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The waiting is over. From the many thousands of acts who entered the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2023, the organisers have announced the 90 through to the longlist. The free-to-enter competition for independent performers based in the UK or Ireland saw a bumper entry this year. For the longlisted artistes, the possibility of a main stage appearance at this summer’s festival is now a step nearer, as is the chance of securing a generous bursary courtesy of PRS for Music and PRS Foundation who reward the eventual winner and two runners-up.

30 UK-based music writers, including yer man here, were tasked to select just three acts each to progress further, from individual lists allocated to us. The subsequent 90 forms the longlist. These acts will now be whittled down to a shortlist of just eight who will compete at April’s live finals for a spot on one of the main stages at this summer’s Festival. The winners of the competition will also receive a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize, to aid their songwriting and performing, while two runners-up will each be awarded a £2,500 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize.

With each judge having over 200 acts to listen to and watch live, picking only three is never going to be a breeze. The quality of the entries shows quite how many talented music makers are out there waiting in the wings. I was looking for outstanding songwriting, characterful vocals, fine musicianship and acts who were wholly convincing in their live video submissions. I felt able to gold star my final three on all those counts.

So, I present my three choices for Glastonbury ETC 2023. Please lend them your ears and share some love for them on social media.

march – “When We Get Old”

Everything about “When We Get Old” by march is so flawlessly formed and told; restrained, perfectly chosen instrumentation, dew soft vocals with deft harmonic touches, personal yet universal truths. A work of art in exactly three minutes from march who is just as able to weave a live spell too.

Yemi Bolatiwa – “Water”

From its sombre opening strings transition into sunny guitar over playful drum ‘n’ bass, “Water” flows with marks of distinction coursing through it. Yemi Bolatiwa’s elegant voice combines innate soul with an airy undernote accentuated by subtle layering as she reflects on water as a cleansing, restorative force.

Dan Sealey – “Yesterday Came”

If you ever need a masterclass in songwriting, “Yesterday Came” could be a great starting point. Oozing class on record and live, Dan Sealey wraps his reflections on the passage of time in beautiful, lilting musical constructions that work perfectly alongside his silky, easy on the ear vocals.

Congratulations to march, Yemi and Dan together with all the other acts who made it through Round 1. You can check out a YouTube playlist of all 90 now. The vast majority are new names to me; a fact that underlines quite how much great new music is being made. I was pleased to see that two Fifty3 Fridays alumni - Bleach Lab and The Deep Blue – had been picked by my fellow judges. To the many other worthy entrants, keep the faith and play live whenever and wherever you can as you never know who might see you and where that might lead. Now, Yoda would have great fun deconstructing that sentence.

News of the ETC 2023 live final will follow at the end of April and Fifty3 Fridays will be back next week with some more emerging music to devastate your synaesthesia.

FIFTY3 champions
outstanding new music through Fifty3 Fridays and occasional features. 


Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.


Over the past 14 years I have written for the leading US music website Consequence and  for the  breakthrough artiste site,  site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have reviewed the festival for both sites. I am now pleased to curate my very own music site.


Nothing gives me greater pleasure than unearthing good, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside the occasional legend of times past and I hope they will bring  you as much joy as they give me.

Tony Hardy



Selected dates in the London area:

Tue 19 Sep: Maya Lane, The Bedford,

Balham, London SW12

Mon 25 Sep: Shawn Colwin, Union Chapel, London N1

Thu 28 Sep: Judy Collins + Blanid, Barbican Centre, London EC2

Fri 29 Sep: Nadia Sheikh, The Grace, London N5

Fri 13 Oct: Creeper, St John’s Church, Kingston upon Thames

Thu 26 Oct: Sarah Klang, Oslo, London E8 See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston


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