BBC Manchester - 7th May 2009...

More UnConvention-al than ever

One of the musical highlights of last year was UnConvention, a music conference that brought small labels, new artists, band managers and promoters from across the country to the Sacred Trinity Church in Salford to discuss all aspects of new music.

The event was so successful that it has since spawned regional varieties of itself, starting with an UnConvention Belfast back in February. Salford, though, remains its spiritual home and is about to once again host the national version.

Ruth Daniel, one of UnConvention's organisers, says she’s hopeful that this year's event will be even better than last year’s debut, as they’ve tweaked the programme of debates and discussions to make it even more relevant to the attendees – with one major change being the inclusion of a conference-opening Artists Panel.

"What worked really well last year in Salford and at UnConvention Belfast was the presence of artists on the panels.

"We wanted to open with artists, allowing them to set the scene for the rest of the event, so their views could feed into all the other panels.

"We wanted to get a range of artists signed in the traditional way and artists doing it for themselves to highlight challenges and successes in the current industry - what does it take to succeed? How can new talent emerge? How have things changed?

"It's amazing to have people like Peter Hook and Liam Frost involved and it'll be interesting to hear what they have to say."

'Provocative, informative and positive'

Of course, the Artists Panel will only the opening salvo of debate at the event. Ruth expects plenty more of discussion across the three days, which she says will be led by some suitably opinionated moderators and taken up by carefully chosen panelists.

"We specifically picked good moderators who will engage the audience fully – Andrew Dubber of New Music Strategies, Howard Monk from The Local, Al Farquhar from Modern Art Management and Mark Meharry of Music Glue.

"We have a board of industry people from the grassroots and indie sector, who have helped select panel topics and panelists, which has allowed us to ask the right people to get involved.

"We have some amazing people coming, including Martin Elbourne, who is chief booker for Glastonbury, Fred Fellowes from the Secret Garden Party, and John Empson, who manages Liam Frost and Fangs amongst others.

"I expect UnConvention panels to be provocative, informative and positive."

That was certainly the case last year and with topics like how new bands can actually make a basic living from music and how acts can get played outside their local scene due to be discussed, it looks like being another informative and entertaining few days.

'Most exciting bands of tomorrow'

The same can be said for the nights, as once again, UnConvention offers a whole raft of live music to accompany the daily debating, with sets from acts all over the country coming to play.

"It’s going to be like a mini-SXSW. Awesome!"

Ruth on the live line-up for UnConvention

Ruth says that as great as the line-up is, there’s a couple of acts in particular that’s she excited about seeing live.

"It's Gallops for me… They sound very different indeed. I've also been a huge fan of Kyte for some time now and never managed to catch them live.

"What is exciting about this year's event is the diversity in the line-up – we have gone to all the tastemakers and asked them to put forward their most exciting bands of tomorrow – including NME favorites Kasms, local buzz band Everything Everything and the soulful Jamie Finlay.

"And it's not just night-time shows, as during the day, we are having a barbecue in the graveyard with John Smith, Jake Flowers and Jesca Hoop, plus a very special guest playing acoustic sets.

"It's going to be like a mini-SXSW. Awesome!"

Of course, every good music event would be nothing without a closing party and UnConvention has a major one planned, though it has meant that they've had to take the decision to leave the Church for the first time, as Ruth explains.

"The Blueprint Big Room is hosting our closing party. We have a surprise headline special guest, along with Sisters of Transistors, Arch Nazards, Fangs and a club night after the bands curated by Lil' Fee from The Whip.

"It will be a lot of fun!"

UnConvention takes place at the Sacred Trinity Church and Blueprint Studios in Salford from Thursday 4 to Saturday 6 June.

Full event tickets are £25 – a three day music and barbecue pass is £18.