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Lewes Musical Express

Written By John May

You may not have heard of the Lewes Musical Express, but its a like minded publication from our county town. We thought we’d let the editor, writer and founder, John May, tell you something about it. It’s well worth a read.

I’ve spent 40 years as a freelancer, running on instinct, creating projects out of thin air. Producing books and magazines and writing for national publications, including working freelance for the NME (1975-1982) under the pen name Dick Tracy. I’m also a semi-pro musician, DJ and music promoter.

In 2013, Lewes District Council agreed to work with Mumford & Son’s Gentlemen of the Road tour and hold a festival on the edge of our town. I smelt an opportunity. I had little interest in the Mumfords or the main festival itself, but saw this as an opportunity to launch a paper bigging up the vibrant local music scene in Lewes.

In ten weeks I raised £3,000 through donations and advertising and wrote most of the paper with the help of some excellent contributors. A major part of the paper’s success has been Raphael Whittle design. He has given the paper a vibrant and original style that has been much admired.

We printed 6000 copies which I distributed by hand to more than 60 outlets in the town and, to my surprise and delight, it was enthusiastically received. So far we’ve interviewed Arthur Brown, Brian James of The Damned, famous folkies The Copper Family, opera star Sir John Tomlinson and Mark Chadwick of The Levellers to name but a few.

We’ve also run a series of investigative pieces on the effects of government cuts to the East Sussex Music Service, profiled the guitar makers and choirs in the town and documented a fascinating series of 60s gigs at Lewes Town Hall featuring the Pink Floyd, The Move, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and many others. Our biggest coup to date was getting a real picture of Leonard Cohen reading our paper which we ran on the cover of Issue 2.

It was great to discover ‘The Stinger’ and find out that free local music papers are thriving around the country whilst the national music press declines. Spotify, iTunes and YouTube are all very well, but nothing beats a great band in a hometown bar for keeping it real.

We cover all types of music, appeal to all ages and are living proof that not everyone wants to sit in a coffee shop staring into a laptop.

We’re excited about the future, are now working on Issue 4, and hope that the LME and The Stinger can continue to help nourish the vibrant music scene in the South.

You can find the Lewes Musical Exprees online at:

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