INTERVIEW: Howzat TV | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Jamie Cook (& Martha Hill) by Adam Goodwin

I often fall out with one of my best mates about the best way to watch live music; I prefer to be at the gig, and he prefers to stream it. Although we try, we don’t really meet in the middle very often; I’ll give him the TV cameras at Glastonbury, and he’ll give me any situation involving The Wildhearts.

We do both agree, however, that the formula of watching live music through Howzat TV works very well; although it’s remote, I get the advantage of watching a gig that is truly live and beamed back from one of my favourite venues.

I think one of my favourite things behind what we do, maybe aside from the fact that we try to pay musicians properly for their time, is the fact that the shows are completely live,” agrees Howzat TV host, producer and performer Jamie Cook, “and playing live does come with that type of danger which only a really live show can bring.”

Forming Howzat in the wake of a raft of comedy/gaming streaming work created in 2020, Cook was keen to move from producing streaming shows to live events; his background in working at comedy stores proved invaluable. “It’s really strange how Howzat has come about because life has almost come full circle for me. I played live music, and I enjoyed working in live comedy, and that has mixed now with the production work I’ve done to end up in a live music show where it’s almost an amalgamation of everything.”

playing live does come with that type of danger which only a really live show can bring

Deciding to apply for an Arts Council grant to fund Howzat also meant he now had the ability to support the local scene. “As lockdown went on further and further I really wanted to do something to help the North East’s scene, so the grant has helped me be able to push the show a little; using local venues and local acts, and being able to pay them properly. It’s so sad to see what has happened with some of the local venues and how they’ve just had to suddenly stop and stay dormant. If Howzat can help raise the profile of not just the artists but also the venues then I feel like good can come from a bad situation.”

Beamed live from Ouseburn’s Cobalt Studios, February’s sessions feature the likes of Americana-tinged folk artist Poor Moi (previously known as Memphis Gerald) on Sunday 14th February and contemporary folk trio The Cusp on Sunday 28th February, all complete with live music, skits and virtual audience participation. Previous shows have seen performances from the likes of Martha Hill, Bertie Armstrong, Grey Tapes, Balter and Assembly Lane with sessions available to view on Howzat’s YouTube channel, alongside regular interactive phone-in game shows with plenty of hilarity streamed throughout the month.

It really does feel like a dream that I can work with the very best artists from the region whilst at the same time feeling like it’s giving them a platform for them to be heard.” Cook beams.

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