Despite the continuing economic misery bringing about one or two music based casualties, 2012 has been a most excellent year both on the local and national scene.
It’s been a year of “unknowns” being catapulted into the limelight via the likes of Soundcloud and Youtube, home produced sounds, and BBC 6Music championed artists.
There’s also been an explosion of new Lancaster, Morecambe and Lune Valley artists and bands bringing all manner of styles and genres to the local table, as well as taking the north Lancashire sound further afield (Pete Moser in Hong Kong, The Heartbreaks in Japan, The Feud and The Lovely Eggs in Europe and America, Mike Freear all over the place).
It’s been surprising, and great to see. But then of course there’s a wealth of promoters and facilitators out there to bring the act and the venue together (ECP Promotions, Wired In, Lancaster Speakeasy, Playfest in Warton, Lancaster Jazz Festival and of course all the pub landlords).
For me it’s been the live music and festival scene that has shone brightly through the murkiness of financial forecasting, proving that people can and will still “get up off that thing”, switch off the TV, ditch their connection to the doom and gloom and go and have some good old fashioned fun.
In January, DJ and MoWax Records producer James Lavelle brought a cross genre mix to Lancaster library, supported by Lancaster DJ Ginny Kopenhol.
The place was pretty full for mid-January, and showed that DJs at the library could be just as valid as live acts.
Sadly, later in the year, Get It Loud in Libraries lost its funding, and everyone is waiting to hear what will happen next; certainly this was a low point for music on a local level but on the positive - what a stunning list of artists this great project brought to the city in its relatively short existence?!
In February, The Chemical Brothers released a feature length film called Don’t Think, charting a live show on the slopes of Mount Fuji in Japan.
It was shown at Lancaster’s Vue Cinema and was a fully immersive piece of film and music, and very enjoyable too.
The crazy sound of The Correspondents came to The Dalton Rooms in March, brought by city promoters Lancaster Speakeasy.
This duo is full of raw energy, with a fantastic stage presence and some unbelievable dance moves.
Lancaster Speakeasy has proven to be a welcome constant on the Lancaster music scene.
The Lovely Eggs, who seem to have toured non-stop this year, have had a fantastic 2012 building on their national and international following and engaging with social media in their own unique way.
Then we were into summer festival season, and my excitement in making a 20 minute journey to the Rough Beats Festival in Clapham in June turned to disappointment when the festival was cancelled.
Django Django, who have awards and accolades coming out of their ears this year (and produced a great debut album), were on the bill, and it was a great shame to see this festival take a turn for the worse. Like Get It Loud in Libraries, I await to hear what happens next.
The Dukes Theatre hosted a night with The Lancashire Hotpots on July 14, and what a show that was.
Then Beatherder Festival arrived at the end of June, for many the highlight of the North West’s musical calendar.
I managed to catch a superb show from Death In Vegas on the Friday night.
The tent was dragged out again in July when we headed up to Lowther Deer Park for Kendal Calling 2012.
My highlight was without a doubt James on the Sunday night, but there were also excellent performances from Dizzee Rascal, Scroobius Pip, DJ Yoda and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Slamboree, Dreadzone, Yes Sir Boss!, Beans on Toast and The Feud.
August saw a rare but spellbinding show from Dan Heywood’s New Hawks at The Yorkshire House, and Lancaster Jazz Festival in September was followed by Lancaster Music Festival in October, with some fantast gigs in the city, the highlight for me being Australian dub reggae band Kindread, who I confess I saw five times in three days.
Other highlights included festival organiser Ben Ruth’s The Convulsions, Molly Warburton, Baksheesh and pretty much every musician who created a stunning atmosphere in Lancaster over the mid-October weekend.
Light Up Lancaster kicked off November in style with some great music and festivities in Market Square, then later the same month I headed down to Wolverhampton to catch folk/punk rocker Frank Turner at the city’s Civic Hall.
In December Hope and Social returned to The Yorkshire House, creating a wonderful sound that dispelled any winter blues.
Indeed Orbital on December 7 at 53 Degrees in Preston proved to be a great pre-Christmas gig too.
Then on December 14 I turned promoter for the night and welcomed Molly Warburton and The Shady Days and The Feud to The Greyhound in Halton.
Both sets of musicians are certainly something special, and I’ve never seen the Low Road pub busier, proving that live music is, as always, a winner when it comes to bringing people together.
There’s been plenty recorded by local bands this year as well - off the top of my head new music from Gritty Britian, Carpe, The Lovely Eggs, Blackheart Afterglow, The Art Club, Joe McCorriston, The Heartbreaks, Stephen Hudson, The Thyme Machine, Stuart Anthony, Ottersgear, The Feud and others too numerous to mention.
What has stood out for you? And what were your musical highlights of 2012? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @ribblerouser, and I’ll print them all next week.
Here’s my top five Lancaster gigs of 2012:
1. Kindread - St John’s Church, Lancaster
2. The Correspondents - The Dalton Rooms, Lancaster
3. The Lancashire Hotpots - The Dukes, Lancaster
4. The Feud (acoustic) and Molly Warburton and the Shady Days - The Greyhound, Halton
5. Hope and Social - The Yorkshire House, Lancaster