LIMF’s series of commissions, taking place in various venues across Liverpool between 20th and 24th July, celebrate artists, music and projects that have and still are redefining music in the city, while having a wider cultural impact. Whether it is through acts that redefine the global musical zeitgeist or the city’s continual rebirth in maintaining a vibrant and vivacious music culture, the lens of ‘re-definition’ seems an appropriate one through which to take a look at Liverpool’s musical tradition. This year’s LIMF Presents series bring us seven projects that do just that.
“We are celebrating the fact that our city loves music – whether it’s diverse, cultural, new or well-known,” says Yaw Owusu, curator of LIMF’s music programme, which also encompasses a series of events that go beyond performance to bring some of the city’s hidden stories to life. “With a calendar full of outdoor concerts, club nights, intimate showcases and exclusive after-shows, we are authentically spanning the true breadth of musical genres and cultures. This is what makes LIMF inherently different from any other festival: we’re reflecting this city’s true and ever-changing musical DNA.”
National treasure GILLES PETERSON curates and presents the opening event of the series, entitled From The Soul. Taking place at the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room on Thursday 21st July, the event explores the genre-defining sounds of British soul music over the past 30 years, and where Liverpool fits in to that story. The evening features a special, one-time house band collaborating with key artists from across the British soul spectrum, such as INCOGNITO, OMAR, CARLEEN ANDERSON and Merseyside-educated ADY SULEIMAN. The after-party features Peterson himself playing selections from his world-renowned record collection, exploring three decades of soul alongside sets from SWINDLE and THRIS TIAN (Boiler Room/NTS).
The following evening, the ROYAL LIVERPOOL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA return to Sefton Park to open up LIMF’s flagship Summer Jam live shows with a classical tribute to the Liverpool-born songs that have resonated the world over and irreversibly redefined pop culture in doing so. The Music City: Reimagined performance takes place on the Central Stage and will feature Liverpool’s pre-eminent classical outfit’s orchestral re-imaginations of songs from Cilla Black, The Beatles, The Real Thing and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Sandra Parr, Liverpool Philharmonic’s Artistic Planning Director, says: “We’ve been proud to perform at LIMF every year since it began and it’s been fantastic to see how quickly it’s grown in scale, ambition and profile.”
Friday night also sees the culmination of the unique House Nation project at Sefton Park Palm House. LIMF have travelled to three international music cities under the direction of Liverpool producer and DJ YOUSEF, who has immersed himself in those scenes to return home and make four records influenced by the sound of those cities as well as his hometown of Liverpool. As well as being a seasoned DJ and producer, Yousef owns a label and is host of the world-renowned Liverpool club night, Circus. The line-up features international house music trailblazers DENNIS FERRER (Objektivity, NYC), REBOOT (Noon Artists), HECTOR (Vatos Locos) and LEWIS BOARDMAN. Speaking about what we can expect of the event, Yousef reveals that he and the four musicians have “collaborated in the studio and behind the decks to produce music, looking ahead for an unmissable event. It’s been an honour to be asked to represent Liverpool and to connect our city’s new UNESCO Music City status with other musically significant cities around the world. We are coming together to explore each of our city’s musical histories.”
Spanning four decades which saw the city spawn scenes that consistently incubated absurdly important musical movements after The Beatles, 76-16 From Eric’s To Evol: The Story Of Punk And The Counterculture explores these epochs through the figures who played a central role. An expert panel convening at District on 20th July will be taking a look at the culturally and socially redefining impact of punk music and counterculture since punk’s rebellious and confrontational arrival forty years ago. Whether it is music, fashion, inspirational individuals, key venues, or a combination of all of the above, the panel – consisting of musician and journalist JOHN ROBB, journalist PAUL DU NOYER, Liverpool punk and new wave artist JAYNE CASEY, PETE WYLIE of Wah!, PAULINE MURRAY of Penetration, and our own CRAIG G PENNINGTON – will ask what drives counterculture movements. Part two of this commission brings us a live representation of this underlying ethos, featuring performances from bands who have spanned these various scenes. The line-up of BUZZCOCKS, CLINIC, POLTERGEIST, FERAL LOVE, VEYU and ORGAN FREEMAN tells the inter-generational story of the city’s underground music scene and how it has continuously evolved and redefined itself over the past 40 years, keeping alive the ‘punk-indie’ attitude that has been influential to the swathe of cultural movements it has birthed.
“Liverpool has always had a small but very important underground music scene,” says the Eric’s To Evol music director, Marc Jones. “In 1976, Eric’s opened its doors and punk exploded into life. In many ways, Eric’s has been as influential to Liverpool as both The Cavern and Cream have been, and out of this scene came a set of Liverpool bands that went on to dominate the 80s. It’s a great tradition that has been continued to this day.”
Fifty years ago, before the advent of punk, Millie Small’s My Boy Lollipop reached number 1 in the UK charts and introduced reggae to the British mainstream. UK settlers went on to bring their own unique brand of reggae and reshape the global image of the genre. Between Lover’s Rock, roots reggae and vocal reggae, the sound left a considerable imprint on the music scene. The LIMF Presents commission Roots, Rock, Reggae sees award-winning BBC Radio DJ and Grammy-nominated reggae producer SEANI B curates a collaboration between British reggae artists who have helped to shape the history of the genre. “Reggae has brought many amazing moments to the music scene in the UK, and continues to do so,” states Seani B. “I’m pleased that some of my talented illustrious friends will be joining me in Liverpool – from the son of an icon, CHRISTOPHER ELLIS; the queen of Lovers Rock, CAROLL THOMPSON; to a man who has helped push the sound of reggae to bands such as Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz, SWEETIE IRIE; and the sound of the new generation, KIKO BUN.”
Following on from last year’s brilliant discussion and live event Next Stop New York, event promoters Mellowtone bring us a uniquely created live performance featuring contemporary singers and musicians reimagining works of forgotten Merseybeat pioneers. Working with a range of Liverpool artists, both established and emerging, Yes Indeed! will reinterpret and reimagine the works of black Merseybeat poets, unearthing and celebrating their legacy. This cross-generational collaboration is led by the soul band THE EQUATION and features performances from XAMVOLO, MERSEY WYLIE, LEVI TAFARI, EDGAR SUMMERTYME, AMIQUE, MIC LOWRY and ESCO WILLIAMS. Immerse yourself in Liverpool’s untold musical past, challenged through the soul-influenced artists of the present at the ItsLiverpool Stage at Sefton Park on Saturday 23rd July.
The LIMF Presents 2016 series offers a varied, in-depth programme of events that reanimate various aspects of Liverpool’s rich musical heritage, proving that there’s even more to the festival than its Summer Jam bill. Make sure you take the opportunity to experience some of what is on offer.
Head to bidolito.co.uk to listen to our special-edition LIMF podcast, featuring music from artists on the bill and interviews with the festival organisers. This will also be part of the LIMF Radio coverage, on 87.7FM and limfradio.co.uk.