Tuesday, September 02, 2003

On Friday evening we managed to catch up with our friend Bob Jones for a couple of hours, sadly his wife Karen could not make it, but we had great chat for a couple of hours. Back in the mid to late 80's Bob was working in Bristol best record shop, and was involved in putting on gigs in Bristol with various friends. We laughed as he told about the negotiations that went on, as they tried to tempt bands down to Bristol. It was around the time that the Creation Records, C-86 sound was taking off in the indie music world.

They put on a whole series of gigs under the name EEC Punk Rock Mountain in the George & Railway pub. I now work about 50 yards from this sadly derelict pub, it came to light recently that The Vaseline's (so influential for Nirvana) played their first ever gig at one of those nights. Bob was saying that bands only cost around £20 to £30 pounds to book and they would often bring a support band with them. As a member of the audience, we were always entertained and the memory of the free sugar mice has lasted longer than the memory of some of the bands!

I think one of the last straws for Bob was when he promoted a Primal Scream gig in Bristol, when the band in true rock & roll style proved to be very awkward. It was a mid week gig, yet the gentlemen of the band were in no rush at all to play to the expectant crowd. Poor old Bob was virtually begging them to come on stage, and of course we were all asking Bob "When are they coming on". The poor chap was being driven mad by it all. Eventually they deigned to join us at around midnight, consequently most people gave the band around 15 minutes before heading tiredly for the exit door.

I don't think that Bob bothered too much about putting bands on after that. Too much hassle and not enough fun was the problem. Bob and his friends were never bothered about making money, they just wanted to bring bands to Bristol, that they wanted to see. It was really part of the whole indie ethic. Then suddenly and unexpectedly Oasis became the biggest band in the country and the people behind Creation records were being invited to a cocktail party with Tony Blair. Inevitably it all went wrong, good bands got dropped unless they sold thousands and thousands of records straight away, bands weren't really nurtured anymore and the charts went back to being appalling collections of manufactured, over choreographed, stylist driven bands. The good news is that behind the scenes, lots of people are involved in music because they love the thrill of a band connecting with an audience in a small sweaty room. There are still lots of great bands out there and thanks to things like digital radio and BBC radio 6 in particular we probably have more chance of hearing some of these bands than we have before.

Tomorrow night we are off to one of those small sweaty rooms, The Louisiana, to see The Stands. They are a band who are obviously routed in the school of Dylan and The Byrds, but who also have enough individuality to create some special moments of their own. We have also just found out that 2 of Orynthia's favourite bands, The Lucksmiths (Australia) and the Aisler Set (USA) are playing some very rare UK gigs together in Glasgow and Edinburgh in October. Looks like a perfect excuse to take advantage of the cheap Easyjet flights from Bristol to Scotland!


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