Our latest promoter focus falls upon acoustic favourites Mellowtone of Liverpool. Having been a fixture on the city’s live music scene for as long as we can remember, they’re shaping up for a rather fine surge into Summer with a litany of events that take place in the more salubrious surroundings the city.
We caught up with promoter Dave Mctague to discuss the events he is putting on as well as what made Liverpool’s music scene so essential.
Hi David! Firstly tell us a little about yourself and what Mellowtone is about.
Hello. Mellowtone is a night promoting the best in acoustic based music, whether it be folk, singer-songwriters, blues, country, roots music or even bands playing a more stripped back set... and between the live acts we have DJs playing a selection of funk, soul, jazz, blues, psyche, hip-hop, reggae, all to a sit down audience. We have a compere too for a touch of cabaret. We try to create a laid back atmosphere where you can watch acts in an intimate setting.
As for me ... I am involved in lots of different things, I won't go on too much, but as well as Mellowtone, I work promoting the Africa Oyé festival, and along with Beaten Tracks we also run Above the Beaten Track festival. I manage Ragz Nordset, the Norwegian songstress, and also work with One Fell Swoop... I like to keep busy. A few hats as they say.
What events have you got lined up in the future?
Quite a lot! On Saturday (18th May) at Leaf we have Eigenlight, in collaboration with Rebel Soul. It is a Silent Cities' EP launch party, and we also have Magic Arm over from Manchester, plus Thom Morecroft & the Full Moon Band, and visuals from TVLux, as well as a puppet show!
Then on 23rd May we have our first show at the Palm House, in Sefton Park. It is a night in association with Liverpool legends the Viper Label ... and headlining is Edgar "Summertyme" Jones (main picture), which we have been looking forward to for a long time, alongside viper artists TG Elias and Chris Elliot. Our resident DJs Beaten Tracks will be playing between the live acts, and trippy live visuals coming from Howard Be Thy Name.
In June we have two double headers with Ceremony Concerts - the 6th June at Leaf with Dan Haywood's New Hawks, and a solo set from Ottersgear Mikey Kenney... and on the 20th we welcome Nancy Elizabeth, Cousin Jac and Pip Mountjoy, plus DJ Mr Resistor. Some fine lineups in my opinion. I know that promoters will always say that, but I am really excited about this next run of shows!
You’ve been promoting in Liverpool for a long time. What makes the music scene in the city so special?
I think we are blessed here, Liverpool is a city with such a rich musical heritage. As well as the indigenous folk, it draws in a wide range of people, and many seem to stay. There are so many amazing musicians, so for a city of this size I think it punches above its weight in that respect. It's a very friendly place, and people are supportive. Also as the city is quite compact and densely populated it gives it a real buzz... so many good venues are close to each other.
How do you think it compares to other cities, and do you think generally speaking the different stakeholders in the city are supportive of one another?
There is certainly a feeling of support between promoters here, more so in my experience than other cities. It is also small enough for people to know pretty much everyone, but it doesn't have that cliquey feeling. There are also lots of Liverpool-based magazines, websites and blogs which are really supportive... GetIntoThis, 7Streets, BidoLito, ManGone and Liverpool Acoustic, to name but a few.
Who else would you say has an important role in the city, both promoters and performers?
Performers - far too many to name - that's why we love it here!
Promoters ... I would say in live music Harvest Sun, Evol, and Sound City, certainly. Liverpool Acoustic do a great job, supporting the acoustic scene here, Africa Oyé, Liverpool Music week has always been good, Everisland have had some great shows, Threshold Festival, Ceremony Concerts, Rebel Soul have been putting on some interesting events ... again, too many to mention them all, and sorry to those I have forgotten.
There is a great support network of magazines, blogs, journalists, sound engineers ... there are a lot of unsung heroes out there! And of course some amazing venues, places like the Kazimier, Leaf, Mello Mello, the Zanzibar, the Picket, Camp & Furnace and the Shipping Forecast to name but a few.
Your events follow a fairly nomadic existence with the venues. Why do you enjoy rotating the environments around your music so much?
We like to keep it interesting - different venues, different nights of the week ...although if honest, we have maybe got a little cosy at Leaf, haha. I think that if the format is going to stay pretty much the same, using a range of venues and putting on shows on various nights affects the atmosphere in other ways.
And finally dream situation time. If you could host a Mellowtone at any period in musical history, at any venue, with any three acts alive or dead, what would you run with and why?
Ah ... I always hate this question, can I not have more than 3? Erm… probably Nick Drake to open up, followed by Rodriguez, and then The Beatles to headline. Clichéd, yes, and say what you like about them ... people, especially in Liverpool, do! But they are an amazing band with such a great catalogue of songs.
Actually, maybe John Martyn could play, or maybe Richie Havens, Hendrix... the Small Faces too. Too many! As for the venue, I'm not sure ... somewhere nice and small though!
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