Tag Archives: Live Music

Cousin Avi

There’s generally an accepted order of things in the music industry: make it big and you can pretty much do whatever you want.  This doesn’t just extend to getting your pet monkey seized by German airport security, throwing on-stage tantrums, publicly urinating in buckets and leaving your drugs out when police are investigating you for an egging-offence, because that alone would, well, make you a bit of a d*ck.  Once you’ve amassed an acceptable following and paid your dues to the industry you are then permitted to try your hand at other musical pursuits; Christina Aquilera tried the 1920’s for a while and that kind of worked… while the Beatles departed on a long and divaricating road, releasing tracks like Within You Without You and Yellow Submarine.  Seldom however, in fact never in my own experience, do you come across such fearless abandon in a new or unsigned act.

When I first listened to Cousin Avi a few months ago during my weekly A&R trawl I had them down as ska/reggae outfit – I defy you to listen to ‘Don’t Be Shy’ and not be as hasty, don’t judge me.   Rife with palm muting and vocal-harmony, it’s almost UB40 patting One-Direction’s ‘You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful’ on the head and pushing it to one side like, “you tried, kid”.

Cousin Avi-Don’t Be Shy

I know now better.  Cousin Avi are not a ska/reggae band; I’m not even sure they’re a band, singular.  A couple of clicks through their YouTube channel and you’re met with an old school rock band, a blues ensemble, an introspective acoustic act, a ska/reggae group and even some funk (please note this list is dubiously exhaustive).  Objectively this does sound like a novice genre-hunt, an act searching for a home, but the incredible thing about this band is that they have multiple musical-citizenship.  Cousin Avi aren’t trying their hand at new musical pursuits, they’re simply trying to get you to listen to their new song.

Owning this genre-fluidity, the band say they pride themselves on writing songs that appeal to virtually everyone.  While this might reek of conformity and commercialism in other acts, Cousin Avi aren’t dancing for public favour, they know full well you’re going to like what you hear.  They also know you’ll know it’s them you’re liking, keeping up an irrefutable signature that transcends their versatility.  Whether it’s Hemming’s masterfully seductive guitar, Iannuzzi’s impressively skillful swagger on vocals or just the fact that the music is relentlessly cool, you might be clueless as to their next move but you’re left in no doubt who’s making it.

Cousin Avi-Sexy Bitch

With 3 EPs, 2 albums, tours spanning Europe and South America, and countless UK appearances already filling out their CV, Cousin Avi look to be gaining unstoppable momentum as more and more people fall in love with their unique style.  I’ve seen the word “infectious” spread all over their media coverage like, well, a rash…  Being of stubborn resolution, I refuse to conform no matter how acute an observation this is.  I now submit “irresistible”.  It’s less clinical and more sensual – a concept befitting an act making music that speaks to your heart rather than just your tympanic membrane.


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Featured Photo Credit: Alex Rawson Photography




We featured Ryan Lawler way back in October just ahead of his performance at the first STX Presents live event, pitching him as a singer full of promise and potential.  His laid-back musicality and that remarkably dexterous husky voice, only hinted at by a couple of YouTube covers, were enough to assure us of a chap already on his way to bigger stages and better recognition.

We don’t like to brag here at STX but we’re always right.  Always.  Over the last few months Lawler has grown in leaps and bounds (and facial hair) to become a fully formed artist.  He’s been uploading, networking and gigging like a mad man and has attracted the attention and affection of the countless.  Now he’s ready to share his first original track and allowed us the privilege of doing so first, but not before we had a little chat…

In a tucked-away rehearsal studios in Sheffield, Lawler performed for STX two tracks: a cover of Ed Sheeran’s beautiful ‘Parting Glass’ and a live acoustic version of his debut original track, “Here Comes The Rain”.  We were not disappointed.  Not one drop.


 The artwork for the track was designed and created by the man himself.  Cool, no?
Click it to watch the track performed live.


Click here to watch Lawler perform a stunning cover of
Ed Sheeran’s ‘Parting Glass’


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STX asks some of the brightest underrated talents to meet us in the venue they feel has been the most supportive and influential to them as an unsigned artist

I never wanted to be a booker.  I boast no inside-track on the hottest venues, nor can I woo event managers into throwing headline slots my way at whim.  Until I made the decision to sign an artist to a management deal this short-coming was never more than a small blemish on an otherwise majestically pristine exterior; an ash smudge on the cheek of a firey A&R goddess…  Now it’s taken on a little more the form of a missing body part; not something as fundamental as a leg or anything, but perhaps a toe – a big toe.  As with most things in life, however, practice makes progress and the more venues I hobble through the steadier I do become.  I’ve found a little unabashed persistence and creativity helps in getting the keys to the stage, but what’s worth having that doesn’t take a little graft?  Even at this early stage I have found something to be glaringly obvious, however, and that is that I’m often not as out of depth as I fear.  As I fake my way into the line-ups, all too many venues are faking their way into the sector itself.

Live music is the bread-winner of today’s music industry and bakeries are on the rise.  Whether it’s sticking a portable karaoke machine next to the bar every third Thursday or boasting the most well-trodden stage on the strip, more bars, pubs and clubs are adding live music to the bill.  This is excellent news for the unsigned artist: more stages, more audiences, more exposure, mo’ better, yes?  Largely yes, this stands to reason, but more is always not always better…  Are we talking a few indiscriminate rolls sold by the till on the way out or are we talking rows of floury dough, that slicer-machine and the whole hairnet operation to boot?  If it’s just to perk up a slow night and grab in a few extra bodies then that’s fine, let’s call it that; artists would know what to expect and in turn what was expected of them, but if you’re going to sell yourself as the real deal you do have to at least have a appreciation of live music, an interest at minimum.

I have been to some venues that entirely define themselves as a “live music venue” yet appear to be more concerned with getting the bands in and out as quickly as possible so DJ Scotty can spin his ropey 80’s tunes on time.  Some boasting to be the best event hosters have asked on the night if anyone really cares about having a sound-check, playing in line-up order, or actually playing at all when it comes to it.  One venue promised in-house promotion in the lead-up, a fully competent sound technician for the night and just general interest and enthusiasm.  I had to fight tooth and nail to get the event poster put up even as late as the day before, and when we arrived on the night we were met by one lackadaisical bored gentleman who disappeared for almost the full set-up time and then finally jabbed at a few dials after much berating on my part and even that of the artists.

Live musicians aren’t asking to be babied.  Nobody is suggesting a cuddle on arrival and a cookie after set, but my third party viewpoint has seen musicians often viewed as almost an inconvenience by those actually booking them to play.  Yes they should be grateful for a stage on which to perform, of course, but let’s not use that in a ‘take it and shut up’ capacity.  It takes hard work, persistence and a great deal of personal confidence to secure and perform a live gig so it’s up to the venues to cough up some support if that’s what they claim to be offering.

The venues that do nurture the artists they book, whether it be through promotion, backstage support, or even just a friendly face on arrival, are those that will reap in the real talent and the rewards of being a genuine live music venue.   Thankfully these are in rather decent supply here in Britain, and we at STX are looking to recognise the important role that they play in the development of our unsigned music scene.  We ask some of the brightest underrated talents in the industry to meet us in the venue that they feel has been the most supportive and influential to them personally as an unsigned artist, and to share a couple of their tracks with us from their favourite stage. 

Where better to find the best live music venues than from the artists who actually play them?  Whether you’re looking to listen, play, or both, STX wants you to be as sure of a venue as you are of the artist.

Look out for the first exclusive feature in a few weeks.
An interested artist/venue? Email apply_stoppedintrax@yahoo.co.uk


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