2013 has been a bumper year for live bands and musicians in the Lancaster district.
Not only have we seen a huge upsurge in emerging talent, but there has been a strong feeling of pride in the city, which exploded in part due to the runaway success of Lancaster Music Festival.
Quite rightly the highlight of this year’s musical calendar, the grassroots festival went on to win a Lancashire Tourism Award for best event 2013.
It was a perfect example of individuals and organisations working together to become a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
As well as some great artists coming here to perform, a lot of our homegrown talent has been heading out across the country and indeed the world to perform.
And on top of all that, there have been classical performances at Lancaster Priory, new music forms at Live at LICA at Lancaster University, gigs at The Hall in China Street, output from the new studio at Lancaster and Morecambe College, unusual and interesting shows at More Music in Morecambe, and a plethora of outdoor and indoor festivals both in the city, town and rural areas.
Right across the musical board, the appetite for “having it live” here in Lancaster has created a real buzz.
I’ve barely been anywhere else to get my live music fix because there’s been so much going on here.
Some of my musical highlights of the year have included Maiden United at The Yorkshire House and Kirkby Lonsdale Music and Beer Festival in April.
There was also Glastonbrewery at Lancaster Brewery in May, Beatherder and Kendal Calling festivals, Halton Festival in August, The Halle Orchestra performing music from sci-fi films at Jodrell Bank, Lancaster Jazz Festival, and of course Lancaster Music Festival in October.
Folk officianados Lau played at St John’s Church on October 25, there was Glastonbrewery Lite on November 22, Get It Loud in Libraries returned to Lancaster library with Drenge on September 20 and Wolf Alice on December 6, we’ve had Cerys Matthews at The Platform in Morecambe, and the launch of The Jazz Mansion at Forest Hills and Jools Netherland presents...in Morecambe.
There’s been new albums from Gritty Britain, Jay Diggins, Imogen Rae, The Lumberjack Cowboy Heartbreak Trucking Co, Stuart Anthony, Kriss Foster, Promethium, and a wonderful compilation of original new music from LMC Studios.
There’s also been new releases from Molly Warburton, The Thyme Machine, Greenheart, The Feud, Bobby Esmond and Joe McCorriston.
On the wider scene, musicians that have done it for me this year include Public Service Broadcasting, Dreadzone, Chic, Nightmares on Wax, Vintage Trouble, The Imagined Village, Yes Sir Boss!, Beans on Toast and The Dub Pistols, among others.
And, despite my sensibilities, The Fox Song by Ylvis found its way onto the screen on more than one occasion. For the kids of course.
It’s been a massive year for house music duo Bondax too, who have played to huge crowds across the world over the past 12 months.
Special mention goes to Morecambe man Mike Freear’s Slamboree, who have been winning legions of fans and getting rave reviews everywhere they play this year.
By Nick Lakin
Top Five Gigs by Lancaster District Bands
1. The Feud - The Woodlands Stage, Kendal Calling.
2. The Lumberjack Cowboy Heartbreak Trucking Co - The Golden Lion, Lancaster Music Festival.
3. Joe McCorriston with full live band - The Yorkshire House.
4. Carpe - Go Burrito!, Lancaster Music Festival.
5. Jay Diggins and Greenheart - Lancaster Grand Theatre.