Meet The Speakers

John Robb

John Robb is a many-faceted creature. Bassist and singer for post-punk mainstays The Membranes, author, journalist, DJ, publisher, vegan behemoth and talking head, he’s all these things and more.

He grew up in Blackpool before punk rock came along and saved his life.

He was one of the leading post punk fanzine writers in the UK with ‘Rox’ before he went on to write for the rock press with Sounds and was the first person to interview Nirvana and coined the expression Britpop and was instrumental in kick starting and documenting the Madchester scene with his writing. His music and culture website is currently one of the biggest music and culture sites in the UK.

He also currently writes books and articles, runs a music and books festival called Louderthanwar. He’s also a political campaigner who chairs committees in Parliament and is an in demand speaker with his spoken word show spawned by the success of his talks of TEDx on punk, zen and the universe and also for his talks of veganism and punk rock.


Jay Taylor

Jay Taylor is English National Coordinator for the Music Venue Trust, a UK registered charity established in 2014 that acts to protect, secure and improve the UK’s Grassroots Music Venue circuit. MVT provides advice to the government, the cultural sector and the music industry on issues impacting the network of venues and is the nominated representative that speaks on behalf of the Music Venues Alliance, an association of over 850 venues from across the UK. Jay is also co-chair of the Greater Manchester Music Commission, whose role is to support, develop and promote music across Greater Manchester and to advise and support GM Mayor Andy Burnham.


Jeremy Rowlands

Jeremy Rowlands is the Co-Director of two Preston city venues, the Continental and The Ferret. The Ferret, a 200-capacity music venue on Fylde Road in Preston, which has hosted shows by Ed Sheeran, Buzzcocks and Idles, was under threat after the building which houses it was put up for sale. Earlier this year it was purchased by the Music Venue Trust, through the ‘Own Our Venues’ scheme, securing its future as a grass roots music venue. The Ferret has signed a “cultural lease” with MVP that states that as long as it continues to operate as a grassroots live music space for the local community, then they can continue to enjoy use of the building.


Milo McManus

Milo McManus is House Booker for Bootleg Social, a 330 capacity live music venue in Blackpool Town Centre. Opening in 2014, the venue has host the likes of The Wombats, IDLES, Miles Kane, The Lathums, The Coral, The Zutons, Jamie Webster, Twin Atlantic & Bob Vylan to name a few. In his role as House Booker, Milo is responsible for booking shows, overseeing external bookings & marketing.


Lucy Wooley

Lucy is a Creative Producer based in Manchester, specialising in live events and touring, alongside consultancy and development across the jazz and improvised music sector. She is Festival Director at Lancaster Jazz Festival, an annual five-day festival taking place in September, and Development Manager for Edition Records, an international Record Label, as well as managing a portfolio of freelance projects and running her own coaching practice.


Karen Boardman

Karen Boardman started her music career at the age of nineteen when she decided to make her constant attendance at The Hacienda official, persuading the management to give her a job. Over the next couple of years she helped looked after a host of visiting bands including Depeche Mode, Echo and The Bunnymen and Madonna.

She eventually moved to London after landing a job at London Records working with the likes of Salt n Pepper, Voice of the Beehive and Fine Young Cannibals. This day to day dealing with artists led her to set up her own company, Rage Management. Over a 10yr period Karen worked alongside artists such as The Orb and Lamb. She has also been contracted to Arts Council England as a Music Relationship Manager since 2018 and has experience of fund raising across the private, public and commercial sector for music clients and organisations.

Karen Boardman is currently a Director of Crisis Music Management, an artist management company based in Manchester. Crisis represented and managed the careers of a number of artists including Karima Francis (Vertigo Records), Rae Morris (Atlantic Records) and JP Cooper (Island Records) to name a few. Recent signings, Loose Articles, a female punk band from Manchester, release their self-funded album next month ahead of supporting The Foo Fighters in Manchester on 13th June 2024.


Tom Salmon

Tom is a Music Relationship Manager for Arts Council England, the main development agency and public funder of the arts sector in England. Tom specifically works on the Grassroots Music Priority for the North.

Tom is based in Cumbria, he’s an experienced musician, promoter, events producer, and broadcaster; he spent his early career as the radio presenter/producer for BBC Music Introducing in Cumbria and has featured on specialist music programmes across Radio 1, 2 and 6 Music.


Rhy Grooves

Rhy Grooves is a professional musician and events coordinator hailing from Blackpool.

Between touring in rock bands and working on contributions to the theatre and anime worlds, Rhy returned home in early 2023 to begin the blueshell duo, Hot Saké & the Pop Punk Pizza Co.