Local musicians and radio colleagues unite for tribute to late presenter

A number of local bands, groups and solo artists have been joined by radio station colleagues in a tribute show to a presenter who sadly died suddenly late last year.

Steve Rawlings joined Ilkeston-based Erewash Sound before its full time FM launch in March 2010 and took the helm of The Great Erewash Music Show at that point, going on to champion the local music scene, increasing the number of local artists being featured on a weekly basis, seeing many at local gigs and taking the radio show from 30 minutes to an hour and subsequent two hours which is how the ‘GEMS’ airs today.

However, at the age of just 57, Steve died suddenly on 22nd November 2021. Colleague, Ian Perry, who devised the show in 2007 when the radio station broadcast online only, explained how Erewash Sound officials were determined to continue Steve’s legacy. He said: “It is very difficult to describe the amazing work that Steve did to support artists from across Erewash, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. He never made a fuss about it, and was in fact, quite modest about the fact that Erewash Sound was the first to feature artists such as Derby-based Miss 600 who later went on to achieve airplay on a national BBC radio station, and also Jake Bugg from Nottinghamshire, before his career really took off. We were determined to ensure that GEMS continued after sadly losing Steve so suddenly and I am proud to have been able to host the show since his untimely passing.”

Thursday 27th November saw the airing of a special tribute show, endorsed by Steve’s family and presented by Ian. The show began with Steve’s opening link from what was sadly his last show which aired on 18th November 2021, and included a raft of artists who gave their contributions including what it means to get airplay on local radio as well as their own memories of Steve.

George Gadd said: “I am incredibly grateful for the support.” whilst a representative from Arkoza spoke of the value of his work: “It’s so important to have people like Steve out there supporting local and unsigned artists, we hope he knew how much everyone appreciated what he did.”

Harriet from Derby-based Muddibrooke said: “We are so appreciative of all the support Steve and Erewash Sound has given us.” whilst Paul from another Derby band The Herron Brothers said: “It was great that he played our stuff, and it was really sad to hear of the loss to the station and his friends and family. He meant a great deal to everyone. Our thoughts are with you all.”

Cookie features with his own material but also in collaboration with others. He said: "When I first heard that Steve had passed I was very sad, not only was he a significant cog in the local music scene, providing a rare and welcome boost for amateur songwriters and performers, but he was a very lovely man.

The Great Erewash Music Show has played a special role in my personal musical journey, it’s difficult to describe the buzz you get when you hear one of your own original compositions played on the air, it’s a kind of verification. I remember clearly sitting round the computer (pre-FM) with the band (The Little Pigs) just grinning from ear to ear as Steve introduced ‘When She Falls Down’, we thought we’d hit the big time!

GEMS became a must-listen for all local bands and performers and Steve became our champion, even when he was tripping over his words, often in excitement about what he was about to play, it was great entertainment and he was so endearing. I*’ll always be very grateful to Steve for the kind support and encouragement he gave me and my music, and I hope that wherever he is now he is finding lots of new music to champion."*

Alan S. Robinson is one of Cookie’s recording colleagues. He said: "As a local musician, I was exceedingly grateful to Steve for the support he gave to the local music scene. It can take a lot of time and effort to make a recording and it can be very difficult to get it heard when it is finished. Having someone like Steve willing to champion local artists and offering an outlet for our music to be played was very important to me. As was the fact that he was willing to play any genre of music.

I think I first found The Great Erewash Music Show when searching on line for ways to promote one of my albums. I sent Steve the CD and he played a track from it. It couldn’t have been easier. I was well pleased. Subsequently, I submitted The Ilkeston Folk Club compilation CD I had been involved with and he played tracks from that, as he did with later solo and side projects I sent. The only time I actually met Steve was at a Little Pigs gig in Ilkeston. Steve had featured their music on his shows as well as the solo music of the lead singer Cookie. I was grateful to have the chance to thank him in person for playing my music.

I have always had an interest in the local music scene, as a local musician it seemed obvious to be interested in what my peers were up to, but over the years I’d been channeled into a narrow field of singer-songwriters and folky type acts. Listening to GEMS exposed me to aspects of the local music scene that it would have been too easy for me to miss otherwise. I will always be grateful to Steve not only for playing my music on his shows but also for introducing me to the music of many other local artists. I believe the local music scene is more vibrant than it has ever been and I’m sure Steve has had a role in that."

Kevin Quinlan from The Amber Band who wrote and recorded a song called ‘Rebel DJ’ for Steve, including name-checking him in the last verse of the lyrics, said: “He was the first DJ to play songs by us and we will always be grateful to him. We absolutely loved him and his show. He gave local singers and bands a wonderful opportunity to be heard on the radio. His show was so important because he played a variety of music by local talent which he selected himself. We are so glad Erewash Sound are keeping Steve’s show going as a tribute to him.”

Sarah Middleton-Woolley added: “Steve was very kind, supportive and keen to share our songs, of which there were many. I regularly contacted Steve, often submitting new songs and the odd cover version. Steve always took the time and trouble to reply, which was very much appreciated.”

Dave Berridge is from Long Eaton. He said: “I firmly believe that any DJ or radio stations that give airplay time to artists, particularly local artists in this case, play a vital role in a musicians’ or songwriters’ often bumpy path to success. My sincere condolences to Steve’s family, friends, and colleagues at Erewash Sound.”

Also included in the show were some radio station colleagues who spoke about working with him and paid their own respects too. The show ended with Steve’s final link of what was his last show and the last song that he played. Ian said: “Although I was the host of this show, it was most certainly not about me and I could think of no better way to finish it than by allowing Steve’s voice to be heard one more time”.

The Great Erewash Music Show continues from Thursday 3rd February at 7pm with Tom Hopcroft and producers Ciaran Shea and Jack Drury.