Twisterella 2017 Line-Up

Twisterella 2017 – New Discoveries and Old Favorites

This post is a thank you to the incredibly talented and hard-working promoters who brought Twisterella to Middlesbrough for its 4th outing. I have waxed lyrical about The Kids Are Solid Gold and Pay for the Piano before and will tell anyone who will listen that if they see a gig promoted by either of these it is worth going. When they team up, as with Twisterella, you are in for a wonderful time listening to new discoveries amid old favorites.

Serious business of planning a route
Serious business of planning a route

You will run into familiar faces as music lovers of Teesside and well-beyond congregate. You may not know some by actual name, though possibly by Twitter handle, you will, however, give a nod and half-smile as you share the feeling in the moment of how privileged and lucky you are to enjoy great live music, that’s been brilliantly curated by lovers of music, in venues so close you can make it to the different stages easily. Bands are able to be in the audience when they’re not playing.

Your toughest time, an unwanted lesson in decision-making, you’ll need to cope with, is making your choices among the inevitable clashes.

You will choose and then change your mind. Pop-ups announced on the day, the opinions of friends, the need for sustenance, will all influence your ultimate route.

Some of us are part of a spiritual tribe, who connect, feel and heal through music…we try and see as many bands as we can. We might be addicts…of the societally acceptable kind. If these words sound like I’m describing religion or sex – live music can be is just as powerful.

We will travel far for a chance to see that one band…we would go see that other band every week if we could. We welcome those who are just out for a bargain of a day/night out – to see a few bands. We hope to see you at more shows. All of us, together, are supporting the scene we love.

My day at Twisterella is described below…a celebration of talent and the wealth of Middlesbrough venues…your experience may have varied and been just as awesome.

I met up with some friends as Island Club played on the SU stage in the background. The first act of the day for me, easing me in, was the lovely, talented, Durham-based Soham De at TSONE. He’s up for Fender’s Undiscovered Artist of the Year 2017.

Next up was a few songs by Figmennt back at the SU. I will have to catch them another time.

Next, Desperate Journalist at the Westgarth was great. Intense and female-fronted with shades of The Smiths and Nirvana, and some microphone cord play reminiscent of Kingsley Chapman.

Announced on the day, Belgian Noémie Wolfs, formerly of Hooverphonic, playing with local fave Joe Hammill in her very first UK gig. What a privilege to be in the crowded room that was The Bottled Note on Borough Rd.

Caught some downtime waiting for Cape Cub and Josh Wantie to start, documented by Twisterella photographer extraordinaire Lauren Close.

Teesside’s Cape Cub and South Africa’s Josh Wantie played an acoustic double-act in Sticky Fingers as a pop-up.

Check out the dancier version of Warm Blood Heart here:

Time for some sustenance at The Southfield.

Eating at The Southfield

Scottish Pronto Mama made a welcome return to Teesside.

Teesside’s Tom Joshua should be a star. Great songwriting combined with a powerful voice and stellar accompanying band of talented folks – There is definitely not enough cello in pop-music.

Caught a few songs by Pip Blom, female-lead, fuzzy and surfy. Good stuff.

Low Island was next at the Teesside Uni student union. I really enjoyed most of their set but ducked out a little early for what was next.

Timed it just right to be right at the front of the Westgarth 2 for Outlya. Brilliant performers of pure pop and singalongs that will make you feel good. In what was a one-in-one out sweaty and beautiful good time. Lead singer Will came out into the crowd for The Light too.

It was back to the SU for Kyko who had the most massive tube for a talk box as part of their gear.

While many chose to witness the Westgarth 2 get destroyed in a good way by Avalanche Party

I had a kick-ass time with Dream Wife in the SU. Icelandic lead vocals, making the spice girls punk with massive performance presence!

Their track is used on the official 2017 Twisterella video.

My photos and videos on Facebook

My photos on Flickr

My videos on Youtube

Roll on 2018!!!!!

All-dayers coming soon Songs from Northern Britain and Sumday

Launch of Maggie Harrison: Looking Within

A quick run through from the launch of Maggie Harrison’s new exhibition Looking Within. It’s on at the Heritage Gallery at Cargo Fleet until 24 November.

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Twisterella 2017 Line-Up

Twisterella 2017

Twisterella is a festival brought to you by people who love music. Do yourself a favor and listen to a stellar playlist of rock and pop and some hip-hop from the line-up announced so far…and don’t forget to book your ticket or you will be a sad bunny come October 7th.

I know this from experience with my close call with Stockton Calling this year – I didn’t realize I hadn’t booked my ticket until the morning and it was sold out! Thank goodness for the kindness of friends with an extra ticket.

Do not rely on this method to go to the festival where you will discover some of the best new music around. It’s what Twisterella specializes in.

Andy Willoughby photo by Louise Wilkin

Crossing the Tees: Between Stations Live

My first event of 3 at this year’s Crossing the Tees Book festival was Between Stations Live.

So pleased recordings of this were streamed and remain so you can enjoy it even if you weren’t in the beautiful room which is the Reference Library in Middlesbrough. Andy Willoughby performs a multi-media version of Between Stations with unexpected and lovely music opening from Ella Joy Hunton. This was followed by an Open Mic.

An enjoyable meditation on absurd and meaningful journeys we take in life, the humor that gets us through – there’s serious stuff in there – but as the phrase goes from the ridiculous to the sublime.


Couldn’t agree more with Louise, and always happy for an excuse to share her pics. Photo in the header is by Louise Wilkin, who is a wiz at taking quick snaps that look great.

Stockton Calling 2017

Stockton Calling – 15 April 2017.

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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.