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Page last updated at 08:22 GMT, Wednesday, 30 June 2010 09:22 UK
UK City of Culture 2013 Sheffield Bid

In July 2010 the city of Sheffield will find out whether it is to be the UK City of Culture in 2013. Three other cities in the United Kingdom have been nominated alongside the city of Sheffield, including Derry, Birmingham and Norwich.

The City of Culture team in Sheffield has promoted 10 key areas of culture. This week BBC Sheffield will be looking at four of the areas which Sheffield is proud of, including music, new talent, stories and its heritage and business.

BBC Sheffield has asked James O'Hara, promoter of Sheffield's Tramlines Festival and co-owner of the independent bar The Bowery to talk about the city's thriving music scene.

John O'Hara, Owner of The Bowery

UK City of Culture bid: Sheffield
By James O'Hara, promoter of Sheffield's Tramlines Festival

In terms of where Sheffield is today, right now, as a musical city I think its impossible for me to try and give an educated overview of a city that is literally bursting at the seams with every conceivable type of music and sound

I can however give my view and the impressions I get whilst travelling around our lovely city, whether it be as a punter, as a promoter or just sat in a friend's practice room. What's clear is that there is still an extremely vibrant musical youth in Sheffield, whether it be boys and girls in bands, DJ's playing and producing music or any number of promoters putting on parties and events, some more legal than others!

All this comes together on one weekend every year in the form of Tramlines, which was an attempt (one that is nowhere near completion) to showcase all the culture and music that this city has a real knack of producing. Even with four outdoor stages and 50 venues we struggle to find room for all the amazing music that is out there.

I often think it is trite and overly-nostalgic to try and link in what is happening now, with what has happened in the past, especially in Sheffield. I'm sure the Human League, Heaven 17 & ABC weren't looking backwards when they made giant strides in British electronica and pop in the 1980s. Pulp and Jarvis took 15 years to come to prominence and they did so by sticking to their guns and treading their own path.

Jarvis Cocker
Lead singer of Pulp, Jarvis Cocker, who is now a solo performer.

The Arctic Monkeys certainly didn't pay too much attention to what had gone before them in Sheffield and carried on the theme of what all good Sheffield acts have done: innovate not imitate.

This spirit of individuality continues to this day, Sheffield is quite an insular place, we don't look to other cities for inspiration, why would we? Everything we need to inspire us is here anyway. This inward looking nature means that the music that gets picked up nationally sounds fresh and new.

I don't think it serves any purpose comparing Sheffield to any other city, we're a city in name only. Sheffield is often referenced as the biggest village in Britain, not only because geographically it is made of many very distinct areas separated by hills and valleys but because there is a village mentality, especially within the musical community.

My experience is that a lot of people know each other and this rubs off and people who otherwise might never meet, begin to mix and inspire each other, also causing a good level of friendly competitiveness.

What makes Sheffield stand out is its humble nature, we are not traditionally good at shouting about our achievements as a Manchester or a Liverpool might do. The musicians that have had success in the city reflect this attitude too, most continue to keep strong ties with the city. I'm sure this enables them to keep their feet on the ground and continue to make vital, inspiring music as opposed to knobbing about in London talking nonsense to "the industry".

Culture in Sheffield is everywhere, most of the time you won't even know it's there, it's in the practice rooms and studios that litter the former industrial areas of this city. The former workshops and factories that once provided the lifeblood of jobs and industry now provide space for Sheffield's musical community to forge music.

Sheffield is culturally significant not because of what it has done before but because of what continues to happen to this day. The young will always have the ability to take things forward and in Sheffield more than most cities, their musical forefathers would, I'm sure, appreciate that attitude.


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