Page 1

The Musician. The MU has long advocated a do-it-yourself approach to selling product, so is now the time for fans and musicians to do-ittogether? As record company investment in new talent hits an all-time low, we report on the rise of crowdfunding and ask how effective this model is for empowering the musicians of today. Autumn 2013. Journal of the Musicians’ Union

The Musician

Autumn 2013



Union HQ 60—62 Clapham Road London sw9 0jj t f e

020 7582 5566 020 7582 9805

w @WeAreTheMU

Union HQ

Regional offices

General Secretary John F Smith

London London Region Senior Organiser: Dave Webster 33 Palfrey Place, London SW8 1PE t 020 7840 5504 f 020 7840 5599 e

Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge (Music Industry) Assistant General Secretary David Ashley (Finance & Administration) National Organiser Bill Kerr (Orchestras) National Organiser Diane Widdison (Live Performance & Teaching) National Organiser Ben Jones (Recording & Broadcasting) In-House Solicitor David Fenton Legal Official Dawn Rodger Political & Press Official Isabelle Gutierrez Head of Membership Development Simon Bull Communications Official Keith Ames Recording & Broadcasting Official Naomi Pohl Royalties Manager Phil Kear Sessions Official Peter Thoms Live Performance Official Kelly Wood Orchestras Official Danny Longstaff Music Education Official Fran Hanley Education & Equalities Official Bindu Paul

East & South East England Regional Organiser: Paul Burrows 1a Fentiman Road, London SW8 1LD t 020 7840 5537 f 020 7840 5541 e Midlands Regional Organiser: Stephen Brown 2 Sovereign Court, Graham Street, Birmingham B1 3JR t 0121 236 4028 f 0121 233 4116 e Wales & South West England Regional Organiser: Paul Westwell 199 Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 1AJ t 029 2045 6585 f 029 2045 1980 e North of England Regional Organiser: Morris Stemp 61 Bloom Street, Manchester M1 3LY t 0161 236 1764 f 0161 236 0159 e Scotland & Northern Ireland Regional Organiser: Sheena Macdonald 1 Woodside Terrace, Glasgow G3 7UY t 0141 341 2960 f 0141 332 8709 e

The Musician

Autumn 2013


© Katharyn Boudet

John Smith—General Secretary Many thanks to all of you that answered our call for letters to be sent to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regarding the proposals to change the NI status of musicians and impose Class 1 NIC on all engagements.

John Smith, General Secretary

While we haven’t heard the result of the HMRC consultation yet, we are quietly confident that our favoured option, as proposed by HMRC — Option 4 which maintains Class 2 and 4 as the appropriate NIC contributions for musicians’ freelance work — will come out on top. Just when you think that you’ve seen off one crisis another appears. So, while we believe that we had a good reception from the officials at HMRC, who took on board the evidence that we provided for them, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is not in listening mode. I’ve mentioned the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth previously in this column. Professor Hargreaves produced a suspect analysis of the role of IP and concluded that copyright in particular was an impediment to growth. He recommended a number of new exceptions to copyright law, which he said would add £billions to the UK’s GDP. The evidence that he based his review on has been challenged by the creative industries, and the government has conceded that it was flawed. However it is pressing ahead with a number of reforms, some of which are badly thought out and poorly drafted, and one of which will, as we suspected, seriously disadvantage UK performers and other creators vis-à-vis their European counterparts. It could also undermine certain streams of income that artists in mainland Europe have relied upon for a number of years.

To hear more from John, visit

However — and it’s a big however — whereas in other European countries this exception is accompanied by a method by which the rights holders are compensated, usually by way of a private copy levy, no such compensation is proposed in the UK. But the government is under an obligation to ensure that fair compensation is applied. Paragraph 38 in the recital of the ‘Copyright in the Information Society Directive 2001/29/EC’ says: “(38) Member States should be allowed to provide for an exception or limitation to the reproduction right for certain types of reproduction of audio, visual and audiovisual material for private use, accompanied by fair compensation…”. The UK government affirms that compensation is built into the retail price, hence no levy will be applied to new tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. We are outraged by this, and with the backing of UK Music, and I’m pleased to say the rest of the music industry, we will robustly oppose the lack of meaningful compensation for UK creators and performers. Under the umbrella of UK Music, the MU together with BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) will seek Judicial Review or take the government to the European Court of Justice if necessary in order to seek justice for UK performers and composers, and to protect the income streams that our colleagues in Europe already enjoy. Watch this space. John Smith

I flagged up the problems that we might be facing regarding the private copying exception back in the autumn 2011 issue of The Musician, and it gives me no pleasure to say that I was right. An exception is to be introduced into UK Copyright law that legitimises the act of copying protected material from one format to another — i.e. from a CD to an iPod. So far so good. It’s stupid for the law to prohibit such an act and the MU supports amending the law to reflect everyday consumer practice. 03

The Musician

Autumn 2013


Contents News — MU 120th Delegate Conference report 06 — TUC Austerity Uncovered tour 10 Reports — MU General Secretary 03 — What price the arts? 11 —M  U Hub Reps: protecting members’ interests 24 — Overturning the ‘ban’ on American musicians 34 Letters — Memories from Archer St 12 Advice — How to avoid your gear being stolen 32 04





The Musician

Autumn 2013

Features — Is crowdfunding the future for artists? 14 —P  rofile: Wix Wickens 20 —P  rofile: Channi Singh 28




Orchestra profile — Southbank Sinfonia: bridging the divide 38 Reviews — CDs & downloads 42 Union news — GFTU courses 31 — Ask Us First 33 — Tributes 46 —C  onference Motions 48 —E  lectrical safety 50 —M  U benefits 51




The Musician

Autumn 2013


MU news Conference news

MU Conference success on 120th anniversary 35th Delegate Conference, Manchester, 23-24 July

The 35th biennial MU Delegate Conference, which took place in Manchester on 23-24 July and was hosted by the Union’s Executive Committee (EC), proved to be a resounding success. Delegates praised the wide range of subject matter discussed at Conference, the knowledge and skill of the speakers and the considerable work undertaken by the Union, together with the plans for future developments.

The two-day event was opened by EC Chair Kathy Dyson and MU General Secretary John Smith.

John commented: ‘The 2013 biennial conference was special in every way. We had a number of highlevel guest speakers from the music industry, the trade union movement and from the world of politics, all of whom made extremely relevant and memorable contributions. We celebrated the 120th anniversary of the MU in some style. And, on the Conference floor, we reviewed the last two years and made some policy decisions that will shape the next two in good humoured and collaborative fashion.’

All photos © Katharyn Boudet

Kathy said: ‘It was a great honour and a pleasure to chair the 120th anniversary MU Conference and a privilege to meet so many staff,

L-R: MU General Secretary John Smith, UK Music Chief Executive Jo Dipple, and MP Dan Jarvis

delegates and visitors from across the UK and abroad in such a grand setting. I continue to be amazed at the scope and quality of the work that the MU staff and members do, as described in depth by John Smith in the Conference report. I was also impressed by the standard of delegates and visiting speakers, debates and questions. Highlights for me were Frances O’Grady’s (GS, TUC) speech, the equalities and music education panels and the progress report on the MU archive project by Professor Martin Cloonan and his colleagues.’

EC Chair Kathy Dyson and MU Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge at Conference


‘We made some policy decisions that will shape the next two years,’ John Smith

Delegates received and approved the EC Report & Agenda, which incorporated the Union’s organisation; finance and services; structure; communications, press and public relations; and membership statistics, plus MU benefits and services.

The key topics discussed during Conference included musicians’ employment; terms and conditions; the Union’s external and political developments; international relations; MU campaigns and support; arts and culture funding; plus copyright, legal issues and performers’ rights.   In addition, delegates received presentations from Union officials and contributions from a large number of distinguished speakers.

The Musician

Autumn 2013


Conference news Conference news

Day-by-day schedule

Encouraging work on equalities

Highlights from two days at Conference The first morning saw a speech by PPL CEO Peter Leathem, who highlighted the strength of the working relationship between PPL and the MU and the collective work in generating increasing royalty returns for session musicians. Next, Jo Dipple, Chief Executive of UK Music, gave an in-depth report on the activities and campaigning of the organisation that represents the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry. In the afternoon, Conference welcomed TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, who gave a rousing speech that was heartily appreciated by the delegates. Frances specifically praised the MU’s long campaign to set regulations for instruments on planes and also stated that ‘No musician should be asked to work for free. The TUC is right behind your Work Not Play campaign’.

their work on behalf of its 35 affiliates as a ‘federation for specialist unions.’ John Smith then introduced A Credit to Britain, an Arts Council video demonstrating the value of public investment in arts and culture. The day was completed by a fascinating presentation by Karl Magee from the MU Archive at the University of Stirling, and Professor Martin Cloonan and Dr John Williamson of the MU History Project from the University of Glasgow.

‘The TUC is right behind your Work Not Play campaign,’ Frances O’Grady The next morning saw a Shadow Minister Culture Report by Dan Jarvis MP, supported by a Parliamentary Report from Chloe Alexander of the Performers’ Alliance Parliamentary Group, and Isabelle Gutierrez, MU Political & Press Official, on the Union’s lobbying work. This was followed by a report on the worldwide activities undertaken by the International Federation of Musicians by its General Secretary, Benoît Machuel, and John Smith in his role as FIM’s President.

Frances was followed by Doug Nicholls, General Secretary of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) who spoke of Peter Leathem, CEO of PPL, gave a keynote speech

Conference was closed by EC Chair Kathy Dyson, who thanked everyone for their time, commitment and contributions, and was rounded off by a social event featuring the excellent Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Equalities Commission Chair Jacquelyn Hynes officiated over an interesting and lively panel

The first morning was rounded off with an engaging panel on equalities, introduced by MU Education & Equalities Official Bindu Paul, and featuring Jacquelyn Hynes, the Chair of the Equalities Committee, plus Ian Lindsay, a member of the Committee. Commenting on the panel, Bindu said: ‘With the first woman chair at an MU conference it felt very apt that the work of the Equalities Committee was given a platform. It was an absolute pleasure to have been given the opportunity to talk about the achievements of the Committee and to remind the delegations that there is still much work to be done. Conference allowed us to gain recognition for the work that we do and how important it remains.’

Conference news

The business of Conference 2013

Motions, Rule changes, presentations, panels and special guests The MU’s biennial Delegate Conference fulfils the EC’s constitutional obligations to report actions arising from the decisions of the 2011 Delegate Conference.

This year’s Conference also determined the changes to the Union’s Rules, discussed and decided upon matters of policy and the Union’s activities, plus our responses to the many other issues that have arisen since the previous Conference took place.  

The Conference Report itself includes the proposed Motions and changes to Rules submitted for consideration. Motions and Rules The 20 Motions submitted by the Regional Committees included: subsidies for the arts; resistance to current Government policies; Scottish independence; graduate subscription rates; equalities in action; employees’ rights; standing against the EDL;

and strategies for music education. The Motions carried by Conference can be found printed in full on page 48 of this issue. The changes to the Rules, proposed by the EC in accordance with Rule XV, involved amendments to Rule XII: Subscriptions and to Rule XVIII: Disciplinary procedures. These changes will come into effect on 1 January 2014, and will be published in your Members’ Handbook for 2014 and on the MU website. 07

The Musician

Autumn 2013


MU news Conference report

Dan Jarvis MP, on the future of music Shadow Arts and Culture Minister Dan Jarvis spoke passionately about the value of music and the value of the MU’s campaigning. ‘The MU fights tirelessly for a fair deal for musicians, and as we gather in this historic Manchester venue we celebrate the rich history of your organisation. In this country, music has a strong and illustrious heritage and I’m proud to be the Shadow Minister representing such a vibrant, creative and diverse sector.

Faces from Conference. From top, left to right: Heidi McGeough, Frasier Speirs, Abigail Seabrook, Stephe Meloy, musicians from the East & South East England Region, Rab Noakes, Rick Finlay, Elena Piras

‘But there is no point in denying it, this is still a challenging time for the music sector, despite all the successes of the chart-topping household names. So what we need to do now is address the issues and challenges facing professional musicians. Today, 60% of musicians have worked for free over the past year. It isn’t right that in 2013, professional musicians are still being asked to work for free. ‘As the Shadow Minister for Culture, I want to confront the challenges which have been presented by this government and work towards a music industry that is instrumental in helping achieve a strong economy, helps support vibrant communities, makes sure young people have the opportunities to engage with the arts and with music, and that professional musicians are given every chance to lead fulfilling careers.’ 08

© Katharyn Boudet

‘I am passionate about the education of our young people, particularly in creative subjects like music. One of my aspirations as Shadow Culture Minister is to ensure that every child — the future generation — has the opportunity to unlock their potential both in, and outside of, school.

Conference news

Musicians’ Union 120th anniversary reception John Smith and the leader of Manchester City Council address delegates and guests On the first evening of Conference the Musicians’ Union hosted a reception to mark its 120th anniversary. The 200 delegates, guests and MU representatives, were entertained by the classy John Patrick Trio and their special guests, and rock covers band MP4.

of the century, two World Wars, the use of gramophone recordings on radio, developing technology and online piracy all threatened the livelihoods of musicians. Through every twist and turn, the MU has stood strong, fighting the fight for those who make a living from music. Long may that continue.’

Introducing the event, John Smith said: ‘The challenges that have faced musicians since Joe Williams’s inaugural meeting in Manchester have been many. The arrival of talkies at the turn

John was joined by Sir Richard Leese, Leader of the Manchester City Council, who spoke of the ongoing vitality of the Manchester music scene and his pride that the Union was founded in the city.

The Musician

Autumn 2013


Conference news

Frances O’Grady speaks to Conference General Secretary of the TUC pays a visit The speech by TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady was hugely appreciated by the delegates as her words and passion touched a chord with all present.

Frances O’Grady of the TUC gave a very wellreceived speech

‘Since 1893 your Union has gone from strength to strength, acting as a powerful, progressive, principled champion of musicians and their music. From gramophones to the digital era, from folk to speed garage, from dance halls to superclubs, the Musicians’ Union has been one constant through a period of huge change. With over 30,000 members, you are living, breathing proof of the hugely important role that smaller, specialist craft unions play within the wider movement. ‘Illegal downloading and pirating of your music remains a huge problem, underlining why your Music Supported Here initiative is so important. And you continue to face the scandal of being asked to work for free; an issue you quite rightly raised at last year’s TUC Congress. The TUC is right behind your Work Not Play campaign. Let’s work together to put a stop to this demeaning, demoralising practice once and for all. ‘The Tory-led government’s right-wing, ideological cuts are having a devastating

© Katharyn Boudet

‘I want to begin by thanking everyone at the MU who so brilliantly supported the TUC’s recent Austerity Uncovered bus tour. Just as at our Future That Works demonstration in London last October, your music really helped to make a good event great.

‘The arts are not some luxury we can’t afford; they are the lifeblood of our economy.’ impact on our public services, our welfare state and our national life. And nowhere are those cuts more pernicious, more short-sighted and more irrational than when it comes to the arts. The arts are not some luxury we cannot afford; they are the lifeblood of our economy. But what we can achieve together, through common endeavour, is to deliver decent work, decent services and decent living standards for all. So now is the time for real change. To build an economy that works for all, not just a few.’

Conference news

Focus on education at MU Conference The panel on education included NUT General Secretary Christine Blower, MP Kevin Brennan, MU National Organiser Diane Widdison and MU Music Education Official Fran Hanley. Diane said: ‘The level of engagement and quality of debate only served to reinforce how important music education is for our members. Our relationship with the NUT was also highlighted, with Christine Blower advocating the importance of music both in and out of the classroom and a commitment to work with the MU in making sure the views of music educators are heard by government.’ Conference news

Voice of the Regions Ruth Ballantyne, Wales & SW England Region member said: ‘As a long standing member of the MU living and working in Cornwall, it is easy to think that much of the MU’s work will have little bearing on musical life in our far-off peninsula. ‘Conference however serves to highlight all the work the MU does to promote musicians wherever they’re based. It is great to know that by being part of the MU, I have a voice that can effect positive change to my life and work as a musician.’

Union news

The Musician takes best magazine honour at TUC Comms Awards Further recognition for visually-impaired feature and Live Music Kit The Musician has claimed the crown for the best journal/magazine at the TUC’s annual Trade Union Communications Awards, which took place in London on 10 July. The judges found The Musician to be ‘packed with appealing, relevant content, which was beautifully laid out and easy to read.’ They thought it was ‘well-written and weighty, full of fact-filled articles and useful information for members’.

The MU was also Highly Commended in the best feature category for our article in the autumn 2012 issue of The Musician, which investigated the difficulties faced by visually-impaired musicians. Our Live Music Kit was also Highly Commended in the Best One-Off Publication category. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The Communications Awards continue to highlight the excellent work of

union teams. The best journal/magazine category continues to be the most strongly contested and the most difficult to judge.’

The BBC’s John Moylan added: ‘The quality and range of entries is a fantastic tribute to the hard work of union communications teams. Unions walk a fine tightrope of balancing appeal to their activist base with a wider appeal to the general membership. Well done to all the entries.’


The Musician

Autumn 2013


Industry news In brief

The campaign was supported at many of the stops by MU members performing live; a sponsored contribution that was hugely appreciated by both the TUC and the public. Day 8 saw Don Sharpe, who represents the MU on the Midlands Regional TUC Disability Forum, join the bus in Nottingham.

June saw a two-week TUC Austerity Uncovered bus tour, which travelled across England to find about more about the impact that austerity and government spending cuts are having upon ordinary people. At each stop on the journey, people were invited to talk about their personal experiences of austerity and were asked about how the combination of spending cuts, changes to benefits and falling real wages is affecting them. Union News

Don said: ‘I came to support the TUC to help spread the message that the austerity programme is harming some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society. As a disabled person myself, I see the damage that austerity is doing to musicians’ employment prospects, as well as the wider arts and our communities. I want an alternative approach that means the poor, the vulnerable, and the disabled do not pay the highest price for the folly of the bankers and others.’ See more at: Union News

Funding opportunities

New Organiser for Midlands Region

The MU Regional Offices have hosted a series of events for members examining funding opportunities across the country this year, and encouragingly there have been a good number of positive announcements.

Stephen Brown has been appointed to the role of Regional Organiser for the MU Midlands Region. Having worked for many years at UNISON, Stephen joins the MU with extensive experience on issues such as membership recruitment, representation and negotiation.

The Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts (GfA) scheme opened for applications again on 1 July and the application process has been simplified for individuals and organisations looking for under £15,000. On top of that, the Momentum Music Fund has been a welcome addition to the PRS Foundation’s portfolio of schemes for musicians, songwriters and composers. The Fund, which PRSF is administering on behalf of Arts Council England, is aimed at artists with a track record in touring, and who need investment to take their careers to the next level. Alongside Momentum, PRSF has widened the criteria of its open funding schemes so that they are available for recording projects from early 2014 onwards. For more information on funding opportunities, visit 10

As a life-long trade unionist and songwriter, Stephen said: ‘I am delighted to be joining the MU, and look forward to working with the excellent local and national teams. The MU champions the cause of musicians at all levels, from representation to campaigning, and I am proud to be working at the MU on behalf of our members.’

Musicians’ Union Pension Scheme (MUPS) The Musicians’ Union Pension Scheme has been running successfully in its current format for over 10 years for members to make and receive pension contributions. There are over 400 members of the scheme, and funds held within the scheme total over £13m, with annual contributions exceeding £1m a year. Following recent changes in legislation, and with the onset of Workplace Pension Auto-enrolment over the next few years, the MU has decided that the time has come to set up a Governance Committee to ensure that the pension scheme is run in the best way for the scheme members. We are calling for volunteers to sit on the Committee, which will have seven members: four members of MUPS, two representatives from ‘employer’ organisations, plus one MU representative. We expect that the committee will meet twice a year. No experience or pensions knowledge is required, as training will be provided, and you will be assisted by professional advisers paid for by the MU. If you are interested in joining the committee, or want more information, please email: david.ashley@

Live music roundtables

New Regional Organiser for the Midlands Stephen Brown has a great track record from working at UNISON

With the Live Music Act 2012 coming into force last year, many more venues with a capacity of less than 200 are now able to stage live music without a music licence. While this is great news for both venues and artists, UK Music, the

MU and the Welsh Music Foundation (WMF) recognise that more needs to be done to promote the Act and to let venues know about the benefits of live music. UK Music has been running a series of roundtable discussions in a number of UK cities to talk about how best to promote the benefits of the Live Music Act; help more venues take advantage; and to discuss any issues around live music in general or those specific to the area. More info:

International Composers Festival in its second year


TUC Austerity Bus

The International Composers Festival’s artistic director, Polo Piatti (above) On 6 and 7 September, Hastings is once again hosting its International Composers Festival, which celebrates the breadth and quality of accessible classical music created by living composers. It has attracted some of the biggest names in the classical music scene, while also giving a platform to less widely known and younger composers and performers. Audiences can enjoy orchestral and solo performances, talks, discussions, open rehearsals and meet the creators behind the works. MU members can attend the Festival at the discounted rate of £15 for the weekend or £10 per day ticket. For the full programme and tickets, visit

The Musician

Autumn 2013


The cost of culture Do the arts have to be economically viable in order for the coalition government to consider them valid? Report by Horace Trubridge

The Comprehensive Spending Review on 26 June dealt out yet another set of severe cuts to the arts. At a time when schools, hospitals and the police are also being cut, who cares about the arts? The Conservative Secretary of State for Culture, Maria Miller, has publicly stated that the arts have to justify themselves economically. Actually, they can quite easily. Recent figures show that for every £1 invested in arts and culture, up to £6 is generated for the local economy. The cultural economy creates 694,700 jobs across England. What's more, 6,910 cultural businesses contribute £28bn each year to the UK economy. It is also beyond doubt that publicly funded arts and culture feed the commercial sector in a big way — just look at the enormous success of War Horse for instance.

To hear more from Horace, visit

Horace Trubridge suggests that government cuts to the arts are both culturally and financially shortsighted

So, funding the arts actually increases the amount of money available for other areas of public spending. But the fact that the arts can justify themselves economically doesn’t mean that they should have to. This government of philistines seems to be suggesting that the only value art and culture has to offer society is to create wealth. But even cavemen recognised the non-economic value of art when they painstakingly adorned the walls of their caves with pictures that told elaborate stories. Society has always known the therapeutic value of arts and culture; the Ancient Greeks installed amphitheatres in their hospitals because they realised that their patients’ health improved dramatically with access to culture.

likewise, the hugely beneficial effect that music and theatre can have on conditions such as autism. If you still have doubts about the power of the arts, and in particular music, to make a difference, a casual glance at the Nordoff Robbins website ( ) should be enough to convince anyone of how music therapy can transform lives. And what about our day-to-day quality of life? Who wants to live in a country without edgy ground-breaking music, theatre, television programmes and books? If Maria Miller had her way, the only arts and culture we would ever experience would be the stuff that can establish up front that it has solid economic foundations and will wash its own face — what a boring world that would be. Have we really got to the point in this country where we only care about things that create wealth? Are we really willing to dumb-down arts and culture in the UK in order to make tiny steps towards rebalancing the economy? Remember that the arts budget is minute compared to most others — so huge cuts in our sector will have very little effect on the UK’s overall  spend. Arts cuts have already decimated much of the groundbreaking new work that was going on in the world of culture. If you take a look at Lost Arts (, which is our catalogue of the effect that the cuts have already had, it’s a pretty depressing read. This government, it seems, is in danger of knowing the value of everything but the importance of nothing.

Today, the medical profession recognises the untold benefits of music for Alzheimer patients who have forgotten their own names, but can still sing along to songs they remember from childhood. And 11

The Musician

Autumn 2013


Your letters

Welcome to the Autumn 2013 issue of The Musician. We hope you enjoy its range of news, features and interviews. With this issue we are delighted to include The Musician Extra for your MU Region, which contains information on how you can get involved in the Union’s democracy, plus that stalwart of membership benefits, your new MU Diary. Good luck with your career during the rest of 2013. Keith Ames

Party politics I refer to the first page of the summer edition of The Musician where, once again, an assumption was made that all MU members are Labour Party supporters. As far as I am aware, no survey of our members has ever taken place to establish what percentage of Union members are Labour supporters. I feel confident that the number of Conservative members is much higher than you think. The principal task of the Musicians’ Union is to look after the pay and conditions of its members. Mr Smith appears to have nothing to say about this. What makes matters worse, he follows the lies that the TUC are perpetrating. — There was no double dip recession. — Sensible governments, such as those in West Germany, did not spend all the money in the good times and were therefore much better placed when the recession came along. Due to the wasteful performance of the last Labour government, we were skint when the recession hit. — Gordon Brown destroyed the pensions of all the people working in private companies when he taxed their pension funds and all of the ‘years of service schemes’ were converted to ‘money purchase schemes’, where the employee has really no idea what their future pension 12

will be. Public servants have retained schemes far better than those in the private sector and are paid for by the taxes of the people whose pension schemes have been destroyed. — If you are spending more money than you are taking in, there is only one way to solve the problem: spend less! Even the leaders of the Labour Party now admit this. I have served this Union for many years as a Branch Committee Member but this, Mr Smith, is a step too far. Don Mather Coventry

Blast from the past I am writing this as an ex-professional vocalist/double bass/bass guitarist. The back cover page of the Summer 2013 edition of The Musician brought back some fantastic memories for me. I first heard of Archer Street via my boyfriend when we met on a summer season in 1957. He was part of a vocal/ instrumental group and they had been looking for a new drummer to make the fourth member in 1956. Through a friend of a friend in Archer Street he became part of the group, which stayed together until 1959. I liked the sound of this street with its social scene and gig-fixing and it made me laugh how the classical guys were called “the long hairs” and kept themselves apart from jazz/dance band musicians.

My very personal connection with Archer Street came about not as a musician but as a “Windmill girl” performing at The Windmill Theatre in 1957/8, with our stage door opening onto the street. In between breaks in just a top coat to cover our dignity, we would slip out for coffee and a snack to the Mignon Café. On Mondays we always knew we would have to navigate through the hoards of friendly musicians to the accompaniment of ‘Hullo darling’! My boyfriend and the group also performed at The Windmill Theatre, enjoying reasonable success considering they were playing to the “dirty mac brigade”, as we girls used to call them. Although I was not really a part of the Archer Street scene, its demise — like the closure of The Windmill Theatre — was a sign that an era was passing that could never be replicated. Perhaps there should be a plaque commemorating Archer Street as the Monday musicians’ meeting place! By the way, is that the mustachioed singer Sam Costa bottom left in the photograph looking up at the camera? Ann French aka Jill Jay Croydon, Surrey

Musicians meet in Archer street during its post-war heyday

© Musicians’ Union

© Hayley Madden

Message from the Editor

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Right to reply

A good living

I would like to thank and reply to the many of you that took the trouble to comment on my letter regarding tribute acts.

I formed T.Rextasy in 1992 and it has enabled me to have a comfortable life playing the music I love. I have always been able to maintain my own identity while performing with the “spirit” of Marc Bolan and, because of this, I have gained respect from many of Marc’s contemporaries.

I was in no way reflecting on the standard of musicianship or, in fact, on any band that includes in their repertoire some work of earlier players, classical, jazz, pop or whatever. But, as someone committed to the seemingly losing battle of keeping music live, it upsets me when I see a solo act armed with a machine full of cheap backing tracks and a mountain of electronic equipment at a gig that, a few years ago would have employed several musicians. This is a world away from big bands playing Glenn Miller arrangements: Joe Loss played other people’s music for years and made a good living at it, but he was employing some of the best players in the business.

In my time with T.Rextasy, I have played many arenas, including Wembley Arena, I have been signed by Columbia Records in the Far East and Madman Records in Europe. An official DVD has been released by Bolan’s record company, Demon Records, of our gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire with guests including Marc Almond, Gloria Jones and Tony Visconti. Being in a tribute band has enabled me to meet people like David Bowie, tour Japan twice over and Europe countless times.

I would like to see the MU looking into the business of plagiarism and to better help all working musicians maintain their position in the world.

I believe music should be played live — warts and all. Good quality tribute bands (not karaoke Butlins-style acts) can live alongside original artists as long as it’s kept real and not a turned into a parody.

Chris Walker Fordingbridge, Hampshire

Danielz, T.Rextasy Essex

Follow us on


Editor Keith Ames (MU) Consultant editor Neil Crossley Art editors Richard Jenkins Bruce Mytton Writers Helienne Lindvall Johnny Black Fran Hanley Will Simpson Martin Cloonan Andrew Stewart Keith Ames Katie Nicholls Clive Somerville Jonathan Wright Geoff Nicholls Production editors Katie Nicholls Roy Delaney Production and procurement manager Matt Eglinton

Director of FuturePlus UK Jayne Caple Senior account manager Lisa Dunham Group account director Fiona McDaniel Editorial director Mark Donald Art directors Stuart Hobbs Dermot Rushe Repro Future Pre-Press Printed at Precision Colour Printing Design This is Real Art See page 02 for the contact details of Musicians’ Union offices.

Client production co–ordinator Tracy Nugent


Please follow the Musicians’ Union on @WeAreTheMU. Here are some recent tweets from the MU Delegate Conference in Manchester. @jamestopp: An inspiring and eyeopening 2 days at #MUconference. All members should go to one of these. @unistirarchives: Many thanks to @ WeAreTheMU for invite to speak about their archives at conference. Highlights of MU history being tweeted at #MU120 @AndiHoppy: Christine Blower looking to the future of music education and a

strong working relationship between @NUTonline and @WeAreTheMU #MUconference @staircase2: Conference talking passionately against #ConDem austerity cuts & the Tory led Government’s ideological stupidity @WeAreTheMU @MooneyInfo: Excellent informed debate @WeAreTheMU Conf against fascism and how #musicians counter it. No pasaran. @GarethCUK: Wonderful to have the opportunity to visit the @WeAreTheMU national conference today. The passion & drive the Union has is infectious.

All information contained in this journal is for informational purposes only and is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of going to press. This journal is published by Future Publishing Limited on behalf of Musicians’ Union. Neither Future Publishing Limited nor Musicians’ Union accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies that occur in such information. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers direct with regard to the price of products/services in the journal. Publication of an advertisement does not imply any form of recommendation. Organisations offering financial services or insurance are governed by their relevant regulatory bodies and problems with such services should be taken up with those bodies. Neither Future Publishing Limited nor Musicians’ Union accept any liability for the quality of goods and services offered in advertisements. We do our best to avoid inaccuracies, but if you believe that an error has been made, please contact the editor straight away before taking any other action and the Union will take appropriate steps. If you submit material to this journal, you automatically grant Future Publishing Limited and Musicians’ Union a licence to publish your submissions in whole or in part in any edition of this journal that is published worldwide in any format or media throughout the world, and you grant Musicians’ Union a licence to publish your submissions in whole or in part in any format or media for the purpose of promoting any products or services referred to in your submissions. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and neither Future Publishing Limited nor Musicians’ Union nor their respective employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for any loss or damage. © Future Publishing Limited and Musicians’ Union 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this journal may be used or reproduced without the written permission of Future Publishing Limited and Musicians’ Union.


£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £££ £ ££ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ ££ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £££££ £ £££ £

£ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ £ ££££££££££££££££££ £ £

££ £ £

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Cover feature

The People’s Platform Crowdfunding is becoming a popular way for bands to fund projects. The Musician investigates the pros and cons of striking a deal with your fans. Feature by Helienne Lindvall

The traditional record industry has shrunk dramatically in the past decade, with far fewer opportunities for artists to get signed to a larger label. From the rubble of the old system, a new model has emerged that empowers artists, and allows their fans to both get closer to them and spend more than just £10 for a CD: crowdfunding.

Illustration by Richard Jenkins

The MU has always encouraged its members to adopt a DIY ethic, and today this model is more important than ever. ‘There are so many things a band can offer that can’t be pirated,’ says Assistant General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, Horace Trubridge. ‘I went to a gig where the band sold teapots and all sorts of stuff with their logo on it — and they sold shedloads. Sure, it’s easier to just sing and play guitar than to adopt a DIY approach, but now it’s almost the only way to have a career.’ Over the past five years a multitude of crowdfunding platforms have emerged, so how do artists choose which one to go for, how do they work, and how does one create a successful campaign?

‘The MU has always encouraged its members to adopt a DIY ethic, and today this model is more important than ever.’

On the surface, these platforms are quite similar: artists decide on what they want to raise money for and the amount of money needed to fulfil this goal. They then create a tiered list of rewards that fans will receive depending on how much money they pledge, promote it via social media and hope for the best. But there are some major differences that are important to consider before taking the plunge. Last year Kickstarter, arguably the biggest of the lot, hit the headlines when Amanda Palmer managed to raise almost $1.2m — more than ten times the goal she had set — using the platform, through almost 25,000 backers. Needless to say, Palmer’s

incredible success is an anomaly, but that doesn’t mean the platform can’t be useful for smaller acts. One of the difficult issues is to determine what goal to set. On Kickstarter, you are not allowed to increase the target once the campaign is launched, but if you don’t reach your target it is rendered void and no money will be taken from the pledgers’ accounts. As a result many artists tend to veer on the safe side. Although the total cost of making and distributing their album was £15,000, brass and percussion collective Superbrass set a goal of £5,000 for their Kickstarter campaign. ‘Another third of the cost was raised from a previous tour — and the last third would have to come from my credit card,’ says bandleader and trombone player Roger Argente. ‘If we hadn’t managed to raise the money needed, I would have had to remortgage.’ Another Kickstarter band, Playmaker, put their target at £1,000, as they only needed funds to master and press their debut album, as well as for design. In retrospect, lead singer Paul Rey-Burns thinks they should have set a higher goal, as they managed to raise 75% of their goal in the first eight to nine days. PledgeMusic On PledgeMusic, bands often run their campaigns for at least 3-4 months and pledge pages won’t display the target amount, only the percentage of it that has been raised. Co-founder Benji Rogers says his company is not a crowdfunding platform: ‘Crowdfunding is 30 days and it’s done, the campaign ends and then you’ve got six months until the album comes. > 15

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Cover feature

© iStock

Harness the power of the crowd to help drive your career onwards

‘What’s exciting is that it happens now; that’s the very nature of social media,’ Benji Rogers

Kickstarter fees: 5% of total funds raised + payment processing fees: 3% + 20p per pledge (Any pledges under £10 have a discounted micropledge fee of 5% + 5p per pledge)


Crowdfunding is “please give money, then I will do”, direct-to-consumer is “I’ve done it, here’s five ways to buy it.” We’re in the middle with “be a part of the making of it,”’ he says. ‘It truly is direct-to-fan.’ Campaigns on Pledge let fans be part of the journey. Bands are given tools (including an iPhone app that includes buttons for sharing text, photo and video) making it easy for them to update the fans on their progress by posting clips from the studio. It goes out to Facebook and Twitter — and if the fan opts in, then the update goes out to all of their network, too. ‘And if you don’t think that’s worth more than a dollar you’re in the wrong place and the wrong business,’ he adds. It’s also a way of making piracy a non-issue. ‘The last piece that can’t be stolen and disseminated en masse is the experience, because even if you get it later on, it’s not in real time,’ elaborates Rogers. ‘What’s exciting is what happens now; that’s the very nature of social networking. Musicians are fascinating while they’re working. When that ends, they’re just selling.’

He thinks artists undervalue their work. ‘They’ll tell us that they’re making an EP, adding that £8 is too expensive — that they want to charge £3. I’ll say: “Is the experience of the making of the EP worth £3 — or is it worth £8? Or even £50? It’s your time, it’s your effort, it’s what you put into this? Don’t devalue it with a dollar donation.” It’s a race to the bottom. I say: “If you don’t want to shell out $10 you aren’t made for this process, because this process could be worth a thousand dollars.”’ Using services such as Kickstarter, he says, sends the wrong message. ‘One of the reasons we don’t show how much money is being raised is because it injects a different measure, a different quality into the campaign,’ he continues. ‘If I say to you: “Help me raise $10,000,” you say: “What for?” If I say: “Be a part of my album,” there’s no “what for”.’ It’s proven to be a winning formula. The company has gone from five people operating in a basement in Covent Garden in 2009 to offices around the world, spanning North America, Europe and

The Musician Australia. Its clients range from independent artists such as Ginger Wildheart — who has raised funds for a triple album and had the fastest-ever Pledge campaign — to labels that have realised the power of the directto-fan relationship the platform offers. Even Amanda Palmer now uses Pledge. ‘We launch or put into production two to three every day, but each one of those has a journey,’ says Rogers.

Autumn 2013 vinyl, so the band had to finance the vinyl out of their Pledge funds. To press vinyl there is usually a minimum order of 200-250 copies. Pledgers had ordered 100, so the rest went to distribution. Williams says that after also deducting another 40% of the funds for the cost of other pledges, the band put about £1,500 in the bank.

Pledge has several referral partnerships in place, where labels watch what happens on the site. ‘A buzz on Spotify really doesn’t mean anything, there’s no commitment,’ Rogers continues. ‘But if someone pledges $50, then that’s a sign.’

There are also unexpected incidental costs, as the band discovered the hard way when Royal Mail lost a whole bag of pledges. The company just changed its insurance policy and the band had to take on the loss of £2,500 worth of goods (Pledge guarantees the product, so if a fan doesn’t get what they bought their pledge will be refunded).

Choosing your pledges When creating the different pledge tiers it’s important to remember that everything the fans pledge for has a cost. If it’s a gig, it’s petrol, if it’s limited-edition artwork it’s postage. Amanda Palmer has said that everyone thinks she is really rich after raising $1.2m on Kickstarter, but it’s all for pre-orders. It’s not all profit.

It’s also important to consider how much work each pledge will demand. ‘We just threw ourselves into it,’ says Williams. ‘But in hindsight it’s a risk you take. You can spend years afterwards fulfilling them. One of the pledges was for me to send the pledger a postcard every month for a year [for £50]. Six months later I thought, “Jesus, I’m so over this postcard thing”.’

There are also simple practical issues. ‘The logistics of posting caps and polo shirts to people around the world were a nightmare,’ sighs Argente. Both Kickstarter and Pledge supply PDF mailing lists that artists can use to print off labels, but it is still worth considering the cost of mailing merchandise to, say, Australia or the US.

However, he found the songwriting with pledgers incredibly rewarding. The band initially offered three such pledges, but increased it to four. ‘Some were for fun and others were dads who paid for their child to experience writing on a more professional level — a couple of the songs even nearly made the new album.’

Tom Williams & the Boat’s label fronted all of the costs for the pressing of CDs, but not

The band also enjoyed the £200-a-pop house parties they played. They included >

Cover feature

Pledge fees: 15% of total funds, including credit card processing fees. The company estimates that using the platform increases pledges by 37% more than regular crowdfunding campaigns due to its staff helping optimise them, and it encourages artists to give a share of funds raised to a charity of their choice.

‘When creating the different pledge tiers it’s important to remember that everything the fans pledge for has a cost.’

Case study 1: Tom Williams & the Boat Crowdfunding platform: Pledge Target: £5,000 Amount pledged: £6,500 by 264 pledgers

Having self-released their first album, which garnered moderate success on national radio, the folk band decided to release their second album as a partnership between their label Wire Boat Recordings and their management Moshi Moshi’s label. The management suggested they would raise the fee for the producer/engineer Simon Askew through PledgeMusic as a way to cement the band’s relationships with their fan base. Pledge tiers included performing at house parties (£200), guitar and drum lessons (£100 each) and writing a song with Tom Williams himself (£100). Would they do it again? The band initially thought it would be boring to do the same

thing again. But after asking their fans what they thought, 100% of the 300 respondents said they loved the experience and wanted them to keep using the platform. ‘After that response I thought it’s a nobrainer,’ concludes Williams. ‘We get the money up front. The label gets paid back for the record at the beginning – and the fans get way more than an iTunes pre-order. We’ll have to think of different pledges; maybe we’ll ask our fans for ideas. ‘If there’s one thing Pledge has taught us it’s how to go that extra mile for our fans and give them more than a crap CD. It gives you a platform to talk to your audience and to make them comfortable to interact with you and buy stuff. It’s priceless.’ 17

The Musician

‘Playing small cafes and house parties for 50 people where everybody buys a CD is suddenly as lucrative as playing a 1,000 seater venue,’ Tom Williams

Autumn 2013 surprise birthday parties and a guy who lived in an apartment block and invited the whole block down. ‘What was amazing was that because he had taken it upon himself to fill that room he told all his friends to buy a CD — and we ended up making another £400 on merchandise. ‘I could see it being a great idea for a solo artist wanting to tour on a budget. Playing small cafes and house parties for 50 people where everyone buys a CD is suddenly as lucrative as playing a 1,000-seater venue. You’re earning, potentially, over a grand and your costs are nil apart from petrol.’ Artists should also budget for fees to the platform. Pledge takes 15% of all funds raised, but that includes credit card processing. Kickstarter charges 5% of takings, although payment processing is added on top of that. Rey-Burns says about £250 was deducted for these fees from the £1,600 the band raised on the platform. Promotion and marketing ‘Don’t overestimate the amount of money you can raise, just because you have a lot of followers on social media,’ says Argente. Superbrass has around 2,500 Facebook

Case study 2: Superbrass Crowd-funding platform: Kickstarter Target: £5,000 Amount pledged: £5,803 by 163 pledgers

Brass and percussion collective Superbrass started planning the campaign to raise money for their album Brass Taps a year before it was launched, and had already commissioned a multitude of composers to create nine new pieces specifically for the album. Bandleader Roger Argente’s advice to others using the platform is to make sure they make a great video for their home page. ‘Be yourself — don’t try to be someone you’re not,’ he says. ‘It’s also important to get your message across in a short time.’

Roger Argente from Superbrass believes using Kickstarter can be hard work, but ultimately rewarding


Cover feature followers and 2,000 Twitter followers, but the band got nowhere near as many pledges from these people as they hoped. Kickstarter supplies a dashboard allowing you to see who looks at your page, watch your video — and for how long. ‘Less than 1,000 people looked at our page,’ says Argente. ‘And half of those turned off before watching the whole video. But half of those who watched the whole thing pledged.’ Rogers concurs, but says emerging artists should not despair. ‘When you’ve got 500 fans, reaching a hundred of them is quite easy to do — when you’ve got 5,000, reaching 1,000 of them is not as easy,’ he explains. ‘Also, people want to see you succeed at that early phase, to say that they were there in the beginning. We’ve seen really decent sales and pre-orders on 150 pledges, and they’ll engage more. ‘If an artist signs up to the platform, the local team will pick you up. You have to fill out a form. What do you want to do? What financial goal do you want to raise? And then your email, Facebook and Twitter numbers. We look at those and say, “This looks great, let’s carry on,” and we help you through. If someone has 50,000 Facebook likes and only four people engaging it’s something we need to look at. The reason is that we don’t want anyone to fail.’ Because of Facebook’s algorithm, it’s going to push a lot of the emails down. However, roughly 17% of Pledge Music’s overall income comes from fans sharing artists’ links with their personal networks on Facebook, and 11% comes from Twitter. If an artist posts a pledgers-only update with a video in it, their fans auto-share it with their networks, if they elect to do so.

He recommends posting updates for the campaign on weekends and when people are on their way to work, as that’s when social media users are more likely to read posts.

The mid-campaign lull Kickstarter’s advice is to run the campaign for no more than 60 days. Both Superbrass and Playmaker opted for the maximum period. Although they experienced a surge of pledges at the start of their campaigns, things slowed down mid-campaign. ‘Nothing was happening,’ says Argente. ‘I was down in the doldrums. Failing is not the end of the world, but failing in such a public arena…’ he declares, voice fading. ‘But in the end it went crazy with pledges.’

Argente doesn’t want to put artists off crowdfunding, but says he had many sleepless nights and had to work incredibly hard to make it a success. ‘It makes you respect how hard people in marketing work.’

Unlike Kickstarter and most other crowdfunding platforms, Pledge staff provide a hands-on approach, which came in handy at this point. ‘After the first week, when we hit 60% of our target, it then took us about two months to get to 80%,’ recounts

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Cover feature Success in the music industry is not simply about getting onto a big stage and playing to thousands any more

Williams. ‘That’s when the Pledge guys helped by giving us front-page coverage and ideas on new incentives to add to the page to get it going again.’ Fans prefer crowdfunding Pledge now has hundreds of thousands of fans using the site to discover new music. ‘Nielsen did a study on us, and our pledgers said: “We want all of our music in this way”,’ says Rogers. ‘They said that they don’t want to just buy it or crowdfund it — they want to watch these things as they happen.’

© iStock

Around 11% of its users pledge for more than one project, and every artist’s second campaign outperforms the first. ‘When we did Ginger Wildheart’s second campaign, it took our site down,’ recounts Rogers. ‘What happened was, people already knew it had worked and hammered the same button. Normally they come in, look around and then they choose.’ Wildheart’s triple-album campaign ended up raising 594% of its goal from 6,349 pledgers. ‘I’ve watched artists where the first campaign did 115 pledges,’ says Rogers. ‘The second did 490 pledges and the third did 500 pledges in the first day. If they’re at that growth pattern then a lot of labels are going to want to pick them up. Thus far we’ve probably helped upstream about 45 artists to majors, indies and publishers.’

traditional music industry is just offering them ways to spend less,’ says Rogers.

The average Pledge fan spends $57 per transaction on the site, and for that money they don’t just get the album and or merchandise — they get exclusive, immediate video updates from the artist, as the record is being created, as well as any other little extra the artist wants to offer. ‘They want to spend more, but the

Horace believes one of the best things about crowdfunding is its empowering effect, offering a distinct advantage over traditional record deals by allowing artists to keep the rights to their music. ‘What we’re seeing is that it’s going from being “the music industry” to “the musicians’ industry” — which is as it should be.’

Williams concurs. ‘Our fan base is a bit older. When they come to shows they want to buy stuff — vinyl, posters — and they want it all signed. If you give them the opportunity to spend more, they will.’

‘People want to see you succeed at that early phase, to say that they were there in the beginning,’ Roger Argente

Case study 3: Playmaker Crowdfunding platform: Kickstarter Target: £1,200 Amount pledged: £1,629 by 58 pledgers Playmaker’s lead singer and guitarist Paul Rey-Burns advises artists going the Kickstarter route to make an interesting video — even if it’s just by using an iPhone. ‘It’s the idea, rather than the quality, that counts,’ he concludes. ‘About 10% of our pledgers listened to our music once they’d seen our video. Some of them said they laughed so much watching it that they had to get involved.’

Playmaker’s video featured the band members lip-synching to children’s voices explaining their campaign. Rey-Burns, who makes films in his spare time, says it took ages to match the visual with the audio. ‘But it was worth it,’ he adds, ‘because a lot of people said they pledged because of the video’. Would they go through the whole crowdfunding process again? ‘Absolutely,’ he replies. ‘But not too soon, because we don’t want to take the mickey out of our fans.’ 19

The Musician

Autumn 2013


The Musician interview Blessed with an irrepressible charm and formidable talent, Wix Wickens has enjoyed success as a sessioneer, band member and musical director.

© M J Kim

Feature by Johnny Black

‘The first record I ever spent my own money on was by Jerry Lee Lewis so I learned that rock’n’roll style early,’ Wix Wickens

As a teenager, Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens scored his first record deal by auditioning for Virgin in his parents’ front room, since when he has barely paused for breath. Whether he is instructing a Japanese orchestra on how to cope with Bob Dylan’s idiosyncratic performance style, suggesting tactfully to Paul McCartney that he might like to try that tricky little bit of bass again, or putting his local primary school band through their paces for the annual fete, Wix Wickens invariably contributes something special to the occasion.

You started learning classical piano at six years old. How and when did you encounter popular music? One guy at school, Alan Gaulton, had a huge collection of blues 78s. He played me a record by Pinetop Perkins and that was it. I was 14, and I’d never heard piano playing like it. So I started to teach myself the blues very badly and with Alan’s very bad blues guitar playing we formed a very bad blues duo. The first record I ever spent my own money on was by Jerry Lee Lewis, so I learned that rock’n’roll piano style early on.

Born into a classically-oriented family, Wix discovered the blues while he was still at school in Brentwood, Essex. He fell in love with rock’n’roll piano playing shortly thereafter and formed his first band while studying to be a PE teacher at college in Cheltenham. It was his third outfit, power-pop combo, The Young Ones, that got themselves a deal with Virgin in 1978, and although they never troubled the pop charts, Wix Wickens didn’t look back. His next band, Woodhead Monroe, won a deal with Stiff Records and notched up a slightly more impressive chart tally, peaking at number 98 with the single Mumbo Jumbo in 1982.

Why did your band audition for Virgin in your parents’ front room? Because that’s where the piano was. We were signed to the label on the same day as XTC. They went on to have a career and we went on to total oblivion, despite tramping up and down the country in 1978 and ’79, doing gigs, supporting the Boomtown Rats on tour.

Wix spent most of the 1980s as a sessioneer, tinkling his ivories on hits by big name artists including Tracey Ullman, Nik Kershaw, Shakin’ Stevens and a fistful of others until, in 1989, Paul McCartney snapped him up. Twenty four years later, he holds the prestigious position of MD for Macca and his men. We caught up with him as he returned from walking his beloved Border Terrier. Tucking into toast and coffee, he reflected on his extraordinary musical journey.

You spent almost a decade as a session player. How did you get into that? One of the guys from Virgin, Bob Ward, went on to manage Kevin Coyne. I had learned how to play several instruments — percussion, accordion, piano and so on, which made me useful in the studio. Bob got me involved in some of Kevin’s recording sessions and tours. He had a devoted cult following, absolutely fanatical. For me it was a huge lesson in how you work an audience: human to human, which is basically the core of live performance. I’d see him working with the germ of a song and the next time we’d record it the chorus might be the same but the lyric content would be completely different. > 21

The Musician

Autumn 2013


Wix Wickens’ talent on a range of instruments has served him well in his career

the first Tracey Ullman hit, Breakaway. It was a bit of a shock when I got to Wessex Studios because, being a rock’n’roller, I was used to playing in A or E or C, but they were playing it in E flat. With a bit of bluffing, I got away with it.

© M J Kim

My first session turned out to be a hit single and it was also Peter’s first hit. So his career took off and mine went along with it. I became his go-to guy because I could write some dots if he needed it, I could shake a shaker in time, I could do whatever was needed. I basically played on everything Peter produced. I played on records by Blancmange, Zodiac Mindwarp, Shakin’ Stevens, The Kane Gang, a huge variety of projects from Barry Manilow to The Damned and most stops in between.

‘The weekend after the Concert For Diana I was in our local primary school MDing the school band,’ Wix Wickens

Stuff would just explode out of him. I’d never seen anything like him. He was a difficult character to be around, very funny, exciting and dangerous. That led to you playing on a few hits... I was fortunate to meet a guy called Peter Collins who was just starting out as a producer. He’d seen me playing rock’n’roll piano during a residency at The Golden Lion in Fulham and he asked me if I’d like to play on a session. It turned out to be

Macca’s main man Working with Paul McCartney presents Wix with an enviable variety of unique experiences, from organising a multiartist event in his honour at the White House, to playing at the Coliseum in Rome for half a million people, to acting as MD for the Concert For Diana in 2007. ‘Being asked to do these things is incredible,’ he says, ‘but you have to have some way of keeping your feet on the ground.’ With that in mind, Wix takes every opportunity he can squeeze in to get involved with more down-to-earth 22

projects. ‘The weekend after the Concert For Diana is a good example. You could find me in our local primary school in Muswell Hill with a silly hat on MD-ing the school band with two teachers and a couple of parents. I had the kids round to my studio to rehearse, exactly as I would do with McCartney and they were very good and everybody was able to get involved. I get the same buzz from that as I do from the huge events, because it’s about young people taking their first steps along that road and it’s incredibly exciting for them. That’s what it’s about.’

You have also featured on several Nik Kershaw hits... Nik’s an Essex boy, like me. I’d seen him play in Colchester when he was a jazz-rock guitarist. Even then he was a fabulous musician. The next time I saw him he’d written some songs and he was being marketed towards the sort of teen pop thing. It was that time when new technology, computers and sequencers were coming in, and I loved all that. When MIDI came along, for example, it allowed me to do things I couldn’t do on a piano or an organ. It widened my horizons. How did you first start working with Paul McCartney? My friend Robbie McIntosh was playing with Paul and he recommended me. I went down to his studio, Hog Hill Mill in Icklesham, and I was so nervous, but I think I made quite an impression. I play the piano quite hard, like Jerry Lee, and while we were jamming on old rock’n’roll songs, I bashed my nail and it broke, so my blood was all over his grand piano keyboard! Eventually, Paul said, ‘We ought to play a Beatles number. Do you know Get Back?’ Well, of course I did, but it was one of those real hair-standing-on-end moments, where I started it off, playing those two chords just like it always sounded down the pub and then in comes the right voice. I thought, ‘What the hell?’ I really had to pull myself together just to keep playing. So then I got asked to join the band, just for that one tour and I never left. I’ve been with him for 23 years now. You’re now his musical director. What does that role involve? When we start planning a tour, Paul might suggest a bunch of things we could do and I might remind him of a few others

The Musician I’ve been thinking about. It was me that suggested doing the Abbey Road medley, for example. It took three years to get Helter Skelter into the set. Lovely Rita was the same but, of course, when you add more songs you also have to let go of some of the classics. It’s not possible to play everything that everybody wants to hear in one show.

unpredictable, so he’d sometimes throw in an extra bar, which is something you just can’t do with an orchestra. We devised a series of cards, A, B and C, so we could stop the orchestra at A and start them again at B and so on. But in the actual performance, he played it straight down the line, just as we’d rehearsed it.

Another thing I have to do, tactfully, is to make sure that he’s totally comfortable with all his bass parts. He has such a lot on his plate because, as well as playing and rehearsing, he has all kinds of other commitments. We’ve recently added For The Benefit Of Mr Kite, which has a hugely complicated bass line and so I’m the guy who has to say, ‘You know, we could maybe run through that one more time — what do you think?’

Was that where you were treated to a ‘private’ concert by Joni Mitchell? Joni Mitchell flew in to Japan late, so there were just a few of us left at the temple sorting out equipment. She hadn’t decided what to play, so she pulled out her guitars, sat in a corner and just played her songs to herself. If she’d seen us, she would probably have stopped. We heard half a dozen classics as pure and honest as you can get. It was one of those moments when all the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

You’ve also worked with Bob Dylan? That was 1994, The Great Music Experience in Nara City, Japan, with Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Ry Cooder, some of my all-time heroes. I was organising the house band, but the first three days of rehearsal were a train wreck. Dylan was playing with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra but Bob Dylan is famously

© PictureGroup/Rex Features

Autumn 2013

So what’s next? Well, the Out There! tour with Paul McCartney continues into August but I’m also collaborating with some people in the studio, I can’t tell you who it is, but they’re established artists and I’m also developing a couple of younger acts.


Union support Wix has been a member of the Musicians’ Union since the 1970s when he was busy treading the boards up and down the country, carving himself a reputation as a top-notch musician. ‘I think it was our manager who organised it all for us. I had no idea how relevant the MU might be to a power pop band, which is what we were, but when we did TV shows like Crackerjack, you’d fill in an MU form, so you had an MU number. Over the years I have phoned up for general advice, usually about contractual matters, when I’ve been doing something that was out of my comfort zone. It’s like a safety net. You hope you never need it but it’s nice to know that they have legal experts and that they’re very approachable. I also like the idea that, even if I never need it, my fees help to make that service available for those who do need it.’

MusiCares Person Of The Year Gala, 2012, honouring Paul McCartney, Los Angeles. From left: Sir Paul McCartney, Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray, Dave Grohl, Abe Laboriel Jr, Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens and Joe Walsh



The Musician

Autumn 2013


Keeping Hubs accountable As the provision of music teaching undergoes a transformation, the MU Hub Reps scheme continues to grow and protect Union members. Report by Fran Hanley

© Getty Images

‘It is a difficult time. Music teachers are expressing anger and frustration about cuts.’

Music teachers are increasingly being forced into self-employment

In September 2012 Music Services began their role as lead organisation of Music Education Hubs in England. From the MU’s perspective we were interested in how many music services would take to their new role, especially in addressing issues of local accountability.

employed’ as well as suffering significant pay cuts. It made him appreciate the relatively strong position his colleagues were in Hertfordshire. He said: ‘It puts in to context the extended pay freeze we are on — something, of course, that does promote anxiety amongst colleagues.’

Accountability had been written into the National Music Plan by asking Music Hub leaders to form local groups, comprising of organisations and key people who delivered music for young people. Some Hubs set up steering groups and local stakeholder groups, which included schools and partner organisations as well as both students and parents. However, few appeared to include the workforce on these groups and we wanted to ensure that Musicians’ Union members had representation and that their important voice was heard. With the support of the Executive Committee we devised a pilot scheme over this academic year of having MU representatives in each of the Hubs.

Hertfordshire Music Service was the first in the country to formally recognise the MU Hub Reps scheme as their head of service, James Dickinson, explains: ‘We have a strong record in constructive relationships with professional associations. If we are to deliver our role as lead partner successfully we need to engage with as much of the sector as possible to promote high-quality music education. The MU Hub Rep initiative has been an excellent catalyst for refreshing and re-focusing our engagement with the MU.’

We recruited 20 reps around the country and this group has been crucial in enabling officials in the regions and nationally to have a real understanding as to what is really happening to the workforce. A clearer picture The Hub Reps met for a training day earlier this year and shared information about their working conditions, which included pay, morale, terms and conditions and particular local issues. Hearing about the range of contracts and terms that teachers worked under was a revelation for some of the reps. Paul Woodin, Hub Rep for Hertfordshire, was dismayed to hear how some colleagues had been made redundant and were now considered ‘self-

During a recent continuous professional development training day, Paul Woodin had the opportunity to present information to his colleagues about how the MU supports musicians who teach. ‘It was a great opportunity to update colleagues about how the MU plans to support the workforce at this difficult time,’ says Paul. Indeed it is a difficult time. Music teachers are expressing anger and frustration about cuts as the combined impact of funding cuts from government and local authorities affects music services and leads to the restructuring of the workforce. Instrumental teachers are losing jobs, employment status and pay and morale is low. As the government steadily erodes employment rights the need for quick interventions by trade unions to protect members is growing. Having MU Hub Reps on the ground reporting issues > 25

The Musician

‘The number of schools asking teachers to work directly for them is definitely increasing,’ Sarah Williams, Haringey, Hub Rep

Autumn 2013 promptly is incredibly helpful for both members and MU officials. Unfortunately, teachers are often misled by the word ‘consultation’, unaware that in all likelihood the employer has already decided on the outcome, regardless of what the consultation says; only an early and positive intervention by a union can ever bring about changes. Open lines of communication One of the roles of the MU Hub Rep involves establishing regular dialogue with the management. For example, in North Yorkshire Music Service, Hub Rep Dave Hughes found his head of service, Ian Bangay, was happy to meet him each half term. Ian explains: ‘I meet regularly with the main teaching unions, which represent many of my staff, but this dialogue is a new one and is proving useful both ways.’ Ian can hear directly the concerns from his workforce and act accordingly, as Dave explains. ‘Inevitably, there is a lot of anxiety as well as rumours about the future of the music service. In a county as rurally isolated as North Yorkshire effective communication is key. Being able to have a positive relationship with the management of the service means that I’m kept abreast of what activities are happening in the Hub,

Report issues that may arise, and also hopefully have an input into the future of the Hub.’ From Dave’s perspective he is able to keep up with what the management are thinking and inform colleagues appropriately. Looking at the bigger picture MU Hub Reps also have an important role in helping address the isolation that peripatetic teachers encounter. Even those working in music services tell us they rarely, if ever, meet their colleagues and independent teachers want to know how, if at all, they can contribute to Hubs. Isolation can lead to fragmentation — something that has always plagued music services. Hub Rep Sarah Williams in Haringey says this disjuncture is on the increase. ‘The number of schools asking teachers to work directly for them — undercutting the service — is definitely increasing. Once schools have teachers in place and trust their work, they often ask teachers to work directly for them. It saves the school up to 20% on costs to the service. However, I always say to schools, “What happens if you need another teacher to replace me? You won’t be able to go to the music service. What happens if a child needs to do a music exam? The music service will make all those arrangements and accompany the child? What if a child needs

The MU wants to ensure that music provision for young people continues to be in the best interest for its members as well as the children

We are aware that for members living outside England there has been a heavy focus on Hubs. Building on the success of the MU Hub Reps here we would like to extend the MU Rep scheme in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in the next academic year. If you are interested in discussing the role with us, then please contact the MU’s Teaching Section by emailing 26

© Getty Images

National representation

The Musician

Autumn 2013


© Getty Images

Music services can provide the holistic support needed to develop young musicians

to take Grade 5 theory? What about all the ensembles the music services run? Your children won’t be able to access them.” You have to ask, “What’s in the children’s best interests?” Music is not something you do for half an hour a week in a room, it’s more than that and music services are well placed to offer the wrap-around services that build a young musician over time.’ Strength in numbers The evidence shows that together, teachers can protect their interests. The MU’s intervention on behalf of a group of teachers in North East Lincolnshire quickly put an end to an unwanted proposal by the music service to impose an accreditation fee on self-employed music teachers. Morris Stemp, MU Regional Organiser for the North of England explains: ‘It was quite straightforward to resist this proposal — members were well organised and agreed to work together. The presence of one active member who was prepared to liaise and keep us informed was key to the success in overturning this ridiculous idea. Once the issue was resolved, the MU provided bespoke child protection training for the teachers and continues to build relationships with the manager there.’

If employers continue to downgrade the status of peripatetic teachers to selfemployment, or worse still, zero hour contracts, it is hard to see what incentive there will be for teachers to remain loyal to music services. How will music services keep the best teachers? How will they be able to invest in their workforce and grow it? Meaningful contracts at work offer protection to employee and employer alike. The MU wants to see structures that allow music teachers to work together and not set them apart in ever greater competition. There is a role for everyone here. Schools need to play their part and stop undercutting hourly rates for visiting teachers; music services need to demonstrate to schools what the benefits are in engaging its services and teachers need to observe high professional standards in their work. Ultimately, if we want our children and future generations to benefit from the quality and range of music education we have all benefitted from in the past, we will need to find ways to work together. By extending the Hub Rep scheme in the coming academic year, we at the MU intend to play our part in ensuring that the workforce continues to have a voice in the changing landscape.

What’s involved in being a Musicians’ Union Hub Rep? At this stage the main purpose is to be the MU’s eyes and ears on the ground. Through your own networks you will inform your local Regional Office and/or the National Teaching Team about local developments. Many Reps have secured regular meetings with the Hub leader and some have been invited to join the local Hub stakeholder groups. The other main task is to recruit members to join the MU and raise awareness of joint NUT/MU membership for those doing a mix of classroom-based work and working as musicians. 27

The Musician

Autumn 2013


The pioneer from Punjab Channi Singh recalls his extraordinary journey from being an English student to becoming the godfather of bhangra and receiving an OBE. Feature by Will Simpson

Channi Singh has performed at many iconic venues, including Madison Square Garden


The man on the other end of the phone is a bona fide innovator who blended the sound of traditional Indian instruments with western guitar to create a shiny new genre. Channi Singh has been described as the “godfather of bhangra”, a phrase he recoils from when I mention it, but which he later admits makes him immensely proud. ‘It’s sometimes embarrassing when people say things like that but really it’s very nice. I was compared to Mick

Jagger on a radio station the other week and I felt internally very happy.’ Perhaps the only reason he is not a household name outside of the Asian music scene is because the genre he has played such a large role in creating has not penetrated the mainstream in the same way those other British hybrids drum’n’bass or grime managed to. Yet bhangra has come a long way from its

The Musician

Autumn 2013

late 1970s origins, something that was recognised when Channi became the first bhangra artist to receive an OBE for his services to music in 2012.

Profile Channi is joined by his daughter Mona (left) and his wife Dhano as he receives his OBE in 2012

Things changed after he married his wife Dhano, and they moved to the UK in 1976. A few months after they arrived they were invited to a house party. ‘Somebody was singing there, with a couple accompanying him on guitar and tabla. My sister-in-law said: “My brother-in-law has come from India; can he sing a song?” So I started a song and everybody liked it and they asked for another. I sang another one and they liked that even more. As the party finished one of the other performers came up to me and said: “Channi, you sing so well”.’ ‘A few days later I got in touch with this person and suggested that we perform together. Our first performance was some time around the end of 1976, singing religious hymns at the inner temple in Southall. People seemed to like us — they said that my compositions were different. They were hymns, but with a guitar and in those times nobody sang with a guitar, especially religious hymns. We had produced a different kind of sound.’

© Sati Bhangoo

A chance encounter For someone who is such a pivotal figure in the bhangra scene, it’s surprising to hear that music was something Channi fell into accidentally. ‘I wanted to be a lecturer originally. I did my masters in English Literature,’ he tells us. ‘I never thought that I was going to pursue music in a professional sense.’ Yet as a teenager in India he would audition to sing on radio stations. ‘They knew I could sing a little,’ he recalls. ‘But they always chose people they already knew. At this stage, though, I just wanted to finish my degree and teach people in India.’

one.” I asked him why and he admitted: “I didn’t dare send them because I thought people wouldn’t like it. This is totally new music and people aren’t used to it”.’ The bhangra beat Nevertheless, Alaap’s popularity continued to grow, both within their communities and beyond. ‘One time I was interviewed on LBC and I mentioned our name and contact number, and the day after I was deluged by telephone calls,’ Channi recalls. ‘They were saying things like: “We have never heard these compositions in Punjabi, the lyrics are so meaningful, yet simple”. My aim was to give youngsters something that they had never heard, but could identify themselves with so they would listen to Punjabi music.’

Alaap spoke to a generation of Asian kids who had been born in the UK and wanted Mixing traditional Asian instruments with something more relevant to them than western styles, Channi and his friend their parents’ traditional music. Channi recruited other musicians and called was aware of the responsibilities and themselves Alaap, from the lead notes of pressures that come with this role. ‘When a raga — a melody used in Indian classical you become popular, it’s very difficult to music. They started to get bookings at sustain success, and the responsibility temples and universities and acquired a grows heavier on your shoulders. I had to fervent local fanbase. It wasn’t always easy. always produce better compositions and Audiences were often confused at how better lyrics for the next album and the different this new music, that would come album after that.’ to be termed bhangra, sounded. The battle for acceptance ‘When we pressed our first album we gave The fact that the band’s success went 300 copies to a distribution company. We completely under the radar of the said: “Can you distribute it through these mainstream media was a source of outlets and sell it for us?” After a few frustration to Channi. Alaap’s records months he brought all 300 records back to and CDs were almost exclusively sold in us and said: “Sorry I haven’t sold a single specialist shops, meaning that they were

ineligible for the UK top 40. Even when the mainstream did take notice, progress was thwarted. At one point, Island Records showed interest in signing them, only to get cold feet when they heard stories about the violence that was affecting some bhangra gigs at the time. Channi and Alaap continued to take bhangra to new places during the 1980s and early 1990s. They toured the US, including a date at Madison Square Garden in New York, they performed stadium gigs and played to the British forces in Bosnia. During this time the band also developed a relationship with WOMAD, which saw them play to mostly white festival audiences for the first time. Channi has even had the ultimate accolade of having his music accepted by Bollywood, something he once would scarcely have thought >

‘My aim was to give youngsters something that they had never heard but could identify with,’ Channi Singh 29

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Keeping it live: Bhangra is best experienced on stage


Keep it in the family Channi’s daughter Mona is following in his footsteps and carving out a career as a bhangra artist herself. Mona joined Alaap for a while, and has collaborated with artists including Dizzee Rascal and Basement Jaxx. She has also had movie offers from Bollywood, but has turned them all down. ‘She just wants to pursue singing,’ says Channi. ‘I’m very proud of her. There aren’t many vocalists who can sing in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and English.’

possible. ‘I went to Mumbai around 1992 with my wife,’ he explains. ‘I rang up Feroz Khan, once Bollywood’s biggest director, producer and actor (now deceased). He thought it was another Channi Singh! We were talking for about five minutes before he knew who I was. He asked: “How’s business?” and I said: “What business?” He thought I worked for Coca Cola!’ He soon found himself scoring Khan’s films. ‘As a bhangra artist scoring for a Hindi film, I was nervous. Punjabi songs are usually on the bhangra beat, and with Bollywood it’s a completely different cup of tea. Luckily, when I was at university I used to sing film songs and I am fluent in Hindi. It was a real challenge for me to produce music as good as the other musical directors who were maybe more established in Mumbai.’

tell my musicians the same thing. I was performing in the Natural History Museum a few months ago and they asked me if I was covered for public liability. Without public liability insurance they would not let us play. I said: “I am a MU member and covered for £10 million worth of public liability insurance”. There are a lot of benefits.’ Fresh challenges Thirty five years on, Alaap are still regarded as the hottest live band in bhangra and have been cited in the Guinness Book Of Records as the genre’s most prolific act. Channi’s music has been heard around the world and is constantly breaking boundaries — few musicians of any style can claim to have played at 10 Downing Street, yet he remains concerned for the prospects of up-and-coming musicians.

By the mid to late 1990s bhangra was ‘In some ways it is easier for young Asian changing. A new generation of artists was artists now than it was when I was starting fusing the genre with other styles. Bally out, but in many ways it is more difficult. Sagoo, Talvin Singh and composer Nitin Piracy is a huge issue. I live in Southall and Sawhney were all experimenting. ‘I liked everywhere I go I see that the shops don’t them all,’ says Channi. ‘Talvin used to play sell that much original stuff. It’s hard to with me on percussion — he’s an absolutely make ends meet. As a musician you’ve got marvellous player. Bally came up with some to spend money on producing a record, fantastic new ideas and found his niche. then you’ve got to make a video and then They all did very well and it was great to spend money on the publicity. I don’t know see them become so popular.’ how people keep on doing it.’ Union support As Channi’s career has developed, one constant for him has been the MU. He has been a member since Alaap formed in the late 1970s. ‘I was told back when I was doing live sessions on radio stations that it was wise to join the Union. I always 30

For Channi, the musical odyssey continues. ‘The journey that we have been on with the music has been extraordinary. Bhangra has reached all four corners of the world and even now is still influencing other styles of music. God has given me so much and I have to thank him for that.’

In 2012, Channi and Mona received a rare invitation to play for David Cameron at an official function at the Prime Minister’s residence in 10 Downing Street. ‘My daughter saw the email first,’ Channi recalls. ‘I think we both thought it was a scam. I said: “The Prime Minister is not going to send us an email!” But we phoned his office and they confirmed it was true. So Mona and I prepared this duet especially for the occasion. It went down so well we ended up dancing with him! It was a day that I don’t think either of us will ever forget.’

‘In some ways it is more difficult now for young Asian artists. Piracy is a huge issue,’ Channi Singh

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Union news

GFTU courses and seminars 2013 General Federation of Trade Unions training opportunities that are open to MU representatives and members.

The General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) organises a range of courses and seminars, the core programmes of which are free for MU reps and members. To apply for a place on any GFTU course, you can obtain a nomination form from your MU Regional Office, the GFTU website (, or by using the contact details on this page. Your completed form, quoting the course or seminar’s code and its title, should be sent to your MU Regional Office, who will then forward it to our Union’s General Secretary John Smith for counter-signing. The approved form will then be forwarded to the GFTU. MU representatives have a legal right to attend MU-approved courses, and may be entitled to expenses for doing so. For more information, contact your Regional Office. Understanding the economic crisis (Code 35/13) This highly-political course will look at the economic events of the last three years with a critical eye. It is aimed at union reps and members interested in the general political issues surrounding economics and alternative financial management. The course will include topics such as the role of the banks in the crises, the alternative to austerity and where strong trade unions can make a difference. Date: 4-6 October Duration: Weekend Venue: Doncaster Closing date for nominations: 6 September Managing successful projects (Code 38/13) Aimed at any trade unionist activist or member who may be involved in project management, this course will cover the five steps to successful project management,

major project management principles, using Gantt charts for project organisation and governance, as well as how to execute effective project management. Date: 23 October Duration: One day Venue: London Closing date for nominations: 27 September Introduction to website design (Code 39/13) This course is for trade union members and reps who want to get to grips with developing and designing their own websites. Basic experience of computer skills is essential. The course will cover good design features, constructing interlinked web pages, editing and formatting pages, making use of background colours and fonts and incorporating accessibility features. Date: 25-27 October Duration: Weekend Venue: South Yorkshire Closing date for nominations: 27 September Disability awareness (Code 41/13) This newly-developed course is aimed at all equality reps, shop stewards, reps and disability activists who want an update on legal developments on disability issues and an overview of issues facing members in the workplace today. The course will cover the law relating to disability in the workplace, developing case law, what constitutes reasonable adjustments and how to take up issues for members. Date: 1-3 November Duration: Weekend Venue: Leeds Closing date for nominations: 4 October Tackling workplace hazards (Code 43/13) The third GFTU health and safety course

is open to all reps who have attended GFTU stages 1 and 2, or TUC equivalent. The course will cover how to deal with everyday health and safety problems in the workplace, issues such as noise, slips, trips and falls, and workplace stress. Date: 4-8 November Duration: Five days Venue: South Yorkshire Closing date for nominations: 4 October Time management and stress handling (Code 48/13) Suitable for paid officials, reps and members who need to put structure into their working life. The course will look at establishing and setting priorities, controlling distractions, using technology to reduce time wastage and handling workplace stress. Date: 28 November Duration: One day Venue: Leicestershire Closing date for nominations: 25 October For further information regarding these and other GFTU courses, or to request a nomination form, please email Judith Jackson ( or Joan Amory ( Alternatively, you can contact the GFTU at: GFTU Educational Trust, 4th Floor, Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP T 020 7520 8340 F 020 7520 8350 W Please note: The full 34-page GFTU Educational Trust Course Programme 2013 can be downloaded in PDF format from 31

The Musician

Autumn 2013


How to avoid your gear being stolen Thieves see instruments as a means to making a quick buck. The Musician looks at taking precautions and what to do if you are a victim of theft. The lifestyle of musicians, travelling from venue to venue carrying expensive equipment unfortunately lends itself to the wiles of the opportunist thief.

Be prepared With instrument theft a depressingly common occurrence, musicians need to be as specific as possible when reporting a robbery. Take detailed photos of your gear from every angle against a plain background, using rulers to show the size and focussing on unusual details. A short description (stored separately) including the make, model and serial number written

© DWithers/iStock

Instrument theft is not restricted to up-and-coming bands working their way around the UK’s less salubrious venues. A rare violin and cello belonging to the European Orchestral Ensemble were stolen from The Customs House in South Shields. Iggy Pop and Noah and the Whale have also had gear stolen, as has violinist Min-Jin Kym who had her £1.2 million Stradivarius swiped at a railway station.

Expensive equipment is often sold at a fraction of its value

and ready to go will be immeasurably handy if you need to report a theft. The police recommend marking instruments. While not all musicians are content to tag their prized possessions with an ultra violet UV pen it could prove worthwhile. Nigel Kennedy customised three of his violins in the colours of Aston Villa. When the violins, worth a total of £26,000, were stolen they were quickly spotted when they re-emerged at an auction site, where they sold for £20 each.

‘I’ve been a member of the MU for about six years so I was able to register a claim straight away,’ he says. ‘I also posted it on Twitter and Facebook and loads of people responded with, “I’ll keep a look out” and, “Have you got MU membership?” I’ve heard 32

Act fast Becoming a victim of theft can leave you dumbfounded but act swiftly as instruments often reappear for sale within 48 hours. Report the theft to the police and your insurer. MU members are entitled to £2,000 of free insurance with the MU’s preferred brokers, Hencilla Canworth.

a few stories recently about stuff being stolen. I don’t know if it’s an increasing trend, in any event it’s worrying.’

Armed with your images and description, the police will be well equipped to find stolen goods, but this is no time to wait by the phone. Instrument thieves often have no concept of their worth and will head straight to second-hand dealers to sell them for a fraction of their value. Check in with local thrift stores, pawn and music shops. Give them a copy of your photograph, description and contact details but don’t post up Wanted notices nearby as this may deter thieves attempting to sell it to traders.

As a street performer, Jonny has to maintain an element of trust (‘you need to go to the loo!’) but he has adjusted his behaviour and makes sure the car is locked and equipment is covered. He also avoids leaving his equipment overnight in venues and has bought a spare amp. ‘It’s how I generate income so if the worst comes to the worst...’

Keep an eye on eBay, Gumtree and Craigslist for suspiciously similar instruments and maximise the strong community of musicians online. Spread the word on social networks: the more musicians on the lookout the better, and the moral support you’ll receive may go some way to assuage your indignation.

Case study Jonny Walker, musician and founding director of the Association of Street Artists and Performers (ASAP!), was a victim of instrument theft when his £1,000 amp was stolen as he was loading his car.

Check it, cover it, lock it Double check you have locked the van, that your equipment is hidden from view and that there is suitable security at the venue when on the road. Don’t assume that everyone backstage is supposed to be there. Lock your gear in a room or take turns watching over it. Be careful too not to become blasé when leaving instruments in familiar surroundings. Over the years, the Union has received reports of instruments being stolen from every possible location.

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Union news

Ask Us First It is in the interest of all MU members to read this important list carefully. If you are offered any work or agreements by anyone listed below, before you accept, please consult either the contact shown here, your Regional Office, or MU Legal Official Dawn Rodger (tel 0161 233 4007, email:

— Fenland Music Academy Limited/ Peterborough Music Services Limited/Martin Todd — Grubser’s Limited Dave Webster on 020 7840 5532

— 200 Club, Newport Paul Gray on 029 2045 6585

— Hemming’s Leisure

— Anthony Rex Jo Laverty on 020 7840 5535 — Big AL Entertainment Group/ Big AL Entertainments Ltd Jen Hunter on 0141 341 2963 — Bigfoot Arts Education Fran Hanley on 020 7840 5544 — Brian Soundy / UK Jazz Radio & Now Dawn Rodger on 0161 233 4007 or Jen Hunter on 0141 341 2963

— International Mahler Orchestra Jo Laverty on 020 7840 5535 — Isle of Wight Jazz Festival Limited / Isle of Wight Folk & Blues Festival Limited / Philip Snellen / Geri Ward Paul Burrows on 020 7840 5536 — Leo Alexander Jo Laverty on 020 7840 5535 — Live & Unsigned Kelly Wood 020 7582 5566

— Celtic Music / CM Distribution Horace Trubridge on 020 7840 5512

— Music Management (UK) Limited; Sally Civval

— Classical Festival Company Ltd / Serenata / Anthony Malpas / Lesley Malpas Paul Burrows on 020 7840 5536

— The Music Practice Ltd Jen Hunter on 0141 341 2963

— Craigholme School for Girls (Glasgow) Jen Hunter on 0141 341 2963 — David Ford and British Business Club Alex Mann on 020 7840 5552 — David Shepherd and Brian Daniels t/a D and B Productions Ltd Dave Webster on 020 7840 5532

— Neil Eckersley / Spekulation Entertainment Dave Webster on 020 7840 5532 — Online Music Ventures Limited / Andrew Smales

MU members are sometimes asked to sign up to ‘artist promotion’ services that demand an upfront fee. Members are advised to view any such company that requires an upfront payment with caution and to consult their MU Regional Office before signing any agreement or parting with any money.

— Ptarmigan Productions Ltd / Mr Brian Willets / Ptarmigan Promotions Ltd Dave Webster on 020 7840 5532 — Royal Shakespeare Company Productions in London Dave Webster on 020 7840 5532 — Schools Record Label Ltd Paul Gray on 029 2045 6585 — Superbfunctions Paul Gray on 029 2045 6585 — Wayne Maughn / Wayne Maughan The latest edition of the Ask Us First list can be obtained from the ‘Advice & downloads’ section by logging into

— Orchestra Europa Limited — Pamela Aird at The Unicorn Theatre in Abingdon

— English Martyrs Roman Catholic School Fran Hanley on 020 7840 5544

— Play Recording Studios Ltd Dave Webster on 020 7840 5532

— European City Guide Jo Laverty on 020 7840 5535

— Pontins Limited

— Expo Guide Jen Hunter on 0141 341 2963

Artist promotion

— Robinson Enterprises Limited — Scott Jordan Entertainment Ltd 33

The Musician

Autumn 2013


Shedding light on ‘the ban’ In the mid 1930s, the MU helped implement government restrictions on American musicians that kept them from these shores for 20 years. Report by Martin Cloonan

Ted Heath and Stan Kenton’s transatlantic exchange tours helped see off the ‘ban’

In March 1935 the Ministry of Labour issued a press communique that said following the continued refusal of the US authorities to grant work permits to British musicians, ‘the Minister does not feel able to grant permits freely to American bands to take engagements of the Variety Hall type. He will, however, be glad to revert to his former policy as soon as he can be assured that no less favourable treatment will be accorded to British Bands seeking engagements in the USA’. Following this announcement, US musicians were effectively denied entry to work in the UK, a situation that was to last until 1956. Thus at the very time that US jazz was at its commercial and artistic peak, its finest exponents could not be seen by UK audiences, and British jazz musicians were denied the opportunity to work with their American peers. Perhaps more worryingly, the Musicians’ Union had played a key role in lobbying for the new policy, and commentators came to refer to it as the “MU ban”. But the reality was a

bit more complicated, and the case sheds fascinating light on a number of issues dear to MU members’ hearts, raising issues that resonate to this day. So let’s look closer, starting with a bit of context. The AMU and competition When Joe Williams formed the Amalgamated Musicians’ Union (AMU) in 1893 he was keenly aware that one thing that drives down workers’ wages is competition from other workers. Thus the ability of some musicians to undercut the pay of other musicians was a concern from the Union’s earliest days. Initially it sought to ensure that as many musicians as possible were members, and that major employers used only AMU labour. Overall, a great deal of time was spent trying to enforce a closed shop and in developing rates for a variety of musical performances. Trade unions had been concerned with restricting entry to their professions when trying to ensure adequate wages. Should the pool of available musicians exceed the demand for their labour, then wages are likely to fall. Should attempts be made to increase the size of the pool by importing more musicians then wages will fall further.

© Rex Features

While this view simplifies a more complex picture within the music industries — including factors such as changes in audience demands, new entrepreneurial practices, rare musical talent and new technology — in general, greater competition drives all prices down, including the price of labour. So unions have long tried to limit competition among workers. In the AMU’s case, while its main concerns were the threats posed by military and police bands and amateurs, it soon became aware that an influx of 34

The Musician

Autumn 2013


© Rex Features

Only the intervention of the Prince of Wales enabled Paul Whiteman to tour the UK

foreign musicians might also undercut its members’ wages. So from an early stage it sought to limit the amount of foreign musicians granted entry to work in the UK. In his history of the Union, Mike Jempson notes that in 1901 the AMU petitioned King Edward VII to prevent ‘the wholesale importation of foreign bands’. Four years later the UK’s first immigration control was introduced via the Aliens Act, and in 1914 the Aliens Restrictions Act obliged foreign nationals to register with the police. A new union adds pressure After the First World War, suspicion of foreigners increased, and it was in this atmosphere that a new union emerged when the AMU merged with the London Orchestral Union of Professional Musicians to form the Musicians’ Union (MU). The MU took up the issue of foreign musicians with the same zeal as the AMU. In 1923, Fort Greenwood, Joint Secretary of the London branch, wrote to The Sunday Times about a proposed tour by the Viennese Opera Company, saying it was ‘monstrous thing’ for agents to suggest that audiences wanted to hear opera in German. By this point a new Ministry of Labour had been established, and it soon became the focus of Union demands to restrict the importation of foreign musicians. The AMU lobbied the Ministry on the issue in May 1920, and in March 1923 the new MU met with the Minister for Labour, Sir Montague Barlow, to discuss the issue.

The same year, only the direct intervention of the Prince of Wales allowed a tour by American jazzman Paul Whiteman and his band to proceed, but only on condition that a similar amount of British musicians be employed on the tour. This became known within the Ministry as the ‘Whiteman clause’ (see bottom right). However the Ministry remained open to tours by foreign musicians provided they offered something that could not be provided by their British counterparts. This was to become a bone of contention, with the MU taking the position that anything a foreign musician could provide, a British one could, given time, also do. The Union therefore continued to complain when acts were brought in, and the Ministry continued to argue that it only granted permits to exceptional musicians. By the late 1920s, the Union was facing another threat from the USA — the arrival of the talkies — films that had accompanying voices and so no longer needed the musical accompaniment which silent films had required. From the arrival of The Jazz Singer in 1927 onwards, cinema orchestras, which accounted for the bulk of the Union’s membership, were increasingly made redundant. It’s thought that over 12,000 musicians lost their jobs. For the new Union this was a catastrophe, and membership plummeted from over 20,000 in 1928 to 6,740 in 1934. Some commentators soon made the connection between what >

‘British jazz musicians were denied the opportunity to work with their US peers.’

The Whiteman Clause After the Prince of Wales stepped in to allow an American jazz band to tour the UK in 1923, a compromise arrangement was devised where: 1. Work permits would normally be issued for eight weeks only. 2. Any American band at a particular venue had to return home before they could be replaced by another American band there. 3. Where an American band was employed in a ballroom, an English band had also to be employed. 4. Where any American musicians were to be employed in an otherwise English band, there should be an equal number of British players. 35

The Musician

Autumn 2013


© Rex Features

crisis, technological change and mass redundancies among musicians. It is little surprise that it tried to preserve what it had. The election of the second Labour government in June 1929 did little to ease the Union’s concerns. While its Minister of Labour, Margaret Bondfield, assured the Union that the department ‘limits the entry of foreign musicians to the fullest extent which is justifiable’, the Union was soon writing to the Ministry to complain about being ignored by a Labour government, especially on the issue of the competition to its members offered by both foreigners and military bands.

Jack Hylton helped Duke Ellington (top l-r) tour the UK, but entry was more complicated for artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Fats Waller (bottom l-r)

might be seen as two forms of cultural imperialism — US jazz and US talkies. The London Trades Council wrote to the Ministry in 1929 to complain that it was wrong to import US musicians at the same time as American capitalists were making UK cinema musicians redundant. So in the run up to the “ban” the Union was somewhat beleaguered, caught up in a situation of wider economic

Transatlantic tit-for-tat The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) routinely opposed tours by British musicians, and threatened strike action whenever they were proposed. Concern about the AFM’s actions came to a head when Jack Hylton faced the threat of strike over a planned US tour in 1927. When offered another in 1929 his accountant, R Aspen, wrote to the Ministry noting that: ‘all the managements in the States who are going to play Mr Hylton and his band were informed by the American Musical Federation that if they played 36

him, the musicians would blacklist their respective managements for ever’. When Duke Ellington arrived in the UK in June 1933, his shows were promoted by Hylton, whose band toured with him in Europe. UK press reports highlighted the fact that Hylton was promoting the American while being banned from playing in the USA, bringing the issue to an unprecedented level of public awareness. In 1934 when a further British tour by Ellington was proposed, Hylton opposed it. Thus a state of tit-for-tat began to emerge.

Meanwhile in response to criticisms that in any case the Union represented few dance musicians (many of whom were in the Variety Artists Federation — VAF), the MU set up a Dance Band Section in September 1930. The section was led by dance band leaders Jack Hylton and Fred Payne and was to focus some attention on the ‘aliens’ issue before it was disbanded in 1931. A key figure was its secretary, William Batten, who was to lobby the Ministry on the matter of restrictions. Batten wrote a key article called “Alien Bands” (Musicians’ Union Report, July 1935) and was later referred to as someone ‘who for many years has acted for the Union in regards to all matters in regard to all questions relating to aliens’ (Musicians’ Union Report, August 1937). Batten would go on to be the first President of the Federation International Des Musicians (FIM). The ban is enforced While internal Ministry documents show frustration at the Union’s continued refusal to concede that any foreign musicians needed to tour, it is also clear that by the mid 1930s the overall affect on the employment of UK musicians was causing the Ministry some concern. In March 1935 it issued the historic communique noted at the start of this piece. This is the start of a “ban” that was to last for over twenty years. Many accounts have been unclear about the end of the “ban”. In fact arrangements were made in 1955 for a system of reciprocal exchanges of musicians. This came in to force in 1956 when the first exchanges took place. This followed the MU’s Executive reporting to its Conference in 1953 that it was not opposed to visits in principle, but wished to implement a system of reciprocity. This idea was to underpin further development, and in his 1957 report to the Union’s Conference, General Secretary Hardie Ratcliffe noted that ‘between March and May 1956, Stan Kenton and his Orchestra

The Musician performed in Britain and Ted Heath and his Orchestra performed in the USA’. What followed was a system of mutual exchanges based on “man hours” which lasted until the 1980s, when it collapsed under a Conservative government that took the view that such things were generally best left to the market. Deprived of jazz The “ban” had a number of effects aside from the banishment of American jazz from these shores. Ironically it may have been of benefit to resident black musicians, as Paul Oliver has reported an increased demand for their services during this period. It should also be noted that the “ban” covered musicians rather than singers, who were generally classed as being “entertainers” and who, in the UK, were more likely to be found in the VAF. In 1937 the MU complained that the VAF — which dealt separately with the Ministry — had allowed some entertainers to work as variety acts, even though part of their act included instrumental musical performance. Despite this, throughout the “ban” individual performers, occasionally including bandleaders, were able to work around the restrictions and play in the UK,

Autumn 2013


generally with British musicians replacing their usual band. Examples of musicians who entered under this provision include Frank Sinatra, Nat ‘King’ Cole, The Ink Spots, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Big Bill Broonzy, Fats Waller, Art Tatum and Coleman Hawkins. While some promoters tried to get around the ban by describing musicians as entertainers, others tried to ignore the ban completely. Perhaps the most famous example of this came in 1949 when Bert and Stan Wilcox of the London Jazz Club and Bix Curtis of the Willesden Music Makers Club made attempts to bring in Sidney Bechet and Coleman Hawkins. Both appeared on stage unannounced to great acclaim in the Melody Maker. However, the promoters were later found guilty of unlawfully aiding and abetting a performer in contravention of Article 1 (4) of the Aliens Order, 1920 and this appears to have been the end of attempts to circumvent the “ban”. One unfortunate aspect of the “ban” was its disproportionate effect on black musicians, and this has been the subject of some criticism. George McKay has argued that the “ban” did ‘sterling work over two decades in keeping professional British

© Rex Features

Despite the ban, American musicians such as Coleman Hawkins were able to work around the restrictions

‘The “ban” covered musicians rather than singers, who were generally classed as being “entertainers”.’ jazz and dance music white’ and continues that for 20 years the “ban” ensured that: ‘virtually every one of the music’s practitioners, nearly all of whom were black, was kept out of Britain by an overwhelmingly white organisation, the Musicians’ Union’. It is certainly not hard to find at least xenophobic, if not racist, sentiments among some MU activists at the time, and in the Union’s official history, Jempson acknowledged that ‘inevitably xenophobic, racist and anti-semitic sentiments have at times accompanied its longest running campaign to restrict the over-use of foreign musicians’. This was not always the MU’s finest hour, although the actions it took in implementing a boycott of apartheid South Africa from 1957 and of the La Scala club in Wolverhampton, which refused entry to black people, from 1958 were to reestablish its anti-racist credentials. Learning from the past As newspaper headlines about the need for “British jobs for British workers” continue to be printed, the story of the “ban” on foreign musicians remains relevant to this day. In 2009, the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee asked the government to exempt contemporary dancers and musicians from a new point-based visa system it was implementing. However the MU opposed this on the basis that it was not convinced that there was a lack of suitably qualified orchestral musicians in the UK. While this was somewhat removed from the circumstances of the “ban”, it has echoes and reminds us of the tensions inherent in being a nationally based organisation with an internationalist perspective. The MU is hardly alone in such tensions. Hopefully looking to the past will help to inform its policies in the future, and ensure that as many musicians as possible get to play for as many people, in as many places, as possible. Martin Cloonan is Professor of Popular Music Politics at the University of Glasgow. This article draws on work conducted with Matt Brennan of the Reid School of Music, to whom many thanks are due. 37

Outreach work with schools and the community keeps Southbank Sinfonia vibrant

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Orchestra profile

Bridging the divide Southbank Sinfonia is helping to smooth the transition for students facing the ever-shifting landscape of the post-graduate career path.

All images: © Belinda Lawley

Report by Andrew Stewart

‘The path from education to employment looks more like the Spaghetti Junction than the Appian Way.’

Young musicians raised on graded examinations and the dogged pursuit of competition success often expect postgraduate progress to run in a straight line. The idea of the seamless transition from eager student to busy professional has always been a powerful motivator and, for some, it corresponds to reality. But for many (if not most) musicians the path from education to employment looks more like the Spaghetti Junction than the Appian Way. The next generation of professional orchestral players arguably face the toughest journey to work yet. Graduates will need to negotiate career paths severely straitened by public sector funding cuts while dragging massive tuition fee loans behind them. As a result, the need for meaningful postgraduate work experience has arguably never been greater. Southbank Sinfonia formed just over a decade ago to help bridge the notoriously treacherous gap between conservatoire studies and seats in a professional orchestra. As well as producing a healthy number of alumni that now work with orchestras worldwide, the success of Southbank Sinfonia can also be gauged via its side-by-side mentoring schemes with major London bands, including the BBC Concert Orchestra and Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The orchestra also touches the lives of children and adults who are engaged in the Sinfonia’s extensive community initiatives, free concerts and side-by-side coaching work with Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School and Southwark Youth Orchestra. A unique opportunity Southbank Sinfonia operates an orchestral academy that every year offers firstrate training and invaluable experience

to 32 outstanding recent graduates. Its members, chosen by audition, join a parttime programme that occupies around three days a week; they are otherwise free to follow vocational pursuits elsewhere. Each player receives a bursary — set for the 2013 cohort at £6,800 — paid to all students regardless of individual means or background. The bursary pot is stocked and replenished by the organisation’s impressive fundraising efforts, which have so far generated £3.25m for young musicians. Southbank Sinfonia’s managing director, James Murphy, says that the aim is always to increase the bursary level whenever possible. ‘It’s also worth noting that we often invite alumni to return as deputies or extras,’ he adds. ‘They’re paid a fee in line with the ABO/MU Agreement, which boosts their finances as they make their way into the profession.’ Forging links Southbank Sinfonia has set down roots at a central London church, St John the Evangelist, a stone’s throw from Waterloo station. On the morning I visit St John’s, the place is alive with the energy of 100 children from a primary school performing pieces inspired by Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony. Reaching out to the local community is a driving force behind the Sinfonia and they have also forged links with the nearby Southbank Centre, the National Theatre and Tate Modern. In addition, the orchestra’s partnership with the Royal Opera House has covered a wide spectrum of activities from community work in Thurrock to dates at Covent Garden’s Linbury Theatre. This productive partnership has evolved to become a model for how well-endowed national arts companies might contribute to the training of young orchestral players. 39

The Musician Before taking up his post with Southbank Sinfonia at the beginning of 2012, James Murphy worked for the Woodhouse Professional Development Centre at the Royal College of Music. ‘I heard Southbank Sinfonia’s first concert and sensed then that it was a really good initiative, one to recommend to students as part of the Woodhouse Centre’s careers advice,’ he recalls. ‘I’m not sure how long anyone involved in 2002 thought it would last. But, thanks to their determination, tenacity and sheer gumption, it’s gone from strength to strength. One of Southbank Sinfonia’s founders, Katharine Verney, had the foresight to link it to various organisations long before partnership became a buzzword. This means our players receive a whole panorama of experience during their time here.’ Jan Smith, Southbank Sinfonia’s administration director, notes how close relations with professional orchestras and seasoned orchestral players have helped anchor the organisation within the sector. ‘Those links really helped to bridge the gap between music college and life as an orchestral musician,’ she suggests. ‘Our co-founder and principal conductor Simon Over tells a story about conducting the Parliament Choir and working with an orchestra of final year and postgraduate students. He bumped into the lead cellist a few months later and asked her what she was doing. “Well,” she said, “I’m temping and I don’t really have time to practise; it’s all a bit depressing.” That’s when he realised the need for a positive way to help bring talented young players into the profession. The cellist joined Southbank Sinfonia in its first year and, I believe, is still working as a player today.’

Autumn 2013

Orchestra profile

Southbank Sinfonia’s mentoring scheme provides valuable insight into the lives of working musicians

‘Simon Over realised the need to help bring talented young players into the profession,’ Jan Smith Building a strong foundation The success of the Sinfonia is in no small part due to Simon Over’s original vision and the passionate support of Southbank Sinfonia’s co-founder, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Michael Berman. ‘The thing was devised to help people go forward with their careers and it still does that,’ says James Murphy. ‘We have gained an important second role, which is to enhance the profession. We can look at the orchestral world, see what it might

be lacking or what it critically needs and ensure that our players are tooled up with the wherewithal to make a difference. We’re asking fundamental questions about what it is to be an orchestral musician,’ James continues. ‘It’s about more than playing Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony — although we want our musicians to do that brilliantly — it’s also about them becoming advocates, being passionate, and therefore encouraging others to make music part of their lives.’ During their time with Southbank Sinfonia, players receive ample opportunities to develop a wide range of skills. Neil Valentine, who played viola with the orchestra in 2007, arrived at St John’s with prior experience as an instrumental teacher but he had no idea that education would soon become the mainstay of his professional work. He discovered his

Southbank Sinfonia’s timeline June 1999 Simon Over [left], director of music at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster, conducts an orchestra of conservatoire students. He is motivated by their concerns for future employment prospects to create a training orchestra just for recent music graduates. Early 2000s The orchestra’s development plans are created by Over in partnership with Michael Berman [right]


— who becomes founder chairman of Southbank Sinfonia. Katharine Verney [far right] joins as programme director. Talented graduate

musicians audition for the new orchestra, which finds a home close to London’s Southbank Centre at the Church of St John the Evangelist, Waterloo. 2002 Southbank Sinfonia makes its debut at St John’s, Smith Square. In this year the Sinfonia is also established as the resident orchestra at the annual Anghiari Festival in Tuscany. 2003 The Sinfonia becomes one

of the first ensembles to play at the Tate Modern. 2004 Southbank Sinfonia collaborate with around 1,000 local schoolchildren to improvise and perform pieces at the Shell Centre, situated on London’s South Bank. 2007 The orchestra teams up with local primary schools to lead a ‘musical promenade’ around exhibits at the Imperial War Museum.

2008 The Sinfonia performs at the Linbury Theatre in Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face and it releases an album with Raphael Wallfisch. 2009 Members of the orchestra appear on stage at the National Theatre in Tom Stoppard’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. 2010 The orchestra revives the Blitz spirit with Lambeth children in the Old Vic

The Musician passion for the job of animateur [a role that involves helping audiences to appreciate music and musicians in new ways] thanks to a Southbank Sinfonia schools project at the Imperial War Museum, and he has since flourished as leader of creative workshops and community initiatives. ‘We made Neil one of our player-leaders and he simply flew with it,’ notes Jan Smith. ‘He saw it was about music for everybody and found that he was good at making that happen.’ Prepped for work Musicians’ Union London Region Senior Organiser, Dave Webster, recognises the significance of Southbank Sinfonia’s mentoring arrangements with professional orchestras. ‘I think professional players get a lot out of the experience of passing on their expertise and knowledge,’ he observes. ‘Southbank Sinfonia makes players match fit for the professional world. We need young musicians to come into our orchestras in order to maintain them and this is a very good way of

Keeping music fresh for its players is an overarching ambition for the Sinfonia

Matthew Passion for Jonathan Miller’s National Theatre staging and Poulenc’s La voix Humaine at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre.

Tunnels and records arias album for Signum Classics.

2012 The orchestra celebrates its 10th birthday with a special gala concert at LSO St Luke’s. It makes its West End debut in Alan Bennett’s Hymn at the Duchess Theatre.

2011 Southbank Sinfonia performs Bach’s St

2013 Southbank Sinfonia performs The Rite of

Autumn 2013

Orchestra profile

preparing them for what the profession demands. It’s one thing being at music college, quite another being in a full-time professional orchestra. This experience helps people discover what’s required in the orchestral workplace.’ Dave visits Southbank Sinfonia each year to outline the long-term benefits of Musicians’ Union membership. ‘Those who join the MU soon realise what the Union represents for musicians,’ he says. The Union, he adds, pays close attention when Southbank Sinfonia musicians are engaged by leading arts promoters and companies. ‘We say they should be paid no less than the MU minimums for professional work and the orchestra’s management understands that.’ The future of music Southbank Sinfonia, like the BBC Training Orchestra, sets a premium on excellence and allows players to explore a broad expanse of core repertoire. Its programme also reflects the educational and outreach remit of today’s orchestras. Over the last decade Southbank Sinfonia has presented over 150 free concerts to audiences. It has worked with more than 30,000 children and performed everywhere from Bradford’s Odsal Stadium to the Old Vic Tunnels. ‘Music can become a day job like any other,’ observes James Murphy. ‘We have to remind ourselves of its incredible potency. In the nine months they are with us, we try to plant the idea in our players that they can become the lifeblood of orchestras of the future. My aspiration is that Southbank Sinfonia alumni will be recognised as musicians who show just as much passion playing the New World Symphony for the 100th time as they did the first time!”

Spring for the debut of the National Youth Dance Company at Sadlers Wells. Southbank Sinfonia is conducted by its president Vladimir Ashkenazy

[below] in concerts in Bristol and London. Southbank Sinfonia alumni include Claire Sterling (2002), co-principal second violin, English National Opera Orchestra; Olga Muszyńska (2010), second violin, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Laura Sinnerton (2008), viola, BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Matthew Featherstone (2011), principal flute, BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Peter Mallinson (2011), viola, at the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

John Heley Associate Principal Cellist, Academy of St Martin in the Fields ‘It’s been an honour for me to be part of Southbank Sinfonia. Katharine Verney asked me to audition the cellos 10 years ago and I suggested that the Academy could become involved. At least half a dozen Southbank alumni have come to play with the Academy. ‘We began in 2003 with Elgar’s Serenade for Strings, and spent three days getting them to take their eyes off the music and not be embarrassed to look at each other. Now we go in for a week near the start of their year to do things like Stravinsky’s Apollon Musagète and other demanding works. We return later in the year for a three-hour, hit-and-run rehearsal and performance of Haydn’s London Symphony, for example, to give them a taste of how things happen in the profession. I’d gladly go in for another week every year just to get the buzz!’

Sally Mitchell Orchestra Administrative Director, Royal Opera House Orchestra ‘We run a basic set of annual initiatives for their players at the Royal Opera House, including a side-by-side scheme that places them next to members of our orchestra as well as education projects, such as Chance to Dance. Over and above the training, we’re able to offer Southbank Sinfonia contract work so they can come here to perform as an ensemble, which is a sign of our confidence in the quality of the orchestra. ‘Southbank Sinfonia aims to impart to its players a sense of being innovative and imaginative. Working with them reminds our players of the help they once received from more experienced players. This partnership with Southbank Sinfonia gives our players the chance to pass on their knowledge and make a contribution to the profession’s future.’ 41

The Musician

Autumn 2013


Reviews Get your CD reviewed Send recordings, full contact info, biog and PR material to: Reviews, The Musician, 60—62 Clapham Rd, London sw9 0jj

Bulbs On

David Gordon Trio Speaks Latin

You should also forward your cover artwork and/ or photos (at a minimum of 300dpi resolution) to: Copies of the recording must be available to MU members, the industry and the public. We endeavour to help as many members as possible, and preference is given to members who have not been previously reviewed. Reviewers: Keith Ames

To submit material for Download reviews, please send MP3s, or links to sites where the recordings can be accessed, to: Reviews by Tom Short

Adventurous, expressive soundscapes Revolutionary Latino sounds — — Liverpool quartet Bulbs, consisting of Having toured with artists such as Joey Zeb (drums), Andy Maslivec (bass), saxophonist Andy Sheppard, singer Jacqui Neil Campbell (guitar) and Marty Snape Dankworth and guitarist John Etheridge, (electronics) aim to ‘marry adventurous David’s trio have honed their sound with music-making with information and sound this album; a personal twist on the music samples chosen to challenge the audience.’ of South America. Here the focus shifts Neil’s expressive guitar playing blends to songs that capture the revolutionary with Marty’s sympathetic soundscapes spirit of the 1960s and 1970s, in particular and the 21st-century drive of the rhythm originals by Simón Díaz, Jorge Cafrune, section to create polished contemporary Victor Jara and Mercedes Sosa. The group, prog. Injusa offers intriguing dance beats, made up of David on piano, Jonty Fisher on choral passages and gut string solos in the double bass and drummer Paul Cavaciuti, style of classic late 1960s Peter Green and also revisits the music of Horacio Salgán the distorted delay style of U2’s The Edge, and Egberto Gismonti and Latin jazz alongside sweeping layers of keyboard. tunes by Chick Corea and Lyle Mays, as One can only hope this is just the first in a well as David’s own fine Latin-influenced new series from the band. Excellent. composition, Sambova.

Duncan Lyall Infinite Reflections With Infinite Reflections, Duncan Lyall has proved that he’s a musician worth keeping an eye on

The latest work by this in-demand composer, bassist and producer is the result of a commission by Celtic Connections, and is a soundtrack to stories inspired by his dearest memories and most marked cultural references. Nine notable musicians contribute, including Angus Lyon (piano, Rhodes, 42


accordion), Ali Hutton (pipes, whistles, guitar) and Patsy Reid (fiddle, viola), and each piece is imbued with energy, atmospherics or fragility. The tense emotive fluidity of Scene III is followed by the uplifting The Unknown, which in turn leads to the clock-like rhythms of Lucid Dream. Duncan has featured on over 50 albums, he’s recorded for composer Craig Armstrong and his production work includes The Shee, Maeve MacKinnon and Treacherous Orchestra. This album can only add to his growing reputation as one of Scotland’s brightest hopes.

Adding Machine Ships To Sink This Bristol act have all spent time in bands who’ve perfected Baroque pop’s cerebral complexity, and it’s clearly rubbed off on this spooky goth-disco track. Kicking into life with a synth groove, vocalist Hazel Mills’ vocals meld with TJ Allen’s shimmering guitar to make a chorus that should set the shadowy corners of your local indie disco alight. addingmachineuk Geoff Jackson A Beautiful World Geoff is a London-based composer for film and television whose work is set to appear in the 2012 Raindance nominated movie City Slacker. The searching lyrics from this single (taken from the soundtrack album), perfectly encapsulate the film’s very 21st century theme, yet they come packaged in a 1970s guitarpop sound replete with gorgeous vocal harmonies and a sparkling chorus. Man’s Ruin Working For The Man The genre-bending Glaswegians have produced a funk anthem with a sound that draws heavily on the music’s golden age, yet remains distinctively their own thanks to their penchant for dextrous folk jamming and world-music influences. Singer Calum MacCrimmon’s terse delivery adheres closely to the catchy Rage Against The Machine inspired riff, yet they find room for prog-style breakdowns and a cosmic synth wigout.

The Musician

Autumn 2013


Luna Rossa Sleeping Pills & Lullabies

Steve Winch Somewhere South Of Heaven

Simon Thacker’s Svara Kanti Rakshasa

Acoustic off-shoot for Panic Room duo — This debut release from the acoustic project of Anne-Marie Helder and Jonathan Edwards is a welcome set of brooding and exquisite originals. Opener The Dark Room sets a high benchmark, with Jonathan’s expansive piano playing and the cut-glass beauty of Anne-Marie’s vocals. They’ve a growing reputation for their work with Panic Room, but have stepped away from tension-and-release dynamics to produce this sublime counterpoint. Stand out track? The Book of Love for its delicate melody, sensitive arpeggios and touching lyrics.

Storytelling folk troubadour — A modern-day observational bard, Steve brandishes all the tools of a classic troubadour: acoustic instruments, a keen eye and a big heart. Tales of lost love and social comment provide the foundation, but he exhibits an upbeat feel throughout, infusing his characters and tales with hope and humour. An album packed with tantalising titles always appeals and Steve has a fistful, including Roadmaps For The Soul and The Queen In My Pocket while country steels add to the mood of classic storytelling in Die Laughing. Very promising.

Eastern flavour with a contemporary edge — Simon has brought together a fascinating combination of musical flavours and skills in this diverse offering of Indian, contemporary Asian and Western music. His rich guitar playing merges with the impressive vocals of Japjit Kaur, acclaimed tabla player Sarvar Sabri and violinist Jacqueline Shave to produce a cultural landmark recording. Inspired by classical, traditional and cinematic compositions, this is a must-buy for anyone captivated by the crossover between Eastern and Western styles.

Voice Musical Harmony

The Proof 100%

Wingin’ It For The Many

Powerful, traditional vocal harmonies — This close harmony outfit came together to pursue a passion for traditional music from around the world and a desire to perform both medieval and contemporary material. Victoria Couper, Clemmie Franks and Emily Burn grew up singing with the Oxford Girls’ Choir, and this album reflects their collective mastery of Georgian songs and the music of Hildegard von Bingen, who has proved a defining influence since they sang in early music group Sinfonye. Secular and non-secular music can be found in their songbook and dedicated works by British composers Marcus Davidson and Helen Chadwick soar gloriously courtesy of their superbly-arranged harmonies.

Time-honoured British blues — Singer Paul Cox, keyboard player Roger Cotton, guitarist Mike Summerland, bassist Nigel Hardy and drummer Peter Stroud, play a terse mix of originals and blues rock classics. Joined here on three tracks by Whitesnake’s Micky Moody, plus Thin Lizzy old boy Snowy White on the jointlypenned, Are You Made of Gold, they serve up white hot British blues in time-honoured fashion. Kicking off with I Got The Proof, they lay down a template for the outfit’s rolling style and sweetly-honed riffs. Feel So Bad boasts a pumping piano solo by Roger and his keys also lead off the medley of a moody Cold Cold Feeling and Led Zep‘s, Since I’ve Been Loving You. Timeless.

Broad-reaching cultured jazzers — If you’ve been described as ‘astonishingly good’ by jazz supremo Martin Taylor, you must have talent to burn. Adam Bulley and Chas Mackenzie are an award-winning guitar duo who came together in 2005 to perform material ranging from rock, funk and Gypsy jazz to bluegrass and classical. They started out on the west coast of Scotland and were soon writing their own music, while their live performances won them a Danny Kyle award at Celtic Connections. Calling on a line-up of homegrown session men, such as Ross Ainslie (whistle), Ruaridh Campbell (violin) and Alyn Cosker (drums), these ten tracks are cultured, elegant and graceful. 43

The Musician

Tierra Blanca Shadowlands

Autumn 2013

William Sweeney Tree O’Licht


Roll Wyn James Unfinished Business

New sounds and intriguing covers — Formed and fronted by singer songwriter John McKeown, Tierra Blanca blend a rich tapestry of influences and styles. Beautiful Eyes evokes early Cure, while their version of Patti Smith’s Dancing Barefoot has echoes of Chris Isaak and Tom Petty. Produced by French hipster Dimitri Tikovoi, it carries a pocketful of intriguing covers: Prince’s When Doves Cry, Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart and a dark take on the David Essex hit Rock On. Buoyed by the tasteful guitar of Rick Hornby, the subtle bass of Sue Bauer and Patricia Patova, plus the drums of Sebastien Sternberg, this is an excellent collection.

Notable release from respected composer — A composer known for the command and breadth of his work, Bill’s style ranges across instrumental, orchestral, electronic and vocal formats and his commissioned works include music for theatre, dance, film, television and education. Bill’s love for traditional Gaelic music and jazz has also been recognised by his peers, and in 2005 he won a prestigious Creative Scotland Award. Tree O’Licht features acclaimed cellists Robert Irvine and Erkki Lahesmaa, plus pianist Fali Pavri, and is a marvellous addition to his portfolio with a true artist’s appreciation of dramatic climax, musicianship and storytelling.

Blues over adversity — Blues musician and singer Alwyn James had garnered a formidable reputation as a performer when he was struck down by a stroke that could have finished his career. After months of excellent care and showing deep determination and commitment, Alwyn has returned to playing using only his left hand, and he continues to play inspirational harmonica in the company of Paul Henderson (guitars/vocals), Chris Agnew (bass/guitar/vocals) and Kevin Smith (drums/percussion). This latest recording features 12 new numbers, and boasts Stateside licks, humour, dynamics and classic British playing.

18th Century Concert Jazz ExTempore Orchestra Passacailles Orchestra & Concertos East & West

The Midden In The End

Closely observed Baroque period pieces — This chamber orchestra is led by one of our finest interpreters of Baroque music, director David Lewis. The 11-piece delivers concertos, overtures, arias and dance suites, intermingled with tales taken from 18th century books and documents. With attention paid to every aspect of the era, their every performance features nuances to fascinate and enthrall. This album furthers their reputation for attention to detail and replicating the period’s unique atmosphere. Marcello’s Concerto for Oboe in D Minor is a particular highlight, delivered with uplifting joy. Exemplary.

Pan-European musical project — This four-piece orchestra consists of Elvis Stanic on guitars, harmonica, accordion, mandolin, lap steel guitar and keys, Andrea Vicari on piano and vocals, plus the refined rhythm section of drummer Hristo Yotsov and bassist Rico de Jeer. Joined here on their second release by violinist Medina Mektiva and produced by Derek Nash, the outfit demonstrates their apparently neverending scope for harmonic creativity and highly-focused improvisation. The album’s stand out track is Andrea’s Lanziamentos del Verde for its breezy feel, accomplished arrangement and delightful lead lines.

Tender folk songwriting — The Midden are singer/writer sisters Kate, Meggan and Hazel Reid from north-east Scotland. Their multi-instrumental skills on guitar, violin, cello, bass and piano support their three-part vocals. Formed in 2001, they have graced many festivals and played to a crowd of over 20,000 supporting Snow Patrol, in addition to releasing four studio albums. This latest CD of tender folk sees them teaming up with producer, writer and arranger David McNee. The recordings capture the band in top form, achieving a perfect balance in the studio between songwriting, singing and performance.


The Musician


The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments — The Ministry of Angels

Download Blacktop Deluxe Putting Out Fire A hard-hitting trio who also trade in bluesy licks and lyrics, this single from their latest EP is a fine example of their polished classic British guitar rock, allowing Keith Howe to showcase his tough drawl and accomplished soloing against drummer Alan Ibbotson’s backbeats. watch?v=hPgGQGp8eso

Elizabethan jigs on unfamiliar instruments

The Simmertones Soulful (The Sound) This South West ska and reggae act garnered acclaim for their debut, and this infectious opener from their latest release suggests the ska train shows no sign of stopping. Bassman Del Boy Anning’s grooves lock with Tom Crowe’s featherlight organ and MC Glyn Wilcox’s gleeful encouragements, superbly supported by trumpeter Martin Holland’s brass arrangements. thesimmertones

Founded in 2010 by nyckelharpa and hurdy gurdy player Clare Salaman, The Society has forged a reputation for being one of our finest exponents of early music. With a repertoire that ranges from traditional British folk and Baroque to high art and innovative originals, via medieval and renaissance material, the quartet can enchant and amaze in equal measure. Clara Sanabras (voice, oud, guitars), Joy Smith (harp, dulcimer, percussion) and Peter McCarthy (bass instruments) complete the line-up, all of whom display taste, refinement and pure musicianship throughout this recording.

Pop-Up Music I Like My Thinking Composer Mark Garfield has assembled a crackteam of musicians to produce a series of tracks for use in advertising and TV. This has resulted in the excellent arrangements on this blues-tinged slice of modern soul. The minor-key vocal line is transformed by a seductive delivery, and is lifted into classic Motown territory by a swaggering horn line and a soaring chorus. mark-garfield/i-liked-mythinking-master Stonecraft Secret World Haunting chamber pop from the Swansea-based acoustic folk band featuring ex-Burning Cell guitarist Andy Morgan and Viil Hov Fjøse. The duo construct a rich soundscape using only gentle upright bass, bouzouki and acoustic guitar. Morgan’s chiming lines lend an Eastern flavour to the Celtic melodies, while his vocal chemistry with Fjøse is evocative of his heroes Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Autumn 2013

The Musician asked Clare about the album and the group’s progress… What’s been your most uplifting moment? Our first performance of The Ministry of Angels took place in Rook Lane Arts Centre in Frome, and there was a strong feeling of togetherness with the audience. It was then that I realised that the concept of the group really worked and we received a lot of letters and messages afterwards urging us to make the CD. Who is your dream collaborator? I’m particularly interested in collaborating with artists from different performance disciplines, and our next project, Nine

The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments are forging a reputation as fine exponents of early music

Daies Wonder, is providing the perfect opportunity for this. We’ll be working with Steven Player, dancer, musician and actor, who is one of the most inspiring performers I’ve ever seen, and we’ll also be creating part of the show with a comedian. Your favourite instrument? Just a few that spring to mind are the thick gut strings on Peter’s three string bass, the buzzes produced by Joy’s bray harp and the sound of Clara’s lovely oud. My personal favourite is the nyckelharpa as it’s so beautiful to play. How has the MU helped you? There have been so many things that have been useful to us as individuals, as well as in the setting up of the group. These range from the free musical instrument and public liability insurance to advice on any aspect of the profession. A highlight of the last few months was an MU seminar on fundraising. This is particularly relevant to us right now as our next project is more ambitious in its scope and scale. What are your future plans? We have a week’s residency at Aldeburgh in January 2014, during which time we’ll create Nine Daies Wonder. It’s based on Will Kemp, a member of Shakespeare’s company and shameless self-publicist, who morris danced from London to Norwich in 1599. Steven will play the part of Will Kemp and, of course, there will be a plethora of weird and wonderful instruments. We’ll collaborate with a comedian to create a modern Elizabethan jig, which were short musical comedies performed at the end of plays in the late 16th/early 17th century. Will Kemp was celebrated for his part in these. As for the music, we’ll be unearthing some gems from the turn of the 17th century that haven’t seen the light of day for a very long time. 45

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Union news

Tributes Ron McKay

Ron McKay, who died in May, was one of the leading drummers of the British trad jazz revival. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was a mainstay of Acker Bilk’s Paramount Jazz Band, powering their rhythm section and contributing vocals at the height of their fame. Later he performed with bands led by Max Collie and Phil Mason.

‘He was a good friend and a great jazz lover. of his musical career, though, and he kept We will miss him.’ gigging. In an online tribute, bassist John Muskett recalled Roy as a man ‘with no Roy heralded from Bootle, Merseyside, and, hang-ups from his glory days and a number had things worked out differently, he might of endearing traits’ — such as always have been a professional footballer. Signed removing his glasses before singing and to Everton, he made it as far as the club’s hating flying so much that he often needed reserve team, but suffered a broken leg to take a ‘relaxant before boarding a plane’. playing against Manchester United, which ended his sporting career. In his final years, octogenarian McKay lived in a nursing home because of failing As a musician, he was known as a player health. News of his passing took a while to who could make a band swing. He also had filter through because — due to his modest a reputation as an unpretentious, modest nature — McKay asked that his funeral be man. Nevertheless, there was obviously attended only by family. something of the showman in McKay, because contemporaries remember him as Ron is survived by his wife Val, and children having real stage presence, and as a man Gail (from his first marriage), and Ruth, who could handle gentle melodies, growly Judith, Paul, Leah and David, as well blues and scat singing with equal aplomb. as seven grandchildren. ‘When he put his chewing gum on his hi-hat you knew you were in for a lug-hole treat,’ Jonathan Wright remembered bassist Trefor Williams, who performed with Roy in Max Collie’s band.

‘[I was] very sorry to hear of Ron McKay’s passing,’ said jazz trombonist Chris Barber.

In later life Roy toured less and settled in Manchester. It was by no means the end

Ron McKay: mildmannered jazz drummer

Trad jazz musician and former member of the Acker Bilk band, who was known for his ability to make a band swing.

Freddie Wells

Inspirational drumming teacher and musician

Freddie Wells, who has died aged 81, spent his life sharing his love of the drums. Born in Primrose Hill, London, Fred left school at the age of 14 and took his first job as an office boy at Elstree film studios, after which he worked for 38 years at Vauxhall Motors in Luton. He started taking drumming lessons early from bandleader Eric Delaney and it was his passion for music that was to become central to his life. He played for many bands including the Mid Herts Big Band for 38 years, the Vauxhall Concert 46

Band as well as numerous productions for Luton’s St Andrews Players. It was his 50-year contribution to the trio run by pianist Jimmy Harrison that reached the biggest audience. Fred also accompanied performers including Dusty Springfield, Joe Dolce and The Mudlarks, and spent several years as the principle drummer in the house band at Luton’s Majestic Ballroom. For 60 years, Freddie taught privately and in schools, passing on his enthusiasm to young musicians including Jools Holland’s longtime drummer Gilson Lavis, and Richard Spaven who is currently touring with jazz singer Gregory Porter. On hearing of Freddie’s death, Gilson said: ‘He was a lovely man and I have often thought of him when I’m working. He taught me how to sit properly, how to play properly and, most importantly, how to put the music first.’ Richard remembered of Freddie: ‘I only ever had one drumming teacher — Freddie Wells. I started lessons with him when I

was eight, before my feet could reach both pedals at once, and I had lessons with him for the next 12 years. He used to show me postcards from pupils of his that were out on the road, proud as punch. When I started touring I would send him postcards and I have no doubt he proudly showed them to his current students. Look at how having a great teacher that you respect goes on to shape your life. An amazing influence for which I am eternally grateful. Thank you, Mr Fred Wells.’ A kind and gentle man, his generosity of spirit, great sense of humour and his unfailing passion for drumming enriched the lives of many young musicians. So many people will miss Freddie. When teased, he often said, ‘I’m a lovely man!’. The rest of us knew he was so much more than that. Neil Wells

The Musician

Howard ‘Bert’ Houtheusen Noted jazz saxophonist and singer, RAF war hero and Squadronaires veteran Stalwart jazz musician and war hero, Howard ‘Bert’ Houtheusen has died aged 98. His love and passion for jazz never waned and Bert continued to play in bands until he was 92 years old. Born in Streatham in 1915, Bert became an early convert to jazz while at the Regent Street Polytechnic School. He taught himself how to play the saxophone and formed a band with Max Jones, later a wellknown jazz critic. On leaving school at 18, he entered the world of the professional musician playing with, amongst many others, Edmundo Ros, Joe ‘Mr Piano’ Henderson and American tap dancers the Nicholas Brothers. RAF Squadron Leader Howard ‘Bert’ Houtheusen was a decorated pilot who saw active service in the Second World War and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during the Korean War.

Autumn 2013

Union news

Roy Stewart

Derek Langton

Versatile and skilled pianist with a particular talent for blending styles

Jazz musician who made his mark during the peak of the holiday camp era

Born in Barrow-in-Furness, Roy began piano lessons aged 12 and by the time he was 15 he was playing at local dances for American servicemen.

Derek Langton, who has died aged 88, was a saxophonist and a lifelong member of the Musicians’ Union.

Roy subsequently joined Bunny Callister’s Barrow Rhythm Club Sextet who were regularly winners of the North West Region Melody Maker Dance Band Championships. Following National Service, Roy studied at the Royal College of Music. During the 1950s, connections forged in Archer Street amongst the milieu of musicians that gathered there ensured a successful musical career. Roy joined the Charles Shadwell Orchestra, regularly performing his own arrangements in live broadcasts on the BBC Light Programme from the Spa in Scarborough.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret, their two sons as well as a daughter from a previous marriage.

Other work included accompanying singers such as Val Doonican, Julie London and Caterina Valente and playing at the Windmill Theatre. After joining Sydney Lipton’s Orchestra at Grosvenor House, Roy led the Roy Stewart Five before becoming resident pianist, where he was admired by Larry Adler for, ‘Mixing standards with Debussy, Ravel and Tchaikovsky.’

Geoff Nicholls

Julie Stewart

James Gibb

Ken Kiddier

Gifted pianist and political activist

Sax player from the big band age

Born on Tyneside in 1918, pianist James was an active communist by the 1930s, marching against Mosley’s blackshirts.

Ken Kiddier, former player with the Ted Heath Orchestra and the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, has died at the age of 84.

He joined the Royal Artillery as a radio operator, with comrades recalling his voice belting out Beethoven as his D-Day landing craft approached the Normandy beaches.

Ken was spotted by Ted Heath when rehearsing with Ronnie Aldrich and The Squadronaires. He was signed up and stayed for 14 years, touring America with the likes of Carmen McRae, The Four Freshmen and Nat King Cole. After a stint teaching in America, he returned to the UK where he played with the Paul Davis Big Band before joining the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, where he remained for 25 years.

The post-war period saw him rise to prominence as a concert pianist, enjoying his big break under conductor Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt in Hamburg. By the late 1940s he was delighting live audiences and listeners to the BBC Home Service. He accepted a teaching post at The Guildhall in the early 1960s, and became their Head of Keyboard Studies in 1967, a post that he conducted with flair until the mid-1990s.

Ken was remembered with a two-minute silence at the Syd Lawrence Orchestra Society Annual Convention, where a collection was made for Parkinsons UK.

Clive Somerville

Paul Davis

Derek started his musical career aged 14 when, during the war, he could be seen cycling with a saxophone on his back through the blackout to big band concerts in dance halls across south London. The war interrupted his musical career, but an invitation into the RAF band provided a sweetener. The end of hostilities allowed him to once again pursue his music, and before long he was a regular and popular band leader in the holiday camps of the South East during their heyday. He was a regular performer, playing at many of the top hotels such as Margate’s Winter Gardens. By now an active member of the local branch of the MU, he had a wide circle of fellow musicians with whom he played jazz and ballroom dance music, often in the lead role. Neighbours in his home town of Broadstairs reported they could still enjoy his playing until he lost his wife, Maureen, in 2012. Derek died just eight months later. Dave Langton A full tribute to James Gibb will appear on the MU website, as will a tribute to the influential violinist and teacher Hugh Maguire. The MU also notes the sad passing of: Harold Nash (trombone, trumpet and editor of Trombonist magazine), Dave Mills (drums, known for his work with The Temperance Seven), Derek Honner (flute, alto flute and piccolo), Brian Goldspink (music teacher, musical director and choir master), Ken Ingarfield (double bass), Bernard Reeves (drums), Maurice Adamson (bass) and Shaun ‘Terry’ Conway (guitar).


The Musician

Autumn 2013

Union news

Biennial Delegate Conference 2013 Motions carried by the 35th MU Conference, as amended by the Standing Orders Committee. Equality Action Plan The 2011 TUC Equality Audit asked unions for the first time whether they have an Equality Action Plan in place. Thirteen unions (27 per cent) said they did have such plans. Amongst those affirming they did have an Equality Action Plan in place was our sister union, Equity. The others were ASLEF, CSP, GMB, Napo, NASUWT, NGSU, National Union of Teachers (NUT), Prospect, TSSA, UCU, UNISON and Unite. Sadly, the Musicians’ Union was not one of them. The TUC organises five annual statutory conferences, one for each of the equality groups – Women, Black Workers, Disability, LGBT and Youth. Sadly of those five equality groups, the Musicians’ Union currently only has data concerning membership numbers of two: Women and Youth. Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC says “At the present time when public spending cuts, public service reform and cuts to welfare benefits are likely to widen equality gaps, it is important for unions to be reaching out, recruiting from and representing the most vulnerable groups.” It is simply not possible for any organisation to do that without knowing how near or off the mark they are already in their recruitment processes. That’s why accurate equalities monitoring is vital in the running of any 21st Century organisation. We need accurate membership data in order to know how well we are doing in that regard. This conference calls on the EC to put into place a cohesive system to gather that information from the membership and put together an Equality Action Plan based on those statistics. Services to members Conference recognises the strides the union has made in developing much needed tools for the self promotion of members and welcomes the advice 48

given in the 2013 Members’ Handbook. In this time of ever expanding technology, conference requests that the union further develops its services to members by providing expert advice in areas such as marketing and negotiating techniques. Access to music education Conference is appalled by the systematic dismantling of the state education system by this government and its Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove. The introduction of Academies and Free Schools in England, with the freedom to locally negotiate terms and conditions for employees has already seen an erosion of the terms and conditions our members who teach in them. Likewise the model for the funding of Music Education Hubs, with its year on year reductions in funding, has also led to the erosion of our members’ terms and conditions of employment. The exclusion of music and other arts subject from the core subjects of the English Baccalaureate can be seen as yet another nail in the coffin of music education in schools. In an effort to redress this erosion of music tuition and the terms under which our members work Conference requests the Executive Committee to work with other Teaching Unions and interested parties to lobby for the preservation of Music as a curriculum subject in key stages 1, 2 & 3 to allow access to music education to all pupils up to the age of 14. Political action Conference notes the social and economic policies of the Conservative-led Coalition Government, which seem set to inflict “double or treble-dip” recessions on the UK economy, while demonising the victims of these policies. The reliance on monetarist economic theory and the failure to address the obvious shortcomings of

the banking system represent a return to a policy of subsidising private wealth from public taxation, while the systematic fragmentation of education, health and other social services will leave a legacy of social division and deprivation for future generations. Conference calls on the EC to support political action to build resistance to these policies and an eventual change of government. Interests of the working poor Conference is deeply disturbed by the political psychology of the Coalition Government that portrays the working poor, which we know from our latest research, includes many MU members, and the unemployed as layabouts and scroungers and seeks to divide the nation by the rhetoric of strivers versus shirkers. Conference believes the MU should use its influence as a member of the TUC and affiliate of the Labour Party to urge these bodies to take a strong, principled, high profile stand against the three year cap imposed by the Government on spending increases on benefit and tax credits. Conference asks the EC to use all means at its disposal to persuade the leadership of the unions and the Labour Party to strongly defend the interests of the working poor by challenging the myths peddled by the Government and the media. Arts jobs, funding and education The TUC has been very supportive of the MU as a small and specialised union, however there is a perception amongst the larger industrial trades unions in general that entertainment unions issues are not as important as for example, education, job losses or the NHS. Conference calls upon the EC to encourage trades unions within the TUC to use music and culture in their campaigns in a more strategic and creative

The Musician

Autumn 2013

way to highlight the cultural industries as a strong element of the trades union movement. It also asks the EC to find ways in which other unions could help the FEU through their industrial muscle, to lobby more strongly for arts jobs, funding and education.

creation of MU hub reps to maintain pay and conditions. However, conference feels that a concerted campaign is needed to focus attention on the potential loss of music to thousands of school children who may not be able to afford it and the loss of accessible progression routes later in their careers. Conference calls on the Restoration of spending EC to consult with MU Live Performance The cuts to state and local government & Teaching department staff, the MU spending on the arts in general and Teachers Section Committee, members music in particular have had a corrosive involved in all branches of music education effect on the subsidised sector’s ability and relevant external organisations, to to operate effectively and continue to work towards the creation of a music provide paid work for artists and musicians, education strategy for the UK. This including MU members. Further cuts strategy should be aligned both with the projected within the lifetime of the present professional interests of our members Government will substantially worsen the and with the needs of society as a whole. already precarious situation and could Conference also calls on the EC to develop push a number of well known and highly campaigns to lobby for the strategy with respected musical institutions over the whatever governments are in office locally brink into bankruptcy. and nationally across the UK. Whilst Conference applauds the work of the entertainment unions and the Lost Arts campaign in highlighting and fighting the effects of this diminished investment, it is fearful that much will be lost forever unless there is a dramatic change of direction. Conference believes that the only real long term hope for the subsidised arts sector would be the replacement of the current coalition government by a strongly pro-arts Labour administration at the next election. Conference asks the EC to use the considerable influence and lobbying power of the MU to persuade the Labour Party to include in its election policy the reversal of the current government’s policy of disinvestment in the arts and the restoration of spending that will properly support this country’s arts and music. Music education strategy Instrumental music education faces an unprecedented attack from the Tory government which has cut funding to music services and music hubs by 30% whilst expecting more tuition to greater numbers of young people. Increasingly, instrumental tuition has to be paid for and those who cannot afford it will not have access to it. If young people want to become professional musicians, there is a further threat to college and university music departments due to the government cut of the teaching grant. This, allied to fees of £9k a year mean that university applications have dropped for the second year running and that music departments and colleges across the country face cutbacks and closure. The teaching department of the MU has done sterling work across the board, and especially in response to the new music hubs and the

Opposing the EDL The English Defence League (EDL) has recently increased its activity in rural areas of the country. This conference opposes the racist, bigoted, anti Islamic and clearly anti trades union views expressed by the EDL, and calls on the Executive Committee to actively oppose the views held by The EDL by both supporting local initiatives to prevent them from infiltrating local politics and by encouraging a Musicians’ Union presence at peaceful counter demonstrations organised by legitimate opponents of the EDL. Employees’ rights Conference opposes measures proposed by the coalition government to offer shares in companies to employees who give up some of their statutory rights including their right to claim unfair dismissal. Following recent changes that restrict access to Employment Tribunals, and further proposals to streamline the Employment Tribunal system that can only be seen as benefitting employers, it is nothing short of a war on trade unions and a means of stifling opposition to the unfair and iniquitous policies of this coalition government. Conference calls on the Executive Committee to lobby the Labour Party directly or via the TUC to ensure that when the party we are affiliated to is returned to government it is committed to overturning all legislation introduced by this coalition government that undermines employees’ rights. Blacklisting of workers Conference expresses its opposition to blacklisting of workers by any organisation or employer and believes there should

Union news be a public enquiry into the practice of blacklisting. The Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010 are inadequate and not fit for purpose. Conference believes that this statutory instrument needs to be strengthened and that it should be a criminal offence to supply, compile, solicit or use information in connection with a prohibited list; and further believes that the blacklisting of workers must no longer play a part in our society. Conference believes that no public contracts should be awarded to any company that has used blacklisting, furthermore Conference congratulates all those trade unions, MPs and bodies such as the Blacklist Support Group on the way in which they have been campaigning for justice and calls on the Executive Committee to support the campaign. Qualifications in schools The Department for Education recently decided to remove Rockschool’s Music Practitioner Qualification from the performance measures for 14-16 year olds from 2015. This Conference calls on the EC to seek to persuade the Department for Education to reverse this decision and to further support members who deliver this and other similar qualifications in schools by continuing to campaign for the relevance of contemporary music education. Graduate subscription rate Conference notes the success of the £20 student subscription rate in recruiting students to the Union. Following graduation most students are at the start of their careers in the music industry and could well be faced with a large student debt. Some will have earned some money from music whilst studying, and made contacts within the industry, however the majority will be gradually trying to build work and will not be earning a large amount in the first few years of working as a professional musician. Conference is concerned that many students will become non-members once out of full-time education due to the large increase in subscription rate, currently from £20 to £183. Conference notes that a number of banks give a 2 year period after graduating to students to pay off their overdraft facility at preferential rates, with a view to having them continue to bank with them once they are earning. Conference requests that the Executive Committee consider the implementation of a graduate subscription rate which is higher than the student rate but lower than the full rate. 49

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Union news

Making the most of your Union Electricity can be a risk for performers, so The Musician explains how to stay safe with this brief from MU Health and Safety specialist Roger Sutton. The continuing dangers associated with electrical equipment were brought home recently when a musician in a West End musical received a near fatal electric shock while performing on stage following poor safety practice by the employer.

Playing your part If you are directly employed then the responsibility primarily rests with your employer. If you are freelance or selfemployed, then the onus falls on you for any electrical equipment you provide. Generally, the venue or production are responsible from the plug backwards for the electrical system that you plug into at any of their premises. But whether employed or freelance, electrical safety is part of the overall risk-assessment process, and depends on the equipment you are using. For a simple basic electrical instrument then it is necessary to do a regular, more detailed check about once a year, and each time it is used make a visual check on the wiring, plugs, connections and so on. 50

© naphtalina/iStock

This event dramatically highlighted the need to ensure that good electricity standards are maintained at all levels of the industry. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) says that ‘almost a quarter of all reportable electrical accidents at work involve portable equipment, and that the vast majority cause electrical shock’. The HSE explains that ‘Even a very small electric current flowing through your body can kill you. 50 milliamps can cause pain, paralysis of chest muscles and, after a few seconds, upset the heartbeat and cause death’. To put this in context, a 40 watt light bulb only takes about 150 milliamps.

safety rep about what your employer’s policy is and whether it is being properly implemented. If you have any concerns raise them with your rep and the employer.

Check before you use: even the smallest shock can cause a serious health risk

If you have more complicated kit, a DJ setup, or perhaps also a light show and other special effects, then the checks need to be more detailed. More complex equipment will need to be checked by a qualified electrician at regular intervals. Getting it off PAT You may have heard of PAT testing. This stands for a Portable Appliance Test. It is not a legal requirement in itself, but an increasingly well-used method of showing that you have met the requirement of a regular full check. It is appearing more frequently in contracts as something that venues want you to supply. The term portable equipment covers equipment designed to be carried from place to place and connected to a fixed power supply by a flexible lead and plug. If you are directly employed, then any electrical instrument you bring into work will require you to clarify with your employer about how it is to be checked within the employer’s own electrical safety policy. You should check with your

If you are freelance the theory is that you are effectively a contractor, and the person or organisation contracting you should liaise with you about their safety policy. This means you can ask what system they have in place, particularly if you are worried by the sight of singed sockets or exposed wiring. If they are providing mics you need to check these look in a safe and decent condition, and if you have any concerns, ask to see what electrical checks the venue or event producers have in place. For instance, the way leads are run in performance areas is especially important. Protect against the weather Additional concerns can come when performing outdoors with the many problems that can be caused by weather. For the employers end, testing for outdoor events should always be carried out by a qualified electrician. For your own peace of mind you may want to know what emergency cut-outs are in place — or may want to provide your own. ( If you do this you should use an appropriate RCD — which is a residual current device). You and your employer also have a responsibility to not only your fellow performers, but to the audience and members of the venue’s crew as well. The HSE has a guide for electrical safety for performers (called INDG247 – Electrical Safety for Entertainers). More detailed advice can be obtained via your Regional Office, and you can find further information in the Health and Safety section of the MU website at

The Musician

Autumn 2013

Union news

Benefits directory The MU provides a comprehensive range of member services. Have you registered for all of your MU benefits? While membership of the MU offers a wide range of free services, there are a number of benefits that you need to register or apply for. Full details of all the benefits of membership can be found in your MU Members’ Handbook. MU website To fully access our website — — you will need to register on your first visit using your membership number. Instrument and equipment insurance For £2,000 worth of free musical instrument and equipment cover, register for the scheme by calling Hencilla Canworth on 020 8686 5050. Motoring service The MU Family Motoring and Accident Aftercare Services provides 24/7 cover. — Register now via telephone or the web. t 0800 1799 003 w Contract advice — before you sign Receive professional advice on the terms and implications of any complex agreements via our Contract Advisory Service. Contact your Regional Office to find out more. Partnership advice If all the members of your group are already MU members, or decide to join, we can offer free partnership advice and an agreement. Contact your Regional Office for more.

Specialist and Industrial Sections To join, contact the relevant Secretary. Specialist Sections — Folk, Roots & Traditional Music Section Section Secretary — Paul Westwell t 029 2045 6585 e — Gig Section Acting Secretary — Bindu Paul t 020 7840 5506 e — Jazz Section Section Secretary — Jo Laverty t 020 7840 5535 e — Teachers Section Section Secretary — Diane Widdison t 020 7840 5558 e Industrial Sections — Music Writers Section Section Secretary — Naomi Pohl t 020 7840 5517 e — Orchestra Section Section Secretary — Bill Kerr t 0161 233 4002 e

Medical assistance The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine delivers specialist health support to musicians. Visit

— Session Section Section Secretary — Peter Thoms t 020 7840 5559 e

Musicians’ Hearing Services (MHS) MHS offer a top range of hearing related services for MU members. For an appointment, call MHS on 020 7486 1053.

— Theatre Section Section Secretary — Paul Burrows t 020 7840 5537 e

Money owing Are you due a royalty payment from us for the use of any of your recordings in television programmes, films or adverts? Are you the next of kin of a musician who used to receive royalties from us? The Musicians’ Union pays royalties to a growing number of musicians for the secondary exploitation of their recordings. In most cases we know who the musicians are who performed on the recording and already have their contact and payment details, so the royalty income can be distributed straight away. However, there is a certain amount of income we have collected that we cannot distribute as we don’t know who all the musicians who performed on the recording were, or we do know the names of the musicians but we have been unable to trace them or their next of kin in order to pay them. If you can assist us with line-up information or contact details, visit uk/advice-downloads/royalties Here, you will be able to find more information on the types of royalty income we collect, as well as lists of musicians and recording line-ups we are currently trying to trace.


The Musician, Autumn 2013  

The Journal of the Musicians' Union.