Bunch Of Fives: Jamie Cook (Howzat TV Sessions) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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On the back of our second lockdown and descent into tier 3, music lovers everywhere have aching hearts that yearn for the return of our beloved gigs. We could all wait for Bill Gates’ spy vaccine to give us back our freedom to enjoy live music, but that isn’t necessary, because some pro-active and passionate individuals are taking advantage of our advanced media and communication technology that aliens gave us back in the Egyptian days to beam the live experience into our living room. 

One of these individuals is local musician and producer Jamie Cook who has and will be broadcasting 10 sessions featuring local artists live from Cobalt Studios for his Howzat TV Sessions, which he recently secured Arts Council funding for. It’s a project that is building on the interactive YouTube phone-in gameshow he started in March called Howzat TV Live! (now on episode 53), and so Jamie will be borrowing some of the wacky interactive games from that.

Performing the first one on Sunday 6th December was trad-folk outfit Balter (watch here), with artists like Grey Tapes (6th December), Martha Hill (20th December), Assembly Lane (3rd January), Bertie Armstrong (17th January), Me Lost Me (31st January) and others, still left to perform.

To celebrate the launch of Howzat TV Sessions, Jamie tells us about his top 5 live music sessions…

Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense performance (1984) 


Bit of a bigger do than a ‘session’ but I have to mention this when talking about live musical performances on film. This artistically choreographed performance from 80s New York alt-rock icons HAS TO BE WATCHED. WATCH IT. HAVE YOU WATCHED IT? OK. 

Micachu – Boiler Room DJ set (2012) 



Full set of Mica Levi’s own completely unique wonky/grimey beats. Still hard to get your hands on today, this set of rare originals should go down in history as a true underground gem. I’ve played a few of these DJing at Cobalt Studios and sister venue Ernest over the years. As my friend Ben would say – ‘wall-to-wall unrelenting bangers’. 

Reggie Watts – NPR Tiny Desk Concert improv (2012) 

Flowing effortlessly between music and stand-up, making sense and not, and all fully improvised. Music and comedy don’t often play nicely together but Reggie is the perfect rare example of this working out. NPR’s lovely intimate DIY format is a really nice way to view one of Watt’s most musical performances ever. 

Ceitidh Mac – Sage live session (2019) 

I had the pleasure of playing synth/electronics with ‘local alt. cellist extraordinaire’ and ‘folk treasure’ (NARC) Ceitidh Mac at the Sage last year. The year before that we supported Dublin’s folk/contemporary legends Lankum there. Ceitidh is a hero. Check her out. 

Big Thief – KEXP live session (2019) 

This band is on FIRE. Frontwoman Adrianne Lenker is one of the best writers of our time + her band meets her at the top of the pile, bringing screaming rock guitar solos to Lenker’s stunning and bizarre melodies, drifting between soothing acoustic folk/country sounds and all-out trousers-down rock anthems. KEXP captures live band sessions really nicely, with loads of cameras right up in their sweaty faces. Yuck. 

I can’t wait to enter the world of live sessions with Howzat T.V. Sessions and put my signature ‘DIY-but-not-shit’ spin on the format, with the addition of games/chat/interaction/prizes and fully LIVE broadcasting, LIVE. (It’s actually live).

It will be quite something seeing my favourite local performers doing their thing again, from my favourite venue, and knowing our audiences are watching together. The world’s against us at the minute, but i’m determined for this project to go ahead (safely!) and allow us to break through with a few moments of sunshine. Local, live, independent music has never felt more valuable!

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