With so much going on in peoples everyday lives, its is understandably hard to appreciate how many help-schemes and charity's are set up to support a large number of wide-set problems, not only in the UK but on the planet as a whole. Many of these do not get the spotlight they deserve and therefore their purpose does not achieve what it ultimately could, with the right backing. CALM is one of these. A charity set up for the support and hopeful prevention of the vast number of suicides in young males per year, the letters stand for the Campaign Against Living Miserably- strong and to the point. With its roots being implanted firmly in Manchester, it is only fitting that the compilation album in question should donate all its profits from its release to the charity. Thirty One is a collection of tracks from in and around the Manchester music scene, both past and present and compiled by DJ/writer Dave Haslam.
I attended a press conference on the 13th of February at Band On The Wall in Manchester in order to find out more about the album and the charity behind it. As I walked through the rainy haze that had settled that day, I reflected on what I possibly thought the conference would touch on and the shocking fact that suicide is the single most common cause of death for young males in the UK. A harrowing factoid. I entered the press conference and took a seat, taking in my surroundings. Band On The Wall is one of those great venues that you here about on the grapevine. Small, underground (not literally) and comfortable, it is set out like an old theatre. Dave Haslam first took to the stage, introducing the album and its cause. He then introduced the first musical performance of the night by Barry Adamson. Performing "The Sun & The Sea" a new track produced for the album, Barry showed years of experience to the small number of journalists and music types in attendance-within three minutes. Just him and his acoustic performing a solo number, strongly set the scene for a serious discussion about an album with a great cause attached to it.
Next up was the panel of important people who had a strong hand in the albums production/meaning/ and cause. Dave Haslam acted as host with Esther O' Callaghan, the founder of The Factory Foundation, who herself experienced suicide in her family when her cousin took his own life at the age of 29, and then her auntie 18 months later. Also on the panel was the director of CALM herself, Jane Powell. Barry Adamson then completed the line-up. To begin with Dave introduced all three members of his team and then asked them separate questions, one of them asking what CALM meant to them. Esther then explained her story and how she strongly backs the idea due to it being able to stop the tragic incidents in her family from happening to someone else. Jane Powell then went on to explain how CALM began as a small institution in Manchester, before it was picked upon by the late and great Tony Wilson. It then went on to expand and expand the Thirty One album could push the boundaries of the organisation even further, with the possibility of its phone-lines being operational every day of the week, instead of just four days a week. Barry gave his side of the story, as he remembered being a young man and having to juggle with so many things and so many priorities and this led to him being quite depressed. Then in a link to the albums purpose, he explained how making/creating music and listening to various genres then got him in a better place as he is now, years on. The audience were then free to ask any of their own pressing questions, some which concentrated on the album (and a request for a second one!) along with CALM itself being a big feature of enquiries.
The panel then said their thanks and Jez Kerr was then introduced as the closing act, with his band. Playing four hits, including a number that had been put on Thirty One by Dave Haslam, and a Joy Division cover. This was a great send off to have a serious musician that had experienced the ins and outs of the Manchester music scene over a long period. A great cause, an album full of a strong variety of musical talent from around one of the liveliest musical regions of the UK, would strongly recommend anybody buy it. www.thirtyonesongs.com