Eurovision has arrived in Liverpool! The city put in a successful bid to host this year’s song contest on behalf of Ukraine; and one thing that tipped it for Eurovision bosses was the ‘cultural offer’ in the city.
Liverpool has an iconic, vibrant history of music, recognised by UNESCO and the Guinness Book of World Records. From the obvious, to the obscure, our city has often been at the forefront of the UK music scene. This week will be no different, as fans descend on our humble port city to enjoy the glitter of Eurovision!
Despite the global recognition, Liverpool’s music industry still struggles in lots of ways. The impact of COVID-19 and rising energy costs means we’ve lost some of our most iconic venues, and locals continue to struggle through a cost of living crisis.
Grassroots organisations are more important than ever, those that support artists and those that continue to sustain Liverpool’s music scene. This week is a perfect opportunity to show the world what we’re about. Today we want to celebrate the businesses in our community who continue to put Liverpool on the musical map!
EVOL are live music promoters, who’ve been on the scene in Liverpool for 20 years. They began in 2003, first in the depths of Heebie Jeebies and later in legendary Liverpool nightclub, Korova. Founded by Danny Hunt, Reuben Wu, and Steven Miller (aka Revo Ziganda), the club night has hosted some of the biggest names in alternative and electronic music. The likes of The xx, Arctic Monkeys, Metronomy and Hot Chip all performed in their early days; and more recently huge artists like Fontaines DC and Courtney Barnett have paid a visit to Liverpool thanks to Evol.
Since the beginning, the team have supported emerging artists with local bands like The Mysterines, The Dream Machine and Hushtones regularly promoted. In 2016, LIMF celebrated the promoters with 76-16: From Erics to EVOL (A celebration of Liverpool’s counter-culture). The event showcased the key venues and artists involved in the ‘inter-generational story of Liverpool’s underground music scene.’
District is a venue on Jordan Street, hosting gigs, club nights, festivals and screenings. The venue is home to some of Liverpool’s most popular and eclectic music nights; as well as hosting the city’s festivals including Sound City, Baltic Weekender, Liverpool Disco Festival and Threshold. District’s home in a former warehouse was previously known as the Picket. The venue holds an important place in Liverpool’s history having given young people an opportunity to record and perform there.
Today, District prides itself on being an inclusive venue, celebrating creativity and culture from around the world. Here you can find drag queens, diverse music genres and charity gigs. The venue offers discounts to low-income or unwaged people as well as carer tickets. They’re also fully accessible and have played host to Under One Roof – a club night providing a safe space for adults with learning disabilities and limited mobility.
Sound City is a globally-recognised music festival featuring emerging artists and performers from across the world. The festival emerged in 2008, during Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year. Since then, the weekend has played host to some of the biggest names in music. From Ed Sheeran to Stormzy, Lizzo to Florence and the Machine, Sound City has always been a place to discover the next big thing. In April 2023, they celebrated their 16th year with a bumper line-up headlined by Yorkshire band, The Reytons and singer-songwriter, Maisie Peters.
The festival is a leader in championing emerging talent. They offer three full days of music across the city centre, bringing audiences to Liverpool’s beloved independent venues. This year, the team added New Music Friday to their offering. The day featured up-and-coming artists in various venues, whilst their annual conference Sound City+, welcomed leading industry figures and music business professionals to Liverpool.
Support for Artists
Sharing a space with Sound City, is Modern Sky – the UK branch of a global record label formed in 2017. Artists signed to Modern Sky have enjoyed multiple chart albums and tens of millions of streams. In their own words, they are ‘committed to putting Northern bands and artists back in the spotlight.’ From their home in Liverpool, the label strives to create the best music possible by collaborating with talented local artists.
On their books they currently have popular artists such as Jamie Webster, the Lottery Winners, Red Rum Club, Peach Fuzz and Slow Readers Club – all enjoying festival bookings and radio plays on a regular basis. Their artists span a range of genres such as alt-R&B singer Cariss Auburn and Malady, who the NME described as a blend of ‘post-rave and indie-gloom.’ In February this year the team, led by Dave Pichilingi, announced they’d struck a global distribution deal with Virgin Music. The deal allows the team to ‘work more effectively globally … sending Modern Sky to new heights in 2023.’
Skiddle is one of the UK’s leading live event websites. Their technology and commitment to the events sector makes it easy and accessible for promoters to sell tickets. Skiddle’s self-service model means anyone is able to promote an event and receive support. Listing events are free and promoters don’t pay a penny, receiving 100% of the ticket face value. This is crucial for the event organisers and club promoters who keep the music scene of Liverpool going.
The organisation is part of the Fanfair Alliance, making a declaration to take a stand against touts in the ticketing market. As well as helping promoters deliver the best gigs, club nights and festivals, Skiddle are passionate about raising money for local causes. The team in their Liverpool office recently paid a visit to Alder Hey Hospital. They were shown Alder Hey’s Innovation Centre and talked all things digital and tech with the hospital staff!
Sort Rehearsal Rooms
Sort Rehearsal Rooms, based at Northern Lights, exists to support musicians in the music industry. The team has over 20 years of experience, which they’ve used to create state of the art rooms for artists to hang out in and hone their sound. Lee Mitchell, founder of Sort Rehearsal Rooms, decided to forego promotion of the space and put all his effort into helping bands from around Liverpool instead.
Lee and the team know all too well the dodgy equipment usually on offer at other rehearsal rooms. They have invested in their equipment and have staff onsite to help if anything goes wrong. Every detail of the space has been designed with musicians in mind. There’s a flat load ramp in and the rooms are equipped with high-spec gear ready to plug in and play. With all this, it’s no wonder Sort won Best Professional Rehearsal Spaces Provider in the Northern Enterprise Awards!
Steve Levine is a record producer with an impressive back catalogue of hits and a collection of prestigious industry awards at the Brits and Grammys. An advocate for upcoming talent, he is a director of PRS, a LIPA companion and an original member of the Liverpool City Region Music Board. He also created and co-presents the BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music programme ‘The Record Producers’ which analyse how iconic recordings are created, from the producer’s perspective.
Steve is currently working with Liverpool psych band, Hushtones, and recently produced critically-acclaimed releases for his label, Baltic Jazz Recordings. ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ is a cover of The Clash by Lois Levin. The single brings the classic punk band to a new audience with a fantastic arrangement of soul and jazz. It has received multiple radio plays and made its way onto the Jazz FM A-List.
Eastwood Guitars is a manufacturer of rare and vintage-style instruments. Their distinctive guitars have attracted huge global artists like Warren Ellis (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), Jack White, PJ Harvey, Nick Valensi (The Strokes), Cate Le Bon and Merseyside bands – The Coral and Echo & The Bunnymen – to name a few.
Based in Canada, their Liverpool office is here in the Baltic Triangle. Managing Director, Carl Cook, brought it online in 2010 as Eastwood’s second location. Liverpool was an ideal choice. The music community here, and volume of artists in the city, coupled perfectly with Eastwood’s operations. In 2018, they linked up with Sound City to open their first ever pop-up shop, inviting guests to the Baltic Creative Campus to view and buy the guitars directly. Brexit may have affected the logistics of Eastwood’s business, but with the design, marketing and sales arm unaffected, it means that Carl can continue to employ people in their Liverpool office giving crucial jobs to music-lovers.
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