NEWS: @velvetcoalminer announce @Intothearkmusic @thevoiceuk as headliners for #Blackwood festival

Today (30 June) Velvet Coalmine, the Blackwood festival of writing, rock & roll and coal, announce The Voice UK finalists, Into the Ark as headliners for the event taking place 7-16 September 2017.

Velvet Coalmine is now in its fourth year, bringing the best in arts, literature and music to Blackwood to inspire the community and raise the profile of the area. Into the Ark, Taylor Jones (21) and Dane Lloyd (25), originally from Blackwood, will perform alongside Mynyddislwyn Male Voice Choir at the Methodist Church on Friday 8 September.L-R, Taylor Jones and Dane Lloyd of Into the Ark

Joining the band on the Velvet Coalmine line-up are UK’s leading spoken word performers, Tongue Fu, Double Olympic Taekwondo Champion and Wales Sports Personality of the Year, Jade Jones MBE, The One Show’s science presenter, Marty Jopson, and comedian, Mike Wozniak.

With literature at the heart of the festival, there will be appearances from Young People’s Laureate Wales, Sophie McKeand and National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn. While a new playwriting and one-act play competition allows theatre groups and aspiring writers to embrace the event.

Africa Writes, the annual celebration of African contemporary literature in London will bring poetry performances, workshops for teachers, book club discussions and creative writing sessions as part of their tour of Africa and the UK. This will be their first ever visit to Wales.

Plus, the Children’s Literature Festival will return for a second year, created by Velvet Coalmine with backing from Blackwood Town Council to inspire, stimulate and engage school children through creative workshops with some of the best writers in Wales.

Blackwood, nestled in the heart of the valleys, is one of the most deprived towns in the UK with a higher than the national average level of young people leaving school with either no qualifications or GCSE at grade D (31.4% vs. 25.9%). Velvet Coalmine aims to tackle the issues the community faces, by educating and inspiring the young people who live there.

Iain Richards, founder of Velvet Coalmine, said: “We want to give everyone in Blackwood an opportunity to engage with the arts, from children through our school workshops right through to the parents with our evening events. With the help of a five-year sponsorship from Blackwood Town Council, we have worked hard to make this year’s line-up truly international, inspirational and aspirational.”

Into the Ark wowed audiences on The Voice UK earlier this year gaining UK wide recognition and a place on tour with their mentor, Tom Jones this summer.

Taylor from Into the Ark said: “There was nothing like Velvet Coalmine when we were growing up in Blackwood. It is definitely something that has been missing so we are delighted to be involved. We can’t wait to play at the festival surrounded by people who have supported us throughout our music career.”

 Tickets for all Velvet Coalmine events go on sale today apart from Into the Ark which go on sale on Friday 7 July at 9am and Jade Jones on Tuesday 1 August at 9am.

Velvet Coalmine takes place from 7 to 16 September in multiple venues across Blackwood. For the full festival programme and to get your tickets, visit:



NEWS: The search is on for Welsh amateur playwrights @velvetcoalminer #Blackwood #VelvetGoldmineArts

Iain Richards, founder of Velvet Coalmine

Velvet Coalmine, a music, literature and arts festival now in its fourth year, takes place between 7 – 16 September 2017 in Blackwood. As part of this year’s festival it has teamed up with Blackwood Little Theatre to find the newest and boldest playwrights from across Wales to write a one act play which will be read and appraised by four experienced and published authors.

The festival of writing, rock & roll and coal started in 2014 and since then has been instrumental in raising the profile of the area and the aspirations of local children and families. This competition will go that one step further, giving amateur writers the leg up they need.

Neil Maidman from the Blackwood Little Theatre, said: “It doesn’t matter if you haven’t had anything published, acted out or written anything before. This competition is all about finding new and raw talent that we can help get onto a bigger stage.”

Iain Richards, founder of Velvet Coalmine, added: “Since we started the festival we have had one aim – to empower local children to be whoever they want to be and do whatever they want to do. We hope that by launching this play writing competition and showcasing local talent to a wider audience, someone’s talent will get recognised amongst experts in their field.”

Here’s what you need to know to enter:

·       You should submit a one act play for at least two performers. It cannot be a monologue

·       The duration of the play should be around 40 – 50 minutes

·       The play should not have been previously published

·       Entries will only be accepted by authors over 18

·       Equal consideration will be given to English and Welsh language entries.

·       There is a prize of £250 for the winner and £100 for the runner up.

·       Winning play will have a script in hand public reading at Velvet Coalmine.

·      Entries should be e-mailed to by midnight on the 31stJuly 2017

The winners will be announced on Friday 15 September at the festival. The full line up of acts will be announced on the 30 June along with ticket sales to the festival. For further information and criteria for entry go to



Chris Malinchak – So Good To Me
Gorgeous minimal house track destined to be an Ibiza anthem this summer.

Demi Lovato – Heart Attack

Brand new single from US X Factor judge Demi Lovato.

Afrojack ft. Chris Brown – As Your Friend
Slated for an early June release in the UK, Afrojack’s new single will no doubt be a summer hit.

Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky (Coachella teaser)
Preview of Daft Punk’s new track via video at the Californian event Coachella.

Dido – End of Night
Second official single from Dido’s new album sees her take a different direction.

Jessie Ware – Imagine It Was Us
Stunning new single from Jessie Ware, produced by Julio Bashmore.

AlunaGeorge – Your Love, Your Drums (Duke Dumont Remix)
Single from emerging Brit duo remixed by the DJ currently at the top of the UK charts.

Avicii vs. Lana Del Rey – Dancing In The Water
Unclear how legit this track is, but it appeared online last week.

A*M*E ft. Righteous Mic – Find A Boy
This track is actually over a year old, but was sorely overlooked due to A*M*E being unknown. Fans of Need U (100%) should enjoy this. ft. Justin Bieber – #thatPOWER
Love of hate these artists, has once again provided a ridiculously catchy club track sure to send him to the upper regions of the chart again.

REVIEW: @AvrilLavigne Here’s to never growing up

Avril Lavigne returns with a piece of pure indie pop.

She’s is set to return this summer with a new single, “Here’s To Never Growing Up,” due for release on 2nd June and co-written with fiancé Chad Kroeger. “Here’s To Never Growing Up” personifies the party-like atmosphere that existed in the studio during the recording of Avril’s 5th studio album.

Ignore the fact it’s co-written by the bloke from Nickelback, it’s actually quite good. And even now after one full exposure to the entire song, I can remember the hook. That’s either a good sign, or not – I mean, how quickly it veers into the listener’s ear and how quickly will people get fed up of it.

Listening, you can hear elements of the likes of Fun, Pink, Ke$ha and Rita Ora. That’s not a criticism, and it’s probably what will make this song one of the big tunes of Summer 2013, perfectly timed for all those end of school year parties.

The video is something quite smart too. You may remember recently being asked to submit yourself via an app, singing along to the song – that’s what the video is. It takes the concept of the single shot youtube karaoke video and utilizes it quite brilliantly – although not as good as Feeder’s Just a Day video – that was special!

It will be one of the bigger songs of the Summer. It’s already been released in the US and some of Europe, but in the UK we won’t get it officially until 2nd June. So in the meantime you’ll have to cope with just the video

Top artists and songs from the world of the jukebox in 2012

Oasis were the artist most played on jukeboxes in 2012, according to Soundnet – which is the UK’s most successful jukebox service.

Soundnet have released new chart data that shares the most played artists, songs and the most chosen search categories – which unsurprisingly sees Chart & New Releases right at the top.

Soundnet have even shared their predictions for 2013, saying that they think Biffy Clyro and Azealia Banks will be top choices this year, along with Lady Gaga, Tom Odell and Bon Jovi: World Tour.


1. Oasis
2. Rihanna
3. Flo Rida
4. Elvis Presley
5. Beatles
6. Ed Sheeran
7. Nicki Minaj
8. AC/DC
9. Carly Rae Jepsen
10. David Guetta feat. Sia
1. ‘Call Me Maybe’ – Carly Rae Jepsen
2. ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ – Goyte
3. ‘Titanium’ – David Guetta feat. Sia
4. ‘Starships’ – Nicki Minaj
5. ‘Whistle’ – Flo Rida
6. ‘We Are Young’ – Fun
7. ‘Wild Ones’ – Flo Rida feat. Sia
8. ‘Gangnam Style’ – PSY
9. ‘Feel The Love’ – Rudimental feat. John Newman
10. ‘Next To Me’ – Emeli Sande
1. Chart & New Releases
2. Album Of The Month
3. Juke Classics
4. Rock
5. 70s
6. 80s
7. Indie
8. 60s
9. 90s
10. Battle Of The Bands
‘The Gambler’ – Kenny Rogers
‘Sweet Child O Mine’ – Guns N Roses
‘Wonderwall’ – Oasis
‘Fast Car’ – Tracy Chapman
‘Hotel California’ – The Eagles

REVIEW: Noelia – My Everything

On hearing this for the first time, you forget it’s produced by Timbaland and think “it’s sounding a bit like JLo in On the floor” You half expect to hear Pitbull with a vocal rapping bridge section.

That withstanding,  her voice is flawless – albeit autotuned, my big gripe over the past 2 years. Her image is definitely there to match or better the likes of J-Lo or Shakira Shakira.

To give you some background knowledge… here’s her bio;

Noelia was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and raised in Miami, Florida. She rose to fame in 1999. Her eponymous debut album was certified Gold in the United States. During her career she has had 10 Latin Billboard Top 40 hits, and has 18 worldwide gold & 9 worldwide multi-platinum certified albums, along with one RIAA-certified Gold (500,000) record in the United States.

Noelia has now sold more than 4.5 million Albums worldwide, won multiple awards and has also won Latin Billboard’s Award Album of the Year. She has crossed borders to Europe to be acknowledged as the “International Singer of the Year” in Italy, at the prestigious Festival Bar.

She’s no Michelle Macmanus then**

Whether or not her sound breaks the UK scene which seems to be a bit flooded at the moment with female solo singers/rappers, is yet to be seen. For every Carly Rae Jepson, there’s a dozen or so Carrie Underwood’s – okay granted this isn’t the best comparison I could’ve used – but you get my meaning.

Her fanbase is huge, and that’ll help break the UK scene… but as for commercial success – only time will tell.

‘My Everything’, her brand new single produced by US legend Timbaland, is a pop dance smash set to light up this summer’s dance floors across the globe. With remixes from some of the UK’s hottest producers including Soulshaker, Galea & Cenko and K Warren UKG, Noelia will be based in Europe throughout the summer to support this release & to tour as her popularity grows this side of the water.

The video for ‘My Everything’ has recently been filmed in Miami Beach and will be released soon.

Noelia has a new album ‘Mind Blown’, produced by Timbaland, due for release later in the year.

** Although Michelle Macmanus did have a number one UK single……

REVIEW & SETLIST: @officialcapital Summertime Ball 2012 #capitalstb @cherylcole @edsheeran @jessiej

Back in the day, radio stations used to have roadshows for where the stars of the day could come out and promote their latest single and sing to a backing track. That kind of ended in the 90’s when Radio 1’s fabled Summer roadshow tour ceased to be. At the same time, Capital Radio in London were holding  Party in the Park. Moving to the present, PITP has long gone, and taking an idea from Z100’s Jingle Ball – have now evolved into a big mini festival of pop. Yes, there is also T4 on the Beach, but in terms of artist quality, this year’s Summertime Ball pulled a few biggies out of the bag.

In the order they were on;

Should’ve and could’ve headlined quite easily – except they had their own gig in the Etihad in Manchester  – Damn you Chris Martin! Seen them in December at the MEN Arena, just wished they could’ve done more than the 5 tracks they did (9/10 – Should’ve been 10 if it was longer)

Kelly Clarkson
She’s been at the STB previously, and loved her line thanking Coldplay for “being my warmup”.  (7/10)

Flo Rida
Didn’t expect much at the start, how wrong I was. Had the Wembley crowd in the palm of his hand – especially when he took his shirt off. Proper showman – 8/10

The fourth time of me seeing Elliot Gleave, and every time it’s a treat. Didn’t disappoint with Changed the way you kiss me, Stay awake or Kickstarts. Although I’d have loved to have heard the new single We’ll be coming back, produced by Calvin Harris – 9/10

Another “don’t really expect much set”. Again, I was wrong. You forget how many collaborations he’s  be part of. Faultless – 8/10

Cover Drive
Part of the breakers  section. One song, Twlight, and that was it – went down a storm with the  crowd – majority obviously the core demographic for Capital’s radio stations – Female’s 15-24, for me though, 6/10 – Audio levels were all over the place

Conor Maynard
Another “breaker” and the UK’s equivalent of Justin Bieber, with god knows how many views on Youtube, so many thousand followers on Twitter, and probably millions of little hearts breaking when he announces he’s got a girlfriend (he hasn’t I’m just making a point…possibly) Catchy song 7/10

Lawson (band)
Final part of the breakers section. I’ve seen them previously supporting the Wanted earlier this year, just the one song – When you were mine. Good 8/10

Initial sound problems with his mic seem to be overcome, although he was better just singing. Burn was outstanding 8/10

Rita Ora
Two songs from the new queen of UK D&B. Loads of energy 8/10

Dizzee Rascal (Surprise Act)
Seeing Dizzy was awesome. New single “The Power” is going to be massive 8/10

Cheryl (Surprise Act)
Another surprise act – Didn’t disappoint 8/10

The Wanted
Third time I’ve seen the boys in the past 12 months – again, a faultess performance. 9/10

Jessie J joined on stage by Rizzle Kicks for Price Tag
Missed out seeing Jessie on her UK tour at the back end of 2011, but had heard there were tuning issues (she was flat – that’s my friend the music teacher with that nugget for the review). Couldn’t hear any problems with her voice. All the “licks” were fine, and her performance of “Who you are” was spine tingling. 9/10

Ed Sheeran
It just goes to prove you don’t need any fancy stage show. Just a guitar, loop pedal, and one of the best male singer songwriters  the UK has produced in many years. 10/10

Justin Bieber with special guest Carly Rae Jepsen
Hmmmm, Justin. What can I write about Justin. We’ll for the majority he was the headlining act – not Katy Perry. The Beliebers in the crowd loved every second, and when he brought one lucky girl onto the stage for “One less lonely girl” and hugged her – you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d killed her with the amount of screaming girls that surrounded me – the hearing has returned now. You can’t fail to appreciate how popular the guy is, and probably if someone else was singing the sings, you’d like them? Maybe?  9/10

Katy Perry
Another person I get a hat rick out of. Third time of seeing Katy, and again wasn’t disappointed. Sad part of her set was most people were leaving after seeing Bieber – if you did, you missed out on a fab performance from the California Gurl herself. Nice touch too for her interpolating one of her songs with Queen’s We are the Champions, a slight nod to Queen’s huge concert back in 1986 – and her first time playing “this historic place” 10/10

Also, thanks go to our bus driver of National Express/Mainline of the W14 – he had a a bit of a handful dealing with some of our fellow passengers – but he managed really well, so hats off to Dave – and I do wonder whether that girl’s partner will ever work and not buy from Tesco anymore – if he’s spending the majority of his wages from Tesco IN Tesco – a side issue I know. Loved Wembley, although the “getting out of there” was a bit mad – about an hour or so, so if you are planning on making a quick get away from an event there, forget it.  I will be back one day though, just depends who’s playing

Overall, a proper quality gig – maybe they could’ve put Justin Bieber on earlier. And put Example on a bit later – and don’t get me started about Coldplay – damn you lucky Mancunians and everyone else who saw them at the Etihad.

Full setlist
‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’
‘Princess Of China’
‘Viva La Vida’
‘Charlie Brown’

Kelly Clarkson
‘Since U Been Gone’
‘Dark Side’
‘Mr. Know It All’
‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’
‘My Life Would Suck Without You’

Flo Rida
‘Club Can’t Handle Me’
‘Wild Ones’
‘Good Feeling’

‘Stay Awake’
‘Won’t Go Quietly’
‘Changed The Way You Kiss Me’

Cover Drive

Conor Maynard
‘Can’t say no’

‘When she was mine’

‘DJ Got US Fallin’ In Love’
‘Without You’

Rita Ora
‘Hot right now’

Dizzy Rascal
‘The Power’

‘Call my name’

The Wanted
‘All Time Low’
‘Gold Forever’
‘Chasing The Sun’
‘Glad You Came’

Jessie J
‘Do It Like A Dude’
‘Price Tag’ (w/Rizzle Kicks)
‘Who You Are’

Ed Sheeran
‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’
‘Small Bump’
‘Lego House’
‘The A Team’

Justin Bieber
‘Somebody To Love’
‘All Around The World’
‘Die In Your Arms’
‘Turn To You’
‘One Less Lonely Girl’
Carly Rae Jepson
‘Call me maybe’
Justin Bieber
‘Never Say Never’

Katy Perry

‘Hot N Cold’
‘Teenage Dream’
‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)’
‘Part Of Me’
‘Wide Awake’
‘The One The Got Away’
‘We Are The Champions’
‘California Gurls’

Review by Patrick Downes (@officialpoptart)