End of Year Round Up: Mark 'Chinny' Davis (Alfresco/Cowbell)
We caught up with Alfresco and Cowbell Radio main man Mark 'Chinny' Davis to look back on an eventful 2015.
Last updated: 3rd Dec 2015
Photo: Mark Davis and Andrew Weatherall
It's been a vintage year for Mark 'Chinny' Davis, who ever since catching the promoter bug back in 1999 has dedicated his time to showcasing the music he loves around the country, culminating in annual festival Alfresco - a passionately received event that's put the likes of Edan & Paten Locke, Shit Robot,Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston into a family friendly setting in the heart of Blackpool.
And let's not forget his other project - Cowbell Radio, which puts a focus on airing great music without the bullshit. That coupled with regular Cowbell events has earned the brand a loyal following, drawing in crowds keen to soak up line ups featuring Ivan Smagghe, Crimes of the Future, Heretic, C.A.R and plenty more.
With all that in mind, Mark seemed like the deal candidate to launch our run of end of year round ups.
Hi mate, what's been the stand out gig or club night you've been to this year?
Without question Convenanza (the Andrew Weatherall Festival) in Carcassonne. You really can't beat an incredible weekend of acid house in one of the largest castles in Europe. A Love From Outer Space, Crimes of the Future and Vox Low were just some of the highlights.
Bernie and his team put together an event that's basically just sublime and the travelling masses that attend are arguably the nicest crowd you could share such a weekend with. The best club night I have promoted though in 2015 was just recently with C.A.R and Ivan Smagghe at Islington Mill in Manchester. It's so good to be back home in what I think is one of the best venues in the country.
What about your best festival memory?
Well I don't like harping on about the above event but Vox Low (check out 'Something is Wrong' above) playing live was quite possibly the best live performance I have seen since LCD Soundsystem split up. It was definitely one of those 'I was there' moments and the lads from Paris were so good. Listening to them perform 'Something Is Wrong' in that castle was definitely my musical highlight of 2015.
What were your five favourite albums of 2015?
Hmmmm top five albums... I have to admit I don't buy too many albums anymore but there have been a few stand-outs for me. It was great seeing Man Power's debut album do so well and it didn't leave my deck for a month or so (listen to 'Bielsteiner' below).
New Order returning with 'Music Complete' was also great to hear. I have to be honest though, there are a few weak tracks but the majority is a great return from one of the finest bands to have ever been.
John Grant's 'Grey Tickles, Black Pressure' is probably my album of the year, an outstanding piece of work that is on repeat in the car and is just class from start to finish. Another huge album this year for me was Tronik Youth's 'Youth Is Wasted On The Young', Nein Records have put out some incredible music this year and head honcho Neil Parnell definitely delivered with this.
Lastly Ghost Culture's 'Ghost Culture' (listen to 'Giudecca' below) was a beautiful piece of electronic music, again another that spent lots of time on the car stereo... actually the only time I listen to albums is whilst driving.
What five tracks released this year have you had on repeat the most?
This ties in with Cowbell Radio's Festive 50 show to be broadcast on December 21st. The best track of the year for me without question is Vox Low's 'Something Is Wrong (Boot n Tax Remix)' - dance music with guitars is what I'm all about really and this particular track is untouchable.
Damon Jee's 'Summer No Summer' remixed by Sean Johnston is another big tune, Man Power's 'Trans' remixed by Discodromo, Rich Lane's 'Getting There', Duncan Gray's 'Weak Nuclear Force', Emperor Machine's 'Love Lick' (below), countless records from Nein and probably my act of the year Red Axes too.
Others shouts to Heretic, Craig Bratley, Flash Atkins, Steve Cobby, Cannibal Ink, Moscoman and many others too - there's so much great new music out constantly and we're blessed to be involved in a great scene. One last track though that officially came out was 'An Ode To St Anthony' remixed by Andrew Weatherall, the finale to so many great nights for me so is just a little special.
What piece of music news struck you most this year whether good or bad?
Sad to hear theBeastie Boys officially announce there'll never be anything else from them. The death of MCA several years ago is still one of the saddest musical losses to me and the Beastie Boys have always been a firm favourite of mine. Totally understand the decision though and to be honest it just wouldn't be the same anyway.
What's been your biggest musical let down of 2015?
Very sad really and I wont go into details but the whole ESG incident at this years Alfresco left a very sour taste. The event was something I'm very proud of and getting over 3000 people to a credible music event in Blackpool was no mean feat. However ESG, a band I loved and have DJ'd on the same bill as were just about the most difficult act I've ever dealt with. The majority of the time, working with your heroes is the most rewarding thing ever. Other times it's just a huge let down.
Who has been your musical hero in 2015 and why?
Red Axes this year have probably been the most consistent act going and I can't wait to do a show with them next year (listen to 'Nu' below). Track after track they just pull it out the bag and they have been very prominent this year on Cowbell Radio. Like I said before the constant stream of amazing music coming out is so refreshing and its hard to single people out .
What musical moment or release are you most looking forward to in 2016?
Without question looking forward to new music from Daniel Avery, some of his new stuff is already getting airplay and hopefully the follow up to Drone Logic is in the offing. On a promoting front I can't wait for Alfresco and Cowbell events to shine in London, with acts such as Jennifer Cardini, Man Power, Marc Pinol, Ivan Smagghe, The Emperor Machine already booked, 2016 looks to be amazing.