Archive for March, 2010

Musicians of the Midlands – Steve Gibbons

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

While at the Fairport Convention gig in the Birmingham Town Hall, I met another of the musicians that have kindly agreed to take part in our charity exhibit, Steve Gibbons. Steve was backstage chatting to Simon Nichol, and I was able to introduce myself. It’s really great to meet people that have made music you know. It’s an adventure too, wondering if your image of them from hearing their music will be what greets you. Steve was very nice and helpful as well, offering his advice on a benefit show we are planning to stage during the exhibit. I’m arranging to do a filmed interview with him which I am sure will be really interesting as Steve’s career has spanned a number of decades.

Growing up in the USA, I was made aware of Steve by a friend of mine who knew The Steve Gibbons Band primarily as the opening act for bands like The Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The J Geils Band; and for the albums, ‘Any Road Up’ and ‘Rollin’ On.’ But there’s lots more to know about Steve’s career than just those things.

Steve was born in Harborne, Birmingham, and reportedly was all set to become a plumber. Instead, he joined a group called The Dominettes in 1960 and began playing in the pubs and clubs around Birmingham. The group changed its name to The Uglys, and recorded a single called ‘Wake Up My Mind.’ This song was unlike most of the songs of the period with lyrics like:

Somewhere there’s hunger, somewhere there’s war
But I can do nothing so I’ll just ignore
The cruelty around me, pretending I’m blind
In case I start thinking and Wake Up My Mind.

And the days break and the nights fall and drift into time

I read in the papers, a policeman shot down
Two negros in cold blood in some racial town
And I’m having a new car but I don’t know what kind
But one of these days I will Wake Up My Mind.

Quite heavy-duty for the mid 60s. The next band Steve became a member of was Balls, along with Trevor Burton, Denny Laine, and drummer Keith Smart. Steve left the band after a short period, and moved to Idle Race, which eventually became The Steve Gibbons Band. Spotted by the manager of The Who, this is what led to Steve recording his album ‘Any Road Up,’ and to his work touring with the The Who and other bands.

Steve has recorded nine albums, and still tours with his band. He also plays in the Brum Rocks Live shows along with Trevor Burton and Bev Bevan, two other artists who are taking part in our Midlands exhibit. Be sure to check out the music of this inspiring Midlands artist! His gigs are listed on his website here:

Weekend in Brum

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Memories in Music had a very exciting weekend in Birmingham March 6th and 7th. We met some great folks who are willing to help with the charity exhibit, did a couple of interviews with local musicians, and attended The Fairport Convention show at the Birmingham Town Hall as guests of Fairport’s illustrious violin player, Ric Sanders.

The weekend started in St Pauls Gallery, where Symon Bland was kind enough to allow us to use the Gallery as the interview venue. I wanted to get Symon in an interview too, but he somehow escaped! I’ll get you next time Symon!

Musician Joe Digman was the first interview. Joe is a drummer, and his bands, Light Fantastic and Sight and Sound, opened for the bands Sweet, Mudd, and Showwaddywaddy. The Sweet even played at Joe’s wedding. He had some great stories to tell about exploding pyrotechnics blowing tiles off the ceilings of working men’s clubs, pushing his drum kit to pubs in a pram, and playing in local skiffle bands. We had an extra treat when Joe picked up some drumsticks and played the drum kit that is currently on display in the Gallery, once owned by the drummer of T Rex.

The other interview of the day was Jem Brent, who has starred in musicals such as 42nd Street, Rocky Horror, and Starlight Express. Jem shared his stage experiences being understudy for an entire cast plus learning a whole script in German, and being Cookie Monster on wheels. There are fascinating musicians in the Midlands! All the fun was captured on film by Trevor and Jon from Scadge Studios, who are kindly donating their time and film to record these interviews. I am very grateful to them. I’ve got to get them in front of the camera soon…

Later that evening I arrived at the Birmingham Town Hall and was ushered backstage to meet Ric in his dressing room before the show. It’s the first time I have seen him play live, although I have been listening to him play with Fairport, and his own Ric Sanders Group, for a number of years. He’s such a lovely guy. I wished that we’d had the camera there right then to start recording the interview, as I enjoyed chatting to him so much. We’ve arranged to catch up for the filmed interview when he comes back from a quickie tour later on this month. I’m really looking forward to that!

Ric introduced me to some great folks after the show who are willing to contribute to the exhibit in various ways – sharing memories, making contacts with musicians, and sharing their own memories on the website. Meeting Steve from a radio station in Wolverhampton was fortunate, as I hope to be able to spread word of the exhibit to fans of area musicians to see if they might loan us their memorabilia. I love fan items – they are what I had access to see when I was a kid and the memory of how exciting I found it all never wore off.

Dave Pegg (bass player for Fairport) was a lot of fun to meet. He’s going to allow me to film an interview with him, is going to loan me some items from his personal collection, and has already started networking for me – and believe me, you don’t have a clue what networking is unless you’ve had Dave Pegg networking on your behalf! Trust me on this.

So not only did I walk away from the Town Hall on a cloud from all the great music, I also went out with some great new friends and a pocket full of telephone numbers. It’s going to be a great exhibit!

The first of the interviews will be up as soon as Trev can polish them up, and more will be recorded on March 18th. Stay tuned!