MickFest Website Launched

To tie-in with this weekend’s sold out concert celebrating the life of local musician Mick Gillett who died recently. A website has been launched for MickFest, featuring all sorts of archive treasures (video, audio, photographs) and mementos in memory of Mick and the fantastic acts performing at MickFest on October 29. The website cab be found at: mickfest.com.

2011 Ely Folk Festival Sells Out

For the third year running, Ely Folk Festival has sold out in advance of the festival weekend. A great line-up of acts plus the festival’s reputation for fantastic entertainment at good value has ensured demand for festival tickets. Andy Wall, chairman of the festival’s organising committee said “It’s great news that the festival has sold out again this year. It reflects the hard work the committee has put into selecting great performers and putting together a varied programme of activities to ensure that there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the festival.”

If you haven’t secured a ticket for the festival, you can still catch a taste of it with the annual morris dancing procession through Ely City Centre on the Saturday morning of the festival weekend (9th July). This year 16 morris dance sides from all over the UK will take part. The morris sides will dance in various spots around Ely city centre during the afternoon.

Please note that NO tickets will be available for sale at the Box Office on the festival site over the weekend.

2011 Ely Folk Festival Band Competition Winner

The winner of the 2011 Ely Folk Festival Band Competition is singer-songwriter Jess Morgan from Norwich. Jess’s songs celebrate the countryside and coastline of East Anglia as well as personal experiences. Her poetic lyrics and melodic voice create a vibrant and original sound that is both memorable and refreshing and has been described as ‘Norfolk Americana’. Her first full length album ‘All Swell’ is bound to go far and Jess Morgan is a name to watch. As winner of the competition, Jess will open the folk festival on Friday 8th July with a performance on the main marquee stage. There was a strong field of competition entries to select from this year highlighting the great local musical talent around.

Rolled & Ready: The Excitable PJ Maybe Story

Image: 'The Excitable PJ Maybe Story

John Glover & myself had been gathering features for a local music magazine we were planning to publish. We had interviewed Higher Breed, Chris Williams of Crossland had kept a diary of the band’s experiences on the Radio 1 roadshow. We needed more features and a good place to start was Hedgehog Records in Market Street. The proprietor, David Cook, had always been keen to promote local bands and stocked all the demo tapes. John stumped up the fiver to buy the latest demo tape which happened to be Rolled & Ready by The Excitable PJ Maybe.

We loved their 60s garage punk and arranged a photo shoot and interview. On Sunday afternoon June 30th 1991, we met with the band in Little Downham and done the shoot. That’s essentially where it ended as we never managed to finish the magazine and the once thriving music scene was collapsing around us.

Fast forward seventeen years and I come across a few surviving negatives from that shoot and approach Antony Turner, one time guitarist of the PJs, to ask if he would write about the band – this is his story:
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Nutmeg Live At Redmere Festival 1986

Recently I decided it was time to purge my old videos having amassed far too many over the last 20 years – it appears I recorded everything! As a typical male I didn’t label any video so I had to play every tape to see what was a ‘keeper’ and what was destined for the dustbin. As it turned out my magpie tendencies led me to stockpile a load of junk video recordings.

There were highlights, one being a 3 hour video of footage from a long forgotten festival affectionately known as ‘Redmere’. Redmere (six miles from Littleport) Festival was the brainchild of Mick & Lee Gillett who, at the time, were heavily involved in the Ely Music Scene with their own band Wild Party Productions.

Redmere highlighted local talent – established as well as new bands. It was one of the new bands that stole the festival and the sad thing about their performance is not many people saw them. The festival was poorly attended and the band played two early afternoon slots, far too early for the masses that arrived later for the headliners. The band in question was Soham’s Nutmeg.

Nutmeg, in 1986, were a raw 60’s influenced garage band with a singer that had so much energy that you really need to watch the footage to comprehend.
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Crossland: No Place Like Home

Crossland and the Ely music scene 1989-1992
By Chris Williams

Ian Brown of the Stone Roses once remarked, “It’s not where you’re from (that matters) it’s where you at.” Well, I think he was half right. With Crossland it may have been more a case of, “You can take the band out of Ely. But you can’t take Ely out of the band”. We got close. But close to what?

Pump it up!

Image: Ely Band Crossland

Crossland were already established in Ely by the time I arrived from Cambridge in early 1989. Their formative EP releases, ‘In Your Hands’ and ‘In Shame’, had received a good local response so they were heading in the right direction even though they found themselves without a singer in the Spring of that year. They asked me to join and I thought, “Yeah, why not?”

In early 1989 there were a number of guitar bands (REM, the Pixies, House of Love, Wonderstuff) kicking out against a mainstream of advancing rave culture, depressing Stock Aitken Waterman pop pap and a quagmire of unmentionable bland brand names doing the stadium circuits. Plus ça change… So, on joining Crossland I thought, “Great, I’ve found a bona fide guitar band!” At last there was hope for the local music scene!
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Breakin’ Down / Donald Elsey’s Big Decision

This week’s video is is an early incarnation of The Traceys. Donald Elsey’s Big Decision enjoyed the patronage of Malcolm McLaren after using a sample of his voice on their vitriolic attack on the music industry, Just Music. Former vocalist/guitarist was also in the recently disbanded Beach Blanket Bingo.

The video was filmed and edited by Mick Gillett for the Demonstration Station in the early 90s.

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Ely’s Forgotten Bands: Higher Breed

This feature was originally scheduled for inclusion in the 1st edition of a local magazine called Rhythm Town that John Glover and myself were to publish in 1991. Sadly the magazine progressed no further than a few interviews and some layouts. Recently I came across John’s interview with Ely band, Higher Breed. So published for the first time is that interview from August 1991. Karl Bedingfield

Image: Higher Breed

If you like gutsy vocals, graveyard guitar licks and hard, railroad drumming in your music, then you’d better listen to HIGHER BREED’S new demo, the unusually titled ‘Chunk, Moth And The Fat Controller’. It’s spilling over with all three. Rhythm Town meets the band and digs the new breed!

Of Ely’s new breed of guitar grinding rock bands, Higher Breed appear to be among the leading contenders. Raw and gutsy, they have been winning new fans from all over the Cathedral City. Formed in February 1990 by brothers Christian and Lindsey Blicken and bass player “Squadge”. At this stage none of the band could play their instruments, an attitude harking back to the “I can do that” stance of punk. The spirit of ’76, indeed!

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Ely’s Forgotten Bands: The Sokkets

Image: 'IT' magazine

OK, this isn’t strictly one of Ely’s forgotten bands but I thought it would be fun to publish an interview I done for Chris Hunt’s Sixth Form mag ‘IT’ back around 1980. It was firmly tounge-in-cheek as the band John Glover, Mark Pettifor and myself were in were, well basically crap and could barely hold a guitar chord between us.

We got together in the late 70s, 3 friends with nothing to do in Little Downham of an evening. Mark’s parents put up with our noise for a number of years but never complained. As I mention were crap but Mark’s parents alwasy gave us encouragement.

I went to Ely Sixth Form in September 1979 (I dropped out some six months later) and met Chris Hunt, he was doing a new school mag and interviewed me. Here is that tounge-in-cheek interview…

The Interview

A starling and revealing interview with Carl (spelt with a ‘K’) – ‘The Bottom’ Bedingfield, bass guitarist of the Sokkets.

Yes, at no expense spared … well not much anyway, we bring an almost exclusive interview with the immortal and legendary not Paul McCartney. In those obscure days of the early ’80’s Karl riveted to fame with his group the Sokkets, who have recently been appearing at the local Fordham coffee bar but who now find themselves unexpectedly free for the rest of the decade. This interview tells of the music (?), lives, loves and hat measurements of the amazing Sokkets. (Look out for hidden drugs references).
The group itself, Karl tells us, was formed without him back in those obsolete days of spring ’78. The days of flower power, the hippie and Don Revie had a large influence on the band, in this it’s early development. The original line-up was Mark Pettifor, (lead guitar and backing vocals) John Glover (lead vocals and Harmonica) and Paul Cornwall on bass guitar. After the arrest of the bassist, Cornwall, on a drugs charge, Karl entered the group. ‘This was’ Karl admitted later ‘my big break and I leaped at the beckoning chance of stardom’.

Image: The Sokkets

The rise was slow, with constant rehearsals in the bedroom of the lead guitarist, for which they occasionally earned the applause of his family downstairs. This was an early indicator of their great commercial potential. It was at about this time that they recorded their first LP ‘Live Wires’. Although it was a commercial failure, it did receive immense critical acclaim from the group itself. “It was brilliant”, stated a modest Karl after the first recording session.

Unfortunately, the barman did not know when he was onto a good thing and just threw them out.

Their second LP ‘Enquire Within’ was recorded in the same manner as ‘Live Wires’ and although a big release was planned, culminating in the signing of a recording contract at the gates of Buckingham Palace, nothing ever became of this.

Content with two LP’s under their belt, the Sokkets decided to join the club and pub circuit, doing some surprise concerts. Their first surprise concert was held in a pub, into which they had wandered one night after rehearsals. Unfortunately, the barman did not know when he was onto a good thing and just threw them out. Although no further gigs are planned, a major rehearsal at Little Downham Village Hall is on the cards, and the prospect of a recording contract, Karl tells us, is imminent.

Image: John Glover - The Sokkets

The group list foremost among their influences, alcohol and themselves – the Sokkets. With the line-up now finally settled – despite the absence of a drummer – and with fame and fortune safely in their pockets, all that is left for them to do is to make a spectacular breakup amongst lawsuits and to stage a comeback in two years time.

No matter what happens to the Sokkets, their music will live forever – the classic songs ‘Don’t blink at the ink’, ‘We hate James Bromley’ ‘X2-04’ and ‘To be Frank, Brian’ will join the immortal classics of the Beatles, the Stones and Wreckless Eric?

‘Thank you Karl, you can go as soon as you’ve been untied’. Chris Hunt

Image: The Sokkets Video

Podcast: The Sokket’s Music (?)

Our featured tracks by the Sokkets are pretty rough as they were recorded on a little radio cassette player (remember them?) on a super cheap blank cassette around 1978/79. The songs are ‘We hate James Bromley’ and ‘My Fleas Got Dogs’ which was stopped mid-way by Mark’s sister Janine as she said the ceiling was shaking. Be warned these are as bad as I said!

We Hate James Bromely
This was a guy at school we didn’t like for some reason, can’t remember why.

[audio:http://www.elyonline.co.uk/downloads/sokkets/jb.mp3]

My Flea’s Got Dogs
John done a lot of make-them-up-as-I-go-along vocals, this one was fun.

[audio:http://www.elyonline.co.uk/downloads/sokkets/fleas.mp3]

Ely’s Forgotten Bands: This Property Is Condemned

Ely Online has had a long association with many Ely bands over the last twenty years, some we were in, some were just good friends with, others we just dug! We thought it would be good to highlight some of these long forgotton bands by digging into our own press clippings and Ely Standard’s microfiche at Ely Library. So this is the first of an infrequent feature called ‘Ely’s Forgotten Bands’.

Image: This Property Is Condemned

To start off I decided to highlight my own little foray into 80s elctronica with a project called ‘This Property Is Condemned’. The project stems from the mid-80s and was a collaboration with John Glover.

I still recall the day I re-discovered early 80s electronic music, sure I had been aware of it since ’79 but being so heavily involved in the Mod revival from 1979-1984 I dismissed any other music that didn’t conform to my version of mod and that included just about everything! Personally I blame Paul Haig for my departure from the mod way of life – one Friday evening while watching a long forgotten Channel 4 show called ‘The Switch’ I saw Paul Haig performing ‘Blue For You’, this guy had the most amazing haircut, he looked cool and the music was amazing! Soon after this life changing encounter I brought a Roland SH101 and a Boss DR-110 Dr. Rhythm Graphic drum machine (buying the drum machine and synth actually led me to joining another Ely band called Fearful Wedding but thats another story) and borrowed a Fostex X-15 multitrack recorder. I convinced John to put down a couple of vocals and what resulted was a few tracks that bacame a tape demo called ‘The Guff’ which got the attention of Ely Standard’s Lee Smith who wrote the following feature…

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The Radio One Experience With Crossland

Image: Crossland 1989

In 1990, Crossland, were one of Ely’s most popular bands with a loyal local following and they were starting to attract attention nationally.

March 31st, 1991 sees the band in the final of the Radio One sponsored national band competition, ‘Hit The Write Note’, as a result of that Crossland were invited to join Bruno Brookes and Liz Kershaw on the Radio One Roadshow for one week in July.

One year later the band split and their final album remains unreleased, but thats another story.

Published for the first time is former vocalist, Chris Williams experiences of that exceptional week in July.

The Crossland Radio One Roadshow Diaries

It was Liz Kershaw’s idea. She suggested it and who were we to argue? And by the end of July, we needed a holiday anyway – the English south coast seemed as good as… well good enough for us and imagine playing to all those people we thought, in the sun, by the sea – everyday?! We didn’t think of the effect fried breakfasts and dinners everyday for a week would have on us, though. Or the stretched nylon bedsheets which doubled up as curtains in some of the B&B;s. Nor did we think of the unrelenting tide of day-glow leisurewear that relentlessly battered the subtle colours of the sea into submission almost everywhere you looked. But that’s all part and parcel of life at the English seaside resort, isn’t it? What we came down for was to see how this roadshow worked. We learnt a few things along the way too…

Image: Crossland

Sunday 28th July 1991

Setting: The inside of a transit.

After a five-hour journey in the back of a van loaded with equipment, spar underwear, and eight sweaty bodies, we arrived on the Isle Of White and booked into a place called ‘Marine Villa’ (well it was either that or ‘Sunny Meadows’ – take your pick)

Later on we spent a couple of hours searching for the hotel where all the Radio One bigwigs were staying, to find out where they wanted us to do it the following day. We bumped into Malcolm Brown, the show’s producer in the hotel bar, and filled us in on the details as we sat around just nodding politely in agreement with almost everything he muttered in his thick Mersey accent: ‘Mmmm… now you’ve got your reel-to-reel tapes, lads?’ (Nods all around) ‘So it’s just yer vocal that is going out live?’ (Vigorous nods!) Mmmm… Now you’re to be there by, mmm, approximately Nine O’ clock etc etc’. More nodding, more handshakes and out we went into the Sandown nightlife, which were a few beers and an Indian!

Lesson No. 1: Don’t go to Sandown for entertainment unless you’re there to see Rolf Harris.

Monday 29th July 1991

Setting: A grass common by the seafront, Sandown, Isle Of White.

Perched on top of a Roadshow mobile, with the wind rushing up your shorts, the experience of miming to our songs was rather isolating at 10:30 the following morning. Looking down and around us were a sea of babies, children, mums, dads, uncles and auntie’s, gazing up at us squinting in the sun. What the hell must they be thinking? I mean we’re not exactly the usual ‘top pop celebs’ this sort of audience would expect to see. Mild paranoia set in as I looked around to see the rest of the band miming hopelessly out of time as the wind took what could hear of ourselves straight across the English Channel.

What the hell must they be thinking? I mean we’re not exactly the usual ‘top pop celebs’

My fears were unfounded when we climbed down off the trucks with the aid of an electrically motorised elevator, there were comments from an enthused young budding muso journalist: ‘Yeah, well I’ve seen Chapterhouse and you’re better than them’ And a girl said: ‘Yeah me and me friend really liked you in Weymouth and… I’d love to ‘ave one of your T-shirts but I haven’t got any money on me!?’ This was encouraging, obviously we hadn’t totally blown it. And it’s not everyone who gets to share a mob of unruly autograph hunters with Level 42, now is it?!

Lesson No. 2: Everyone at a Roadshow loves a freebie.

Tuesday 30th July 1991

Setting: The inside of the van again with a view of traffic chaos in Bournemouth.

Tempers begin to fray, but in the capable hands of Andy, our driver, we move swiftly out ‘through the corners and the hills’ into… Weymouth. Something called ‘festival week’ brings the world, his wife and children into this part of the world at this time of the year. Why? We never found found out, but luckily for us we had already booked our B&B’s, giving us plenty of time to visit Weymouth’s very own Mrs Miggin’s pie shop. Twice we visited their delightful premises and twice we were defeated by the awesome volume of thick crusts, stodgy fillings and mouth sticking milkshakes. Make no mistake, Weymouth and it’s peculiar brand of ‘pie shops’ are big business.

Lesson 3: Book early! And never bite off more than you can chew.

Wednesday 31st July 1991

Setting: On the beach, on the ‘mainstage’ of the Roadshow, and ‘on air’ in more ways than one.

Looking at more people in one place than I ever would have believed possible. Wow! By now we’d done the Roadshow apprenticeship and found ourselves using all the old ropes that were predictable but nonetheless extremely effective on stage. If Smiley Miley could use the same tricks everyday, and Bruno Brookes could repeat his terrible jokes from town to town, then why couldn’t we get the crowd to singalong to our songs, scream when we jumped off the stage towards them, and even let them win one of our T-shirts?! Well, we did.

Later on we made the routine the routine rounds of the nightlife but we were rejected from one night-club because of our unsuitable attire. ‘Even if we’re with the Radio One Roadshow?’ bassman Psyche enquired. They let him in.

Lesson No. 4: If someone’s got a good idea use it.
Lesson No. 4b: If someone doesn’t like the way you look, tell them you’re with the Roadshow!

Thursday 1st August 1991

Setting: Torquay, the ‘English Riviera’

After hours of running up and down garden paths looking for a place to stay, we found a landlady called Maureen who befriended Sean (our road crew!) and told us it was very exciting to have a ‘rock band’ staying with her, adding that we could do anything we wanted to as long as we closed our doors. So we gave our underwear a good airing and smoked some cigarettes we’d brought with us. Planned to go swimming but there was too much seaweed about. We played football on the beach but didn’t header the ball as it was a bit too sandy.

Lesson 5: Nothing ventured nothing gained.

Friday 2nd August 1991

Setting: On a park near the beach in Torquay, where thousands of people were busy congregating, again.

Earlier on in the week Malcolm Brown had told us that this week should be just good fun and that everything should run just as smoothly as possible. Well he was right on both counts. The organisation was slick and the Roadshow roadcrew were always willing to help anyone: whether it was swapping the order of our songs around on the reel-to-reel or carrying somebody’s lost baby for half an hour, they did it.

Even the infernal pre-recorded intro – ‘and nowww, live froomm Torquay, Bruno aaandd Lizzz!’ – which they played five times every morning as a warm up – became totally acceptable because it worked so well. And it was Smiley Miley who turned out to be the real winner of the Roadshow, because thousands of people would queue to buy his damn Radio One T-shirts. Even Bruno Brookes and Liz Kershaw’s theatre world worked because they were acting like a 20th century Punch and Judy, a well rehearsed comical formula.

Lesson No. 6 Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.

Saturday 3rd August 1991

Setting: The interior of a van which we knew pretty well y now, followed by a ‘homecoming’ gig at the blessed Alma Brewery in Cambridge.

Where were all the screaming girls? The prams? And the celebrities? Not here at any rate.

As Level 42’s Mark King said when he took one look inside our van ‘Ah, those were the days!’

And whilst that mean mother of a Roadshow went onward, sucking up every young person it came across along the length and breadth of Britain we felt like we were – a small cog in a well-oiled and thoroughly successful bit of business machinery, and if they used us then we certainly used them for all we could. But in the midst of it all, everybody really did have a ‘goodtime’, because as Level 42’s Mark King said when he took one look inside our van ‘Ah, those were the days!’

Lesson No. 7: Have a good time while you can. We did!

Podcast

Ely Online has found an old audio tape of Crossland performing on the Radio One roadshow. It was taken from the mix desk and gives a little insight to the pre-show before going live on air.

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