Carry moonbeams home in a jar by Phil Illingworth

Apocalypso by Phil Illingworth

A bit of art on my way home at Platform A Gallery at Middlesbrough Railway Station. The artist Phil Illingworth was on hand to chat with people about the show. Some of the works are on his website with specifics of materials. His explanations were about his experimentation with paint but I was way more entertained by the works’ similarities to children’s toys and games but with an edge, sometimes a spiky sharpened edges given to what look like pick-up sticks – hanging from the wall at the artist’s eye level or a headdress, on what is reminiscent of a playful Yoshitomo Nara dog shape but then the headdress elements look like matches. The coloured pole on the ground in a field of burnt wooden cubes again emitted notions of playfulness and danger – I loved it.

The show is on until November 3.

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If you’ve never been to the Platform A Gallery – it is open Tuesday to Saturday. Get yourself to Platform 1 of Middlesbrough Railway Station and turn left once through the doors. Keep walking until you find the gallery entrance on your left. Ring the bell and be let into this small oasis of art – that feels like a delicious secret, especially as you may get funny looks for walking that way as many people don’t realize it’s there.

There is a beam in the gallery marked Dorman Long the legendary Teesside company behind the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  The gallery and adjacent Platform Arts Studios were built in the former British Rail Parcel Store and Fish Quay in the Grade II listed Railway Station.

While at the station also keep an eye out for Mackenzie Thorpe artworks on platform 2 and the occasional exhibition in the underpass – known as The Tunnel Gallery.

The Travellers Rest Cafe is also highly recommended.


Ross Noble Brain Dump

Ross Noble Brain Dump Warm Up

Oh how I wish the Billingham Forum programmed more stuff we would want to see. 12 minutes up the road. Ross Noble is a very funny guy and we were lucky to get tickets for the Brain Dump warm up show – night 2. An evening in which I have no idea what the hell 19 by Paul Hardcastle is (I was 9 when it came out) or who Niki Lauda race car driver is. But it doesn’t matter. A super-funny improvisation and yes a chunk of the show is Ross Noble making funny faces and lewd gestures and it is entertaining. Funnier and more entertaining than I expected. The set was neat too.

Also realized I haven’t been to a comedy gig in a while. Booked Lee Nelson at Middlesbrough Theatre the same night for May 2017!

Twisterella Unconference – Advice for musicians 2016

If you are an up and coming musician anywhere near the Teesside area – the free Twisterella Unconference on October 8th is something you should not miss. You can RSVP on Facebook here. The unconference is open to all ages not to be confused with the Twisterella festival later in the day which is 18+.

This year’s panelists announced so far include Vic Galloway – a music and arts radio and TV broadcaster with 18 years of experience for BBC Radio 1, BBC Scotland and 6Music, Claire Dupree – editor and owner of North East-based alternative music and culture monthly NARC. Magazine, and Helen Hammill, of rising band Cattle & Cane, who are about to release their second album.

Twisterella Unconference 2016 guests

If you want practical advice from people working in this industry – go. If you are ready to hear constructive feedback on your work submit a track for the A&R session via the Twisterella festival Contact  page or at the session itself though limited slots are available and it’s first come first serve.

Scheduled sessions are:

Session 1: Getting noticed / Establishing a presence / Kicking on (11.30am—12.00pm)
Session 2: Taking an income from music (12.10pm—12.55pm)
Session 3: A&R (1.15pm—1.45pm)
• Get your track heard by the panel. Are you brave enough?

If you’re not sure, here are my notes from the 2014 session.


Jordan Mackampa + Tom Joshua + Calum Pitt

A great Thursday night out with Lizzie – that is a talented trio up there…felt so calm and mellow after. Though there is a reason no one else in the Head of Steam was eating the food. 🙂

Chances to see them all again on Teesside, Callum Pitt is opening for Meadowlark at the Westgarth on October 1 and Tom Joshua and Jordan Mackampa are both on at Twisterella on October 8.

Saltholme Dragonfly

Mostly dragonflies and butterflies at Saltholme and Teesmouth

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Matthew and the Atlas

Sofar Sounds Newcastle – September 2016

Beautiful venue in the Mining Institute. Music by Kay Greyson, The Pale White and Matthew and the Atlas. If you’ve never heard of Sofar Sounds they are gigs that take place around the world. You register for a spot in your chosen city, if you get chosen you learn the secret venue the night before the gig. The performers are a surprise. I have not been disappointed yet.

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We Are Family Festival 2016 - Set times

We Are Family Festival

Year 2 of the We Are Family Festival featured a dream line-up. Held at Jackson’s Landing, Hartlepool Marina prior to the planned demolition.

Made sure to get there just before 5 in time for Lilliput, who are currently crowdfunding their debut album.

Had an amusing exchange with security.

Finally got a chance to see this new iteration of Kingsley Chapman and the Murder. This was followed by Slug, Hyde & Beast, Seafret,  and Cattle & Cane.

Well done to organisers The Jar Family, though I missed most of their set partaking in a savoury crepe for dinner.

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