Monday, January 07, 2008

'We're going down the pub...'

Hmm- my first posting of 2008 and it starts with a quote from Sham 69...

Pretty much every rock musician starts their 'career' (I use the term loosely!) by playing in pubs; indeed back in the mid-70's the term 'pub-rock' was coined to describe the likes of Dr. Feelgood, Brinsley Schwarz, Ducks Deluxe etc- bands outside of the mainstream playing noisy rock'n'roll a million miles away from the progressive rock that was popular at the time. Sometime around 1975 bands like Eddie and the Hot Rods and The 101'ers appeared on the pub-rock circuit, paving the way for The Pistols and co. whilst the likes of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe re-invented themselves as part of the 'new-wave', even though they and many others like them had been spotted in pub-rock bands only a couple of years previously (for more information check out the excellent book 'No Sleep 'till Canvey Island' by Will Birch- the definitive account of all things pub-rock).

The Globe in Brentford is a great pub and, maybe most importantly, a great music pub. It puts on gigs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday- mostly blues/r'n'b/soul stuff with the odd surprise here and there- and is run by the venerable Charlie and his better half Beata. After The Price self-destructed in 1994 I found myself playing in a rhythm and blues band called The Informers; we were one of the first bands to be booked at The Globe and over the course of our time together saw it grow in stature to become one of the best-loved West London pub venues. Sadly times have been hard of late, with smaller audiences meaning that Charlie and Beata have been feeling the pinch- to such an extent that last night saw the first 'keep music live at The Globe' benefit show featuring The Lee Ryder Band plus special guests. And a good night it was too if a little self-indulgent in places (lots of solos!) with guests including Alan Darby (I change his strings every week at the theatre!) on guitar and, incredibly, Roger Glover (Deep Purple hero and current no. 1 in the Pro Music 'celebrity customer' chart) on bass. Myself and East attained a considerable state of confusion by the end of proceedings, to such an extent that I was heard to utter the words 'I'd rather not be a hippy than be a millionaire' on more than one occasion- a reasonably profound statement I'm sure you'll agree, 'though sadly neither of us can remember why I said it or what or indeed who I was referring to at the time. All good fun- but it's got me thinking about how much I as a (ahem) musician owe to places like The Globe and smaller music venues generally. As an aspiring guitarist I was able both to watch other players at close quarters- something rarely if ever possible at larger 'concert' venues- and to subsequently make my own first faltering steps onto the stage. As I said earlier this sort of situation is particularly common with rock musicians, although a lot of jazz and folk players will have a very similar story to tell. Pubs and clubs are a vital link in the chain that will lead some to riches and glory and others to the next boozer on the giglist- assuming of course that there is a 'next' one. Every venue that closes or stops putting on live entertainment is a loss to all of us who enjoy music on any level, because you can't have the big gig without the small gig, and you can't have the small gig without the small gig venue. So- how do we keep the venues open?

Simple- BY GOING TO THEM. I've lost count of the number of musicians that I've heard bemoaning the fact that there's 'nowhere to play anymore'- yet they themselves rarely if ever go out to watch even their friends play. And I'm as guilty as the next man; I've been meaning to go down to The Crown & Treaty in Uxbridge to sort out a date for a Price gig there for absolutely ages, and will be the first to moan if I get there only to be told that they've stopped putting gigs on as 'no one seems to be interested anymore'- yet I don't think that I've ever actually been to a gig there in years. So I for one am going to make more of an effort to get out to the smaller gigs as well as to the bigger ones this year- as I say, you can't have one without the other...

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