BREVIEW: BIMM Summer Festival @ Asylum 14.06.19

BIMM Summer Festival @ Asylum 14.06.19Words by Charlie Culverhouse

It’s the day of BIMM Birmingham’s Summer Festival and the weather is as miserable as it has been all week. Luckily for the ‘summer’ theme it hasn’t rained today, yet. I cross my fingers that the weather will allow festival goers to celebrate in the dry.

In the venue, I notice a lack of people. I get in early as I study at BIMM Birmingham and know musicians playing tonight, yet I see no-one around.

It’s strange seeing such a large venue so empty, but the emptiness also shows the lack of a summer theme – a few inflatable palm trees, beach balls and rubber rings, but nothing else suggesting a festival happening, which is further damped by the rain now starting up. I quickly start to feel underwhelmed – the music is set to beging in 10mins and the 600-person venue has a maximum of 40 people in it. ‘Summer’ pop music plays in the background, but is over-shadowed by the now pouring rain outside.

The venue feels dingy, too dark for a summer festival. There is no hustle and bustle. As the first act begin, with a simple acoustic song and lack of any audience, I find more interest in the Spiderman movie being oddly screened above the bar.

As The Asylum‘s main room slowly fills out, I notice no one looks particularly summery either – more like they’re in the middle of December. The definitive age gap separates the audience into two halves, the students and their friends running between the smoking area and the front of the crowd, whilst the older gig attendees spread across the back of the venue – enjoying the music without any external noise and chatter. The night is quickly dominated by acoustic songs, and as pleasant as everything sounds I crave something more upbeat. BIMM Birmingham’s Summer Festival was advertised as a ‘talent showcase’, but can you call it a showcase if there’s no genre diversity throughout the majority of the show?

The third song performed by Gerard Harrison is a soul cover of Lionel Ritchie’s ’All Night Long’, which starts the summer feel and lifts the mood of the whole crowd. More musical highlights include Sofia Jones’ cover of Toni Braxton’s ‘Un-Break My Heart’, which sounds so much like the original it’s crazy. Whilst Jones’ second performance, of Lenny Kravitz’s ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way?’, just proves her talent and genre diversity.

By this point in the evening people are starting to loosen up and have a good time, the drinks may be a factor in this. Well, they are for me. But each act only gets to play one or two songs before changing over, which creates a choppy feeling – with the frequent intervals making me loose interest too.

When the music isn’t playing I speak to William, who has been standing at the front of the venue for the majority of the night – singing and dancing through every song. “The event is fun and I will support my mates through everything they do,” explains William, “but I feel like it’s missing something. I want to hear more from some people and get really into the music, instead of feeling like I’m being interrupted halfway through.”  I’m glad it’s not just me. Most of the people I chat to are also here for friends or children – mainly supporting who they know, which is emphasised as I see people leaving after whoever they’ve come to see has performed.

Hunger Moon’s performance is beautiful, as always. The crowd love it and the venue fills out even more. Felix brings a heavier sound, with harsh bass tones, and starts the long-waited transition to some heavier music – a move that I’m craving. The crowd seems to agree and meshes into one, filling the gap between those at standing the back and those dancing at the front. I understand why an event like this may leave heavier styles of music till the end of the night, but this left me (and arguably many of the rest of us) somewhat lost through the first three quarters of the show.

Sundogs end the night. I’m at the back of the venue, as by this point I can’t break through the crowd that has formed. Everyone who has been craving something heavier is now enjoying themselves, as they clearly wish they had been earlier; I’m even pulled into a dance circle, where I jump around with people I barely know having the time of my life and enjoying some really awesome music. It may even have stopped raining, but by now I’m having too much fun to check.

This is the perfect way to close off the evening, and I’m excited to see how future events held by BIMM Birmingham compare to this one – as their first Summer Festival ends in success. Things can only get bigger and better from here. We just need to find a reliable booking agent for sunshine.  

For more on BIMM Birmingham, visit

For more on Asylum, including venue details and further event listings, visit


NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign 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.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

BPREVIEW: BIMM Summer Festival @ Asylum 14.06.19

BIMM Summer Festival @ Asylum 14.06.19Words by Ed King

On Friday 14th June, BIMM Summer Festival comes to Asylum – a free to attend event, that promises to be ‘a celebration of young musicians from across the region and a chance to showcase the very best local musical talent.’

Doors open at Asylum from 6:30pm, with the music kicking of from 7pm. Age of entry is 16+ until 10:30pm, when the adults in the room take over and the night moves into Asylum 2 for the aftershow party. For direct event info, click here.

BIMM is one of the major players in contemporary music education – ‘a teaching institution dedicated to supporting and nurturing the budding careers of young musicians and music professionals’ with institutions in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Brighton, Bristol and Dublin. But BIMM stretches even further afield these, with two institutions in the German cities of Hamburg and Berlin. And cutting your musical teeth on the live circuits in both the UK and Germany worked out pretty well for a bunch of scousers in the sixties, so…

But BIMM Birmingham’s inaugural ‘Summer Festival’ is about showing of their students in this city, and with a list of alumni that boasts James Bay, Ella Mai and George Ezra (to name a few) then it’s probably worth a quick stop, look and listen. Indeed, as the event’s press release says: ‘Knowing that these big alumni names got their start by performing with BIMM, it is more than likely that the next big star could be performing at BIMM’s Summer Festival this year, who would want to miss out on that?’ Well, quite. Plus it’s free, so you’ve literally got nothing to lose.

So, who’s on the BIMM Summer Festival bill then? The line up includes some lesser known (to us, at least) local acts such as Dream Theatre, Snazzle Patch, Lenny Con Banda, Ace, Allasandra Curle, Cameo and Sundog. Alas, we don’t have much more on these luminaries in waiting – outside of the fact that they represent ‘a line up of artists from a variety of musical genres.’ I guess that’s what Google is for.

But grabbing our attention is Hunger Moon, who Birmingham Review first covered when they released their debut single ‘Oh Friend’ back in March 2018. Signing to the Northamptonshire based Babywoman Records earlier this year, Hunger Moon’s latest single, ‘Honey’, came out in May 2019 and is something pretty special – available to stream for free across a variety of platforms, click here to check it out for yourself.

According to the BIMM Summer Festival press release, Ellisha Green is also performing – a singer/songwriter who was recently nominated in the ‘Rising Star’ category at this year’s Birmingham Music Awards. Plus, 2018 X Factor contestant and ‘internet sensation’ Felix (Shepherd) is marked out for greatness. Both these artists have also had singles out this year, Green releasing ‘Mother, Tell Me’ in March and Felix releasing ‘Gold’ in June – so it’s already a pretty formidable fledgling line up with just these three on the bill.

BIMM Summer Festival is also being presented as ‘a valuable networking opportunity for Birmingham’s music professionals as well as aspiring music professionals’ – and whilst you can justifiably feel an internal shudder at ‘networking…’ (cue memories of awkward business breakfasts and empty evenings talking to someone about how the pet clothing market is about to boom) if you’re young and hungry to learn more about the region’s musical industry then this could be a good night out.

As Antony Greaves, principle at BIMM Birmingham, explains: “The BIMM Birmingham Summer Festival is an opportunity for students to showcase themselves to the music industry, friends, family and the wider public at a free to attend event, as well as being a great way to celebrate the end of a year’s hard work.”

Plus, again, it’s free. Would be rude not to.

BIMM Summer Festival comes to Asylum on Friday 14th June, with free entry to everyone 16 year and over. Doors open at 6:30pm, with live music from 7pm until 10:30 – then it’s 18+ for the aftershow party in Asylum 2. For direct event information, visit 

For more on Asylum, including venue details and further event listings, visit 

For more on BIMM Birmingham, visit


NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign 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.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.


Words by Ed King

Ed’s note…

I first wrote this back in March, a few days after Shrove Tuesday, in response to stories of sexual assault and misconduct that I had heard about that week. It was born out of frustration – I write to clear my head.

Then more stories came my way, and more, until there were so many that these words weren’t enough. Something needed to happen. So we talked to each other at Birmingham Review, we talked to local musicians and promoters. Then we talked to West Midlands Police, the Rape & Sexual Violence project (RSVP), and some local venues that could help us formulate a plan of action.

NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is our joint response, ‘a campaign 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.’

To join the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

N.B. If you have been affected by sexual assault, misconduct, or any of the issues raised in this article, you can find details for West Midlands Police and RSVP – a regional support agency trained to deal with sexual violence – by clicking here.

The ‘message from West Midlands Police’ mentioned towards the end of this article can now be found on the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK website, click here.


“Yeah, they’re alright… just be careful if you’re alone with them.”

I was told this in passing, at the tail end of a conversation with a local band about local band stuff. It wasn’t prompted, they weren’t in distress; we weren’t talking about #MeToo, Operation Yewtree or institutionalised abuse in Westminster. We were just talking. And this chilling seed fell into the conversation with an almost as frightening acceptance that it was just ‘one of those things’. That it was normal. Or even worse, that it was OK.

Incredulous, then angry, then curious, I begin to pick at the scab. The story unfolds. It had been at a gig, and after the show the person in question had groped one of the band members – which falls under sexual assault in a court of law. And the feelings left by this situation, to group of friends who just wanted to perform their music on stage, are clear. They felt mistreated, angry and threatened.

This all came at the end of a troubling week too, where a promoter of a popular music venue had posted an absurdly misogynistic comment about the girls that attend their events and pancakes. You can imagine the metaphor. Or hopefully you can’t, because you really don’t want to. But it’s childish, aggressive, potentially incendiary, and beyond sexist at all points on the social spectrum. And now it’s in the public domain as a badge of what this promoter (and this club) feels is either funny or acceptable. Again, of what is normal or OK.

The silver lining from this poorly chosen ‘joke’ was the immediate outcry from many other people via the drum banging platforms of social media. I saw it because someone had reposted it in disgust, asking for some solidarity and shaming of the original author – a backlash that was far more erudite than the disturbed playground rhetoric that spurned it. The promoter in question claimed it was “a joke” that had been “taken out of context”. The public domain told them this wasn’t good enough and everything fell silent.

Then by the end of the week I am hearing about a case of sexual assault. And the more I asked around the more stories came back from our live music scene, in a frightening deluge of stories about sexual harassment, coercion, abuse, and assault happening in venues across Birmingham – from dressing room to dance floor, immediate and widespread.

I know many venue operators and promoters that are committed to the care of everyone in their building – whether they are performing, attending, or working there. And I’d be happier to see support networks in place than a campaign of naming and shaming. But the rules of engagement are quite simple and perhaps some people need a reminder:

No one, of any gender, should ever be objectified, coerced or abused. And no one in a position of power should ever use that power as a bargaining chip for sexual conduct. No one. Ever. At all. Told you it was simple.

So, what do we do? Firstly, I believe we all need to recognise our roles in this – overt and aggressive, or silent and tacit. The fact this problem exists means that none of us are without blame. And that includes me. I don’t want to believe this is a side of people I know, work alongside, or share common interests with. From the fact that it turns my stomach to think it’s happening in Birmingham venues to the cold reality that I need some of these people to support my own endeavours – put quite simply, it would be both personally and professionally easier for me to say nothing at all. I’m not proud of that last sentence but it’s a brutal truth I must own.

I’m not a huge fan of campaigning either, with self-aggrandising so often masquerading as a good cause these days. But maybe here, though, there’s a place for something we can all get behind – a vehicle to promulgate a message and provide support to those who need it, emotional, legal and otherwise. And to educate; to remind people of what is acceptable and what isn’t. A campaign of compassion and care, but also one to redefine what is ‘normal’ or ‘OK’ for those who seem to have forgotten their meanings.

So, this is what we’re doing. Birmingham Review has joined up with West Midlands Police and some key figures in our local entertainment industry to see how we can help shake a little sense into some, and support some others. We will keep you fully updated with this campaign through the Birmingham Review website and social media, and there is a message from West Midlands Police at the bottom of this editorial (this message can now be found on the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK website).

Because after all the bile that’s been seeping into my system after a week of words I never thought I’d be hearing – about a scene and city I love, and the people I love within both – I can land on at least one thing with absolute certainly. I never want to hear them again. Perhaps three things.

This is NOT NORMAL. This is NOT OK.

Ed King is Editor-in-Chief of Review Publishing, which publishes Birmingham Review and other titles.


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign 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.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

To find out more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, visit

INTERVIEW: Lydia Brookes – Singing for Supper @ The Castle & Falcon 24.11.17

Singing for Supper @ The Castle & Falcon 24.11.17Words by Ed King / Pics courtesy of Lush Birmingham

On Friday 24th November, The Castle and Falcon in Balsall Heath will be hosting Singing for Supper, a live gig with a somewhat stellar line up – You Dirty Blue, Sofa King, Alfresco Love Sounds, The Chalet Lines will all be performing for only a £5.50 door charge. For online ticket sales, click here.

With each act worth the ticket price to just see them on stage, you’ve got three. Not a bad way to spend your money on Black Friday.

But it gets better. Singing for Supper has been organised by the Lush Birmingham soap store to raise money for The Night Shelter – a Coventry based “safe place” that “provides aid to refugees, asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers – people with no recourse to public funds, which means they’re not entitled to any benefits or any help.”

Birmingham Review caught up with Lydia Brookes, one of the Singing for Supper promoters and a ‘Lush Ambassador’, to ask what made them foray into the world of music promotions on arguably the busiest retail day of the year.

“Homelessness is a huge problem,” explains Brookes, “we see ‘rooflessness’ every single day. It’s an issue close to our hearts at Lush and we wanted to work with this charity (The Night Shelter) because they’re part of such an important community resource”. The Night Shelter is one of the services of support available at the Coventry Peace House, a collection of renovated terrace houses that work on a portfolio of charitable endevours – including projects “to make the area more environmentally friendly, to give people safe spaces and places to learn,” tells Brookes. “We care a lot about this organisation because it’s so small but it’s doing so much. It’s quite unique and we really got behind their ethos”.

But this event is looking at a broader problem than just homelessness, which in itself is a growing killer on the bitter cold streets of the UK. Lush Rocks, a name born from the retailers move into charitable music promotions, hopes their Singing for Supper gig on Friday 24th November will help raise both “money and public awareness” for the plight of those lost in the UK’s immigration cracks, whilst encouraging “people to think about the choices they’re make in and help in any way they can”.

The Night Shelter at the Coventry Peace House“People sometimes don’t realise that asylum seekers aren’t allowed to work, or claim benefits, until their case has been heard,” explains Brookes, “so refused asylum seekers essentially have no options. Only if they’re in an absolute destitution can they apply for funds and even then it’s not guaranteed. The Night Shelter gives the people a warm place to sleep, it gives them beds, its gives people access to showers and hot meals.”

And what about the school of thought that is more anti-immigration to begin with? This is a prevalent issue in the UK, but one that can receive more divided and divisive attention than just straightforward compassion. “We respect everyone’s views,” tells Brookes, “but it’s worth remembering that a good deal of asylum seeker cases that are initially refused then get granted on appeal – and these are cases that should have been granted in the first place, with the administrations going back to them saying ‘you do have a viable claim and this should have been previously granted.’ Whatever your views are on asylum seekers and destitute refugees, we need to treat them as human beings. We have to view people as people, first and foremost.”

But charitable endevours aside, Singing for Supper is a gig simply well worth the door charge – especially with You Dirty Blue on the bill, a Tamworth alt-rock two piece who recently supported Wolf Alice on the first day of their UK tour and are pegged for big and bright things in 2018.

Lydia Brookes and Joseph Parker – Singing for Supper @ The Castle & Falcon 24.11.17“We’re really excited,” explains Brookes, “especially about The Chalet Lines as it’s the solo act from one of the Lush Birmingham staff (Joseph Parker). Sofa King have a really funky vibe to them and we also got Alfresco Love Sounds. Then there’s You Dirty Blue who won’t be playing in small venues for long… this will be a good chance to see them in an ‘intimate’ setting.”

With all the acts “doing it voluntarily”Singing for Supper  at The Castle and Falcon on Friday 24th November should be able to raise a decent chunk of change for The Night Shelter – a support service that is especially pertinent at this time of year.

And if you are fighting your way to bargain blissteria this Friday, Lush Birmingham are also asking for donations of “non-perishable food items with a high energy content, things like jam and sugar. Also simple toiletries, so toothpaste, tooth brushes, toilet roll. And blankets. Just think ‘if I had to get buy on very few things, what would I need’”.

It’s almost as if this time of year isn’t just about shopping for yourself…

Singing for Supper comes to The Castle & Falcon on Friday 24th November, with You Dirty Blue, Sofa Kings, Alfresco Love Sounds and The Chalet Lines performing – as presented by Lush Rocks (from the Ambassadors Team at Lush Birmingham). 

All money raised from the gig will go to support The Night Shelter at the Coventry Peace House – a shelter for refugees, asylum seekers and people who have ‘no recourse to public funds’. For online gig ticket sales, click here.

For more on The Night Shelter, visit 

For more on Coventry Peace House, visit 

For more from The Castle & Falcon, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit


Lush Birmingham are also looking for donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries and FMCGs such as sugar, breakfast cereal, rice, jam, toothbrushes, toothpaste, cooking oil, instant coffee, toilet roll, or washing powder.

If you can’t attend the Lush Rock Singing for Supper event at The Castle & Falcon on Friday 24th Nov, donations can be sent to the Lush Ambassadors Team at: Lush Birmingham, 23 New St, Birmingham B2 4RQ  

To find out more about Lush Birmingham, visit


To learn more about the problems faced by asylum seekers coming to the UK and people who are ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’, please visit the following website for the Birmingham based Asylum Support and Immigration Resource Team (ASIRT)