Thursday, 27 November 2008


Ladies and gentlemen, Dave Corner of The Forefathers presents his amazing two word reviews of WHITBY NOW 2008.
Lovely voice
Missed them
And them
Very impressive
Tight as...
Great voice
Mad as...
Crowd jumping
Young energy
Back stage
Raw angst
Sublime tone
Conversational ambience
Hendrix heaven
Introverted melancholy
Blues explosion
Quality surprise
Funkin' mint
Sadly backstage
Goretastically unique

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Whitby Now 2008 video

I don't think Whitby Now 2008 was videoed, so here's my contribution to the aftermath, The DTs playing Unmarked Helicopters. I was especially chuffed that the lighting guy was sufficiently awake to give us UFO lighting, thanks :-)

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


A new piece of licensing legislation which currently exists in 21 boroughs of London could have huge implications for events like Whitby Now and the live music scene in Whitby and beyond if it becomes nationally accepted.

"The form demands that licensees give police a mass of detail, including the names, aliases, private addresses and phone numbers of all musicians and other performers appearing at their venue, and the ethnic background of the likely audience. Failure to comply could mean the loss of a licence or even a fine and imprisonment. The police say they need the information demanded on Form 696, which runs to eight pages, so they can pinpoint which acts and venues attract troublemakers, and make sure venues are safe. But Feargal Sharkey, who rose to fame during the punk era as the vocalist on the single "Teenage Kicks" by the Undertones, is so angry about what he sees as a threat to live music that he is consulting lawyers about how to stop it."
Sharkey cited one such statement from Hillingdon Council in west London, which he says "tries to make a direct connection not only between crime and disorder and live music, but most astonishingly - I'm still knocked over in disbelief - between live music and the prevention of terrorism."

If you want to join the campaign against Form 696 you can join the Facebook group: http://tiny.cc/IuIS4 or follow the blog at: http://form696.blogspot.com


A lot of people are asking if they can download the tracks from the Popwatch MySpace page to their own computers. The answer is yes. You used to be able to do it direct from the player, but that function seems to have been disabled in the new player MySpace are now using.
This is how to do it, and it's dead easy.
1. Go to this site http://www.file2hd.com/Default.aspx
2. Copy and paste the URL http://www.myspace.com/christhepoetuk into the bar at the top
3. Tick 'I have read and agree to the terms of service'
4. Highlight 'Audio' in the list of file types
5. Click on 'Get Files'.
The files will all appear underneath and you can save them to your computer.
You can use this to get any files from any MySpace site, and lots of other things besides.
POPWATCH. Here to help with life's little difficulties.

Monday, 24 November 2008


The final line-up has been unveiled for the Battle of the Sands, a major music contest to be staged in Scarborough.

Ten bands will fight it out at the Spa Ocean Room in Scarborough on Sunday 30th November and The Banter are the only Whitby based act to make it into the final ten.

The rest of the line-up is: 6 bands from Scarborough: Fuzz Gun Sniper, Superjets, We Heart Katamari, Mum Locked in Castle, Property of Dave and Puritan, plus Vibrant Rain from Hull, Fire Escape from Knaresborough and Black Jack from Barnsley.

Doors will open at 1.30pm and the bands will begin at 2pm, running through to around 10pm, when the winners will be announced. The two winners will have the honour of playing alongside the main headline act at Coastival.

Tickets for the Battle of the Sands are now on sale priced £5 and available from the Spa, Mojo's or Coastival's website at www.coastival.com. 

Get along and support your local act! Popwatch wishes The Banter all the very best. Just play like you did at Whitby Now lads!

Saturday, 22 November 2008


Music from both nights of The Whitby Now Weekender is available to listen to on MySpace. I've changed my Chris The Poet profile name to Whitby Popwatch, so just click on the top link in the Popwatch links section and you're there.

The first selection features The Whitby Now Band, Tania Rodway, The Scarlett Alliance and The Banter. You should be able to download them (if I've done it properly). I'll change the selection after a bit, but I don't have viable recordings of everyone who performed. Sorry about that, its certainly not a reflection of the quality of your songs.

I realise it is your material, so if you object in any way to these recordings, please let me know and I'll remove them from the site immediately.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


. Please keep your eye on Popwatch for further Whitby Now 2008 developments. Thanks.
After Friday night's brain frazzling (in a good way) lineup of eleven bands, Saturday was a little more relaxed and a bit less jumping-abouty. That's not to say it wasn't exciting, no by Jimmimy its not!
There was a varied assortment of styles to savour. Get yourself a plastic glass of beer, just to make it more realistic, and settle down to read the following retelling of Saturday's events. It'll be like you're there all over again.
It was a bit nippy on Saturday night. Brass monkeys weather, and I followed Tania Rodway and her companion down the steps. She was saying how nervous she felt. I had no idea what to expect from her, but I knew she'd be alright.
On entering the hall after braving the freezing north wind outside, I took a seat, removed my socks and shoes and warmed my feet in the radiantly dulcet tones of Mr Mark Liddell, the singer of THE WHITBY NOW BAND. Unfortunately a steward made me put my footwear back on, and now I'm being sued by several audience members due to an outbreak of athlete's foot that has subsequently spread like wildfire across Whitby.
After performing a top notch song written partly by Jean Scales (she kept that one quiet!), Mark proceeded to present to the audience his small, but perfectly formed (wait for it!) ukulele. Then Mark, Paul, Nige, and Si did a magnificently satirical "song about Whitby and Scarborough" that caught everybody unexpectedly, like a seagul dropping a fish-head into your duffle coat hood. It really has to be heard to be appreciated. I'll get it up on this blog as soon as I can. I loved it, me. Cock on!
ALEX KIRBY was introduced by James Wales as one of the best singer-songwriters ever to come out of Whitby, and you can't argue with the man. He seems completely comfortable onstage, and his between song chats are conducted as if you're sitting with him in his front room.
I'm not suggesting for one minute that his front room is as big as an aircraft hangar, with formica tables, uncomfortable chairs and a bar in the corner, but you get the picture.
He did a song about letting people wear his hat, and I'm sure he did one about domestic pets too, where he was asking a lady if he could play with her puppies for a bit. Nice to know there are still some gentlemen around who are also kind to animals.
Cult musician, guitar god and part time shop assistant CARL ROBINSON strapped on his axe (as I believe they're called in certain circles) and, more than ably assisted by his band, Hey Presto! Suddenly he was the reincarnation of Jimi Hendrix. Except with a considerably neater haircut.
He dedicated his set to drummer Mitch Mitchell, the last remaining member of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, who died on November 12th.
'Hey Joe' and 'Foxy Lady' were all present and correct, and of course the audience weren't happy until they'd been well and truly Purple Hazed. Of course he played it behind his head in the time honoured Hendrix fashion, but here's a tip Carl; next time floss before going onstage. Doing it with your guitar strings during solos is just plain unhygeinic.
'Scuse me while I kiss the hem of his checked shirt.
HIGH TIDE sounded great. Normally when they do small venues they sit down, and I also like it when the guy who plays with them does his fabulous minimal box percussion. However, this time they had a band, and I think it was the same guy on drums.
Our music teacher at school always used to tell us that you had to stand up to sing properly. Something about chest expansion and your diaphragm, and there were no stools in sight tonight. Liam has a superb voice, perfectly suited to Jack's guitar playing as it languidly unfolds and gently wraps itself around his words. Their sublety remained resolutely intact.
The other thing our music teacher (Mr Jackson) used to tell us was to look after our voices. "Gargle regularly with honeydew and speak only in a whisper, lest one's vocal cords should become dislodged". Words of wisdom of course, unless you're a blues singer, in which case drink bourbon, smoke tabs, shout at your good-for-nothing woman who done gone treated you wrong, then smoke another tab and drink a bit more bourbon.
So that's what Luke Pearson did before forming SACK THE JUGGLER, and consequently he's got the perfect blues voice. He must have really worked at it.
A four piece unit with Jamie Simpson, William Barber and Stephen Johnson on guitar, drums and bass respectively, Sack The Juggler kicked what can only be described as some ass.
Its one thing to be technically proficient, but Luke clearly feels this music coursing through his veins, and it shows. Nerves and sinews are stretched to breaking point to keep notching up that righteous passion just a little bit more. Then a bit more. Then a bit more. How long before the pressure cooker explodes all over the kitchen?
We'll not find out tonight, because at Whitby Now once your 25 minutes is up, you're off. (That's if you' were playing on the Saturday night of course, because due to unforseen circumstances all everyone was allowed to do an extra five minutes. On Friday, 20 minutes and that was your lot Sonny Jim!
Most of the people performing at Whitby Now have been around in various combinations playing gigs and generally popping up here and there about town, but what about TANIA RODWAY? I'd seen her on Jean's friends page and she came highly recommended by Mr Liddell. Mind you having a burger in one hand, a pint in the other and a fag in your gob is highly recommended by Mr Liddell, so that doesn't necessarily count for much.
As floor manager Kate Longmate, who kept proceedings running to time with the accuracy of a Space Shuttle launch, led Tania onstage, I was wondering whether her Whitby Now debut would be a nervy affair for the raven haired chanteuse.
I needn't have fretted. Once Tania hit her stride there was no stopping her. She kicked off with Ironic, the Alanis Morrisette song. When she hit one of the high notes, my glass actually shattered - and it was made of plastic!
A perfect contrast from Luke's searing anguished voice, Tania's notes were as clear and focussed as laser beams. Her set included Duffy's Warwick Avenue, a Eurythmics song, and I think one by Aretha Franklin, correct me if I'm wrong though.
We all fell in love with her. She said it was better than sex. I don't know, I can't remember that far back.
I spoke to Leafy before she went on with THE DTS, and now she actually believes she can perform photosynthesis. I think she must have been sitting under a bright light all day, because she had energy coming out of her ears, the lass.
They had their special electronic drum kit thingy onstage, and Leafy pouted, preened and vogued her way through 25 minutes of popular hits. In a frilly skirt, red tights and a bowler hat she ushered people up on the dancefloor to strut their stuff and fight for their right to party.
LOKI took to the stage with singer Paul 'Loki' Locker flanked on either side by Chris 1 and Chris 2. The fourth member of the band, Rodge appeared to be a small metallic looking electronic gizmo on a tripod in the background that Chris 1 was in charge of fiddling with.
Prior to their appearance, the DJs played Stone Roses and Happy Mondays tunes, and they were spot on. Paul has that swagger and confidence and the sheer energy of the music generates excitement in bucketfuls.
People took to the dancefloor spontaneously and it was like The Hacienda except by the sea and with cheaper drinks. Anthony H Wilson would have signed them up in a flash. I loved the one about MySpace. Brilliant subject.
After several tentative attempts, Paul finally mounted one of the wobbly monitor speakers and jumped offstage mingling with the dancers, and at one point swung his microphone round with such enthusiasm that it flew off the end of the cable forcing him to scurry across the dancefloor to retrieve it.
Loki, play Whitby more often! We love you. As Tania says, when is the LP out?
On Saturday, for one night only, The Forefathers became THE GOREFATHERS. Giant skulls were mounted on the speaker stacks at either side of the stage glowering out at the audience with seemingly evil intent to set the mood for the proceedings.
The Gorefathers turned up sporting crudely fashioned sack masks and it was time once again to accept a dose of medication from our resident rock doctors.
Great handfuls of maggots were thrown out into the audience from a bucket on the drum podium in keeping with the horror themed shenanigans. I bet it seemed funny at the time, but let's see who's laughing next year, when we turn up at Whitby Now 2009 and the place is buzzing with flies.
It always looks hard playing drums and singing, but Steve 'Controversial' Scott did superbly well to pull it off. He did vow never ever to play drums for The Forefathers again though. Shame, but possibly good news for any drummers looking for a job.
So it was all over in a cacophanous flurry of sackcloth and rock medicine. Two nights of absolutely amazing local talent that ran like clockwork from beginning to end. Everyone involved
should be immensely proud of themselves for what they've given to Whitby. I can't wait for next year.
The only sad thing was that our good friend Mr Horne couldn't be there, but we were with him and his family all the way. See you next year Jon.

Sunday, 16 November 2008


This review is actually a work in progress, but I thought I'd post it as it is and add stuff like photos as they become available. I just wanted to get something up on the net as soon as possible. Its a way of saying thanks to everyone involved for a totally superb couple of nights. It all ran like clockwork and everybody was completely chuffed.
JAMES AUGER kicked off the first ever Whitby Now weekender with an assured set. Despite being the only solo artist in the Friday night running order, his only ammunition being an acoustic guitar and an honest, plaintive voice, his songs filled the room. They reached out and touched people and that surely is the point.
A song about Gothenberg left me intrigued. What is it about the city that provokes Whitby musicians to write songs about it in their droves? Actually I can only think of two, James and High Tide, but you know. Maybe others will surface and the truth will out.
Since stumbling across DISCARNATE whilst idly trawling MySpace for Whitby bands, I've been instantly hooked. I think it's because they don't ease you into their world with a nice singalong cover, they just hit you with it. They are unlikely to be invited to play at a wedding.
I was hoping for an ear shredding set of obliterating guitar mayhem and pitch black growls dragged out of barbed wire vocal cords. I wasn't disappointed.
People who wouldn't normally be in the same room as a death metal band were at first stunned by the thrill of it all, then gobsmacked at the musicianship on show, and finally won over by the charm of four lads who managed to enter into the community based spirit of the event without ever sacrificing a single iota of credibility.
You can delve deeper into the heart of Discarnate by reading the Popwatch interview HERE.
THE SCARLETT ALLIANCE are a two piece inspired by The White Stripes and mirroring their line up of singer-cum-guitarist and drummer. Hell, even Jack's guitar is pillar box red. I don't think he had his famous special shoes on, but they're a sight to behold if you ever get the chance.
They have some good material and they're developing a sound of their own. Blue Skies is particularly beautiful. Simple and uplifting, if it makes you think of Summer when actually it's the middle of November by the icy North Sea in a dimly lit auditorium drinking lager from a plastic glass, it can't be bad.
For me they need to let rip and dirty things up sme more. Some songs need a knee in the plums before they give up their secrets. It's hard when there's just two of you against The World, but I like their philosophy of "This is how we're going to do it, and that's it."
THREE FOOT NINJA passed by like an express train in the night careering along on those glittering indie rails that so many bands have polished in the past.
As Three Foot Ninja played, a rumour that the Merkins, who were due to go on at 11.30pm as the next to last band, would be without a drummer started to spread around The Spa like a chinese whisper. Harry, their new drummer, and a very fine one at that, was having a problem with the house kit. A soap opera plot was starting to unfold in the usual Merkin way.
They've been through thick and thin this band, and if you don't believe me read their authorised autobiography HERE. It seemed clear that another controversial chapter would have to be grafted on.
Any thoughts of despondency were quickly quelled as WASTING CHARLIE took to the stage and pulled off a stunning set. They were obviously enjoying themselves, and that's always infectious. Girls were dancing right up close to the front with their hearts beating like hummingbird's wings. The bass player was all over the shop, up on the drum podium and jumping up and down like nobody's business.
They were tight and crisp, with an almost sixties guitar sound in a couple of the solos. It's that clean, melodic quality that cuts through the song and lifts it a few notches. I thought they had a lot more punch this time around. Its the best I've seen them play.
The Kings of Leon have become inexplicably popular lately. Nobody liked them when they sounded like themselves and had an intriguingly scruffy beardy backwoods look. Now they've turned into U2 suddenly they're worth their weight in gold, as a friend pointed out.
THE COMMITTEE began their set with a version of The Kings of Leons' popular hit tune On Call ( I think, please correct me if I'm wrong) in which a keyboard was used for the first, and possibly only time in the whole concert. Sounded so refreshing to hear an instrument you don't strum or hit for once.
They played a blinder despite some string related technical difficulties, which I only vaguely noticed myself. Dave the singer seems to think it compromised the set, but it didn't. No one spots stuff like that, it's how you cope with it that counts.
Their own songs are better than their covers. I Wonder Why has been likened by Jon Horne to Eddie and the Hotrods. Astute as ever, he's spot on. Marvellous.
Obviously it wouldn't be Whitby Now unless somebody came onstage dressed as a large banana and their fellow band member sported a giant donkey's head. That tradition was upheld this year by PANDA LASAGNE, who are always willing to step into the breech when something hugely daft is required.
As barmy as a weasel in a teapot, they pummelled out a string of surfbeat scattershots and sweated like Tom Jones on bonfire night. I particularly like the one where someone shouts 'Hey! Hey! Hey!' lots of times. Oh, and the one about that peanut off the Planter's packets with the monocle and the top hat.
For an insight into Panda Lasagne's somewhat off-centre psyche, there's an audio interview HERE.
The Merkins were now desperate, trying to contact one of their old drummers and get him to drop what he was doing and rush to the rescue, trying to persuade Kane Waterfield that he could do it, even though he didn't know the songs and was due to play in the band directly before The Merkins, they even toyed with the idea of gigging drummerless! At one point they were asking if any members of the audience would be willing to have their heads shaved and wear a purple stick on beard. It was that desperate.
James Whale had done a sterling job as compere for the evening, and fellow Yabbas had been in charge of the music between bands, which was better and more appropriate to the acts this year than it's ever been. Now it was YABBADABBADOO's turn to shine, and shine they did, like a 1000 watt light bulb. Within seconds the dancefloor was full of gyrating bodies, and happiness filled the room, and even spread to the smoking area outside. I swear I saw a seagull tapping his feet to that Magic Numbers song.
The songwriting of THE BANTER is about what they see around them. Not the urban jungles of the inner city, or the pretend americanisms of slick posers. Places such as Helredale and Baxtergate get namechecks. We all populate their songs in a way, because we live there too.
The Land That Time Forgot is a cracking tune, driven by a wiry guitar riff and Kane's superb drumming. When he stood shirtless on his stool at the end of their set, flinging his sticks far out into the audience, it was the sign of a band at the top of their game.
Its a good job they weren't asked to do an extra song actually. It would have been a bit quiet.
As all good soap operas do, THE MERKINS' saga came to a redemptive end. Harry relented and played a cracking set. Pug gripped the microphone like his life depended on it and heavy metal rained down on us once more. A disaster had been narrowly averted.
Unfortunately, as it always does, the audience thinned out a bit around eleven and sadly the band played to less people than their music warranted.
FIVE X NINE brought proceedings to a searing finale with their sheer driving rock force. Kyle was wound uplike a watchspring and was shouting people up onto the floor. It ended in a whirlwind of flailing guitars and shuddering foundations. Heaven.
To see FiveX Nine's rather mint video, click HERE.
Brilliant night!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


Here are the last five acts on Saturday night.

The order Jean gave me differs a bit from the one The Gazette printed, so I don't know for sure which one will prove correct, but who cares? As long as they all turn up and give it what for.

Eyes down, look in for a full house.


Sack The Juggler are a four piece blues band who don't have a MySpace site or any photos to speak of. Anyway, here's a juggler and a P45 form. I know its a bit literal, what do you want? Blood?
I can tell you that they create an intense soul vortex of sound, and Luke is no shrinking violet. He throws his head back and lets forth with such measured ferocity that the very fillings in your teeth will probably rattle free and fall out.
Expect heartbreaking blues, searing soul tunes and an expensive dentist's bill.


We used to go and see Carl every Thursday night at Rosie's and get him to do Shadows tunes like FBI and Wonderful Land. Come back Carl, we love you.

He's got lightning fingers this lad, even the Gazette says so. This year Clicker got Carl to light his annual bonfire by playing a Hendrix lick near to some wood. The resulting sparks ignited the kindling and WOOF! The whole lot went up (see picture).

A bucket of sand will be on standby at all times should the need for swift action arise. Be sure not to wear flammable clothing.


Rollercoaster, gotta make the most-a, dance dance dance the night away' as Barry Blue once sang. The DTs have a cavalcade of boogietastic covers that they've promised to bless us with, and boy are we ready to be blessed. Hallelujah!

The irrepressible Leafy got her name because of her uncanny ability to perform photosynthesis. Here she has absorbed all the light and colour from her fellow DTs leaving them drained and monochrome in comparison.

Other celebrities who can photosynthesise include Kate Moss, Robert Plant and Lesley Ash.

Loki are easily the best Manchester band to come out of Whitby. Their song 'Mint Town' was on Tom Robinson's 6 Music Radio show and they'll be unstoppable at Whitby Now.

Paul Locker goes at it like a man possessed. Always has done, and always will do, and its to his credit. I've seen him in bands in Whitby in the distant past, and he does the business.

With Chris Corner on bass and Chris 2 on guitar providing the propulsion, Loki could well take off like rockets into the night sky and explode in a shower of shimmeringred, green and blue.

As long as Ian Brown's not playing anywhere on Saturday that is.


When Alan left The Forefathers, rumours of their demise were rife but illfounded. More proof that you can't keep a good band down, and we're promised a spectacular finale tonight.

I sincerely hope Dave doesn't have too many difficult chords to play, because here he is struggling with a tricky Fdim7, and his brain is heating up so much that it's starting to emit light. Eeek!

For one night only they'll be performing as The Gorefathers. We don't know what they're going to do, but it'll probably involve lots of ketchup, so if you're intending having chips with tomato sauce from the snack bar, get in there before The Gorefathers buy up all the sachets.

There you go. That's Whitby Now 2008 all done and dusted. Its time to wander off home after a fantastic ten quidsworth of locally produced sonic pleasure and start preparing for next year

I leave you with the magnificent BARRY BLUE as a special treat to get you in the mood. Play this immediately before setting out.


The result of the latest Popwatch poll. The Question was 'Who wants to be a millionaire?'

We sent the results to The Oxford University Department of Statistical Analysis for a detailed breakdown of the voting patterns.

Unfortunately they were on a lunch break, so we did it ourselves. It seems most people want to be a millionaire, but some don't, and some don't either, because all they want is you. Yes you. Sat there at your computer. All they want is little old you.

Please have a go at the new Popwatch poll. Don't forget, people died for your democracy.

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Welcome to Saturday night at Whitby Now 2008. Once again all the bands that have MySpace sites are in the Popwatch links in the order they'll be appearing.

I've been battling a monumentally slow computer tonight. Also MySpace has gone all funny and I can't do any searches on it. I don't know if its just me or if its the same for everybody, so it's taken ages to do this seemingly trifling bit of guff.

These are the first five performers on the Saturday night. If you can be bothered to log on again in a couple of days time, the final five will be polished off in no uncertain terms.


Kicking off the second night of musical shenanigans is The Whitby Now band. As my research for this project involved not asking anyone about who was in this group, I've decided to have a guess, based on the fact that it will be made up of old seasoned Whitby Now stalwarts.
I reckon Enid Butler in full Elvis Vegas period get-up on vocals. Carl Robbo on extra twangy Hank Marvinesque guitar and Baron Bottomley (who sang 'Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington' at the first Whitby Now, and is pictured above) on piano and backing vocals. As for the rhythm section, I think Heath of Sludge Ghaut on bass, standing on amps and gurning, with Whitby's only percussionist/newsagent Martin 'Thunderbird' Verrill on the kit.
One can only dream.


This year there seemed to be more Goths than ever at the Halloween Goth Weekend, outnumbered only by middle aged gentlemen in anoraks sporting cameras with improbably long zoom lenses.
Tania will be adding a bit of darkness to the evening's light entertainment. Don't let her seemingly gothic looking MySpace site fool you though. Metabillyrockapopgoth is the way she describes herself, and who am I to argue?
Buy her a Blue WKD and welcome her to Whitby Now. She'll be the one in black, unless of course scientists invent a darker colour in the meantime.
A cider and black is right out, by the way!


For some reason Alex doesn't seem to be on MySpace anymore. This photo, seemingly taken from a boat at sea through the window of the Spa during the last Whitby Now, is the only known image of the elusive singer-songwriter in existence.
I remember seeing him at The Met recently, and despite other bands struggling with the notorious murky Met sound quality, his voice and guitar playing cut the air cleanly like a flensing knife through blubber. Recommended listening, well worth twenty minutes of quiet attention.
We like our whaling references round here.


Popwatch's favourite curly topped troubador regales us with more acutely observed and literate lyrics interwoven with chords wrung with fearless emotion from the strings of memory and loss.
He might do a Blondie song as well.
We're promised that Jon will be backed by The Madonnas too. I reckon they'll be made up of top Whitby musos, and I for one hope they'll go the whole hog and vogue like mad whilst wearing conical bras.
Listen out for Brian London, Snow Song and American Whiskey. Top songs all. Worth going the whole wide world to see.


Now truly finding their own voice after ditching a lot of The Beatles references, High Tide are cooking with gas (although frankly electricity might be cheaper in the current financial climate). I hope the minimal percussionist is going to be on.

They are pictured here at The Coliseum cinema watching a rare 3D version of the 2007 Whitby Now video. The best bit, where a drunken Lee Jones suddenly lurches towards the front of the stage, has just been on. Its almost like he's going to fall out of the screen!

They really remind me of King of Convenience. In fact the title of the Kings' first LP, 'Quiet Is The NewLoud', could be High Tide's manifesto.

For a taste of Kings Of Convenience, click here.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008


Here's the second chunk of the Friday night line up. As before, the bands are in the links section in order of appearance on the night, and they all have MySpace sites that are just tingling for a visit from you.

Both nights kick off at 7pm prompt, the doors are open from 6.30. Its a fiver each night, so thats approximately 50p per band. Cheap as chips (unless you buy 'em at Trenchers).

There will be no free sausages.


Tipped by Walesy out of Yabbadabbadoo for big things, and he should know, this band are growing in confidence and skill by the day. The new tune they've just uploaded to their website is fizzing with sparky poppiness and zest. Jon Horne thinks it's reminiscent of Eddie and the Hotrods, and he's right, that's no bad thing.
This picture of the band on a bridge signifies their current transitional state and reminds us that life is essentially a series of bridges we must negotiate successfully in order to fulfill our manifest destinies.
Or maybe they're just crossing a river.


With their tribute to Colin Duck's shop and the anthemic Stupid Tourists, how can you fail to enjoy the frisky and foolhardy Pandas?

A terrific acoustic gig earlier in the year and a triumphant stint at The Bridge in Ruswarp have made them as dear to the hearts of Whitby folk as Botham's Yorkshire Brack and putting 'eh?' at the end of every sentence.

Cheese on bread.


Frontman James is the compere tonight, so it'll be a quick change from his sparkly showbiz suit into his rock threads. Careful with that zip, or you'll be limited to Mica and Sparks songs! Still, Jean wouldn't mind.

Expect faultless covers and at least one of their own thrown into the mix for good measure. They're at their best at these big dos.

Yabbadabbadabbadabbadoo! Its one of those words that, when you type it, you're never quite sure where it finishes. Like Steve Macmanamanamanaman.


A new EP out on Rangam Records stuffed with fantastic tunes which showcase their evolving songwriting. Pent up energy channelled through electrified instrumentation. An impeccable dress sense and a cool demeanour. What more could you ask?

Well, how about different wallpaper? This photo wasn't taken at James Auger's house by any chance, was it?

The Banter have a Waterfield score of 1.


Pug's come over all Simon Sharma at the moment, what with his Merkins History, which you can find elsewhere on this page. Everyone should read it. Its utterly fascinating and sheds real light on how hard bands work just to keep going.

THE MERKINS' STORY is already in production in Hollywood with Johnny Depp playing Pug and Vin Diesel as Heath.

Should be a rivetting performance with Harry the new drummer, and at least one newly written song. A must see.

The Merkins also have a Waterfield score of 1.


A no holds barred, full fireworks finish to the first night. If you're in any doubt, check out the cracking video Dane made for the song Falling Hard. I'm looking forward to being blasted across the dancefloor and pinned against the back wall of the Spa by the sheer molten rock force of these lads.

A lot of people are puzzled by the name, and their claim that 5x9 in fact equals 42.

5 x 9 = a x b2(E2-E(abxc2))-cosine 23.000 + 79.347 x log .458 = 42
(Well that's how I worked it out anyway.)

Five x Nine are another band with a Waterfield score of 1.
So the final three bands of Friday Night each contain a Waterfield. Testament to the fact that Heath has done more than anyone else to keep the underground bubbling away nicely beneath Whitby's more visible mainstream. He's been putting gigs on for as long as I can remember.
Top man.

Monday, 3 November 2008


Whitby Now feels especially big and brassy this year. For a start its on two nights, so everyone will get to play after its gone dark. It was a controversial decision to split the traditional single big concert down the middle, but the proof of the pudding is in the spilling of a bit of it down your shirt, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm really looking forward to it this time. Some of my personal favourites are playing, at least two of which I have never actually seen live.

Anyway, here is a rundown of the acts in order, starting with the Friday night. Each one will get a twenty minute slot, which is an ideal time to showcase your talents without overdoing it and outstaying your welcome like that Auntie who comes to stay every Christmas.

Let's crack on then. Here are the first five. Stay tuned for the rest coming up over the next few days, or as soon as I can get this bloody computer to go a bit faster.


Autobiographacousticism of the highest order. Vulnerable and honest, listen to James unfold little bits of his life for you, and feel honoured.

Also check out the wallpaper. Is the whole house decorated like that?


Mark Liddell always likes to test his jokes out first before trying them on a live audience. Here are Discarnate after hearing the punchline of the one about two nuns and a donkey.

If you like having your brain excavated from inside your skull whilst a demon taunts you in a growly voice, they're the band for you. They have quiet bits too. But only to emphasise the LOUD BITS!


Popwatch faves Jack and Sam continue their voyage to the heart of the White Stripes' psyche. Drums, guitar and vocals. Anything more would be over egging the pudding.

Show your support by bringing something red along to wave at the stage. I'll be bringing a bank statement.


Spiky and taut guitar pop from a band that has supported The Subways on tour. Expect a tight and thrilling adrenalin rush, like having a ride in Barry Sneddon's Old Lifeboat after he's had a Tornado jet engine fitted for a laugh.

By the way, who's for a Vampire Prawns reunion?


Pictured here outside the Stakesby Arms at a loose end awaiting the arrival of their instruments. Despite the lack of a kit, the drummer
is still practicing. Now that's dedication.

An EP promised soon, new material for Whitby Now and probably a Kings of Leon cover to boot if Jean gets her way (KOL, as they're known to theit afficianados). Fill yer boots.

All the bands featured are at the top of the Popwatch links in order of appearance, so you can get an earful of their wares yourselves.


After attending Whitby Now in 2006 with Pete, we decided we could be as good as anyone playing that night. Not long after that, me and Pete hatched a plan. We put it to Death that we should form a band to conquer the local music scene, which was rising once again around the Whitby area .

With Death onboard The Merkins were born. We now had a band: Me (Pug) on bass and vocals , Death on guitar and Pete on drums. Death had a few songs already written, so after finding a place we could practice we soon had some material to unveil to the public. I was finding it hard to sing and play bass at the same time, so the decision was made that I would play bass and we would find another singer. This is where Heath comes into the Merkins family.

Having known Heath for a good few years, I asked if he knew of any singers we could try out, and to my amazement, or amusement, which ever way you want to look at it, he said he was thinking of having a go at fronting a band himself !!!

So after arranging an audition with him, Heath came down to Merkin HQ and just sat there looking rather scared of the mic. That's when I decided to give my bass to him and sing myself... The Merkins mk2 were born... More songs were written and practiced to perfection, and it was decided that Whitby Now 2007 would be the chosen event at which to debut our music.

Everything was slowly dropping into place what with our place on the Whitby Now bill confirmed. Things were looking good, until Heath dropped the bombshell that he wouldnt be able to play with us at the gig due to him having tickets to see Ian Bloody Brown of all people... Anyway we didn't give up on our big chance. We'd worked bloody hard to be ready for it, so we called in Death's nephew Dave to play bass with only 4 weeks to learn the songs from scratch! That was just six practices.

With a 6.30pm time slot, and me being rather drunk after knocking back large amounts of Southern Comfort backstage with Jay from Yabbadabbadoo, we were ready to ROCK! And rock we did!

What a debut , what a night. I think we went down ok and sounded awesome from what we were told after we finished, despite the sound onstage being terrible.

Debut gig out of the way we could now get down to the business of writing and rehearsing . With Dave putting in such a sterling performace on bass, we asked him to stay on with us as second guitarist and The Merkins mk3 were born... In this guise we continued to practice our set and played a few gigs at the Rifle Club Rangam events that Heath organised, and all was going well until Pete dropped another bombshell for the band. He was getting married and moving back to London... AAAAAAARGH!!! Will we ever get anywhere as a solid unit ????

We organised another gig at the Rifle Club as a farewell gig to our best mate and founding member, and we thought that would be it. Then we noticed a Whitby Now fundraiser coming up at the Resolution, so we bullied Jean to let us play it with Pete for another final farewell. Between Pete giving us notice of his departure and the farewell gig at the Resolution, the decision was made to carry on. With Pete gone we needed to find a new drummer and fast. Enter Matt on drums. We wanted to introduce Matt as Pete's replacement at the Resolution, so we wrote a new song so to make it easier for him to learn. With Pete helping me on vocals while Matt drummed, we had a blast at Petes last gig.

The line up was now Me (Pug) on vocals, Death on guitar, Dave playing second guitar, Heath on bass and Matt our new drummer.
The Merkins mk4 were born.

After a few months it was clear to us that Matt wasn't the man to step into the void Pete had left upon his departure, so the decision was made to replace him, but who with? The search was on yet again for a drummer, but everyone we asked was already in a band or too busy.

Was this to be the end of The Merkins? No way! In comes Paul "Harry" Harrison on drums. We all knew Harry from school days, and he fitted in from day one. Having not played drums for around 10yrs, it didn't take him long to get to grips with our tunes. It was like he'd been there from day one. We've even written a couple of new tunes, and we'll be unveiling one of them at this year's Whitby Now on Friday 14th November. We'll be taking to the stage at around 11.30pm.

Be there to witness the live debut of The Merkins mk5. We can't wait. Hope to see you all there. Thanks for sticking with us, it will be worth the wait. We've already started recording our debut ep, and we'll be finishing it off after Whitby Now, so keep your eyes open for it. Comin' in your ears soon...

This post (in case you hadn't worked it out) was written by Pug.
It appeared originally as a blog on their MySpace site.
Go on, send your band biography, or anything else for that matter, to Popwatch.