John Peel’s Festive Fifty & Dandelion Radio

The death of John Peel in 2004 understandably hit all right-minded people hard. However, I’m probably in a very small minority in confessing to feeling more than a touch of annoyance, as well as an immeasurable sense of loss, at hearing the terrible news. Having discovered the joys of the BBC’s ‘Listen Again’ facility a few months earlier, it meant that I was once again tapping my toes to Japanese thrash and Belgian electro while at work.

I had been one of the multitude of ‘under the covers’ listeners to his shows in the late-seventies, progressing to become a ‘finger on the record-button’ regular, even catching him on World Service occasionally, but work and family had combined in recent years to downgrade me to the status of ‘very occasional listener’, not just to Peel but to new music in general. Having always intended to upgrade to more regular listening, my immense pleasure at returning to the fold was cut unsatisfactorily short. Having caught the bug again, I was then, like many others, left drifting in search of a reliable source of new music.

Up until music and I went our separate ways for a while, one of the highlights of my year was always the Festive Fifty; John Peel listeners’ annual chart of the year’s faves. The chart still went ahead that fateful year but it was all irritatingly wrong. Not only was Peel not there, obviously, but the stand-in presenter made the schoolboy error of announcing each record before it had been played; an absolute no-no for Peel. The following year, the BBC saw fit to ditch the chart and even their inevitably futile attempts at replacing the irreplaceable were abandoned.

It was some time later that I was Googling ‘Festive Fifty’ (as you do on a quiet day) when I made two fantastic discoveries. The first was a guy on eBay selling copies of every Festive Fifty, from the first to the last!

Three days later, two DVDs turned up with every track (bar one, which he couldn’t track down) from every chart (many of which were original recordings of John Peel shows). I spent an enjoyable few months catching up on music I’d missed out on during my hiatus and discovered some truly wonderful bands that had passed me by.

The second discovery was that something called ‘Dandelion Radio’ had been asked by the BBC to take over the Festive Fifty. Never having heard of it, I went to their website and started listening. Right from the start, it felt like coming home. Here were brand new bands playing weird and (sometimes) wonderful music. Here’s some hillbilly, some indie, some dub, some rave, some soul, some more indie, some noise, some blues, some reggae, some… actually, what the hell WAS that?!? Here were Northern middle-aged men enthusing over all types of music. Here also were old faves The Fall, Wedding Present, Half Man Half Biscuit and Melt Banana’s aforementioned Japanese thrash. Their ‘jingles’ (only used very sparingly so shows end on multiples of an hour) were by the likes of Ted Chippington, David Gedge and Bearsuit. There were even presenters who weren’t middle-aged or from the North and some who I strongly suspected weren’t even men and may or may not have had beards. It was wonderful. Well, some of it was. It really couldn’t live up to its claim of being ‘inspired by Peel’ without playing a fair amount of records that were probably best, to these ears, left unplayed.

A roster of DJs pre-record shows and these are looped so that it goes out continually. Each show has its own flavour, some of which I find more palatable than others. It’s taken a while but I can now get something from each of them, although some shows are definitely anticipated more than others…  Since discovering Dandelion, I always have a post-it next to me to jot down stuff that catches my ear. Being an old indie-kid, it’s often similar sounding records that make the list (there are a lot of groups that desperately want it to be 1986 again, which is fine with me) but I’ve been really surprised at how much other stuff I noted down that I wouldn’t have otherwise listened to.

Then again, that’s the true legacy of John Peel for me and I feel sure the old boy would approve wholeheartedly.



XFM BestNonFest – The music festival with a difference

xfm bestnonfest

The UK radio station that loves music, XFM, have announced the launch of their BestNonFest competition that offers one lucky winner the ultimate non festival package – the ultimate collection of gig tickets to see some of the greatest bands around.

Top bands already lined up for the grand prize include Mumford & Sons, Foals, MGMT, Biffy Clyro, Darwin Deez, Manic Street Preachers and Klaxons, with many more artists to be announced through July and August.

XFM invite music fans to join a virtual queue on Facebook whereby each position is constantly determined by a series of daily music Q&As.

Questions answered correctly enable entrants to move forward whilst incorrect answers move them backwards in the queue.  Each person that enters the competition gets the chance to win weekly spot-prizes of gig tickets, CDs, and festival paraphernalia.

The first person in the queue by the end of the competition wins the grand prize of gig tickets to see an incredible line-up of BestNonFest bands.

The competition is easy to enter by simply clicking on the BestNonFest tab on XFM’s Facebook page where you will find details of how you could win the grand prize.

Good luck!

Artists unite in Save BBC 6 Music campaign

ian mcnabb
ian mcnabb

Former Icicle Works frontman Ian McNabb and Goldheart Assembly will headline a free gig at 93 Feet West in London in May as part of the Save BBC 6 Music radio station campaign.

The evening features eight fantastic acts who have featured on the station over the last year including I Like Trains, RedTrack, We Rock Like Girls Dont, Shabby Rogue, Isa & The Filthy Tongues and Alexander Price.

Andrew Harrison from The Word magazine will be hosting the event and the gig is designed to show solidarity, artist support and to raise awareness of what the BBC are aiming to do – ditching BBC 6.

In a seperate Save BBC 6 Campaign on YouTube Grizzly Bear and Martyn Ware have added their weight to the campaign, both coming forward and stating that they are fully behind the cause.

The Jim Bob, Carter USM and The Woodentops clips on the YouTube channel were recorded specifically by the artists themselves and uploaded to the channel. Many more will follow.

Save  BBC 6 Music

Full event info is :

EVENT : Save BBC6 Headlined by Ian McNabb & Goldheart Assembly

VENUE : 93 Feet East, 150 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU

DATE : Tue May 4th 2010
TEL : 020 7247 3293


DOORS : 6pm

TUBE : Aldgate East

STAGE TIMES : 6.30-Alexander Price

7.30-Isa & The Filthy Tongues

8.00-Shabby Rogue

8.30-I Like Trains

9.00- We Rock Like Girls Dont


10.00 – Goldheart Assembly

10.30 – Ian McNabb

Tourdates launch chart show featuring unsigned bands with chance to win recording session

cid_59347021230072009-0050Camden based Tourdates have announced a brand new show in support of their long-standing UK Unsigned Top 40 music chart. The weekly two hour show, called Music Unleashed Top 40, is to be presented by Jordan Thomas and Murray Golding and will air on every Sunday from 5-7pm.

The chart, in its 140th edition, is based entirely on plays and downloads by the Tourdates community. The show will also be made available free of charge to community radio stations, student radio and selected online radio stations.

Tourdates CEO, Jarrod Robinson, said:

“Since we first launched the chart in Dec ’06 upcoming bands and music lovers alike have used it as a barometer for what’s happening in the underground scene, so it made perfect sense to create a show around the chart and make that available to community stations across the UK. It’s a win-win-situation – artists and Tourdates get more exposure, with the stations getting access to a professionally produced show with fresh new content.”

Win A Recording Slot For Your Unsigned Band

To celebrate the launch of the chart show, Tourdates will be inviting an unsigned band to go in to the studio for three days to record two songs with long standing producer Paul Tipler. The lucky band will be hand picked from the Unsigned Top 40 between August and September. All bands in the chart are in the running, not just those who reach the number one slot. Paul Tipler has been working in studios and producing records for over 20 years, and is always on the look out for exciting new bands to work with. He has worked on both singles and albums for a wide variety of bands and artists, including Placebo, Idlewild, The Charlatans and Atomic Kitten, to name but a few.

The Tourdates site provides a platform for DIY music makers to promote themselves alongside mainstream acts, gigs performed in London will also appear automatically in the London Tourdates magazine.

There are currently over 5,000 tracks for music lovers to listen to online or download as well as videos, blogs a comprehensive gig guide and music news.

Unsigned Band Site Rocklinks Wins Local Business Award

Set up by Craig Jones in 2002,Rocklinks aim of promoting and supporting unsigned UK bands and artistes received local recognition recently, by winning the Gosport Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award 2008.

Despite tough competition from local business Rocklinks scooped the award, with judges singing the praises of it’s owner for his efforts in recognising the importance of building capacity through networks, demonstrating a willingness to learn and apply new skills and making very significant progress in a short space of time.

Rocklinks and it’s sister site RL Music Services, offer UK bands and artistes many opportunities of promotion and support, through their well built and easy to follow websites. Featured bands, interviews, radio podcasts and gig guide help is offered at no charge, as is a massive directory of UK music contacts.

Craig also has some fantastic ideas regarding a CD compilation release in 2009, with featured bands receiving royalty payments on sales. Through RL Music Services the company offers recording, video and promotional products and services for a very reasonable (cheap) price.

Rocklinks are currently promoting the Live and Unsigned 2009 auditions that will take place across the UK in early part of 2009. Bands or singers from all genres are welcome to audition, the crucial factor is that you can play ‘live’ and not what style of music you perform. Over 10,000 have registered for the second year in succession for the biggest talent search in the UK music industry.

If you fancy yourself as the next big thing, solo or band, register now at Live & Unsigned for the chance to win a recording contract and single release. Audition dates and venues can be found on the home page.

Whether you are in a band or just a music fan looking to support local band gigs or maybe interested to see what Craig Joneslooks like in a dj, make sure you visit the award winning Rocklinks site.