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Stephen Pennell ©

As an avid listener to the Brum Radio A-list, I can safely say that no-one has introduced me to more new local music than Pete Steel, the Digbeth-based station’s Head of Music and more often than not, the presenter of the show.

The A-list is painstakingly put together from God knows how many submissions of new music sent in by artists to Brum Radio every week - enough for a high-quality, hour-long compilation of the best of it, broadcast live from their Allison Street HQ on Saturdays at 2pm.

The station also curates a round-the-clock selection from their vast library of West Midlands music, including sixty minutes of stone-cold classics broadcast every weekday at 10am under the title Birmingham Calling.

All this puts Pete in an ideal position to head up a record label, and that’s exactly what he’s done by founding Catch The Buzz Records, the name an affectionate play on the local accent, the mission to promote local music.

“Birmingham and the West Midlands has a rich, diverse music culture that has produced world famous acts and yet has been fractured at grassroots level for decades” says Pete. “Catch the Buzz aims to pull the music and creative industries together and put the region back on the musical heritage map along with its equals in New York, Berlin, Nashville, New Orleans, Liverpool, Havana and Kingston.”

Catch The Buzz have set out their manifesto on how they plan to do this:

▪ Install pride – show people you don’t need a London postcode to succeed

▪ Collaboration – where possible, using creatives from around Brum and the West Midlands and build our community

▪ Nurture talent – if we are a stepping stone to bigger and better things – so be it.

▪ Creativity – we need to capture the imagination of our audience to stand out

▪ Embrace multiculturalism and diversity of genre – we aren’t just “an indie label” or “a rock label”, there’s so much great, different stuff out there – we want to the world to hear all of it.

▪ Dedication and enthusiasm – we only sign artists we believe in. This isn’t a numbers game – this is about QUALITY.

Founder Pete sums it all up thus:

“After years of studying, performing, broadcasting, promoting and buying music, I decided it was finally time to put what I know into something positive. The perception of Birmingham is we’re a bit self-deprecating and we don’t embrace our culture. Does this make us unique? Maybe. But, should that be a thing? Who does that benefit?

“A city of a million people should be supporting its culture - surely this can help it prosper? We can bring more people to the city, creating opportunities and put Birmingham back in the hearts and minds of people who appreciate good music. ALL ABOARD.”

In his Nightingales documentary King Rocker, Stewart Lee bemoaned the theory that “Birmingham seems to have a great history of rejecting it's culture".

But according to Pete and Catch The Buzz Records: “Not any more”.

R. John Webb

Check out Dandy The Vandal from the forthcoming R. John Webb album, the first release and a worthy curtain-raiser for Catch The Buzz Records.

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