Catching up with Joe ColombiFeature
During the lockdown period of the pandemic, like most people I had few inklings as to how any music scene might re-emerge assuming it ended.
I had concerns around how musicians might deal with the layoff & I'm delighted how many rose to the challenge during the period & have subsequently come roaring back on even better form than ever. I would however, knowing the sort of people who'll be reading this, pause for a moment to acknowledge that for many people that period was not easy & has not left them untouched. Some have in fact yet to resume "normal" activities and some are still dealing with health issues. Although naming them is not appropriate, I'm sure they are in our thoughts & that where they are known to you, they are getting your support.
To be honest, after a while I became even more concerned about the venue opportunities which might be around as lockdown eased… there might be plenty of music but too few places in which to share it.
Some venues are no longer operating: that is the sad truth. Other venues, for example the HMV Empire in Coventry, have fortunately been added to the roster. I'd like to focus in a few features in the magazine on people who are working incredibly hard to bring live music (especially original music since opportunities for this are markedly fewer than for covers) to our area. One would be Levi Washington, whose organisation has commenced & expanded massively since COVID19 but today I'm catching up with Joe Colombi who is slap bang in the centre of so much great live (original) music at the moment & one of those people we need to thank & to give our support to.
I'll let him introduce himself in his own words:
"Hi - I'm Joe, a local music promoter in Coventry putting on local and touring bands in various local venues under the name Sink or Swim Promotions. I started doing this in my hometown, which is Portsmouth and then picked it up again in Coventry, when I got offered the use of a great venue.
I'm trying to give the people of Coventry what they deserve - Great Music. A lot of bands play Leicester, Nottingham or Birmingham so let's address that and get them to Coventry! It's great to see venues like The Tin and Empire are able to continue after a difficult few years, putting on quality and world famous musicians
Hopefully we can establish (me or another promoter/venue) a great local/touring band night - which I think Coventry is currently missing - 3/4 bands same night every week, with great local and touring talent - If we can establish something like this, there's no reason why it can't take off and we get sell out nights every week.
I've put on loads of great gigs in the past year including more established names like Alison Cotton, Dead Sheeran and Pete Bassman from Spaceman 3 but my highlight so far has definitely been Rodney Cromwell - How much fun can you have on stage (and off stage for that matter) - Go to his show and you'll find out! Hopefully we can get him back very soon!
Sink or Swim still has loads coming up the rest of the year including Roddy Radiation (ex Specials) and Monkey (from California), ska night at The Tin on 27th October, Camilla Sparksss (all the way from Switzerland) with support from local acts Futumche and Crimson Crush at The Tin again and then DC Gore/MoonBears and Richard Pinhas (From 70's space rock band Heldon)/ Attrition both at Just Dropped in Records in November – they're the big highlights although you can find out about all my gigs here - https://linktr.ee/SinkOrSwimPromotions"
So who is currently impressing Joe from the local scene & whom he can recommend to our readers?
"Coventry has loads of great artists but my favourites are the absolutely brilliant Duke Keats - the musicianship of Jimi Hendrix, the style of Prince and the showmanship of David Byrne. I really think this band are going somewhere, the name's definitely on everyone's lips in Coventry. I also really enjoy local metal act Kharma, bringing the alt sounds of the 90's to Coventry - great band, great tunes and super fun live. Other notable highlights include Danny Ansell, Shanghai Hostage, YNES, Luna Kiss, The Pristines, VIEON, Paradise of the Titans and Bar Pandora." (Great to see all those "Hot Music Live Presents" artists cited in Joe's list!)
What can our readers do to support what you are doing Joe?
"There's three ways to best support the local scene and it goes without saying: grab a ticket to a show, go out and watch your favourite bands. Although, we're living in a cost of living crisis, so if you not in a financial situation to support shows, a share of an artist post, gig poster or Facebook event goes a long way - in the long run, the more people an artist/event can reach the better for everyone involved. Third and finally, buy and stream local artists.
The Live scene has been ruined by Covid, people have got used to sitting indoors, we have so much entertainment at our fingertips these days that we don't need to go out - I've been on more that one occasion post-Covid, one of a few punters (for both local and international touring acts). The live scene was recovering but unfortunately we have a cost of living crisis to contend with, where money's tighter than ever and people are having to choose between eating and heating.
Unfortunately promoters and venues alike are in a situation of ‘use it or lose it' at the moment - if people don't buy tickets, then the venues can't keep the lights on, bands don't have a place to play and we all lose out. Bands like Stone Roses, Oasis, Coldplay and Muse all started out in small venues as local acts and if we don't continue to support the local scene we won't have a scene at all anymore".
Wise & detailed thoughts from Joe there: (and he didn't even mention Covtember 2022 which he collaborated with Paul Quinn to help put together) a passion for live music: OUR live music underpinned with articulate, detailed analysis and steps we can all take. There really is nothing more I can say as he's said it so well, except let's all work together & make the most of the opportunities which Joe & his collaborators have created for us (I've already discussed a possible "Hot Music Live Presents" gig with him). Great ideas are one thing, but sustaining them requires much hard work over a long period & the support of many people. Let's make the first part of "sink or swim' redundant.