Thursday, June 15, 2017

Welcome to Peter Clemon's Coventry Music Articles

This Post Remain's on top as an introduction to the site. Scroll below for the latest posts.

This Blogspot is part of the Hobo (Coventry Music and Arts Magazine) archive.

Hobo was a Coventry music magazine c 1973 - 75 and the archives of the magazine and Hobo workshop and the general music scene of the 70's was originally on Vox blogs c 2007 until recently. Vox closed and the site is being redeveloped and rearranged here - it's still in progress so bear with us.

This Blog
This Hobo blog spot in particular  is for Peter Clemon's Coventry music Scene articles for the Coventry Telegraph. Pete Clemons has a huge database of hundreds of gigs in Coventry from the 60's to the present. Both professional acts and local bands. He has had over 100 articles publish in the Coventry Telegraph which, on his request, we've collated here and  have linked them with further material from the Hobo magazine archives.


  • Early posts on here - if you scroll right down - are Pete's Rock of Ages Posts - gigs in Cov through the ages since the early 60's to present.
  • Later posts are about important music venues in the city and their history.
  • Other posts are about Coventry bands from the 60's onwards.

Pete Clemons and Trev Teasdel at  BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire January 2016

Links to the other Hobo Coventry Music Archive sites 
Coventry Music Scene from Hobo - This is the Hub to all the sites below

Hobo - Coventry Music Archives This is the main Blogspot for the Coventry Music Archives from Hobo Magazine with archive material from HoboMagazine and other Coventry music magazines, feature articles and other documentation. This site is still in development.

Coventry Arts Umbrella Club
The archives of the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club which was opened in 1955 by the Goons and where some of the Two Tone musicians started out and literary figures like Phillip Larkin and much more. many Coventry bands played the Umbrella in the late 60's and early 70's. It also housed Coventry's first Folk Club.

Coventry Folk Club Scene 1970's  
This is the Hobo site for Coventry's longstanding and thriving Folk and Acoustic scene. It covers both folk archives from the 70's and features on some of the contemporary singer songwriters out there now along with Pete Willow's history of Coventry Folk Scene and pdf versions of  his 70's Folks Magazine 1979 / 80. Top names like Rod Felton, Dave Bennett, Kristy Gallacher, Pauline (Vickers) Black, Roger Williamson, Sean Cannon and many more.

Coventry Gigs 1960 to Present (This blogspot in fact!).

Coventry Discos, Venues, Music shops and Agencies / Studios etc.
A steadily progressing blog for a variety of other aspects of Coventry's music scene - the DJ's, Discos, Venues, Arts fests, record shops, studios, music agencies etc etc..

Coventry Musicians Who's Who 
This blog has an A to Z of Coventry musicians. It's not yet complete (if ever!) but there are many names and their bands on already. I will come back to it when the A to Z of bands is complete and add in names not on. Meanwhile if you are not on it - and you should be - or your friends and their bands or if your info is incorrect - do let us know at

Hobo A to Z of Coventry Bands and Artists
Meanwhile a huge A to Z of Coventry bands and artists can be found (again in development) here


The Stranglers

The Stranglers
by Pete Clemons

I have to say that I was personally delighted when I heard that The Stranglers were going to headline the Friday evening of the Godiva Festival 2017. Having seen them play live on many occasions I do admit that they really are a guilty pleasure of mine.

This band is one of the UK’s most popular and successful groups to have emerged from the punk rock era. For well over thirty years they have produced a host of studio and live albums. And, still today, they continue to sell out venues up and down the country.

Formed as The Guildford Stranglers in 1974 the band was, at first, a part of the London pub rock scene. However from 1976 they became more associated with the growing punk rock movement.

They were formed by drummer Jet Black, who was then well into his 30s. Joining Jet were bass player Jean-Jacques Burnel, guitarist Hugh Cornwell and, a short while later, keyboard player Dave Greenfield.

Looking back to those days though, and the gigs I attended, the band members were not averse to jumping off the stage and thumping the punk element of the audience who thought the idea of ‘gobbing’ at the band was a term of endearment.

Jean-Jacques Burnel has since been quoted as saying that in retrospect ‘he thought of himself as part of punk’ at the time, as they were inhabiting the same space, but he would like to think that the Stranglers ‘were more than punk’.

The punk rock movement spread like a wild fire up and down the country. New bands seemed to spring up from nowhere on a weekly basis. And the cities outside of London, particularly Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, became engulfed by it all.

And there was no denying that this new musical genre had, quite early on, fired up the imaginations of Coventry’s youth as well as inspiring the minds of the more musically talented and creating a do it yourself ethic that covered everything from the music itself to the clothing.

Coventry’s branch of Virgin Records who, at that time were based in the city Arcade close to the birdcage, soon became the hub for buying these records and a magnet for all those who those who wanted to discuss the new bands with a very knowledgeable staff who included future Specials drummer John Bradbury and photographer extraordinaire John Coles. But punk rock brought with it a large amount of bad publicity.

For Coventry it had all started well with early visits by some of punk rock’s major names. However a country-wide ban on punk by the Tiffany’s empire, during the early part of 1977, brought the gigging scene, as far as punk bands were concerned, to a halt.

From then on, and for about nine months, things went relatively quiet in terms of ‘major’ punk bands visiting Coventry on a regular basis. A few of them, namely The Stranglers and Elvis Costello and the Attractions slipped into Coventry under the radar but it wasn’t until September 1977 that the onslaught really began.

Tiffany’s ban was eventually lifted during August 1977 and when asked how the venue was going to prepare for a punk invasion in Coventry, the then manager, ‘Aubrey Marsden’ said ‘the only thing the company now draws the line at are ‘striptease shows’.

But it was not just Tiffany’s that suddenly gave punk rock a warm reception. At almost the same time Mr Georges Club also found a mid-week slot for punk beginning with a three band night London, The Swords and The Victims. And, to a lesser degree La Chaumiere in The Burges, attracted local punk influenced bands like The Flys, and The Wild Boys. For the next 18 months or so it was an amazing and wonderful time for Coventry indeed.

Back to The Stranglers. Today they still have Jean-Jacques Burnel and Dave Greenfield in the ranks. They are also completed by guitarist and vocalist Baz Warne who has been associated with the band for almost 20 years.

As for the drum seat, it is my understanding that Jet Black is still an official member of the band. However, due to ill health and the fact that he is now 78 years old, he is no longer the touring drummer.

Jet was certainly not present on the last tour when I saw them at the Leamington Assembly. Instead his duties were taken by a guy called Jim MacAulay. And it appears that Jim is in-fact now the touring drummer for the band.

Steven Wilson to visit the Midlands

Steven Wilson to visit the Midlands
by Pete Clemons

At the time I last put digit to keyboard and put a few words together about Steven Wilson, his third studio album ‘The Raven That Refused to Sing’, was about to be released.

Without the backing of major promotion ‘The Raven’ reached the top 30 of the UK album charts and was also very popular in Europe.

A supporting tour across Europe and North America during the early part of 2013 was followed up by further European dates, including a sold out date at The Royal Albert Hall, along with gigs in Australia toward the end of the same year.

Steven’s fourth album ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase.’ was released during February 2015 and also crashed into the album charts. Critically acclaimed, The Guardian newspaper called it ‘a smart, soulful and immersive work of art’. Others called it ‘a masterpiece’. Once again, a major tour promoted the album that took into further territories that including South America.

Now Steven has his fifth album ‘To The Bone’ on the horizon and this time a date in Coventry, as well as the Symphony Hall Birmingham, has been included in the itinerary.

There have been several tasters for the album released to the internet, but being an old fashioned kind of listener I would personally prefer to wait until the album has been released, during August 2017, and hear it in its full glory. But they are out there to be viewed.

Having not being tempted by the tasters I cannot comment on the album at all. However I can relay some of the comments I have read about what is to come:

A gloriously dynamic modernistic pop record. Fusing futuristic rock and spectoral elecronics with elegant atmospheres and wild guitars. To The Bone references the hugely ambitious Progressive Pop records that inspired Wilson in his teens. Lyrically, the album’s eleven tracks encompass the paranoid chaos of the post-truth era and the creeping self-loathing of the technology age, as well as steely fly on the wall observations of the everyday lives of religious fundamentalists and a welcome shot or two of wide eyed escapism. To The Bone is a high definition snapshot of the disconcerting times we live in.

Another major piece of news is that Steven recently signed for Caroline Records. For those with long memories, you may remember Caroline as a subsidiary of Richard Branson’s Virgin Records label. At the time it specialised in progressive rock and jazz influenced artists.

Nowadays Caroline is fully American owned and appears to have widened its horizons and releases records by a whole range of artists.

On his signing for Caroline Steven said ‘I’m absolutely delighted to be entering into partnership with Michael roe and his team at Caroline for my next album. Although Caroline exist within the Universal Music Group, their philosophy allows me to remain creatively independent, while at the same time providing the ‘muscle’ that being with a major organisation brings. This makes it a perfect home for me, and I’m happy to now be label mates with some of the most respected musicians in the industry’.

So back to the tour planned to begin during March 2018. The Warwick Arts Centre gig will be held on Thursday 15th with the visit to the Symphony Hall being a week after on the 22nd. And tickets appear to be selling very well.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Stone Foundation

Stone Foundation
By Pete Clemons

Nowadays, the music business is a very strange and fickle place. At one end of the spectrum you have the artists who gain instant, but relatively, short lived success that comes via the TV reality programs. And at the other end of the scale you have bands that plod on for many years, ploughing a furrow of their own, slowly growing and building a solid fan base.

And although this band has received little radio play or mainstream exposure, a Warwickshire based band have followed the latter path. And it was a path that the band was brave enough to take as they always believed it was the right one for them to take.

And now it seems that the courage of their convictions is beginning to bear fruit. After great dedication and a lot of hard work, Stone Foundation have, at long last, are crossing the brow of that hill. And the music world is beginning to take notice.

2017 has so far proved to be an incredible year for Stone Foundation. Their latest album, the critically acclaimed ‘Street Rituals’, was released during March. It comes two years on from the equally impressive ‘A Life Unlimited’.

Since the release of ‘Street Rituals’ the band have a sold out gig at the Islington Assembly. Their single, ‘Back in the Game’ has topped the UK vinyl singles chart. The band has paid a return visit performed concerts in Japan. They are due to tour for the first time in Ireland. And a date at Glastonbury awaits them.

There is a song on the ‘Street Rituals’ album titled ‘Love Revisited’. And when I first heard that track I distinctly remember thinking, how fitting a title it was. For me it kind of summed up the album as a whole. It was as if a whole style of music, that you rarely hear nowadays, was being completely revisited. And the music listening public at large seem to be enjoying it also.

Despite the song writing revolving around social issues it still manages to remain an optimistic listen.

The production talents of Paul Weller are indelibly stamped all over this album. He even performs on a track. However, and with all due respect to Paul, the success of this record is down to some strong song writing. It is this that has elevated Stone Foundation to the next level.

The album incorporates a diversity of musical styles. As with past Stone Foundation albums there is definitely a soulful direction with this music. But, to these ears at least, it also emphasizes more funk and R ‘n’ B influences than previously heard.
The band, formed at least a dozen years ago, comprises founder members Neil Jones (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Neil Sheasby (bass). In addition, and performing on the latest album, you have (deep breath) Phillip K. Ford (drums), Ian Arnold (Hammond organ, piano), Rob Newton (percussion), Paul Speare (baritone sax, tenor sax and flute), Gary Rollins (tenor saxophone, flute), Dave Boraston (trumpet and flugelhorn), Gareth John (trumpet), Anthony Gaylard (alto sax), Adam Stevens (baritone sax) and many others.

During their existence, Stone Foundation has regularly performed under their own steam, in small clubs. They have also being invited to support major bands, on the larger arena tours.

It has been in those smaller venues where I have seen the band several times. Always immaculately turned out they never fail to create a buzz. These foundations are well on the rise.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Badfinger - musical legacy

Badfinger - Musical Legacy

By Pete Clemons

To view the history of Badfinger and conclude it as just complicated is a massive understatement. Even when you attempt to delve into it all you quickly discover that it is a labyrinth of awful luck, bad blood and the absolute worst case of deceit within the music industry, that you are ever likely to read about.

Yet all of that aside, Badfinger have a musical legacy that other bands could only wish for. And as a legitimate member of the band, joining them in during 1974, Bob Jackson is aiming to concentrate on exactly what Badfinger were all about. And that was by creating some of the finest pop songs from the 1970s.

The original Badfinger line up

In 2015, former member Bob assembled his own version of Badfinger along with guitarist Andy Nixon, bass player Michael Healey and Ted Duggan on drums to honour the memory of original members Pete Ham, Tom Evans, and Mike Gibbins.

Badfinger now - current line up

During that same year they undertook a 23 date UK Theatre tour and 2016 saw the band continue to play UK shows.

2017 see’s Badfinger playing further selected dates once more with two very special dates being earmarked for Coventry during July.

The first will be on the main stage of the Godiva Festival on Sunday the 9th. The following Sunday, the 16th sees the band perform at The Empire on Far Gosford Street (the old Paris Cinema for those with long memories), along with Hazel O’Connor and the Subterraneans and a host of others, as part of the Mercia Music Festival.

The second date is particularly important as it is in aid of Myton Hospice and Motor Neurone Disease.

And it seems that Badfinger’s legacy has recently taken on a new lease of life. When the final episode of popular TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ was aired on TV in September 2013, it was viewed by an audience of ten million viewers. The farewell scene was set to Badfinger’s 1972 single release ‘Baby Blue’. That song suddenly found it-self subjected to thousands of downloads.

Baby Blue came from Badfinger’s third album called ‘Straight Up’ that also gave us the classic Day After Day. Its predecessor, ‘No Dice’ also contained classic songs such as No Matter What and the timeless Without You. Badfingers first album ‘Magic Christian Music’ contained Paul McCartney’s anthemically penned tune Come and Get it. The album also ended with a track called Maybe Tomorrow which was penned while Badfinger were known under their previous name of The Iveys. But all that has only touched on Badfinger’s career. They, along with The Iveys, were so much more.

Bob Jackson’s contribution to the Badfinger legacy can be found on an album titled ‘Head First’. It was recorded toward the end of 1974 but remained unreleased till 2000.

Bob was also instrumental, in 2013, of organising and performing, with Badfinger and friends, at the unveiling of the Pete Ham Blue Plaque for Swansea Council. The plaque designed to mark for years to come the achievements of Peter Ham and the work of the band.

So sit back, let the misfortunes of the band and all that went with it wash over you, and enjoy the music as it was meant for. And, most of all, celebrate what this wonderful band have left us with.

Follow the activities of the current version of Badfinger via the link below where you can also find details for the ‘Head First’ album.

Godiva Rocks - The Coventry Musical

Godiva Rocks 
The Coventry Musical.

Saturday 7 October through to Saturday 21 October 2017 at the Belgrade Theatre.

By Pete Clemons

During a year that has seen Coventry submit a bid in an attempt to become a city of culture for the year 2021, the team who created the gripping play ‘One night in November’ have reunited once again to produce another love story unique to our home.

Writer Alan Pollock and director by Hamish Glen created the compelling and thought provoking work ‘One night in November’. And, in similar respects to now, it was released during a very poignant period for the city.

‘One night in November’ was set during the war years. Those familiar with the play will need no reminding but it was a love story with a dramatic twist. A twist that ended with Coventry history was re-shaped forever.

Alan and Hamish’s latest creation is also based around a fictitious story line. But what sets this apart, for me at least, is its musical soundtrack. 20 songs created by Coventry related artists who were either born in the city or, at least raised here, will be performed.

Just imagine if you can, these will be unique interpretations of songs that may not have seen light of day for a very long time and may never be heard live again. This really is, I think, a golden opportunity to experience the immense talent of Coventry’s glorious bygone age.

The songs to be featured will be wide ranging and were originally by a variety of artists from Frank Ifield and Vince hill through to the Hazel O’Connor, The Specials and The Enemy.

As mentioned, ‘Godiva Rocks’ is a love story. The storyline is centered on The Orchid Ballroom. Today of course, we know The Orchid as The Colly or more recently the Kasbah.

The magnificent building that the Kasbah resides in is more than 100 years old. It is one of the oldest and most enduring entertainment rooms in the city.

Situated at 51 Primrose Hill Street this incredibly proud looking building first opened as the Globe Picture Theatre in 1914. Quite incredible when you think about it now but at the time it was one of four cinemas in the Hillfields area alone. Movies were shown within it for more than 40 years until it closed in 1956. The venue was then re-opened in 1957 as the Majestic Ballroom.

Music and dance sessions continued at the Majestic until July 1961. The venue was then taken over by the Mecca organisation that spent the rest of the year rebuilding and redecorating. During early 1962 announcements began to appear that bookings were now being taken at the renovated building with its luxurious decor and modern amenities. March of that year the venue opened again as The Orchid Ballroom.

To quote Alan Pollock, Godiva Rocks is "a celebration about the greatness of this city, who we are and what we're proud of". "No-one has ever done a musical about a town...a love story, the music, the essence of the town"

If the music does not disrupt your concentration on the story line, ‘Godiva Rocks’ I am sure, will be as equally gripping as its critically acclaimed predecessor.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pete Shelley / Howard Devoto

Pete Shelley / Howard Devoto

By Pete Clemons

Continuing a theme, I set myself during 2016, of attempting to celebrate the new wave of bands, and their music, that had shook up the whole scene some forty years previous, I think it must be worth mentioning the revolution that Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto brought to the music industry.

Both Pete and Howard, who were then both members of The Buzzcocks, are themselves very modest about it all. And, quite possibly, they never gave it a second thought or stopped to consider the impact that their approach to getting The Buzzcocks music ‘out there’ would forever leave on popular music.

Pete Shelley

Going back to the mid-1970s and the music business was in a vastly different place to that which it is in today. And without a record company deal both Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto really wanted to hear how this band that they had formed would actually sound like in a professional environment. So they came up with the idea of making and distributing their own records. Forty years ago this really was out of the box thinking. 

Howard Devoto

Shelley and Devoto had already created a small piece of musical history for themselves by putting on the now legendary gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester that featured their own band along with The Sex Pistols and Slaughter and the Dogs. It is now written into folklore how the pair had been to London and High Wycombe to see the Pistols, after reading about them in NME, and realising that there was actually another band trying to achieve the same musical vision as their own.

Shelley and Devoto set about their quest and discovered that they could get a thousand records printed for five hundred pounds including a picture sleeve. Five hundred pounds was an awful lot of money back then (getting on for three grand in today’s money using an online comparison). So after help with the finances from friends and family they went for it and actually began the process of making their own records.

After earlier attempts at the recording process themselves Pete and Howard met up with Martin Hannett, who had been described to the pair as a ‘hippy and wanna be producer and recording engineer’. Martin booked the band into a studio. And he produced the band’s first organised recording sessions held during December 1976. After these early efforts Martin Hannett would, himself, go on to become a very successful producer.

Pete Shelley had been bought a Polaroid camera for Christmas 1976 and it was this that he used to create a shot of the band. And that very photograph was used for the 4 track EP’s sleeve. A copy of the EP, titled ‘Spiral Scratch’ and which was released during January 1977 on the bands own newly created New Hormones label, was sent out to John Peel. And not long after John had given the record a spin on his very popular radio programme, the initial run of one thousand copies sold out.

As news of the EP’s success spread it was as though, all of a sudden, any aspirant musicians suddenly felt empowered to be able to make their own records. A new dawn had certainly broken through.

Soon after the release of ‘Spiral Scratch’, and after performing just 11 gigs for The Buzzcocks, Howard Devoto left the band. He returned to college but would resurface a year or so later with a new group called Magazine.

Magazine were a totally different proposition altogether. They used the energy of punk but added more complexity and emotion to their music. Magazine was a quite superb band who released a succession of excellent albums.

My own personal introduction to The Buzzcocks happened around September 1977 and it came, as most things did, via the above mentioned John Peel show. The band played a session for John and the tune I immediately picked up on was ‘What Do I Get’. I clearly remember that it seemed like an eternity to wait for ‘What Do I Get’ to be released as a single as it wasn’t due for issue until February 1978.

However enthused by my knowledge of this new band I headed for Virgin Records in the arcade in search of back catalogue vinyl. Of course the lads who worked in there at the time, namely future Specials drummer John Bradbury and photographer John Coles were unsurprisingly I guess, already aware of The Buzzcocks.

My enthusiasm for the band must have struck a chord with John Bradbury as on my next visit to Virgin he handed me a homemade cassette of Buzzcocks live sessions recorded even earlier to those in December 1976 which produced ‘Spiral Scratch’. These particular sessions, recorded during October 1976, would surface as a semi-official release titled ‘Time’s Up’.

‘Time’ Up’ re-appeared on vinyl during the 1990s. And although purchased a copy of it, I still, to this day, hold on to the cassette John Bradbury gave me.

Shortly after the John Peel session in September 1977, The Buzzcocks happened to appear at Coventry’s Mr Georges club. By now the band had signed up with United Artists records. With Howard Devoto gone the band at this point was Pete Shelley on guitar, Steve Diggle guitar, John Maher on drums and Garth Smith on bass.

And this visit to Coventry became significant for two reasons. One was the fact that this gig would be Garths last for the band (legend has it that he was sacked immediately after) and the other was that The Buzzcocks had been supported by Coventry band The Flys fronted by Neil O’Connor – Hazel’s brother.

With Steve Garvey now on bass guitar the band made two return visits to Coventry, in fairly quick succession. On both occasions they appeared at the theatre. These gigs took place in 1978 and the early part of 1979 and would have been in support of their debut album ‘Another Music in a Different Kitchen’ and its follow up ‘Love Bites’.

The Buzzcocks tour for their third album ‘A Different Kind of Tension’ never passed through Coventry as far as I remember. Instead you needed to get to Birmingham Odeon or Leicester De Montfort to see the band. But, if you got to either venue in time to see the support band you were treated to fellow Mancunian’s Joy Division. Apparently, though, the tour did very little for Joy Division’s lead singer and lyricist Ian Curtis. Apparently he found playing these larger sized venues totally soul destroying.

2016 saw The Buzzcocks celebrate their achievements with a fortieth anniversary tour. Once again Coventry was on the schedule where this time they were to be seen at The Copper Rooms located on the Warwick University campus. They performed a great selection of songs, which spanned their entire career, played in that now familiar fast and furious style.

And to mark the fact that their first recordings were also released forty years ago, January 2017 saw ‘those ‘Spiral Scratch’ utterings being lovingly re-released through the Domino Record Company, along with the nascent ‘Time’s Up’ demo recordings’. And very well in the charts they did too.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

David Bowie at the Kasbah, Coventry

David Bowie at the Kasbah, Coventry.

By Pete Clemons

Mention the fact that David Bowie had performed in Coventry and, quite rightly, a lot people will immediately cast their minds back to the June 1973 gig where David and his band, the Spiders from Mars, performed at Coventry Theatre as part of the Aladdin Sane tour.

Some may even be able to remember the Humble Pie gig at the Coventry Theatre, during October 1969, at which David Bowie appeared as the support act.

Incidentally, had it not been for the fact that the gig was postponed; there would have been a further visit to Coventry by David Bowie. It would have happened during February 1972 when he was replaced by Pink Floyd for the Lanchester arts festival.

I am guessing, though, that there will be very few reading this who will remember an earlier concert in Coventry by Davie Jones and the Manish Boys held at The Orchid Ballroom or the Kasbah / Colly as it is more popularly known as or remembered today. However, you never know, and hopefully I am wrong. But it does seem inconceivable that David Bowie once played what is now known as The Kasbah.

Those who have studied David’s early history between 1963 and early 1966 will know that Bowie, or Davie / Davy Jones as he was known back then, was involved with bands like The King Bees, Davie Jones and the Manish Boys and Davie Jones and the Lower Third.

The Manish Boys, named after a Muddy Waters song, were made up of Johnny Flux on lead guitar, John Watson bass and vocals Bob Solly on organ and Paul Rodriguez tenor sax and trumpet, Woolf Byrne on baritone sax and harmonica, Mike White on drums and David on vocals and sax.

The Coventry gig was advertised at The Orchid as ‘Davy Jones and the Manish Boys’ and was quite possibly one of his last with that particular band before David joined up with The Lower Third. It is documented that during the April 1965 David attended auditions, held in Soho London, with a view to joining the Lower Third. So this gig was possibly a case of David fulfilling his obligations with The Manish Boys.

I can only guess as to what music would have been performed at The Orchid that night. During January 1965 The Manish Boys had recorded the single ‘I Pity the Fool / Take my Tip’ produced by Shel Talmy. And this had been released just weeks before the Coventry gig. So maybe this had been promoted.

David’s next band, The Lower Third, were a beat band who first formed in Margate, Kent during 1963. Their line-up consisted of Denis Taylor on lead guitar, Graham Rivens on bass guitar and Les Mighall on drums. Les Mighall, however, was replaced during 1965 by Phil Lancaster.

As mentioned above, David had joined The Lower Third during April 1965. With the line-up that included Phil Lancaster the following songs were recorded: ‘You've Got A Habit Of Leaving’, ‘Baby Loves That Way’, ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’, ‘And I Say to Myself’. So who knows, some of these songs may have been performed in Coventry.

David remained with the Lower Third till the early part of 1966. And it was during those latter days with the Lower Third that David began to introduce the world to his new persona. Of course that was his new stage name of Bowie.

This new name first began to appear at gigs advertised toward the end of his time with the Lower Third and would continue throughout the existence of his next band called The Buzz.

The Buzz were formed during the first half of 1966 and were David Bowie on vocals, John Hutchinson on guitar, Dek Fearnley on bass, John Eager on drums and Derek Boyes on keyboard.

And it was this line up minus John Hutchinson that would record David’s very first album released during June 1967. There is nothing on that self-titled debut record to hint at the type of direction David’s work would ultimately take him.

Yet despite the music on that album not being anything remotely like what was to come it did, I think, certainly demonstrate David’s leaning for music hall and performance. So, in hindsight, maybe the signs of David’s future development were there - albeit very subtle.

The Buzz would continue for a year or so after which David became more involved in the mixed media format of theatre, performance and mime. And for the next couple of years he appeared in stage productions such as Pierrot in Turquoise.

During an interview about this period David said ‘I wanted to make a mark and it took me all of the 1960s to find myself through theatre and art’.

It was after this period that David then began to tour as a solo artist and to gather his personalities.

Early 1969 saw David support T.Rex on a few dates. David had been a friend to Marc Bolan for several years although, if you believe the books written, their friendship was fairly complicated.

Mid 1969, prior to the Humble Pie tour, David Bowie appeared on BBC2 with The Strawbs and mimed to their song ‘Poor Jimmy Wilson’. The Strawbs would then go on to play ‘The Man Who Called Himself Jesus’. Significantly Tony Visconti, who would become a very important figure in both the careers of David Bowie and Marc Bolan, was a backing musician for The Strawbs on that particular day.

Finally the autumn of 1969 would also see Bowie make his first TV appearance. It was at the Ivor Novello awards and David performed ‘Space Oddity’. The song earned David his own award that night which was for originality.

David mentioned on more than one occasion that he used rock and roll as a medium. With this in mind he created an alternative world. As the 1970s broke a concept artist and rock fantasy awaited. The rest of the story, as they say, is history.

‘I am only the person, the greatest number of people believe that I am. So little of it has anything to do with me’ – David Bowie

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tim Bowness, vocalist.

Tim Bowness, vocalist.

By Pete Clemons

There are vocalists who belt out the songs. And there are vocalists whose voice you hear uppermost and the music is incidental. And, for me, Tim Bowness is definitely in the latter category. 

Tim’s voice has warmth and richness to it. It carries an unusual breathiness. It is an instrument in itself. And his pronunciation can be quite exquisite. Dare I say that I find his voice is quite seductive in the way he draws you into his songs.

Amongst other releases Tim’s debut solo album, ‘My Hotel Year’ was released 2004. Contributing to the music was the likes of ambient music creator Roger Eno and Soft Machine’s bassist Hugh Hopper.

In 2009 Tim heavily contributed to an album titled ‘Talking with Strangers’ released by former Fairport Convention vocalist Judy Dyble.

But prior to all this Tim was a founding member, along with Steven Wilson, of the band No-Man. And No-Man are no strangers to Coventry.

On Saturday October 17 1992 No-Man, who by now also included Ben Coleman on violin, appeared at the Tic Toc club, latterly known as The Colosseum and more lately Kasbah. They had not long released a mini album / EP called ‘Lovesighs – An Entertainment’ that contained a track which immediately caught my attention ‘Days in the Trees’.

Unfortunately the band got slaughtered by a critic who happened to be present that night and in Tim’s own words during a recent conversation as he recalled the gig. ‘Sadly, the Coventry Tic Toc performance/experience wasn’t No-Man’s finest hour! ‘

As memorable as the gig though was the fact No-Man were accompanied on stage by JBK namely drummer Steve Jansen, fretless bass player Mick Karn and keyboard player Richard Barbieri who had all previously been in the band Japan.

And these musicians would go on to become collaborators in a wide variety of future projects. As for No-Man, well gigs performed during 1993 would prove to be their last together for the foreseeable future. 

However both Tim and Steven Wilson would continue, albeit in the shadow of Steven’s other emerging band Porcupine Tree, to release music as No-Man. And the music/lyrics were becoming more powerful in terms of subject matter.

As such it was an incredible surprise when, seemingly out of the blue during 2008, a gig was announced for Bush Hall in London. With a complete new band, this new version of No-Man put on a memorable performance. And it was saved for posterity by way of DVD package entitled ‘Mixtaped’ which was later released.

A few years later and yet another gig was announced, this time closer to home, at The Assembly Rooms in Leamington Spa during 2011. Again this performance was recorded, this time on CD, and made available under the title ‘Love and Endings’.

More recently and bringing things right up to date Tim Bowness has released a trio of wonderful studio albums. The first of these ‘Abandoned Dancehall Dreams’ was, as I understand, intended as a No-Man album, and released during 2014. The songs are very melancholic and reflective yet, at the same time, the music creates an uplifting atmosphere. It received some very positive reviews.

This was quickly followed up during 2015 by ‘Stupid Things That Mean the World’ another emotionally charged record, packed with nostalgia. Tim loves books and reads poetry and I suspect a lot of the imagery gained from that has surfaced in his songs.

For the third album of this trilogy Tim is attempting to look through the eyes of a classic rock artist who is in the twilight of his career and realises that time has simply moved on.

It is an incredible piece of work and rather that attempt to describe it all myself I have unashamedly dipped into Tim’s website and grabbed the following……

‘Lyrically, the album addresses how the era of streaming and ageing audiences affects creativity, how a life devoted to music impacts on real / family life, and how idealistic beginnings can become compromised by complacency and the fear of being replaced by younger, more vital artists’.

‘As mentioned on the Album Notes for Lost in the Ghost Light, the album revolves around the contemporary musings of Moonshot leader Jeff Harrison, though the events in the songs take place between 1967 and 2017. 

Jeff’s career was of interest to me because he came from my home town and was born on the same date as me in exactly the same place (Victoria Park Maternity Home in Warrington as I’m sure you’re eager to know). Admittedly, it was 16 years earlier, but how could I not be curious?

In the 1970s and 1980s, there were no local musicians of any note from the area, so (in both a good and a bad way) Jeff became something of a home town legend regularly played by DJs such as The Longford Lover.

I was fascinated by the fact that Jeff and Moonshot had been passionately idealistic during a musically revolutionary time (1967-1975), but seemed completely exhausted for a decade or more after. Where did the inspiration / drive go? How was all relevance and credibility lost? Why did Jeff make the career choices he did?

Although some critics still rate the band’s early albums (as do I), it’s fair to say that Moonshot’s reputation has been sullied by years of playing ‘golden oldies’ to diminishing audiences. Jeff’s 1980s penchant for wearing leopard skin outfits and his dismissive remarks about contemporary music (post Punk) have also had an impact on his critical standing. In recent years, Jeff’s vocal aversion to downloading and streaming have come across as bitter rather than insightful (I think he sometimes makes a good point, but feel there’s no moderation in the way he expresses his views). His current obsessions with President Putin t-shirts and the falling standards of rice pudding production are a little (endearingly?) odd by any standards’.

Ian Bourne, Nuneaton Singer Songwriter.

Ian Bourne, Nuneaton Singer Songwriter

By Pete Clemons

I don’t know Ian Bourne, as such, but I do know of him. And I wouldn’t mind betting that a great deal more people also do without actually realising it.

For several years now Ian has hosted, and performed at, a great number of acoustic open mic sessions. Not just in Coventry but county wide and beyond.

The energy and enthusiasm that he put into these events appeared to be endless. And if you have ever attended one of these sessions then the chances are that it was hosted by Ian.

Ian, himself, has been playing guitar since almost before he can remember, and regularly teaches guitar in his spare time. He has an impressive theoretical knowledge and uses interesting and challenging strumming patterns and finger style in his playing.

He learns songs with ease and boasts an extensive repertoire of songs and he regularly performs an eclectic mix of distinctive original material and quirky covers both as a solo artist and also as a duo with a number of other performers.

Ian is also a talented songwriter and enjoys writing and playing a wide range of musical styles such as folk, jazz, jazz and pop. He incorporates a mixture of acoustic and electric during his gigs and can also play keyboards.

He has recently released some of his music via bandcamp. A mini album titled ‘All of your hate and other lies’ are available to download at a very reasonable price. In Ian’s own words ‘I've been gigging these original songs for some while now, time to make definitive versions, and move on’.

Sadly Ian recently took a turn for the worse. His Facebook page carries an account of what happened and his progress so far. It is positive in as much that he will make a full recovery, although it will take time.

Hey, I'm finally home. Well, have been for a bit and feeling pretty crap. I have some bad news, I am afraid. I had a pretty hefty seizure last week (hence why I have been in hospital for the last week). It is the only one I have ever had, but there are some nasty consequences:

I will probably not be able to drive for the next year, which is going to be a bit of a pain

I feel pretty terrible at the moment. I am on some really strong anti-seizure medication and also on rat poison as I have a blood clot left in my head. It might take quite a while to get rid of even if it is possible to get rid of it

It is very unlikely that I will be fit to perform or host for some time although I do have a few gigs booked. Chances are I will probably spend much of the next year writing and recording and possibly doing some non-music projects.

Ian, you will be a huge loss but the main thing is that you are going to make a full recovery. Your efforts in keeping the music scene alive and kicking in Coventry is nothing short of legendary, and will always be appreciated for that.

Ian Bourne on Facebook

Monday, April 17, 2017

Led Zeppelin – Locarno 1971

Led Zeppelin – Locarno 1971
Pete Clemons

Rock band, Led Zeppelin, are considered to have been one of the most innovative, influential and successful rock groups in the history of modern day popular music. 

They came together during 1968 and the band consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page singer Robert Plant, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. They had been born out of another British blues band, The Yardbirds, where Jimmy Page had been lead guitarist for a short while. 

Yardbirds with Jimmy Page

Led Zeppelin were essentially a blues band who, with their distinctive guitar driven sound, took that particular genre to a whole new level. Their totally unique style was also able to incorporate other influences such as folk music.

And, as a band, they were just pure class in all departments. Not one of the band members was picked out solely as being the person most ‘out there’. This was not a band with a front man and bit players behind him. As musicians they were an incredibly tight unit and each band member playing a vital part.

With the demise of The Yardbirds during 1968 Jimmy Page and bass player, Chris Dreja, took it as an opportunity to create a whole new band. After much auditioning the band eventually settled on the classic line up described above after Dreja stepped aside when he decided he would rather move into photography.

Fast forward a few year and Led Zeppelins fourth album was being released on November 8th 1971. This particular record was actually untitled but quickly became known as Led Zeppelin IV amongst other pseudonyms it adopted. The album contained some of the bands most recognisable songs such as ‘Black Dog’, ‘Rock and Roll’ and arguably the bands most iconic song ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

A winter tour had already been publicised during early November 1971 aimed at promoting the new album. Initially eight dates were announced which included a couple of extravaganzas at the Empire Pool Wembley. Then seemingly out of the blue a few extra dates were added to the tour and one had been organised for 9 December at the Locarno Coventry.

Tickets went on sale from outlets such as Jill Hanson record shop and each were priced a one pound. A bit steep seeing how the ticket prices for the earlier announced dates had been set at 75p. Maybe this is why tickets were still on sale on the day of the gig.

The bands fourth album had barely been in the shops a month when the Coventry took place and, as such, a lot of the tunes were getting early outings in the U.K. although they had been road tested on the U.S. tour that the band completed the previous August and an earlier spring U.K. tour.

Nick Buxton a student at the time, then living in Chester Street, remembers the gig well. ‘Stairway to Heaven, for example, barely got a ripple of applause as the audience were unfamiliar with this then’. And given the passage of time, understandably, a lot of the fine detail is hazy with Nick.

The set list for the gig, however, almost certainly went close to this: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California, That’s the Way, Tangerine, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Dazed and Confused, What Is and What Should Never Be, Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love and Communication Breakdown.

The four symbols that each of the band members had chosen for the Led Zeppelin IV album sleeve were placed on each of their onstage equipment set ups. John Bonham’s three circles, for example, were placed on his bass drum.

The gig was also notable for being disrupted by an IRA bomb scare. After the third song, resident DJ Pete Waterman, leapt to the stage and advised everyone to clear the building.

Fairport Convention bass player, Dave Pegg, had been in attendance and recalled the gig in a 2001 interview: "Went to see Zeppelin at the Locarno Coventry when there was a bomb scare, everyone left the building except Robert who was saying 'what's the matter with you all?' Although, it appears now though, that not everyone evacuated.

After some time the gig restarted and the evening’s interruptions were still not over. During Dazed and Confused it seems that Jimmy Page lost grip of his violin bow and it launched itself into the crowd. 

Although individuals from the band have appeared in Coventry before and since, Led Zeppelin's visit to the Locarno during 1971, was the one and only time that they played together as a band in the city. However, exactly five years later, a Led Zeppelin film that documented concerts at Madison Square Gardens and titled ‘The Song Remains the Same’ was shown for a week at the ABC cinema in Hertford Street.

Led Zeppelin IV went on to become one of the most iconic albums of all time in particular in the U.S. where it was at one time the third best ever selling album ever. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Joe O’Donnell's Gaodhal’s Vision

Joe O’Donnell's Gaodhal’s Vision

by Pete Clemons

To celebrate its 40th anniversary Coventry resident Joe O’Donnell is giving his 1977 concept album, Gaodhal’s Vision, a complete makeover and a whole new lease of life.

Joe, of course, leads the powerful Celtic rock band Shkayla who also include Martin Barber on keyboard, Si Hayden on guitar, Adrian Litvinoff on bass, Karen Milne on drums and Ben Haines on percussion.

Gaodhal’s Vision is a concept album that tells the mythological story about the Milesians, a race of people who eventually settled in Ireland and who, legend has it, gave rise to the Celts.
The Milesians or Gaels, as prophesised eons earlier by Gaodhal a Scythian nobleman and who had been a military adviser to the Pharaohs, left Egypt and travelled through North Africa, Southern Europe and through to Iberia , now known as Spain.

The Milesians then built boats that took them across the Bay of Biscay and onward to Eire (Ireland). On reaching Eire they then defeated a local tribe of magicians who would then live alongside their conquerors. Ultimately the Milesians influence would spread across the whole of Ireland.

The album itself is a musical of that journey about their exodus from Egypt and onward to the Emerald Isle. And the story is the stuff of folklore but one that has been discussed for many centuries as to its validity. Being Limerick born it is a subject that has been close to Joe’s heart for many years.

And Joe has recently acquired the master tapes to Gaodhals Vision and is currently in the process of re-mixing and re-mastering them. In addition to that the album will be getting a more modern feel as it is being enhanced by way of fresh guitar parts and additional percussion.

So with this new improved release you can expect an album that is longer than the original, extended and tonally polished lead guitar on the Rory Gallagher parts, enriched orchestral passages and powerful new contributions by Shkayla.

A couple of shows were recently performed at the Belgrade B2 Theatre under the title of ‘From Egypt to Eire’ and featured Joe along with his full band who gave a complete performance of Gaodhal’s Vision. And it was clear to see they all enjoyed the experience.

Having attended one of the performances I can confirm that the band, as can be imagined, was fierce and lively. The live performances were both exciting and, where required, sympathetic to the storyline.

Without picking on individuals there really were some fine individual playing all round. And the performance was enhanced by fusion dancers, traditional Irish dancers and an appearance by Uilleann pipes.

The show was filmed with the intention that a DVD of the production will be included in the 40th anniversary album package due for release later in the year.

The album package will also feature an illustrated souvenir insert with insights to the album and images relating to the legend of the Milesian people.

For further details relating to the purchase of the album follow the link below.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Sorrows in Europe October 2016

The Sorrows in Europe October 2016 
By Pete Clemons

They say you can’t keep a good band down. And that is true for Coventry band The Sorrows who incredibly, and after more than 50 years, are still packing in the audiences.

As has happened in previous years, October 2016, saw The Sorrows once more invited across to Europe. This time, to perform at two sell out gigs.

The Sorrows line-up included local legend, Dave Gedney, on guitar alongside Mark Mortimer on 5 string bass guitar, Nigel Lomas on drums, Brian Wilkins on lead guitar and harmonica and, of course, vocalist and frontman Don Fardon.

German band Beat Revolver supported The Sorrows on each of the nights and the itinerary for the weekend went something like this:

Friday 7th - The guys flew from Birmingham to Dussledorf, Germany. At Dusseldorf airport they were picked up from airport. From there they were then given a tour of Dusseldorf old town that included a trip down the Rhine. Lunch at the Golden Einhorn followed. Then it was onward to the first gig of the weekend. This meant crossing the border and into in Belgium for the evening performance at a club called La Zone in Liege.

Saturday 8th – And yet another full day had been arranged. After lunch the band were treated to a sight-seeing tour of Liege. They were then driven, back across the German border to Cologne. After dinner The Sorrows then played their second gig of the weekend. This time the venue was the Sonic Ballroom, Cologne.

Sunday 9th – After a sightseeing tour of Cologne which included the cathedral the band were treated to their final touch of hospitality when they had a lunch at the Fruh Brewery, Cologne. Then it was back to Dusseldorf airport for their return onward flight back to Birmingham.

The Sorrows returned home with far less baggage than they went out with as they totally sold out of merchandise and souvenirs.

The following weekend the band was on stage once again, this time at The Albany Club, giving their time and full support to a charity event.

Sorrows at the Albany Club 2016

As 2017 kicks off The Sorrows are still receiving plenty of offers of work. Early in February they were back on stage at the Prince of Wales hotel in Southport alongside Merseybeat bands The Fourmost and The Undertakers for yet another sold out event.

The Sorrows set list today still includes classic tunes such as No No No, You Got What I Want, Teenage Letter, Find a Cave and of course Take a Heart. But the band will also find the time to let Don cut loose with songs he had success with as a solo performer such as I’m Alive.

And The Sorrows are not just a band turning out the songs for the sake of nostalgia. This current version of the band, are certainly fired up, and deadly serious about what they do. And that is to tear up the stage and create a great sound.

And the audiences, particularly it seems in Europe, are just lapping it up.

Honky Tonk Rose

Honky Tonk Rose 

by Pete Clemons

Honky Tonk Rose

Buried within the bleakness of a country album called ‘Deguello Motel’, is a more upbeat song called ‘Honky Tonk Rose’. The album is written and produced by American singer songwriter Roger Alan Wade who is from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Although I am guessing that Roger Alan Wade is relatively unheard of over here in the U.K. he does however have a pedigree of note. It sees that Roger has written songs for country legends such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, George Jones and Hank Williams Jr. amongst many others.

A verse from his song ‘Honky Tonk Rose’ goes like this……..

On the crazy side of town there is a bar room

Where the music's loud and beer and whiskey flows

There's a girl there breakin' hearts and waitin' tables

I love that girl, my honky tonk Rose

And maybe, it was, just that track, which may have been the catalyst for one of Coventry and Warwickshire’s newest, and most unlikely bands. Namely: Honky Tonk Rose. Who knows?

But regardless of whether or not the song inspired the band, I do think that it sets the scene for what HTR are all about. They are certainly upbeat and they are certainly uplifting.

I mentioned the word unlikely. Not in a derisory way at all but more with surprise. Folk who know the Coventry and Warwickshire music scene will be familiar and know the background to some or all of the names that make up HTR. And maybe they share my surprise.

However for those who don’t the band are Holly Hewitt - vocals, Dave Page - guitar, Horace Panter - bass, Rick Medlock - drums, Jim Widdop – steel guitar and Malc Evans guitar.

Having witnessed HTR in action several times during 2016 this 6 piece appears to specialise in delving into the American songbook in search of obscure, the not so obscure and long heard country rock based songs and bringing them to life once more.

The project was brought together by Horace Panter who had the dream of playing the classic country songs he remembered as a youngster. And HTR simply came together to enable that dream to reach fruition.

2016 was a very productive year for the band. Their debut was at the Broomfield Tavern back in February and they continued to play some top venues and events throughout the year.

To quote one of the band members ‘Honky Tonk Rose is a dream of a project and I feel very lucky to be part of it’. ‘Every gig has been received with great enthusiasm’.

And it is absolutely right to say that this is a serious band. Each of those involved in this project are seasoned and experienced musicians who are equally enthusiastic.

All the elements for country rock are there including trucking, beer, the dispossessed and God. This all sounds very dull maybe but, dour in its execution of the music, it certainly is not. This band really does whip up an exciting atmosphere.

And with concerts performed well beyond Coventry’s boundaries, including prestigious venues such as the Jam House in Birmingham, Honk Tonk Rose is raising a few eyelids.

So there you have it. Honk Tonk Rose, creating their take on country music and delivering it passionately and with sincerity. So maybe, it shouldn’t have been so much of a surprise to me after all.

Honky Tonk Rose - give it up or let me go - broomfield tavern,coventry - 27/02/16