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Promoter Q&A


Dave maul - organiser of Are you Listening? Festival, down at the abbey festival & heavy pop concerts

What are the current plans for live music events in 2021? ( Covid allowing )

It's hard to say with the continuing uncertainty but our plan is just to look to do a gig again.  All our first shows of the year have already moved back, so we currently only have Are You Listening? in April and are just focusing on that for now but later in 2021 is already looking pretty busy.
I think everyone just wants to get back to doing gigs quickly and safely.

Has lockdown altered the music you’ve been listening to, if so how? 
Yes it has and I still listen to quite a lot of new music but I have found myself rediscovering a lot of older albums - I guess there is some comfort in the familiar. 

Can you name a few of your favourite new releases from this year?
The latest albums by BC Camplight, Idles, This is the Kit and the debut by Billy Nomates all spring to mind.

How important do you think the music scene is to the community? 

There have been times when I've felt it's not been viewed as important to be brutally honest or not as valued as much maybe as it should be. However, I feel this enforced pause has made people reflect on music and culture in general and how it is intertwined with everyday life.  I believe we'll see a cultural revival once we can get passed all of this and our music scene will hopefully be treasured more. 

What are your favourite music venues locally & why?
The Rising Sun Arts is up there,  I just love the fact you can watch a band in what was someone's lounge. 
We've done some special gigs at The South Street Arts Centre and This is the Kit & Kathryn Joseph's performances spring to mind.
The Face Bar and The Purple Turtle both have character of their own and the Face Bar never fails on a 'good gig vibe'.

What’ve been the most memorable local gigs you’ve attended?
That's a hard one! I've been to so many, ha! 
Wolf Alice and Idles playing early shows for us at the Oakford Social Club are up there.
Gnod at South Street Art Centre goes down as one of the loudest I've been too.

Tell us about the new ‘Friends with Benefits’ scheme
Due to Covid, we've lost 100% of our income this year and 2021 is going to be a bumpy road as well. However, to help us through this, we've launched our ‘Friends with Benefits’ scheme. 

It's a three-tiered membership and you receive more benefits depending on the tier you chose.  These include 10% discounts with local indie businesses, being entered in draws to win tickets to our gigs/ tickets, advance ticket code and on the door discounts plus more.

For more info please click here: 


Damien Passmore - Event Organiser & Performer in DAp & The Loveable Fraudsters

How important do you think the local music scene is to the community? 

For some people, it is their community. It’s certainly been a massive part of my adult life here in Reading – it’s how I met most of my close friends, it’s how I met my partner, and it’s how I’ve spent most of my weekends for almost 20 years! There’s so much going on, in pretty much every conceivable genre, so there really is something for everyone. Music is a universal language, and whether you’re someone looking to discover the hippest new acts or just want to enjoy songs you know and love being played by a cover band in a pub on a Saturday night, it’s music that brings us together. And it’s one of the things I know people have been missing the most this year.


Can you tell us about the virtual festival you created & some of the acts that feature? 

It was one of those obvious ideas and all came together rather quickly. Reading Culture Live – a website dedicated to streaming content from all over Reading’s arts and cultural community – was only a few months old and the team were spitballing ideas for fresh content for the summer. And it was an obvious thing to do – with no Reading festival (or, indeed, any of Reading’s usual music festivals) this year, why not put together a “Virtual Festival” to premiere online during that weekend instead? 


So I started reaching out to people both in an “open call” in my role as Marketing Officer for What’s On Reading/Reading Culture Live, and directly to friends and colleagues across the musical ether. And we had such a fantastic response from bands and artists from all across the musical spectrum – music videos, live performances, even a couple of exclusive tracks. I edited them all together, trying to recreate that feeling of a live gig or festival with the light and shade of big loud tracks, quieter ones, all that stuff. That was a fun challenge! It wound up being almost two hours long and had loads of people tuning in for the live premiere on the day. 


Watch the festival here: 

What are your favourite music venues locally & why?


The Rising Sun Arts Centre is really important to me. There’s such a sense of community there and you’re as likely to see someone like Mark Morris from the Bluetones play there as you are to see a young band play their first gig. And the summer festival Here Comes The Sun – which I’ve been lucky enough to be part of as both a performer and organiser – is one of the true highlights of the musical calendar. The Purple Turtle will always have a place in my heart because it’s where my band had their first ever gig – and our 10th anniversary, show, too. I’ve loved the opportunities I’ve had to play at Sub89 supporting the likes of Hayseed Dixie and the Wurzels. And I hope I can also say the stage at Reading Real Ale and Cider Festival – the biggest knees-up of the year. But it wouldn’t be right to talk about any of these places without mentioning some of the great promoters this town has to offer – Sid Siddle of Club Velocity, Dave Maul and the team at Heavy Pop and Jack Hepplewhite at the Turtle (and elsewhere) who really help make this town’s music scene what it is.


I hear news of a Christmas song.. Tell us more: 


Ha ha – yes. This was part of a bigger project for Reading Culture Live, Reading’s Digital Advent Calendar – 24 videos delivered daily throughout December. And I knew there was one thing that had to be part of that – a “Reading Music Scene” version of Do They Know It’s Christmas, and in the spirit of the original knew we had to use it to raise money for the local food bank, Readifood. So I reached out via Midge Ure’s office and were granted permission to do it, spent a weekend cutting a demo in my attic studio and then spoke to Whitehouse Studios about recording it properly!


Once we had a date set started ringing round fellow singers and musicians to put the all-star line-up together. Pretty much everyone said yes and everyone turned up on time and on top form to boot. We recorded it over two days in Covid-secure conditions and it was great spending such a creative time with friends old and new. I filmed the whole thing and learned the art of split-screen editing to bring it all together. It was the obvious choice to kick off the Digital Advent Calendar with a bang and the viewing figures back this up - plus we’ve raised a tidy sum to help Readifood ensure people don’t go without food this Christmas. 


Check out this years Christmas song here:

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