Music promoters have hitherto only interpreted Birmingham in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” Danny went to speak to someone who thinks the new boss doesn’t have to be the same as the old boss, it can be a democratically elected representative of an autonomous collective. 

There is a spectre haunting this interview – the spectre of Birmingham Promoters. 

A few years ago, when most people at gigs had never washed their hands, Birmingham Promoters had a near monopoly of smaller gigs in some of our best venues.

Then came the Brum music scene’s rejection of the man running it; called out publicly for misogyny and sexual assault back in 2021, after the rumours and whispered warnings from victims and friends to other women finally got heard. Since then, Birmingham Promoters has scrubbed its presence off the internet, its not clear they or the company (BPL Events LTD) has been doing or whether they actually received the £115,759 granted to them by the Cultural Recovery Fund. Birmingham Promoters seems to be more gone than the R-rate. 

Now that we’re pretending the pandemic is over and the music scene in Birmingham begins to brush itself off, get its hands dirty, and get back to its feet, you have to wonder who will fill the gap. Mark Roberts says he has part of the solution. 

Seeing advertisements for Birmingham Co-Operative Promoters and their inaugural event The Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism Party I knew I had to speak to him. Mark arrives on time and instantly buys me a drink. Tall and slender he suits the vintage vibe he gives off, the maroon leather jacket matching his deep red Dr Martens, despite looking like a hippy, he politely asserts his turn at the bar when the bartender asks ‘who’s next’ in a situation many would demurely acquiesce.

During the interview he is animated and eloquent and sometimes leans down towards the recorder when he wants to talk to you, the reader directly.

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In praise of Brummagem: Home of the ancient street ballad

Jon Wilks has been our gateway in to realising that Birmingham has a folk song tradition that’s rich and varied. Jon says that he started writing about traditional folk music as a way to learn more about it, and he’s a fine interpreter of them too. His first LP of Midlands folk has been a firm favourite at Paradise Circus Towers, and not just for him inserting a reference to the Friday night trek from The Ship Ashore to Snobs in his version of  I Can’t Find Brummagem.

Anyone who knows a bit about the history of Birmingham and the Midlands will be able to tell you a bit about car manufacturing, chain and nail making. It’s no coincidence that the region is so heavily related to heavy metal. But here’s a little-known fact. Long before Ozzy Osbourne showed up, Birmingham was known for manufacturing of a different kind. Songs were involved, and on an industrial scale, too.

According to the late, great Roy Palmer (a scholar of traditional music in the area), Birmingham was a major producer of street ballads. Sometimes known as broadsides or penny ballads, these were songs that were printed on single sheets of paper and sold on street corners. The seller would sing the song he was hawking, and if you liked the tune, you stopped by and bought one. Some were traditional folk songs with no clear origin, and some set contemporary news stories to music. Whatever the subject, Birmingham produced far more of these songs than you might think possible.

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Do they know it’s bin day? We release charity single in support of bin strikers

Last bin day, we went out to see if the bags had been collected outside PC towers and instead found a package addressed to us. It contained the master tape for a song with more hooks than we have different types of bins to sort our recycling into. No other details were provided, it’s like the bin made a record. So we’re putting it out, and leaving it out.

(I’ve Lost All My Respect For You) Since the Bin-Men Went On Strike is the first release on Paradise Circus Records.

The way the strike has been covered in the media has created a bit of a bad smell with a lot of rubbish spoken, recycled with dumb opinions all over social media. No-one goes on strike lightly, it’s always a last resort for workers to give up pay to protest, and we felt that they needed to hear that a lot of Brummies appreciate how hard they work to keep our city clean and the collections safe.

Without our refuse workers things have wheely bin bad, and that shows how much we need them. We hope the single is picked up, and makes a clean sweep in the charts.

The single is on sale on iTunes, everywhere else you can buy digital music, and you can stream it on Spotify.

All proceeds will be donated to the union strike fund.

Support the Brum Bin Strikers on Facebook.

Up the charts, up the workers!

Premillennial Tension: revisiting Birmingham in 1999

It’s 1999, Birmingham, the end of the millennium and Jim Vale, aka Jimmy Tyrant, singer of one hit wonders The Tyrants, has lost everything he once loved. Like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and many rockers before him, Jim tries to end it all by committing suicide at the age of twenty seven. Trouble is… he survives.  To clear his debts the band’s manager suggests Jim fake his own death – just for a while – so they can raise The Tyrants’ profile and sell some records.

But as the press and the fans wonder more and more about the disappearance of the mysterious  Jimmy Tyrant, Jim gets drawn deeper into Birmingham’s gangland and  further  away from his ex-girlfriend, his troubled family and music. Making music and making music while traveling is something that can be eye-opening and make one feel better.

Karaoke-singing gangsters, reclusive teenage internet millionaires, sex, drugs and rock and roll all collide as Jim tries to understand the person he has become, to come to terms with his tumultuous past and somehow make it beyond the age of twenty seven.

27” is a book about one man’s search for love, music and his true self.

In this extract Jim has come back to a city in flux. Birmingham is leaving its industrial past to flat line. It is a city that’s centre has been ripped open and torn apart for the rebuilding of the Bull Ring Shopping Centre. Fin de siècle Birmingham was the ideal setting for a story of upheaval, confusion, fear and change.

Oh, and according to Nostradamus, it will soon to be the end of the world. And the millennium bug is going to help it along. Remember the millennium bug? The music industry was also mutating; the first Pop Idol TV show has been aired in New Zealand and is winging its way like a hungry Pterodactyl to our shores.

We join Jim after he has secured a bolthole in the city centre to hide from the not so bothered press. Now he needs to secure his future with a solo album and find the girl he left behind for a life on the road…
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101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 58: The Last Night of the Proms


As the orchestra parps, the squiffy toffs bray, and the BBC commentators struggle with pitching their insight towards an audience that pretty much only wants to watch for the 1812 Overture, please remember to direct some of your swelling pooterish patriotism towards Birmingham. For without the global city there would be no local musical pride.

The Proms were launched in 1895 by some people in London, but they were not the first regular musical festival season, not by a long way. That may well have been the Birmingham Triennial Musical Festival which pre-dated the proms by over one hundred years.

That first music festival in Birmingham, held over three days in September 1768, was to help raise funds to complete the new General Hospital on Summer Lane. It took another event ten years later in 1778 to achieve the funds to open the hospital in September 1779. A further five years on, in 1784 the performances became the Birmingham Triennial Musical Festival, and after calling it that they decided to run it every three years.

It was so bloody popular they built the Town Hall (in 1834) to house it, and it took the War to End All Wars to end it. But that spirit lives on, every September: with added plastic Union Jack bowler hats.

And the Last Night of those proms wouldn’t be the same without the Pomp and Circumstance of one Edward Elgar who was Professor of Music at the University of – wait for it… – Birmingham. He wouldn’t be where he is today without the city or its musical ambitions, four of his major choral works were commissioned by the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival.

Birmingham, land of hope and glory.

Image CC By: Steve Bowbrick

101 Songs Birmingham Gave the World


As part of our making our 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World book, we promised to make an ‘album’ – an album of 101 songs that Birmingham gave the World.

Our rules were simple — the songs couldn’t have existed in this form without the city of Birmingham. That means Brummie songwriters, musicians, instruments, recording studios or subjects. Where the connections are a little more tangential, well we’ll let you work those out, and you can hassle us and each other in the comments. The other rule: it had to be on Spotify, so no Funky Moped, or Brummie moptops The Beatles.

We’re not saying that it’s the best 101 songs that Birmingham has produced*, but it’s a fantastic 6 hour listen — and of course it will finish with Mr Blue Sky.

101 Songs Birmingham Gave The World: Now that’s what I call Paradise Circus.

See the full 101 rundown here:

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101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 51: The Beatles

1.6.14 Bollington Festival 34

The Beatles, when they started, were not much more than a bunch of pretty boys with guitars. And guitars were going out of fashion. They got popular, but may well have slunk out of cultural history in the same way as, for example, The Applejacks – if it wasn’t for Sgt Pepper. Routinely named as the greatest album of all time in every list known to man the real glue that holds this album together is not George, Ringo, John and Paul’s playing, writing or vivid imagination but the Brummie legend that is the Mellotron.

Made by Bradmatic Ltd of Aston, Birmingham, The Mellotron was an odd looking contraption that chimed with Brum’s long held unofficial title of ‘A city of a thousand trades’ by being the first instrument of ‘18 sounds’ greatly expanding the possibilities of musical hippies, svengalis and The Moody Blues, the world over.

In a complex operation that could only have been conceived by the genius minds of Brummies exposed to the daily intake of the fumes of the HP Sauce factory across the road, The Mellotron allowed musicians to have 18 ‘instruments’ at the touch of their fingertips. Their right fingertips, on the right keyboard had lead ‘instruments’ like strings, flutes and brass and the left fingertips, on the left keyboard had pre-recorded musical rhythm tracks in various styles.
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