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.
Working class areas of northern towns and cities regularly have areas of dereliction. This is not necessarily so bad because those areas do acquire a very particular feel – there is both a grain and a texture to what happens to the area.
We used to party at a number of places in the area – Pitsmoor is just outside of the city centre and is noted as being the area where newcomers first settle – having had significant Jamaican, Kashmiri, Somali, Kurdish, Polish and more populations. I used to dj at places such as the Highway, the East House, the Tea Gardens and more. Each of these has a history, some going back many years – the Tea Gardens was originally a temperance pub providing mainly tea and no alcohol, the East House was the scene of a well-known murder decades ago and so was also known as ‘the wild west saloon’. The Highway though, now burnt down and demolished was a place for all-nighters.
All of the above gives an idea of some of what was played.
I have written previously on the subject of small venues. In a different blog – f4mmedia – I looked particularly at the Redhouse, a Sheffield venue typified as providing the widest range of music in South Yorkshire. I love small venues – so much friendlier, warmer, more personal. I have worked at quite a number and DJed at many. These have included:
- the East House, now a cake shop and cafe, once known as the Dodge City saloon courtesy of murders decades ago
- the Tea Gardens, now a food store, once a temperance house
- the Harley, still going!
- the Earl, once a pound house, stables in the rear
The East House was the venue where futurhood was first established leading to the creation of futurhood av. Its origins lie in the phrase ‘in the neighbourhood of the future – that’s where we are’, a phrase coined by a close friend. This was the venue where I re-engaged with djing putting on nights based around northern soul, ska, classic soul, liquid dnb, 2 step garage, funk, deep house and all sorts of other material.
The Earl was the venue giving rise to an event which made some personal history for me and the group of friends with whom I co-promoted – Spannered. we use to say it did what it says on the tin. Based around breaks, techno and other electronica, it made DJ mags top ten nights in the land and forged brief links with other DJ mags. it was the venue which saw the birth of Aromatiq.
The Redhouse was a major step in my own history of involvement with small venues. Aside from dealing with security I put on events and djed for others. The range of music included ska – all 3 waves and most languages, house, techno, trance, mashups, funk, jazz funk, deep house, balkan, african, latin of all varieties, dubstep, dnb, garage, broken beat, nujazz, nusoul and probably a load I have forgotten.