Martyn Rudd is a Driffield-based concert promoter who has helped stage more than one-hundred events over the past five years. Utilising venues in York, Hull, and Cherry Burton, he has orchestrated shows for bands such as Ash, Art Brut, and Twisted Wheel, along with artists such as Edwina Hayes, Frankie Cocozza, and Bluetones’ frontman Mark Morriss.
Here, in an exclusive interview with “Pulse” author Steve Rudd, Martyn waxes lyrical about his plans to further enhance Driffield’s music-scene with monthly music-nights at Hotel Forty One...
Hi Martyn, how are things, and how has 2014 treated you so far?
Good. 2014 is shaping up to be our busiest and most successful yet, with recent shows from Roddy Woomble, Dav Ford, Chris Helme, Nine Black Alps, Blackbeard’s Tea Party, and Mark Morriss. There are lots of exciting plans in the pipeline.
For the past five years, you’ve been tirelessly organising and promoting gigs for a staggering number of singer-songwriters and bands. What initially inspired you to plunge into the music industry from such an angle?
I got into music from a young age and started going to gigs aged twelve, sometimes going to as many as three or four a week. Organising my own gigs was a natural progression…
I’ve heard on the grapevine that you’re soon to commence organising and promoting music-orientated events in Driffield. Is there any weight to such a rumour? If so, what do you have planned?
A few people seem to have caught wind of my plans to shake-up the music scene in Driffield somewhat, including a few who are determined not to see the venture succeed. I am very pleased to announce that I am teaming-up with Hotel Forty One to launch a new monthly live music night called Folk at Forty One.
What made you decide to utilise “Forty One” as a venue?
I have enquired about a number of potential venues across the town, but Forty One seems to be the most suited. It is a lovely, modern, intimate room used for everything from dance classes to wedding receptions, and I am looking forward to seeing it transformed to cater for concerts.
Have you got as far as booking any singers or bands to perform at “Forty One”?
I am launching Folk at Forty One in September with a show from Mark Morris of The Bluetones. The band scored thirteen Top 40 singles and three Top 10 albums in the UK charts. Mark is now a successful solo artist and will be performing tracks from throughout his career. Tickets for the show go on sale tomorrow (Friday June 13th), priced at £12, and they’re available from Hotel Forty One and online via SEE.
Long before you started organising gigs, you published a music fanzine entitled”Screaming Tarts”. If time permitted, do you think you’d ever revive such a publication, or do you think the demand for paperback fanzines has diminished now that “E-zines” are all the rage?
I started with a paper-based fanzine back in around 2002, and managed to bag an interview with Pulp in the very first issue. Back then, paper-based zines were already on their way out as the Internet became more and more powerful. I went on to start my own E-zine soon afterwards, which I ran for about five years before stopping to concentrate on gigs. Zines are few and far between these days. Even weekly music mags such as NME struggle to sell copies.
In organising and promoting so many gigs, you’ve liaised with an astonishing number of venues. Which venues do you enjoy working with the most, and why?
We have worked with some of the most respected venues in the area such as Fibbers, The Duchess, and the legendary Adelphi, but I think my personal favourites are Fruit in Hull and The Basement in York. Both are very laid-back and easy to work alongside, with lovely staff and great sound. Fruit in particular can be transformed to suit any genre. One night it could be hosting an intimate Folk show, set-up with tables, chairs and candles... the next it could be hosting a full-on, all-standing Rock show!
How do you decide which acts to book where? Are your choices based on personal preferences, or general interest?
I tend to mainly book bands I like. I am a rocker at heart, so there will always be some Rock there, but I also book lots of acoustic-based and Folky acts. The latter tend to work much better in nice, intimate surroundings, rather than a huge room.
Over the past few years in particular, “Screaming Tarts Presents” has rightfully morphed into a highly-respected brand. Did you ever envisage that you’d be organising and promoting gigs on what is essentially a weekly basis when you booked Laika Dog for the first time in September 2009?
That first show went really well. It was a packed room, and the bands and crowd had a great time! Seeing a room full of happy punters was really rewarding, and I knew then that putting on more shows was a must.
Looking back, which gigs stand out above the rest?
Personal highlights for me across the hundred or shows I have promoted so far include Vintage Trouble, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Ash, and Black Spiders.
What prompted you to start to use Cherry Burton Village Hall as a venue, and what kind of feedback have you had in the wake of Roddy Woomble and Chris Helme playing there?
I fancied doing something a bit different. I usually use venues which are used purely for gigs and kitted-out with all the relevant gear, but the village hall is an empty shell. It is used for a playgroup during the day, as well as things like Zumba sessions and coffee mornings. It was quite a challenge transforming it into a venue, hiring in all the sound equipment and lighting, and setting-up the room from scratch.
We have had some great feedback on the two shows and we’re currently on the hunt for more quirky rooms in the area that we may be able to use for something in the future.
Finally, what “Screaming Tarts”-accredited gigs are rearing up on the horizon, and what’s the best way for folk to find out more about your music-obsessed enterprise?
As well as the Mark Morriss show in Driffield, I have Toyah Willcox at The Duchess in York on Thursday July 24th and Chris Helme at Fruit in Hull on Friday September 26th. I also have dates lined-up for Martin Harley, Lucy Ward, Lisa Knapp, and Howard Marks amongst others. Keep checking our website at www.screamingtartspresents.com for updates.