Tired of making the trip to Manchester (or even further afield), every time you spot your favourite Americana band, or psychedelic-tinged singer-songwriter hit the road? Help is at hand in the form of one of the most exciting new Liverpool-based promoters, Harvest Sun. Mike Pinnington caught up with them ahead of this week’s hotly anticipated Jim Noir set at Static.
Harvest Sun: Tom from Walton and James from Bootle. We met through going the match and we’re both into good tunes, then a few of us started going to gigs, and it just went from there really.
SS: How did you get off the ground? What was the catalyst?
HS: I think the catalyst was the lack of our favourite bands coming to play Liverpool, and looking at Manchester all the time to see who we wanted to catch. It seemed the bands would come here in their first tour when they’d be relatively unknown and would play every town in the country, then when they’d achieved a bit of recognition, you wouldn’t see them again.
Also, our first gig was at St Luke’s, the bombed out church, last year (The Sand Band, pic r below). We’d been mentioning for a while that it would be a great setting for a gig, in the end we stopped talking and took the bull by the horns, and it escalated from there. We’d set a stall out then, and needed to find some more unusual places we could turn into a venue. Which is where the Williamson Tunnels came into it.
SS: What do you think about the level and consistency of acts playing in Liverpool when compared, say, to Manchester and Leeds?
HS: Manchester still seems to be the place the bigger bands want to go, but I think this is really down to the fact that we just haven’t got the venues to compete. The fact the Royal Court is now a comedy club is a farce in itself, whoever made that decision needs their head testing. And Leeds, where’s that? (No offence to Leeds, of course).
There’s some good things happening in Liverpool at the moment, loads of great little bands knocking about, so there’s something bubbling under the surface there. Plus Bido Lito has come just at the right time, and is doing a great job of putting people onto what’s actually happening, and who’s doing what, so hats off to them for that.
SS: In just the past month or so, you’ve brought the likes of Micah Hinson and Edwyn Collins to Liverpool, the latter at Liverpool Cathedral. That’s pretty impressive quality control. Is that something uppermost in your minds?
HS: It’s been a decent run of gigs and the idea is always to only put acts on that we’re into ourselves, regardless of how big. Some like Edwyn Collins, Micah P Hinson and Midlake (playing a blinder at Williamson Tunnels, pic r above) are well known, but we’ve also had the likes of The Clientele, The Superimposers, Neon Indian, The Soundcarriers, who have made some of our favourite music over the last year or so, so we’re very happy with the quality of the bands we’ve had.
SS: It seems like you started Harvest Sun with fairly lofty targets then, is that a fair assumption?
HS: Yes. The idea was to put on who we’re into, and hopefully the punters will follow, and in the main we’ve had a lot of support and people have really appreciated what we’re doing. It’s a bit selfish really, it means we get to see our favourite acts in venues we want instead of seeing them in some Academy style venue, with over-inflated ale prices and a watered down atmosphere. It’s pretty selfish when you think about it but at least we know we’re not putting any old crap on to make a quick buck. I suppose we’d rather have a good reputation than our pockets full to the brim.
SS: What can we expect from Harvest Sun Promotions over the next 12 months?
HS: Hopefully more of the same, we’ve got a few irons in the fire, which should be good if we can pull them off. We’ll just play it by ear really, and any good albums that come out that we’re into we’ll go all out attack to try and get them on. Also, 5 February, we’ve got Sounds of the Wilderness at The Kazimier with Bella Union’s Lone Wolf. Support from Stealing Sheep, who’ll be launching their new 7”/CD maxi-single, ‘Powers’ on the night and the excellent Owls*, who we think will make some big waves next year.
HS: It all goes back to the situation with venues. We’re not scared to take a risk. We’d love to host the likes of Fleet Foxes or thinking even bigger Neil Young but it’s finding the right sized space for them. We’ve got the problem of 2,000 in Mountford Hall and 10,000 in The Echo Arena there’s no in between. Dream line up? – there aren’t enough hours in the day!
SS: We have high hopes for Harvest Sun, what about you, are you looking beyond Liverpool?
HS: Not really, we’d rather put the best bands on here. This is where we’re from; this city is all we know. We’re looking at big things (we always are) but I don’t see why the people of Liverpool can’t enjoy it also. Watch this space.
SS: Who should we be looking out for on the Harvest Sun calendar in the short term then?
HS: There’s a couple more gigs lined up for the year now, before we have a long overdue rest for Christmas. Our new night, ‘Kaleidoscope’ is starting 3 December at The Static Gallery. Headlining will be another Harvest Sun favourite Jim Noir, supported by The Maladies of Bellafontaine who caught our eye at a Company Store night earlier this year, and a our new favourite Welsh band, Colorama, who’s lead singer, Carwyn Ellis, just happens to be in Edwyn Collins band, and played the Cathedral the other week.
It’s a night of Psychedelic Sunshine Folk for Daydream Believers, which pretty much encompasses everything that we’re into. Our good friends over at Bido Lito will be manning the decks and we will also be adorning the walls with mind-bending visuals from TV Lux.
Then we have our Christmas party, Electric Reindeer, 11 December at The Masque with our friends The Tea Street Band, Run Toto Run a Manchester band who really impressed us when we had them on supporting Neon Indian earlier this year, and Picture Book who’ve been taken under the wing of the legend that is Seymour Stein. The musical oracle that is Bernie Connor will be DJing, along with our mate Ste Brennan, in only his second stint on the decks outside the confines of the spare bedroom of his Mum and Dad’s house. It’s a festive fuelled disco for party people, a bit more upbeat than usual for us, but it’s Christmas so why not?!
Main pic: John Johnson