Your Darkest Thought. State Funding and Music, You have been warned.
June 20, 2007 by Mark
I was thinking about writing my own piece on this but then I found myself at The Adelphi in Hull with Dufus. After a long conversation with Paul, the owner of The Adelphi, who has proved a one man army behind the best gig in Hull for independent bands, I decided instead to quote you some words written by Bill Drummond as a contribution to “One Man and His Bog.” The Photos are mine, the words are Bill’s, The Adelphi is Paul’s and the people who work there are some of the best you’ll find. Oh Yeah, and public funding or state sponsorhip of the arts has had nothing to do with it.
PUB BACK ROOMS
July 2004 by Bill Drummond
Taken from: “One Man And His Bog” (Twenty years on the toilet tour). One Man And His Bog does not have an ISBN but is available from Amazon, it is a book that celebrates 20 years of the New Adelphi Club in Hull.
“There are plenty of pubs called the Nags Head. One of them is in a village called Wollaston in Northamptonshire. In the late sixties and early seventies they used to put bands on in the room above the bar. My mates and I would get the bus over from Corby to Wellingborough, then walk the three miles out to Woolaston and, lastly, climb the rickety wooden stairs on the outside of the Nags Head to get into that room to watch the bands. There week after week, we could see all the bands that we read about in the NME and Melody Maker and heard on the John Peel Show. The stage was about the size of my kitchen table, the toilets overflowed, we usually missed the last bus home and had to hitch. We loved it all, even when the band was one we hated because they had the wrong sort of haircuts. Most of the bands we saw never got further than their second album and are now long forgotten except for the odd mention in Record Collector. Others like Elton John and The Faces (featuring Rod Stewart) made more than two albums.
The Nags Head was not the only place that we went to, There was the room at the back of the Railway Hotel at Blisworth were we saw Deep Purple, The Tin Hat in Kettering where we saw Fleetwood Mac, and a place in Market Harborough where they put bands on Sunday afternoons and we saw Black Sabbath there.
I’m name checking the above bands, not because they were my favourites but because they all went on to sell millions of records around the world and their names are now writ large over the history of rock’n’roll. As far as I knew there were similar rooms above pubs and dodgy clubs across the land. It made sense and, as far as I was concerned, it would stay that way forever.
But then for a few years it all got a bit dull. British rock music went pomp got a bit to full of itself and I lost interest in going to see bands. Then punk happened in 1976 and in ’77 I found myself in a band. We were called Big In Japan, of course we weren’t big in Japan, we weren’t big anywhere. We lived in Liverpool and within the 12 months of our existence we did hundreds of gigs in rooms above pubs, and dodgy clubs. Every one of these places we played seemed to have a promoter who was a bit of a wide boy, lived by the seat of his pants but loved music. They loved all sorts of music, music that I had never heard before and, although they had to make ends meet and maybe had fantasies about being the next Peter Grant or Malcolm McLaren, they seemed to be more interested in a crusade to champion their favourite music.
Big In Japan amounted to fuck all, but there were others playing the same places as us that went on to conquer America and all that other bollocks. Like the bands from that earlier generation, they went on to get their names writ large in rock Val Hala.
The reason why I’m telling you the above is to give a bit of background before I try to make my point. It being: We in this country have been lucky over the last forty years, or so, to have had a vibrant musical culture that has had an influence over the rest of the world. Considering the size of our population we have been punching successfully way above our weight. But for every one band that goes on to have global success you need to have nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine that struggle hard to get somewhere but ultimately fail. It is only through playing live in the worst conditions that bands learn their craft. You need to have a network of shit holes and toilets across the land where bands can play for this to happen. The only reason why these islands have produced such a, comparatively speaking, high number of internationally successful bands is because we have had these hundreds of crap gigs to play in when they started out.
UK PLC has done very well out of the fact that our country has produced these bands. It is not only the tax they have earned for the land, but for the last four decades and counting, young people from around the globe have wanted to come here and spend their cash, drawn to what they perceive to be our hip, cool and vibrant youth culture. Without those nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine bands of which you’ve never heard playing in places that you would never want to go, that hip, cool and vibrant culture would never have existed. As a result, we would have bought into what America has to shove down our throats even more than we already have.
Pop music (or what ever sub-genre title you feel comfortable using) should never be subsidised by the state. The Arts Council or similar bodies must never be allowed to get near it. If any particular form of pop music can not survive in the cut and thrust of the market place it should be allowed to whither and die. The same goes for all the rooms above pubs and dodgy clubs. If people don’t want to pay the price for the ticket and would rather spend the night down the local Weatherspoons drinking cheap lager, so be it. Culture has to be on the move, in a state of continual flux or it is nothing, fit only for the museum and the text book.
But if the laws of the land make it ever more difficult for the current generation of would be wide boys, who live by the seat of their pants but who love music to make things happen in rooms above pubs and dodgy clubs, not only will our national purse be that much lighter but our culture that much deader.
The way things are going they would have closed down The Cavern and where would that have left us all?”
And then a friend sent me this link:
“This is hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of taxpayers money put at risk because senior management at AWM apparently can’t take constructive criticism. Not only is taxpayers money at risk but small firms can be put out of business through losing out on one funded project.” http://www.westmidlandsno.org.uk/wordpress/?p=210