Review of Talentbanq in London Hollywood

Posted on January 30th, 2018 by James Gamble

TalentBanq: the new home of live music takes wing

Former Editor of Time Out Magazine Dominic Wells reviews the launch of #TALENTBANQ

Coffeepot Drive Soundbanq

Who says the devil has all the best tunes? Coffeepot Drive rock the launch of TalentBanq at 229 The Venue. Photo by Brown Eyed Girl

What a night! This week saw the launch of a new live music company devoted to, as CEO Ray Jones enthusiastically put it from the stage, “discovering, nurturing, promoting and paying new and unsigned talent”. The company is called TalentBanq, and they have 50 artists on their roster already.

Some of the best were showcased at 229 The Venue in central London, and they ranged from excellent to ridiculously good. Definitely in the latter camp is Liverpudlian solo artist Joe Slater, whom I wrote about in December. The Oasis-tinged tunes were as mighty as the first time I saw him, and this time I could concentrate more on the lyrics. “Singing for my sorrow, drinking for my pain/ Close the blinds in sunshine, walk around in the rain” was one couplet from Slow Down I scribbled in my notes.

Joe Slaetr Talentbanq

Joe Slater at TalentBanq: destined for stardom. Photo by PJ Photography

With his raspy voice, perfect pitch and soulful delivery, Slater is unquestionably destined for stardom, though he fared a little less well in the second half of the night, when we were ushered from an intimate venue into a much larger space. He was still magnificent, but a portion of the audience wouldn’t know it – those at the back kept talking through the performance, and Joe hasn’t yet developed the stage presence to get them to shut the f*** up. Would acquiring two more musicians help him transition to the larger venues he’ll soon command?

Another favourite from the December gig closed the night: Coffeepot Drive, still with their guitarists’ angel wings – one pair black, one pair white – and again getting the whole audience moving. When the keyboards were foregrounded they sounded a little like Deep Purple – if Deep Purple had a frontwoman with a gospel-powered voice, afro hair and knee-high boots, and swung as much to funk as to rock. You can imagine them wowing every festival in the UK come summer.

Some other shout-outs: Hollie Rogers has an unusually low-pitched and warm voice, giving real depth and emotion to her songs. I also bloody loved Anavae, a three-piece that had no problem filling the huge space. Their intro was pure showmanship: the lights came up on three drummers, one seated at a kit, the other two – a man and an elfin woman – standing bashing at drums to make a wall of sound like those Japanese drummer monks. After a minute or so, the two broke off into their natural roles – her singing, him at the guitar – but by then the spell was cast: the audience were hooked.

I’d struggle to describe or define their sound, which means it’s original enough not to be easily pigeonholed into a genre. But let’s try this: If Björk were to do heavy rock, it might sound a bit like this. The guitarist/singer duo, Jamie Finch and Rebecca Need-Menear, have been making music since 2011, and their experience shows. But whoever the drummer is they had with them on the night, he’s great – and I speak as the father of a talented drummer. I’d happily go see again.

Ray Jones Talentbanq

Ray Jones, CEO of TalentBanq. Photo by PJ Photography

All in all, if this selection is indicative of the quality of artists on the TalentBanq roster, they’ll soon be supplying original live talent to every conceivable venue from pubs and coffee shops through corporate gigs to massive festivals. The talent behind the scenes is impressive, too. As well as CEO Ray Jones, who brings a surprising energy to the role of compere – like David Rodigan, he looks like an accountant, but can get a vast room hanging on every word – the chief investor is Lord Mervyn Davies, Chairman of the Royal Academy of Arts Board of Trustees and also of Corsair Capital. He joked: “I love fine food, fine wine, and great music, and I invest in all three – luckily two of those make money.”

TalentBanq’s Chairman is Pablo Ettinger, one of the founders of Caffè Nero and the man responsible for its promotion of live music. And TalentBanq’s Creative Director is the irrepressible Laura Westcott, a classically trained singer with a great ear for talent of whom I’ve previously written when she launched Soundcheque and then Music for Mental Wealth. She’s achieved amazing things since leaving The Times (where I have recently gone back to work), especially given her unusual handicap: she cannot recognise certain common words, namely “can’t”, “no”, and “impossible”.  ?

Read the original post on London Hollywood here

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Talentbanq showcase with ReverbNation – February 27

Posted on January 28th, 2018 by James Gamble
TALENTBANQ are partnering with ReverbNation for their next Discover showcase series in London.
When: Tuesday 27th February from 7pm
Where: Camden Assembly 49 Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AN
We have a fantastic line-up :- Coffeepot DriveNuala and L u c a
RSVP for FREE entry:





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Posted on January 25th, 2018 by James Gamble

Joe, Joe, Joe.


Where do I start with this twenty-one-year-old Scouse?


Self-proclaimed “rascal from Liverpool”, he gives no freakin’ friggs from the North West of England. The “giver of peace, love, harmony and egg chow mein” – says it all, really.


Not really arsed about his Waterloo Road acting history, he states he’s a musician through and through. ‘Tis to be expected when you’re a self-taught musician of six instruments.


So, it’s clear he has quite the plethora of talent. I asked him what his favourite instrument was, he said the “harmonica” …???? … I didn’t quite know if he was taking the piss or actually really loved it. Either way, he also loves playing the drums; paying homage to the Phil Collins’ Cadbury’s advert.


I queried his nomadic lifestyle, which is split between the Pool of Liver and Don of Lon. He seemed to shrug it off, “I’m a traveller, a musician. The train journey’s shit but apart from that it’s all good, I like it”. Well that’s ruddy good then, isn’t it? ‘Cos he’s pinging his rock n roll to all corners of the UK, from Glasgow to Chesham.


After asking the age-old question of his influences, he said doesn’t know why he plays music…He just does it because it feels good. It’s a natural thing to do – it’s instinct – anything and everything can inspire him, even “the carpet on the floor”. Time stops and everything happens without even thinking about it. He doesn’t find inspiration, it finds him. DEEP. But, if he did have to choose, he draws “subconscious” inspo from the likes of David Gray, Beatles, Oasis and Pink Floyd.


When I enquired about his deep song-writing-ness, referring to his 2016 record, Floatin’, he said “listen here, I’m fuckin’ crazy…Fuckin’ a bit eccentric’’. He’s trying to find the fine line between craziness and creativity, where if you’re on the line and don’t go over the edge, you’ll find it’s genius. We’re all a bit ‘effed up in our own ways, he says, “you need to mangle your mind and then get it all back together”. After some more chat, he proceeded to invite me to play the trombone on his next track ‘Mangle of the Mind’. How could I refuse?


Anyway, apparently, he can’t stand Floatin’ anymore, ‘cos he finds it boring – he was still finding his identity and voice. I beg to differ, but you can make your own mind up, listen here. Joe says in 2018 his music is more mature [insert: cheddar], he’s found his lil corner of melody, which is a world away from the top 50 trap music saturating the charts. A salmon swimming upstream, some may say.


FYI, Joe’s got about three album’s worth of songs to catapult at you.

Ok, so, where can you hear him play next and endure some top-quality banter? Where can you see this rockstar-in-the-making play live?

TALENTBANQ is promoting Joe’s Shoreditch Showcase on the 20th. GET YOURSELVES THERE.

Keep your eyes peeled, please, ‘cos the venue is TBA.

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