Benefits – Empire

The new single by Teesside band Benefits is loud and angry and for me captures the rage and fear felt by many at the current state of our society. The language may offend you, the noise may offend you, but the message is true and uncompromising, that is what is important.

Here are a few things that offend me

In our region, the HBAI figures indicate that 37% of all children and young people in the North East were living in poverty over the three years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic (2017/18 to 2019/20) – equivalent to more than 11 children in a classroom of 30 across the region, and up from an average of 34% in the three years before (2016/17 to 2018/19).

Record 2.5m food bank parcels given to people in crisis in the past year.

The UK has the worst regional inequality in the developed world, with people in England’s North East worst-off overall.

There are 171 billionaires in the UK, 24 more than a year ago

Middlesbrough Pictorial & Industrial – Harold Hood

Published in 1926 by photographer and commercial printer, Harold Hood, Middlesbrough Pictorial & Industrial is Hoods love letter to Middlesbrough. Hood photographed the town, its people, buildings and industry. He quotes one critic as saying, If they felt about it as I do they would make a bonfire of the place tomorrow, and pitch the statues of its creators head-most into the flames..

This book was his response.

A Teesside First – Billingham Branch Bridge

Much is made, and quite rightly so, of the bridges of the Tees, however we have another historic bridge on Teesside that is often overlooked. The Billingham Branch Bridge was built in 1934 by Dorman Long to carry the northern approach road to the Newport Bridge over the now-disused Billingham Branch railway. The Grade II listed bridge is reputed to be the first welded steel bridge in Britain.

Historic Britain Listing

Westgarth Social Club: Live Music Fund

Westgarth Social Club: Live Music Fund

The Westgarth Social Club is one of Teesside’s most popular independent music venues. Across its three stages, the Westgarth has hosted acts such as James Bay, Public Service Broadcasting, Wolf Alice, Pete Wylie, The Vaccines, Edwyn Collins, TV Smith, and First Aid Kit. 

What will gigs be like in 2021? Based on the last 9 months, these shows might need to happen under safety measures, with restrictions on crowd numbers or the need for particular seating arrangements.

Unfortunately, as through the first and second waves of coronavirus, if local promoters can’t put on viable events – places like the Westgarth will struggle to reopen. 

But with your support, we’re hoping to form a live music fund to support the safe and sustainable return of live music and events to the club. No donations will go to Spooker Rekkids or towards the running costs of the club, with the fund only to be used by local promoters. This could be to subsidise ticket prices; to help towards the cost of sound engineers; or to cover the shortfall in ticket sales due to potential crowd-limits.

We want to ensure that, whatever happens next, bands, promoters, music lovers and the whole community are supported and have a place to safely enjoy and participate in live music and events.

Our initial target is to raise £3000, which we have calculated could support between 15-20 gigs in 2021. If we reach that goal, there are plans to expand this target to £4000 for around 20-25 gigs, and £5000 for 25-30 gigs. Basically, the more we raise, the more gigs we can help to put on!

We’re aware this is an incredibly tough time for people but if you can offer a donation, we have some wonderful rewards merchandise kindly provided by Teesside’s finest promoters and musical talent. Donations with rewards start from just £5, but you can donate any amount you want! 

Link to crowdfunder

The message above is taken from the Crowdfunder webpage.

The smell of t-shirts

I’m selling some lovely t-shirts. They were designed by Carl Mole and Oli Heffernan and feature the ‘Dorman Long Tower’ at South Bank, a landmark on the Teesside skyline. The tower was built during the 1950’s to store and supply coal to the South Bank coke ovens.

Designed by Carl Mole

Designed by Oli Heffernan

T-shirts available in 2 colours Grey/White

Sizes S, M, L & XL

Price £15 plus P&P

100% of profits will be donated to the Trussell Trust

email stating design, colour & size

The Artists

Carl Mole Oli Heffernan