Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Wales and the West

You know how the PRS insists that everything it does is for the benefit of the its members? Somehow, they've stretched the definition of this to producing a pointless survey:

The Performing Rights Society used its 65,000-strong database to locate the birthplaces of its membership and work out Britain’s most musical cities.

Wales Online is quite excited at Cardiff coming, erm, second:
CARDIFF has beaten the birthplace of The Beatles and the home of Oasis to become the UK’s second “most musical city”.

The birthplace of Dame Shirley Bassey was named ahead of Liverpool and Manchester but lost out on the top spot to Bristol, home of Massive Attack.

The flawed nature of this survey is probably shown by how excited the Cardiff team are at coming higher than Manchester or Liverpool, which more or less concedes that, when thinking of musical cities, it's not Bristol that springs to mind first.

Still, with Cardiff celebrating, who to turn to but town-centrist expert Gennaro Castaldo, of the HMV people. Can he explain the musicaliscature of Carddif?
HMV pop guru Gennaro Castaldo said Cardiff’s place in the music world should be celebrated.

He said: “People think of Liverpool and Manchester as being the musical cities, and Cardiff is often forgotten. They forget the amazing contributions of Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey, the male voice choirs, when somewhere like Liverpool is living off the history of one type of music and hasn’t produced any outstanding musicians since then.”

Now, I might sometimes be critical of Liverpool for living off the Beatles myth, but a man who is lauded as a pop guru casually writing off the Bunnymen, Wylie, Cope, OMD, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and the people who coagulated around Cream seems a little intemperate.

Hats off the Wales Online, by the way, for having a report which contradicts itself but doesn't seem in the least bothered:
Radio One DJ Bethan Elfyn said the region’s music scene centred on the city.

“It’s so exciting at the moment with loads of pubs and clubs putting on gigs,” said the Cardiff-born DJ.

“In the city there are four or five venues showcasing live music every night, all the way up to the Coal Exchange, and even the Millennium Stadium. The best thing is we have so many different types of music on offer.”
Carol White, a tutor at Grassroots City Centre Youth Project, which gives young bands and performers a chance to record and rehearse without spending a fortune, said she was not surprised at Cardiff’s position in the table.

But she said musicians were not given the opportunity to showcase their talents due to the closing down of many of the city’s venues.

She said: “Compared to Bristol, which has loads of great small venues that up-and-coming bands can play at, Cardiff has hardly any.

“We’ve already lost the Point, the Globe has been trying to soundproof so it’s not closed.

“Why can’t the local authorities help them out so we’ve got plenty of venues? The bands just don’t get any support.”

A city simultaneously packed with loads and loads of great venues, busy night after night, and suffering from a terrible shortage of venues. I'd imagine one of those would have to be right.