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Chris Parkin

Chris Parkin

Chris is a freelance writer and journalist. His love of obscure acid-folk bands and non-league football knows no bounds. Follow him on Twitter @c_parkin.

News (58)

What you should be doing in Birmingham this summer

What you should be doing in Birmingham this summer

Planners at the ready, folks. The festival season is (just about) upon us and Birmingham is well served this year. Here's a handy guide to the festivals and events you should be booking tickets for right now. Lunar Festival, June 5-7 Set in bucolic Tanworth-In-Arden, this psychedelic-minded festival is located near Nick Drake's old home. But not everything on the bill is as blissfully melancholy as Drake's own musings. On the bill this year are Mali's desert-rock aces Tinariwen, Mark E Smith's The Fall, psychedelic post-punk warrior Julian Cope, the freshly-returned BBC Radiophonic Workshop and legendary Italian prog-rock band Goblin. If you do want a bit of quiet, though, there's a chance to escape the main event and listen to Nick Drake's music on the man's own record player. Expect lots of artisanal and folk-culture activities as well.   A photo posted by Rhiannon Pierce (@nonathon) on Jun 9, 2014 at 6:10am PDT Supersonic Festival, June 11-14With All Tomorrow's Parties going through a transitionary period, Supersonic is the festival for fans of exploratory left-field music right now. Local promoters Capsule have been running the event at the Custard Factory (and beyond) since 2003 after noticing a gap in the tea-and-cake-meets-ear-pummelling-gigs market. This year's stellar event features the cosmos-disturbing alt-noise of Six Organs of Admittance, experimental doom merchants Liturgy, Bristol post-punk legends Pop Group, new Domino Records signing Holly Herndon, The B

Don't be a waster, eat at The Real Junk Food Project

Don't be a waster, eat at The Real Junk Food Project

If you saw Jamie and Jimmy's¬†Friday Night Feast¬†a few weeks ago you may have seen Sam Joseph¬†from The Real Junk Food Project's¬†Bristol outpost Skipchen¬†espousing the use of food that's destined for the bin.¬†It's one of many caf√©s ‚Äď 89 nationally¬†‚Äď using food donated¬†by¬†restaurants, food banks, caterers, businesses, the public, you name it, and charging on a pay-as-you-feel basis. According to spokesman Justin Mortimer, The Real Junk Food Project 'is widely regarded as a food revolution.' And it's a revolution¬†that¬†started in Leeds. In December 2013, The Real Junk Food Project opened their pay-as-you-feel¬†caf√© in Armley¬†and have¬†since plated up several thousand servings of intercepted waste food. They're doing so with an eye on our austere times, too. Customers pay as they feel, dropping whatever they think their meal warrants ‚Äď 50p, ¬£5, ¬£10, nothing ‚Ästinto a pot.¬† The Real Junk Food Project's pop-up at the Trinity KitchenThe Real Junk Food Project ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Adam Smith, a Yorkshire chef, founded The Real Junk Food Project alongside¬†students Sam Jospeh and Conor Walsh. Everyone involved in the Armley¬†caf√© is from a catering background. 'It's not gruel, it's tasty, nutritious,' says Justin. And forget food poisoning: 'That's generally something to do with how¬†food¬†is prepared or stored, not how old it is.' The idea has caught on like wild fire with caf√©s and pop-ups opening across¬†the UK¬†‚Äď independents who ask The Real Junk Food Project mothership in Leeds for advice and ass

Travel back in time with Supersonic Festival's All Ears exhibition

Travel back in time with Supersonic Festival's All Ears exhibition

This year's imperious Supersonic Festival sees leftfield, ear-savaging acts such as The Pop Group, Six Organs Of Admittance, The Bug and Liturgy, as well as artists with a less voluble but no less dynamic sound, invading Birmingham from June 11-14. Long-time Brum alt-rock promoters Capsule are expanding the event's focus this year with specially commissioned performances, sound installations, workshops and exhibitions. One of these music-related exhibitions is All Ears, a showcase of new works inspired by technology pioneered for listening to and performing early music. Alongside a five-octave pipe organ reconditioned by composer and historian Sarah Angliss and artists Colin Uttley and Eve Warren, Morton Underwood's "listening device" and Paul Gitten's Oak Apple Orchestra, you'll be able to check out Birmingham Museums' special collection of mechanical instruments and rarely-seen Victorian music boxes. Check out the images below for a taster. The exhibition runs from June 1-14 at Millennium Point and is free to all. It also features a range of workshops, including Juneau Projects' DIY Modular Music Makers Workshop and Morton Underwood's Augmented Listening Workshop (Saturday June 6) followed by Owl Project's Optikit Workshop and a second Augmented Listening Workshop (Saturday June 13). Check out the festival's similarly-minded Bees In A Tin installation, too, which takes place on Friday June 12. Birmingham Museums Trust   Birmingham Museums Trust   Birmingham Museums Tru

Seven urban myths about Birmingham

Seven urban myths about Birmingham

All great cities have urban myths and folk tales - and Birmingham is no different. However,¬†with enough unlikely stories¬†turning out to be completely true, like Lady Gaga treating punters in the Prince Of Wales¬†to a round of drinks, working through the city's urban myths can be a nightmare. So¬†let's make a start‚Ķ ¬† An actual vampire once stalked¬†the streets of BirminghamIn the mid-noughties, a rumour began that a man was prowling around the Ward End area of the city biting chunks¬†out of people. Once a few of these claims had made the news, there was a flood of calls from people living in Saltley, Small Heath and Alum Rock claiming to have been bitten when they opened their front doors. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not worried, though; I‚Äôve got a lot of crucifixes in the house,‚ÄĚ said one local reverend. Despite all of this, no one reported any biting incidents to the police. Flickr: Gaelx ¬† ¬† There was a gypsy curse on St Andrew'sBirmingham City Football Club claimed their dismal¬†performances on the pitch were the result of a 100-year gypsy curse put on the ground when Romani gypsies were evicted from the St Andrew's site in 1906. Oddly, Birmingham City‚Äôs fortunes did actually pick up from 2006, with promotion to the Premier League and a 2011¬†League Cup¬†win. If recent seasons are anything to go by, though, perhaps someone‚Äôs put a new curse on the stadium. Flickr: Elliott Brown Birmingham has more canals than VeniceIt is true that Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice but it has just six

True or false? Check out these five urban myths about Leeds

True or false? Check out these five urban myths about Leeds

Once you know every little thing about a city it's probably time to move on and find somewhere else to explore. It's a good job, then, that there are still plenty of questions¬†about Leeds' urban myths that still need answering because we rather like the place. Here are just a¬†few of Leeds' best-loved folk tales‚Ķ There‚Äôs a nuclear bunker under Millennium SquareThreads, the BBC‚Äôs terrifying 1980s drama about nuclear wipeout, might have been set in Sheffield but the spectre of nuclear annihilation is enough to spawn myths about any city‚Äôs readiness and Leeds is no different. When Millennium Square¬†and the surrounding area was being redeveloped, rumours of a nuclear bunker¬†began¬†circulating. The council claim they have no knowledge ‚Äď or any direct evidence ‚Äď of these secret bunkers. Instead, they say, the remains of old swimming baths and cellars and underground changing rooms encouraged the idea. But they would say that, wouldn‚Äôt they? Flickr: Steve Fair Leeds Town Hall¬†clock doesn‚Äôt strike at midnight because of ghostsNew Year‚Äôs Eve aside, this is true. The bit about it not striking at midnight, that is. But no one has ever¬†really¬†agreed on the reason why. Will the stone lions wake up at the strike of midnight and go on a killing spree¬†around town? Or will the chimes of midnight wake up the ghost of Mary Blythe, the young lady who threw herself off¬†the clocktower in 1867? A more plausible reason is that patients at Leeds General Infirmary nearby need a good night‚Äôs sleep. Fl

Five reasons why Birmingham is the most important musical city in the world

Five reasons why Birmingham is the most important musical city in the world

Co-founder of The Quietus and one of the country‚Äôs finest music scribes, John Doran, will be launching his debut book Jolly Lad, published by Strange Attractor, at an evening of spoken word and far-out music at the city‚Äôs Eastside Projects¬†on May 22. Details here. John will be joined at the event, entitled An English Trip, by Arabrot, aka Norwegian noise-rock musician Kjetil Nernes, dub poet Roger Robinson, who‚Äôs worked with King Midas Sound and Techno Animal, and Leeds‚Äô live techno band Chrononautz. ¬† Jolly Lad is a gut-wrenchingly funny, tearily poignant and occasionally disturbing memoir inspired by John‚Äôs regular MNEK columns for Vice¬†and has already garnered praise from the likes of Caitlin Moran and Jonathan Meades. The hardback edition comes with a CD of readings and music from the Manic Street Preacher‚Äôs Nicky Wire, members of British Sea Power, Eccentronic Research Council, GNOD, Grumbling Fur and more. To get us in the mood, John, a long-time visitor to the city‚Äôs more far-out events like Supersonic, has provided us with a guide to Brum‚Äôs extreme music. Black Sabbath ‚Äď Black Sabbath (Black Sabbath) The self-titled track off Black Sabbath's self-titled debut album is where it all starts. Those that heard this track on its day of release ‚Äď Friday 13 February 1970 ‚Äď experienced the unthinkable:¬†guitar music much heavier than anything that had come before, including Black Country peers, Led Zeppelin. This was music that seemed to emanate evil. But this track didn't ju

Bearfoot Beware's guide to being a DIY musician in Leeds

Bearfoot Beware's guide to being a DIY musician in Leeds

Bearfoot Beware¬†are yet another Leeds band¬†doing it themselves. Whether it's because Leeds' bands favour itchier pants, are more determined to give it a go or receive less help in their corner of Yorkshire, the city's scrappy, hardcore-inspired DIY scene has been in fine fettle for a long time now. The list of Leeds' similarly-minded bands that Tom Bradley of Bearfoot Beware give a shout-out to is long. Take a deep breath: Cowtown, That Fucking Tank, Blige Pump, Beards, Cattle, IRK, Eagulls, Esper Scout, New Woman, Blacklisters, Hawk Eyes, Nope, Clentsch, Track and Field, Super Luxury, Famine, GG Glitter, Molars, Post War Glamour Girls, Commiserations, Hank Haint and Cruickshanks, Pulled Apart By Horses, Unwave, Goodbye Chanel, Envoys, Engine, Juffage, Magnapinna, Dull Aches, Mush. To celebrate the release of their debut album World Owes You Nowt¬†‚Ästand ahead of their live show at Brudenell Social Club¬†on Tuesday May 5 ‚Äď here's Tom with his guide to doing it yourself in Leeds. Go to Leeds gigs"One of my first real gigs in Leeds was at the Brudenell Social Club ‚Äď a full Leeds line-up watching Sky Larkin, Pulled Apart By Horses¬†and Cowtown. All three bands nailed it and showed me a musical life beyond the indie landfill imposed on me as a youth. I haven't looked back. The musicians afterwards were walking around and totally up for a chat. It's this friendliness and willingness to connect that makes any scene productive. The friends you make and the bands you follow spur you on

Raise a flagon at Leeds' first International Wine Festival

Raise a flagon at Leeds' first International Wine Festival

Leeds¬†Town Hall already plays host to the International Beer Festival¬†‚Äď and a¬†cocktail happening ‚Äď but from May 23-24 it will be hosting its¬†inaugural "pop up" International Wine Festival.¬† Suppliers from across the industry will be convening in the city for the showcase, providing wine buffs with a chance to taste over 100 different types¬†of vino from 12 countries around the world. Also on hand to help you transform¬†from a Lambrini-glugging wine novice into a fully-fledged Jilly Goolden will be a crew of top industry experts. The event, organised by Grapeful,¬†will give¬†wine lovers access to 10 hours of wine-tasting from 12noon-10pm, a chance to meet the wine-maker, plus¬†masterclasses (Carlos Read: A Spanish Masterclass, Suzanne Lock: Italy from Top to Toe, Louis Boutinot:¬†A Sauvignon Blanc Masterclass) and talks, including one from Yorkshire Post wine writer Christine Austin. George and Joseph Cheesemongers and The Reliance Bar¬†will be on hand with cheese and charcuterie, and¬†there's live music planned too. Tickets are ¬£25 in advance,¬†¬£30 on the door. Learn why Leeds is heading the new-beer revolution.

The Heads' guide to psychedelic Bristol

The Heads' guide to psychedelic Bristol

The Heads, who've been frying synapses, off and on, for 25 years now, are one of Bristol's finest psychedelic rock bands. Their records, mostly limited and hard to find, are all cult classics among stoner-rock fans. We asked Hugo Morgan from the band to put together some of his favourite mind-bending Bristol music. The result is an ear-opening playlist for anyone who thinks Bristol is all¬†trip-hop, dancehall and The Wurzels. 'When asked to consider Bristol and psychedelic music, I instantly¬†think¬†of classic late-60s psychedelic bands and draw¬†a bit of a blank. When the rest of the country was coming out with Sgt¬†Pepper's, S.F. Sorrow, Pipers at the Gates of Dawn and Their Satanic Majesties Request, Bristol and the surrounding area had only Acker Bilk and The Wurzels to offer the world. 'So the bands on my list aren't specifically psychedelic, ranging from lo-fi and full-on noise to sitar drones and math rock. All of the bands, though, are representative of the general Bristol idea of thinking outside the box, combining different genres and themes to create a new, innovative music unique to each artist. 'Obviously I know most of the artists and have been in quite a few of the bands on the list at some point or other. Some have been and gone,¬†but half of them are still going strong and if you get a chance you should catch them live.' Plus this little lot, not on Spotify: Olanza ‚Äď Stones Rauschenberg ‚Äď Black Tar Acid Drone Soul ‚Äď Lay Asleep Pohl ‚Äď Cute Guy Alert Sawdust Caeser

Ten-minute tour with Pulled Apart By Horses

Ten-minute tour with Pulled Apart By Horses

Leeds' ear-ravaging hardcore alt-rockers Pulled Apart By Horses are just one of the axe-wielding local bands representing for their hometown at the upcoming Live at Leeds festival on May Bank Holiday weekend. The band's third album, Blood, released last year, was their first to hit the top 40 and will make up a goodly chunk of their ferocious, high-energy live set when they play the Live at Leeds opening party, alongside Dinosaur Pile Up and Allusondrugs, at Leeds University on May 1. Given the sweat, blood and tears expended in their live shows, let's hope guitarist James Brown has recovered from his 1000-mile charity bike ride from Harrogate to Montpellier with sound engineer Giles Stocks. Hardcore, just like his band's blistering sound. Ahead of their live return, here's bass player Robert John Lee with a ten-minute tour of Leeds. My favourite Leeds phrase is…'"Alright love." I like how big rough blokes can call each love love and it's fine. Our guitar tech Ben Shand is a big lad and he confuses lots of people on tour with that one'. My favourite memories of Leeds are…'Going to and playing the Leeds Festival'. Flickr: Neil Sanchala When I'm hungover and need to recover I…'Well, I'm avoiding hangovers these days but my prescription, speaking from experience, would be: stay in bed as long as possible and then go for a late breakfast at Clock Café'. If I'm trying to impress a visitor from out of town, I take them to…'Otley Chevin. Especially if it's someone from London. It

Bristol hot air balloon takes a dip in the water

Bristol hot air balloon takes a dip in the water

There was drama near the floating harbour earlier this week when hot air balloon enthusiasts treated passers-by to the ballooning version of a backside kick-flip. We're told the official term for this particular balloon manoeuvre is a 'splash and dash', in which pilots descend slowly onto the water before taking off again. Listening to the nervous laughs of folk gathered along the harbourside on Wednesday afternoon, it seems not everyone had faith in these plucky pilots. Check out the action here. More drama on Time Out Bristol.

Boutique salon set to keep Leeds' beardy hipsters looking trim

Boutique salon set to keep Leeds' beardy hipsters looking trim

Beards. They are inescapable at the moment. Blame whoever you like for their popular resurgence, but it looks like they're here to stay. So better a clean and tidy beard than a walking food diary, right? Leeds' beardy types are set to be well catered for in this department. After proving popular in Liverpool and Manchester, John Shanahan's¬†Barber Barber¬†‚Äď the salon 'for scoundrels and gentlemen' ‚Äď is opening up a third branch in Leeds at the end of May. Among the services on offer are 'precision beard sculpting', shoe shining and the 'Barber Barber Experience' ‚Äď a shampoo, cut and finish, with hot-towel neck shave, plus traditional cut-throat shave with oils, hot towels and steam preparation. The barber ‚Äď so good they named it twice, or something like that ‚Äď hit the news last year after it banned women from stepping foot in their Liverpool branch, calling critics of their¬†policy¬†'feminists and mavericks'. See¬†the salon's website¬†for more information. Check out the Leeds barbers with a knack for a punny name.