This month, there is a unique gig happening in The Georgian Theatre in Stockton.
On Friday 30th June Nick Harper, the son of legendary guitarist Roy Harper, will be joined on stage By Rev Hammer and Dan Donnelly.
Harper is a legend in his own right, but the two latter musicians are especially interesting because of what they do for aspiring musicians. Rev Hammer (also known as Steve Ryan) is the principal of a Company called The Academy of Music and Sound. Dan Donnelly runs the North East branch of The Academy of Music and Sound, where he and other musicians with some profile teach young people how to succeed in the music industry. They offer level three qualifications in music performance and music production right the way up to master’s degrees for aspiring music industry professionals.
Donnelly, who has his own career as a singer-songwriter, is also lead guitarist and backing vocalist for The Wonder Stuff who only last year had a top 40 album in ‘30 Goes Around The Sun’. He and other musicians with a similar profile have banded together to share their knowledge of the industry with those following in their footsteps. Among his staff are Barry Hyde (singer and guitarist with Sunderland post punk heroes The Futureheads) and Micky Crystal (guitar Whizz-kid with Tyneside rock legends The Tygers of Pan Tang). As a student with these guys, you not only get a respected qualification but you get the wisdom and experience of musicians who have been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.
Dan says: “There is a massive wealth of musical talent in the North East and there always has been! This place gave us Mark Knopfler, Sting, Chris Rea, David Coverdale and Dave Stewart.” He continues: “ I see kids every day that could be the next Ed Sheeran, Adele or Jake Bugg and now with places like ours there is somewhere for these kids to go and really perfect their craft and learn about the industry. There was nothing like that when I was a kid. I had to drop out and go on the road, wet behind the ears.”
Since opening in 2009, The Academy of Music and Sound North East - situated in Gateshead High Street near the Sage - has gone from strength to strength. It has slowly filled with talent until it is quite literally full every year. This is no mean feat given that there are huge colleges like Gateshead College and Newcastle College in the area. “The thing that sets us apart from these big colleges is our staff,” says Dan. “Our guys are actual musicians that are making and releasing records with actual success, those other places are full of actual teachers that don’t have music careers. Our industry links within the academy are of most use to our students. We have secured management deals and publishing deals for some of our students and one band formed in the Academy are enjoying a real buzz at the minute. The Fletcher Jackson Band all attend here and we have had 2 separate major labels down to the building to see them play in the last year. We have record producers, label bosses, remixers and big names at the end of the phone if we need advice for our students. You won’t get that at any other college!”
If you are interested in Applying to The Academy call 01914787879 or email email@example.com arrange an audition.
If you are interested in heading to the gig just keep Friday 30th June free and you can ask Rev Hammer and Dan Donnelly about The Academy yourself over a beverage after the show.
Tickets are available from teesmusicalliance.org.uk.
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