The Baby Banjoes
April 15, 2012 1 Comment
It was brought to my attention that the Beecroft Art Gallery is showing an exhibition entitled Thames Delta – a celebration of the local music scene.
The title is a tribute to the preponderance of blues acts in the area during the mid to late seventies. I watched many as an aficionado of the Top Alex, Shrimpers, the Musicians Workshop at the Zero Six, The Grand, etc. Many local youth clubs in those days also had acts (I played at Focus and Thorpedene), and other pubs also had the occasional gig (I also played at The Cliff and The Spread Eagle). Even discotheques occasionally hosted live music (I also played at Zhivagos, Rascals, and Crocs).
I think I played at most local venues in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the exception of the Shrimpers club.
My contribution to the local music scene could accurately be described as insignificant. However, many of my mates were also in bands and Southend had a thriving alternative scene coming along on the tail-coats of punk and at the start of what became known as indie music. We were genuinely independent, organising our own gigs, recording and releasing our own music, writing and distributing our own fanzines. In the days before compact discs and the internet we did the best we could.
The DIY ethos, an integral part of the music revolution of the late 1970s, extended to our releasing our own material on cassette. The cassette culture was never going to go mainstream, and the numbers of sales at best only managed the low hundreds, but we had a great time doing it. My memories were of most of my free time being taken up one way or another with music.
I have appeared on many cassette albums, and have meant to blog about it here in the past. Politics is not my entire life (although it has taken over completely in the last few weeks). My musical activities are intermittent nowadays, and football took over as my main hobby from the mid 1980s.
One of my bands was called 86-Mix. We released The Baby Banjoes on Blot Recordings in 1981. I vaguely remember a recording studio of sorts being in the York Road area. My memory fails me in the details, but the album was recorded as live, and mostly in one take. All the songs bar one were well-rehearsed and part of our act at the time; Chronic Claustrophobia was made up on the spot as an end-of-album filler and had the four of us swapping instruments, with our drummer taking the vocal spot.
Half of the dozen songs are song by me, although ‘sung’ is a gross exaggeration of my vocal abilities. All songs were penned by the band
The tapes sold for £1, and my only copy as marked as ‘limited edition no 312’.
I will put some of my lyrics up on here at some point.