When we’re inviting people to contribute to our occasional features, there are two questions we ask. Do they have experience of the subject? Can they write about it in an interesting way? Ray Jones, CEO of Talentbanq , formerly Business Development Director at Time Out qualifies on both counts. He is passionate about live music and he knows how to write. It’s also fair to say that he’s seen a few gigs as well. So here’s what he came up with when we asked him to write about a memorable gig (and we certainly will be inviting him back):


“The Windshield Wipers Slapping Time” – it was pouring as we waited in line to board the ferry to the Isle of Wight. 

“I’ll take the 4×4” said my mate Bilko – and thank God he did. We were about to experience mud that made Glastonbury look a picnic. Fortunately we were also about to experience one of the best festival lineups of all times. The American Trilogy with nightly headliners – Tom Petty, Pearl Jam and The Boss.

With the ferry queue moving slowly – my 16 year old son CJ – heading for his first festival with dad, jumped out of the car with Bilko to get hot coffees.  “Forward” shouted the guy from P&O so I jumped into the front and drove onto the ferry – and sailed away – without them.

The first of many memories from that wonderfully soggy weekend. Cars were being towed INTO Car Parks – tents were afloat on a sea of mud and wellies were getting stuck in the quagmire. And yet in amongst the mud, the blood and the beer were the smiles of people soaking up GREAT music.  

Tom Petty on Friday night was a masterclass. The discomfort of rainwater trickling down our backs ignored as we took in the genius on stage.

I can’t remember when we saw Black Stone Cherry but they ripped it up, while the steamy wood-chip floor of The Big Top marquee seemed to be fermenting.

We met up with more friends. I have known Damian since we walked to primary school together. He and his wife were in one of those pre-sited Yurts. That’s the equivalent of The Ritz at IOW – and we did not let them forget it.

We partied quite hard to Madness on Saturday and Noel Gallagher was a fine warm-up on Sunday for what happened next – and that’s really what I had to share.

I’ve seen The Boss at Wembley, Hyde Park, The Olympic Park, Paris on the 4th of July and most memorably in his home state of New Jersey, but when he and the East Street Band walked out on stage at IOW2012 something magic happened.

The next three hours are a blur of singing, hugging, drinking, dancing and total admiration for a man and his band that delivered way beyond 100%.

We were exhausted when Mr Springsteen announced with a broad smile “We have a fucking boat to catch”

I have no idea if he made it because he broke into a massive, firework-festooned finale of “Twist and Shout” that had about 100,000 people partying in a way I had not seen at a festival before.

As we walked back to our tent my son said “Hey dad, this weekend has been the best thing I’ve ever done”

You can’t buy memories in Harrods! But you can make them at great festivals.

Thanks to wonderful people like John Giddings at Solo and Sarah Handy at Hard Rock I have many more memories of good times spent on the Isle of Wight, but those stories will have to wait. Maybe Music Riot will invite me back. 

And here’s a little bonus from The Boss:



Witchingseason TitleI know we don’t feature a lot of metal bands here, but we don’t mind making an exception occasionally: Witchingseason is a three-piece from Kent tipped to succeed this year by Quite Great when they contributed to our High Fives in December. The band is fronted by Tom Reyolds with James Willans (bass) and Wayne Summers (drums) providing a thunderous rhythm section. If you want a frame of reference, then you won’t go far wrong with Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Queens of the Stone Age. I’m not saying that their new single “The Healer” (to be released on April 27) is breathtakingly original, but from the opening over-driven riff it sounds like they mean business. The raw instrumentation backs a surprisingly melodic vocal (supplemented by backing vocals from Leogun’s Tommy Smith) and the whole package should be equally at home in the pit or on whatever device you use to listen to your music (or maybe even on the radio).

But don’t take my word for it, you can listen for yourself:

When we asked our friends at Quite Great promotions for a contribution to the High Fives feature, they gave us a selection of albums they’ve worked on this year that really took their fancy: Alan Mair“Field of One” – Alan Mair The Only Ones bass player Alan Mair has been writing songs for many years, and witnessing the current accessibility to worldwide digital distribution of music, and the ability to keep control of one’s music, he has decided to finally release them. Alan’s debut solo single ‘Four Winds’ is due for release on the 22nd December 2014. The track itself is an eclectic blend of alternative rock with resonating vocals and features the revered guitarist Zal Cleminson on guitar, who in his own right is a superstar in the world of guitarists. If you can’t wait until December, take a listen to it here.

John FairhurstSaltwater” – John Fairhurst Bristol-based, the John Fairhurst Band are a newly formed trio fronted by their eponymous songwriter. Drawing from rock, blues and world music, with a penchant for slide guitar and a distinctive deep growling voice, his songs, delivered in pure raconteur style, narrate all the hardships of life on the road. For the first time, John Fairhurst will be releasing his new album – and the preceding singles – accompanied by a powerhouse rhythm section of Bristol’s young guns: Toby Murray & Pete Episcopo. For a taste of their sound, check out this video for “Breakdown”.


Witchingseason[1]“Codeine EP” – Witching Season The highly anticipated EP from rock trio Witching Season is out now. The band claim to draw influences from the likes of rock legends, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, The Doors,  Queens of the Stone Age and Dinosaur Jr, all of which shines through in their  music; they have been making a lasting impression across the rock scene and have received a host of plays on radio stations nationwide. New track “Codeine” showcases the band’s rocking talent and is true to their dark rock sound. True to the band’s native rock sound, ‘Codeine’ features heavy and impressive guitar riffs teamed with fierce drum beats all stitched together with Tom Reynolds coarse and captivating vocals. noel“In the Art of Doom” – Noel and the Pandas Noel and the Pandas are the hottest new alternative rock sound to emerge from Italy. With a soft rock sound and sensitive lyrics, the guys add a hearty Italian twist to rock. The band is led by front man Noel, who is the ultimate Italian Jack of all trades who has finally found his calling in the world of alternative rock music. The band has an alternative rock sound, with a soft undertone that subtly embraces the best of rock. “In the Art of Doom” is the debut album from the band and showcases the rockin’ talents of the five guys. A number of tracks on the album explore the heart ache Noel has suffered over recent years and draws the listener into his complex world through his heartfelt lyrics. zzips“20 Years Late” – The zzips Meet The zzips; living proof that rock‘n’roll is not dead, and is in fact very much alive and kicking. A diverse duo comprising frontman James Butler and writing partner Graham Cupples, their debut is the eagerly anticipated album “20 Years Late”. Within their songs, they address issues that are prominent within British society, and question the policies of consumerism, greed and elitism after partaking in social observation. The album is both a call to arms and a cry for revolution and change, whilst some of the songs simply follow what happens within their day-to-day lives. Think classic 90’s rock, with a modern blues twist and challenging lyrics.