Guitarist K.K. Downing may have officially retired from Judas Priest in 2011, but the rocker apparently isn't one to stray too far from the stage. After spending time in the last few years pursuing various business opportunities, Downing is returning to the music scene as a promoter.

The guitarist tells the Shropshire Star that he's interested in finding new, young talent and providing them with a showcase to get their music heard. As such, he's announced a pair of shows in Wolverhampton and Birmingham where he'll highlight some rising stars. Downing's promotion firm will operate under the moniker The Future of Heavy Metal, and it finds him collaborating with industry veteran Dave Coleman to discover the talent.

The guitarist says, "The Black Country and Birmingham are known as the home of heavy metal. Back in the '70s and '80s the area produced so many good bands from Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin to Judas Priest and even Slade. In some ways it's been difficult for other bands to fill the void. Now it's time for the next generation to step up to the plate."

Among the bands he's currently promoting are local acts such as Hostile, Left Unscarred and Under Blackened Skies, as well as French outfit Moray Firth.

The first show will take place May 15 at the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton, with the second show scheduled for May 17 at the Asylum in Birmingham.