weirdwalthamstow

Save Higham Hill Library Campaign

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2016 at 8:50 pm

So my local library is under threat of being sold off to developers. There is a campaign to save (Facebook group) it with a petition in progress.

When I spent 3 years out of work the library was a refuge. I’d read papers in there and browse books. In Winter it was simply somewhere warm I could sit for a few hours when I couldn’t afford heating.

Please sign the petition and spread the word.

Punk Waltham Forest Music History walk

In history, music on September 17, 2016 at 8:34 pm

As part of the Punk Waltham Forest there was a walk given by local music historian Mark Hart. As fans of modern music history (god, I get so excited by those BBC4 specials) my partner and I decided to go along. Apparently there were 50 free tickets but we forgot to book some, so in true punk fashion we crashed the gig anyway.

Early on in the walk Mark made the point that music needs infrastructure to flourish; publishers, recording studios, live venues, agencies.

Our guide, Mark Hart.

Our guide, Mark Hart.

I think this was what I learned most from the walk, that a community like Walthamstow needs to provide resources to have a vibrant artistic community.

And what resources. Starting from the Small Wonder exhibition (which I wrote about last week) we went on to the EMD/Granada (I’m not using it’s silly new name) to learn how it replaced it’s failing film takings with income from live music. Buddy Holly, John Coltrane, James Brown and Gene Vincent and most famously the Beatles all played there. Mark told us a number of stories of it’s music hall days.

As we traversed Hoe Street Mark told us about local recording studios, mastering studios, Small Wonder itself (now the Arbat Eastern European Store) and many others. Of band members who grew up locally and long gone clubs (I love that the Human League recruited their backing singers here!). Of Ian Dury famously at Walthamstow college and how 21 of the 30 students in his class went to the Royal College of the Arts. We ended at the Assembly Hall, well across the park from it as a rather spendid wedding was happening with drum music! We learned of the famous Sex Pistols gig but also of the inspiration that ripped out of that night as it did many of their concerts. But also how it hosted Placido Domingo, Joy Division and The Fall.

The splendid wedding party

I made copious notes during the walk but frankly instead of dumping what I learned here I’d rather just give a sense of the talk and encourage people to go on the walk when Mark next runs it (he has before). It really is very beautiful and not just historical; Mark spoke movingly of the ‘stow’s cultural melting pot and how the modern Grime scene has grown and is growing out of here. About how some young kid might be hearing some national music in a cafe or corner and taking that into their own music to make the next big thing. Making some more history to feel proud of.

Small Wonder exhibition, Hoe Street

In Events, music on September 11, 2016 at 2:54 pm

I love me some music history. Not classical or jazz, but I’m an old rock and metal fan and that takes in punk too. So I really enjoyed reading in the E-List about how Pete and Mari Stennett started Small Wonder Records on Hoe street in the late 1970’s. So today after a slap up Sunday lunch at Chequers my partner and I headed 0ver to the small shop along from Central Parade which the council formerly used for pop up businesses but it now an exhibition dedicated to the ‘Stow’s most famous record shop.

They even have a recreation of the shop sign!

They even have a recreation of the shop sign!

The exhibition covers the walls and is wonderfully curated chronologically, with years stencilled on the walls. There is loads of ephemera which I assume was collected from many of the shop’s old customers (the exhibition’s thank you list is long). There are record covers, clips from music magazines and fanzine covers. Interspersed are recollections of customers, both local and those who bought mail order. As well as launcing the careers of Bahaus, The Cure and giving a boost to many others Small Wonder also sold records around the world.

The center piece of the exhibition is a recreation of the shop itself. This was way before my time but I have to wonder if the smell of cigarettes is missing! But it did take me back to similar shops I went to in my teenage years.

The exhibition is on to the 18th September and is a wonderful telling of a beautiful, creative story from the Stow’s history.