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After two fallow years imposed by the pandemic, Glastonbury Festival makes a welcome return this June. After such an unfortunate hiatus, it was no surprise that interest in this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition was high. Getting on for 5,000 independent acts threw their hats in the stone circle back in January and earlier today the organisers announced the 90 that have made it through to the first stage of the competition.

For these artistes, the possibility of a main stage appearance at this summer’s festival is one step closer, 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 your humble scribe, each selected just three acts to progress further from individual lists allocated to us. The subsequent 90 makes up the longlist.

To ensure everyone gets a fair chance, the acts themselves nominate a music category while judges can choose to receive songs from all categories, or to opt out of those musical styles they feel less able to appraise. Picking my final three was as taxing as ever. It finally came down to the quality of each original song, supported by how well the act came across in its live video submission. Those who used live video to showcase a different aspect of their music rose up my rankings. Those who chose to submit the same song again on video missed a real trick, especially if it was a near identical arrangement, or in some cases an inferior version. Once again, a few seemed to forget that a dubbed soundtrack is not a live performance!

So, without any further ado [Get on with it – Ed], I am honoured to present my final three choices. Please give them a listen and share some love for them on social media.

Evadney – “Good Lord”

There is something truly spacious and spiritual about the music of Evadney that immediately draws your mind away from the harsh realities of life towards a tranquil place where love abides. He is blessed with a stunning voice and the imagination to liberate it within wonderfully genre-defying sound landscapes.

VEALA – “Heaven”

That overused term, earworm, might have been coined for the refined electro pop of VEALA. There is a real polish to the instrumental sound the duo creates while Sarah Munro’s intoxicating voice glides through its work with clarity and precision. “Heaven” sits comfortably alongside peak Fleetwood Mac.

TÁLTSIE – “Holding Stones”

TÁLTSIE has a voice like a magical, soothing balm. Her music should be available on prescription. It is truly immersive and her ability to express feelings as her fingers caress the keys is as impressive as her individual, nuanced vocal tone. Her songs blend classical precision with an underlying soulfulness.

You can listen to Evadney, VEALA and TÁLTSIE together with most of the other acts who made it through Round 1 on the Glastonbury site now or direct on SoundCloud here. If a song isn’t there it’s simply because the act hasn’t yet made it public on its SoundCloud page. The missing tracks may be added as they are switched from private to public. Congratulations to all who made it through and a special mention for these Fifty3 Fridays alumni who were chosen by my fellow judges: Afreine, Barbara, Chloe Foy, Slant, Temptress, Test Card Girl, Tina Boonstra and Wings of Desire.

So, what’s next? The ninety will then be whittled down to a shortlist of just eight, by judges including Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis. The eight will then do battle at April’s live finals for a slot on one of the main stages at this year’s Festival. The competition winners will also earn a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize, to help take their songwriting and performing to the next level. Two runners-up will also each be awarded a £2,500 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize.

Fifty3 Fridays will be back next week with some more great music from grassroots musicians. Ukraine still wears heavily on all our minds and I’ll leave you with these thoughts.

We all need heroes, especially in such dark times. This week you could hardly have missed the heroism of Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Russian state-controlled Channel 1, whose brave walk-on protest on a live TV news programme drew such worldwide coverage and respect. In her anti-war video, for which she was fined, she calls on the Russian people to protest against the war, saying only they have the power to "stop all this madness". "Don't be afraid of anything. They can't imprison us all," she adds.

I have written previously in this column about what many may think is a naïve hope that the Russian people will turn in sufficient numbers on those leading this appalling assault on a free Ukraine and on the propaganda machine feeding them daily misinformation. Marina gives us all hope that the tide could still turn against her country’s regime. I will continue to beat the drum in support of Ukraine and again commend the analyses of Patrick Cockburn in The i and Janusz Bugajski in the Washington Examiner.

As a welcome bridge to better things, like so many I was delighted to see the belated return of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori to their families here. I hope that Wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz, a joint Iranian, UK and US citizen, released from prison but still confined to Iran can also return very soon.


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.


In the past 15 years I have written for leading US music website  Consequence and breakthrough  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 great, 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:

Fri 7 Jun: Alexandra Leaving/Frankie Morrow, The Waiting Room, London N16

Sat 8 Jun: Bat For Lashes, St John's Church, Kingston

Sun 9 Jun: Blanid, The Black Heart, London NW1

Mon 17 Jun: The Mysterines, St John's Church, Kingston

Thu 20 Jun: Charm of Finches, The Lexington, London N1 See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston


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