Liverpool needed ‘Above The Beaten Track’ when it arrived in 2008. The event, a grass roots catalyst that launched many careers, grew to become a popular and much-anticipated programme on the city’s festival calendar. Now? Its work is done say organisers, pointing at the success of Threshold and LIMF Academy. But there’s one more thing they have to say. By Alan O’Hare.

It was the old and familiar tale: how do I get a gig? How do I meet the right people? How do I get (paid) work? Set up to redress the imbalance of the under-representation of emerging and under-the-radar live music and young creativity in Merseyside, ‘Above The Beaten Track’ launched in 2008 and delivered on its promise for nearly a decade.

From its beginnings, in the intimate surroundings of the celebrated View Two Gallery above Mathew Street (hence the name), up to and including its flagship events at Bluecoat Liverpool in 2014 and 2015, #ATBT (they were there from the start with social media, too) grew and diversified from a small music festival into a large multi-arts event – but always with a rich grass roots musical programme at its core. There won’t be another one, though.

Why? “Given the changing nature of Liverpool’s festival calendar, notably with the arrival of Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF), from a programming standpoint the #ATBT event is not needed in the way it was so crucially back in 2008,” say its founders. “With the rising prominence of Threshold and the LIMF Academy, the festival has achieved what it set out to.” Fair enough. After all, Threshold grew out of performers themselves basically wanting a bigger stage and spotlight, while that same DIY ethos has also worked wonders for the LIMF Academy starlets, such as Mic Lowry, Taya, XamVolo and Little Grace.

There’s an asterisk, though… #ATBT is saying farewell with a party. And, in keeping with the spirit of the event, it won’t just be an Arts Council-funded bash for those in the know: you’re all invited. Taking place at Bluecoat on Saturday January 28, ‘Beyond The Beaten Track’ will feature a daytime programme of panels, workshops, talks, round-table discussions and informal networking for those looking to work in the music and creative industries. A free evening gig will also close the day’s activity, with #ATBT alumni Mike Badger & The Shadys, Jimmy Rae & The Moonshine Girls, Nick Ellis and Silent Cities all playing live. “We felt it was fitting to celebrate with a final event,” say organisers. “As well as offering one last opportunity for those previously involved to reconnect.”

What’s on

Panel #1 : Getting Into Work (2.30pm)
How to get involved, establish yourself and progress in the music and creative industries. With Kaya Herstad-Carney (Threshold Festival), Yaw Owusu (LIMF), David Lally (Liverpool Biennial) and Abbey Andersen (Africa Oyé).

Round Tables & Networking (3.30pm)
With Peter Shilton (Merseyside Arts Foundation), Kevin MacArthur, Andy Scott (Smithdown Road Festival), Yaw Owusu (Nothin’ But The Music), Graham Holland (Liverpool Acoustic) and Chris Herstad-Carney (Threshold Festival).

Panel #2 : ‘Ask the Promoter’ (4.30pm)
Whether it be securing gigs, putting on shows yourself or just looking to get involved, this panel will consider current issues in the live gig and festival environment – and provide an opportunity to meet and ‘ask the promoter’. With Chris Herstad-Carney (Threshold Festival), Graham Holland (Liverpool Acoustic), Yaw Owusu (LIMF) and Kevin MacArthur (Smithdown Road Festival).

Informal networking (5.30pm)
An opportunity for everyone to catch up, which will then progress straight into the evening’s live music and DJ’s.

We’ll see you there…

Beyond The Beaten Track
Saturday, January 28th 2017, from 2pm
Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool
Free – but register for the panels here

Pic by Dewi Roberts