Sink or Swim Promotions

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Sink or Swim Promotions


In several ways, the Sink or Swim promotion at The Tin on Saturday (John Douglas supported by Rebecca Mileham & The Sunbathers) which I reported on, epitomises what Joe Colombi has brought to the local live scene.

Quite apart from the staggering number of promotions (there seems barely a day without a gig he's put on and on his "nights off" he seems mainly to check out bands at other promoters' events) & his rigid adherence both to quality of artists & professionalism of the shows (none of those strings of artist complaints which seem to accompany mention of some promoters & promoting venues), Joe has clear ambitions to both bring big names (I thrill to the likes of Wreckless Eric, Attila the Stockbroker and Dave Formula to name but a few) to the area yet at the very same time create opportunities for exciting local talent: especially those he sees not getting a fair chance from others. Several of the artists we've been enthusing about over the past couple of years have been given key & repeated exposure only by Sink or Swim.

So on Saturday we saw a cult figure pack out the Tin, delighting his local fans while giving slots to two acts who don't play too often, have an unjustly low public profile yet won many new admirers because Joe knew that John's audience would recognise their distinct merits.

 In the twenty or so months since I last caught up with Joe for an article in September 2022, I'd be hard pressed to even estimate the number of events he's conceived, built & delivered. I'd love to list them all, but that would create an article of too great a length to hold your attention: the opposite of his promotions.

It was very unfair of me to ask him to pick any out for me, but he was kind enough & polite enough to ignore my gaucherie and to respond enthusiastically: though starting with the disclaimer that "all of them were really good" before extolling the gig we were actually at (in anticipation) plus ones by Deb Googe, Izzie Derry, his annual Punkmas gigs,  Brazilian band Glue Trip and "a guy from Japan who just played a snare drum for twenty minutes" (that would be Ryosuke Kiyasku and Joe advises that he'll be returning on August 9th). So we now need to add international touring acts to the Sink or Swim profile.

Coming up, when asked for potential highlights, he cited gigs by Dave Formula from Magazine (on May 29th) Penny Arcade (from Veronica Falls) on June 21st, Tara Clerkin Trio from Bristol (May 30th), The Hanging Stars (November 9th) plus ones he's not even allowed to announce yet.

 I think from the above, Joe's philosophy emerges quite clearly, but nonetheless I asked him what he might encapsulate it as & he came up with the refreshingly honest "no-one buys tickets and I sink, or we swim and have a great night"

Which leads me onto my punchline: Joe has transformed the local original gig scene more than anyone I've ever seen and what all those who value the music we hold dear in this magazine must cherish. However, unless we actively patronise Sink or Swim events, then seeing great artists from outside the area will diminish and chances for the more interesting local acts to build live audiences will go to: probably along with the artists concerned. Equally, given his vital partnerships with venues such as The Tin or Just Dropped In, his thriving is linked organically to theirs.

I refer you therefore to:

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