The hardest thing for young musicians starting out is getting the right kind of help and support. At BBC Music Introducing in Norfolk as well as being given music to listen to, we are often asked to suggest good venues and trusted promoters.
Over the last few years one organisation in our area has been doing its best to help. Sonic Youths is based at the Norwich Arts Centre and runs regular music showcases for 14-19 year olds. It’s created a real buzz amongst new performers making it the must-play gig for them.
On a regular basis they do a call out for acts to send in demo tapes and for those lucky enough to get selected there’s a lunchtime gig on offer on the small stage area of the Arts Centre. Then, three times a year, those who do well get invited back to play on the main stage where the likes of Coldplay and Nirvana played before.
A lot of the new talent they discovered are now regulars on the local scene – like Maya Law, Finn Doherty and We’ll Be Detectives. In addition they have had some big successes amongst their graduates. Let’s Eat Grandma and Mullally have gone on to be signed acts – and Peach Club and Red Dear have both had tracks played on Radio 1.
There’s more to come too. Sonic Youths is now expanding by setting up a new initiative called Salon. It’s a chance for those same young musicians to meet up and share experiences and talk with invited experts like sound engineers and publicists, all with the aim of getting them more established in the music business.
Every good initiative needs a good leader and in this instance the person behind it all is Annie Catwoman, for many years the co-promoter of Wombat Wombat gig nights. It’s not surprising that last year Annie was the winner of a Norfolk Arts Award for all the work she has been doing.
The next Sonic Youths event is on Saturday lunchtime, 23rd June at Norwich Arts Centre. If you’re a new musician, it’s a good chance to check out a few acts before dipping your own toes in the water by sending them a demo when the next shout out comes around.