Happy New Year from the D&G music scene!

2016 has been quite a year for the Dumfries and Galloway music scene so Small Town Sounds asked some of our local musicians to tell us what their highlights were and also what they have planned for 2017…

Barstow Bats

Barstow Bats

Andy Rendall of Barstow Bats
“2016 has probably been our busiest and most productive year so far. With 2 EPs released followed by our debut album, we’ve released a total of 20 songs. The initial feedback for the album has been great and we’re really happy with it, so I think all the work we’ve put into that over the last couple of years has been worth it. We’ve played a bunch of memorable gigs in 2016. Supporting The View at The Venue in June was pretty class, and we got to play King Tuts again which is always great. But the top one for me was Electric Fields in August. The weather was class, we got a great crowd and the feedback was great. Our album launch at The Live Lounge was brilliant too but I was a bit ill so from a personal point of view that soured it a wee bit…I don’t think it bothered the rest of the band too much! Looking forward to 2017, we’d really like to play some places we’ve never been before. The furthest south we’ve played so far is Carlisle but we’ve got a festival in Oxfordshire lined up already and might try to tie a London gig in with that trip too. We’ve also got some new songs written, so we’ll be starting work on those as a band in January. Hopefully we’ll get back into the studio at some point too. Another busy year ahead I reckon.”

Gracefell

Gracefell
“We’ve had a fantastic year as a band developing our sound and gaining more confidence on stage. We managed to record and release our debut EP ‘Ghost In The Ballroom’ (big thanks to Grant at Lovers Lane Studios). We learned a lot through the recording process and hope to use this new knowledge further down the line. Some highlights of the year would be playing the Hole in the Wa’ pub for Freshers week, playing The Venue for ‘Raise the Roof’ and finally playing an intimate stripped back show in Elliots bar in Prestwick. We are currently in the process of recording our new single ‘Play On’ which we hope to release early 2017, so keep you ears peeled. As for any other plans for 2017, we aim to continue progressing as a band and to hopefully be playing a wider variety of venues and festivals across the country.”

Chasin the Train

Chasin’ The Train

Chasin’ The Train
“Chasin’ The Train have had a really busy year in 2016….and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. We welcomed our new vocalist Tom Cuddihy into the band, and he’s been great. One of our definite highlights of the year was recording and releasing our 4-track EP ‘Off The Rails’ and we have to thank everyone who bought a copy, as well as Grant at Lovers Lane for producing it. As far as 2017 goes, we’re looking forward to visiting new venues with our ‘blues with cojones’. Our gig calendar is getting filled up already with festivals and dates in some of our favourite venues and we can’t wait to get back in the studio to record more! Happy New Year from Chasin’ The Train!”

Elia Davidson

Elia Davidson
“My highlights of 2016 would be releasing my self-titled debut EP in the summer of 2016 – thanks to Robert Maitland and Phil Shaw of Smart Indie for all their support. I was also invited to judge this year’s entries in the Amnesty International Songwriting Competition in London alongside Ricky Wilson (Kaiser Chiefs) and Neil Amin Smith (Clean Bandit). In terms of gigs, my highlights were playing at Celtic Connections in January and being chosen to play on the Creative Scotland funded Hit the Road tour in November, performing in Dunfermline (PJ Molloys), Dumfries (The Stove) and Glasgow (Oran Mor). In addition to touring, I was fortunate to participate in a series of songwriting workshops alongside the likes of Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow), Findlay Napier, Callum Wiseman (Prides) and Ross Leighton (Fatherson). Oh and a big shout out to all the great local acts (and venues) who have given me the opportunity to play throughout the year – thanks (amongst others) to the lads from The Abstracts, James Henderson from Acoostick Neibors, Zac Scott, Irv from Queen of South Bar and everyone at The Stove and The Music Room. In addition to the above I really enjoyed playing alongside Kate Kyle, in particular performing at our headline show at Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival. Later in the year, we were lucky enough to win the Nithraid acoustic competition and the opportunity to write and record our first song together. In 2017 I am looking forward to continuing to write and play as much as I can, with plans to return to the recording studio in the summer.”

Yip Man

Yip Man

Yip Man
“I’ve had so many highlights in 2016, not least getting featured on Small Town Sounds! However above all, releasing my debut album, ‘Braw Power’ in November to such a great reception has really made my year. Hearing the songs on BBC 6 Music and Radio Scotland has been a real thrill. I’m looking forward to 2017 as I head to the Big British Castle to do a session on the Vic Galloway show on Monday 9th January. Please tune in! I’m also looking forward to playing at this year’s Celtic Connections at the Hug and Pint in Glasgow on Saturday 4th February. Excellent times. You can’t ration fun.”

The Stefan

The Stefan
“2016 has been an amazing year for us! We have achieved so much with this little band that we would never have expected when we started. Everything from releasing a music video for our single ‘Judy’s Dancefloor’ to being featured on the Small Town Sounds website! Also getting to perform with some idols of ours from the band, GUN! To then going on to to open for the Red Hot Chilli Pipers in front of 1200 people – we are so grateful for these opportunities. 2017 for us will consist of continuing to make music we love and express that it is ok to go out and show people your talent! We love hearing from other local musicians. So go…NOW. We may also be releasing some brand new music we have been working on recently!”

13 Crowes

13 Crowes
“2016 saw 13 Crowes form as an acoustic duo, get signed to Homebound Records in Germany off the back of a couple songs recorded on our phones, form a full band, play some incredible gigs, release our debut EP, do a 10 date European Tour which was a dream come true, and to round 2016 off, we finished our debut album, all set for release next year. We have too many people to thank for helping us out this year, a few local thanks in particular would be Dumfries Music Conference, Dave Miller for all his input and Small Town Sounds for the continued support. 2017 will see us release our debut album, and tour more. Big news is coming…”

Bryn Thorburn from The Screaming Love Collective
“2016 has been a great year. The Screaming Love Collective came about from standing in the Snakepit at Eden Festival listening to loads of great dance music and thinking I’d like to do something similar but include my punk rock rooks and love of Krautrock and that is what I hope we have become… a psychedelic punk rock groove sensation. In 2016 we not only started writing songs but have released 3 singles on German Shepherd Records. The last one, “People Make People’ was out on 23rd Dec and features vocals from Paul Winter from The Mind Sweepers. Plans for 2017 are to finish the album ‘Bug Out’ which will hopefully be ready for release around spring time. A huge thanks to Small Town Sounds for the fantastic support.”

Taagan

Euan Macrory from Taagan
“2016 has really been our first year on the local music scene. It has been a really inspiring year seeing as we have had the opportunity to perform in some wonderful locations and had some amazing experiences. My personal favourite moment of the year was attending one of the Monday night sessions at The Globe Inn and performing ‘Handbags and the Gladrags’. The whole place plunged into silence and it really felt like everyone was listening. It’s always amazing to feel like your playing is getting across to people. With regards to 2017, we have big plans. Isla has been working on lyrics for some original material so we hope to get an EP launched in addition to just continuing to play as much as possible and hopefully continue to spread our music to as many people as possible.”

The Lutras

The Lutras

The Lutras
“2016 was just the start for us, being a band for a matter of months and playing the likes of Solfest, gigging in Edinburgh at the Electric Circus and The Brickyard in Carlisle. 2017 looks promising already. We’re looking to get into the studio early on and get some more songs recorded. We’ve got a whole bunch of tunes just waiting to be recorded. Then get up and down the country as much as possible playing as many different cities/towns and just trying to get the name out there so people know we’re serious about this and it’s not just a hobby…”

Stoney Broke

Jake from Stoney Broke
“2016 truly surpassed expectations for Stoney Broke, and 2017 is already starting to take shape with some exciting projects, and gigs, which will be announced soon. This year started slowly but soon saw gigs in Glasgow, Edinburgh and further afield become common. To walk into a venue miles from away from Dumfries and hear people say “Oh,I’ve heard of you! I love your tracks!” was both humbling, and encouraging. As an independent artist, working with Small Town Sounds was invaluable, and can’t thank them enough for their support, and to be included in the radio show for the Dumfries Music Conference was a great moment! September saw the release of my debut EP “If It Ain’t Broke…” which includes some of my best material to date. The EP gave that extra edge to the relentless run of live shows, and has sold really well too. Appearing at the Silloth Beer and Music Festival, and ending the year as support to The Red Hot Chilli Pipers were both very special, and the best indicator of how far this year has taken me! I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring, but if it’s anything like 2016…I’m gonna need a bigger wall planner!”

Alex Maxwell

Alex Maxwell
“2016 has been an interesting year… songwriting has taken a backseat in order to finish off recordings for the debut EP which is to be released late Jan/early Feb. In a way, I wanted to stop playing until I’d released anything so I felt more legitimate as an artist. I want to put something out I’m proud of so it’s taken longer than anticipated but hopefully it’s worth it! The highlights have been chosen as a finalist for CalMac Culture which meant performing at one of my favourite venues: King Tut’s. I also was fortunate enough to support Will Varley, one of my new favourite singer-songwriters. I am excited to finally release the EP and see where it takes me. I want to give it a real go in 2017 and I have lots of new songs to record for EP 2 and the album so hopefully I get a bit of luck and get some airplay and get to play lots of shows. We’ll just have to wait and see!”

Luciensghost

Luciensghost
“For Luciensghost, 2016 was a year in which we focused on playing live (whenever we could find the time to do so!). There were a few particular highlights: our first Glasgow headline show at the ABC, our first show in the iconic 13th Note, playing the Hug and Pint and ending the year supporting the amazing Batteries at King Tuts. Another highlight of the year was a home gig in Moniaive, playing at (and helping our good friend Jane Chalmers to organise) the Firefly Indie Festival in July. It provided a great addition to the Moniaive music scene, had a superb line-up and we had an amazing day playing alongside Barstow Bats and the Amphetameanies. Fingers crossed Firefly will return next year. Looking towards 2017, our focus will be on the studio and some new recording. We’ve been doing some pre-production through the tail end of 2016 and are ready to start recording within the next few days. We already have a Glasgow show lined up for 2017 (date and venue tbc!), but are hoping to play some more D&G gigs this year – and definitely our first in Dumfries! Happy New Year – hope to see some of you in 2017!”

Melissa Gunn

Melissa Gunn of Small Town Sounds (Photo by Colin Tennant)

Melissa from Small Town Sounds
“2016 has been a pretty awesome year for Small Town Sounds. The website turned 1 year old in August and it was celebrated by a complete redesign of the site. A massive thanks goes to DM Eventum for working with me to make it look so great! The site attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world but, as you would expect, most of them are from the UK with those living in Dumfries & Galloway visiting the site most often. This is a pretty important thing – it shows that there is genuine interest in our local music scene. I know it can be hard for musicians to play a local gig and sometimes not have the size of crowd they would like but I think this goes to show that there’s very much a captive audience out there.
In my opinion, 2016 was a strong year for local music (even if it was pretty disastrous generally!). Musicians from D&G are gaining critical acclaim from all over the UK, and often from other parts of the world too. The region is becoming well known for its events which are being recognised as hugely important for the economic health of our region.
On a personal level, 2016 has had many highlights. I’ve attended many gigs and festivals over the year with the standout ones being ParkFest in Stranraer, the Beltie Beer festival in Dumfries, DMC Live and the debut of Onr. at King Tuts then The Venue. Small Town Sounds also helped organise a really successful gig at the Queen of the South back in August which featured Irish band The Late Twos as well as local bands the Abstracts and 13 Crowes.

I’ve loved seeing the emergence of the ‘young team’ – the likes of The Lutras, Golden Ratio, Michael Grant, Gracefell, Brat and The Bonemen and Black Mango who are all genuinely making such good music and having an awesome time whilst doing so. And a huge shout out goes to the stalwarts of the music scene who are setting a great example to encourage even more young people to get out there and perform (specific mention has to go to David Bass and his efforts).
In August I gave up the Thursday Night Showcase which was the local music radio show I created and presented for almost 4 years on community radio station Alive 107.3fm. Leaving the show gave me a little more headspace to concentrate on promoting musicians on the website. I had plans (and still have!) to do a local music podcast but, if I’m honest, time is not on my side. At this stage, it is only myself that runs the site and I have a pretty intense full-time job outside of all this, as well a bit of a massive renovation project on a house I bought in the summer. However, although the podcast plans never really happened, I was so pleased to be asked back to present Radio DMC in October and provided 2 days of live radio broadcasting featuring interviews and live performances from local musicians. That was pretty cool and was nice to be back behind a mic!
I recently became Chair of the Board of The Stove which was a huge honour too, especially as it is quickly becoming known as being one of the best music venues we have in Dumfries. I am also heavily involved in The Stove led Living on the High Street project that you may have seen mentioned in the local newspapers and on BBC News. Being involved with all of this is pretty cool, but does not leave me a great deal of time for other cool stuff like Small Town Sounds podcasts!
So, what’s in store for Small Town Sounds in 2017? Wow, that’s an interesting question. I’ve had big plans to release another Small Town Sounds CD for ages but lacking the time to organise it all has to be the most frustrating thing in the world for me right now. I’m still looking for helpers to make that happen and would be happy to hear from anyone who would like to get involved. Similarly, if anyone would like to write reviews or news articles for the website, I’d love to hear from you too. Small Town Sounds provides local and visiting musicians with absolutely free promotion and I’m keen to keep it that way and continue to help spread the word.
Finally, I’d like to thank all of the musicians who have worked with Small Town Sounds during 2016. I appreciate every single word of appreciation that has been given to me by them – saying thanks for the reviews I’ve written, or for coverage I’ve given them on the site, or for the gigs I’ve helped them get really does make a difference and makes this whole thing worthwhile. A simple unexpected thank you goes a long way, believe me! I’d also like to say thank you to all of the venues and promoters who get in touch and provide me with information and contacts to help promote the music events they have planned. Specifically, Simon from The Venue, Irv from the Queen of the South, Daniel Gillespie and Davie Kirkwood who have been super helpful. I must not forget the lovely people who have acted as entirely unpaid Small Town Sounds photographers too – Ricky Henderson, Martin Mckeown, Nicky Crawford and Sal Cuddihy. Thanks too goes to Ali Donowho for often casting an eye over my reviews to make sure I’m making sense and not getting carried away with commas. I like a good comma, I’m not gonna lie.

Most of all though, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who visits the site, reads my articles, clicks Like on the Small Town Sounds Facebook posts and helps spread the word about what Small Town Sounds is and what it aims to do. You guys rock and you may not realise it, but you’re the catalysts that will make the local music scene even stronger. 2017 is going to be awesome and I can’t wait for it to really get started.

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