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John Peel Centre in Stowmarket puts on gig for emerging new music acts



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A venue has showcased new musical talent in a show inspired by a Radio 1 DJ who helped champion many unknown artists to the mainstream - and it's looking for more to sign up.

The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts in Stowmarket hosts its ‘Emerge’ show, focused on discovering upcoming musical gems, every other month.

It gives acts from across the region 20 minutes to play their hearts out to a live audience, sometimes for the very first time.

Lou Brett is inspired by her three daughters to create. Picture: Sam Harrison (57463382)
Lou Brett is inspired by her three daughters to create. Picture: Sam Harrison (57463382)

Programming and communications manager for the centre, Iain Lowery, said: “The hope is that, after we see you play at the Emerge night, we can then put you on for more gigs - even playing a support slot for touring bands who are coming through Suffolk.

“We have so many bands playing at the venue and we love to mix it up with all different genres and styles of music. It all depends on what comes in and who applies to play.”

Last week’s roster saw Lou Brett, Takeda, Luminol and Bury St Edmunds-based duo, The Naked Eyes take to the stage.

Johnny Peck and Dom Carter, from The Naked Eyes, have collaborated together in different lineups for more than 15 years and used the Emerge night as a chance to play some new songs under a new name.

Johnny, who has recently set up his own recording studio, said: “When you come to a venue like this to play, you can’t help but give it your all.”

Lou Brett, lead singer of her band Ecto Peach, started the night with her solo repertoire of empowered tracks accompanied by a distorted guitar and haunting vocals.

Taking inspiration from PJ Harvey and Kate Bush, this was her fourth time performing as a solo act and she felt quite nervous before going on stage.

The Naked Eyes played indie-rock music that harkened back to The Stone Roses and Primal Scream. Picture: Sam Harrison (57463355)
The Naked Eyes played indie-rock music that harkened back to The Stone Roses and Primal Scream. Picture: Sam Harrison (57463355)

She said: “The John Peel Centre is such an amazing venue to play. It’s such a nice atmosphere and even if you haven’t got a massive crowd it just feels warm and welcoming.

“It can be quite hard when you’re starting out. I haven’t got any proper recordings yet so I just sent the organisers a couple of phone recordings and they accepted me with that.”

Folk-rock band Takeda, fronted by Josh Harrison, has been dropping albums and EPs on bandcamp for over a decade, but after taking a break from music this was Takeda’s first gig back with a new line-up and a fresh experimental sound.

Luminol finished the night with their catchy rook riffs and hooks. Picture: Sam Harrison (57463316)
Luminol finished the night with their catchy rook riffs and hooks. Picture: Sam Harrison (57463316)

Josh said: “For a town like this to have a venue whose putting on nights like this, this is mega.

“There’s no real music scene where I live, so I think Stowmarket is quite lucky to have this going on.”

Iain Lowery (left) and Theo Gorst (right) help to set up the events at The John Peel Centre. Picture: Sam Harrison (57463384)
Iain Lowery (left) and Theo Gorst (right) help to set up the events at The John Peel Centre. Picture: Sam Harrison (57463384)

Iain Lowery, who works with the events team to put on the shows, is looking for acts to apply for the chance to play at the next event.

He said: “It works differently to all the other gigs. This is our only night where we need bands coming to us.

“There’s a page on our website where bands can submit their information and then we go from there. We pick the ones we like and give people that opportunity to perform.”

For more information on the Emerge nights, go to www.johnpeelcentre.com

It’s an opportunity to get involved and give it a go. The stakes are low, the crowd is forgiving and it’s the perfect chance to test the gigging water.