North East Beat Unsigned

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When music fans start campaigning for a BBC Introducing show in their region, it shows that in little over two years Introducing has not only arrived but become an integral part of the independent music scene. Actually there are now only three BBC regions that don’t have a specialist Introducing show: Somerset, Cumbria and – bafflingly –  Tyne & Wear where BBC Newcastle’s reach covers most of Northumberland and County Durham – across a population of around 900,000.

It’s not as if there’s a shortage of new musical talent in the area. Forget The Animals, Lindisfarne, Bryan Ferry, Sting, Mark Knopfler, Neil Tennant and Prefab Sprout – or even more recent heroes such as Kubichek, The Futureheads, Golden Virgins, Maximo Park and Field Music. In the last two years we’ve been deluged on my BBC 6 Music show with fine new music from Newcastle and Sunderland – from the likes of Spies In Limbo, Viva City, Detroit Social Club, Sophie And Peter Johnston, ConelradDeltasound, Lanterns On The Lake, Light Sleep/Heavy Dreams, Fritz, Lights On Moscow, VCO, Wolves At The Door, Sandhill, Widows, Little Comets, Motown Massacre, Jukebox Gypsy, Jumpers For Goalposts, Leon Thompson, Moths, Capote, Billy Bloodaxe and Beth Jeans Houghton… not to mention The Anglo Form, Let’s Buy Happiness and Black Cab Casino – of whom more anon – see link to the BBC Introducing blog  below.

Artists of this calibre shouldn’t need to send their music to London just to get it heard on the radio, and last weekend Tyneside-based music development agency Generator fired an opening salvo in a campaign to bring BBC Introducing to Newcastle. Billed as “NORTH EAST BEAT UNSIGNED – a celebration of new North East music” they staged a free showcase at the Discovery Museum with seven fine upcoming bands from the region.

TR, Claire Dupree and Peter Brewis
Pic: Jazzy Lemon

They invited Claire Dupree, editor of the influential local music magazine NARC – plus Peter Brewis from Field Music – and myself to offer constructive encouragement to the less established acts within a non-competitive setting. But honestly none of them really needed to be lectured by the likes of us. No doubt Generator’s real reason for inviting Claire, Peter and myself was to remind us all just how high the local standards actually are these days.

The five “new” acts each played 20 minute sets

Then the tables and chairs were cleared to make way for half-hour sets by two more established bands – both hotly tipped by Generator for success next year.


For a description of what the various bands were like see my review of the event on the BBC Introducing Blog – while for a comprehensive set of pictures of the afternoon, see Jazzy Lemon‘s fine photoblog on Flickr

After the event, Generator’s Joe Frankland told me the bands we’d seen were only the tip of a massive  musical iceberg. For every band selected to play that afternoon, a further seven had been turned away. Nick Roberts at BBC Newcastle is doing a great job  squeezing as much new local music into The Evening Show as he can get away with. But if it’s not too cheeky for a rank outsider like myself to offer the suggestion,  BBC Newcastle could do themselves a big favour by giving him an extra, dedicated Introducing show of his own to reflect the huge and diverse musical community in the region.

Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More...


  1. Couldn’t agree more that we need one of our own up here, there’s so much going on and it just gets more and more. And more.

  2. lionheart radio in the alnwick area do a great job promoting local and touring emerging bands and artistes…your right, radio newcastle could follow them!

  3. Agree with all of the above. But its not just about bands either… Nick very kindly played our new single on his show yesterday, you shoudl check it out if you are interested in electrofried grime mixed with a bit of filmscore dubstep…

    Whilst there is undoubtedly a lot of depth in the band scene in the north east, I think a dedicated introducing show woudl be ideal for those of us not in bands (but still making greate music) to get heard… Where’s the petition?

  4. Ruth Joseph

    I think that Let’s Buy Happiness area refesshing New band on the Block and will be welcomed with their exciting innovative sound – good luck to them all

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