Category Archives: uk decay

40 years of punk in the east documentary

Matt Hudson and Steve Spon discuss life in punk Luton back in the day.

Matt Hudson and Steve Spon discuss life in punk Luton back in the day.

I was featured  recently in an Anglia TV special marking 40 years since the punk movement. This two part mini documentary series is about punk in the Eastern Counties and was hosted by Anglia TV’s Matt Hudson who was a big punk fan and UK Decay fan.

Matt was the same presenter who featured UK Decay and Bauhaus in “The Origins of Goth” feature back in 2014.

Also featured are Steve Ignorant from Crass, Charlie Harper from UK Subs and author and university lecturer Matt Worley whose new book No Future is an in-depth look at the effect punk had on politics and culture.

There are also some still shots of early 1980’s Luton Punks featured on the show taken from UK Decay’s  Communities web archive.

 

It comes in two parts…

 

Marking 40 years since the punk movement

Marking 40 years since the punk movement

Part One

Punk memories: Looking back at legendary venues in our region

Punk memories: Looking back at legendary venues in our region

Part Two

ITV Punk Special in 2018!

Interviewed for ITV Punk Special out in 2018!

Yesterday I returned to the Hat Factory Arts and Media Center in Luton to take part in an interview with Anglia TV’s Matt Hudson.  He is a massive UK Decay fan and sent me a host of live tapes ten years ago when we were getting the UK Decay Communities website going.

Matt is putting together a show that highlights the birth of the punk movement in the Anglia region and what it was like growing up throughout the Punk era.  It is something that he is quite knowledgeable about as he grew up in this scene himself. So we had a couple hour chat with edited highlights to be seen on the forthcoming production due out in the new year. Besides your truly Matt has interviewed Steve Ignorant , Chris Needs who played guitar for The Users in Cambridge, Matt Whorley whose book No Future has just been published by Cambridge University Press and Jonty Young who runs the Punk in the East website. There will also be a special emphasis on tales from the gig at the end of the pier, The West Runton Pavilion. So a lot to look forward to!

Please check back here or visit UK Decay ‘s family of websites for updates on this

Silhouettes And Statues 5 CD Gothic Compilation

Silhouettes And Statues

Silhouettes And Statues 5 CD Gothic Compilation

Silhouettes And Statues 5 CD Gothic Compilation

I have a couple of tracks coming out on this forthcoming release due out in June 2017 on Cherry Red. This will be one of the most compelling Goth compilations ever to see the light of day.

On disc one, I co wrote and performed a  song I brought to the mix after I was ‘poached ‘ by UK Decay  from Pneumania in 1979 –  ‘Black Cat’.  This became one of the most enduring UK Decay live tracks during both the early and later periods.  A few tracks later I appear with-  IN Excelsis on a track called  Carnival Of The Gullible’. I formed In Excelsis with Mark Bond and Errol Blythe formerly from Post Punk legends, Ritual and Colin Rocks who later joined Mark. E. Smith with The Fall..  Errol and Mark were left stranded after drummer Raymundo and Bassist Jamie were ‘poached’ by  Ian Astbury form Southern Death Cult so after UK Decay split at the end of 1982. This was a weird period for me, I flirted with Gaynor and Rick from World Circus, Jammed with Rob from The Wall , then finally teaming up with Mark Errol and Colin to form IN Excelsis in 1983.    Richard Anderson got in touch with me in 2016 explaining his interest in creating the ‘ultimate’ Gothic Rock compilation, so I digitally re-mastered ‘Black Cat’ especially  for this compilation.

Below is a bit of ‘official’ blurb about the compilation

Cherry Red have announced the tracklisting for “Silhouettes and Statues” – A Gothic Revolution: 1978 – 1986 5CD collection, which is due 30th June.  Silhouettes and Statues is described as “an era-defining journey through the gothic revolution that thrived in the underbelly of the UK’s music scene during the late 1970s and 1980s. From Joy Division’s haunted soul-searching to the wild, hairspray guzzling antics of Alien Sex Fiend and everything in-between, the myriad components of that time and place are brought together here for the first time in this kind of detail.”

The set comes in a deluxe hardback book format featuring 80+ tracks, with over 18,000 words of sleevenotes (including artist contributions) and unseen images.

See the tracklisting here

 

Spon-Abbo-40 years punk in Luton

40 Years Of Punk in Luton..

Abbo  and I recently visited The Hat Factory Arts and Media Centre in our hometown to discuss Punk Rock in the UK’s 40th year. Our performance was entitled “Luton, Centre of the Punk Rock Universe with Abbo and Spon

The chair and MC for the night was Fahim Qureshi from Luton Culture whom was more than well qualified to host the proceedings as Fahim or ‘Fame’ was an active spiky haired punk about town back in the late seventies. Back then he was promoting some of the earliest punk gigs in Luton including the Barnfield College Gigs and was a co-hand at promoting the infamous Crass, Poison Girls and UK Decay gig at Marsh Farm in late 1979.

I prepared a powerpoint slide show of images of gig posters, press cuttings,  punks, punk bands of most of the early events that happened in Luton from 1976 onwards. This acted as a stimulus for discussion with ourselves and the audience.  Forty years is a long time and memories can sometime play tricks, it can be good to share with others that were around at the time. Sometimes forgotten stuff can resurface in discussion with others and alternative insights can enlighten a memory. Hence I think everybody that participated provided real interest and content to the discussion.

Abbo had attended his Mothers funeral late after getting caught up in the ‘Black Friday’ traffic that afternoon so it couldn’t have been more difficult for him. I don’t know how he managed, most people would have been in pieces , I certainly would! You have to have maximum respect for the man’s professionalism.

We talked about the early punk gigs in Luton including the first at the Royal Hotel in Mill Street on October 6th 1976 with The Damned playing their tenth ever gig.  There was a few in that company who had been there all those years ago! Including myself! We talked about the gigs and the bands , the great creativity , the great antipathy that punks suffered in what was difficult times. There was often trouble at gigs back in the day, but this was the price to be paid for deliberately stepping into what was then a tribal culture which to some seemed hell bent on nihilism and disorder, To us it was an exciting new territory of music , sound and anti-fashion  voyeurism to be explored and populated. In an age before the interweb we networked , created anarchistic fanzines, painted our jackets, wore cool punk badges (or buttons as they are called today) , dyed our hair with crazyclour (no wonder many of us ain’t got any hair left today!). Some of us promoted gigs, some of us did poetry, we created artworks and some of us did music , then of course it was the band! Our band.

Of course as Abbo and I were later both in UK Decay, there was a history before Decay in Luton. Of course Luton’s first punk was The Jets who were basically inspired by the Damned gig. They played at the infamous Roxy club in Covent Garden back in 1977 and appeared on the “Live At The Roxy” compilation. Things moved on through some of my other early bands as I eventually moved on from playing keyboards in Toad The Wet Sprocket – which more than a few in the audience remembered embarrassingly! Well perhaps I should be prouder of my history, Toad were a good band! but after seeing The Damned and later that month The Sex Pistols at the Queensway Hall in Dunstable, I started to wonder if the Blues that Toad tws played was right for me! I loved the new energy of Punk. It took me a year or two to realize that I would have to trade in my Vox Continental keyboard for a Guitar. This is what I eventually did in late 1978 when I teamed up with Captain Bluett and a bit later Gaynor (Snow White)

So we squatted an old house in Wellington Street  and turned the coalbunker basement into a rehearsal room. We soon got to know The Resistors another young band of whippersnappers he he!  particularly Martin and Steve Harle. some of the other chaps in the Resistors were in the audience and were delighted to see their younger selves up on the screen!

So there it was, we had created a potential meeting point that would help launch Luton’s Punk scene. Which by 1979 it did.  Snow White had now changed name to Pneumania and The Resistors, now with Abbo on vocals to UK Decay., We collaborated on a ‘Split Single’ , gigs and just about everything else! Later that year I joined UK Decay on guitar and it went on from there! The Split Single was Luton’s first D.I.Y release , we pipped the Jets, now The Tee Vee’s and The Friction’s ‘split single by a few weeks! So the Luton punk discussion for a time looked at this what we called ‘the second wave’ and actually some called it the ‘third wave’ after the initial explosion of 76. I guess the UK Decay part of Luton’s punk history has it’s place and I guess it would be natural for Abbo and I to talk about it!

It wasn’t all discussion either, we broke up the evening with half a dozen or so songs which was the closest thing  we could do to being ‘unplugged’. Justin Saban joined us onstage to help ‘glue’ our performance together. He brought along a bespoke stompbox which provided a rhythm and we played through a number of songs which included our first ever live performance of ‘Drink’ from our recent ‘New Hope From The Dead’ album. For that I created an mp3 of the violin part and played my guitar with my cell with the mp3 playing – all going through my stomp boxes and space echo! It was a first! Being as it was an ‘unplugged’ performance we had every excuse to sit down and play which to some might appear ‘unforgivable’  But it seemed to be about right for the timbre of the evening.

Eventually the evening rolled out to questions then more personal meetups at the bar later. The feedback I got was really good, we had provoked a keen interest and it was really good catching up with some of the peops from all those years ago. I guess next meettup and discussion wil be for the fiftieth in a decades time.

Thank Ron Todd for the pictures and video clips.




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Luton: Centre of the Punk Rock Universe

With Abbo and Spon….

Spon (left) Abbo (right) at DV8 2012

Spon (left) Abbo (right) at DV8 2012

Abbo and I will be at Luton’s Hat Factory Art’s and Media Centre on Friday 25th November to talk about Punk in the Luton area back in the late seventies. This is part of the “40 years of Punk” celebrations going down over November at that venue and widely across the country. I am hoping to put together a few slides of various characters, bands, venues, fanzines from Luton and the surrounding are during the late seventies early eighties period. Hopefully this inspire discussion among ourselves and the audience.

Then Justin Saban will join us and we shall perform a couple our punk platters ‘unplugged’ style. So after I have written this I had better dust off the cobwebs of my guitar and get practicing!

When are UK Decay returning for more gigs and recordings? – As part of the talk we shall be hosting a questions and answers session hopefully this question and many others will be answered!

Tickets are just £5.00 bookable in advance from here

Further info

 

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The Origins Of Goth

Mathew Hudson’s ITV Anglia News piece featuring Bauhaus and UK Decay about the origins of the Gothic Rock genre in Luton and Northampton. Interviews with Bauhaus manager Graham Bentley, UK Decay’s Steve “Abbo” Abbott and myself…Steve Spon.
Also includes footage of a very early Bauhaus gig at the Romany Pub, Northampton. The TV piece was first shown 31 October 2014.
The location of the mixing room, rehearsal and interview footage was Sound Arc Studios in Shefford near Bedford, recorded summer 2014.

Dumping It On Parliament 2015 Live Presentation

Dumping It On Parliament Revisited Live Review

DIOPR By 21st century youth and music.
Copied with thanks from Diamond Seeds

Steve Spon note:  “This live performance of which I co hosted and curated along with Dash N Dem, Roshi, Graham Gagarin, Bedford Creative Arts and Mid Bedfordshire Libraries was the culmination of several months of planning , music, artwork, drama and poetry workshops with various groups and bands from Mid Bedfordshire. The project was part of the ‘Libraries As Laboratory’s’ presentation with the aim of utilising local libraries as part of a multifaceted arena and local resource.”

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The amount of work that went into this project was phenomenal. As a bystander, hearing about it as it unfolded and watching the culmination of all the hard work, it was truly breathtaking.

The project was run by Bedfordshire Libraries I believe, in a bid to keep these precious public places alive. Choosing music and its place in the right to protest was a formidable concept. Something that was news thirty years ago was resurrected and held up as an example of how people, working together, make their cause stronger. Well that was the main point, but of course, the history has to be explained, the flavour of the times revisited, in order to give a satisfactory view of how things really were.

I featured some songs from the Dump It On Parliament tape in a podcast. I listened and was impressed at the variety of styles of music and the wide involvement of people dedicated to protest against a nuclear dump near Bedford (yes believe it, it could have happened!)
The tape was made so that proceeds from its sale could provide financial help to those who were arrested and fined for demonstrating against this insane idea. The wider community woke up and participated in voicing its disapproval, and eventually the government dropped the proposal.

TeeShirt Print01

But this incident threw open a door to the times we were living in, times past and unknown to the present generation. History is coloured by the media, and the media can be woefully unfair. The punk scene, which became the alternative music scene, was not populated by drones. Sure the clothes were interesting but there was more to it than the look (which was hijacked as soon as a buck could be made from it anyway).

The Dump it on Parliament tape is an icon for activism, for building communities and for the arts. The 21st Century project ‘Dump It On Parliament Revisited’, directed by the fantastic trio Rochi, Dash and Dem, probes into all the factors that made this tape, connects to the anger of the times, the politics of unfairness and the grassroots effects of fighting back. The drama group of young students that enjoyed the dressing up and acting of the Young Ones gives a nod to the recognition of this phenomena in our country’s social history.

And I have to laugh. Much of it goes back to Luton 33 Arts Centre and the craziness that went on there. I admit I took it for granted, surely every town had somewhere like that? Well it turns out that this arts center was very special, and to think I only went there a few times to rehearse with my band. Discussing 33 nowadays is like talking about Shangri La – there were drama groups, a recording studio, a photography studio, a cafe – decorated with Tony Hough’s paintings (Luton’s incredible fantasy artist). Gorilla Video was based there, developing new film techniques and providing Channel 4 with the stuff that used to make Channel 4 worth watching.

This was the meeting place where workshops took place and bands met, not in competition but in building a community, organizing gigs together. It was the antithesis of X Factor. Of course the council condemned the building, pulled 33 Guildford Street down and no independent place has emerged to rival it since.

Now it has come to pass that the building has gone, and the people have scattered to the four winds; but the music is still with us. So the idea was to revisit the tape itself, and listen to the songs and study the history. Then, to invite bands/performers of today to participate, by commenting about the issues in their lives through their music.

My goodness, the bands that participated are living proof that this project is a bloody good idea. Firstly there was no age restriction, I believe the youngest participant was a very enthusiastic actor, it would be rude to try and work out the eldest, so lets just say this project appealed to all ages!

Theatre10
Secondly it was a project that embraced all facets of art, not just the music. Tee-shirts and posters were designed. Clothes were embellished and make up carefully applied by the drama group. Films made by Gorilla Video were aired. There was even face painting – where people ‘wore’ an album cover on their face.

An interesting discussion about the times and the action taken by bands and film makers were discussed at a public forum in Leighton Buzzard, hosted by Dave Stubbs from Quietus Magazine.

With music being my main passion I was bound to be drawn in by the promise of live bands, but all this other stuff, the historical perspective, the inclusion of anyone who wanted to be involved in any way, I found this inspiring. And yet all it was, was people, encouraging other people, to discover and evolve their abilities and learn something. I was entertained. More importantly, I was educated about the music scene, and the battles fought with the government of the 1980s against nuclear dumping, among other issues. Things that are not in the National Curriculum, or the newspapers.

So how can you better the idea of asking bands of today to come along and show us what music is about now? The master stroke was this – ask each band to cover one of the songs on the Dump it on Parliament Tape (I also called it the ‘Anti Nirex tape’, as Nirex was the company that the government was going to farm out the nuclear waste to).
This is asking a lot considering that music has moved a long way since the eighties, the words can be lost and musicians are all ego maniacs – well that’s how they are portrayed in the media – right?

Musicians don’t always turn up for rehearsals, well we know that! Sometimes people say yes to things and do not deliver… life can get in the way..sometimes people just cannot make it. I have said it before, musicians are emotional creatures, when you strip your soul naked on a stage it takes courage. But there are plenty of brave people out there.

I turned up on the last night of this project at Leighton Buzzard Theatre and it seemed clear to me that this was going to be a fantastic effort because it was so much more than ‘just a gig’. I was privileged to meet many of the musicians performing that night and their commitment and credibility was awe-inspiring.
I have to say in an industry once populated with men (which is even reflected to some extent on the Anti Nirex tape) the girls have silenced the equality debate, which thankfully, for this project, has gone out of date. Women, dressed in clothes that betray the fact that they are serious musicians and not put together by some creepy media company executive (ie they were dressed normally) performed to a very high standard, as did everyone taking part on the night. Yes the bottom line was that these bands were worth seeing.

Carolla_1

Carolla

I like punky stuff and I like folky stuff, so I wasn’t disappointed. The show kicked off with the Grove Theatre Drama Group (?) Dunstable – performing a song strong on lyrics. We all get how bad it is to be young in a system that does not care about you, but hearing it from kids who are living it and understanding that things don’t have to be that way – made it a powerful performance. I truly hope that these kids do find a future in the arts, even if nobody will fund them.

SlippySkills04

Gary, known as Slippy Skills came over from Luton and rapped a set, and we were off into a night of sheer delight, as I like to say. He was followed by the Council Tax Band, who really don’t care if they cannot be found on Google. This band was tight, political and had a dynamic girl guitarist as well as the singer/keyboard player. They covered the Click Click track from the Dump it on Parliament tape. I enjoyed their defiant style and material.

Grand Mal were excellent too – a Bedford band fronted by bass player, sound engineer and singer Amy Mason, often found behind the bar at Esquires, Bedford.

Grand Mal

Grand Mal

Corolla were something different. Their performance had delicacy and a gentle delivery which completely reset the atmosphere. The girl (I should say lady) singer has a completely controlled delivery of her vocals. Holding back and putting space into the music, captured the attention of the audience, and held us in the palm of her hand. Even though this band was quieter, the sentiment and pace of the music was its strength. The musicianship was exquisite, the moment was precious.

In contrast, everything seems to be in a state of explosion around Nick the Poet. He is like a human detonator. When someone with his energy takes the mike and announces that he will read you his poem, nobody would ever consider heading for the door. Nick has written some wonderful stuff over the years. He has a punk heritage that takes us back to the days of the emerging and pimpled UK Decay. Nick gave himself the job of reading a poem to the crowd while there were band and equipment changeovers on the stage behind him. He loves a rabble to entertain and the rabble loves him for his word-smithing. Nick does not beat around the bush. His poetry will ask awkward questions – and on this evening he brings out a poem questioning what Thatcher and Reagan were up to and the disgrace that was Greenham Common. By the end of the night everyone in the venue will know who Nick the Poet is, and probably go to see him if they ever get the chance again.

Nick the Poet

Nick the Poet

Rochi and Spon performed a song from the ‘dump it’ tape and had the crowd singing a simple song by a bloke named Kev, and I wondered if it may have been a guy I went busking with years ago in Luton. We never found out but the song brought a great audience response with us singing along with the chorus and the drama group really feeling it. Their tutor, Chris performing as Red Lighter Man also gave us a haunting poem about the times we live in.

Roshi

Roshi

The evening was fast paced, so I had a sit down and quick chat with Steve Spon who was co-presenting and co curator of the project. Then I heard someone on the drums and I knew that it had to be Kirk. Halfway through my tea I jumped up and ran to catch the Kindred, because it is the only thing to do when the Kindred get on stage. I have seen this band steam the pub windows up, I would go so far to say that they are rather ‘mighty’.

I just about caught the first song and it was the cover of the Rattlesnakes song ‘No Money’. This being my favourite song of the whole thing, it is not surprising that the pics came out a bit out of focus, I was trying to mosh at the same time. Seems the Kindred were not together as a band at the time but I am hoping they reform and gig because the world is too quiet without their gut ripping energy. All excellent musicians, they seem like direct descendants from some of the bands that made the Anti Nirex tape. Of course I mentioned the Rattlesnakes before, it being Gregg Herbert’s band at one time. It was special to see Kindred, highly respected in my opinion, paying tribute to Gregg and the Rattlesnakes all this time later. It was good too that the boys knew it and felt that respect.

Kindred01

Kindred and Kin

The evening ended with the Defektors, the other band that I had already picked up on the radar as a bloody good set up. I had a chance to speak to their singer, Cara, the enigmatic front-person before they got on stage. The Defektors were covering a song by Penumbra Sigh and I wondered if she knew that the singer had passed away in the last couple of years. I had tried to contact Spiky Kaz, who had been the singer in Penumbra Sigh when I included the track on my radio podcast, but could not connect with her. Cara viewed this news in a mystical light, she has a spiritual dimension about her, and she paid tribute to Spiky Kaz when they performed the song. The Defektors set was the last of the night and they rounded off the evening with kick ass tracks and lively performance. Cara is totally dynamic, having mastered the art of movement and performance, she gives a masterclass in stage craft to anyone watching who would want to learn. I liked this band before, now I love them!

All was filmed by Andrew and others, and the sound recorded on the desk by Graham, from Pere Ubu who did the engineering single-handedly and must be congratulated for not a whiff of feedback! The library staff involved with this project were so friendly and I glimpsed them support the creators as they cleverly navigated their way through their aims and objectives.

What will be my lasting impression of this whole thing? Well I was an outsider looking in, but for me what sticks is that people were just lovely with each other.

Record Store Day 2015 – A Cautionary Tale

From an artists point of view

Steve Spon

Steve Spon

I am Steve Spon guitarist with the 1980’s internationally known post punk band UK Decay. I have always been a keen fan of independent record stores and as a band we would go out of our way to support the small retailers. However Record Store Day 2015 has unfortunately made us aware that some areas of criticism are rightfully justified.

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Terror and Wonder

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
British Library (Open until Tue 20 Jan 2015)

Terror and WonderLast weekend EJ from Diamondseeds and I spent a day visiting exhibitions held at the British Library and at the British Museum in London.
First we visited the British Library near St Pancras to view the exhibition, “Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination” where “Two hundred rare objects trace 250 years of the Gothic tradition, exploring our enduring fascination with the mysterious, the terrifying and the macabre…”

Ella Jo

EJ

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Spon, “ere mate….lend us ten pence!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was pointed out to me a few weeks back that one of our UK Decay records “The Black 45” was on display at the exhibition as well as a giant sized poster of the seminal “The Face of Punk Gothique” article written by Steve Keaton for Sounds in 1981 (he is still around but today uses his real name, Steve May). A number of years ago we visited the Tate Gallery for “Gothic Nightmares” exploring the dark and gothic side of art, this time the emphasis at the British Library was of course to be expected on the literature side.

So in a clockwise direction we headed into the crowds viewing each of the exhibits, starting with memorabilia centred around Horace Walpole’s “The Castle of Otranto” written 250 years ago , supposedly the first of the ‘Gothic romances’. There were audio clips and video clips to enjoy dotted around the exhibition with the ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ and Boris Karloff making appearances in the movie realm. A poster for the ‘Night Of The Demon’ loomed, a film that scared the shit out of me as a kid, me and a mate used to rent the super 8 version to play to the other kids in the neighbourhood in our very own ‘garage cinema’. A mention of how Batman was in some way inspired by Victorian bogeyman ‘Spring-Heeled-Jack’ here a spread of Police newspapers with an extended cartoon impression of the Whitechapel murders (Jack The Ripper).

The Wicker Man, The Birds, The Night Of The Living Dead, a Vampire slaying kit, Dracula, Frankenstein, Christopher Lee, Mary Shelley’s first draughts of the literary Frankenstein, Wallace & Gromit’s Were-rabbit sat alongside a host of early and almost unknown 18th and 19th century Gothic romances. Then there was Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Stanley Kubricks The Shining and a selection of recent novels, films and TV, notably clips from BBC 3’s “In The Flesh” a Zombie/Vampire drama series. All in all fascinating stuff, camera’s were banned so unfortunately no pictures! However turning the corner into room 6 , the giant sized poster of “The Face Of Punk Gothique” can’t be missed, it hits you in the face! Sitting right underneath it is the inner spread out sleeve of the Black 45, alongside Bauhaus’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead – we took the opportunity to cheekily snatch a couple of photo’s at this point. They can’t actually do us for breech of copyright can they?

The Black 45 on display at the Terror And Wonder Exhibition

The Black 45 on display at the Terror And Wonder Exhibition

The Face of Punk Gothique

Spon at the The Face of Punk Gothique

Ella Jo joked about me turning into a museum piece now! Hey we are still active today and writing new stuff although the Black 45 is now pushing forty years , gosh!

The last room contained a series of photographs of the April 2014 Whitby Goth Weekend, of course pertinent to the band and myself as we performed there on that weekend. I saw the odd face in the photo’s that I recognised!

Witches and Wicked Bodies: The British Museum

That was it , time to move on to the British Museum to view amongst other things an exhibition of “Witches and Wicked Bodies” , a fitting supplement to the Terror and Wonder experience earlier.

This was about paintings, sketches, engravings and other artwork examining the portrayal of witches and witchcraft from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. There was nothing to say against taking pictures, so we had a field day. The only difficultly was negotiating the crowds, many of whom we noted and recognised from the gothic exhibition earlier.

Macabre, sublime and succinct images by artists such as Dürer, Fusseli, Goya, Delacroix, Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti held the slow snake like processions transfixed . “The magus, or wise practitioner of ‘natural magic’ or occult ‘sciences’, has traditionally been male, but the majority of those accused and punished for witchcraft, especially since the Reformation, have been women” , so stated the museum blurb on the subject of the art. Sadly this was the last day of the exhibition, for us (and hundreds of others) it was a must see!

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A selection of art from the exhibition.

Anglo Saxon (almost!)

Almost Anglo Saxon a new album by Ella Jo, produced by EJ and Steve Spon, featuring  Mel Rogers from Tarantism on Flute, Steve Kerr on Guitar, Ed Branch from UK Decay on Bass, Steve Spon also from UK Decay on guitar and piano and Fiddlin Flick on violin. Folk lore, Myths and Stories from a thousand years ago, beautifully crafted into songs, sounds and sung by Ella Jo... “Only a few bars of music survive from Anglo Saxon times, a thousand years ago, but there is evidence of the instruments that they used. We experimented a lot, as the challenge was to write songs relating to that history and produce an album that is musically credible as well as educational. Choosing subjects such as King Ethelred the Un-ready and the folk tale of Wayland Smithy,  I wanted to tell the stories as the Anglo Saxons may have known them. I was trying to stand in the shoes of those who witnessed historical moments in Anglo Saxon History, like a woman watching the Viking ships land (in the song 'Dragon Ships'). I also allowed a modern point of view such as the discovery of buried treasure in the song 'The Hidden Hoard', and in 'The Minstrel's Song' I wanted to embrace the place of music in culture and show how highly it was valued in the past." For a full interview about Almost Anglo Saxon see http://diamondseeds.recklessrelic.co.uk/

Almost Anglo Saxon a new album by Ella Jo, produced by EJ and Steve Spon, featuring Mel Rogers from Tarantism on Flute, Steve Kerr on Guitar, Ed Branch from UK Decay on Bass, Steve Spon also from UK Decay on guitar and piano and Fiddlin Flick on violin.
Folk lore, Myths and Stories from a thousand years ago, beautifully crafted into songs, sounds and sung by Ella Jo…
“Only a few bars of music survive from Anglo Saxon times, a thousand years ago, but there is evidence of the instruments that they used. We experimented a lot, as the challenge was to write songs relating to that history and produce an album that is musically credible as well as educational. Choosing subjects such as King Ethelred the Un-ready and the folk tale of Wayland Smithy, I wanted to tell the stories as the Anglo Saxons may have known them. I was trying to stand in the shoes of those who witnessed historical moments in Anglo Saxon History, like a woman watching the Viking ships land (in the song ‘Dragon Ships’). I also allowed a modern point of view such as the discovery of buried treasure in the song ‘The Hidden Hoard’, and in ‘The Minstrel’s Song’ I wanted to embrace the place of music in culture and show how highly it was valued in the past.”
For a full interview about Almost Anglo Saxon see http://diamondseeds.recklessrelic.co.uk/

After that with the whole of the British Museum at our disposal and too little time and with fatigue beginning to set in we headed for “Ancient Europe” and particularly the Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon material. This was befitting because Ella Jo and I have just completed an album project entitled “Almost Anglo Saxon”, which is a collection of (modern) songs depicting myths, legends, life and sounds from the Anglo Saxon period. We marveled at the famous armored helmet and at the Franks Casket with it’s inscriptions of Weland the Smith and at the nearby Lewis Chess set who’s pieces almost comically displaying their bulging eyes and glum expressions.

We also caught a brief glimpse of some of the horrific and dark Aztec material which freaked EJ right out! Very soon we were nearly out of time and in need of a resuscitating coffee, which we drank in the magnificent covered courtyard , just time to enjoy before our journey home.

A very rewarding and enjoyable day.

Steve Spon

Sutton Hoo Helmet

Sutton Hoo Helmet

Franks Casket

Franks Casket

Lewis Chess pieces

Lewis Chess pieces