Sidetracks And Detours
PASS IT ON 37
weekly walkabout supplement 28 1 2024
Hello, PASS IT ON reverts to its more normal shape and size after several weeks of bingeing on a diet of special Festive Events . Nevertheless we bring you news of a man creating a piece of history in a book dealing with Britain´s war. In more typical news we bring previews of Live Jazz In Reading and share a plate of Hot Biscuits with Steve Bewick in his weekly Jazz On Air column. Peter Pearson takes an incisive, if slightly worried, look at The Live Music Pyramid Crisis. Our Island Insight today reveals a massive project that celebrates the site of The Battle Of The Alamo area in Texas into a place of education and art and culture that will incorporate histories of the indigenous people, the settlement of Spanish migration, and the Texas Revolution on a trajectory that brings us to this massive investment in a more aware and integrated culture. So, we are confident you will find interesting reading here, and that you will want to share our details with your like-minded arts loving friends. If so, please go ahead. We don´t mind if you do !
All Across The Arts
A DEBT OF GRATITUDE
review by Steve Cooke
preview by Jazz In Reading
preview by Jazz In Reading
Jazz On Air
handed round by Steve Bewick
A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward
THE LIVE MUSIC PYRAMID IN CRISIS?
Peter Pearson wonders.
THE ALAMO: a new series
by Norman Warwick
GARY BRIDSON-DALEY ‘S
DEBT OF GRATITUDE PROJECT
Review by Steve Cooke
History is mainly written about the elite who dominated events and bestrode their eras. Such as Churchill, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Oliver Cromwell. What is in much shorter supply are the stories of the ordinary people who were caught up in these momentous events and whose lives were shaped by the era they lived in.
Bucking this trend and recording the lives of ordinary folk who did extraordinary things is Gary Bridson-Daley with his Debt of Gratitude Project.
Gary has been working non-stop as a one-man band to find and honour WW2 Veterans throughout the UK, to interview them, record and publish their stories. His tireless work has produced 2 amazing books containing almost a hundred Army, Navy, Air Force, Special Forces, Intelligence and Home Front Civilian WW2 Veterans. A Debt of Gratitude to The Last Heroes (foreword by Dame Vera Lynn) and The Last Stand – Memories of War (foreword by The Last British Dambuster George ‘Johnny’ Johnson) that was published in May this year and has now also just been released in December in two ‘Special Edition’ formats which contain a new D-Day and Arnhem Veteran in time for next year’s big 80th Anniversaries and 10,000 words more and additional pictures and illustrations.
Debt of Gratitude is relevant not just during big war anniversaries but is timeless due to what has been captured! The special Editions are in Black and White and Colour and are highly recommended Christmas presents or gifts for anyone at any time who has an interest in World War Two, UK History, history in general and most importantly the ordinary unsung folk who made our history.
[View all Editions whilst on the Amazon page for the new book, look on the right-hand side under the main book title for a link that says – ‘See all formats and editions’, click on there to look into any of the 3 available versions.]
I first met the impressive Gary Bridson-Daly, shown right speaking to a veteran serviceman as he embarked on this vital project and have kept in touch ever since. On a recant catch up he told me, “My work to capture the precious stories of our dwindling World War Two generation as part of my ‘Debt of Gratitude Project’ still continues, its principle aims being to find, record and capture the vitally important historical testimonies of a generation who very sadly will soon disappear over the horizon of human history, and by being one of the few recording as many of these stories as possible to save them for this and future generations, by getting into the public domain through the books I write and feature them in, I feel I am passionately pursuing something very important
I have now been running my ‘Debt of Gratitude Project’ for nearly a decade, and have personally funded every aspect of it myself, having used all my savings to do so, having to pay for transport, accommodation, food, and all other related costs in order to reach, and be with the Veterans, all over the country so that I can personally conduct the interviews and get these gems of stories in the little time we have left! I have done over 150 already but have now exhausted all my financial means to continue doing this, and with other interviews lined up I desperately need help with funding to reach these people before it’s too late and we lose their stories forever which is why I have launched my Go Fund Me Appeal! Any and All help is greatly appreciated.”
Gary is local lad, Manchester born, now living in Salford who has written his books here in the North-West and has interviewed a lot of local WW2 Veterans from Greater Manchester who are included in both books!
I urge you to give what support you can to this wonderful project to enable Gary to keep going as our WW2 Veterans are passing at an alarming rate!
Your support can and will benefit many people both now and in the future!
previewed by Jazz In Reading
Denny Ilett (guitar)
Backed by the Pangbourne Jazz Club rhythm section:
Terry Hutchins (guitar) | Andy Crowdy (double bass)
Jim Pollard (piano) | Brian Greene (drums)
Sunday 4 February | 7:30pm start / Only £12.50
Pay on the door or book online here
Tonight´s guest is a truly remarkable, versatile and expansive guitarist/singer encompassing swing, bebop, blues, rock and everything between. Denny Ilett is equally acclaimed for his thrilling guitar playing, smooth vocalising and appearances at Ronnie Scott’s fronting his jazz salute to Jimi Hendrix with the Electric Lady Big Band.
Denny (left) has done a lot of touring all over the world, Europe, Australia, the States and the Middle East. He has worked for many years with a wonderful singer from New Orleans called Lillian Boutté. She is the official musical ambassador for New Orleans, a title held previously only by Louis Armstrong which shows how amazing she is.
Denny has also worked with the great Pee Wee Ellis who was musical director for James Brown and Van Morrison.
One of Denny’s favourite things to do is play with other guitar players. He has played with great Jazz players like Jim Mullen, John Etheridge, Martin Taylor and recently from New York, Howard Alden.
Denny comes from something of a musical family, his father was a trumpet player. Denny started off on the trumpet when he was about 8 years old and when he got to 16 he remembers hearing a strange noise coming from his brother’s bedroom and it was the first notes of Foxy Lady by Jimi Hendrix and, “…suddenly blown away and I had to get a guitar. I put the trumpet in the case and it hasn’t come out since.”
“A knock-out player… soulful and jazz-tinged” Guitarist
“Comprehensive mastery of the guitar” The Whitman Review
Photo creditMichel Piedallu
Jazz at Progress, Friday 22 March 2024
Arbenz + Hart + Pursglove = CONVERSATION
Friday 22 March | Progress Theatre, Reading | 7:30pm |
£19.00 (£17.00 concessions, £10 under 16)
previewed by Jazz in Reading
Jim Hart vibraphone, percussion
Florian Arbenz drums, percussion
Percy Pursglove trumpet/flugelhorn
Perhaps best known for his work with trio VEIN, or with American greats Dave Liebman and Dave Osby, Swiss and internationally renowned drummer & percussionist Florian Arbenz is on a mission to release 12 albums with 12 different constellations of musicians – each carefully planned, delicately curated, but ultimately dependent on the inspiration and creativity that the players generate on the day.
From his custom-built Hammerstudio in Basel, he brings together both musicians he’s known for years and those that he’s only admired from afar.
He has created such an album with the UK’s Jim Hart – Convergence. Now Percy Pursglove joins them in this exciting European trio tour to launch the new album Conversation.
An exploration of the realm between jazz and improvised music, the trio’s sophisticated and open-minded sound is equally comfortable in either world. Vast in texture and feeling, rapid shifts between tight, syncopated grooves, flurries of virtuosic trumpet, passages of melancholic openness, and powerfully dense harmonies.
Jim Hart hit the UK scene with immediate impact around 2006 with various groups of his own and is a fixture in the band of Danish sax genius, Marius Neset. Jim is much in demand in Europe and the UK and all this in addition to his own leadership of the trio Cloudmakers who have released several albums since 2012.
Percy Pursglove may not be well known on the jazz circuit, but he is immersed in the music as a multi-instrumentalist trumpeter, double bassist, educator, improviser and composer, working internationally across a broad spectrum of jazz, contemporary, classical and creative musical settings. A member of the famous German NDR Big Band and is working extensively throughout Europe. Having graced the boards at Progress in 2015 with Andy Sheppard in a memorable gig, we have used his image on one of our very own pop up banners!
Jazz On Air
HOT BISCUITS handed round by Steve Bewick
As you munch onthis week´s selection of Hit Biscuits, your favourite jazz show from the mix-cloud, you will have the opportunity to hear the Richard Iles Quartet live in South Manchester with three great numbers. Joining on the podcast is DoomCannon from his `Renaissance` CD.
We play Ella Fitzgerald (right, with Duke) on a a live and extended version of, It Don´t Mean A Thing If It Ain´t Got That Swing. This, of course is a piece written is in 1931. A composition by Duke Ellington with lyrics by Irving Mills, it is now accepted as a jazz standard, and jazz historian Gunther Schuller characterized it as “now legendary” and “a prophetic piece and a prophetic title”. In 2008, Ellington’s 1932 recording of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. A version of the song was later released and made famous all over again by Ella Fitzgerald singing live with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
If this looks good feel free to PASS IT ON and then join me at www.mixcloud.com/stevebewick/ 24/07
A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward
THE LIVE MUSIC PYRAMID IN CRISIS?
Peter Pearson wonders.
The live music industry is not too dissimilar to professional football in that there is a pyramid with the big headline acts and venues at the top and below them a number of levels down to grassroots.
It seems there is considerable demand for the big ticket acts such as Springsteen (left) and Taylor Swift and also for the big festivals such as Glastonbury but further down the food chain artists are struggling to make touring a viable proposition and venues have been closing at an increasingly rapid rate.
The artists have suffered a double blow because when CD sales started to dry up with the advent of streaming the received wisdom was that the short fall would be met by streaming royalties and live touring.
However, streaming royalties are skewed heavily in favour of the big ticket artists who are signed to major labels.Taylor Swift and Adele have been able to demonstrate some clout with Spotify in threatening boycotts if their demands were not met. Older more established artists such as Neil Young (right) and the Eagles have famously gone to war with Spotify but they are not dependant on Spotify for their income.
For young up and coming artists and those lower down the food chain, they are reliant on getting on Spotify playlists and growing their fan base or at least maintaining their existent fan base. At the same time the cost of living crisis has had a huge impact on touring and small gig venues are closing at a rapid rate.
According to ukmusic.org “while the top of the market remains strong, costs continue to rise and promoters and artists are not always able to mitigate these rising costs through increasing ticket prices. Many operators continued to feel the squeeze in 2023, with venue closures and festival cancellations continuing.”
Music Venue Trust (MVT) reported that one music venue closed every week in 2023, and the Association of Independent Festivals reported that over 30 festival were cancelled during 2023, leaving many performers suffering short notice loss to their income. Cuts to artists road crews, and backing musicians are still a factor as soaring travel and accommodation costs continue to hit touring budgets.
MVT say that many venues struggled during the pandemic and the pace of closures stepped up in 2023 as surging energy and labour costs had combined with the end of most government assistance and deals with landlords and banks on rent and loans that were introduced during the Covid pandemic.
A recent visit to Bury Met, having not been since Covid, was an eye opener for me. On a Saturday night the town was deserted. The previously thriving night life surrounding The Met had disappeared. The adjoining restaurant had been closed and stood a deserted eyesore. It looked like a ghost town. Miraculously The Met had survived but it lacked the vibrant atmosphere it once had.
James Grant (left) , a well established touring scottish solo acoustic artist who was appearing commented on the demise of the restaurant and the excellence of its cuisine before wryly remarking that he had go to Greggs for something to eat! Many were the times previously when I had walked through the restaurant and noticed the artists appearing dining there before the gig.
Bury Met had however retained the bar, which for all venues is a key source of revenue. Heck I was flabbergasted to see a pop up bar inside the Church when I went to see Thomm Jutz and Eric Brace at St.Lawrence Church Biddulph. Sacrilegiuos or not!
The bar has always been key to boosting revenue. Many of the small gigs would often take place in a room above a pub. Often the pub would allow the promoter to hire the room for free, as it increased bar income. However, many of those pubs have now closed. The trend only accelerating during the pandemic.
I have noticed that some of my favourites are starting to appear in some unusual venues and in places where they have not previously visited. Recently USA touring artists such as Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle (right), who would previously appear at Manchester Bridgewater Hall or possibly O2 Apollo, are instead appearing at the Ritz Ballroom or skirting Manchester for Buxton Opera House. One would expect that these would be much cheaper to hire.
Steve Earle, amongst others, now only performs solo acoustic in order to reduce his costs.
Promoters are having to be innovative in their hire of venues in order to reduce costs. Hence venues like Biddulph Church.
They are also becoming more risk averse in the artists they are prepared to book. Many such promoters have day jobs and promote gigs as a side-line for the love of it. Their aim is to at least break-even but I have heard many a tale of those that have been wiped out for their efforts.
Here is an example that a promoter acquaintance of mine gave me even before the current economic climate. We both used to attend concerts at Westhoughton Folk Club which regularly featured USA touring artists who were not mainstream Folk but more Americana. The Club had a core subscription membership audience. By signing up for all concerts in a season the member would have a guaranteed seat at a reduced price to that on the door. By this means the club had a guaranteed income and could book performers accordingly.
There would usually be a proportion of tickets available on open sale and if it was a popular artist you would need to book in advance very quickly.
One of the many popular performers was a regular US visitor and there was always a sell out crowd. When the Club closed and my acquaintance began to promote concerts using the Clubs mailing list to help promote his gigs, I asked him if he would be putting that performer on. His response was no. He pointed out the Folk Club’s captive audience, who had paid not necessarily to see him but for the season generally. He felt that without that captive audience he could not make it a viable proposition.
These calculations are now increasingly having to be made in a much more risky and challenging climate and it is no surprise that many such promoters have left the business.
So we have venues closing, promoters becoming more risk averse or leaving the business and performers and remaining venues facing hugely increased costs.
Is there anything to be done? This is what Music Venue Trust have to say:
“Grassroots Music Venues are widely acknowledged as the ‘research and development’ department of the music industry. In 2022, the Grassroots Music Sector subsidised the development of new music to the tune of £79 million and in 2023, that figure has risen to £115 million; £133 million of income from ticket sales, which was totally swamped by £248 million in expenditure. Whilst the top tier of the live industry has had a remarkably successful year, promoting hundreds of additional large-scale events at significantly increased ticket prices featuring artists originally nurtured by the grassroots sector, over 120 Grassroots Venues (15%) have closed with a further 84 currently in crisis. Meanwhile, at least seven new arenas are currently planned in cities across the UK.
Music Venue Trust has been vociferously campaigning for the wider live music industry to financially support the Grassroots Music Sector, proposing that every ticket sold at an arena and stadium should make a £1 contribution into its Pipeline Investment Fund, which was launched to help small venues afford to programme and develop the artists of the future. Whilst artists Enter Shikari, promoters Cuffe & Taylor, venues Piece Hall and Swansea Arena, and ticketing companies Ticketmaster, Skiddle and Good Show have all pledged meaningful support in recent months, the wider industry has been far too slow to take action and, in some cases, has actively resisted involvement.
In France all major live music events are required to pay 3.5% of each ticket sale into a fund to support grassroots artists and venues. We have written to the government and to opposition parties to insist that, in the event that the music industry will not act voluntarily, a compulsory levy on every ticket sold for every live music event above 5,000 capacity that takes place in the UK must be introduced by legislation to prevent the devastation of the sector.”
Over recent years funding for the arts has been decimated. With competing cultural activities suffering massively, as reported by Steve Cooke in these columns on the 21st January, and given the economic climate one can only hope that this initiative will become reality but I fear for its chances.
One of the new arena venues mentioned above is the Manchester Co-op Live Arena which has just announced a 3 day Eagles and Steely Dan residency for this May. On the subject of the major venues helping to support grassroots this was reported from the recent Big Issue’s Beyond the Music Panel.
“It’s complicated,” Gary Roden told The Big Issue’s Beyond the Music Panel. Roden is the executive director and general manager of Co-op Live, the Manchester super venue that will overtake the AO Arena as Europe’s biggest indoor music venue when it opens in April 2024. While Roden said “the conversation and the planning around how we support the ecosystem has started. ” He cautioned, however, that they have a wide range of interests to balance.
“The reality is, the ecosystem at that level has got a lot of different stakeholders and where the money goes is complex,” he said. “The ecosystem is not just ourselves, obviously, it’s the promoters, the artists and other things connected.” He also said they couldn’t add a pound to the ticket price for every charity that asks, and emphasised that they do have an ongoing commitment to give £1 million to the Co-op Foundation.
Football followers will be familiar with a similar debate about the premier league’s commitment or lack thereof to contribute to the pyramid beneath.
THE ALAMO: a new series
by Norman Warwick
At a press conference on Friday 26th January 2024 Olivia Duque, Mayor of Teguise, presented Project Álamo at the city´s Timple Museum. To a gathering of journalists and photographers she introduced a delegation from San Antonio, Texas, here to present a multi million dollar proposal that aims to raise global awareness and contextualisation of the history around the site of the battle of The Alamo near San Antonio, in Texas, United States. Many of us have heard of Davy Crocket, ´king of the wild frontier´, of course, but he was really a poster boy of the highlights reel. The Battle we know of is only a fraction of the story of the area and its settlement and development..
Texan history is a tale that most people do not know in its entirety. This is why, for more than 20 years, we have been working from the island and from Teguise to learn about the connections that the Canary Islands and Lanzarote have with The Lone Star State.
The project wants to show the history of the town, El Álamo, from when it was a town of only indigenous people, through the arrival of the Spanish and the Canarians, to the present day. This will be a varied and rich temporal and spatial history that, according to the executive director of this project, Kate Rogers, will be completed in 2026. This history will be disseminated in English and Spanish to both schools and visitors, conducted in prestigious new buildings and rooms dedicated to various facts of the story. Media representatives were presented with a script and photograph brochure (right), outlining the progress of the scheme.
The objective, to teach the lesser-known history of the town, and the huge new-build gallery will include a space specialized in awareness of the Canary Islands, to mark settlers from the island who reached the area three hundred years ago. That a handful of settlers from Lanzarote were important in developing the area and will be celebrated as part of the project was confirmed by the Honorary Consul of Spain in San Antonio, Steve Chiscano, who is part of a small delegation currently touring The Canary Islands and mainland Spain to talk of the massive and far-reaching benefits of a project that is to cost around 400M dollars.
In answering questions from the floor of journalists he also added that the ´store will sell different Canarian products to distribute the island culture in the North American country. In addition to this gallery, other spaces dedicated to theatres, the reconstruction of the church or convent, as well as educational spaces will be adapted.
All this will promote the attractions of the place, to encourage tourists in the area to spend more time in this place, which has a significant investment for its development.
It is an initiative intended to keep the union between the Canary Islands and San Antonio alive, because, as Senator Pedro San Gines put it at this conference, ´to have a future, it is necessary to know the history´. Our photograph (left) shows the senator in the blue jacket seated beside the Honorary Consul of Spain in San Antonio, Steve Chiscano.
The vision and the aspiration for this project are so ambitious as to be life-changing. In fact it is impossible to describe Project Alamo in a brief news item like this.
Delegate Kate Rogers said, when answering Sidetracks and Detours questions about the size of hinterland around not only the geographical location but also around the aims of the project itself, that project leaders are reaching out to a number of sectors such as commerce, education, history, geography, and tourism, all with a view to attracting inward investment and creating a massive footfall of visitors with disposable income..
She also answered a question form PASS IT ON about how quickly awareness is growing of Project Alamo, by saying that the Project is now receiving donations of important historical items to house in what promises to become a Museum of massive historical significance.
Author Jose Juan Romero Cruz has described, in a new book entitled Estadounidenses Con Pasado Lanzaroteño, (right) a history that saw a number of families who crossed the Atlsntic 300 years ago to land in Texas, some of whom became founding fathers of San Antonio, where some of their descendants still live today.
So today´s piece of Island Insights marks the first in what may be several update articles about this massive project of building and development and co-operation that could deliver exchange opportunities in the tourism and education fields and even in the employment sector as a new landscape is shaped with theatres, galleries, shopping centres, museums and educational centres from Texas to Teguise.
Estadounidenses Con Pasado Lanzaroteño is a comprehensive work by author José Juan Romero Cruz, commissioned by the Ayuntamiento de Teguise of the entire history of the Canary Island settlers who established the towns of San Antonio, Texas in 1730 and San Bernard Louisiana in 1783. Of the 56 families who established San Antonio 44 were from the island of Lanzarote.
And yet even those events are only a fraction of the history that Project Alamo has to tell, though we can see that tomes such as Juan´s will have a big part to play in the telling and teaching of that history.
Projects like this, albeit on a much smaller scale, were conducted and delivered in rather more parochial settings, but invariably enrolled the services of agencies like Artists In Schools to add educational value. I remember, working in my capacity as a poet and creative writing facilitator, being involved in projects about the canal systems in Rochdale, the uncovering of The River Roch and the history of the Bolton Market Hall. Students would work with artists to create drawings, write poetry or create stories or to paint or to photograph what was being discussed on any given school visit. Through creativity and more typical education methods they learned the history of their areas to tell eventually to their children and grandchildren.
The scale of Project Alamo will help ensure that that a history will be preserved.
Next week we chase a Band On The Run down the sidetracks and detours of post-Beatledom and listen to Gregory Porter´s reasons for ´messing with perfection´. We hear the incredible Duo Cassado and see the ghost of flamenco. We also hear Leonard Cohen´s voice, speaking from the Tower Of Song about life and death, and will bring home with us a package of books, poetry and novels to place on that bigger bookshelf we are still building. So, we are hopefully providing you with enough reading to see you through the week, before we take next Saturday off work to watch the football. However, should you require any further reading just wander through our easy to navigate archives of over a thousand free to read items previously published in our Sidetracks And Detours not for profit blog..