Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Looking back on 2017

Looking back on 2017
By Pete Clemons

If anything, the local music scene in Coventry, and surrounding area, appears to be getting stronger. Of course a lot more was bound to have happened than ever crossed my path. But the memories for what I personally witnessed at first hand were plentiful. Some of which will remain with me for a long time to come.

Trying to keep the events in some sort of chronological order who; that attended, will ever forget the reunion gig by Barnabus in February. With little rehearsal, they rested on their collective experience and turned out a blistering set that included ‘Apocalypse’ which recently featured on a Cherry Red records compilation. 

I remember purchasing a couple of fine CD releases that I never tired of listening to throughout the year. The first by the re-modelled Barb’d Wire. Their time certainly came as Cherelle Harding took centre stage and owned it. Along with a fine rhythm section, she shone for this Ska/Reggae influence band. The other CD that springs to mind from the first half of the year was Street Rituals by Stone Foundation. Always having had the potential, this was the album you sensed they had in them. Yes, it took collaboration with Paul Weller to get them to a greater level, but they would have got there in their own time. That, I have no doubt about. 

The Delia Derbyshire evening at the Coventry Cathedral was a memorable yet surreal event. Hearing DJ Jerry Dammer’s playing tracks like ‘Love Without Sound’ and ‘My Game of Loving’ reverberate in such dynamic surroundings was a quite extraordinary experience.

The Godiva Festival was, as ever, a triumph. So diverse an event meant that so many people will have their own favourite memories and recollections. For me personally, I don’t think I will ever forget the Sunday afternoon when both, Joe O’Donnell’s Shkayla, and Bob Jackson’s Badfinger, took to the stage. Both the weather and the music just set the scene for an unforgettable afternoon. 

Another gig within unusual surroundings was that by Callum Pickard and the Third Look. At the wonderful Inspires CafĂ© Bar venue they turned in another attention grabbing performance. It can’t be long now, surly, till Callum’s talent are revealed to the wider world.

I have always had a passion for the Blues scene of the 1960s. Canned Heat, Fleetwood Mac, The Blues breaker’s and Chicken Shack are just some of my favourites. So to hear this kind of music live is just so thrilling. As such I remember being quite excited at the prospect of seeing the debut gig by the Dirt Road Blues Band. And that excitement did not diminish as my expectations were truly met. They got me instantly as they rattled through tunes like ‘World in a Jug’ and ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’.

Continuing with the blues, how can you not love The Broomfield Tavern. I don’t get there anywhere near as much as I should, but seeing bands there like the Travelling Riverside Blues Band and Blues 2 Go in quick succession only enforces what a special venue that back room is. 

It should have been a monster, and for some, maybe it was. But a slight disappointment for me was the Godiva Rocks play. The music played on the night was exceptional but I found the storyline a bit long winded and somewhat complicated. I came away with the felling that an opportunity had been missed. But if a soundtrack was ever made available, particularly of the 60s tunes, then I really think that the theatre would have a sure fire winner on its hands.

Finally, the long awaited CD/DVD release of Joe O’Donnell’s 1977 concept album ‘Gaels Vision’, at last saw day of light late on in the year. And I must say it has been worth the wait. I quote: ‘We were particularly fortunate in having the particularly fortunate in having the patient guidance and assistance of Ben Haines, Russell Whitehead and Ben Skirth who between them helped us across the yawning crevasse of ignorance, as we recklessly attempted the almost impossible and probably inadvisable!!

With new music being worked on by Moonbears, Cliff Hands, Kristy Gallacher, Stylusboy and the final part of a trilogy of albums by Freedom to Glide all to look forward to, I really don’t want to grow any older.

Away from Coventry and I bought some splendid new releases that were listened to long and hard. They also remind me of various ‘where I was’ moments throughout the year.

These included ‘Lost in the Ghostlight’ by Tim Bowness. A gripping tale about a musician who, comes to the realisation that the best days are long behind him. Steven Wilson’s chart topping and very wonderful ‘To the Bone’ album, the hugely successful live album by The Pineapple Thief titled ‘Where We Stood’ Anatema’s ‘The Optimist’ which is at last starting to grow on me and the simple charm of Judy Dyble whose collaboration with Andy Lewis ‘Summer Dancing’ was just sublime.

Finally, and back to Coventry, you may remember that just over a year ago there was a reunion of most of the musicians who were associated with Indian Summer. They got together to celebrate that Record Collector magazine had released an album of demo’s and out takes. Well it appears that a Japanese company has reproduced that album, along with the bands eponymous studio album in those speciality CD releases in the form of a mini LP that the Japanese do so well. At long last, this band appear to be getting the recognition they so richly deserve.

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