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“Commence the Indie Hour!”. On Thursday evenings at 7 o’clock, Andrew “Chuck” Sharp provides a celebration and education of all things Indie in an hour long show broadcast on 87.7 Bailrigg FM. Accompanied by his producer, Steve, they present a sophisticated and well-rounded experience that will not only satisfy the die hard Indie fans out there, but also those who may not be too familiar with the genre and wish to seek new horizons by exploring new and exciting sounds. And although I listen to some Indie music and I am familiar with the mainstream bands and artists, my knowledge of this genre doesn’t go much further than that, and so for me, this was almost like a crash course in Indie music and there is no better teacher than Chuck.
His passion, and more impressively his knowledge, of the genre is evident and this is something that he has developed and constructed from an early age. Like many of us, he became influenced by artists such as the late David Bowie and for him this was the start of what would be a life long love affair with, as he puts it, the more “aesthetically pleasing” genre of music. And the beauty of the show is that it gives listeners an opportunity and a platform to escape from the overpowering and obtrusive chart music that, at times, can seem to dictate what we listen to. It fights off the over saturated streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, and focuses solely on bringing new experiences to listeners and Chuck takes great joy and pleasure in having the opportunity to provide us with something that we may not otherwise have heard.
The music that we hear on the Indie Hour is fresh, current and, as already noted, new! They don’t play any of the cliche or predictable songs that one might expect with a show that dedicates itself to one specific genre. If we wanted the ‘Indie Greatest Hits’, we’d buy the album. And one thing that a good radio show should do is inspire listeners to go and research the artists that they have heard and add the songs to their personal collection. And as well as doing this, Chuck and Steve make it even easier for listeners thanks to their Twitter account, @bailriggindie, and the live tweets that they provide throughout the show. Although very few Bailrigg FM shows have this feature, it is refreshing to see and demonstrates their commitment and enthusiasm for spreading new music. And with over 4000 followers, it’s fair to say that it is rather popular among fans.
But as well as playing current music they also delve into the history books in a feature that they call ‘Guitar Hero’. Here, they give themselves and excuse to depart from the contemporary theme of the show and bring us what they believe to be some of the best guitar riffs of all time. This week they treated us to Alive by Pearl Jam, taken from their 1991 album, Ten. By purposely segregating this song from the rest of the playlist it demonstrates a sense of respect to the artist and encourages listeners to appreciate how alternative music has developed over the years and where the influences of today’s music came from. In addition to this, they brought us their ‘Remix of the Week’ in the form of the J-Hype remix of The Foo Fighters, Best Of You. This interpretation of the much loved song was new to me but it, again, opened my ears to the alternative way of experiencing music. And although the features are simple, they effectively give the listeners yet another reason to come back every week to hear more great music.
This is a show where the music does the talking. Nowadays, a common criticism of mainstream radio is that there is too much focus on the host of the show, rather than the actual music. But this show defies this trend and goes back to the roots of true radio broadcasting; playing the music that we want to hear, and reserving the talking so it acts as nothing more than an accompaniment to the music. When you are playing great music you don’t really need anything else! The simple fact is that ‘The Indie Hour’ is a really, really great show. It is a show that intrigues and informs; it opens your mind to new music and it features artists and songs that will get your eardrums dancing, infecting you with the desire to explore and continue to discover the ever evolving genre that is Indie.