A Jazzy way For Piper Music Management organise a huge live event

Cara Birchall
Cara Birchall

Arranging for one of America’s hottest stars to attend a concert in Blackpool is certainly one career highlight that won’t be forgotten.

Heather Walker and Cara Birchall were thrilled to invite Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff to launch their inaugural Livewire Festival this summer and after such huge success, they are now dedicated to organising the next one.

Heather Walker and Cara Birchall from Piper Music Management Ltd

Heather Walker and Cara Birchall from Piper Music Management Ltd

The pair work for Piper Music Management, which is based in Blackpool, and they have seen their roles develop into something really exciting over the last few years.

Initially they worked backstage at a series of events for the company, before being taken on full time, where their main role was to manage and develop bands, introducing them to songwriters and producers.

That task has gradually progressed to covering events – and now they are in charge of organising the Livewire Festival, alongside directors Andrew and Gill Falconer.

Heather, 25, of Cottam, says: “I was a scholarship student at Preston’s College and as part of extra duties, and I worked on a charity event for Children In Need.

Livewire Festival, Blackpool. Will Smith on stage. Photo credit: Dave Nelson.

Livewire Festival, Blackpool. Will Smith on stage. Photo credit: Dave Nelson.

“I then did more work and I began working part time with Piper Music Management at Christmas lights switch-ons seven years ago.

“As the Livewire Festival began to take shape, I was taken on full time, as there is a lot to do.

“We had to start from the beginning, doing everything from research and sorting out Portaloos to booking acts.

“It is a great job.

“I can be in the office one day and the next I am waiting for the likes of Will Smith to arrive for the Livewire Festival which took place in August.

“I didn’t get to meet Will, which was a shame, but he was very professional and organised.

“He was very chilled and did his thing. He knew what he was doing and the crowds went wild.”

Cara, 32, of Wigan, says: “One of my friends Preston Dance College put my name forward to do some work backstage at one of Piper Music Management’s events.

“I was working on one of the Children in Need concerts.

“I was then offered more work and began running events. My first big one was Townley Live in Burnley a few years ago.

“I also did a lot of work for Late Night Blackpool Pleasure Beach and the Vampire Beach at Halloween.

“I also organised Christmas lights switch-ons all over the North West: Preston; Lancaster; Wythenshawe and Southport.

“Organising the Livewire festival takes up all our time now as we set that up from scratch.

“We bring artists who you may not normally see in concerts as they don’t tour anymore, like Will Smith, who chose Blackpool to perform a one-off gig.

“We were thrilled at the success of the festival, which was our first one. We are really proud and looking forward to the next one.”

For Heather and Cara, a career in music management is a natural progression, as they both have a background in performing arts.

They are both members of a dance school and both gained teaching qualifications at Preston Dance College.

Cara, who studied dance, drama and physical theatre at Edge Hill University, says: “There comes a point when you are unable to dance so it is nice to be able to be involved in production and staging. It is great fun.”

Heather, who studied A Level dance and performing arts at Cardinal Newman College, adds: “Stage and event management is a lot more involved than being a dancer.

“You have to work well with everyone and make sure everyone is happy.

“There is a lot of organisation involved.

“There is only a few of us in the office, so we have a lot of sleepless nights.

“But it is worth it when we pull together a fantastic event, like the Livewire Festival.”