Swing, hip hop, ska and reggae adds up to Collective heaven

Cool Beans Collective
Cool Beans Collective
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There aren’t many musical collectives that manage bands, run radio shows, promote gigs and – if that weren’t enough – broadcast the odd internet TV show. But for Sheffield-based Cool Beans Collective, this is all in a day’s work.

The collective was founded by Chris Arnold while in his last year at university. “I was doing stuff for the Forge radio station and it just grew from there. I left university four years ago and now running the Cool Beans Collective is my full-time job.”

It’s obvious from Arnold’s voice that he loves his job, and it’s not hard to see why.

“All the bands we manage are really good fun, whether it’s a swing band, hip hop, reggae or ska – it’s all really entertaining music.”

A visit to the collective’s website is a testament to Arnold’s focus on fun. The site is lurid, almost technicolor, with comedy videos, blogs and samples of Cool Beans’ popular radio show.

But beneath the light-hearted veneer is a serious enterprise – one that pushes Sheffield’s world music and gives it a platform.

Cool Beans’ roster includes bands such as Sheffield’s Smiling Ivy, K.O.G and the Zonga Brigade and the Grand Old Ukes of Yorkshire, all of which are building a cult following, as Arnold explains.

“There is a growing appetite for Afro/Jamaican/ska/ reggae music and it’s amazing how many bands are coming out of Sheffield and how many people go to the gigs. This music has been in the UK for a long time but it’s definitely popular in Sheffield now. The people who come along to these events are usually a very happy crowd.”

But while these bands can be lumped into the ‘world music’ category, they are each playing their own sub-genre of music. “There are genres within genres, whether it’s ska, reggae or swing but it really is just about the fact it’s upbeat music that people can definitely dance to.”

And as long as there’s rhythmic, lively music happening in Sheffield, with a worldly edge to it, Arnold will be there.

“I love it, I book shows for bands only if I think the band are really good and only if the venue’s good.”

Cool Beans are working on a range of projects and radio shows. For details visit www.welovecoolbeans.com