A nationwide hunt has begun for the UK's best live music act, and with slots at two major festivals already guaranteed for the winner, the Red Stripe Music Award (RSMA) will be tougher this year, than ever. Last year, two bands from Chester, Camel One and City Royals, made it to the final, but were pipped at the post by Hertfordshire band, The Runners.
This year bands are being urged to apply for the gig season to be in with a chance of winning the Red Stripe crown and, new to the competition this year, the winning band will also win a tour bus!
Across the UK, hundreds of artists will be taking to the stage in over 50 different venues to try and win the coveted RSMA crown. The Runners have since played live sessions on Steve Lamacq's Radio 1 show, released their first single and are now well on their way to becoming the UK's next big guitar band after scooping the top prize in 2007.
Lead singer, Gus Cox says: "The last year has been manic. We've been touring all over the place, played gigs to thousands of people and appeared on Radio 1. Red Stripe has really helped us out, not just by providing cans of the stuff, but by actually helping us to realise our dream. Winning the Red Stripe Music Award has opened so many doors for us that just wouldn't have been possible otherwise".
Described by music promoters as live music's answer to the Mercury Music Prize, the gig series is also about bringing live music back to where it belongs – in the clubs and mosh pits of small venues around the UK.
"We're not about glitzy award ceremonies or buying our way into the music scene", says Red Stripe's Jonny Kirkham. "Red Stripe goes hand in hand with music – look at Noel Gallagher in the album sleeve of ‘Definitely Maybe’, or even younger bands like The Klaxons and The View who have brandished their cans of Red Stripe on stage. We’re holding this competition to help give acts a big break within the music industry, and get exposure to key people, and it's worked pretty well with The Runners".
RSMA kicked off in January 2008 and the finals will be held in May. Live dates are happening around the UK right now.
For full and comprehensive listings and to keep up with the winners check out:
Roadhouse, Manchester – 13th Mar
Studio 24, Edinburgh – 13th Mar
Talking Heads, Southampton – 13th Mar
HIFI Club, Leeds – 13th Mar
Hootananny, Brixton, London – 14th Mar
Boardwalk, Sheffield – 14th Mar
The Koola Klub/Chy Bar, Newquay – 14th Mar
The Telegraph, Brixton, London – 14th Mar
The Vaults, Shrewsbury – 20th Mar
Tunnels, Aberdeen – 20th Mar
The Grapes, Aberdeen – 20th Mar
New Cross Inn, London – 22nd Mar
The Lamp, Hull – 26th Mar
UBA Rooms, Burton-Upon-Trent – 26th Mar
Bullit, Tamworth – 27th Mar
Hub, Exeter – 27th Mar
The Croft, Bristol – 27th Mar
The Forum, Tunbridge Wells – 27th Mar
The End Bar, Newcastle upon Tyne – 3rd Apr
Esquires, Bedford – 10th Apr
Grand Final – May (Venue and Date TBC)