“It is with great sadness that we announce that Alternative Ulster was unsuccessful in securing Arts Council funding for 2012/2013. As a result, AU Magazine is being put on hiatus. The website will continue to be run on a voluntary basis, and AU will continue to promote the best of Northern Irish and Irish music, culture and lifestyle in every way it possibly can.”
I was so, so saddened when AU magazine editor Chris Jones broke this news earlier this week. For the past nine years – and especially the five or six that I’ve been reading it – AU has been a beacon of Irish music journalism, setting a bar that no other Irish magazine came close to reaching in terms of the quality of writing, the beauty of its design and the scope of both music and non-music features alike that it covered. And it was free. FREE! It’s the sort of magazine you’d pay good money for in any other country, which makes it seems doubly bloody unfair that such a quality magazine falls by the wayside, when there’s so much inferior crap being published elsewhere.
On a personal note, I feel extra sad, because AU were one of the first magazines to take me under their wing when I was a rookie music journo. Former editor Francis Jones took a chance on me, and gave me feature assignments with big bands when no one else would. Chris has been equally generous and supportive since he took over the reins a few years ago. I had my first-ever cover feature – an huge milestone in any journalist’s career – with AU in 2008. In recent years I haven’t contributed more than the odd feature and a smattering of reviews to every issue, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading it cover-to-cover whenever it landed in the stack by Tower Records’ front door every month, and I’ve been proud to have my name associated with it for so long. For a magazine that’s run on what I assume is a comparatively tiny amount of advertising revenue (along with the now rescinded grant) and a hell of a lot of goodwill, it has been an amazing achievement.
So I want to publicly thank publisher and editor-in-chief Jonny Tiernan, Chris, Francis and everyone else involved behind the scenes with AU for their amazing hard work in keeping the magazine going for so long. The website (http://www.iheartau.com) will continue on a voluntary basis, but here’s hoping there’s some way back at some point in the future.
Last weekend’s Sunday Times magazine had an article on the Choice Music Prize that I couldn’t help but think was both a little snide in tone and missing the point. Every year, it seems like a certain pocket of the media thinks that there’s some kind of agenda behind the judging process – that the nominated albums have been chosen for reasons related more to diplomacy than merit, or that the winner should be chosen solely on the basis that it’ll do well in other territories. This year, the fact that the list is apparently more ‘mainstream’ is compensating for the fact that the Meteor Awards aren’t taking place this year. Gimme a break!
I think I might be taking my maiden trip to Kilkenny later this year for the city’s annual Rhythm & Roots festival. The long-running festival has a reputation for bringing in some very high profile artists before they’d ‘made it’ (Ryan Adams and Ray Lamontagne both played early gigs there).
The first names announced for this year’s event (April 29th – May 2nd) are John Grant (hurray!), Wilko Johnson, Mary Gauthier, Terry Reid, Frontier Ruckus, Stacie Collins and Little Miss Higgins.
Grant has gone into the studio to make an album with Swedish producer Kleerup, who’s known for his work with Robyn and Lykke Li. Those sessions may have interesting consequences. However, he’s also going to make another album with Midlake this September. Busy man!
I was walking down Fade Street the other day
in the hope that I’d bump into one of the characters from the show and I was flabbergasted to find that the shop that used to be Road Records has now re-opened as The R.A.G.E. (Record, Art, Game Emporium). Inside, the layout is exactly the same as Road’s, except as well as vinyl, they now sell second-hand games for the Gameboy, Sega Mega Drive, SNES and lots of other retro stuff. Apparently it’s been open about a month, according to the nice man behind the counter. Continue reading
Another catch-up post. Apologies. I really just want an excuse to prove that I can spell ‘miscellaneous’.
The past few weeks have been a bit crazy for me, but I’ve managed to get to a few gigs and listen to a few albums (behaviour becoming of a music journalist, I’m sure you’ll agree), and even got to the cinema for the first time in months. Continue reading
Haven’t seen much mention of these gigs, but they’re worth checking out if you’re at a loose end this Bank Holiday weekend:
Elec-dub-hip-step production whizzkid Hudson Mohawke plays the U:Mack-curated Warp Records @ Static gig at The Button Factory on Sunday. Support from Rustie, Africa Hitech, Harmonic 313 and DJ N>E>D. Tickets €20, doors 8pm till late.
Richie Egan and Niall Byrne (no, not that one, the one from the Redneck Manifesto)’s new project VisionAir will play a FREE gig in The Button Factory on Saturday night, with support from Logikparty. U:Mack DJs also on the decks. Did I mention it was free?
I got this in the post today. Interesting. I wonder if this sort of thing is the way forward for people who want a physical accompaniment to their digital album? Is it a gimmick? Can you imagine lining up your lanyard collection on a shelf, or hanging them up on a hook to have a browse?