Dream job in music scene drives Gavin up the Wall

Blackpool lad Gavin Sharp, who is CEO at Band On The Wall in Manchester
Blackpool lad Gavin Sharp, who is CEO at Band On The Wall in Manchester
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Those with long memories may recall a young lad used to busk in Blackpool most weekends, blasting out tunes on a saxophone in the centre of town.

What started off as a childhood passion has never worn off.

Gavin Sharp has worked in music all his life, touring the world in bands for 10 years, then becoming a promoter.

And it’s fair to say he’s done OK for himself, for he’s now boss at the famous Band On The Wall in Manchester and loving every minute.

“This is my dream job,” said the 45-year-old, who grew up in Marton and went to St George’s High School.

“I have loved music all my life, in fact the first gig I ever promoted was at the Music Hall Tavern in Talbot Square.

“I played at the very first Christmas Tree Ball at the Winter Gardens and I’m sure a few people in the town will remember me busking round Blackpool with my sax – I did that for five years.”

Here’s a brief history: Gavin went to music college, toured for 10 years with various bands (including Northern Uproar, who briefly hit the big-time), then started working in venues including the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal and Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall.

Then he landed the job at Band On The Wall (a place so named because the landlord actually built a stage on the wall, so he could get the band out of the way and fit more punters in), something he says was a natural career progression.

“Touring in a band is a great way to spend your 20s but unless you’re famous, then when you’re in your 40s I’m not so sure it’s still a good thing,” he laughed.

“Besides, I wanted a missus and kids and a life, so that’s why I decided to get into the other side of it.

“I love it as much as being in a band, in fact it’s probably better because I’m not listening the same music every night!”

Band On The Wall is an interesting place. It is not just a venue where bands play, it is also a registered charity and Gavin and his team put on gigs in other places too.

In Blackpool, for instance, they recently staged the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Christmas Ball at the Empress Ballroom. It was a big success and Gavin, whose hometown remains close to his heart, hopes to do more in the resort.

“Blackpool has a multi-billion pound venue infrastructure, possibly the best outside London,” he said.

“The spaces hidden around the town are phenomenal but there’s not a music scene there.

“It needs to be developed and the word spread. So I’m talking to the town council and hoping we can develop a programme but on our kind of model – a participation programme, something that gets kids at schools involved.”

He added: “There is a sub-culture of people in the town who are very knowledgeable and passionate about music and the arts and there are people actively doing things on a voluntary basis.

“But they are disparate and under-resourced and they aren’t aware of the resources there are.

“So part of what we want to do is build up those networks and say ‘look we’re bringing people to Manchester and we can look at working with you about putting them on in Blackpool’.

“We can mentor venues on how to promote and put gigs on. We want to find a venue or some people in Blackpool to work with and promote.”

So watch this space. Gavin, a man who couldn’t be more passionate about music, is looking to help his hometown – and with the music scene here badly in need of a kick up the backside, then not many will complain. Let’s hope he succeeds.