OCTOBERBEST: A MUSICAL CELEBRATION:

I’ve always been a fan of autumn from a local musical perspective.

After years of long summers watching, at best, reasonable Chester music festivals and extremely limited music releases, the scene always kicks in as soon as the dew hits the grass and the flies thankfully fuck off.

But in six years of casting an eye over proceedings, it can to be argued that October 2019 will go down as possibly the best month out of a possible 75 in terms of output and events.

Here’s my case in question:

The month got off to an epic start when seasoned Italian neo-psychedelic rock group Julies Haircut played The Live Rooms on the 2nd.

I was lucky enough to grab a support slot with Startripper and we were joined by the fantastic Thee Lucifer Sams from Liverpool. It was a fantastic evening of reverb and experimentation.

Due to clashing diaries, myself and Vince Cory had TWO quick run-throughs prior to the event so nerves were high personally on the night.

Fortunately we were well received with our improv remix set:

Thee Lucifer Sams smashed it with a 30 minute jam, based around a single narrative sample, taking the audience on a spaced out garage trip beyond the four walls of the venue.

It very quickly became a mutual appreciation society and Startripper are looking forward to playing some north-west gigs with them next year.

The following Friday the mighty NEXUS brought it’s inclusive techno vibe back to The Saddle, giving Parisian DJ Natalino Nunes their UK debut as well as another quality assured lineup of selectors.

On the 5th, HMV Chester started their ‘Live & Local’ in-store events on the front foot, with a Mai 68 Records showcase downstairs.

The label brought their top notch portfolio of artists to a busy event with The Shipbuilders, Ennio The Little Brother & Campfire Social performing to a appreciate large audience:

(Video by @shitchester)

Just over 24 hours later found the thankfully resurgent Stepping Tiger putting on possibly THE best gig of the year, bringing legendary tuba player Theon Cross to Storyhouse before a packed out crowd.

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IMAGE BY STEPPING TIGER

English rockers The Wildhearts played to a full house at The Live Rooms as part of their ‘The Renaissance Men Tour Part II’ on the 7th to rave reviews (It. Was. Loud.) 

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Janus Stark at the Live Rooms in Chester on October 7th 2019 ©Johann Wierzbicki | ROCKFLESH

For those of you that needed to catch your breath, the ever consistent Soundbox hosted Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage at St Mary’s Creative Space with support from Calum Gilligan.

It’s quite well documented that I’m not the worlds biggest contemporary folkie but organisers Rose Price and Bev Fraser do not get enough recognition or credit for the tireless work they do, often getting overlooked fot the younger, trendier genres locally. 

This is something I’m aware I’m guilty of personally and I’ll be putting right in 2020.

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IMAGE BY MARK FRENCH

But Octoberbest wasn’t just about the events with some absolutely cracking music being released. 

October the 11th saw the release of the ridiculously good ‘Angry Machine’ by local noise specialists Pint + Blister

We’re extremely excited by Pint + Blister. They don’t fuck about. Urgent and to the point.  Certainly one of our break-through bands for next year. 

Chester seems to be getting with the program in terms of DIY noise and is starting to hold it’s own in this genre thanks to a select few promoters who are connecting the city to the rest of the north-west. 

Regular readers will not need any introduction to Restless Bear Promotions who had a busy October dropping a split EP featuring label signings Gravves & DEH-YEY on 10″ vinyl.

Chris Bear and the gang celebrated the release with an all day event  featuring sets from Gravves , DEH-YEY , Chupa Cabra , Crapsons , Springfield Elementary , EARLS & Hey Bulldog.

Certainly the finest line-up regionally of 2019 and a thoroughly enjoyable gig surrounded by friends. 

I was quite moved, when someone I look up to musically, informed me that they were only doing what they were doing after taking inspiration from my work on the scene.

‘…It made me get off my arse Dan and do something…’ 

I went home chuffed to bits with a massive smile on my face, genuinely touched.

A personal 2019 highlight for me. 

Chester blues rockers Cry For Mercy uploaded their first video ‘Overload’, the lead single off their debut EP.

I’ll hopefully be getting a review copy next month to cast my ear over.

Based on this release I’m expecting something quite special: 

Not content with basking in Startripper glory alone, Vince Cory also featured on the fantastic Sonic Trip Project Meets Sunhair double live album on CD through Sunhair Music.

Essentially a recording of a concert they did in Germany in late 2018, it’s a two hour space rock masterpiece not available online at this stage. 

STP are tragically overlooked in Vince’s hometown and have a massive following  all over the UK & the continent. 

Hopefully something someone can put right in 2020 as I feel they would fill a decent venue locally. 

I love you all but you’re a strange bunch sometimes, Cestrians. You really are.

Authentic psyche/space rock improv done properly. 

octoberbest
CD artwork by Ulrich Mönig.

We were also lucky to welcome the incredible Ian Prowse back to Telford’s Warehouse on the 17th and if that wasn’t enough, hugely successful promoters Roman Candle hosted Rose Cousins at St Mary’s on the same night. 

octoberbest
Image by Grahame Rhodes

The Hawklords rocked up to The Live Rooms on the 22nd, bringing their amazing space jams to more acclaim for the venue. 

It has to be said that TLR have really sorted themselves out this year.

The dark old days of dodgy idiot promoters ripping off local artists, shit metal and 80’s hasbeens seems to be a thing of the past, with the venue popping up on my personal listings most weeks with some excellent acts.  I’m also personally enjoying a good relationship with the promoters behind the scenes and am looking forward to working on some projects of my own there next year. 

So there you go. October 2019. Possibly the greatest month the city has enjoyed musically certainly on my watch. 

I could go on but I think 1100+ words is enough! 

Honourable mentions though: 

Mai 68 hosting Purple Heart Brigade at Telford’s Warehouse. 

Hayseed Dixies at The Live Rooms. 

Benji Webbe From Skindred DJ Set at The Saddle.

Mod Hatters at Ye Olde Kings Head.

Milk Milk Lemonade at The Golden Eagle.

The Flow at Telford’s Warehouse.

etc etc etc….

Finally I’d like to thank all the promoters, artists and venues for helping to put together such a special month. 

Having hosted a few events myself I appreciate the hundreds of hours that go into making these things happen. 

Chester is alive and well and firing on all cylinders musically.

Long may it continue. 

At this rate I’ll be able to shut up shop and retire soon. 

Dx 

(FEATURED IMAGE BY STEPPING TIGER)

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