There are loads of music and reviews blogs out there, more seem to pop-up daily, although you do need to filter out the cut ‘n’ paste reviews ones. Here we have Darren Johnson, of the aptly titled Darren’s Music Blog is well worth a read covering rock, folk and more.
What inspired you to start writing/blogging about music?
I’ve always been passionate about music. However, I was a local councillor for years and it often meant that I when saw gigs advertised I couldn’t go because I’d be at a council meeting or a residents meeting or knocking on doors or something. I was telling my brother that when I stepped down I was going to take advantage of all the free evenings and start going to loads of gigs. He said I should keep a blog of them all. Three years ago that’s how the idea of Darren’s music blog was born.
What do you think makes for a good read for a music review?
I’m not a musician so I really have nothing in the way of technical musical knowledge to offer. I approach it completely from the angle of the fan. Looking back at some of my earliest posts now they tended to be fairly descriptive but over time I found myself talking more and more about how I first got into a particular band, about the range of emotions you go through watching the gig, about what the artist in question means to you personally and about the way they connect to their audience. At its heart live music is a communal and very human experience. Otherwise, you might as well just sit at home and listen to the records. I try to reflect that in my writing.
What has been the most popular post on your blog to date?
That’s easy. I was lucky enough to be at the Dave Davies gig at the Islington Assembly Hall in December 2015 when his brother Ray joined him on stage for a surprise encore. The first time they had shared a stage in nearly two decades. Normally, at a significant moment in rock history like that you would have loads of journalists there to cover it but as it was just a routine gig in a smallish venue there wasn’t really a press presence. I wrote my review first thing the following morning and posted it up. Dave Davies put it on his facebook page and it just went viral. It was a very special night and I was just in the write place at the right time to capture the moment first hand https://darrensmusicblog.com/2015/12/19/dave-davies-and-ray-at-islington-assembly-hall-181215/
What was your live highlight of 2016 and why?
There were many but I’m going to pick AC/DC at the Olympic Stadium. My heart sank when AC/DC first announced Brian Johnson had to pull out and that they were planning to fulfil the dates with a guest vocalist. I was even more sceptical when it was announced that Axl Rose would be the said guest vocalist. But he absolutely nailed it, particularly the Bon-era material. The first time I saw AC/DC Brian had just joined the band so I never got to see Bon live, sadly, but now I’m a complete convert to Axl-DC! https://darrensmusicblog.com/2016/06/05/acdc-at-the-olympic-stadium-london-4616/
Do you think the current state of the UK live scene is healthy right now?
The number of venues that have closed or have been threatened with closure is a huge worry and I’m a big supporter of the Music Venues Trust. However, there are some great live venues and some great new bands out there still so let’s not get too gloomy. I live in Hastings these days which has a superb live music scene.
Who are you musical heroes and why?
Noddy Holder and Sandy Denny! My musical tastes are broad but both of these two are really special to me. I’ve never seen anyone work an audience like Noddy did with Slade and he sang and co-wrote some of the best songs ever. Sandy Denny is, in my view, the finest female singer that ever lived. It’s a tragedy that she remained relatively forgotten for many years after her untimely death in 1978. But her music is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves and I’m never going to stop banging the drum for her.
Any good rock ‘n’ roll tales to tell?
I was at a posh reception for the opening of the London Olympics in 2012. I arrived at exactly the same time as Jimmy Page and we got chatting on the way in. After a quick look round he said he didn’t really know anyone else there and was it ok if he hung out with me for the evening! You can read the full story here https://darrensmusicblog.com/2016/12/01/the-night-jimmy-page-asked-if-he-could-hang-out-with-me/
Heard any good music lately?
One of the best new bands I’ve seen lately is KilliT who I saw on the Introducing Stage at Butlin’s Giants of Rock weekend at Minehead. They are a superb hard rock band. Great songs and great stage presence. They deserve to go far http://www.killitband.com/