Kick Off Party, Night Tales, 24th February
This event got off to a cracking start with live music from previous winners of the Bob Harris Emerging artist award. The excellent Lauren Housley was up first with her band the Northern Cowboys, who then provided the core of the house band. And what a line-up – including the fantastic harmonies of the Wandering Hearts and the irrepressible Robert Vincent. For the finale they all crammed onto the stage for a rousing version of ‘The Weight’.
Night Tales, in the oh so hip Bohemia Place, is the biggest of the six venues used for the subsequent showcases – all within 5 minutes-walk from each other (and some were literally next door). Good sound system and nicely lit, but I kept my coat on and tried not to look at the bar prices.
This 10th AMAUK event was aimed mainly at performers, promoters, managers, agents, etc. It was held over three days in the Hackney Picture House and included panels with titles like “No Money, No Luck Blues – Income and Funding You Didn’t Know About and How to Get It”. There were also films and a great song writers circle hosted by Bob Harris with performances and chat from Elles Bailey and Canadian artists Allison Russell, William Prince and Whitehorse. As you would expect a lot of the chat was about how the songs got written and what inspired them, but there was also discussion about the recent trend to EPs and putting out several singles from an album in advance of its release. However, the panel members are strongly in favour of the integrity of the album. Allison Russell said she sees her albums like a book and the songs take the listener on a journey. William Prince said he definitely sequences his songs with a natural break in the middle, with the vinyl version in mind.
We were also treated to an unplugged performance from Nickel Creek who were “In Conversation” with the BBC Radio Ulster DJ Ralph McLean.
The conference is great for networking and learning more about the business side of things – if that’s what interests you. It’s also fun to be able to chat informally to artists you are a fan of. But it’s a tough schedule with a 9 am start after a night of showcases.
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