Music Sunday, July 17th Words by: Mark Bowen, pictures by: Mark Bowen

Livewire: Herefordshire's music mentoring goes from Castle Green Pavilion to festival stage

Music Sunday, July 17th

Livewire: Herefordshire's music mentoring goes from Castle Green Pavilion to festival stage

A band of older teenagers who've been making an impact on the local gigging scene; a shy group of schoolgirls who want help with song writing; and a lively trio of 11-year-olds learning to play were some of the performers I met during my visit to Livewire.

The Hereford-based project helps young musicians, aged 11 to 21, make musical dreams a reality. It meets at the Castle Green Pavilion on the banks of the River Wye.

I stumble on Another Band running through their set. I was warned it would be loud. "No need to worry," I told them "I've lost most of my hearing through being in bands already."

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For older, more established groups, Livewire provides more than a convenient space to rehearse. 

"Music is something that anybody can get into and Livewire represents one of the many ways young people can get into music and help people hone their skills into creating songs, beats or rhythms," said Another Band's vocalist John Mason.

Drummer Carl Higgins added: "Livewire has become a staple of my week. It has given me new friends and helped me develop my ability substantially. Without Livewire I don't even think I would be studying music in university or be in the bands I am now."

For the younger performers more rudimentary help is needed.

The aforementioned group of schoolgirls were busy working on a song with the help of Nicky Jaques, a Livewire project manager who plays in Key Green, and local musician Josh Lamdin. I suspected it might well be their first self-penned song. 

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They had lyrics written about winter and Nicky helped out with the singing. I'm not sure who wrote the melody but it's a good one. This is what Livewire does.

Personally, I wouldn't have had the confidence to collaborate with adults at their age.

The act of simply walking inside the building probably required them to summon up reserves of bravery. 

I then see a trio of boys busily working on a track. They are tutored by Chris Butts, bass player with Key Green, while Carl Higgins, drummer with Another Band, helps his 11-year-old counterpart keep time.

The boys are learning and, in the short time I was there, made progress and there is no doubting their passion for making music. 

When the drummer announces his disappointment that their time is almost up, the guitarist suggests an 'awesome' song they should cover, and the singer learns where he needs to come in. 

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Part of the Music Pool, Livewire sets about helping the next generation develop musical skills and could be that one thing that starts them on the road to a long and rewarding career.

It offers help with gigs, workshops, training opportunities, and music development.

There are a number of workshop leaders working alongside a small number of trainees and volunteers.

“We tend to get 15 to 18-year-olds who come to Livewire,” said Nicky Jaques.

“We help them develop songwriting skills, to write original music and promote their own music. We organise gigs for them and help them record." 

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“There are a lot of opportunities for them to collaborate with other musicians. We are encouraging young people to work together.” 

The sessions are informal - a long way from the music lessons many of us suffered at school. 

“The calibre of music that is being created is really of a high standard,” said Nicky.

“We are trying to encourage them to work at a professional level.

“We don’t approach it in a formal way. They have the free time to choose what they want to do.

“They tend to respond better if we give them creative freedom. This means they write much better stuff.”

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Livewire is running a series of Herefordshire gigs throughout summer.

In October they will host Livewire Central, an intensive week of training at the pavilion. This will be followed by a showcase gig at the Imperial in Hereford.

Before that, however, a handful of Livewire artists will appear at Nozstock festival near Bromyard.

"For all gigging musicians, one of the highlights of the year is to play at festivals during the summer," said Nicky.

"This weekend Herefordshire's most popular music festival Nozstock will be attracting people from all over the UK.

"The young musicians who are representing Livewire will be performing original music which they have been crafting and perfecting over the last 12 months.

"They will gain first-hand experience as gigging musicians working with professional stage crews and technicians on the Bandstand stage.

"Performing at Nozstock provides the opportunity for young people to play to a festival audience and to soak up the sounds of the other bands and artists. They gain exposure to new music which will inspire them to keep developing their own sound and the whole experience gives them a massive confidence boost as young musicians." 

For more on Livewire, and how to get involved, head to this official site.

5 things at Nozstock 2016 to get excited about

Herefordshire Festival Directory


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