NOT NORMAL NOT OK: MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens, Sofa King – live gig fundraiser @ Hare & Hounds 07.06.19

On Friday 7th June, the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign hosts it’s first ‘live gig fundraiser’ at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) – with MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens and Sofa King all performing.

Doors open at the Hare & Hounds from 7:30pm, with tickets priced at £5 (early bird) and £7 (second release/otd) – as presented by NOT NORMAL NOT OK. For direct gig info and links to online ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page by clicking here. The event is further supported by BBC Introducing West Midlands and Birmingham Review.

Tickets can be bought through See Tickets (click here) and through Skiddle (click here). Physical tickets are also available from the artists themselves, or by contacting the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign team directly (click here).

NOT NORMAL NOT OK was launched in June 2018, set up ‘to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.’

Following an op-ed piece published on Birmingham Review, citing the actions of two Birmingham based promoters – one who sexually assaulted a singer of a band they were promoting and the other who made some frighteningly misogynistic comments about women attending their venue – the NOT NORMAL NOT OK partnered with West Midlands Police and the Rape & Sexual Violence Project (R.S.V.P.) to begin outreach work at live music venues in the West Midlands.

For the past year, NOT NORMAL NOT OK has been distributing campaign stickers at live music events across the region – with both the gig going public and the artists performing donning the black and yellow NOT NORMAL NOT OK logos at the gigs they attend.

Venues across the Midlands have been welcoming the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign into their events, from the Town & Symphony Halls to independent venues such as the Hare & Hounds and The Dark Horse – showing solidarity for the message of zero tolerance when it comes to sexual violence.

Now the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign is launching its own programme of live music events, starting with a ‘live gig fundraiser’ at the Hare & Hounds on Friday 7th July – with MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens and Sofa King all performing on stage. The event is being supported by BBC Introducing West Midlands, one of the first media outlets to get behind the campaign, who secured MeMe Detroit as the headline act.

A second fundraising gig is being held at Centrala on Friday 25th October, with electro-rockers Flight Brigade coming to Birmingham for the penultimate date on their Chased by Wolves album tour – Flight Brigade‘s new single, ‘Tinderbox’, will be played on BBC Introducing Solent on Saturday 25th May between 8 and 9pm.

All money raised from the NOT NORMAL NOT OK live gig fundraisers will go directly back into the campaign – supporting continued outreach work with live music venues, alongside bespoke counselling/advocacy training for NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign staff with R.S.V.P.

“NOT NORMAL NOT OK was born out of a reaction to stories of sexual assault, intimidation and violence within our local music scene,” explains NOT NORMAL NOT OK Campaign Director, Ed King. “It began with one person’s story, a singer in a band who had been sexually assaulted by the promoter who was putting their gig on. But as we started to talk to people about sexual violence in the music scene, towards those both on stage and off stage, we were told about a frightening number of cases – from people being sexually assaulted in a crowd, to rape. 

It was a horrible realisation and one that I, both personally and professionally, had been naively unaware of. But many people want to see change and with the help of both the music community and our campaign partners – including West Midlands Police and the Rape & Sexual Violence Project – we are now shinning a light on the issue, talking about the ‘elephant in the room’ and exposing a culture of sexual violence that is disturbingly commonplace in the music scene.”

NOT NORMAL NOT OK hosts it’s live gig fundraiser with MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens and Sofa King at the Hare & Hounds Friday 7th June – with tickets priced at £5 (early bird) and £7 (second release/otd). For direct gig info and links to online ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page by clicking here.

For more on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, or to seek help and advice about issues surrounding sexual violence, visit

For more on MeMe Detroit, visit 
For more on The Butters Aliens, visit
For more on Sofa King, visit

For more on the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), including venue details and further event listings, visit

REPORT: Are Black Sabbath back?

Black Sabbath (l-r Geexer Butler, Toni Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Ward)

By K. Ann Sulaiman

Today Black Sabbath unveil their ‘special announcement’ at Los Angeles’ Whisky a Go Go bar, one week after posting the cryptic ‘11.11.11’ message on their website. And amidst speculations of a reform, tour, or possible new album, the Birmingham born group is making headlines around the globe.

It’s over forty years since Sabbath formed in 1969; infusing European-based rhythms into American blues rock for a heavier style. A new genre that would eventually earn the moniker, Heavy Metal (or Traditional Doom in today’s metal scene, for both the use of down-tuned guitars and despaired lyrics). And despite a catalogue of catastrophes, including various vocalist changes, well documented substance abuse and the band’s previous hiatus, the Midlander’s are still hailed as ‘the godfathers of metal’.

Since leaving in Dec ‘78, original front man Ozzy Osbourne has enjoyed a prominent solo career, with the release of his 11th independent album, Scream, in June 2010. Whilst founding guitarist Tony Iommi continued to work with long term friend and former Black Sabbath singer Ronnie James Dio, before Dio’s death from stomach cancer last year. But talks of a complete reunion with all members of the original line up, including Osbourne back on lead vocals, have never been far behind.

Johnny Doom & Toni Iommi - photo by Tim Ellis

“I could definitely see Sabbath reforming in some context,” says Kerrang! Radio DJ and metalhead, Johnny Doom.

“They’ve done it before for a few shows, and financially it would be good for all of them… I can’t imagine Ozzy’s last [solo] album sold tons in the scheme of things. It seems like good timing to get back together with him.”

“If a reunion doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen,” comments Keith Whittingham, manager of Birmingham’s rock pub Scruffy Murphy’s. “But I certainly hope they do, because they’re a Birmingham band and the pride of the city!”

Although “it could be anything” adds Helen Moss, a Birmingham based music photographer and metal fan. “I’d like to see them live, but of course the show would be literally sold out in of minutes. Though it would be a good comeback if they put on a gig here in Birmingham, since it would do a lot for the city.”

Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles

And if the announcement isn’t for a reunion tour?

“An album would be good as well,” continues Moss, “but would make me wonder, why are they doing that? Why an album and not a tour? Though maybe it’s just to keep the fans up to date, or let the younger people in the metal scene know who they are.”

Whatever the truth behind the hype, Black Sabbath will tell the world at 11:11am today (19:11 GMT), through a pre arranged press conference at the notorious Los Angeles’ venue.

Somewhere the Birmingham Review notes “is unfortunately far away from the place it began”.

REPORT: UB40 presented PRS plaque

(l-r) Robin Campbell, Jimmy Brown, Guy Fletcher (PRS Chairman) - outside Hare & Hounds

Words by Ceri Black, pictures by Warren King

32 years after their first ever gig at the Hare and Hounds, UB40 have been awarded a PRS Music Heritage plaque, celebrating their worldwide achievements. Unveiled at the Kings Heath venue where it all began, UB40 are only the 8th ever recipients of the Performing Rights Society’s prominent award.

At an unusually early hour of 11.30am I found myself standing outside the Hare and Hounds. Despite battling the wind, traffic and an array of TV reporters, there was an impression of camaraderie and warm nostalgia about the venue.

PRS chairman Guy Fletcher unmasked the plaque, stating “this is a great opportunity to honour this great band and thank the venue that gave them their start.”

UB40 then treated the 100 invited fans to an unplugged, 30 minute set. Fronted by the original front man’s brother, Duncan Campbell, the band charged straight into a performance of One In Ten. The perfect way to get a bleary eyed audience moving, even if it was restricted to a slight hip wiggle or toe tap.

Brian Travers’ banter did not disappoint, helping to boost the already personal and intimate atmosphere. And although confused by seeing daylight pouring into the Hare and Hounds, the audience seemed aware they were being treated to something special.

Then, after playing classics Red Red Wine and Kingston Town, along with a couple of new tracks, the set was over as quickly as it began. Without so much as an encore, UB40 were off stage and downstairs at the bar, and even though the gig was free I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. 

However watching this globally revered homegrown talent, play to a small select crowd on an upstairs pub stage, the sense of reverence was undeniable. Everyone was there to celebrate one of Birmingham’s most successful musicians. And I, for one, felt very proud.

NEWS: Flyover Show IV, post ‘riots’ preparation

Flyover Show II (2009) - courtesy of Karl Dixon

The Flyover Show is a free, family friendly, one day music event in which organisers ‘transform the grey space beneath the Hockley Flyover into an oasis of cultural expression’.  Now in it’s forth year, the brainchild of MOBO award winning Jazz saxophanist and hip hop artist Soweto Kinch will showcase a bevy of artists. From Goldie to Julian Joseph, Akala to Omar, the line up represents a spectrum of Jazz, Hip Hop and breakbeat, but with Birmingham recovering from a sweep of civil unrest what does this ‘community inspired festival’ really hope to achieve?

“Birmingham need to unite”, says Kinch, “we need to show our city and the country that we can come together and celebrate. Now more than ever. Areas like Handsworth and Hockley are built on a rich and strong community. When there’s anger on the streets it distracts us from the positivity of most of the people that live here.”

Soweto Kinch, Flyover Show II (2009) - courtesy of Karl Dixon

Soweto lives a stones throw from the Hockley Flyover, walking through it each day being the inspiration for the Flyover Show. Headlining this year’s event is Goldie, an established producer, DJ and graffiti artist who grew up in Wolverhampton.

“Events like the Flyover Show are really important,” says Goldie, “especially after what’s happened in Birmingham recently.” Goldie’s troubled upbringing and hard work approach have made him an inspiring figurehead for many teenagers and young adults. His recent projects including Goldie’s Band: By Royal Appointment and Timeless have been focused on engaging youth culture. “I had it hard when I was young. I felt abandoned. These kids need to engage their passions creatively, to do things that benefit their community. Gigs like the Flyover Show tell them there’s there a better way than just destroying things. It’s important, for everyone.”

Smash Bros, Flyover Show II (2009) - courtesy of Karl Dixon

The Flyover Show IV takes places underneath the Hockley Flyover on Sat Aug 20th. For more information, or to contact the organisers, visit

NEWS: Sound It Out campaign

photo by Adrian Burrows

Last month Birmingham based Sound It Out, a ‘social development agency’ that develops music programmes for the city’s ‘marginalised individuals and communities’, had 100% of its Arts Council funding cut. A total of £100,000, referred to by the organisation as their ‘core funding’.

In immediate response, local music promoter and entrepreneur Clare Edwards began a campaign to reverse the decision, citing Sound It Out as ‘a crucial organisation that uses music to achieve significant results for the hard to reach’.

‘Sound It Out has a massive impact that cannot be understated,’ says Edwards, ‘it’s done incredible work helping the disadvantaged of Birmingham. Although a lot of its success is in less high profile areas of the city, that’s doesn’t make it any less important.’

Edwards began her campaign with an online petition, but then mobilised support into a ‘singing protest’ outside the Arts Council’s office on Granville St. Supporting the Sound It Out campaign on Granville St was Birmingham based music consultant John Mostyn. ‘(Sound It Out`) literally effect the lives of people on the fringe,’ said Mostyn, ‘bringing light to those stuck in the darkness’. Sound It Out has a portfolio of success working with mental health issues.

Sound It Out were amongst 21 regional arts organisations that lost 100% funding in the Arts Council’s national review, including other music groups Black Voices and Birmingham Jazz. Seven previously unfunded organisations were included in the new national portfolio, including Performances Birmingham LTD, the charity manages and runs the Town Hall and Symphony Hall.

In a written response to the Sound It Out campaign, Arts Council Executive Director for Midlands & South West, Laura Dyer, stated ‘Whilst we (Arts Council) did not feel that we were able to support their application to be part of the national portfolio, we do understand and value the work Sound It Out does… We will be working with Sound It Out over the coming year to support a stable business model.’

To know more about Sound It Out visit, or the Arts Council visit