At the send-off event for Above The Beyond Track, Getintothis’ Amaan Khan takes in the harmonious sense of community in Liverpool’s music scene.
Above The Beaten Track or AtBT took the responsibility of being the festival for Liverpool’s up and coming back when there were none others doing so. Years later, the people involved with the festival have moved on to various other ventures and turned the city into a vibrant place full of festivals that cater to various cultures and various stages of an artist’s career – from hosting the big names to showcasing the ‘pre-cool‘ (the term Chris Carney of Threshold uses for the festival)
Having served its purpose and having had a good run, the people associated with AtBT decided to come back to the festival’s prime location at Bluecoat to give it a proper send-off and invite you to join them at the event which they called Beyond The Beaten Track. As a result, we find ourselves amid a gathering of all the regular faces that we have stumbled across at various events over the past few years.
The proceedings begin with a welcome note from our host David McTague (popularly known for Mellowtone) following a panel of Kaya Carney (Threshold), Yaw Owusu (LIMF), David Lally (Liverpool Biennial) and Abbey Anderson (Africa Oyé) discussing how to get into the music industry by reciting their own personal stories and answering questions from the audience. The following second panel sees Owusu joined by Chris Carney (Threshold), Graham Holland (Liverpool Acoustic) and Kevin MacArthur (Smithdown Road Festival) to discus how promoters work, their obligations, challenges and what they look for in artists.
The panels in their humorous flow touch upon various topics like presence of bias towards non-Merseyside acts, promoter and artist relations, ideal e-mailing etiquettes, resilience required for a musical career, the ease and importance of networking in Liverpool etc. with extensive participation of the audience which consisted of personalities like Mersey Wylie, Blue Saint and Mook Loxley.
With the opportunity to talk to all the panel members and other established figures between these sessions, the first half of the event was a golden opportunity for any artist, promoter or music enthusiast who is just starting out. It was like a highly motivating and informative masterclass for music business with so much to take from and some free wine on the side. How often do you find events like this?!
Later in the evening, the party recedes to the bar, where under a canopy of fairy lights, Silent Cities soundtracks the gathering with his ambient guitar work and falsetto phrases. An act with just a guitar and voice always risks facing the assault of audience chattering, but if the act is any good, you can see the chatter die down to whispers at the back end of the venue. Silent Cities is good.
When revered wordsmith and melody-maker Nick Ellis takes the stage prophetically mentioning the dire going-ons in America to the sounds of a drone-like guitar, we are reminded that though we are in music business for having a good time, there is a political – nay, a moral – voice and obligation of the art that shouldn’t get overlooked. He rightly echoes the hall singing ‘We’re all under the same abuse‘ and pays homage to Stanley Ambrose too. In the end, he leaves our mouths ajar and hearts grateful for his and his music’s friendly poke to our conscience.
It’s difficult to measure success of events sometimes. Do you count the people in attendance? But Beyond The Beaten Track had a small intimate audience and the intimacy was one of the prime and most important features of the event that made it into a friendly affair. The networking discussed and revered in the panel discussions was at work here with friendly chats with all the who’s who of Liverpool’s immediate music industry just a hello away.
The brains behind AtBT and the night’s event must have done something good along the way that when they called people to celebrate their run, the sweetly soundtracked gathering created contained nothing else but compassionate and supportive creative industry figures and their good intentions. Regardless of whatever might be going around the world: here we found only welcoming love.
Photos by Getintothis’ Paul McDermott