It will all end in tiers
The news has made grim reading this last couple of weeks, but in the middle of it all there was some good news for the local music scene.
The Bullingdon on Cowley Road is to receive a Cultural Recovery Fund lifeline grant from the Arts Council, to help tide it through the pandemic drought. I know many of you have played on that stage over the years, it has hosted the One Gig Closer fundraisers for Wittstock, and is the regular venue for the Haven Club. Here is a video of Beaver Fuel playing there a few years back, at a Christmas party gig, when Leigh was battling with a cold, James demonstrated his ability to spring up like a jack in the box, and drummer Chris got carried away in the finale. The song is called "Dogma is for life, not just for Christmas".
Remember the Cellar
The music scene is fragile at the best of times, so it needs all the help it can get to make it through covid. When we lose venues, we lose them for good. Remember it was only last year that the Cellar closed down forever. This is a video of the band Who Killed Nancy Johnson playing down there on its final night, and the song is called "The Reap".
Has anyone been on a train since this pandemic started? I'd like to share this video with you, of a song called "Fast Train", made by a London band I know called The Mothers Of Memphis. They are a cross between punky rock and country and western. I like the pacing of it, they've done a great job in putting together, and I feel honored that they have included my live footage of them in the edit.
Have you ever incorporated real-world sounds into your music, sounds which do not come from traditional instruments? The only example I can think of locally is Mary Bendy Toy who have an old wind-up air-raid siren which they use in one of their songs. It sounds terrific and is terrifically loud, and whichever audience member foolishly volunteers to wind it for them certainly gets a good cardiac work-out. Here is another example for you of a non-instrument sound source, this one from California in a blues track, from Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. Earlier this year someone created a video to go with one of their songs, a great track called "Hard Workin Man". I think the song itself dates back to about 1978 or so, and it was used as the opening soundtrack on a movie called Blue Collar. I first heard it on the John Peel show. In fact, the only place I ever heard it was on the John Peel show. The thing that stands out for me in this song is the way they use the rhythmic industrial hammering as an utterly dominant percussion device, and the 1930s film clips they've set it to works so well.
Which tier are we in today?
The story in Oxford changes from day to day, but wherever we are, gigs as we know them don't look like happening any time soon. Please try to keep practising the social distancing, the hand-washing, and the wearing your face masks in shops, and let's just try to get through this as soon as possible. Keep your spirits up, and make sure you keep eating healthily, (he said guiltily as he wolfed down the last chunk of chocolate). I've got some videos lined up of reloaded Klub Kakofanney sets and some brand new performances in the pipeline which I hope to bring you over the coming weeks. If you have any interesting news about what your band is doing to get through the pandemic, let me know, and if any of you want to record a socially-distanced set for us, please do get in touch.