Notice: AB undergoing WordPress upgrade

I’m currently upgrading About Brum to the latest stable WordPress – I’ve left it too long without updating and it was becoming dangerously obsolete, so I took the plunge a little earlier today.

There will be some temporary ugliness but fortunately the WP coders have made upgrading to a new point release wonderfully simple – one click to update the database, step-by-step instructions that cover even non-standard installations, and just about all of my pre-existing settings, plus all my previous posts and categories have been carried over without a problem.

The last thing to be  completed is a transition to a new theme; I should have this finished by this evening so please bear with the temporary ugliness or occasionally distorted page layout as I tweak the final design.


Moseley Folk Festival lineup announcement coming soon…

For all folk lovers (and I know there’s a few of you out there, I’m partial to a little of it from time to time) TheTicketSellers just announced that they’ll be “releasing the full lineup at the Tunng & Tinariwen gig at the Rainbow Warehouse on Adderley Street, Digbeth on Saturday 28th March.” The festival itself gets underway on the 4th of September, 2009 (running through until the 6th).

 With previous artists including Kate Rusby, José González, Fairport Convention, Morcheeba and Tunng, odds are on that this year’s lineup will be just as diverse.

To quench your thirst for folk in the meantime, the Moseley Folk Festival web site has an excellent archive of past performances (including a bunch of them on YouTube) plus plenty of photos to accompany. Tickets for this year’s MFF go on sale on the 1st of April, and will probably be around the £55 mark – bookmark their Shop and check back then 🙂

Mysterious white powder covers Midlands; civilisation breaks down slightly

… Or slides into a row of parked cars, as I saw earlier this evening. (Turns out that this white powder can also be extremely costly for some people.)

Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, Birmingham has once again been swathed in snow. Local Highways Agency gritter depots run out of rock salt, more salt is brought over on boats from Spain and Italy (but won’t arrive until several days after the worst weather has passed) and people are once again reminded that no, you can’t just put the car into first gear and off you go. High gears low revs, people! And if you have a rear wheel drive car… Just stay at home, it’s best for everyone.

And of course, time for some customary pictures, courtesy of local publications the Brummagem Mail and the Sunday Mercury (here’s their offering). A little word of advice from the Met Office as well, via the Mail’s web site:

A low pressure system from the south is due to hit the region on Monday, bringing with it up to 15cms of snow. And with no thaw on the horizon, any snow is likely to stick and remain on the roads for days.

Flippin’ eck, that means I’m going to have to pack the table salt in the rucksack this week. The Mail’s report continues;

“We’ve got a band of sleet and snow in the north Midlands on Sunday which clears as the day goes on,” a Met Office spokesman said last night, “but the main complication is a low pressure system in the south bringing snow and sleet, which may or may not reach the Midlands. It’s more likely to stick if it does come and then we’re looking at between 10 and 15 centimetres of snow. There’s no sign of a thaw so it could well be more serious than last week. Even if it (heavy snow) doesn’t hit the region, it’s still another wintery week and the hardest hit area will probably be Warwickshire.”

Prepare for some more sledging days telecommuting days as you unfortunately can’t make it to work! For shame.

Moving on to this little corner of the web: I’d like to proffer the excuse that AboutBrum’s not received any updates due to my Internet connection being snowed in for a few weeks, but unfortunately real life has taken precedence. I’m currently almost finished in my final year at University (at BCU/UCE/BBC/whatever they call themselves these days), and projects, coursework and sleep seem to be soaking up more and more of my free time. However, at the last Birmingham Blogger’s Meet I attended I managed to snatch a few minutes of Mr. Booth’s time to run a few ideas past him for this humble web site - and as he didn’t immediately snap back that my ideas were a load of old codswallop, I think my ideas may have a little potential 🙂

(Note to readers: if you see a slightly crazed-looking bloke wandering around Brum town centre with a portable audio recorder, don’t approach him. He will, no doubt, be me.)

I have a sneaky redesign planned for this web site too, so watch out for that. Anyway, safe travels and try not to fall over walking to the shops (like I already have once or twice.) Ta-ra a bit!

Notice Birmingham on telly this Christmas?

Welcome to 2009 everyone 🙂 Been quiet on this blog recently but plan to hit the ground running in 2009 so keep an eye on this place. 🙂

If you had your beady eyes open this Christmas (I didn’t!) you will have noticed that Sky used the German Market as the background for their Christmas idents across Sky1, 2 and 3. 

Check them out on YouTube:

(Hat-tip to Simon Howes for pointing it out to me, I’d not watched Sky throughout the entirety of Christmas so missed it on TV completely!)

Seven hours to kill and nowhere to go? Try this.

This sounds like fun – a shame I’m 80 miles away from Birmingham this weekend, this gig sounds exactly like the kind of thing which could keep me entertained for hours.

As LiveBrum explains;

Project X Presents invites you on a journey into the heart of Digital Dystopia.

A carefully sequenced evening during which many performers combine to present a seamless 7 hour show of sound, light and interaction…an “omnimedia experience”. Three stages and multiple projection screens will allow the presentation of a seamless flow of multi genre entertainment, including bands, performers, comedians, VJs, DJs, dancers, poets.

A few of the Headline acts: 360, Subsource, Marc Reck, Reginald D Hunter, Rich Batsford, Shana Tova. Tickets are £10.

UPDATE: The excellent Radio To Go podcast has produced a show dedicated to the Project X Presents event on Sept 13 and featuring a great selection of tasters of the music. Check it out for a listen here:

This sounds really quite fascinating – so if you like your alternative music and fancy some stimulation of several senses at once (maybe more if you drink alcohol!) then trip along to BUSK tomorrow evening. Smashing.

Journey to the centre of the Brummieverse, this week on Radio 4

A short and sweet entry this time for the end of July. If you missed “Centre of our World”, the six-part insight into Birmingham’s diverse ethnic communities written and presented by Birmingham’s very own Professor Carl Chinn, Radio 4 are currently repeating the series every day this week at 3:45pm. Starting with Birmingham’s Irish community, the programes move onto the Polish, Yemeni, Chinese and Greek Cypriot communities over the course of the shows. At 15 minutes long, the programmes are just right to ‘dip into’ – so go take a listen.

If you missed the first three episodes, you can listen to them for the next few days on iPlayer.

Trouble Bruin in the Black Country

Bostin Bullring! It’s not just canals coming out of the Black Country these days, we have some superheroes all of our own too. Employing the talents of Matthew Craig, Donato’s bringing the Bostin Heroes to the world – and he’ll be on the radio on Sunday to talk about it. From the Brum Mail article about the idea; 

Some of the Bostin comic book characters.

“It will be a Midlands-themed comic, aimed at a broad audience, but anchored in familiar landmarks, such as Dudley Castle and the Bullring.

“Over the coming weeks, teaser images and background material will appear on the website, gradually introducing the characters and their world, in advance of the launch of the ongoing strip.

“I am hoping that it will capture the public’s imagination as there is a hero inside all of us.”

The strip will be written by Matthew Craig, aged 32, from Perry Barr, and illustrated by Jack Davies, 20, from Sutton Coldfield. Matthew, a former molecular biologist, and Jack, who has been drawing since the age of four, have both been tipped as Britain’s next big comic book creators.

…and From Mister Bostin himself:

You’ll be pleased to hear that i will be on BBC WM this Sunday 27th at 2pm ish on Carl Chinn’s show to talk in more detail about the comic and some of the stories that will be unfolding.

If you are not in the UK you can listen to all BBC WM shows live or on play again at hCarl Chinn’s BBC Birmingham feature page along with details how to message Carl at this page too.

If you want to see the comic and meet the team behind it, they’ll both be at the Birmingham International Comics Show this October.

Image credits: Birmingham Mail and Bostin Group

Creative Republic gears up for another August brainstorm

The Creative Republic bods are about again… More often they can be found drumming up interesting new ideas for the West Mids, but this time it’s all about the City Centre:

We are delighted to be hosting the second in a series of new events designed to inform and update you about key projects and issues affecting the city and region.

This time our focus is the Big City Plan, the new masterplan for Birmingham city centre. The Plan was launched in February 2008 and the City Council is keen to engage with a large cross section of people to help shape the future of Birmingham. This event is being held with the support of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and features leading speakers:

  • Mark Ball, Head of Events and Exhibitions at the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Cllr Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council
  • Jerry Blackett, Chief Executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

While the Big City Plan clearly embraces the vitality and energy that a thriving creative and cultural sector can bring to the city, this is your chance to find out how the plan will affect YOU and your business. What do you need or want in the next 20 years to make Birmingham the city in which you can thrive, not just survive? The Big City Plan has great ambition: but it will only succeed with the drive and determination of all its citizens. Creative Republic gives you the opportunity to make your voice heard where it matters – with the instigator of this exciting process.

The full info, schedule and other event details can be found on the Creative Republic site, and you can find more about Birmingham City Council’s Big City Plan project at

…And if anybody from BCC is reading this, I’d still quite like to know exactly how Eastside Park is going to turn out!

Mmmmmmmmm… Jazz Festivals. Nice.

[A quick note about the lack of posts recently – my apologies, I’m currently busy moving house. Normal service resumes shortly!]

Fancy a bit of music to brighten up your July? You’re in luck. For the 24th successive year, The Birmingham International Jazz Festival opens its doors – today! From the 4th to the 13th of July, Jazz fans are spoilt for choice, in no small part due to the continued work of Midlands music stalwart Jim Simpson from Big Bear Music (and, having been in the business since 1968, rightly describes Big Bear as ‘probably the longest established independent record company in the UK‘… and you’re wondering how the Big Bear name came about, check the web site for the amusing backstory!)

The fest has gone all modern and suchlike this year too… 2008’s event has brought with it a new (impressively snazzy) web site, complete with Twitter profile, Flickr profile, Last.FM showcase of associated artists, detailed programme information for each day of the fest, a blog… Plus some potentially interesting new features, like an Archive of previous years’ events (currently in the works). I suspected a bit of local design talent was involved in this revamp, and it looks like Dave and his cohorts at Fireloop Creative have come up trumps with a lovely little web site; distinctive yet restrained, it’s a real pleasure to explore. Remember kids, simple is good. (By contrast, AB is neither an example of particularly simple nor a particularly good site… or refined… but then again, my design work has most definitely taken a backseat for the moment. 😉

So, If you want the lowdown on what’s going on, check out the very detailed programme of events and pootle along for some music and good times. If it’s raining – come anyway! I can guarantee the music will brighten your day up regardless of the meteorological conditions.

And anyway, who doesn’t like a good bit of sax of an afternoon?

Birmingham’s newest music venue opens, to the sound of Drop D powerchords

Birmingham has been plagued by a spate of rumoured (and actual) venue closures in the past few years, and also been unlucky with others (memorably, the burning down of Eddie’s, near New Street Station, a great blow for fans of alternative music and a decent night out). However, Roy and Jaci Davis have just opened the doors to The Asylum, a brand new live music venue next door to The Madhouse (which they also run). Sporting a £60,000 soundsystem, a 400 capacity and the treasured smoking area, this venue – still unfinished! – is already looking like a shit hot, potentially permanent fixture for many bands’ UK tours. If you’re wondering what prompted me to write this… Well, I’m currently at the launch gig (“Clive Aid”) and the bands are rocking out! if you can hear a disturbance in the force, that’s the system in this place 😉

I had a quick chance to speak to Roy and he tells me there are loads of gigs lined up, including one every other night in July! – so if you’re a fan of rock, metal and anything inbetween, keep your eye on this place as it bodes well for the future. I’ll try and get some time with Roy to put together a full article, but I’m so stoked that live music in Birmingham has a really good new venue, particularly as it’s being run by two people who have put so much of their time, energy and money into this venue – and they actually like the music and are dedicated to the cause!

Stay tuned for the full article…

(Also, apologies for my dodgy spelling before I revised this post, I typed it up on my phone’s tiny keyboard in the venue!)

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