Men, mavericks and legends – Dave Randall on music industry issues and two stand-out Brixton gigs
In March we celebrated International Women’s Day. Let’s take that as an opportunity to repeat the call for greater gender parity in our music scene.
According to the PRS Foundation, the UK music industry as a whole is around 70% male, with that number rising in more senior industry roles, and in music production and engineering.
Indeed, a report commissioned by the Keynote initiative found that in a survey of 600 popular songs, a mere 2 per cent of them were produced by women.
Figures for crew, technicians and sound engineers are slightly better, but there is still a very long way to go until anything approaching parity is achieved.
Since we last discussed this issue in the pages of the Bugle, the mainstream music industry has started to respond. Industry magazine Music Week dedicated an issue to the topic last year, eliciting assurances from industry big-hitters such as Glastonbury Festival’s Emily Eavis that the problem is being taken seriously and progress is being made.
Despite the best efforts of some excellent local venues, promoters, artists, individuals and collectives, Brixton seems for the most part to reflect the broader trend and women remain under-represented onstage, as technicians and elsewhere in the local scene. Clearly there is work to be done to support and encourage women in the industry and women and girls in music education.
Sadly, my two top picks for the month do not buck the gender disparity trend. The first even suggests that fact in its title. But they are still well worth a look …
The One Man Band Festival, which takes place across the Blues Kitchen chain, looks like it’ll be a blast. According to the advertising blurb the event “celebrates the supreme talents of those individual musicians that single-handedly deliver the full sounds of a multi-piece band”.
The Brixton leg takes place on Thursday 21 March when we’ll be treated to Son of Dave, a maverick bluesman providing a one-man harmonica and beat-box experience. This won’t be your average blues show – expect a brilliantly bizarre one-man-musical-mash-up.
Support comes from local lad Adam J. Harmer of the Fat White Family, AKA One Man Destruction Show, who promises to single handedly take us on an epic rockabilly and garage’n’blues journey.
On Friday 29 March the Hootananny hosts a rare performance from Harlem’s political poetry and hip-hop legends The Last Poets.
The group was born in the wake of the civil rights movement at an event commemorating Malcolm X’s birthday in 1968. Their 1970 self-titled album established them as one of the most important influences in early hip hop, and they are often cited alongside Gil Scott Heron as seminal hip-hop progenitors, poets and commentators. Last year, on the 50th anniversary of the band’s inception, they delivered their first album in over 20 years: Understand What Black Is. They’ll be joined by Nostalgia 77, Zena Edwards, Moody Boyz and D. WattsRiot.
Dave Randall is a musician and author of Sound System: The Political Power of Music.