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.

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.


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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Kevin and Thomas

Torturing Tom at the Tees Transporter and the Town Meal

It was Heritage Open Days so we decided to torture our nephew Tom who is scared of heights by climbing the Tees Transporter Bridge. We actually thought we would go up in the lift but because it was Heritage Open Days the lift was fully booked in advance. The joke was on me because we climbed the stairs both ways. His hands turned blue from gripping the railings so hard!

We also rode the Transporter in from Hartlepool. It was briefly shut to let some tall ships in, which was its original purpose in being built the way it was.

We then made our way to the Middlesbrough Town Meal for free food made from locally grown produce, free books at the Teesside Hospice Stall and Tom’s favourite at the MIND stall – depression cupcakes – grey on the outside but colourful on the inside.

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Seal at Greatham Creek

Seal watchpoint at Greatham Creek Teesmouth

Great morning spotting seals and birds.

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Twisterella Festival – a treat for music fans!

I started my day at the Twisterella Unconference with a bunch of practical advice for musicians. It was still really interesting to listen to even though I am not the target audience.

Music for the day started with the tracks submitted for the A & R session at the unconference. In the background we could hear the soundcheck for Fatherson.

As soon as the unconference ended it was straight into their set after a quick hello to The Tea Bee at the bar. A packed SU enjoyed a great set by them.


Photos of Fatherson by Nick Wesson below.

Fatherson by Nick Wesson

Fatherson by Nick Wesson

Sadly, it meant missing the set by James Kruman – who is well worth checking out.

Ran down to The Keys to listen to Darlo’s Capture, for fans of early The Kooks. Then on to Liberty’s to see Para Alta, a talented young band from Hartlepool (formerly known as Palace). Ran into Brian Barnes who programmed the brilliant PinDrop stage at The Central for Middlesbrough Live this year.

Really hope to see Suntrapp [now releasing music under his own name Jake Houlsby] at some point who were in a competing slot at the acoustic stage at TSone.

It was back to The Keys for Lilliput. Such a joyful set. Grins all around…happy band…beautiful harmonies.

Happy crowd

On to see Lisbon at the SU. Some friends who had seen Lisbon recently at festivals opted forWoodenbox.  First time hearing them and I liked it. The danger with trying to see 16+ bands in one day is getting a little distracted. Heard enough to know I would be happy to see Lisbon again.

Psyence were out due to a chest infection so caught a couple of songs by Mouses who filled in brilliantly.

While some friends were waiting for The Lake Poets at TSOne and I was going to try to see Littlemores I got distracted with the thought: eat now or be hungry for the rest of the night. Lovely Mama Mia pizza from Gi Gi’s on Linthorpe Road hit the spot and I ate it en route to the Westgarth to catch the noise of a Menace Beach set.

Sad to have missed Collectors Club

but managed to catch a couple of songs by Lovepark at the SU and similar to Lisbon, heard enough to know I would be glad to hear more.

Back to the Westgarth for the surprisingly tiny Law who reminds me of Massive Attack goodness.Happyness kept referring to Sweet Bamboo (instead of Sweet Baboo who was on at TS One) which made me giggle. Stopped for a chat with some friends and got a bit lazy so I will have to find another time to catch The Hosts, Weird Shapes and Hey Rocco.

Pals went to see Brontide at The Keys. Though I loved Stanley Odd at Sumday but decided to try a new band Dancing Years. Sublime! Every piece of the music fit so well together in perfect balance. Singer could barely contain his passion on certain songs and the violin fit around it. Wow. The production value on their ep is also really high too. Thrilled I got the one CD they had with them. They did have to deal with a heckler who just wanted them to have their album out already 🙂

Another lazy moment and didn’t catch Eliza and the Bear, another time.

Cattle & Cane played to an appreciative and packed hometown crowd at the SU [cannot wait until thealbum launch in September]

Cattle and Cane


Love Cattle & Cane but I was headed to Libertys where Jake Isaac played a  magical set. Get to itunes immediately for beautiful music to put you in a peaceful mood. Official photo below by Lauren Close.

Jake Isaac by Lauren Close

Ignore the quality of the video – this gave the audience chills – Jake Isaac came down into the crowd and serenaded us in the most beautiful way.

After his set made my way to the Westgarth for the last song and a half by Prides including a cover of Roar – see playlist below!

A fantastic day – Thank you to promoters The Kids Are Solid Gold and Pay for the Piano for their awesome work in creating this festival and in bringing us brilliant gigs all year round – cheers fellas – bring on 2015!

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Twisterella Times 2014

[Post recovered via the awesome Internet Archive Wayback Machine, edited to update a band link]