The Ramrods Attempt to Gate Crash the Godiva.
by Pete Clemons.
I have never been a great fan of music contests. I kind of get the idea of what they are for, particularly for bands that lack experience or are just starting out, and are looking for possible pointers from experienced judges as how to improve and develop. But, for me, music is an art form and not a sport and these contests have never sat comfortably in my mind at least.
As such, I have always tended to give contests a wide berth. That was, however, until I heard that legendary Coventry band The Ramrods had entered one in order to get a shot at the Godiva festival. Never having had the inclination before, my curiosity immediately got the better of me as to how it would all go for them.
And out of respect to the other bands that have to go through this tortuous route, I have held back releasing these words so as not to affect or sway any of the results.
It just seems so inconceivable, to me at least, that an established band like The Ramrods, were having to audition themselves by playing their way through a series of heats in order to prove that they are worthy of a festival in their home city.
At the heart of this band is Danny Cunningham a stalwart of the Coventry music scene has a wealth of experience. Whether it was with his bands that include The Ramrods, Major 5, Gdansk, or as a solo artist, Danny has been a part of the fabric of the music scene within Coventry for over 40 years now. And here he was, or so it seemed to me, having to prove that point.
It turns out that Danny wanted to go back to basics. He wanted to play his electric guitar and go back to the days when he was in a band that would deliver short sharp songs. And with brother Barny alongside him on rhythm guitar, Steve Barney on bass and Jamie Bicknell on drums, this they set out to do.
The thing is though was that they were up against a system where, in addition to judges, social media came into play with phone voting having a big impact. Where is a 35 year old band going to get a coach load of fans to vote for them by text or whatever means. This competition feels loaded to start with.
However, somehow they managed to win their way through the heats and into the final. Several bands played at the final. With the length of their songs, The Ramrods set came and went in a flash. At the end of it all and, unsurprisingly, The Ramrods had failed. But when the results of the final were announced, they didn’t go down too well. It was very noticeable there were a lot of unhappy people.
The only conclusions I can come up with about these music contests is that, at the end of the day, the only real competition involved, actually has nothing at all to do with the talent or the music. It has in fact got everything to do with who has the bigger fan base and who can persuade their friends to buy the most voting slips.
I asked Danny why he got involved. His intentions turned out to be truly genuine and the Godiva Festival does seem to have missed a trick here. “About entering I thought it would be good to have a band with a sense of history who can evoke memories in people of gigs played in venues that may not exist In Coventry anymore?” He continued “Grassroots bands like Ramrods, Dub Jam Force, Army of Skanks, Dill from I, the alternative sounds crew and many more?” Really thought provoking stuff to which I can only think…………he has a point, doesn’t he?
Read more about The Ramrods in one of Pete Clemons's earlier articles here -