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Suffolk, the Next Big Thing?

The news of David Bowie’s death was announced earlier. For the rest of the day the news has been dominated by heartfelt tributes to someone whose musical legacy can only be matched by a handful of others. People who knew him, worked with him, watched him perform – whether it was live in person or on TV – the feeling of loss and admiration has been astonishing.

It’s monopolised coverage on the traditional outlets (radio stations that would only play Let’s Dance or Heroes suddenly delving into his back catalogue) and on social media, where timelines have been filled with links to people’s favourite songs on YouTube, clips from Labyrinth or quotes from Bowie lyrics.   I’ve found it all very sad, and I’m not even one of those who met him, or saw him play live.

Anyway, now that I’ve started the article in this glum mood, it’s going to be tricky to bring it back round to local music – which of course is anything but sombre. It’s dynamic and ever changing; surprising and mystifying (yet still largely overlooked by the rest of the music industry).

Yes, let’s focus on that (again). The annual polls for The Next Big Thing once again failed to excite – with a big question being why the industry seems so drawn to certain cities. Sure, The Smiths were great, as were New Order, but acts from Manchester continue to be living off their memories, pale in comparison, yet are still hyped as being worthy successors.

I try not to let such trivial things get me down, but it’s frustrating knowing that there’s such a wealth of talent in these parts that doesn’t get a look in. Are Blossoms really more exciting than, say, Superglu? No. I know music is subjective, but it’s safe to say the previous sentence is a fact.

‘But hey’, you might say, ‘what about Ed Sheeran? He’s pretty much the biggest artist in the world, and he’s from Suffolk’.

That is true, but was he ever on any of these lists? Nope. He was largely ignored by the industry until it became impossible not to pay attention.

So am I being paranoid? Is there really an anti-Suffolk contingent in the music business, conscious or not? Who knows? I’m going to try and find out.

In other news, which is very much related, we’re going to be putting on a series of live gigs at the John Peel Centre throughout the year. The first one will have happened by the time this has been published – but we’ll return in April, June and September with three or four acts in tow each night.  Hopefully see you there.