Two hundred decibels and a ruddy big pick-axe
It is good to see that the covid numbers across the country continue to head in broadly the right direction. Both the vaccination programme and our own actions are having a real impact in reducing infection rates. I am ever more hopeful that life, and music events, will be back to near normal by the summer.
Many of the major music festivals are now committing to July onwards, such as the Truck Festival which will be held on the 22nd-25th July weekend and has already sold out of camping tickets, and Green Gathering which will be held the following weekend, 29th July to 1st August.
Putting a price on culture and society
Things are looking up for life in general, but it will be less so for our local music if the Wheatsheaf is turned into student flats. I often feel that councillors and planners fail to appreciate the contribution that small music venues make to the local economy and to society.
It isn't just about filling a pub and selling beer. Many of those people who come into town for a gig are using public transpiort, which needs all the passengers it can get, and sometimes people are stopping off for food or coffee in the city centre eateries. The economic benefits go beyond gigs too. Musicians spend a lot of money on instruments, amps, and gig equipment. It is money which they simply wouldn't spend if they had little prospect of live performances. Musicians often record albums which keeps our local studios and sound engineers supplied with a steady stream of work. Bands and promoters have T-shirts and posters made which helps our struggling print companies. People of all ages are inspired to take music lessons and that provides valuable income for skilled local musicians with a flair for teaching.
And we could lose all of that for the sake of a few more flats in the city centre. If this is something you feel strongly about, check out the "Save The Sheaf" Facebook Group and make your voices heard.
NEw balls please,... no wait, that's tennis
Look around your neighborhood and chances are you will see a council-subsidised cricket pitch and pavillion, used on Sunday afternoons during the summer, a large amount of land benefitting a small number of people, yet no-one questions that because "they have to have somewhere to play" and sport is perceived as being a healthy and wholesome activity. So here for your pleasure is a montage of healthy and wholesome clips from Klub Kakofanney Sunday Sessions at the Wheatsheaf, where we draw in far more people than go to the local cricket matches, and we don't have any of this "rain stopped play" nonsense.
The featured artists in that reloaded compilation are Luke from Enjoyable Listens accompanied by his iPhone, Duo Cani singing in Italian, Firegazer, Tracy Island, and all topped off with a dose of Adam & Elvis. Sadly, whatever the outcome of the planning application, it looks like our Sunday afternoon gigs at the Wheatsheaf are over.
The inclusivity of music
Even more important than the economic value it creates, local music scenes are socially inclusive and good for your mental health. I've been to gigs in many towns, and people are always so friendly, strangers are made to feel welcome, bands and audiences become friends, and all without prejudice around sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, age, or dress-sense, (the latter of which is especially fortunate for me). Anti-social behaviour, drugs, and people drinking too much are all rarities at local music. People go to gigs for the sound, the social atmosphere, the dancing, things which are common to all people, around the world and across the ages. Talking of dancing around the world,...
The music used in that video is a 1969 piece from Santana and it is called "Jingo". Santana was formed way back in 1966 and played at Woodstock. That's the US Woodstock of festival fame, not the Oxfordshire village. I make it that, over the years, Santana has had 68 different band members, which is even more than Mark Atherton and Friends.
It was only a couple of years ago that we lost The Cellar, despite it being a music venue of many years standing and one of the select few featured by the nationwide Independent Venue Week. Ultimately, the landlords were asking for far too much rent for it to be sustainable. I was lucky enough to see a south Wales band there, maybe ten years ago or more, called "Punks Not Dad" (no, I haven't missed a letter out). I cannot for the life of me remember who supported them that night or who put the gig on. Were you there too? If so, remind me. This utterly brilliant video of one of their songs is so funny, with so many visual gags in it all the way through to the end. I love it.
If you are thinking Lisa Rogers looks vaguely familiar, she was a Channel 4 presenter and the co-host of Scrapheap Challenge in the early part of this millenium.
Distilling the teen spirit
Some people have such rigid conservative ideas about music, and insist it's only "proper" music if its played in a theatre, by an orchestra, using classical instruments, in front of a politely-seated audience while a conductor waves his baton in the air. So just to keep such people happy, here is a piece from the Sydney Opera House, performed by a trio of classically-trained Croatian musicians who go by the name of 2cellos. I hope it will be inspirational for both the percussionists and all you string-driven things out there.
So remember everyone, keep yourselves healthy, keep up with the social distancing, no matter how hard it seems, and when the vaccine call comes, please answer it. And that way we'll make it a summer to remember.