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‘We feel like ambassadors for the town – people like what we do because they keep coming back’

The independent promoters bringing the best new acts to Middlesbrough

Band tour posters always include a whistle-stop list of the country’s biggest towns and cities.

In recent years, local music promoters The Kids Are Solid Gold have done as much as anyone to make sure the word ‘Middlesbrough’ appears on those.

Friends Andy Carr and Phil Carey are the two people behind the labour of love.

“We’re Boro lads,” Phil says.
“To do what we do in Middlesbrough means a lot to us,” Andy adds.

After a spell working away from his hometown, Andy noticed on his return 13 years ago that he was no longer able to see the kind of acts he’d been enjoying in Newcastle.

As with many of the finest ideas ever born in Middlesbrough, it was over a pint in the Linthorpe Hotel on Roman Road where The Kids Are Solid Gold was conceived.

We are music - TKASG

We are music – TKASG

The first show was in March 2007 at the former Knights of St Columba social club on Southfield Road, but for the most part their home has been further along Southfield Road at the Westgarth Social Club, with the occasional foray into other venues.

While the two have their favourite shows, to casual observers it will be names like Billy Bragg and Edwyn Collins that jump out. They’ve also managed to bring bands like The Vaccines, Sorry and Glasvegas to Teesside just as they are capturing the zeitgeist of the national music scene.

Teesside’s homegrown music acts are also given masses of encouragement and chances to play to big and engaged audiences.

And one massive coup came in 2009 when they brought Mumford and Sons to the tiny room above what is now O’Connell’s on Bedford Street in Middlesbrough. The band went on to sell millions of albums and headline Glastonbury.

An annual festival, Twisterella, is a one-day event across numerous Middlesbrough venues organised in conjunction with fellow Teesside music promoter Henry Carden of Pay For The Piano.

Andy added: “One of the things we have always enjoyed is that the audience has always been brilliant – it’s a courteous audience and there’s an all-round warm welcome for everyone.

We are music - TKASG

We are music – TKASG

“I think we’ve developed a reputation for The Kids Are Solid Gold that people going to the gigs trust us and the bands trust us.

“We feel like ambassadors for the town ourselves and that the crowd are too. It’s a hobby for us. We feel as if we are making a positive contribution and we know people value it because they keep coming back. There are loads of friendships that have grown through it.”

Phil added: “The biggest moment for me was when Mumford and Sons headlined Glastonbury. They finished by playing With A Little Help From My Friends and were joined on stage by First Aid Kit, The Vaccines and others – everyone on that stage had played in Middlesbrough with us. I just thought that was incredible.”

We are words by Andrew Pain.
We are photos by Dave Charnley.

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