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Re-igniting Newbury's live music scene

Trish Lee

Reporter:

Trish Lee

Re-igniting Newbury's live music scene

HARRY Marshall, Jon Stubberfield and Rupert Nobes are three regular guys who were part of Newbury’s thriving music scene back in the day and want to reignite that excitement in a new generation. So they set up NEW:MUSIC to promote local music.
The Old Parkonians formed their first band together at school. “We weren’t any good, but there were a lot of bands and musicians who knew their stuff and the music scene definitely played a role in their success,” says Harry.
In the early noughties, there was a lot more going on. “The scene back then was much bigger, with the Corn Exchange hosting the Salvage alternative rock nights and smaller shows at the Waterside and Northcroft leisure centre.
“Some of the bands have made it big-time – like Pete Liddle of Dry The River and Jordan Fish from Bring Me The Horizon.”
They originally set up Newbury Music – NEW:MUSIC – to encourage the youth community by supporting unsigned bands and providing opportunities to play in and around Berkshire. Harry and Rupert are teachers, so it all began with them trying to support some of the bands started by students.
“We were met with tremendous support from the local community,” says Jon. “And we quickly developed links with Hogan Music and the Corn Exchange. With these fantastic friendships we have begun developing the live music scene with an unsigned competition and showcase event. It’s great to see the town find a renewed passion for a live music scene.”
The annual competition is similar to the old Battle of the Bands nights. The audience and judges votes are combined – one lucky audience member wins a free guitar and the top act gets studio recording time – both prizes donated by Hogan’s.
“Being able to give a brand new guitar to someone in the audience is awesome, they get to take it home that very night. It may even inspire someone to start their own band or write their own music.
“It would be fantastic to host a musician who had started because of that.”
This year’s ‘battle’ featured four bands; Ruling Over Heroes, In Darklight, This is Shark County and Elasea, who won
the time in Hogan’s new studio above the shop in the Kennet Centre after a voting cliffhanger, the scores were so close.
“We also host another great night of music at The Corn Exchange known as The Showcase,” says Harry. “This is an opportunity for the range of music being played in Newbury to be presented. By bringing in a more established headline act, local bands have the opportunity to hone their skills and play with a variety of other genres.Our main aim is to avoid the dark, heavy metal-only shows that are assumed by most potential audiences when they hear that their is a gig on. Our events – the competition, the showcase and hopefully more to come – are family-friendly, with a real social atmosphere. We host a real variety of musicstyles and so far we have given away a brand new guitar to someone in the audience at every show.”
The boys’ mission is to encourage unsigned and local live music so if there are any aspiring musicians, or current bands needing support to find a platform, there are some key things they can do to get themselves playing at one of NEW:MUSIC’s shows.
“First off, invite us to your shows,” says Jon. “We love live music and will always come and support shows where we can.
“You can follow us on social media @newbury_music, Facebook/newburymusic and check out our website www.newburymusic.co.uk”.
Of course, you can always go and talk to Jon and Harry at one of their shows too. “We’re a very approachable team and love chatting about all of the gigs and shows coming up.
“Networking is a huge part of building a scene and community support is key to future success.
“I think every band knows the feeling of playing a show to just the other bands and their girl/boyfriends, but our venue, The Corn Exchange, has a real Academy vibe to it and could easily become a premium venue in Berkshire with the support of all local bands and music acts.”
Getting yourself a public profile on social media is essential. Harry says: “Our advice would also be to get
some media content out there. Record your songs and get something up on YouTube, even if it’s a home-made video or a montage of gig stills.
“The ability to share your music online is absolutely invaluable.”
The next NEW:MUSIC show will be on April 2, at the Corn Exchange. Bands and acts will be confirmed nearer the time but anyone interested can register on the website for their chance to play at one of the shows.Venues and promoters also use the
site to find contacts for unsigned acts in Berkshire.If you are a musician or band needing direction in your life, get in touch with the guys from NEW:MUSIC. They want to make Newbury the go-to place for live music once again.

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