Yes! time goes by, tastes, likes, loves, appreciations all move on with time. There were times in my middle youth (in this instance for me that meany my 50s, as if I will ever truly grow up) when the things that made me look up, listen and all the rest – generally paying attention – were the loud, the brash, the banging, in one way or another. These were the days of free parties out in the Peaks, warehouses, abandoned buildings. These wer the days of club nights attended, run, played at and those for whom I was providing visuals.
In such days I acquired an appreciation of quite oddly contrasting things:
– odd trails through woods and seemingly ordinary patches of rock, grass, countryside
– old buildings, dilapidated, disused, derelict but still standing and serviceable in one way or another
– tarnished clubs, nightclubs with a hint of distress or just a certain well lived texture, hence the Adelphi, the Arches, Corporation and more
– scrappy flats, old caravans, particular estates and corner shops, ordinary old pubs, things with a history of ordinary people’s lives, a history of efforts made, painful failings, odd successes and joys, too many pains, accidents and setbacks.
These were days when ultimately I ended up going out to various parties and clubbing with my daughters. We had a common set of tastes for events and music. It was all very surprising to their friends when they discovered that the old guy wandering about with them was their dad – quite normal for them but so unusual for their buddies. In these days and nights a bond was built of common tastes and flavours. Those textures still come back to me, they still retain a particular power for me but they are no longer as immediate as they used to be.
Any town or city has its own particular life. Its heart is made up of a number of things – there is its working life, its history, but partiuclarly there is its social life, its nightlife. It may be the case that a city has its very own stars. It may have its glittery big clubs and bars. What sits at the back of all such is the little place. I have a great fondness for small venues and all that they give. So often they are the birth places of much grander things but more importantly they are the life of the interesting. There is a particular review of the Golden Cross in Coventry, it states that it was the birth place of the Specials. I can remember meeting John Bradbury there and subsequently did a really, really bad audition at his place, Wyken cum Walsgrave. That place has a history going back to 1581 – I just remeber it in the 70s and the upstairs bar cum club. Downstairs it was a place I spent time with old mates such as Nigel Osgood, Tim Hill, Dave Wicks and more from my Bablake school days.
Later in life I had an association with the Earl in Sheffield. It was once a pound house – where livestock was lodged as people came into the town (before it was a true city) to trade. It became the home of a great clubnight – Spannered, with breaks at its core. Before that I had spent a lot of time at the East House – once dubbed the Dodge City Saloon because of the shooting there many, many years before. I djed at the place and loved my time there. These have now ceased being venues/pubs.
Latterly I did a lot of work with the Redhouse, itself roughly 300 years old. This was a place that gave life to a whole raft of small club nights, began the careers of bands and saw visitors from all over the world. In that place I have spoken more languages than I can remember. I surprised those coming down to the Botswana day celebrations one year – they were not expecting a white guy to speak to them in Sesotho. Otheres have heard me practice my few words of Malay, Greek, Poruguese, French, Dutch, German, Serbo-Croat, Swahili, Turkish, to name a few (and no I am not boasting, as I say, ‘if you stand still long enough, you will be surprised who walks past’).
Here is a breaks mix – it became something very dear to me – dance music I loved more than …
Here are a couple of mixes taking me back to my Coventry youth, the Cross, various parties, the attempt at a band that we probably all go through …
And here – a mix which is definitive of me as a Cov lad …
I have written before about the joys of small venues. The Redhouse has been a key part of my life – at least these latter years. Dealing with business matters there, security, event planning, djing, vjing and so on. It will soon close – unfortunately such pub chains as Punch have little appreciation for the aesthetics of the matter, only the pounds, shillings and pence, no real humanity, just an adding machine.
This was a venue that gave us the widest range of music, certainly in South Yorkshire if not Yorkshire full stop. Here you could find bands, admittedly small, but still from all over the world. Personally I have played music here from every continent. Events such as the celebration of Che Guevara’s birthday, at one time an annual event, where I supplied visuals. I remember playing balkan to a particular crowd, african – from african zouk to kizomba and kudurro, at other times kwaito and afro-beat. Some of the biggest nights were ska events and here I would play not only english language ska, from the UK and regularly the USA, but also french and spanish, mexican and dutch, with odd bits of german thrown in.
There will be a goodbye party next weekend.