MY YEAR: Tees Music Alliance | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Reliably informed

Image: David Saunders & Chris Cobain

After a really productive 2019 we were excited about the opportunities we could bring local musicians in 2020. However, it’s no secret that this year has been a sad and frustrating one for the music industry. Despite all the uncertainty and frustration, Tees Music Alliance have still managed to deliver a programme of music development for artists and activists in the Tees Valley region.

When the pandemic hit and lockdown started we adapted to the changes, and have still been able to do some stuff online to help artists in the Tees Valley area. The most frequent is the Chris & Dave Zoom Drop-in Sessions which take place fortnightly on Tuesday 5-5.40pm. Before the pandemic we used to hold these at The Georgian Theatre every Tuesday, and would welcome various artists of all genres to come down, have a cuppa and discuss release strategies, getting gigs, contacting press, playlisting and anything else they needed advice on. During the pandemic when advice was less accessible but probably more needed, we thought it was important to take it to Zoom so that anyone who was releasing music or unsure about what was going on in the industry could log on and chat. Some weeks it was quiet, one week we were invaded by Zoom bombers (who we befriended through diplomacy) but we found it important to be consistent and there if anyone needed us. It was really nice to see artists like alt. rockers Coral Snake (who were releasing their debut single) and J.P. Riggall (who was putting out an album) put out kind words about the help we gave them after chatting with them.

Another thing we felt was important was to try and keep the profile of local artists up at a time when they were unable to perform onstage or they might be struggling to get into the studio for new releases. To do this we asked musicians to take over our Facebook page every Saturday evening from late March to early September for The Georgian Theatre Live Stream Sessions. We had some brilliant performances from the best and brightest in the region giving us their own unique lockdown renditions of songs we were unable to enjoy live at the time. We had incredibly enjoyable sets from artists such as Shakk, Eve Conway, Dylan Cartlidge, joegarratt, Jodie Nicholson, Lost State Of Dan and many more. They’re still on our Facebook page, in the video section, so go and have a look see.

Also, let’s not forget our partnership with NARC. for the excellent NARC. TV, which (once lockdown was lifted) saw us opening our doors and putting on live bands for the first time since the pandemic forced us to close. It was great to give bands the opportunity to play again and give the people watching at home that full live sound experience that we had all been missing.

The other way to keep artist’s profiles up, and offer an insight into the experiences of regional musicians and music activists, was our podcast, Summat Or Other. Available via the Tees Music Alliance Facebook and Soundcloud pages, these interesting, in-depth discussions allowed music fans to establish a connection with artists and inspire those looking for a career in music.

It’s very easy in these dark winter months, with more lockdowns and harsh tier systems, to feel downbeat, but all we can do is look forward and continue to offer support to local musicians and activists when they need it. Our recent Incubator Fund award from Youth Music to mentor four young music enthusiasts over the coming year shows that in these hard times, in regards to music development, there are still things to smile about.

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