Well kind of. Back in the late Nineties this site became a champion for small bands, giving many their first web presence way before things like MySpace, reviewing the music and promoting the gigs. Alas it became too successful, and in 2002 it was a case of too much content and not enough time, so the site was retired until like got less hectic. After a decade and a half of slumber the new Steamhead will still be helping promote local music, but go beyond that to cover other forms of entertainment along the way, but usually stuff a little off the mainstream. As technology has revolutionised the way entertainment can be developed and presented, we'll be covering some of that as well.
Over the next few weeks you should start to see some content emerge on these pages, but until then you might see a bit of scaffolding and cans of paint, with the off bit of ancient latin wallpaper peelng back here and there, just so you can see what it's all going to be like when we're done.
Bumper Fun at the Royal
Been a busy 8 days! 2 trips to the theatre, 1 trip to the movies, 1 band rehearsal, one night in the studio engineering someone else and a bit of remixing on the side. As a result, I've got a few reviews to catch up, so lets start with an easy one, the lashings of joy that is Bumper Blyton at Nottingham Theatre Royal.
Well, Bumper Blyton is exactly what it sounds like, a hamper full of nostalgia, bursting with enthusiastic young heroes, excitement and peril, but fortunately without the rampant 40s xenophobia :-)
What you get is a two hour improv performance, all in the style of the prolific children's author Enid Blyton. Elements of the story are suggested by the audience at the beginning, all expertly weaved into a wondrous, perilous tale, that leaves you going home with a satisfying smile on your face.
But two hours of improv, are they up to the task, do they pull it off without hesitation, deviation or repetition, and just who's line is it anyway? Well you'll have to read on to see how the gang coped in this evening of cliff-top peril, and malfunctioning bells.More
Missy Series 1
You wait ages for an audio drama review and then two come along at once. Well I did win this one on the Big Finish Podcast, so it's only fair I do them the honour of a review.
When Big Finish first started, their license was limited to the classic series, just the first Eight Doctors, but in 2015 their horizons were allowed to expand into post-2005 territory adding New UNIT to the ranges, but since then they've added many other ranges, covering all Doctors and characters right up to the previous series, and this one is the first series for Michelle Gomez, delightfully reviving her incarnation of the Master - Missy.
But does Missy work as well in audio as she does on screen? How can Michelle Gomez eat up the scenery when there isn't any? Well I'm sure I can only say something nice.More
Doctor Who - The Syndicate Master Plan 1
Taking a break from reviewing stage dramas, it's time for a bit of audio drama, this time a bit of new Doctor Who. Now the picture might confuse you a bit, what with it having Tom Baker on it, but it is absolutely brand new vintage Who from Big Finish Productions.
But is it any good I hear you say, have they managed to bottle lightning again, can they take us back to a rainy Saturday teatime in the late Seventies again? Well the short answer is yes, because they have a real time machine. Want to know how they pulled it off? Read on!More
Missing - Gecko - Nottingham Playhouse
The thing about going to see a Gecko play, is you never know quite what you are going to get. Sometimes even when you've been to see it you still might not be sure what you just saw, but you're always entertained. Missing by Gecko was not my first trip with them, and trip is probably a good word to describe their style, in more ways than one. Their shows take you on an emotional journey, and quite often into the world of the bizarre and surreal. But if you've never been to one, a Gecko show is a wonderfully blended mix of dance, physical theatre, ballet, mime, puppetry and incredibly well thought out staging and lighting.More
The Madness of King George III
The show could be summed up in one word - astounding. But that wouldn't make for a very good review. The Madness of King George was like watching an iMax movie on stage, it filled your field of vision and dominated your senses. Using high definition detail and incredible sets, this has to be one of the best pieces of drama I've ever seen on stage, and I've seen a lot.
On entering the theatre you are greeted with a beautiful hand painted screen gauze of the finest velvet and gilded curtains. With this level of detail just for the screen, you know you are in for something good.
And from the moment the footman peeks under the curtain to tell you the King is coming, you are transported into an almost Rogers and Hammerstein opulent world that will be your home for the next couple of hours.More
Deptford Wives - The Corbett Theatre
I hadn't intended another night at the theatre so soon after Rebus, but I was 30 minutes away from Loughton, and only an hour to curtain for Deptford Wives, East 15 Acting School's Third Year development play. I had no idea what it was about, but that's never stopped me going to see something.
Imagine if you took a true story, threw in some Shakespearean cross dressing and deception, a dusting of star crossed lovers, 18th century sailors and a 21st century twist. Oh and make it an huge ensemble cast West End style musical too, that's important! An impressive concept for seasoned producers and performers, let alone a group of young actors still honing their craft.
Intrigued? Want to know if they pulled it off? Read on McDuff...More
Rebus at the Royal Center Nottingham
I have to admit, I've never read a single Ian Rankin book in my life, I'm more of a Pratchett man myself when it comes to reading. So going to see the brand new Rebus play at Nottingham Theatre Royal might have been an odd choice, but I'm always up for a good thriller on stage, and this was a great one!
But do you need to know who Rebus is before seeing this play? Does it work for the uninitiated?
Read on and find out.More
Testament - Stripped down drama at its best
I'm sure you've heard that the book is always better than the film, because it can say so much more.
Well that same could be said about theatre, whilst block buster movies can fill in so many details with photo realistic CGI, the high level of detail is competing for your attenntion can often take your attention away from the important thing - the story.
A good play can strip out lots of detail and still be able to tell a great story, even more so without unnecessary images, no matter how accurate, shouting for your attention.
Testament is a play that illustrates this perfectly with a production stripped bare to just the essentials needed to tell the story, and boy does it tell a story...
The G-Strings need your help at Clapham Fringe
"It's New Year's Eve 1999, and the G-Stringz are getting ready for the gig of their life! They need a big crowd behind them to help persuade Diamond Records this is THE band to sign. It's tonight or never!"
Well the G-Stringz need your help again, after a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Burnt Lemon Theatre bring their award winning play Half Moon Shania to the Bread and Roses Theatre as part of the Clapham Fringe this coming weekend (5th, 6th and 7th of October at 5pm). With great reviews, and Best Musical awards from both Musical Theatre Review and our own Head of Steam award, this is definitely a show not to miss if you're in the London area next weekend.More Event
Yankee and the Foreigners storm the Red Lion
Every so often you get that feeling that you just have to go and see a band. When a good friend of mine shared a link last week of a band due to play in Winsford, I got that feeling, and got in the car and drove 2 hours to go see them. Never has a gut feeling been so well rewarded - I think I may have a new favourite band!
The link that drew me in was a cover of Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen, always a favourite song of mine, and a notoriously difficult song to pull off with the beautifully layered vocals. But pull it off they did, and they made it their own, making it sound like it's always been a song with bluegrass roots. Now there was a danger with such a quirky cover that this was just an attention grabbing gimmick (and it certainly grabbed my attention), but it was no gimmick, this high energy and consumate musicianship pured out of every ounce of the music they played last night, an absolute joy to behold.
Steamhead 2.0 is here
After a soft re-launch a few weeks ago, using the old Nineties structures the orginal site was made with, the new Steamhead 2.0 is now with us - Yay!
The soft launch was to make sure there was something out there for our visit to the Edinburgh Fringe, but it didn't work too well on phones, but now we have our new shiny mobile friendly site up and running, so it's now readable on any format. So come on in, have a good look around and tell us via Facebook or Twitter if you find bits that don't work on your device.
We kicked off Steamhead 2.0 with a review including Dip who were one of the bands to be featured on Steamhead the first time around, great to see them still as fresh as ever. If you want to write reviews for Steamhead you are most welcome, it's a non-commercial site so there's no dosh in it for you, just satisfaction of a job well done. If you want to be a Steamie, just drop a private message to me via the Steamhead Facebook Messenger (or Twitter Direct Message), and I'll tell you how to submit your reviews. You will be credited, if you want, and I won't hold copyright of the review so you're free to post elsewhere.
Dip and Crazy Diamond rock the Gallows
Saturday 8th of September saw a local double header at The Gallows Inn, in Ilkeston, with Dip and Crazy Diamond. A powerhouse night of two well established local bands at the top of their game. If you've never seen either of these bands then that's a problem you need to fix. Keep your eyes peeled on the Steamhead events page, as I'm sure these two bands will crop up some more.More
Chalkline Theatre bring Testament to London
Chalk Line Theatre have announced that Testament will be coming to London throughout October!. Kicking off with the Clapham Fringe on the 10th and 11th of October at 7pm and then their first Off-West-End run at the Hope Theatre in Islington on the 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th of October at 7.45pm.
Tickets are available now, follow the link below to the events for more details of where they are and how to book.Event
Head of Steam Awards 2018
OK, maybe not awards as such, but in honour of the relaunch of Steamhead, here is a summary of the best examples of things I saw at this years Edinburgh Fringe Festival. If anyone claims to tell you the best 10 shows at the Fringe, well they're pretty much telling BIG porky pies. There are around 3500 different shows at the Fringe, and around 300 shows on every hour, so nobody can possibly claim to know the best, just the best out of what they have seen.
So with that in mind, to relaunch my site, here are the Head of Steam awards, or the Steamies for short. Basically any act that has managed to build up a big enough head of steam to catch my attention and become the best in a category out of the small fraction of the shows I got to see.More
Jago and Lightfoot Forever
So who are Jago and Lightfoot? Well Henry Gordon Jago is a theatre impresario extraordinaire and Professor George Lightfoot is a pathologist for the Police, teaming up in Victorian London to solve mysteries of a slightly unusual nature. A more unlikely pairing you're never likely to see, but that's just it, you don't see them, their many adventures can be heard in audio dramas from Big Finish Yes you heard me, audio dramas! Yes they are still a thing, it's not like the old radio plays you used to listen to on the dusty old wireless on a dark Sunday evening, Big Finish produce high quality dramas equally as good as anything on TV or at the cinema, with incredible writing and wondrous soundscapes and of course the visuals are as good as anything you can imagine.
If you want to delve into audio drama for the first time then Jago and Lightfoot would be a great start point, and you know enough about them now to make a good start, but of course there's much more to tell if you want to find out more.More
Anatomy of a Frog Juggler
Well I had to kick the site off with something, so I guess a blog about myself and where Steamhead comes from would be a good starting point.
The elements in the "Technology - Music - Drama - Life" strap-line may seem strange bedfellows, but they pretty much sum up my interests, with the first three primarily defining the fourth. So the Steamhead site is essentially a blog site where I will talk about each of those things, either as opinion, or reviews of "product" in those categories. Of course these days Technology can also be a great enabler of the other three, so be prepared for cross-over blogs as well.
Whilst this site won't have any comment sections, you can still join in the conversations via the Facebook and Twitter social media channels, I didn't see any point trying to replicate what has already been done ;-)
But how have Technology, Music and Drama shaped my life, and brought me to this point? Read on McDuff...More