The Editor’s column
by Kevin Gaughan, Editor of Music in Leicester.
Saturday 14th November 2015
Leicester reacts to Paris tragedy
Musicians and artists from around Leicester and Leicestershire expressed their shock at the events in Paris today. Music in Leicester magazine expresses its sympathy to all those who lost loved ones, its outrage at the senseless carnage that took place and its support for all those affected by the dreadful events that took place in Paris.
WE ARE ALL FRENCH
We reproduce here a small sample of the many thousands of message placed on social media by the musicians, singers, rappers and artists from our city and county:
An American band that played in Leicester said: “In light of the current tragedies around the world, we have decided that we do not feel comfortable premiering our new music video this evening. There are more important things going on in the world and our thoughts are elsewhere. Keep the beautiful people of Paris in your thoughts. To all of our French friends and fans, please stay strong. I beg you to join in making it our collective goal to push the world in a positive direction and end all of this violence and hatred. Humanity has so much potential, and yet we waste it on destroying each other. Take a stand and be peaceful.”
Drummer Neal from Leicester
Said: “What an absolute disgrace.”
Toby, Leicester, singer
said: “am deeply saddened by the reports from Paris last night. It’s an absolute tragedy and shocking. I think it is important that we all try to carry on with life as normal. Not as if it didn’t happen, but to stop something like this from affecting everyday life.
Joe, Leicester, singer
Their arms were swinging in joy
And cheers filled the air
Swinging low now
In deepest despair
They know now
The pain the globe has felt
No longer innocent
Just experienced in the power of hatred
May they not lose their faith
Their hearts will mourn and souls weep
But soon may they stand tall
In the power of love
They hear God’s call
In a day or two
Time is relative
To those who count
By the day or hour
May bitterness be all else they lose
The Leicester Mercury published
‘Muslims in Leicester have condemned the actions of Islamic terrorists who murdered more than 120 people in a number of coordinated attacks in Paris yesterday. In Leicester, the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO) has also condemned the horrific massacre, saying it stood against extremism in all its forms.’
Tom, a musician from Leicester
said “Those of you that follow us know that we recently played in France and although it wasn’t Paris, the people where some of the kindest, friendliest you’re ever likely to meet many of which offering to open their homes for us to stay the night after the show. I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that one of the attacks was at a packed gig and it really hits us close to the heart as music is about freedom, expression and enjoyment not hatred, bitterness and anger.
Sharing of news stories about The Bataclan massacre, from music bodies in Leicester
My thoughts are with all Parisians today after the terrible events of last night.
gig going will never be the same. Eagles of Death Metal seem ok crew missing 120 dead, plus the stadium and restaurant. sad beyond sad.
Tony, band musician from Leicester
said “cant believe the shocking news this morning , my heart goes out to the good people of paris today , to the people killed , hurt and family and friends affected by this my friends sean and nastasha of project reject were at the concert where the attack took place, im there bass player in the uk when they come over, im so glad there safe but words cant express the anger i feel for this unspeakable evil”
My heart is breaking reading the news from Paris. Solidarity with everybody affected by the violence tonight.
Luke, band musician
Terrible tragic events in Paris yesterday and these happenings continue around the world every day. My heart goes out to all the innocent victims of these most inhumane of actions. My sympathies lie with the families and friends of those loved and lost.
Jonezy, rap artist
What such terrible events #prayforparis
Billy Bragg, singer
who has played in Leicester before, several times wrote
The events in Paris last night are made all the more shocking by the fact that these murderers deliberately targeted people who were socialising on a Friday night. The language of the communique issued by ISIS, seeking to portray those at the Bataclan concert as “idolaters” attending “a party of perversity” gives us a chilling insight into the mind of these killers. This was an abhorrent attack on anyone who goes to a bar, or to a restaurant, to a gig or to a game. The fundamentalists would kill us all for enjoying ourselves. ISIS is a death cult and we who believe in life must go on enjoying ourselves in defiance of their provocations.
Just hearing the news from France .. Horrible. So sad and hearts go out to everyone
Band from Leicester
Stay Strong Paris
Sophie, singer and musician
I literally no words. Other than emotion, anger and disappointment #prayforparis
Martha, musician and singer
Thinking of everyone in Paris as we drive through France on our way to the Netherlands
Last night at The Leadmill Sheffield. Vintage Trouble performing their version of the Otis Redding classic. We were having such a wonderful evening – completely unaware of the tragedy unfolding at another music venue and across the streets in Paris. Life is fragile people and we may not be able to make sense of the actions of others but we mustn’t let it undermine our freedom and make us scared to live the life we have. This band play Paris on Dec 6th if anyone is thinking of showing Paris some support.
We end with the words of a song that was sung and played as a tribute to those who suffered in Paris
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
Writing about music
In my blog, I have published an article which – in effect – is part of my editorial column. It was published on the blog, rather than on here, because its a fairly long article and it contains a few contentious thoughts. The piece is about music journalism and suggestions how the editorial policy of this magazine might be improved.
You can read Writing about music: choices and consequences on my Writer Trevor Locke blog.
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Giving the website a makeover
Music in Leicester has been going since June 2013. Already I am beginning to think about giving it a makeover. For one thing, we need to keep up with the ever-changing technology. What we are using to look at this page? A computer, a smartphone, a pad, a tablet… the possibilities are ever-expanding and we have to be sure that whatever you are using to see our pages, you will see them as we intended them to look. That poses many challenges!
We are considering giving the whole of this website a makeover. We have to decide on criteria before we do this. It’s not just my personal taste – we have an Editorial Advisory Panel, whose opinions should be taken into account.
What new features should we introduce? What new features would enhance the readers’ experience? Questions such as these deserve careful consideration.
At the end of the day, it is all about the content. The design, layout, features, widgets, bells and whistles available to web designers either enhance the content or get in its way. When I started using this template and WordPress® in particular, I made some assumptions about how to do things that were not valid. The difference between ‘pages’ and ‘posts’ is one example. I have ended up with far too many pages – many of which should, in fact, have been posts. Now that might seem to be a technical issue, and yes it is, but it does affect the readers and the way that the website works.
I am now looking at converting some of these old pages into posts as part of what I call the ‘Archive Project.’ I cannot just delete pages. There are several reasons why old pages cannot be deleted (which I will not bore you with at this moment in time.)
One aspect of running a website that you have to think long and hard about is ‘navigation’ – the system of menus that allows readers to find the content in which they are interested. Menu bars need to be looked at; their items need to be evaluated and the order in which those items are presented is also important.
Like many of today’s websites, we depend on social media – Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. Part of this involves being able to automate feeds of information, links and contents among the various platforms that we use. Feeding out what we publish helps draw people into the content. Is that working?
In this website, our content is based on home pages. Those are the pages that help to organise related content – the music home page is an example. The purpose of the home page is to list links to related content. That is something that is done manually, at the moment. Things like categories and tag clouds provide a semi-automated approach to finding related content.
One home page that I think may need updating is the Reviews page. We publish two types of gig reviews: a feature article for the more significant pages and monthly updates where shorter write-ups can appear together with links to feature articles. Having said that, the month’s menu allows posts to be browsed for a selected month and by clicking on the Posts item in the main menu, all postings can be browsed in descending order of date.
All of this is underway. My goal, as Editor, is to have a lot of the main changes ready by the beginning of January.
I do not expect a flood of comments to come in from readers! But … if you do want to have your say in this process, the best thing would be to comment using my personal page on Facebook (I check it every day.)
2nd January 2013
That was the year that was
2013 – what a year for music in Leicester!
I must avoid appearing like Justin Welby or even worse Her Majesty The Queen – as I write this.
I did, however, spend the early days of the year looking back and have done this for several years now. You might say “it’s over let it go” but as an amateur historian, I really can’t do that.
Will it stand the test of time? Will 2013 remain in the collective consciousness of Leicester’s rockerati as a vintage year? Only time will tell.
Well, having got the usual clichés out of the way, let me just opine that I put a lot of time and effort into looking back at over the past 12 months and curating its greatest moments. Not all of you will agree with my selection – some will complain of the things that have been missed and others will challenge those that have been included.
What stands out for me is that our selection has been heavily influenced – if not predetermined – by what we at MIL [and ArtsIn] went to. The biggest issue for me as ruling editor is the scope of coverage. Let me be quick to say that what we do here is not a local musical version of Wikipedia. I would not want it to be and in any case, we do not have the resources to make it so.
The work of our small team of writers and photographers is to be acknowledged and applauded. All those who have written and snapped for us this year have won my eternal gratitude and respect. It is a lot to ask people who live busy lives to give up their time to contribute to something that is going to pay them nothing more than emotional gratification.
Our products make no money to pay for content; in an ideal world, we would be raking in the dollars and paying people to work for us but sadly this is not the case.
Leicester is perhaps too small a place to generate a living for a website devoted only to local music. The majority of musicians, promoters and venue owners seem to make nothing out of our local music industry and certainly, the producers of Internet media do not have advertisers and sponsors knocking at their doors, begging to give money for placing their adverts.
What we all do, in this ‘office’, we do for the love of music. We share a passion for music with the artists who deliver it to us from day-to-day but the fans who consume those products are not minded to pay for it – so charging for our work is not an option.
Music in Leicester launched on 1st June 2013 and we are not yet throughout the first full year of operation. The first half of our review of the year, linked back to the content that is still up there on our magazine Arts in Leicester.
So, what will the year ahead hold for us? In the next few days, I will be bombarding the world with some verbal and literary ordnance and some announcements are due, that will either light fires or pass like comets in the night. We shall see.
Promoters reply to debate
The Arts in Leicester Facebook page has been busy this month. One posting attracted well over 300 comments and several others have seen Facebookers furiously hitting their keyboards and mobile phones.
Promoters, in particular, have attracted a good deal of debate – for and against, pros and cons. So we asked one of them for some background comments.
He told us “people don’t realise that promoters, for the most part, are people who have an enormous passion for music because there certainly isn’t that much money to be made.
“They have to put up with all the crap promoters get – there are so many bands who, if a promoter acted the same way, would get absolutely lambasted by the music community but because it’s a band they’re almost protected against someone speaking out because we’re the bad guys.
“Venues these days generally won’t (put on their own gigs) because they can’t afford the risk (the financial risk of losing money over poorly attended events.)
“They’re only just surviving as it is. When 20 people come to a gig and only 2 or 3 buy a drink, the venue suffers, bands don’t think about overheads, like mortgages, utilities, staff etc., which the promoter has to part cover with their hire deal, as well as their own costings.
“They all think it’s so easy to do but those (bands) that do generally play the same nights twice a year, with the same bands, to the same people.
“At gigs, a band can earn £30 if they bring 15 people; in 6 months I think only one band has made the effort to achieve that. I think bands just expect it all for nothing and that’s the problem. It takes there being a competition for bands to bring a crowd and when multiple bands do that on a lineup, everyone wins and the bands love playing those kinds of gigs.”
Competitions for bands is a subject that has generated a good deal of debate recently on Facebook.
Our commentator told us (off the record) that
“What makes me laugh/cry is that the smallest difference could change the whole scene. If every band managed to bring 10 or more people to every gig we’d be able to support bigger bands, pay bands on non-support gigs, generate more excitement etc. as everyone would be playing regularly to 40-60 people instead of 5-20.”
These comments were provided off the record in a private chat, so the Promoter’s name has been withheld for that reason, but I felt it important the share these remarks with the public.
There is much in the economics of live music that is not widely enough understood. Debates about bands, promoters, venues and money are certainly not limited to either Leicester or to the United Kingdom; you can trawl the world’s blogs for such threads.
My view is that the Leicester music business needs to pull together and all start to row in the same direction if our local scene is to go anywhere.
Leicester as a city stands today at the crossroads – as we wait to hear whether we have been selected to become the next UK City of Culture in 2017. If Leicester is selected, it will be the biggest thing to happen here in 500 years. (Leicester lost their bid to the city of Hull.)
Everyone in the world of arts and culture will be begging for the bowl of funding that will result – the music movers and shakers will have to get their act together if they are going to get their slice of the cake.
If you want to comment, you can do so on the Arts in Leicester page on Facebook.
Going to gigs
It’s hard work going to gigs. Long hours watching bands; long arts writing it up afterwards. I am not one to complain but …
It takes a lot of time write reviews, process photos, add links to Facebook pages and YouTube videos. Is it all worth it, I ask? Sadly, the art of writing about music seems to have declined. I frequently use Google to search for reviews of bands but often fail to find anything.
In Leicester, there is so much live music happening day by day that I can only just scratch the tip of the iceberg [sic]. Even if we could report on just half the live music events that happen in this city, we would still have more material than most people would be able to read.
If MIL had a large team of reporters who could go out night by night and attend the majority of gigs and write about them, it would generate so much material that there would be too much stuff for the majority of people to read.
So, given our limited resources, we have to be selective.
I doubt that the majority of music fans want to spend hours wading through vast quantities of reviews. Most people, I guess, want to read only about the bands that interest them. On on a web site like this, it’s a question of having to use the search bar to find what you want to read about. My guess is that most people just want to look at the pictures and don’t really want to read all that much.
So, is music journalism a dying art?
I might be forgiven for thinking it is. It’s the age of the text message, the tweet, the Facebook comment. Gone are the days of serious analysis and opinion forming. Radio has killed the writing star. Having been a writer for over 50 years I still believe in the power of the pen. The sea cannot be held back by Canute-like devotees of tweets. Reviews are likely to get shorter as the attention spans of Internet users diminish.
Pictures can only show what happened – a band played on a stage – a singer stood in front of a mic. What writing does is to explain and interpret, reveal the significance, putting in place the context of the photo. Without words, pictures have little value.
It’s just that the words are becoming fewer and fewer.
Poorly attended gigs – blame the buses?
Today’s post about poor late night public transport highlights an important issue – not just for music fans all year round, but also for the organisers of Leicester’s bid to become the UK City of Culture.
Poor late-night buses are not the only reason why many gigs are poorly attended but for fans that depend on them, it is a factor that is important.
Bid or no bid, the late night economy of the city centre is something that requires attention and support, both from the City Council and from the bus operators. The train services vary a lot – it all depends on the route – but when you are looking at public services, all factors need to be considered – including the pricing and availability of parking.
When London won the bid to host the Olympics, they planned strategically to ensure that public transport would work. If Leicester does get the City of Culture bid then our local authorities will have to take a long hard look at public transport.
We say – do it now. Don’t wait for 2017. The night-time economy matters to the economy now. Bring people together to talk about buses, taxis, trains and parking and those who provide the nightlife. There are real issues to be sorted out – now.
12th May 2013
Writing about music
I have begun to think about where music journalism should be going. For several years now the focus of my work as a music writer has been on live performances – mainly going to gigs and writing about the performances of bands and singers.
I wonder if that really is the best thing to do. What music fans do not see is what goes on off-stage – all the time musicians spend writing songs, rehearsing, working with their instruments, getting bookings done, doing promotion and publicity. This is a side of music about which much less is written than is the case about the visible end of music – the performance.
I am beginning to think that, as a writer, I might spend more time looking behind the scenes and bringing to the public insights into what musicians and singers do to make music and get ready for the stage. I enjoy talking to music artists and finding out more about their work and their lives, what inspires them, what motivates them to want to get up in front of people and perform their music. It adds depth to our reviews if we can find out what had to happen to make all those songs that we enjoy so much and delve into the ins and outs of recording music as much as performing it on a stage.
I have watched a lot of television programmes that have interviewed various musicians. These programmes have given insights that enable the live performance to be understood and appreciated.
If you get the story behind the song, the track, the EP, or the live show, it may be that will add something of value to the whole business of music-making – more than just writing about a band that we saw and what was heard.
Writing about gigs and live performances is not easy but when you have done it for so many years it becomes ‘more of the same.’ I get the feeling now that I want to know so much more about the people I see on stages and listen to – the story of how they became what they are, how they got to where they are now.
Those stories are, I think, as interesting as just writing about what you see happening on stages. Those behind-the-scenes stories are perhaps more revealing than simple gig reviews and perhaps people will read this kind of stuff and have more connection to the acts they follow.
There will always be a place for the review of live music. What we have been trying to do is to paint a picture of the
musical life of Leicester – going to a wide range of venues, listening to all kinds and styles of music – in a way
‘curating’ a snapshot over one period of time of the life of Leicester’s music.
This site has been produced by ArtsIn Productions – a social enterprise company based in Leicester. (The company ceased trading in July 2014 and is now being wound up.)
See the ArtsIn Productions website for more information.
This web site will replace much of the music content in our flagship magazine site: Arts in Leicester
This page was last editor on 10/1/19