This is why we do this

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Photo by Allan McKay

If you check out MusicRiot regularly, you’ll know that our contributors have one thing in common; they’re all passionate about (maybe bordering on obsessed by) music.  All of the Riot Squad (John Preston, Louie Anderson and, most recently, Klare Stephens) love music of all styles and the reason we do this is because we want to share our passion and maybe get a few more people to listen to the music we love, whether it’s live or recorded.  Also, because music is such a personal thing we like to bring that element into our contributions; opinions are always subjective, but at least we’re upfront about it.  Often it can feel like shouting in the dark: then you have a weekend like the one I’ve just had.

Last week I published a review of the excellent album “Closer than you Know” by The Kennedys and I was invited to review their gig at Kings Place in London on Friday.  I also had a gig lined up for Sunday night, going to watch the Billy Walton Band in High Barnet with some good friends.  Both gigs were superb in very different ways; you can read The Kennedys review and previous Billy Walton Band reviews here on MusicRiot and work out for yourself that I’m impressed.

The live performances by these bands, however, are only part of the story.  All of the musicians at these two gigs (Pete and Maura Kennedy, Billy Walton, William Paris, Rich Taskowitz and John D’Angelo) are extremely gifted musicians who love what they do and love to interact with their audience personally and online. Both bands mix with the audience when they aren’t actually performing (and sometimes when they are; yeah that’s you Billy and Rich) and have a huge amount of respect for their fans, fellow musicians and songwriters.

Both gigs were superb in different ways; The Kennedys stripped down their songs to arrangements for two acoustic guitars and two voices while the Billy Walton Band played raucous r’n’r (and blues and soul and the rest) in the way that bands from New Jersey do.  Both bands were happy to play requests from the audience regardless of the setlist they had prepared.  Most importantly, both bands were obviously having a good time.  So far, so good, but excellence is pretty much what I expected from these two bands and this weekend was about much more than that.

I’ve been reviewing gigs in London and elsewhere for MusicRiot for six years now and sometimes it can be a bit depressing; you watch incredibly gifted bands and artists performing to audiences which just scrape into three figures and most of them are friends of the band.  I’ve been to blues gigs where the majority of the audience at least twice as old as the musicians.   It was great to see two very different gigs this weekend where the ages of the audience ranged widely and everyone was there to hear great live music and have a good time.  And that brings me on to the reason why we all contribute to MusicRiot.

We don’t ignore the established bands at MusicRiot; we had two reviews of the Daft Punk album last week and we’ve reviewed albums by Bruce Springsteen, Scissor Sisters, Lana del Rey and Saint Etienne in the last year or so.  We also love to discover a diverse range of bands and artists that you might not have heard of and tell you all about them so we’ll carry on telling you all about artists like The Kennedys, the Billy Walton Band, MS MR, Sally Shapiro, Tomorrow’s World, Lilygun, Stoneface Travellers, Dean Owens and many more.  We’ve even got some pretty good photos for you to look at.

If there’s one lesson that I’ve learned from six years at MusicRiot it’s this; whatever you hear on daytime radio, there’s always good music out there if you know where to look and that’s why the Riot Squad do what they do.  And thanks to Richie Taz for the title.