Local promoter Carlo Solazzo has been running music events in Birmingham since 2005. In recent years, Birmingham Promoters was born and has been continuously bringing the best in international artists to the city while showcasing up-and-coming local talent at the time same. We caught up with Carlo to delve in to the mind of the day-to-day life of a music promoter…
Can you tell us a little about Birmingham Promoters – what made you want to start a promotions company?
I’ve been a promoter in Birmingham since 2005 believe it or not! It’s been quite a journey considering Birmingham Promoters has been here for longer than some of the city’s music venues! I started it simply due of my love of music and I wanted to be able to bring some of the best new artists from around the word to Birmingham. At the time there was a lack of diverse bands coming to the city so our main goal was to create and develop venues to cater for these types of acts and that still very much goes on today.
What have been some of your highlights since starting the company?
We’ve had the pleasure of booking some of the hottest acts around including solo artists such as Ben Howard, Ed Sheeran and Gabrielle Aplin… indie bands like Two Door Cinema Club, Editors, Sundara Karma and Mystery Jets… electronic acts like Metronomy… Hip Hop acts like Tinie Tempah and Beardyman as well as rock acts like Funeral For a Friend, The Front Bottoms and Alabama Shakes. We’ve also had some special moments. Joss Stone once played a show in a pub which was ironically on Pancake Day (the time of this interview) quite a few years back! Olafur Arnalds played the most beautiful show at the Glee Club and we’ve had the pleasure of helping to develop some of our homegrown talent such as Peace, Jaws, Swim Deep, Clare Maguire and most recently acts like Youth Man, Superfood, Ekkah and Ed Geater. Giving these local acts the best possible platform to showcase their music to as many different people as possible gives us a lot of satisfaction.
What was your very first gig and how did it go?
I’ve just had to scour many years of diaries and it seems that it was Example at The Rainbow Venues. I seem to recall it being pretty busy for one of his first shows in the Midlands and I’m pretty sure we ordered in a load of food from Manzils – one of Birmingham’s best curry houses – and had a right knees-up after the show!
What’s the best thing about promoting in Birmingham?
The diversity of the city brings both opportunities and challenges alike. The city and its scenes are continually evolving with happening places popping up all of the time. Whether it’s Moseley & Kings Heath’s old school pubs and venues, Digbeth’s back street boozers and warehouse spaces, John Bright Street’s strip of bars which is a recent development, Broad Street & Arcadian areas with its R&B and student culture or even more recently the development of The Jewellery Quarter which is a very exciting place to explore.
What are your favourite venues in the city and why?
If you are new to the city these are the live music venues you need to follow:
- Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath
- Mama Roux’s in Digbeth
- The Glee Club,
- The Sunflower Lounge & The Flapper in the city centre
- The Actress & Bishop in the Jewellery Quarter
- Ceol Castle
- Ort in Balsall Heath
Which one is my favourite? It’s too hard to say. They all have their own unique quirks that lend themselves to certain styles of artists, but one thing these venues all have is a very high standard of production and promotion – plus they’re all independent. Having six O2 venues in the city also brings a lot of healthy competition to Birmingham. The O2 Institute main room is a special venue with a lot of heritage over the years.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring promoters, what would it be?
Develop good relationships with other promoters, venues and artists in your city. Never cut corners, do the basics well and you will grow quickly. But most of all; enjoy it and hopefully you will find the next big thing!