Norwich has always had a healthy and varied music scene for as long as I can remember, John Peel regularly championed our bands on his show back in the 1980s and beyond. Now the music in the city is as healthy and well-supported as ever, probably even healthier and varied than ever.
There is a wonderfully diverse, interesting and high quality mix of local music. From punk to funk, indie, reggae, dub, ska, hip-hop, metal, psych, rock, rockabilly, garage, soul, folk, blues, jazz, swing, African, klezmer, electro, experimental, and classical. There are musical acts in our city to suit all tastes and regular nights for most genres. We’re also blessed with an informed, enthusiastic audience to support it all in a number of venues of all sizes from UEA, Open, The Waterfront and Epic to the heart and soul of it all: Norwich Arts Centre. There are also innumerable smaller venues and pubs hosting gigs every day, Sundays sometimes being the busiest of all when one can wander from one music hosting venue from midday until closing time. This is why we call it Norwich: Music City, UK.
Currently we have it better than ever with two local duos recently getting BBC 6Music “Album of the Day” recognition in the same week, namely Sink Ya Teeth, and Let’s Eat Grandma. The folk and Americana acts are getting noticed too with the likes of Morganway, Jess Morgan, and Lucy Grubb all getting Radio 2 airplay, the much-loved Vagaband are known far and wide, and brilliant folk singer-songwriter Milly Hirst played a memorable set at Glastonbury a couple of years back, whilst Norwich trio Alden, Patterson and Dashwood have been getting standing ovations at packed festival stages up and down the country and have also received national airplay and widespread acclaim. The jazz flavoured Mammal Hands have toured internationally and are massively respected. The Neutrinos have played Edinburgh Fringe and the South Bank and have regularly been featured for their infamous KlangHaus shows. Look out for these which appear sporadically in unexpected locations, the last being in a derelict shoe factory.
Exciting new bands and artists continue to emerge all the time and there’s currently a real buzz around The Wolf Number, HANK, Gladboy, Birds of Hell, Painted Heathers, Hot Raisin, Yve Mary B, and too many others to mention.
Increasingly, I notice international acts are stopping off in Norwich, selected as just one of a handful of UK dates. Memorable recent examples have been amazing gigs by Starcrawler, Courtney Marie Andrews, Baluji Shrivastav, PowerSolo, C.W. Stoneking, J.D. McPherson, and The Regrettes, among others. Starcrawler and Courtney Marie Andrews being my picks of the bunch.
Music in Norwich is supported by dedicated and passionate people working in radio, magazines, online and in venues and pubs. A number of promoters are specialising in folk, jazz, reggae, psych, punk, blues, alternative, and of course Shane O’Linski, a legendary name on the scene who has given many of the city’s favourites their first gigs and was recently featured by Radio 3’s Late Junction for an Exposure special for his own music. Do check one of his nights for something gloriously different and unexpected. He is also one of a number of curators such as Chad Mason working in rotation at one of this city’s hidden secrets, the lovely undercroft that is Jurnet’s Bar where on a Friday night a number of acts will play to an attentive audience in the Music House Acoustic(ish) Sessions. It also hosts the amazing 60s & 70s psych and garage Cave-In nights once a month.
Punk Rock Blues regularly has gigs around the city, there’s Fine City Blues each Thursday at the Murderers, monthly folk nights at Grapevine in the Guildhall, a weekly jazz club, an acoustic unplugged candlelit Louis Marchesi gig happens monthly too. Annual festivals include The Fine City Blues Explosion, Oxjam, Norwich Sound and Vision, Norfolk and Norwich Festival, and the Norwich Lanes Summer Fayre. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Music is everywhere and our fine little city punches well above its weight. There’s always music and a gig to be found in this fine music-loving city.
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