Pint of Science

We are bang in the middle of a festival of science that links Middlesbrough with cities across the world and brings science and scientists into the more homely and comfortable setting of the pub.

“Pint of Science is a non-profit organisation that brings some of the most brilliant scientists to your local pub to discuss their latest research and findings.”  The great thing from the audience point of view is that you don’t need any prior knowledge, and it is a real opportunity to meet the people who could be the future of science (and have a pint with them).

Pint of Science runs over a few days in May in cities throughout the world from Brazil to Australia to 21 locations in Britain, including Dickens Inn, Middlesbrough. Specific topics are selected and Pint of Science, Middlesbrough has opted for Planet Earth. Programmed here by Teesside University Dr Dave Errickson, this forensic archaeologist has opted for the broadest interpretation of Planet Earth including even North Yorks folklore and the mysterious Hobs.

Tonight, (Tues 16th May) in conjunction with Middlesbrough Local History Month we have Cooking Up Local Stories and Folklore with two local favourites, Middlesbrough Museum’s Phil Philo and BBC Tees Bob Fischer. Phil will be bringing Captain Cook’s natural scientists and their incredible finds under the 21st century microscope in Gotta Catch ‘Em All. Bob will be delving into the shadowy half world of the hobs and other mythical creatures that were a very real part of rural life for the people in North Yorks Moors as he goes Hobnobbing with the Hobs.

Tomorrow night (Wed 17th May) in the same Dickens Inn venue we fly off in two very different directions again.

Spacecraft: Writing in Another Dimension – poet Harry Man has collaborated with astrophysicists, neuroscientists and ecologists, creating new interdisciplinary work which is poetry Jim, but just not as we know it.

Explore how one poem began its journey here on Earth only to be blasted into space and placed in orbit around the planet Mars, and new frontiers in adventures in the English language that evolved into poems specifically designed for those with dyslexia, poetry without words, and poetry made to be read as it slowly dissolves into the ocean or melts in the open air.

Amy Carrick River Tees Officer with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust asks: How Many Bats Can You Fit in a Pint Glass? Answer, “At least 30 (but make sure you drink the beer first!)”

Amy will tell us about all the small mammals of the Tees Valley and what the Trust is doing to monitor them. Some questions she may or may not answer are: How do we know what bat is where and what they are jibbering on about? How do we know where otters like to chill out on their couches? How do we know what water voles have for their tea?

Expect plenty of visuals with all these talks and the chance to get up close and personal with ideas, myths, facts, science and the our planet earth.

Both fun and fact packed evenings are just £4 and can be booked ahead online to ensure you have a comfortable seat to listen and a space to park your pint. Doors 6:30pm. Event 7:00-9:00pm Pint of Science




Introducing Corey Bowen Middlesbrough Young Alt Pop Pretender

At the tender age of 21 Corey Bowen is a veteran of two of the biggest musical festivals in Green Man and T in the Park. He has released two superb singles in the startling psychedelic debut of  ‘If Birds Wish To Fly’ followed by the fizzing pop of ‘Back To 95.’ He now has his sights firmly set on a third release. You could say Corey Bowen is coming of age as one of Middlesbrough’s brightest musical hopes.

Corey Bowen is described by BBC Introducing’s Bob Fischer as being “quietly eccentric (which I like)” and creating music “as fresh as a daisy.” Bob’s first contact with Corey was hearing “If Birds Wish To Fly” which the BBC Tees man described as being “a lovely, loopy bit of psychedelic pop.”

I can only agree. I fell in love with the song immediately on hearing it. So, I was excited at the prospect of meeting the new Middlesbrough music guru.

I caught up with Corey, on a gloriously warm and sunny summer’s afternoon at the doughnut bar in Linthorpe Road. I reflected it was such a fitting day to meet and chat with a young man who released such a slice of summery pop as Back to 95. It has all the upbeat optimism for your summer holiday perusing and musing.

Q: Tell me a little bit about your background Corey.

corey bowenCorey: I got into songwriting and playing instruments when I was about 13. The first thing that I really thought to do within music was write songs. I was never really that keen on being a fantastic guitarist or anything like that it was always about words and writing as opposed to the instruments. I suppose when I got a bit older I got more of an interest in the sound of guitars and different synthesisers etc but it has always remained the most important thing writing the actual words.

It came from a lot of the music that my mam was listening to at the time. She was listening to a lot of The Smiths CDs and somehow through that I discovered Nirvana and that side of it. Just a classic teenage music fan story but I always credit Morrissey and Nirvana as the first artists that actually made me want to do music when I was that age.

Q: So, artists from before you were born.

C: Well, yes, it is strange really.

Corey’s friend: A lot of music on the way to football as well.

C: We played football as kids, age 10 or 11 our dad’s would have CDs on in the car. My dad to this day buzzes because he had the first ever Arctic Monkeys demo in his car. There were probably a few dodgy ones. But my dad used to listen to Ocean Colour Scene and Oasis, so he got me onto a lot of Brit Pop, from quite an early age I was quite familiar with that. But my dad also got me into Billy Joel as well, who is one of my favourite songwriters ever.

Q: A crafter of songs.

C: Yes, absolutely. He is. It is a lot to do with my parents in terms of first getting into music. They are not musical people as such but it was the first time I was shown music. It was the first music I knew and listened to properly. That is kind of how I got into it.

Q: You have a single out now. But how and when did you start performing?

C: I have at the minute yes. I started performing after 2 or 3 years of playing. When I got to 14 or 15 I was thinking where can I go with it now. In school I was looking for people that could play instruments. At the time a couple of my close friends in school were getting into playing instruments so it was a natural thing to start playing together. So, yes I was probably about 15 when I started playing live.

The first gig I played was in Middlesbrough Music (used to be near the bus station). Do you know where the acoustic instruments were at the back? There used to be nothing there. So I used to go in and would ask Tony, “will you let my band play?” and he said, “yes.” And he let us use all the nice guitars from the shop because we had ropy equipment at the time. That was the first time we played live.

Q: When did you go and play in a live venue.

C: With bands when I was younger I played in venues around the town at various gigs that mates were putting on. I didn’t start getting gigs that had real significance until I started performing under my own name. I didn’t start writing and recording under my name until I was about 18 or 19. I am 21 now. That was when I started to really take it seriously.

I think starting to write and record under my own name for me was symbolic of me dedicating all of my time. It is a cliché but it is my life now. I don’t have any other commitments.

When I started performing under my own name or writing under it and releasing stuff that is when I started getting gigs around the country. I put a demo on line and it was the first thing that I had ever released under my own name. Right off the back of that, a couple of weeks or maybe a month later I ended up being asked to do a tour. From there it started to snowball and I started to get better gig offers and bigger gig offers.

Q:  It is a great starting point that people made you offers after hearing and liking your music.

C: Yes definitely. When I put that first demo on line I was very much doing it for myself, for something to do. That was what I enjoyed doing. It wasn’t doing it to go out looking to tour or even play live to be honest. It was never something that I envisaged with this guise. I’m happy that it happened, very much so. I have played some really good gigs since.

Playing live isn’t the focal point of what I do. Although it is the root of a lot of factors. But it has never really been the main thing. It was after that tour that I started getting interest. People were getting in touch to work with me. It was off the back of that tour that I got in touch with my management team. All that sort of thing came after the tour. It just goes to show when you play live and you do the big gigs show you see things come of it.

So it was probably about 2 or 3 years ago that I started playing outside Middlesbrough.

Q: And you have played at festivals haven’t you?

C: Yes we did Green Man last year down in the Brecon Beacons in Wales. That was an amazing festival. But I am not really much of a festival goer myself but that was a really cool festival and a really nice place to play. That was just after the first single went out. We were meant to play at 2 in the afternoon but because we were playing 2 weeks after the single came out we ended up being pushed up to play at 10 on the night. I think that was the biggest crowd I have played to.

Q: How did that feel?

C: I was on a buzz to be honest.

Q: That is good it could do one way or another with such a big crowd.

C: Oh definitely. Even though I am still quite young and it is very early doors in terms of career or whatever you want to call it. I have been playing live since I was 14 or 15. It is something that I have grown up with. So, over time you gradually become confident. Without wanting to sound big headed, I am confident enough in the songs to be able to comfortably stand on stage (am not going to say be proud because that makes it sound a bit desperate) and play them to how ever many people.

Q: That must have been superb that prime slot at Green Man.
C: Yes definitely. The people were there to see us play live and that doesn’t go unappreciated. The people are at a festival and they can pretty much do what they want. And 10pm is peak festival time. So for people to take time out and come and see us when we are not really well known at all..

Q: They are discovering someone.

C: That is right. I think that festival Green Man is a great place to do that as they do highlight the smaller acts. It is just acts that they believe in as opposed to those that are going to draw the biggest crowds. When a festival does that and you can see the purity of the booking scheme, it is just bands that they are in to; it tends to attract a crowd anyway. That is a really good festival, I really enjoyed that one.

Q: Do you have two singles now then?

C: If Birds Wish To Fly was the first single followed by Back to 95.

Q: You were talking about the music you first listened to and those artists in turn would have listened to music from the 60s and this has influences of both.

C: Oh definitely. I always say when asked that I write really naturally. The lyrics and guitar chords or progression becomes not stream of conscience but comes very naturally. I try to write really naturally and it has got to come from within. But with both singles I made a conscious decision to try to try and make a song like that. With 95, the latest single, I knew that I wanted to make that type of song and it had to be upbeat. Have a radio friendly feel.

Q: Very summery as well.

C: Yes it is. And it was a very conscious effort to make that type of song. And it is the same with “Birds” the first single which is like you said more 60s, a lot more psychy, spacey in the production. That was a conscious effort to make an upbeat, organ led 60s sounding pop song.

It is the songs that have not been released or no one has heard that are the most important for me in terms of artistic identity and integrity.

Q: Do people hear those songs when you play live?

C: Yes they will do. I always try and squeeze in as many songs that people will not have heard before. We always tend to play a different set every time we play live.

We make a decision a few weeks before and rehearse those songs. Apart from on the tour we have never played the same set two gigs in a row. I think that is a cool thing as well. Certainly one of things I take from going to a gig or seeing an artist is the idea that it is a momentary thing. That performance isn’t just going to happen again the next night. That is something that I appreciate so it is something that I want to try and keep doing. It keeps it interesting too. I wrote the single Birds two years ago and 95 when I was 17, nearly five years ago. So releasing it was a strange thing but I still like it.

When we do play live I like to keep it fresh. More a momentary performance.

Q: So if I went to see you tomorrow and I had seen you a couple of years ago I would hear a different set.

C: Absolutely. But I do like to draw a straight line through a project. As you said if you had seen us two years ago it would be a different set to tomorrow but you would be able to draw some sort of straight line through it in that it has got identity stamped on it. I like to think it has got those sort of properties.

Q: We would know it is you.

C: Yes, although it is a different band and it would sound like a different band but I still feel it has got my identity on it. I have a vision of what I want to write, if something doesn’t fit into that I find it hard to care about it.

Q: It has integrity?

C: Yes, definitely. I find if I don’t feel attached to a song or a live set then I feel like it wasn’t us. I can’t get a buzz out of it. Or I can’t get think of the positives about it. I might just be a control freak (laughs).

Q: What are you doing next?

corey smokesC: I am in the middle of recording an EP. I have a studio of sorts set up at my house. That is where I do all my recording, demo’ing etc. We have been in studios to do the two singles. Recording at home is something that I have always done since I first started playing instruments. To get back into that now in a more serious, work based, to see it in that light, to work on something that means something is I think going to be the way forward. It is always something that I have pushed but for obvious reasons like sound quality you have got to go in a studio now and again I think.

Q: Will it be released on a label?

C: I am not entirely sure. The last two singles have been released independently and while a record deal seems to be the be all and end all or make or break, whether “means something” or not. It is usually a record deal that decides that.

Q: But it depends what that record deal actually covers doesn’t it?

C: Of course. It is open to the label’s interpretation or the artist. But either way I am going to be happy to release it.

I feel the EP coming up is the best possible representation of where I am at the minute as a songwriter and as a person. It says a lot I think. And being primarily a lyricist that is what I want to do. I am not really too fussed about a wicked riff, it is all about having a good melody and good lyrics for me. So, yes I am really excited to get that out but whether it is on a label or not I am not entirely sure yet. But either way it is going to be good.

The EP should be out in the summer.

Corey Bowen was recently selected to play on the BBC Introducing Stage at T in the Park in Scotland. He has long been championed here by BBC Tees Introducing host Bob Fischer who did not hesitate in recommending Corey. Such a prodigious talent Corey Bowen is set to fly.






Magic, Murder and Blah Blah

The first time I heard Kingsley Chapman and the Murder was on Bob Fischer’s BBC Introducing programme and I was absolutely bowled over on the spot. The sheer power, breadth and depth of the majestic music sweeping from piano, strings, trumpet, guitars and riot of rhythm is awe inspiring. When it is used as a means of delivering the proven pop sense and sensibility of Kingsley Chapman then it is a marriage truly made in seventh heaven.

Last week that marriage spawned its first offspring in the wondrous single, Lovers. I make no apology for these superlatives. It is a single that you simply must buy. See them live and they cast a spell that has you flying up the walls and dancing across the ceiling.

The House of Blah Blah was an inspired choice of venue for the debut single release. An art house warehouse, flat of angles, tucked beneath the A66 fly over. All sash windows, pipes and former function and new functionality. Where once there was parcel force from a long dispatched postal hub now artwork populates the bare walls.  It could be decadent Berlin or New York but it is downtown Middlesbrough. Even without the bands it screams atmosphere. Mind you, talking of screaming, the speaker pointing at the entrance to the venue almost blasted me right back out of the door again.

First act, Wolves, took the industrial setting and ran with it by creating a dark and disruptive sound. Gravel growl vocals battled over a stomp march bashed out on fuzzy bass, stand up drums and a sampling DJ.

Second band Figmennt were once fans of Kingsley’s former Chapman Family. Tonight the four piece showed they are coming of age themselves. The effects laden guitars painted dream like vistas, sonic soulmates to the purple hued LED lighting. The band describe their own sound as ambient noise but that is to overlook the melody. Figmennt create songs rather than riffs. Splendid.

Kingsley Chapman grips and hovers over the mic stand. A twinkle of glittery shirt peaks out beneath the dressed for dinner jacket. A glimpse of Bowie in Berlin perhaps. The band rev up and then roar through their Olympians feast of a song. Ben Hopkinson’s fingers ripple and roll across the keyboard, working up a swell over the dark, dark waters. After swooning to the Kingsley croon, the double drumming grinds the song to an almost brutal full stop. We are then caught up in a ghostly waltz. It is a prelude to the lavish Lovers single. A tottering giant. A sweeping statement. Over thinking. Over drinking. From the glass half empty half poured silver goblet of love, life and jealousy. An engine of excess. A post-post modern day Eloise. Barry Ryan and Dave Vanian eat yer hearts out.

“Your city won’t love you like I do.” Ever the urbane urbanite; Kingsley snaps, crackles and cries out in desperation. “We should be lovers.” From the first trumpeted bars, I am smitten on this track, the band and the vision.

Exciting times.



Matchbox Cabaret

The Waiting Room, Eaglescliffe launched a new season of music, comedy and spoken word with a feast of an all day festival. I use the word feast quite deliberately because the food served in between acts was every bit as delicious as you would expect from a restaurant that has received so many national accolades.

Matchbox Cabaret is the heading the vegetarian restaurant’s live performers appear under. In many ways that title was quite apt for the scale model hats that Jane Bombane deploys to illustrate her story telling songs so vividly.

Joe and Helen Hammill charmed the afternoon crowd with their pared down versions of Cattle and Cane songs. The sibling harmonies sounded wonderful. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person with a lump in my throat for the tender, touching, “We Were Children.” “Sold My Soul” had everyone singing along in fine style.

Everytime I see Dressed Like Wolves one of the three seems to be missing. This time it was young Matt and Ricky holding the fort and combining vocals with guitars and wheezing keyboards. If you haven’t seen Dressed Like Wolves before then you really need to make amends and seek them out. There is a fascinating fragility to Ricky’s tremulous voice and gentle melodies and an endearing quality to the almost shambling approach of the men with or today without hats. Yet there is no disguising real singer songwriting talent. These quiet men of music look set to go places.

Old Muggins follow on from the Wolves and the venue soon descends into howls of laughter as well as respectful foot tapping to Muggins music. Bob Fischer and his trio introduce woodwork lesson percussion, ancient 70s synths and name checks for Bob Langley and Kathy Secker to the proceedings. Why do you whisper green grass? Is the question tumbling from Miniature G’s lips when he is not dressed as Fischer’s red Indian spirit guide, Brown Eyes. The girls in the corner have the eyes on guitar and synth player Garry, maybe it is the Langley-esque red shirt that causes them to chant his name.

So to Jane Bombane and the venue is invaded by loads of kids absolutely fascinated by her marvellous mechanical hats. Edinburgh castle looks splendid on her head as Jane plays a wonderful old harmonium. Spell binding story telling stuff as always from the Brighton restaurateur.

Jeffrey Lewis, comic book artist and antifolk performer, closed the All Dayer with a sparkling set. The New Yorker ran through his album A Turn in the Dream-Songs in the correct order. With his off kilter, almost Herman Dune type delivery, he is observational and witty. Whilst the touring band takes the music into more textures and layers of psychedelic indie than on the vinyl. There were some sublime moments and a witty rap about squashing mosquitoes. The man has an incredible mind to come up with such cunning word play and a memory to match to be able to deliver so many stunning lines live.

Photos – Tracy Hyman