A very creative age, Storey Auditorium, 15th June

by Carla Scarano D’Antonio
A surprisingly fresh event, considering the mature age of the participants, at the Storey Auditorium last Tuesday with the Morecambe Bay Writers and the writers from the Rainbow Centre in Morecambe.
It was the result of a Spotlight Community Writing Project facilitated by Sarah Fiske, honorary member of the Morecambe Bay group and tutor of the Rainbow group.
She introduced the event and the writers as supportive, creative, full of sense of humour and variegated. And it was exactly what we had, a taste of sincere, original writing with a tint of lightness.
Jean Pollard of the Morecambe Bay Writers started the reading with Dawn over Morecambe Bay, a contemplation of the beauty of the bay at dawn, ‘the sea laps softly shoreward with a sigh’ and ‘the sands shine gold beneath the climbing sun’.
Soup Therapy by Jenny Dighton was a brilliant response to the ordinary frustration of life generating anger. Making a soup is a good alternative to shouting or banging and is ‘nourishing and warm’ as well.
A short story was the following piece, To B or not to B by Christine Mary Malone. A delicate, exhilarating story with a romantic ending.
Sounds in the wood were the inspiration of One Whole Year in the Wood by Audrey Skinner, ‘naked branches growing’, ‘silent flakes’ of snow make a melody only a poet can hear.
Kevin Skinner read Chocolate Raisins by Tom Johnson, who inspired the group but unfortunately died some years ago. Eating a full packet of chocolate raisins has a hint of eroticism, and after the ‘guilty pleasure’ a well deserved cigarette.
The story of a rebelling sixteen year old girl is the theme of Carol Stenning’s Change. The wizard of the village made a spell on her: ‘repent or change, change forever’. And she metamorphoses again and again wandering about. Eventually the dream ends and she is in her bedroom.
Sarah Fiske read Today and Buying Shoes by Freda Moore, two true, straight poems about getting retired (‘I don’t feel decrepit’) and buying a pair of new shoes (‘my waking nightmare’).
Memories of old times came to us with Judith Hamer’s For Old Time’s sake, a cracking piece comparing her first encounter with her future husband in Blackpool and their going back there after fifty years.
Jean Pollard ended the reading of the Morecambe Bay writers with Evensong, a humble hymn to dusk.
Most of the pieces they read had been published in two collections of prose and poetry, A Bowl of Cherries, Roadwork Publications, 2007 and A Breath of Sea Air, Mayoh Press, 2009. Their website is http://www.themorecambebaywriters.com
The pieces of the writers from the Rainbow were inspired by images and paintings. The pictures were projected on a screen during the reading.
From bobbin lace making (The Blue Thread by Mary Wetton) to Picasso’s Weeping Woman (Weeping Woman by Kay Beattie), the moving simplicity of the first was balanced by the deep, detailed analisis of the ‘woman trapped in the frame’ of Picasso’s painting.
Then The Daily Orange by Terry Cottington where the bronze statue of Boudicca by James Thorndyke at Westminster bridge is the point of arrival of a slightly drugged young lady eager to look like the heroine, naked and all.
The three last pieces, Rabbit Stew by Jo Hoyle, A Work of Art by Maureen Wattam and The Cobbler’s Last by Hazel Birkinshaw, stood out for their apparent simplicity and accurate observation. They gave the right close to the event.
The venue was warm and comfortable as usual, the reading was entertaining and pleasant, the writers charming. As Sarah Fiske said we hope it is the start of more readings where other writers’ groups can perform their work.

Don Giovanni, Lancaster Castle 14th & 15th June

by Carla Scarano D’Antonio
Attending an opera in a venue that is not a traditional theatre is always intriguing and risky. The experience can be new and unpredictable so you never know if you are going to hear and see well.
I believe that the Shire Hall at Lancaster Castle has a perfect acoustic and is also a beautiful venue, the music floating in the vault, the coats of arms like decorations of a scenery and the evening sky illuminating the interior.
Though the space for the stage is narrow and the actors or singers have to find their way among wooden stalls and stone stairs, running the risk of being unintentionally tripped up, the result can be brilliant. In fact the stage and the stall become one, the actors mix with the audience, which is consequently totally involved in the play.
This is what happened with Don Giovanni, the libertine punished (from the Spanish legend of Don Juan and a moralistic play, El Burlador the Sevilla by Tirso de Molina, penname of the Spanish monk Gabriel Téllez)a drama giocoso by W.A. Mozart, libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, first performed in Prague in 1787.
The singers, Mark Saberton as Don Giovanni, Thomas Eaglen as Leporello, Serenna Wagner as Elvira, Sarah Helsby-Hughes as Donna Anna, Nicholas Sales as Don Ottavio, Elise Dye as Zerlina and Luke Thomas as Masetto, had a good Italian diction and performed a masterly execution both in singing and in acting.
It is not so common that the characters of an opera fit the appearance of the singers so well because vocal talent is usually considered more important than the physical aspect. And it is in a way. But it is also awkward for the audience to get involved in the story where a passionate hero weights a hundred kilos or a delicate bride is fifty years old or more. Everything is possible of course and it depends on the point of view.
The audience was very much involved this time both in the music and in the story. We heartily laughed when the prankster Don Giovanni played his jokes against the ‘hot’ Donna Elvira (how could she still believe in his love at the end?) or the serious, but maybe equally ‘hot’, Donna Anna, who looked for revenge for attempted rape and her father’s murder. And we horrified when we realized that our hero was also a criminal, he killed Donna Anna’s father at the beginning, and a rapist.
A complex character wonderfully depicted by Mozart’s music and da Ponte’s words, whose animal instincts (‘Mi par di sentir odor di femmina’= I think I smell a female) mix with his ‘good’ intentions of ‘comforting’ women from their boring lives…or dull husbands. On the other hand he needs women (‘Le donne son necessarie come il pane o l’aria che respiro’= women are necessary to me like bread or the air I breathe) so he can’t help but keep seducing them with the obsession of a collector and the skill of a sly old fox.
The line between what his victims want and what he forces them to do is very thin and the ambiguity of words shape each time a different perspective. After all everybody has fun with Don Giovanni and when finally they attack him and he is sent to Hell we wonder if it is a real happy ending.
‘La commedia è finita’, as Canio the clown would say, no more drama, no more fun, no more enemy to aim at. The scapegoat is gone. Life goes back to ordinary with all its dreams and nightmares.
But we had great fun for about three hours at Lancaster Castle with Heritage Opera (www.heritageopera.co.uk tel. 01772451991).
Other pieces on offer at the Castle in 2010 are Madame Butterfly ( 9th & 10th August) and Die Fledermaus (1st & 2nd November).

Black Rock by Amanda Smyth

Reviewed by Judith Coyle, syndicated with thanks to Lancashire Writing Hub.

Black Rock, the debut novel from Irish/Trinidadian writer Amanda Smyth, was included on Oprah Winfrey’s ‘25 Must Read Summer Books’ list and has been endorsed by British writer Ali Smith so it has garnered a fair bit of attention. (In the US the novel is entitled “Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange”).


For me the book’s great strength is the way in which Smyth’s often poetic writing manages to appeal to all our senses. Trinidad and Tobago seem to spill out from the pages. You can feel the sun, the heat, feel the dust in your eyes, see those vast blue skies. One of the senses that she really stimulates is taste with abundant references to food and drink: coconut cake, breadfruit, Machineel plums, mangoes, oranges and limes and planter’s punch. It is a very ‘visual’ novel, related to the reader through the eyes of the narrator and central character, Celia, whose mother died giving birth to her. The novel is the story of Celia’s personal and geographical journey, from childhood innocence to the many challenges of adulthood, from the small island of Tobago to the larger one of Trinidad.

A seductive, almost hypnotic fairy tale atmosphere pervades the novel which is shot through with Gothic imagery.

For instance we learn that a former neighbour, an undertaker, indulged in necrophilia and there are references to ritual, sacrifice and obeah (voodoo shamanism). When Helen Rodriguez suffers her nervous breakdown she appears in a “long silver dress” that has a “silky train” and she tucks her “dirty feet” under her as she sits down. However, despite these examples I felt that the novel did not deliver on its cover note’s promise that it conveyed “a vivid sense of the supernatural.”

While Black Rock has been compared to Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, for me it had echoes of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, from whence Rhys’ book emerged. Just as St John Rivers rescues Jane Eyre who has fled from horror and who collapses in a delirium on the moors, so Celia falls into a fevered faint on the boat to Trinidad and is rescued by the noble but naïve William. Like Jane, Celia falls into a job easily (things just seem to happen to Celia) and also like Jane, she becomes enamoured with her employer.

Smyth does effectively convey the islands’ colonial life of the 1950s which is revealed through the hierarchies: Caribbean natives are servants and helpers; male Europeans, even the swarthy Dr Emmanuel Rodriguez, who is Portuguese, are in positions of power and control. The women are beholden to men, none more so than Celia herself, who I felt was portrayed as a victim because of her race, her gender and, we gradually realise, her extraordinary beauty. Given my own interests, I was impressed to read that the book was nominated for a NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) image award for best work of fiction by a debut author though I was uncomfortable with some aspects of race in the book. Aunt Sula comes across as the strongest black character but others seem just a little stereotypical: the clairvoyant Mrs Jeremiah; the docile William and his pre-gangsta rap era brother, Solomon. Also Celia’s beauty is enhanced because she lighter skinned than the other native girls. I know that this was, and still is, often the case, that light-skinned black people are viewed as superior and more attractive than their darker counterparts – but it was a message I would have preferred not to have come across yet again.

Celia, as narrator, is herself a visually-oriented person, an observer, and for me this was the source of the book’s great weakness. Celia tells her story in a staccato, detached, matter-of-fact manner. I understand that this style reflects her youth and her emotionally dead state following the rape but it also meant that I did not feel much empathy for Celia, apart from when she suffers her defilement. She appears to have little inner life and for this reason I did not find the novel “intensely moving” as promised in the book’s blurb.

For example, she chooses to cleave herself to Dr Emmanuel Rodriguez yet I am not sure why she loves him. It seems to be mainly because his seduction methods are a sharp contrast to those of the rapist Roman Bartholmew. Rodriguez approaches her as gentle lover and helps remove the pain of her rape. Yet even he turns cold and hard hearted, choosing to uphold the status quo – life with his English rose wife – rather than to commit to Celia.

I also found the novel’s ending rather too neat and I felt frustrated that her parentage was portrayed as somehow more noble, more civilised and grand, because it emerged from the coupling of a black woman and a powerful white man.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes, for anyone who wants to escape to the sun-drenched islands of 1950’s Trinidad and Tobago. But if you are looking for emotional depth I would go elsewhere.

Picasso: peace and freedom. Tate Liverpool

Exhibition 21st May-30th August
Review by Carla Scarano D’Antonio.

Unmissable, the Picasso exhibition at Tate Liverpool. It shows an exceptional variety of the supreme modern artist’s work and it is a great opportunity to visit a cultural event that will be presented in Vienna at the Albertine next autumn and at Louisiana museum of modern art, Denmark in spring 2011.

During WW II Picasso joined the Communist party and was committed to peace campaigns from the ’50s onwards. His ‘Dove of Peace’ as the international emblem of the peace movement is present in all its versions and is the kernel of the exhibition.

His commitment to peace is very clear in his condemnation of the atrocities of war. The Charnel House (1945), like the more famous Guernica (1937), is about the massacre of a Spanish Republican family and the tied, slaughtered roosters are symbols of tortured victims. In his still lifes the essential lines of the grinning skulls are a warning and a deliberation on the effectiveness of so much fighting against whatever oppresses and hinders freedom.

Picasso’s answer is again the symbolic dove of peace. He also uses female figures dancing hand in hand in a circle, lively and insouciant. A video on the first floor of the exhibition shows how the artist drew these symbols of peace on panels on a wall with a piece of charcoal. His spectacular artistry and clear vision expressed in confident strokes are one more evidence of his incomparable talent.

The exhibition also shows a series of his paintings and sketches inspired by two famous masterpieces: Las Meninas by Diego Velàsquez and Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Èdouard Manet. They are political works expressing his condemnation of oppressive regimes and false attitudes and his sympathy for a more open and ‘naked’ way of living.

The strongly marked sexual parts both in males and females have also a sensual Mediterranean flavour. They are his alternative to a ruthless reality depicted in the Rape of the Sabines. Again, naked bodies of women and children are crushed by a cruel power.

His nudes of the women so erotically marked are another reaction to a conformist, oppressive kind of life. His visionary interpretation is not about the triumph of eroticism but a suggestion of a more profound and peaceful way of living by going back to the origins.

His work pervades all aspects of humanity. His powerful drawing and colours state his message and interpretation of his times again and again. They leave a reassuring picture of a well defined world where the good guys are clearly recognizable from the bad guys.

How far we are from his world now! From a book my daughter found in the Tate’s bookshop I read: ‘There is no right point of view. You are always right. You are always wrong. It just depends from which angle you are seen.’

I giggle. It looks bad, but it’s true.

Spotlight April

Notes by Norman Hadley

This is what happens when your daughter is revising for exams and PC World want to charge you a fortune for a second PC. So Spotlight was a fortnight ago and I’ve only just found time to write up some notes. And, boy, are they going to be brief – not even a blow-by-blow account but just a showcase for the video highlights.

There was a classy field – it was just a shame the audience numbers were so thin. If you wanted to make it along but couldn’t, the next Spotlight will be Friday May 21st.

Lynette McKone, admitting to a bout of nerves but delivering a warm, engaging story.

Peter Donaldson – personal, direct and added to the ‘One to Watch’ list.

Steve Brown, electrifying the room with an all-too-short semi-acoustic set. Another real find.

Jim Donaghy, who’d travelled all the way from Ted Hughes’ back yard, with a voice warmer than Ian McMillan’s tea-cosy.

Carol Coates, delivering imperious quality leavened with dry-as-a-Beaune wit.

Bernard Alvarez, in between saxophony and other jazz-freakery, leaving the audience doing frantic mathematics. 16? In 1962? No way!

Paddy Garrigan, channeling a gloriously hangdog Jesus.

Anyway, you might disagree with my pick, but there’s a wodge of videos in the usual place. OK, kid, you can have the ‘puter now.

Nick Pemberton at the Brewery

Commentary by Norman Hadley

A good poetry reading should leave you feeling as if you’ve been hurled through a balsa-wood door, brushing a dandruff of splinters from bruised shoulders on the sprawling floor of a strange new room.

I mention this because there was a moment during Nick Pemberton’s reading at the Brewery last week that achieved that rare level of impact.

I’d moseyed along to read some of my own poems at the monthly Open Mic event, corralled by the irrepressible (though who the hell would want to oppress her?) Ann Wilson. In fact, gentle reader, Ann was even fuller of beans than normal, so we were treated to some quality, ebullient hosting. There was a modestly-sized but highly-attentive audience and the Brewery is a great venue, with squashy sofas and a convivial ambience.

Ann read some of her recent one-a-day poems (which sound a bit like Pills That Are Good For You) rather modishly from her iPhone. And there was an excellent poet called Margaret White who read engagingly and unprompted on, among other things, witches. But it was mainly me and Nick playing tag with the mic.

Nick’s performing style was pretty anarchic, with much shuffling of papers and the occasional urgent need for sellotape as running repair for his glasses. There was an unhurried, discursive air to many of the pieces and even an eccentric a cappela rendition of Captain Beefheart.

But it was his piece on the Cumbrian floods that impressed most. Here was a man taking an idea and wringing every last drop of human emotion from it, until he had inextricably woven together the drowning of PC Bill Barker, the camaraderie between rain-sodden neighbours and the need for unity between nations.

He talked about a hand emerging from the torrent, reaching for another hand but closing only on darkness and rain.  And that was the moment when a room full of people were hurtled sideways into a different space.

Which is, perhaps, what poetry is for.

Reviewing Opposite of Robot – Richard Turner interviewed!

Last Friday saw the final Opposite of Robot event playing itself out at Lancaster’s Yorkshire House. Founded by Richard Turner and later expanded upon by Wes Martin – both Lancaster based musicians/performers in their own right, OoR offered considered events organisation in a supportive atmosphere; showcasing some 70 bands/performers from across Europe and the UK between March 2008 and its April 2010 finale. Several events aimed to benefit local and national charities – Lancaster Homeless Action, Animal Care, Lancaster District Women’s Aid and Oxjam, whilst the remainder took a decidedly not-for-profit tact, aiming to divide up earnings between acts/performers.

In the lead-up to the finale I sent Richard some questions about OoR, its aims and intentions, its context on a local/national level; obstacles faced; its achievements and likewise any hopes its curators had for the future of live music in Lancaster. Richard was kind enough to write back fairly with the following responses. The following interview was conducted via email April 8th and 9th 2010.

Could you tell us a little about OoR’s aims at the outset?
The aim was really to bring about more music from out of town mixed with local talent. The idea was to mix up some of the different bands and age-ranges – have the older bands mixed with younger ones, cross-pollinate, and try and help create a sense of community amongst musicians. In many ways, when Wes (Martin) was trying to get the Ledge Collective off the ground, it was a similar kind of idealistic aim to get like-minded people together.

Was there any format or model for promoting that had inspired you or influenced how you went about things?
Well, I’d been putting on gigs for about 8 years anyway, just not made a thing of it particularly. When I was in the Wisemen, we did gig-swaps with out-of-town bands and made connections that way and in some ways, it was just an extension of that. However, Feedback and then LAWM and some others came along and made being a promoter sexy. I’d helped Richard Twine out with LAWM a little bit, and that was the most obvious model to follow in that sense. Also, there were some great nights in Manchester around then, things like Red Deer Club and Hedge had a big influence on the alt folk scene in particular.

When did you notice the promoter thing starting to gather momentum, any obvious shifts or developments you’d see as having led to the spot we’re currently at (i.e. where promoting is – arguably as viable as performing?)
When I settled in Lancaster in 1999, there were no promoters that I can think of. It was just bands booking there own gigs and very rarely you’d get some punk band from Blackburn or Blackpool doing a gig swap with one of the older bands. I put some gigs on and called it Morner Bros Presents, which was the name of the Wisemen’s self-release label, but it wasn’t put about much as a concept. But once Feedback happened – around 2005, it briefly became cool – more than actually being in a band for a time it seemed. Everyone and his dog seemed to have a go, but a lot of them did a handful of badly organised events and folded, or they were students that left town. Now there are some good promoters who are very professional like the Get it Loud in Libraries and the 44 Presents people and Totally Wired/Wired In, Dingo Barracks and more.

Early on I spotted a disclaimer which asked prospective bands/performers to think carefully before asking for a gig – to what extent d’you think it’s been important to have a kind of criteria for the acts you’ve put on?
Well, it’s a difficult area, but basically you have to have some sort of vague rules, in order to shape the vibe of it all. Even then, you’d get requests from people who’d be better off on X Factor or wanting to be Coldplay or something. There’s nothing wrong in that, it’s just already catered for. I wanted it to reflect the large numbers of musicians that are doing something other. Having said that, although we’re probably tagged as a folk night, there’s been quite a lot of other stuff.

How difficult was it pulling bands in from afar, in terms of the process of making contact/arranging line-ups etc?
It’s not difficult as such, just very time-consuming. There’s a lot of liaising goes on. We’ve tried to construct the bills so that the bands are somehow complimentary. As a musician, it’s pretty disheartening to find yourself playing alongside a couple of bands you have nothing in common with, so the idea was to have a loose theme.  Similarly, I used to make mix CDs for each night, for the music around the live performances that tried to reflect the bands and their influences, rather than playing something random.

Did you have to turn anybody away?
There were a few bands we would have had on but didn’t due to a conflict in date availability or just busy schedules. Wes wanted Jasmina Machina, and I wanted a few people like Men Diamler, Homelife, Denis Jones, Euros Childs, the Rose Bay Willow Band, Good Noise bad Noise and more, but you can’t have them all… I tried to respond to all requests, though I might have missed a couple for which I apologise! There were some occasions where a band was getting radio and press and a profile, but I just thought they were terrible, so couldn’t bring myself to do it!

Trolling blogspot.com I came across a number of guidelines for putting on successful DIY shows – they cover everything from what food to prepare the acts to legal fly-posting spots! Could you kindly share some reflections on what’s made for a successful OoR gig?
Crikey, I should have read that first! Er, it’s hard to say really. I mean, you have to do a local press release 2 weeks in advance, national gig listings need 4 weeks advance, tell all local radio stations, do the usual Facebook/Myspace/Twitter groups, have a mailing list, text people on the day, physical posters and flyers, and so on… And sometimes it works, and other times it doesn’t.

What would you describe as the major obstacles to achieving your aims/goals?
Time and money, and the recession hasn’t helped. I know a lot of people that stay in and watch DVD’s instead of coming out. And sometimes apathy – there have been gigs where the downstairs of the pub is rammed, but upstairs is quiet! I’m afraid to say that a lot of the musicians have only turned up to the ones they’re playing at, which has been a disappointment.

One thing I noticed about OoR – and LAWM specifically, was how both outfits managed to foster dependable links with local press – from web-blogs to local newspapers – as a means of signposting their nights. How important has it been to build these links and how effective?
Well, it’s hard to say how effective it is. I mean, sometimes loads of people tell you they’ve seen the night advertised in the paper, but they don’t necessarily turn up. It’s got to be done though, and it does mean people outside your immediate friends know what’s going on.

What, if anything, could you tell us about the relationship between social networking sites and live music events on a local level?
I think that the whole thing is about to change/implode/end. I think it was seen as exciting/useful initially but people are increasingly switching off from it. It is still useful to a degree though, but it seems it’s musicians looking at each other rather than the wider public being involved.

Any guesses as to where it’s headed?
I’ve no idea! It’s a strange time for music, the industry as we’ve known it for the last 50 years has pretty much crumbled, and even in the last 3 years, there have been massive changes. Personally, I’m just going to go all out for artistic expression from now on, and if I end up totally awash of the rest of the world’s music, so be it.

What would you see as being the value of drawing out-of-town acts/performers?
Well, as talented a town as Lancaster is, it’s always essential to take a wider view, I mean we don’t want to be considered parochial and small-town-minded do we?

If you were holidaying in Iran or something and someone asked you what things were like for music in Lancaster – what d’you think your response would be?
When you put it in that context, we’re incredibly lucky to all be able to express ourselves so freely and easily, and we do take our freedoms for granted sometimes.

Anything you’d like to see happening locally that isn’t already?
I’d like to see more people enjoying live music, I’d like to see things like OoR have funds made available to them to help bring more music to more people. And I’d like to see bands and musicians being paid more. The council hinder live music by threatening legal action by postering derelict buildings.

Who designed the flyers?
I designed most of the flyers and posters. Wes did one, and a couple (Miserable Rich and the last Last Harbour) were generic tour posters that I’ve just adapted with local details. I’m really interested in design generally and particularly graphic design, so I’m ashamed to say that most of the posters were knocked up pretty hastily! Pre-OoR, I used to do photocopied stuff, and get interesting effects from generations of copied logos and images, but I used Photoshop and various images for ease of use to upload onto Photobucket for the purposes of social networking sites. So it’s interesting how the present culture directly affects the means of poster/flyer production, eh?

Are there any poster designs locally or otherwise that you’ve enjoyed and/or admired?
Slow Riot Records posters are the best.

Any personal highlights from OoR?
There have been many high points, too many to mention, but off the top of my head, Mikey Kenney’s solo set was awesome, Trembling Bells were great, Homemade Lemonade’s journey has been great to watch, the Adventures of Loki/3D Tanx/Joyeux night was a good do…Lovely Eggs at the Animal Care night was ace…Little Pebble…

Little Pebble was great. Joyeux too. Interesting you mentioned Trembling Bells – any guesses as to what’s allowed Glasgow’s ‘New Weird folk’ scene so much interest and press beyond its locale?
Well, Alex Nielson and Alasdair Roberts have both worked with Will Oldham, so that immediately pricks the ears of any music journalist, and members of Nalle worked with a Hawk & A Hacksaw with similar results. Plus, David Keenan (Wire writer, musician and owner of esoteric music shop Volcanic Tongue) lives in Glasgow, and has also been in groups with Nielson and bigged him up. Which isn’t to say that their praise is undeserved of course, they’re very talented, but they’ve had some people on their side which has helped.

Anything you’re looking forward to in the future?
I’m looking forward to being more focussed as a musician again, and having a rest as a promoter. Hopefully, there’ll be some new blood to give us all a boost. I know Richard Davis has plans and maybe Richard Twine will come out of promoter-retirement? Or maybe it’s time for someone not called Richard?

Finally, how important do you think a sense of community is to creating opportunities for musicians/performers etc. on any level?
It’s a thorny issue really, because people obviously gravitate towards other people that share similar views/interests etc, yet can be accused (and indeed sometimes be guilty of) being cliquey. We’ve always invited people to contribute in whatever way they want, and tried to have a degree of diversity. In some respects, although we’ve had some great nights of music, and have fostered some new talent and brought some new things to new people, OoR has largely failed in its attempt to bring about more of a community aspect and strengthen the local scene. It will be interesting to look back at this period in hindsight, and whether this is of itself or part of a wider cultural shift in the way people view and value music.

Richard Turner plays as Goldmundo, in Dan Haywood’s New Hawks, Starless & Bible Black and The Little Hero Band.

Wes Martin is an artist and banjo player in indie-folk act The Low Countries and The Existence of Harvey Lord.