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LEWES musical express Launch Issue Summer 2013 News Exclusive Crisis at East Sussex Music service? Arthur Brown God of Hellfire Union Music: Nashville in Lewes


Sussex FolK: Shirley Collins Isobel Anderson

YOUTH music The Story of Starfish

Lewes Musical Express

Ecover pictureLEcalpol killed my uncle Ephoto LEjohn may 2

STaRFISH: Bands of 2013




Union Music: A little bit of Nashville in Lewes


All together now: THE CHOIRS OF LEWES


Isobel Anderson


A SENSE OF PLACE: Shirley Collins


Last Words: Peter Messer



News: Sonic Youth

news Sarah Bayliss investigates ‘outstanding’ music education that needs support in hard times Emain photosLEhelene carter


EimageLEmike stones

LEWES musical express Launch Issue Summer 2013

LEWES PUNCHES ABOVE ITS WEIGHT – fireworks, floods, dissent, and, yes music, are no ordinary matters in this Sussex town. They’re major, unforgettable, and life-changing experiences. Youth music, and in particular music education, is a case in point. East Sussex Music Service was founded in this county town more than 40 years ago. It has become a £2.9m education programme that teaches thousands of children and young people to play musical instruments and to sing throughout their school lives. For three consecutive years the quality has been judged ‘outstanding’ by the Federation of Music Services. “The teachers are amazing, they have such energy,” one parent told the LME. “There’s a clear structure that works brilliantly – from small group tuition right up to ensembles and orchestras,” said another. “We went to three Town Hall concerts last month and the standard just gets better and better,” said a third. These are valuable expressions of support which the Mayor of Lewes, county councillor Ruth O’Keeffe, says could make a positive difference as the service braces itself for a cut of almost £500,000 in the county’s Government grant over the next three years. The allocation of Government money looks like this: £1,027,440 in 2011/12 ; £924,696 in 2012/13; £739,756 in 2013/14 and £500,072 in 2014/15. That’s more than a 50 per cent cut since 2011 and what happens after 2015 is still not clear. Ruth O’Keeffe, a former primary music teacher herself and a member of ESMS’s management committee, says that parents’ backing is crucial when funding is under such pressure and when fees charged for lessons cover close to a third of the current budget. “We’ve got something very special here and to know that families are right behind the service is worth a lot. We’ve managed to peg the fees at inflation or below but it will get harder the deeper the cuts bite. Together, we’ve got to find ways to maintain investment in music.” Total spending in 2013/14 is projected to break-even at £2,929,400 with fees paid by parents amounting to £1,164,000. Schools and colleges pay for whole class tuition, expertise, advice and premises. Crucially a ‘cushion’ of



£600,000 has been provided by the county but more than half that is already spent. Professional fundraiser Amanda Carpenter has been appointed to try and fill the gap. The music service covers the whole county and employs 122 qualified music teachers in 55 full- time equivalent posts. Officially a jobs freeze is not in operation but there are examples of posts remaining unfilled. Centres are based in Lewes, Eastbourne, Hastings and Crowborough. Jane Humberstone, an advanced skills teacher, manages the Lewes centre, is a ‘vocal animateur’ and teaches hundreds of children to sing every week. To relax, she plays the tuba with the Glynde and Beddingham Brass Band and marches with Commercial Square Bonfire Society. More than 12,000 children and young people benefit directly from ESMS. In primary schools 8,000 children receive free specialist tuition for a year in Key Stage Two – learning to play the recorder or percussion in whole classes and joining choirs and mass events such as the Big Sing at Christmas. Another 4,000 pupils in primary and secondary schools are taught instruments in small groups or one-toone; parents pay fees on a termly basis, set to start next term at £93. With progress, a pupil can join weekly ensembles and orchestras afterschool and on Saturdays for £64 a term. The annual cost, including instrument hire, is more than £500 but there are subsidies available up to 85 per cent. A recent survey of parents found massive support; more than 90 per cent thought the progression, content and quality of activities was good or very good while 99 per cent thought the standard of performance was good or very good. Sheila Cullen is a campaigning parent whose four children have all benefited from ESMS. The two youngest

are at Wallands Community Primary School where Nina (8) learns the guitar and cello while Ewan (10) learns the guitar and trumpet. Both attend the Saturday music school in Lewes. Sheila says: “We hire a cello for Nina and they’re both doing two instruments so obviously it’s expensive. Recently we thought about cutting back but decided that after all it’s worth it – it’s less than you might spend on entertainment or holidays. And there are subsidies for people who struggle financially. “Basically music is good for our children. It’s good for their brains, their confidence and their sociability – they meet people and make friends. Ewan played a solo on his trumpet for the first time at school this week and last night Nina simply said to me : ‘I love my cello.’ You can’t put a price on that.” Sheila says parents should sign up to a national campaign to protect music services and lobby local MP Norman Baker. “We need to join in national campaigns because the cuts are coming from Whitehall – not County Hall.” The ESMS also includes the Academy of Music, a centre of excellence at Sussex Downs College in Lewes, where 100 sixth formers

years at the helm. His post disappears in the planned cuts, a move he described to LME as ‘my contribution’. He said: “It's a fine service and I believe it is in the best possible position to face the future. The trick will be to maintain an outstanding service with less money.” He will return to a life of composing and hopes to get more of his work 'out there'. Justice and peace are abiding themes; his musical dramas include works about Greenham Common and the environment but he uses humour in songs for children, such as The Peace Pudding Songbook. Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe paid tribute to Dr Biggin saying: “I think it is a great loss because he has made a dynamic and positive contribution. I understand his view that right now we need more people on the ground and I believe there will be strong leadership from middle ranking officers.” Rhythmix CEO Mark Davyd said: “It’s a sad story because the national plan was a good document with everyone signing up to the idea that music for all was a wonderful thing. But there was this terrible footnote that everyone must carry on with a lot less money – £58m rather than £75m

“BASICALLY MUSIC IS GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN. IT’S GOOD FOR THEIR BRAINS, THEIR CONFIDENCE AND THEIR SOCIABILITY – THEY MEET PEOPLE AND MAKE FRIENDS” take A-level music and music technology. The ESMS Community Choir, open to all adults, is led by the Academy and celebrated its 25th anniversary in June with a performance of Haydn's Creation. This year, behind the scenes, a major reorganisation has taken place to fit a new national plan for music, instigated by Education Secretary Michael Gove. The plan puts the Arts Council in charge of managing funds and creates new music ‘hubs’ which can replace local authorities. It encourages partnerships and ‘music for all’; the ‘patchiness’ it criticises has not been an issue in East Sussex. Locally a new hub has now emerged with four ‘key delivery partners’: Glyndebourne Opera House ,which has a long and deserved reputation for excellence in education and outreach; Rhythmix, a major independent music charity that focuses on children facing challenging circumstances; the existing ESMS and the local schools and colleges. Not surprisingly, given its ‘outstanding’ reputation, ESMS has recently been elected the ‘lead partner’. Meanwhile ESMS director, Dr Tony Biggin, former teacher, songwriter and co-founder of Rhythmix, has decided to bow out after eight

nationally. And East Sussex has been hit harder than others by the financial recalculations. It can’t be a good thing to lose someone like Tony – he’s a very clued-up guy who cares passionately.” Dr Biggin will say a final farewell during the annual ESMS Summer School. For three weeks, from July 8-28, it’s in full swing – a musical extravaganza involving 1000 pupils on 51 courses across the county from rock school to advanced keyboard, from samba to the Big Summer Sing. Summer School is the culmination of a year’s work and is also a chance for the best instrumentalists to meet daily in their ensembles and orchestras and to give high profile concerts in top venues like Arundel Cathedral and Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion. “I love everything about Summer School and I’ve been for the past six or seven years,” says Luca Hallam, aged 14, in Year 9 at Lewes’ Priory School who’s learned recorder (descant, treble, tenor and bass) to Grade 8 and plays the flute and piccolo in a county jazz band and

a woodwind sinfonia. She joined the Starfish charity too in Year 7 and enjoys being a lead singer in bands. Luca’s mum Carmen Slipjen grew up in Holland and is still amazed that music tuition here can start so young and on school premises. “The wonderful thing is that they make it so easy for your child to get involved. I cannot imagine how Luca would have got this far without it.” Caitlin Oneill, aged 12, plays in Lewes Youth Concert Band and will study Grade 5 music theory next term. She recently raised £200 for Comic Relief by busking on Cliffe Bridge with her friend Phoebe. Caitlin has an app on her iphone that identifies tunes and finds sheet music for her. She says: “I don’t really plan to do this professionally but it helps me learn how to study and it’s fun.” Her mum Clare O’Donoghue says: “We think we’re very lucky to have this. It’s life-changing in that it affects all her learning.” 1Isaac Reeves, aged 15, another Priory student, started ‘kindermusic’ classes on Saturday mornings when he was five, took up the cello in Year 3 at Southover primary school and has just passed the audition for South Downs Youth Orchestra. His father, Lewes photographer Tom Reeves told LME: “I never learned to play an instrument myself and I’ve always admired people who can make music and enjoy themselves. As long as Isaac can do that, we’re happy.” CF

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MAKING WAVES Young people who’ve been through ESMS are already achieving remarkable things. Here’s some names to listen out for

callum huseyin, aged 19, plays clarinet and saxophone, composes and wants to be a conductor. Currently on his gap year, he conducts the Lewes Youth Concert Band every week and will take a music degree at Kings College, London from September. He attended Chailey School near Lewes. He says: “I came to East Sussex when I was 12 and one day, like everyone at school in this county, I heard an instrument demonstrated in assembly. It was Clare Moisan on the clarinet; I signed up and she’s been my teacher ever since.The ESMS is so wonderful, I can’t quite believe it. The music service has transformed my life and given me the most amazing opportunities. The funding thing is scary because without the service I definitely would not be where I am now.” Earlier this year Callum successfully auditioned at Glyndebourne to play the saxophone in Imago the community opera, with the Aurora Orchestra. Young musicians like Callum were paired with professionals. “That was excellent and incredibly interesting, to work alongside professional musicians.”

juliette gregg

, aged 20, is a violinist and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music after attending Priory School and Sussex Downs College. In her first year at the RA, she remains leader of the East Sussex Youth Orchestra and will attend the week-long summer school. Juliette, whose mother is a flute teacher, had violin lessons at school from the age of seven and always did Saturday morning orchestra. She says: “I was recommended to go on a chamber music course when I was 14 and after that I got more serious about becoming a musician. At Sussex Downs I took music, maths and chemistry A levels and was a student in the Academy of Music there. It’s amazing to be part of such a big music community at that age, unique really. Everyone knows each other and the pre-professional course prepares you very well. I’m one of only two violinists in the RA’s first year who didn’t go to specialist music school or come from abroad.”

george ellis, aged 20, plays the tuba and has just won a prestigious £1000 prize for brass players at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he’s a third year student. As a pupil at Cavendish School in Eastbourne he was taught by Jane Humberstone who now runs the Lewes Music Centre. He says: “It feels a long time ago now, but I remain very grateful to the music service in East Sussex for their great work which has allowed me and many others to gain places at such prestigious institutions.” Congratulating George, Richard Sigsworth, acting head of ESMS said: “It’s always great to hear the success stories of former pupils. The East Sussex Music Service plays an important role in nurturing the talents of musicians like George and ensuring their skill is developed to the full. We hope his success inspires other young people to consider learning to play an instrument.”

EwordsLEjohn may EphotographyLEcarlotta luke If you’ve got or had a young adult in your house who is interested in music and wants to play, chances are you know all about Starfish – a remarkable organisation now in its 15th year which provides access to equipment, rehearsal and recording space and tuition for budding musicians at cheap rates

STVRFISH he LME is sitting in Starfish HQ, situated by the river on the Phoenix Industrial Estate, talking with Steve Franklin who, along with Eiain Paxion, is one of the two coordinators of the project. “When we first arrived here in July 2012, the building was a dump. It has taken the efforts of more than 70 people – friends of Starfish, parents and kids – to get the place up and running. It has cost us £30,000 to renovate – a third of which has been fundraised by the efforts of Union Music, Waterloo and Neville bonfire societies and many others. We will be fully open for business at the end of July and will have four rehearsal rooms plus a recording studio (live room/control room), plus band storage facilities and office space. We will also be offering PA and lighting hire. We have got a five-year lease but the developers Santon can give us a six-month notice to quit at any time during that period. We were fully aware of this when we moved in.” Running a not-for-profit community venture is not easy at a time of Government cuts. “So what we decided


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to do,” says Steve, “was to find a building that we could run the project from which could also bring in a commercial income so that we wouldn’t have to rely for our core funding on either national or local government grants.” Starfish is seeking to evolve into a Community Interest Company – effectively a youth club whose profits go back into the project. Apart from anything else, over its lifetime Starfish has built up around £40,000 worth of musical equipment assets. Starfish has an interesting history dating back to 1998 when the legendary musician Herbie Flowers (left) staged a two-day “Rockshop” event in Lewes – something he continues to do in schools all over Britain every year. This inspired a group of young people In Lewes to try and start up their own music project – Starfish – with Nick Flowers, Herbie’s son, as coordinator, with the help of the ESCC Youth Development Service [now called Targeted Youth Support] who provided core funding for three years. Starfish established their HQ in the YMCA building in Westgate Street and staged their first ever gigs at The Needlemakers and the All Saints Centre that same year. By 1999 Starfish had 70 members. Steve Franklin came in as coordinator in 2000 after previously working for five years as a music technician at The BRIT School in Croydon – the first free Performing Arts and Technology School in the country. The following year, Starfish was considered such a success that the project was extended with further funding which

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allowed them to add extra weekly sessions, set up and run a recording studio and hold engineering and percussion workshops. Unfortunately the YMCA is not well sound-proofed which led to noise complaints from local residents and a real threat to Starfish’s survival. Fortunately the project found a new home at Priory School before relocating last year to their new HQ. One of the reasons why Starfish has proved so valuable to young musicians in Lewes over the years is that they grow up with the project, as Steve explains, which provides them with a chance to develop their talents over an extended period and learn many other valuable life skills along the way. “Starfish is aimed at a target group of young people aged 10-18. Most of them register as individuals and we place them in bands. They are all different. Some have musical experience and are already playing an instrument while others don’t even know what instrument they want to play. “Lots of young people have the perception that playing music is only for the gifted and for the few who get to be on ‘The X Factor’ but we think music is for everyone and should be a communal thing. Starfish is not a fame school. “Starfish is all about empowerment. We are trying to teach them to play an

instrument but when you play with a band you also learn other skills – team work, negotiation, practice regimes, diary planning – which are transferable to the rest of your life. We use the image of an iceberg; above the water is the band and below the water is all the other stuff that you need to make a band work. “We have a role in safeguarding young people. Those of them who feel a bit different, feel safe here. All our members are encouraged to leave their problems and issues at the door and to make the most of their musical opportunities. “We take a long-term view. They come in as juniors and there is a noticeable change in them over the years as they gain in experience and confidence. “Some musicians who have passed through Starfish have gone on to work professionally in the music business but 99.9 per cent don’t. Yet learning to play an instrument stays with them for the rest of their lives.” CF Unit 1a, Phoenix Works, North Street, Lewes, BN7 2PE

“One of the thrills for me about doing this job is seeing how young people develop as musicians and personally. Also, I am really proud about the strong, positive memories we create that will really last. They’re going to be 60 years old and still reflecting on the first time they got up on stage at the All Saints. We have people from year one of the project who still pop in to say hello because I think they really appreciated their time with Starfish”. steve franklin

holly from plastic lies

Starfish Bands 2013 HALF BUILT HOUSE

So how did your Giacomo Luke (bass) Eddie Lansley (guitar/vocals) name come about? Miles Tewson (drums) ‘“We were Miles Mortimer (guitar)

Each year sees a new crop of bands emerge under the Starfish banner. These four are making waves and we subjected them to their first-ever press interview. All were enthusiastic about the facilities, equipment and support that Starfish provides.

struggling for a name”, says Giacomo, “and we were playing in a cemetery and someone was building a massive house just above it”. Eddie interjects: “Somehow I made the jump from being something we saw to being our band name.” You’re one of the principal songwriters, Eddie, give us the names of some of your songs: ’Six Feet’ (“that’s quite a dark one”), ‘Open Ground’, ‘Quit While You’re Ahead’, ‘Too Many Times’. G and E were in the same year at school and have been working on their music at Starfish for two years, playing around with lots of people before teaming up with the present line-up. How do you characterise the music you’re playing? “We struggle with that. Indie Rock maybe,” says Giacomo.


We caught Can’tdraw at Starfish for their regular weekly Tuesday rehearsal, which has become even more important to them since they’ve just left school. They feel the weekly practice is vital in helping move the band forward. Mia was absent but Julian, Euan and Ayo all chipped in. They all work together to write their own songs but they are not sure how to describe the music they make. Ayo says: “It might be called slightly Indie but we didn’t write it with that intention. We just play the music. It’s all within the same genre but we don‘t know what that is.” I suggested that they might be inventing a new genre. Their ambition with the band is to “try and take it as far as possible.” They have done quite a few Starfish gigs and are generally agreed that the last one they played was appalling: “Anything that could have gone wrong did,” says Euan. “I went out of tune and so did the keyboard.” Julian said he screwed up on the drums, which he only plays on one number anyway. We had a good laugh about that. I suggested it’s good to get that out the way. They’re hoping to get some recordings done soon so as to pick up more local gigs and “see where it takes us.” Julian Gower (bass) Euan Crockett (guitar) Ayo Okojie (vocals) Mia Taylor (piano)


The LME is sitting on a sofa in Adam Campbell’s front room. The band has just come back from Lewes’ twin town Blois in France where they played a gig and are having a break while Zacky’s in California. By default, Adam is their spokesman. So where does the name Blank Frank come from? “We used to have a really terrible name – the Fridge Magnets – when we played school concerts. We decided to pick names out of a hat. One of the pieces of paper was blank, the other said Frank.” Normally Blank Frank practice on a Thursday and they really like the new rehearsal spaces and the fact that Starfish has got loads of really good equipment, including eight drum kits. Adam also sings and plays bass and guitar and thinks he will set up some new bands when he gets to Varndean college in the autumn as he want to also experience being a front man. His father Dirk is a well-known multi-instrumentalist who has recording studio upstairs in their house. I asked if he found this intimidating but he said it was the opposite – really good. The band play their own original music, many of the songs being joint efforts. “Emily is good at writing lyrics and Jack and Gabriel are the main generators of new ideas.” Asked about the band’s future, Adam says: “I am sure if our music is accepted we could do well.” As for describing their music, he says someone in France called it ‘acoustic rock’ which he thought described their genre but said he didn’t think you could compare their music with anyone else’s. Blank Frank enjoyed their trip to Blois but said the audience “all like heavy rock stuff so when we got up there we thought they’re not going to like our music. They just stood there and didn’t dance but they did listen. I think dancing is a good way to get into our music.”

Adam Campbell (drums) Jack Sussams (rhythm guitar) Gabriel Littlewood (lead guitar) Zacky Frizell (bass) Emily Lampard (vocals)


Luke Hurlock (bass/guitar) Maisie Ashford (vocals/bass/kora) Charlie Evans (keyboard) Isaac Flower (drums)

“But there’s a lot of kind of jazzy chords in it,” says Eddie. What do you guys like listening to? “Our guitarist is into heavy rock, I’m into jazz, “says Eddie. “I’m into anything” says Giacomo.” Miles Tewson is into some pretty weird stuff.” What performing experience have you had so far? “Mainly Starfish gigs. Mainly people sitting down on blankets, listening. The Lamb and the Con Club gigs were two of the best ones we’ve had so far. The later we play, the better it gets. It is quite dancey-type stuff but it’s a bit disappointing when everyone’s just sitting down,” says Giacomo. “We’ve recorded two songs so far at the Foundry Studios in the Phoenix and we’re recording some more at Miles’ guitar teacher’s studio.“ Are your ambitions just to enjoy it or do you want to make it in the music business? “If we can get it going” says Giacomo. “I enjoy doing it and I wouldn’t be too upset if we end up trying to go for it.”

Anyone who has been in a band knows how difficult it can be to come up with a decent name. For those not in the know, Calpol is a brand of medicine for babies and young children. Luke said he came up with it when he was “just spouting rubbish.” Maisie was keen to point out that she had not joined when the band was named and had no say in the decision. They agreed they would change it if they could think of something better. The LME had barged into their rehearsal room and sprung the interview on them which they took in their stride. Isaac the drummer was absent somewhere. The three others had been friends at school. Luke and Charlie had a band which Isaac joined and they then invited Maisie and “the other singer we had just disappeared.” Their original songs have been described as ‘alternative pop’ says Maisie but Charlie doesn’t like that label. The band as a whole listen to a wide variety of music including heavy rock, jazz, electronic and funk. Maisie is playing the kora, an unusual African instrument that she is being taught by a teacher from Mali. She took it up she says because “it just sounds really beautiful.” With their present line-up they have only done a couple of gigs. At their last performance says Charlie, “We were quite worried because the band on before us were very photogenic. Isaac was late and some songs weren’t finished so we had to improvise.” So how would you describe the music you play. “We don’t know”, says Charlie. “We have no idea.”



The Crazy World of Arthur Brown is back in action. A new album is being mixed as we speak, due for release in September when the band will set out from Lewes on a British and European tour, plus some confirmed dates in the US. This new incarnation of the band features Jim Mortimore (bass) and Sam Walker (drums) – two local musicians who graduated from Starfish – plus Lucie Rejchrtova (keyboards), Nina Gromniac (guitar) and the dancer Angel Flame. It’s a powerful combo that provides a strong musical setting for the stunning voice and arresting presence of the legend that is Arthur Brown. Arthur, the ‘God of Hellfire’, is widely acknowledged by the likes of David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Peter Gabriel, Marilyn Manson and many others as one of the key pioneers of theatre in rock. His spectacular voice, which ranges over three-and-a-half octaves, remains as strong as ever and his remarkable career and life story extends over a diverse range of projects and influences, much of it tied-in with a long and profound spiritual journey.

An Exclusive Interview With The God Of Hellfire EwordsLEjohn may Eimage LEluke insect e pick up the story around 1962 when Arthur is at Reading University studying philosophy. He had been singing since he was a boy but it was the classical lessons he took at that time that unleashed his voice’s true potential. He was in three groups playing folk, trad jazz and modern jazz respectively. His first major public gig was in 1963 when he sang ‘St Louis Blues’ with jazz musician Acker Bilk at the London Olympia which he says, “gave me my feeling of what it was like to sing in front of a big audience.” Around the same time he was also invited to the Marque Studios to record two vocal tracks for a Reading Rag flexidisc being produced by Paul Samwell-Smith of The Yardbirds. ‘I took it round all the management and agent companies in London and the general comment was: ‘Great voice, shit music’. So I thought, oh dear, my career is over.” In fact it was about to take off. Feeling disillusioned, Arthur decided to return to Reading and on his last night visited The Kilt, one of the first new-fangled discotheques in London. At the bar (by chance?) he met Philip Woods, the engineer of the Reading Rag record who grabbed his hand and said: “Dear boy. How would you like to start a rock empire in Paris?”. I said “Wonderful”. He said: “Could you be there in twelve days?” I said: “I don’t have a band”. He said: We’ll just put one together” and we did. “Over a period of three months we got pretty damn good. We played seven nights a week, three sets a night and also two sets on Sunday afternoons in this old club in Montmartre called The Bus Palladium which was decorated with art nouveau paintings and angels.” It quickly became the epicentre of Paris nightlife that year (1965). Arthur’s mad antics were featured on French tv and the club was visited by Salvador Dali, Roland Kirk, Ornette Coleman among other celebrities and crowds of beatniks. “Because we were playing so many sets, we didn’t have time to rehearse so I just began making stuff up and trying


out costumes. The make-up started when a seven-year child in the audience suggested I black out my teeth. The audience went crazy. “We were staying in a hotel full of ladies of the night who were always screwing and partying all night. One morning I woke up and found outside my room a crown of candles. I wore it at the club and that was the beginning of the fire helmet.” Back in England, Arthur formed the original Crazy World with Vincent Crane (Hammond organ and piano) and Drachen Theaker (drums). Their first album on Track Records reached the Top Ten in Britain and the US and spawned the single Fire, which was Number One in Britain and Canada in 1968 and has become Arthur’s legendary and enduring signature track. “The fire helmet was developed through conversations with the artist Mike Reynolds who lived in the same place as Vincent Crane and myself. We had long talks about paganism and mysticism. The fire helmet had curved, lyre-shaped horns arranged around a sort of pie dish which was filled with petrol to a depth of about two inches. The roadie would stand on the side of the stage and flick matches into it until it caught fire. When it went, it was kind of explosive. Sometimes I caught fire totally, sometimes just a little and sometimes not at all”. “Initially I used to wear it on-stage when I sang a track called Nightmare and then the show would end with fireworks and smoke bombs. But when Fire took off on Track Records we brought all the elements of our show behind it – the fire helmet, the long flowing robes, the black and white makeup, the projection screens and Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp who ran Track made it a huge hit. “I had quite a close relationship with Jimi Hendrix and we did a lot of gigs with him. Our first major concert outside the underground


scene was supporting the Experience at the Saville Theatre in London. It was a memorable gig because the promoter Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager, was found dead in his flat that day and the second show was cancelled as a mark of respect. “Jimi came to a point that he wanted to move on from the Experience and he decided he wanted to form a band with Vincent Crane on keyboards together with the Experience and myself on vocals. That came about because I was living in New York and Jimi used to come down to The Scene club and I would jam with him there. It was really good. But at that point Vincent was going into a mental home and I decided to go in another direction and then I heard Jimi was playing with the Band of Gypsies. Instead of getting bigger he went back to his roots. “I explored theatre in rock in a complete way with the huge costumes and stage act of the Crazy World and then I had a band called the Puddletown Express and I used to perform naked and make improvised music. That lost us a lot of fans. I was also arrested in Sicily for stripping off on stage in front of 15,000 people. Arthur then formed Kingdom Come and recorded three albums with a floating group of musicians. They were one of the first bands to use synthesisers and a drum machine as well as a mellotron and a theremin. “The band was like an expression of my inner quest and, at a certain point I decided to go off on my own journey which led me to study Gurdjieff and Sufism during several spiritual retreats and to travel to Israel, Turkey, Morocco and Burundi. When I came back from


Africa in 1977 I recorded four albums with Klaus Schulze (formerly of Tangerine Dream) and did a 42-city tour of Europe in 1979 using just synthesisers and a drum machine.” [He also made a guest appearance in Ken Russell’s film of Tommy in which he played The Priest.] The next phase of Arthur’s life was spent in Austin, Texas where he lived for 15 years with his wife and son, studying martial arts, gaining a degree in counselling and running a painting and decorating business with Jimmy Carl Black, the drummer of the Mothers of Invention – called appropriately Black and Brown. “Many of our clients would ask us to sign their walls when we’d finished painting,” Arthur recalls. “To clean my body of all the chemicals from the paint I fasted for about a year-and-a-half. I then toured in England with a band from Texas and had a brain haemorrhage as the fasting had undermined my constitution. The haemorrhage put me into a place where I was in the present moment and couldn’t get out of it. Everything was immediate and everything was now. I was no longer able to stand the heat in Texas and that’s when I came to England and Lewes became my main base of operations. “Lewes is a very creative town with a rebellious spirit. Musically it’s very diverse and I love all that. It’s also a very beautiful town and I love walking on the Downs.” Did it occur to you that is was highly appropriate that the ‘God of Hellfire’ should settle in a place with such a strong bonfire tradition? “Well flames are great aren’t they? Flames with black and white makeup are even better.” CF

early ghost


Nashville in Lewes EwordsLEjohn may Eimages LEbob russell

t’s the end of the day and I’m sitting in the atmospheric premises of Union Music Store just starting my interview with Jamie and Stevie Freeman when Lilly the dog jumps on my lap and vigorously licks my nose. I feel welcomed. They opened the shop on the 15th of November 2010 in the quirky, folksy building in Lansdowne Place – formerly an antique shop and then a cafe – and packed it full of CDs and vinyl, musical instruments, books and magazines, posters, t-shirts and cowboy boots. Union focuses on a sizeable niche of roots music – folk, country and Americana – which ranges from folktronica to guitar rock to traditional folk and old-time country. The shop has earned plaudits from the national press as a classic independent record shop, ticket hub and live venue. The stage may be small but their in-store gigs have featured major names from both sides of the Atlantic. In addition, they have become active promoters in several of the town’s major venues and have an eponymous record label and busy recording studio. It is clear right from the off that Jamie and Stevie complement each other and share a passion for music and attention to detail. They don’t quite finish each other’s sentences but they certainly bounce off each other’s statements and ideas. Jamie speaks for both of them when he says: “Everything we do is a joint venture. We are passionate about getting everything right. We’ve never get into


anything together that we can’t do well. We’re constantly working. I’m not saying that we’re the best but to our ability we’re going to make absolutely every effort to make it good. It’s exhausting.” Jamie has his own band, the Jamie Freeman Agreement, plays drums with another – Salter Cane, acts as record producer but earns his living as a graphic designer. He arrives from work on a lightweight, carbon-fibre racing bike sporting a mod haircut and talks of his long-time passion for soul. Stevie describes herself as a ‘shopkeeper’ – which underplays her

vital role in both the realisation of Union Music and its creative development. “I had a bit of a nugget of an idea,” says Jamie, “but Stevie’s got a knack of actually making things happen. If it had just stayed with me it would have remained a nugget.” “I used to own a lingerie/burlesque shop,” says Stevie, “and Jamie and I had started doing burlesque nights with bands – mainly swing or gypsy jazz – and we were both interested in promoting music. During this period we’d also been over to Nashville a couple of times because we had friends there.”

stevie and jamie freeman

Stevie and Jamie both dug Nashville instantly: “Nashville’s amazing because you go to a cafe to get a sandwich and you literally bump into Emmylou Harris,” says Jamie. “Last time we went there we were walking into a cafe and Jack White was walking out. It’s a weird town. Nashville musicians live and work there and they’re treated with respect. There’s no paparazzi.” “We went to the Station Inn [a legendary bluegrass and roots music club] and saw the fabulous all-star country swing band the Time Jumpers with Vince Gill. He’s country royalty. He’s sold millions and millions of records and there he was playing guitar in his flipflops on a hot evening in a place that only holds 200 people. “The Union idea,” says Stevie, “came about because what we loved over there was the small cafes which had little stages and there was always a guitar leaning up in the corner so people could play music. We went to the Ernest Tubb record store [417 Broadway] and there was a little stage at the back where everyone had played including Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline. “We wanted to bring a bit of Nashville back to Lewes and make a link between American and British roots music. They are the United States and we are the United Kingdom. Our name comes from that and it has strong historical and political overtones.”

continued ) 8


the ouse valley collective

Their first two releases were an EP by local singer Zoe Brownrigg Not Once Did I See Your Face and Jamie’s album Just You. Then another band Hatful of Rain arrived with a complete album that was recorded somewhere else. Jamie and Stevie styled the whole thing up and Jamie made a video that gained them national airplay. Since then they have recorded an album by indie folksters The Self Help Group.

Lewes Roots

jaime regan

“What we love about the young bands in Lewes like the Ouse Valley Collective, Early Ghost and Easy Company is that all these young folk are embracing the whole idea of skiffle and Depression-era music. Mainly acoustic based, their attitude is: ‘We may not be able to play these instruments perfectly at the moment but let’s just get together and make a righteous racket’. It’s the same sort of thing that happened in the late 70s with punk and it’s so the new Indie. We love the fact that this is the music the young kids want to play. If you are down about everything else, music makes you happy. It doesn’t get much better than playing music with other people.”

the long hill ramblers




Nashville in Lewes 1 Lansdown Place, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2JT 01273 474053

IN-STORE ENTERTAINMENT From the very week they opened they began running in-store gigs on their tiny little stage. The roll-call of acts to date includes The Long Hill Ramblers, Porchlight Smoker, Dusty Stray, Blame Sally, The Toy Hearts, Mad Staring Eyes and the Redlands Palomino Company. I asked them to recall some of their favourite magic performances. Jamie’s first choice was Ethan Johns, multi-instrumentalist and second– generation producer [his father was the legendary 60s producer Glyn Johns] who has made records for Tom Jones, Laura Marling, the Kings of Leon and the Kaiser Chiefs amongst many others. “It was magical. The place was packed and people were queuing right down the street. He was there for an hour, played five songs and then had a Q & A session and anybody could ask anything. He was absolutely delightful. “Another special one for me was Malcolm Holcombe. He is a considerable singer/songwriter with a very troubled past – one of those guys who’s been to the brink but was saved, as I understand it, by the love of a good woman. She dragged him back, slapped him about and got him shipshape. So he’s still got all the baggage which comes out in his songs and in his performance. Man, what a voice. The three of us were in tears.” Stevie chose Carrie Elkin, a folk/country singer from Austin, Texas. “She turned up tired from her touring, this tiny little beautiful lady.

She came in and said: ‘I feel just like I’m at home’. She sat on this chair and we made her a cup of herbal tea. It was lovely straight away and then she got on stage and her voice was unbelievable. You could see every muscle was straining. She just gave it everything.” “Phantom Limb – a six piece country soul band from Bristol – were also unbelievable,” says Stevie. “Their singer Yolanda Quartey has such an incredible voice she almost blew the roof off.” So what comes next? Their weekly instore gigs are booked up to Christmas and they have gigs booked up to next March 2014. They are producing three

ethan johns

annabelle chvostek

carrie elkin

danny schmidt phantom limb

Jamie and Stevie promote at least one gig a month or two “if we’re crazy for it”. (Above) larkin poe, a folk-rock band fronted by sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell from Georgia, playing at All Saints; (bottom) JT Nero and Allison Russell of birds of chicago.


albums between now and early 2014 – second albums from Jamie and Hatful of Rain plus a debut album by Kate Pollock, formerly of the great Lewes band Big Sugah. Stevie is now on the board of the American Music Association in the UK. CF

All toge Ewords /Emain photosLEjohn warburton Since earliest times, singing in choirs has been part of recorded human history. Lewes in particular was famous for the quality and variety of the monastic music sung in St Pancras’ Priory, whose ruins overlook the site of the Gentlemen Of The Road Stopover. The brilliantly illuminated Lewes Missal-Breviary, compiled by the Cluniac monks of the Priory, is among the most important and complete written records of English music as it was sung and heard 800 years ago. Today, this irreplaceable treasure is preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, but its music was performed within the priory walls as recently as May this year. Sadly, manuscripts such as the Lewes Breviary only contained church music. Comparatively few folk songs and dances were written down until much later times. But old music in Lewes is still sung by an ad-hoc choir consisting of anyone who turns up to the Lewes Saturday Folk Club for a singaround evening. An historic tale of Lewes’s industrial history, the Phoenix Cantata, is about to be sung by some of the town’s many choirs, when they perform this major new choral composition next year. Three of the choir leaders, including the composer, have been discussing this new piece, and Lewes’s unique musical strengths.

“A choir is like any other group. You’ve got to keep it sweet, keep it motivated, keep renewing it. We’re all getting older and finding younger voices is really important but its tough.”

john hancorn conducting sir john tomlinson 12

John Hancorn is one of Lewes's busiest choral conductors, although his other professional career as a baritone singer at Glyndebourne, Covent Garden and the Welsh National Opera has shown him life at both ends of a conductor's stick. “My background as a professional singer is enormously valuable when you’re training a choir because you’re dealing with singers,” he says. “Hopefully you can get the best out of them. You can help them when things get difficult and motivate them.” Today, he's best known for his work with the East Sussex Bach Choir performing St Matthew Passion and other works, who combine with the Brent Singers to perform at the Brighton Early Music Festival. He also works with Academy Voices at the East Sussex Academy of Music and teaches music at Christ’s Hospital. Yet this classical maestro talks with relish about his other influences. “I was born and brought up in Scotland until I was 11. Mum and Dad weren’t really musical and I just played football. It was only when I moved to Stonegate and went to school in Tunbridge Wells that I started strumming a guitar. It was all Neil Young, James Taylor and The Who for me – still is. I had a really wonderful inspirational music teacher at school named Derek Watmough. I always hope I can be half as inspiring to my students as he was.” “To be a good choirmaster I think you’ve got

to get on with people, you’ve got to be good at motivating groups and you’ve got to be organised. I love music. I love the repertoire that I’m doing and hopefully I imbue that sense of love into them and inspire them to greater heights. I hope so. You need to be very positive of spirit, very dedicated and single-minded. Sometimes you’ve got to be a bit canny when it’s not quite working. “I like sitting down and planning. I’m not very good when people put obstacles in front of me. I just think let’s do it. I like pulling it all together. I don’t think it’s an ego thing. I just like doing it. It’s energising. “A choir is like any other group. You’ve got to keep it sweet, keep it motivated, keep renewing it. We’re all getting older and finding younger voices is really important but its tough. I think you’ve got to have good professional and community links and you’ve got to look for new programmes and for new young soloists and orchestra players. “I love making things happen in Lewes”, says John, who came to live here in 1980 after joining the Glyndebourne chorus. “It's a great town because people are basically up for doing things here. It's not staid. We must change the idea of a choral society just being a group in dinner jackets in a concert-hall. We need to look sharper and take on other sorts of music.” John has been rehearsing the Phoenix Cantata with its composer, Helen Glavin, whose music has almost always been about telling stories. Sometimes, the narratives are about the land and the elements and have a spiritual quality; and sometimes her

thernow music is about the people whose hard work and sacrifices made the modern world. Her awareness of Lewes's iron foundry at the Phoenix Works, part of which is today a gallery and performance space run by Artemis Arts, provided Helen's inspiration for this vast new piece. “It was directly inspired by an iconic photograph of the foundry “In the end, we had workers in the 19th century. about 26 men which There's a group of men and boys standing, watching red-hot iron was extraordinary. being poured into a mould”. It was phenomenal. “I did a lot of research in the Even Glyndebourne County Records Office to get the were thinking, feel of the foundry in Lewes. Then ‘How did you get I heard all these former workers all those men?’ standing up to talk about their We’re very proud experiences. of this choir.” “I have a personal connection. My father and his brothers, when they emigrated from Ireland, had worked in a foundry. When I was little my father would tell me that the foundry was like working in hell. It was an unbelievable experience for him.“ But Helen's music takes a wider theme, too. “Although the source of the cantata was the Phoenix Ironworks and the people's stories, it very soon moved

out of the foundry in my vision, into the landscape, and that's as much a part of the cantata theme: our connection with nature. I researched a lot of the myths and legends of this area, and even the theme of war comes into it quite a lot. It's very elemental – the power of water and fire. It includes the legend of the phoenix, played by a soprano, being consumed by fire and reborn. She's a symbol of hope and regeneration for all of us.” None of these large-scale performances could happen without Lewes's willing singers, most of them amateurs. John Hancorn knows their importance. “It's really important to remember that these good people come, week in, week out, out of choice. They pay a subscription and, essentially, they want to sing. So it becomes a bit of a family. Many people live solitary lives and the choir becomes an important part of their social calendar.” Helen particularly needed a choir of men to represent the workers of the Phoenix foundry in her cantata. But, outside the Welsh valleys and football chants, men are seen as unwilling to sing together. “I had this idea of the Everyman Ensemble, and we put it out to the community in about 2010. We put lots of posters up, saying 'Singers Wanted', hoping that somebody would come. We hadn't even looked at the first rehearsal date. It was the start of the World Cup.” “So on a very hot Sunday afternoon in June, John Hancorn and I were at the foundry with the piano. We thought: 'We will get two fellows. Put the chairs back!' And then, suddenly, all these men starting coming, on bicycles, by foot and by car. In the end, we had about 26 men which was extraordinary. It was phenomenal. Even Glyndebourne were


thinking, 'How did you get all those men?' We're very proud of this choir.” As well as next year's first complete performances of the Phoenix Cantata, Helen Glavin will also be marking the eight-hundredth anniversary of Simon de Montfort's short-lived victory at the Battle of Lewes. “Because of the Everyman Ensemble, I had an idea for a choral piece with a male choir embodying the spirit of the soldiers who fought. I think we're going to perform it at the Town Hall on May 13th, the date of the eve of the battle.” Choral conductor Nick Houghton often works with John Hancorn, notably in a recent choral workshop for amateur singers, where English composer Thomas Talliss's

massive motet in forty parts Spem In Alium was sung. Several choirs in Lewes come under his direction: the East Sussex Community Choir which has about 100 members and performs three concerts a year; the Lewes Chamber Choir which is unique in that the members work on music but don’t do concerts; the Lewes Singers (left) who sign services in English cathedrals. He is also head of the East Sussex Academy of Music. For Nick, Lewes has qualities matched by nowhere else. “People of Lewes are pretty active, and many people are in several choirs. Certainly, the Community Choir has become larger in the last few years. Importantly, Lewes is also very good at turning out as an audience. I notice that choirs quite often choose to perform in Lewes because we're good at coming to shows, or putting up posters.” More than that, choral concerts in the town often feature world-class orchestras, accompanying the singers in historically-informed style. “We are accessible from London and very near to Glyndebourne”, says Nick. “The Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment often plays here and the London Philharmonic Orchestra is often the orchestra at the opera house. Many members of both these orchestras live in Lewes.” CF

“I notice that choirs quite often choose to perform in Lewes because we're good at coming to shows, or putting up posters”

overleaf ) Lewes Choirs listed


esterhazy chamber choir Photo: Ash Mills

Ecompiled byLEjohn warburton Eadditional researchLEjack lawrence Lewes' choirs for adults sing and perform a wide variety of material from the earliest music to modern rock, through classical masterpieces to rare treasures. New singers are welcome in many of the ensembles listed on this page. Where fees are quoted, these are to cover costs such as hire of halls, printed music, accompanying performers and performing rights

angels with attitude

lewes voice works

Led by Ali Bishop. For women: a community choir with a wide choice of music Linklater Pavilion, Thursdays 7.30pm, £5. 01273 476716

Led by Paul & Carol Kelly Discovering your voice; a training choir Christ Church, alternate Thursdays, 7.30pm, £10. 07709 939780

Led by Sue Richardson “From Ellington to Supertramp”, neither music-reading nor audition necessary Lewes Town Hall (Fisher St. entrance), Thursdays 7.45pm, £7. 01323 897590

Led by Katie Roberts Community choir, repertoire from many traditions, harmony singing taught without printed music Elephant and Castle, Thursdays, 7.30pm. £6.50 or £27.50 for five. brightonchoirslewes-vox

t w archway

t w a tempo voices

Led by Andrew Thomas Informal singing and piano teaching groups in a supportive environment Lewes Community Fire Station, Thursdays 7.30pm. £8. 07973 675046

t w east sussex community choir

Led by Nick Houghton Non-auditioned, standard choral repertoire, three concerts each year Sussex Downs College, Mondays 7.30pm, £43 per term. 01273 812144

t w the everyman ensemble

Led by John Hancorn and Helen Glavin Non-auditioned, male choir, strong community aims, often sings music with a local theme St John sub Castro hall, alternate Thursdays, 7.45pm, £5. 01273 401973 the-everyman-ensemble.html



lewes singing circle Four choirs led by Angela Spencer at Christ Church A Cappella Fellas: Male voice choir, Thursdays, 8pm Inner Harmony: Learn and sing world songs of peace and friendship, 2nd Wednesday, 8pm Singing Circle: Members only, songs and harmony from many traditions sung in a circle Singing for Larks: Uplifting songs from around the world on Tuesday mornings, 9.15am

e w

t w lewes vox community choir


the paddock singers Led by John Hancorn & Ruth Kerr Women’s non-auditioned choir with strong teaching of a classical and light repertoire. A new mixed group, the Paddock Youth Singers, has just been formed Thursdays, 8pm, £50 per term. 07786 252145

t w esterhazy chamber choir

Led by Sandy Chenery Thirty auditioned members, experienced singers, serious choral repertoire from all eras

e w lewes chamber choir

Led by Nick Houghton Purely for the enjoyment of singing: no concerts are given. Also runs larger-scale workshops Next workshop: 18 January 2014, St Michael's Church. 01273 472489

t w the lewes singers

Led by Nick Houghton Very experienced singers, with Lewes performances, and major cathedral-sung services Not actively recruiting

east sussex bach choir Led by John Hancorn Large amateur choir, high standards of historically informed performance, sings with orchestra Rehearsals Saturdays and Thursdays, St John Sub Castro hall.



pro musica chamber choir Led by Kathryn Sargent and Ray Maulkin Auditioned choir, wide classical repertoire, good social environment, three concerts per annum Phoenix Centre, Mondays, 7.30pm. £45 per term. 01273 474617

t w schola cantorum

Led by the Director of Music at St Pancras Church, Lewes Mixed-voice adult choir for Catholic services, choral scholarships available by audition St Pancras Church, Sunday services and other rehearsals.

e w sussex harmony

Led by Rachel Jordan A non-auditioned West Gallery folk choir singing historic, traditional church music in costume St Michael's Church South Malling, Thursdays 8pm. 01273 476837

t w voiceworks company of singers Led by Haley Stevens Non-auditioned, training through listening, holistic approach, several concerts per annum All Saints, Mondays 11.30am. £45 half-term, £85 full term. 01323 729379

t w golden age singers

Led by Muriel Hart Especially for people aged over 50 who would love to sing. No audition Friends' Meeting House, Thursdays, 2.15pm. 01273 471334

t w rock choir

Led by Charlotte Fane-Barnett Arrangements of modern-day songs, local branch of national organisation St Pancras Catholic School, Thursdays, 7.30pm. £25 per month, £100 per term. 01252 714276


lewes singing circle



BLONDE BEER Brewed with the aptly named ‘Sussex Hop’ - originally discovered growing wild in a hedgerow in Sussex but now cultivated as a variety in its own right. It is supplemented with Cascade hops grown in the UK.


ruby colley & isobel anderson

Isobel Anderson EwordsLEjohn may he Sussex Sessions is a new EP from the prolific Lewes-born songstress and songwriter Isobel Anderson, performed and recorded with her musical partner Ruby Colley, who is based in Hastings. They first met after playing together on Glastonbury’s Acoustic stage in 2011 These re-workings of traditional folk songs add to a back catalogue which began with an eponymous introductory 4-track EP (2007), two full-length albums of original compositions – Cold Water Songs (2010) and Dark Path (2011), and Stories of the City (2012), a CD she produced as part of a community arts/oral history project for her PhD. A further CD of new songs called In My Garden is due for release in autumn this year. Isobel is just 28 but has already achieved a great deal academically and musically. She is as much a sound artist as she is a singer/songwriter. She has a depth and seriousness in her nature that has been shaped by troubles in her personal life, of the heart and of the body. There is an ache in her singing voice, a keening for lost souls, with a sprinkling of the supernatural tempered by a harsh dose of reality. From the get-go Isobel was singing and performing at school – as the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute and in Miss Stoner’s choir at Southover Primary School, and at Priory School playing Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and performing at rock concerts. Back in her bedroom she was listening hard to the “confident women” on Motown Records from which she learnt how to do trills and runs with her voice. She idolised Jimi Hendrix and learnt from and loved the “beautiful gloomy” voice of Beth Gibbons of Portishead. She played clarinet through secondary school, learning to manage her breath and training her voice like an instrument. She also took up guitar lessons as she wanted to be an independent singer and took a GCSE music module for which she wrote a song (“a bluesy, trip-hoppy thing”). When she was in sixth form, she sang with a band called Sister Ben, named after a real-life nun her dad met while travelling round Ireland in a mini, playing gigs and recording. Bob Taylor played bass with the band and they later formed a blues duo which played with Herbie Flowers

in Edinburgh, supported Eric Bibb at Hailsham and Peter Green in Abbeville in France. Song writing was initially an escape from an abusive relationship at that time, which happily she escaped by going to Cuba at the age of 18 to study Spanish at the University of Havana. She had studied Spanish for two years beforehand but had forgotten everything by the time she arrived. She soaked up the music of Cuba, jamming in night clubs with jazz bands, watching remarkable rehearsals in crumbling colonial buildings, attending slightly scary rumba parties in alleyways. Her apartment’s bedroom had a hole in the wall which let the cats and cockroaches in. “The Cubans”, she said, “talk like their singing. The only music you ever heard there was Cuban – samba, son, rumba, salsa. It changed my guitarplaying style.” At 19 she began a three-year music degree at Dartington in Devon, living on campus and in Totnes. It was a course that mixed composition, performance and ethnomusicology and brought together art, theatre, dance, music and writing for performance. She met a boyfriend and they lived together for three years in London during which time she worked as an administrator for a hip hop theatre company at Sadler’s Wells, at the Society for the Promotion of New Music and at the London College of


Music. “I hated it. Part of me was slowly dying. But it did spark some ideas as I met sound artists and electro-acoustic composers”. Around this time she hooked up with Passenger (Mike Rosenberg) and went on to sing backing vocals on several of his albums, which have charted worldwide. A joint collaboration will appear on his new album. Sound art attracted her and she applied to Queen’s University, Belfast, to do a one-year MA in Sonic Arts which involved some hardcore maths


and physics. She then obtained an Arts and Humanities Research Council scholarship to spend three years working on a PhD thesis concerning the links between narratives and places. Her first project Last Night’s Party was based on Irish folklore about girls being abducted by a fairy king. They would hear this beautiful music, which would draw them to a party where they ate amazing food and danced with the king. It felt to them that they had only been away one night but when they returned they found they had been away for seven years and their homes were very different. Isobel turned the story into a sonic performance piece staged in Belvoir Park Forest in Northern Ireland. For her next project called Stories of the City, about an area of Belfast formerly known as Sailortown that had been completely demolished to make way for a motorway, she joined forces with fellow Queen’s PhD student Fionnuala Fagan. They jointly interviewed the area’s former inhabitants – known as The Sailortown Regeneration Group – and for four months collected their memories. They used the transcriptions of these interviews as the lyrics for a collection of songs designed to tell the story of this forgotten part of Belfast. These were performed at an exhibition at the Metropolitan Arts Centre in the city as part of an installation of shrines celebrating the ghosts and memories of this vanished dockland scene. Isobel is currently working on a new sound work inspired by Olivia Lang’s book To The River which documents a journey she made from the source to the mouth of our own River Ouse. During the first two years of her PhD, she developed severe tinnitus and chronic pain in her body for which she continues to receive treatment. This has led her to take a leave of absence from her studies and return to Lewes for the time being. She considers these problems as “a mixed blessing. It has opened up an internal world and made me aware how that communicates with the world outside.” Her upcoming album gives voice to these experiences. CF The Sussex Sessions is available to stream and download from

Photo: Katie Van Dyke

A SENSE OF PLACE EwordsLEshirley collins

Sussexsongscape here is a theory that music reflects the landscape it’s written in. Certainly it is true that the land necessarily once governed the occupation of its inhabitants, whether as shepherds, farm labourers, carters, fishermen, poachers, blacksmiths, or in times of war, soldiers and sailors, pressed away to join the armies and navies – all of which gave rise to hundreds of folk songs. Many of the stories of the songs take place in a familiar landscape, opening with the lines ‘As I roved out one May morning’, setting the scene for whatever story is going to unfold, and preparing the listener for an encounter; perhaps with a long-lost sweetheart who had fought abroad for seven years and had come home virtually unrecognisable; or a seducer; even Napoleon Bonaparte; or, if your luck had run out, the devil, whom you might outwit, or death himself, whom you couldn’t. There were love songs and ballads, songs about work – carting, harvesting, shepherding and sheep shearing, poaching and hunting; others celebrating various high points of the year – old May carols, Harvest Homes, Christmas and New Year carols. Hundreds of these were sung across Sussex, and noted down by collectors from the mid 1850s up to the 1970s. The earlier collections are in books; the more recent ones, are, happily, on sound recordings, allowing us to hear the authentic voices of the singers themselves, their character and their accents. Using even a tiny selection of these genuine folk songs, a path can be traced across Sussex. We can set off on the journey well over a hundred years back with two songs whose melodies have become part of our national consciousness. The first was sung by Harriet and her husband Peter Verral, an agricultural labourer who was born in in 1854, although when Ralph Vaughan Williams met them in 1904 on one of his folk-song hunting expeditions, they were living in , near Horsham. One of their songs Our Captain Calls dated from the Napoleonic Wars, and its tune so impressed RVW that he later set the John Bunyan hymn He Who Would Valiant Be to it. Next to the title in the New English Hymnal which RVW edited are the words: Tune – Monksgate. And the second was The Banks of Green Willow, which in 1907 in , Mr & Mrs Cranstone sang to the composer George Butterworth, who later used it as inspiration for his orchestral piece of the same name. Also living in was the remarkable Henry Burstow, a shoe-maker and a radical free-thinker, who knew over 400 songs by heart. His songs were noted down by the collectors Lucy Broadwood and RVW at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries. One of his most beautiful songs is Gilderoy, which dates back to the late 17th century. In more recent days, Mabs Hall and her son Gordon Hall lived in Horsham, next door to Henry Burstow’s home in




billingshurst horsham

Spencer’s Road. Their repertoire of songs and (especially) ballads, seemed boundless – as was Gordon’s voice. Gordon invariably lit up a cigarette when he started a song, and judged the length of a ballad, not by its number of verses, but by the number of cigarettes he got through while singing it! Come Write Me Down. On to , to acknowledge another fine Sussex singer, Henry Hills, a farmer, whose songs were noted down by W. Percy Merrick in 1899. His A Sailor’s Life was recorded by Fairport Convention on their album ‘Unhalfbricking’ 1969. To , where All Things Are Quite Silent, was noted down from Ted Baines by RVW in 1904. The story of a man snatched away from his sweetheart by a press-gang is one of the loveliest and most poignant songs ever found in England. But from now on we’ll stay with material recorded as recently as the 1950s, when the BBC set up a project to collect songs still being sung throughout the countryside of the British Isles. In the South-East, Bob Copper, Sussex singer, writer and parish historian of genius, and Peter Kennedy, son of the Director of the English Folk Song & Dance Society, were appointed to the task. The singers, of course, knew more than one song, but I’ll choose just one from each, and we start at in November 1954, where Bob Copper recorded a beautiful Deep in Love from a housewife, Mrs Gladys Stone. And it was there that Bob also met George Attrill, a road maintenance worker as he was cutting back grass at the roadside with a swop-hook. He sang The Broken-Down Gentleman to Bob that same evening in his cottage, as they sat supping George’s home-made parsnip wine. On to , home to one of the finest traditional singers in England, George ‘Pop’ Maynard. His dignity and the sweetness of his nature were clearly there in his singing, which in spite of his old age when he was recorded, was still beautiful and had a rare grace. His Polly on the Shore, recorded by Peter Kennedy in 1955, in George’s cottage, dates from the Napoleonic Wars, and gives a graphic and bloody account of a sea-battle, while at the same time is a love song with a noble tune. It would touch any heart. Heading away towards , where in 1963 Peter recorded Harry Upton singing Canadee-i-o, the song that was always sung on the last day of shearing in the barn known as Toad’s Hall at . The song had been handed down from his father Frank Upton, who was a shepherd all his life. His sister Mrs Wheatland told how they sang all around the villages at Christmas and added. ‘We’re living in the same place now, Blatchington, but instead of it being the country place it was, it’s now a large council estate, and ours was the last farm cottage to be


lower beeding





George ‘Pop’ Maynard

Ned Adams 17

pulled down. Before that, it was all farming land, a thousand acres of cornfields and sheep grazing’. A few miles away, and nearly ten years earlier, Bob had met Lily Cook, in September 1954 in ; in her kitchen she sang The Lark in the Morning. It was his very first recording for the BBC, and he felt it was a most re-assuring start to his journey. A couple of months later, down towards the coast at , near , Bob found Jim Swain, a carter, and recorded The Banks of Sweet Mossen, which Jim had learned from an old shepherd at . It was unique – no other version of this song had ever been heard before or since. Heading along the coast to , where in November 1954 Bob recorded Ned Adams, the cox’n of the Hastings lifeboat, singing The Bold Princess Royal. ‘When Ned sang’, wrote Bob, ‘you could smell the sea’. From Noah Gillette, a retired, illiterate fisherman in , Bob heard the remarkable ballad about Napoleon’s demise The Bonny Bunch of Roses. Noah had learned it by heart from his grandmother who Bob reckoned was alive at the time that the ballad was written and being sold on the streets following Napoleon’s death. A direct link with an historic event. Inland now to , where in 1952 Peter Kennedy met the blacksmith Luther Hills who sang The Foggy Dew, the recording made in Luther’s smithy. And not far from , in November 1952, Peter came across a group of gypsies camped on a grass verge outside the village of . He recorded many songs from them, but the jewel, the most precious, was Come Father, Build Me A Boat, sung in true gypsy style by six-year old Sheila Smith. With this recording, this little girl memorably and so sweetly sang her way into the history of English folk song. A trip to now where gypsy Mary Ann Haynes had settled, and earned a living as a flower seller. Mike Yates recorded her in 1974, and one of her songs The Female Drummer, mirrors to a great extent the life of Phoebe Hessell, a female soldier who lived out the end of her life in Regency Brighton on a pension of half a guinea a week from the Prince Regent himself. She is buried there in St Nicholas Churchyard, her memorial stone cared for by admirers. Oh yes, and a Brighton bus is named after her. And finally, to the Copper Family of . When we get to them and their unique centuries-long history of singing, I am persuaded that the landscape shapes the melodies. The Copper tunes sound like anthems; they are beautiful, and with such a noble strength and sweep that they do truly resemble the Downs and make you feel grounded, safe and home. The Bold Fisherman has all these qualities, and opens with the line ‘As I roved out one May morning...’ CF

north chailey





st leonards

east dean

lewes laughton



Noah Gillette

Last Words Ewords /EillustrationLEpeter messer arlier this year, The Contenders played their 100th gig, which we duly celebrated with Jack Daniels, cocaine and a bunch of Dutch hookers at our luxurious home in downtown Plectrum Villas. Like all iconic bands, we live in the same house, ours being closely modelled on that of The Beatles in the film ‘Help’ . Later, sipping mojitos beside the guitar shaped swimming pool (a Hofner President, since you ask), we reflected on this milestone. One hundred gigs equal about eight days and nights of solid playing, and adding in rehearsal time more than doubles this. Then there’s the setting up and breaking down, the schlepping of gear, the time spent individually practicing and writing. What, we asked, apart from the staggering wealth, did we do it for? Being a Band of a Certain Age, we concluded that the seeds were probably sown in childhood. Like many others, I was caught up in it early, beginning with The Beatles andThe Stones on Ready Steady Go, the crackly ebb and flow of Radio Luxemburg under the bedclothes and visits to the local electrical shop. It sold records alongside Pifco hairdryers and Morphy Richards toasters and, every week, posted the Top Fifty in the window. Once, unforgettably, there was a display of three Eko Italia electric guitars in red, silver and green sparkle finish. Aged ten, I would walk a mile into town just to stare at them, priced at 48 guineas each. It all just seemed so important. Adolescence, when it arrived, already had a built-in soundtrack as various as its hormone-driven moods. There was music to mope introspectively to, swagger with, pontificate over and generally just be excited by. I discovered that Clapton didn’t actually invent the blues and also began the lifelong business of never quite forgiving myself for not being Bob Dylan. Mainly, I knew it was time to join in. Time to send for the Bell Musical Instruments catalogue and procure that first guitar! Well, what a disappointment. For a start, it hurt! The guitars within one’s price range were mostly clunky, heavily-strung, high-action cheese cutters. Air guitar was so much easier, being to guitar playing what conceptual art is to painting. You listened to Jimi Hendrix with a newfound incredulous respect. After weeks, with lacerated fingers, I could just about stumble to the end of ‘This Land Is Your Land’. But I was beginning to think of myself as a possible player, an insider. I knew somebody with a drum kit. He couldn’t really play but he became a mate just for owning one. I met other people who could, seemingly, really play and hung out with them. I read the music papers, went to gigs, bought records, wrote atrocious songs, developed lofty views, theories and hierarchies. Then, with some fellow enthusiastic incompetents, a band was formed and we realized that two guitars could be better than one; that, with the addition of bass and drums it was possible to generate moments of real excitement, especially if you were nearly in tune. Then we did some gigs and found that


people seemed able to tolerate them, so we did some more. Then, in my case, I sold all my gear, got married and went abroad. For a couple of decades, being in a band was something I wistfully ‘used to do’, until an old friend, still playing, had a Big Birthday and insisted that some of us get up and participate. Almost immediately, the fuse was relit. A year or so later, The Contenders were formed from the residues of other bands and the scourings of various saloon bars, and the rest is rock ‘n roll history. We’ve worked at it, but as there’s no pressure on us to do anything but have a good time, it’s easy to do just that. The 100th gig is a milestone. It shows that you’re no longer a box bedroom dreamer, but the dreams have always begun in a million suburban bedrooms and, if you’re lucky, they don’t have to go away. CF

Live at the

Saturday 21st January 9pm




THE DORSET 28th June 9pm

SNOWDROP 17th November 9pm


Welcome to the first issue Lewes Musical Express, a free micro-newspaper devoted to documenting and celebrating the musical culture of Lewes and environs. As residents know and as visitors will discover, Lewes is a small town with a big music scene and a rich and diverse musical culture. We believe it can justly claim to be one of most important music towns in the South. Through the LME we aim to bring together the whole of our musical community – linking the world of classical, opera and choral music to folk, jazz, rock, blues, reggae, electro, psychedelia and all the other genres. Lewes is rich in great venues, rehearsal spaces, recording studios, noted musicians and exciting events. We are particularly proud of our youth music community which we have highlighted and celebrated this issue. The town has one of the biggest cluster of guitar makers in the country, hosts numerous choirs (which we have also reported on), some fab djs, a vibrant folk music scene, some great music teachers, agents, promoters, record shops, buskers and of course bands of all shapes and descriptions. Lewes loves its music. It seems sometime that every nook and cranny, pub, hall or basement is in service as a rehearsal, recording or performing space. Music is most definitely a major topic of conversation around kitchen tables and in the public bars. Even our MP has an album out! We have noticed a distinctive and notable rise in musical activity in the town over the last five years and the occasion of the Mumford and Sons gig seemed the right time to get a dedicated newspaper off the ground. The birth of a newspaper is always a tricky business which might be likened to trying to hold onto a slippery fish. Once started it develops a life of its own, throws up unexpected possibilities and problems, and pushes its producers to the end of

themselves and beyond, through states of despair and elation in equal measure. Happily all has turned out right on the night, thanks to our fantastic contributors and the help and encouragement of so many people in the town whose enthusiasm for the project has been inspiring. We believe we are pioneering the idea of local music newspapers (with associated websites) which can be sustainably financed by the musicians themselves through regular benefit concerts, by local crowd-funding mechanisms and by financial support from local advertisers, sponsors and grants. We hope the Lewes Musical Express will provide a valuable platform and a publishing opportunity for young journalists, photographers and artists. and that the paper will act as a springboard and focus for future events, including a whole-town Lewes Music Festival to be staged in 2014. My sincere thanks to my partner on the project designer Raphael Whittle, our great contributors and, lastly but not leastly, our advertisers and sponsors and the first members of the 100 Club named by Andy Banks and ushered into life by Peter Finnigan. Your generosity has been one of the key features that has enabled this paper to happen and we are in your debt. We welcome further members and hope that you will enable us to continue publishing on an irregular basis. We already have ambitious plans for Issue Two. Musicians, contributors and advertisers please note. Let us know what you think. Now let’s party.

LEWES musical express Launch Issue Summer 2013 Editorial/Advertising: 01273 471505 Editor/Producer/Writer: John May Designer: Raphael Whittle Treasurer: Lindsey Shakoori Editorial Assistant: Jack Lawrence-Cade Contributors Sarah Bayliss Luke Insect Carlotta Luke Peter Messer Neeta Pedersen Bob Russell Mike Stones John Warburton

John May, Editor

Print: The Newspaper Club

The 100 Club Andy Banks Nick Davies Ed Mawby Simon Smewing Tony Norman Manek Dubash Pelham House/David Anderson Colin Lloyd Charlie Dobres Nigel Atkinson Phil Pickett Pete Mobbs Caroline Dorling

Eimage LEneeta pedersen


Big thank you David Anderson, Jackie Blackwell, Jack Carey, Bill Collison, Charles Croydon, Peter Finnigan, Thomas H. Green, Paul Harrison, Andy How, Miles Jenner, Keane, Abbi Mawer, Andrew Mellor, Richard Norris, Veronique Poutrel, Rupert Selby, Stuart Still and Alec Swinburn.

&OLҬH+LJK6WUHHW 01273 476 918

Enjoy a bottle of wine on us To toast the launch of the Lewes Musical Express newspaper we’re treating you to a bottle of premium red or white wine throughout July & August, 2013 (one bottle between 2 people when both ordering a main)

Just show this to your waiter in Bill’s Lewes anytime after 5pm and we’ll do the rest

Lewes Musical Express  
Lewes Musical Express