Music-loving student Joe Allan is to perform to a crowd of up to 5,000 festival-goers and share a bill with top band The Christians this weekend after winning Northumberland’s Got Talent.
The 19-year-old from Cramlington had no expectations when he was encouraged by his dad to enter the talent show and was amazed when judges liked his home-grown compositions so much they picked him as winner.
And, as if playing to the competition audience at Phoenix Theatre in Blyth wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, his success brings with it a spotlight slot at the upcoming festival Northumberland Live which sees multi-million-selling The Christians, other chart-toppers and radio DJs headline this weekend.
“My dad told me about the competition, and I thought I’ve got nothing to lose,” says Cramlington High School student Joe who loves writing songs and short stories and is off to Edinburgh University soon to study journalism.
“I thought I might as well go along because, if nothing else, it would be good experience. I never thought for a minute I would end up winning it.”
Divided into two categories, the competition’s under-18s was won by 13-year-old Lewis Hill from Holywell, North Tyneside, a lover of 50s and 60s music whose take on 1961 classic Run Around Sue also secured him a festival slot.
The Joe’s acoustic set featured self-penned humorous song Diseases, based on a story he made up about a homeless man he regularly sees near Marks & Spencer in Newcastle where he has a part-time job.
Now he’s nervous but delighted at the prospect of facing his biggest audience to date.
“There were about 300 people at the Phoenix and that was the most I’ve played in front of, though I’ve played shows through school at The Sage,” he said.
“I’ve never stood in the middle of the stage on my own - but I’m feeling great about it!
“I’m going to play all my most recent songs - I’m hoping to put out a five or six-track CD by the end of the year.”
This summer Joe brought out his debut EP, The City At My Brains, with a music video made by fledgling company CogWheel Films.
Since his dad, a bassist who used to be in bands, gave him a guitar at the age of nine and taught him his first few chords, he’s always loved music.
Self-taught with support from his school music teacher, he says he would be happy to have a future career in either music or journalism.
Humour features a lot in his work and he says: “I do my own thing as far as song-writing is concerned.
“I’ve been in cover bands before but have been taking my own songwriting seriously the last couple of years.
“Everything inspires me really - I’ve done a lot of songs about school and growing up in my group of friends.
“I really like writing and make up stories as well - things don’t have to black and white.”
His favourite bands are Elbow, The National and Frightened Rabbit: “They’re the three I listen to the most and draw inspiration from.”
Yesterday the rising talent was travelling down to Leeds Festival to enjoy listening to a few bands before he returns to get up close and personal with his own audience at the free Northumberland Live which takes place on Blyth Beach on Saturday between noon and 8pm.