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I went to a weekend music festival in Cardiff. There was one band in particular that I drove three hours from London to watch – Ibibo Sound Machine – but ended up missing them altogether because I was busy eating a curry. It was a shame, but I made up for it by watching a number of acts that I was largely unfamiliar with, that I left with no expectations but came back to love deeply.
I drive home from Wales on Sunday listening to a new Spotify playlist filled with exciting new sounds – plus a head full of new ideas.
I first saw Emma Jane Thackeray, who commanded both her band and the audience with uncanny (and well-justified) confidence at the Tramshed, performing super-tight jazz-funk with all the momentum of a Stevie Wonder. from the mid 70s. Stunning.
Then I saw Ezra Collective tear up St David’s Hall with knee-high jazz-meets-Latin-meets-hip-hop that sent the whole place skidding; which was followed by psychedelic tex-mex rockers Khruangbin who twisted my brain with their weird outfits and creepy guitars. For a bald father of two with a growing taste for elasticated trousers and a member of the National Trust, I felt pretty pissed off just being there.
The festival was organized by BBC 6 Music, which I have already spoken of my love. One of the reasons this radio station is such a profound force for good is that they work hard to discover and deliver fresh, adventurous, diverse music to lazy assholes like me who would otherwise be forever stuck to listen to the same things he listened to in The Nineties.
In turn, they provide an opportunity for brilliant musical artists who would be too specialized or esoteric for major labels or commercial media to pick up. It is these artists who are the source of the musical genres that eventually make it into the mainstream and that drive our popular culture.
So without BBC 6 Music, not only bright young artists (not to mention lethargic middle-aged music fans like me) would suffer, but Britain too.
As a country, we are left with very little beyond our status as the engine room of global pop culture. Everything else has been sold and sullied as we race to the bottom of our post-imperial, post-EU, post-industrial national quagmire.
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The BBC is one of the last decent things standing. And BBC 6 Music is a jewel in its crown.
So the next time you see a dead-eyed government minister on television threatening the very existence of society, just know this: the enemies of the BBC are the kind of people who dream of a future in which we will all listen back to back Gary Barlow songs on Magic FM. Is this really what you want for your children?
Sam saw Khruangbin, Ezra Collective and Emma-Jean Thackray at the BBC 6 Music Festival in Cardiff. He missed Ibibio Sound Machine because he was eating a curry.