: acts spanning folk rock, pop, indie, world and probably quite a lot of time in the Silent Disco tent, wearing a hole in the grass. It can get pretty crowded in there when it rains though. Pray for good weather.

Richard Hawley: The Sheffield blues troubadour plays the kind of music that makes you think he hops freight trains and smokes 40 Marlboro Reds a day. I have no idea if he actually does, but it works for me.


The Beat: The legendary 1980s Two Tone ska band. When I first encountered them we called them The English Beat and yes, I owned this on vinyl. Sigh.


Junip: Dreamy, understated pop folk from the Jose Gonzalez-fronted Swedish trio

Sunday things chill down for a grand folkfest. Which is fortunate, as by now many of us are a little shaky and liable to start at sudden loud noises. But seriously, if you're into folk, Ramsbottom is the place to be on Sunday. It's fantastic to see such a strong (and female-dominated) lineup this year. Pray for good weather, though.

Sinead O' Connor: People tut at the supposedly scandalous things she says and does, but when you get down to it Sinead is just a great musician with a voice that will freeze the balls off you at forty paces. And that's honestly all I care about. She does make me laugh though.

Eliza Carthy, Bella Hardy and Kate Young : You want trad folk? You can't go wrong with this festival-circuit special trio.

The Unthanks: Dark, uncanny folk with Northeast roots from the critically-acclaimed Unthank sisters, who are pretty much single-handedly reviving interest in this kind of music.

Chasing Owls: An Edinburgh-based band who make music of the amiable indie-folk persuasion. (Violin solos and handclaps) Quite sweet.

Got your tickets? Adult weekend tickets from £65 and day tickets from £23 available at the Ramsbottom Festival website along with full info on everything else. See you there.

Blog North Awards (& blogging opportunties)

The Blog North Awards, which I've been running in one incarnation or another since 2006, is currently accepting entries for its 2013 competition. It's super easy (and free) to enter via our nifty online form and you can enter your own blog or someone else's. Or many someone elses'. Go crazy!

This year we're scanning the northern internets for blogging excellence in the following categories: Best Young Blogger, Best Writing, Best Personal Blog, Best Arts and Culture Blog, Best City or Neighbourhood Blog, and Best Food & Drink Blog. We don't care how many hits you get or how many advertisers you have or how many  shares you rack up.What we're looking for is great original content, plain and simple.

The entry deadline is this coming Sunday, 8 September, at midnight, so get on it if you haven't entered yet. Then later this month we announce a shortlist (which the public can vote on, along with our magnificent judges) and we'll reveal the winners at the Blog North Awards event on 16 October at Gorilla in Manchester. This year's event will feature author Chris Killen performing a specially commissioned piece, A Short Guide to The Future, and the literary/musical stylings of Les Malheureux, along with readings from some of the shortlisted bloggers which are always fantastic. If this sounds like the kind of thing you'd be into, you can find out more about the event and book tickets over here at the Manchester Literature Festival website.

In other blogging matters, it's just been arranged that I'll be running a blogging workshop at Castlefield Gallery as part of its excellent CG Associates programme. It's happening on the evening of November 5 (sparklers optional.) I'll post a link here and tweet about this when booking is live via the Castlefield Gallery website, but just wanted to give you advance warning as there's been a lot of interest in these.

And if you're looking for a more substantial introduction to the wonders of blogging and digital media, Cornerhouse are recruiting again for their Digital Reporter scheme. It takes place in the evenings over several months, and it's a wonderful way to brush up on digital skills like using multimedia content, audio and video blogging, and mastering all manner of social media while enjoying some marvelous cultural activites. All the info's here on the Cornerhouse website, closing date September 13.