Friday, May 13, 2011

Birmingham Streetpress Gigs


Birmingham Streetpress Gig, Moseley
Around 1972, the Birmingham Streetpress organised a number of lively mixed media gigs - at the Fighting Cocks in Moseley and at the Birmingham Arms, New Street.

The energy and creativity of the Birmingham Streetpress group was truely inspirational as was their friendliness and support. (The way things should always be!). If the two magazines (Streetpress and Streetpoems) weren't enough, they embarked on organising mixed media gigs in Birmingham.

Trev Teasdel's Recollections
By June and July of 1972, I had stopped organising the band nights at the Coventry Arts Umbrella club and developed monthly experimental poetry and folk nights that I called the Humpoesic Happening (Humpoesic was a word I made up in 1969 in response to a competition in Record Mirror. Roger McGough and Scaffold wanted a word that conveyed what they do - Humour , Music and Poetry. Humpoesic was my offering although I never sent it in. Instead I used it to title my experimental mixed media nights. (More on this in the section on Coventry Arts Umbrella Club)

Birmingham Arts Lab Party Gig
I got a letter from Streetpress saying some Roland and Sue and others of Streetpoems were coming over to Cov for the session. They never made owing to transport problems. I'm not sure which way round it was, if the Streetpress gigs were going already or they started after but either way they were supportive my gig.

The first Streetpress gigs were at The Birmingham Arms in Digbeth (Not far from New Street Station.) and called Popeye's.  A guy called Frankie was the main organiser with John Keetley. I played at a couple of them in 1973 prior to creating Hobo in June 1973. Graham Bond was on one of the gigs and I went along with a make shift band I called Trev and Don't Talk Wet. It consisted on me on acoustic guitar and vocals and members of Fission providing a loose acoustic backing - Johnny Adams - acoustic lead, Ant Callaghan and Simon Lovegrove on percussion and all on backing vocals. The venue was well attended and packed with electric and acoustic music and poetry. Well known names and unknown. One one occasion I bust a string mid song and someone rushed me a dobro guitar on with a totally different sound. I continued and the next line was, coincidentally,  something to do with a new guitar string. The audience thought I made it up to keep the proceedings going and cheered! That taught me a valuable performance lesson! Making a mistake or breaking a string doesn't throw me now - I just improvise and use it to engage the audience!

Letter Extract from Birmingham Streetpress 20th Aug 1972 regarding the Humpoesic Happening.
"Dear Trevor: Hi!'s certainly nice to hear from you, especially as you seem to be generally getting it on.
Well, sadly we missed your Scene (the Humpoesic Happening) last Wedsnesday. I'd passed the message around but most of us were away....still we attempted to get a motor together so at least a few performers, musicians, poets might make the trip over. As it happened that failed too and eventually Roland and Sue from Bishopton Rd. decided to go by train and thereby represent the people after all. Yet fate struck once more that evening. No sooner had they arrived at New Street, guitar and all, then it became clear that they weren't going to make Coventry before 10pm. So they turned round and came home. It is a shame we couldn't join you this time - we shall though, when it happens again. an epilogue to all this  - we hope very much that a fine time was had by all. Another step towards togetherness.

We're grateful to you for doing quite a job in spreading the Streetpress word. We've gotta pull in more  material from the surrounding localities ...particularly Coventry. Please keep on talking and doing what you can to help us, provided you still want to and have the energy to spare!!" John Keetley. (from all your brothers an sisters here)

(John also gave me a contact for poet / publisher Nick Toczek to send my poetry to in the same letter.)

Around May 73 the Birmingham Arms was due for demolition and a new venue was established at the Fighting Cocks in Moseley. Two type of events here  - the Streetpress gigs and a more acoustic / poetry night which John Keetley organised for the Birmingham Poetry Society. One the gigs I went to in 1973 was just to watch although I had my guitar with me. On the way back, penniless as usual, I hitched back into Birmingham Centre from Moseley about 12 ish - but strange for Birmingham - no traffic. Sods law. So I sat on the curb singing Hitchin' a Ride by Marmalade (well it worked!). Just when I thought I wasn't going to get a lift, along came Daventry folk singer John Golding (just like in the fairy tales!) who took me all the way home in Coventry. I'd never met John before but afterwards I went to some of John folk gigs in Coventry and often mentioned him in Hobo! Thanks John!

The next Moseley gig I was asked to play at. It was organised by John Keetley for the Birmingham Poetry Society. By then Bo (John Bargent) of Roguestar Promotions and Hobo was promoting me. He was acting as my sound man and promoter and introduced me to a Bowie styleophone keyboard and allowed me to practice through his PA, using reverb. John took me to the gig in a taxi (made a change from hitchhiking!) and gave the spiel about how good I was with my band (er don't think I had a band at the time but it was all about promotion!).  The management thing didn't last long as John and started Hobo soon after and that became the main focus until John got the job of Road Manager and went with Khayyam on their European tour.

These Birmingham gigs and the Humpoesic Happening, influenced the creation of the Hobo Workshop in Coventry at the Holyhead Youth Centre a year later.

Another regular artist at the Streetpress gigs was humourist John Dowie who later made a record with Joy Division.

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