A number of Coventry musicians and Creatives studied drama at the Brooklands Annexe Drama College (part of the Coventry Technical College or The Butts as it was known) taught by Teresa Randle. The protagonists include - Paul King; Paul Feltwell; Barry Bowerman; Lyndie (Mason) Brimstone; Loz Netto; Jan Felton; Sharon Duffy (and there may be more.
Paul King (later leader of the band King who topped the charts in the 1980's, Paul King, a student of the Coventry Drama College) came up through the Raw Screens - a hybrid of the Two Tone band Reluctant Stereotypes. The original Reluctant Stereotypes had partly formed (through a number of changes) from two bands who played the Hobo Workshop in 1974 - Analog
and Trigon. Members of the Stereotypes had told in the late 70's as T5wo Tone was forming that some of the band wanted to follow the pop path and the others wanted to follow the rock. A new version of the Reluctant Stereotypes formed blending their jazz rock style in a Ska mode. Another split occured leading to the Raw Screens (later called King). By 1985 they were top of the NME charts with Love and Pride and Paul put his drama training to good use in his stage performance. (Read Pete Chambers article on it - King . (Pete has another Backbeat article on the development of the Reluctant Stereotypes - although I don't think that is on line otherwise I'd put a link to it).
Paul Feltwell - an earlier student of Brooklands became vocalist with Love Zeus, a band formed at the Coventry Arts Umbrella in 1971 featuring Tony Cross on keyboards, Loz Netto (later with Sniff and the Tears) on guitars, Al Docker - Drums and a female (whose name escapes me) on violin. They played the Umbrella and had a high profile gig at the Belgrade theatre before going the way of many a band and splitting up.
Loz Netto - Was another student of Brooklands (I'm pretty sure). Loz had played in a band called Nack - ed - en in
1970 alongside future Specials drummer - John Bradbury. He'd also played in the above Love Zeus and many bands since. In 1980 he was playing with Coventry bass player Ron Lawrence in Sniff and the Tears after which he persued a successful solo career which you can view here.
Barry Bowerman - Barry wasn't a musician but was very much involved in the Umbrella drama group and led a debate at the Umbrella with Chaz Crompton on the Paradox of Morality. Barry was very much on the Coventry music arts scene around the early 70's. His sister Sonia was an artist, writer and sculptor and the wife of Labour Councillor Ron Morgan.
Both lived in Whitfriars Gate (part of the old wall of Coventry) where they ran a Toy Museum. They also ran a craft kiosk by the side of the old Festival Cafe (now demolished.). Ron had helped to facilitate the Digger's 'Hole' - an arts collective that based itself in the bomb hole outside the Golden Cross. later, Barry would tour the Middle East with the Royal Shakespeare company and appeared in a Zeffirelli film s the
An earlier view of Whitefriars Gate (part of the old wall of Coventry). The window with the corrugated sheet was later the Toy Museum. The gate led to the London Rd and Charles Dickens once passed through it on the way to London. I also passed through it walking home to Willenhall after watching bands! I also stayed there one night with Barry and Lyndie and others after moving back from Birmingham in 1971. How terribly strange! It had been renovated by then!
Lyndie Mason (Brimstone) - I'd met Lyndie at the Umbrella early in 1971 when she joined the Umbrella Drama
group. I had started learning some basic chords and riffs on the Umbrella piano with Al Docker (who self taught, was pretty dam good - working out Martha My Dear and other Beatle songs out by ear). We'd get turfed out by the drama group at a certain time but I began to get pally with them. One time I told Lyndie about some of the events that frist attracted me to the Umbrella a hear and half before - the Transcendental Cauldron and the Music Marathon festival. We thought it was time there were
other events like that and as the people who organised them had moved on,
we decided to organise a weekend Music Marathon for the summer of 1971. Thus began my 2 year artistic association with Lyndie - as blogged about in an Umbrella post, we spent a couple of months organising the marathon but to no avail as the Umbrella was by then a condemned building. Her talent as an actress came over to me while watching her performance in Bretch's The Good Person of Swechwan at Brooklands. Lyndie played two roles Shen Teh and Shui Ta. Although I had helped her rehearse her lines over and over, on stage, in full costume and acting instead of just reciting her lines - I have to say I wasn't sure if it was her! I thought
someone had replaced, so convincing was her protrayal of the characters. I was amazed. The review in the Coventry Evening Telegraph that night confirmed in that belief (see the review here). Barry Bowerman and Paul Feltwell were also in the play. This was my introduction to Bretch and it was excellent. Other plays she was in at Brooklands included John Arden's Live Like Pigs and The pantomime Sleeping Beauty. During the two years we lived in a communal house with musicians and poets and lyndie had both a literary and musical influence on everyone. The books on her shelf widened my appreciation of poetry and I learnt guitar on her Spanish Guitar. The period in Barras Lane, Brimingham and Shilton was an intense and creative one, with musicians coming and going, there were plenty of learning inputs in regard to guitar, songwriting and poetry.
Lyndie contributed poetry both to Hobo and the Communication books. Some examples below. Lyndie is now a Dean of Humanities in London and a leading Feminist polemical writer.
PEACE IN A WOOD
I am ageless
My roots are in the earth
With the trees
And I too have grass
Between my toes.
I am nature
My mind is in harmony
With the trees
And I too have leaves
At my finger tips
I am peace
My form moves with the wind
With the trees
And I too live on
I am strong
My death is not real
With the trees
And I too die at the sharp axe
The blinds are up
The sun is cold
I’ve an empty cup
The trees are bear
The birds are dead
I see and care.
(From the Front Cover of Hobo issue 3 1974)
VISION OF A DYING LOVE (July 1971)
I stand on a frozen lake
In midsummer sun
Like melting ice.
I see a crack
I have watched it grow
Soon there will be a hole.
I walk across the lake
Knowing that soon
I shall melt with it
And flow on in peace
Till winter comes
And my frost bite
Jan Felton - Jan was the sister of top Folk performer Rod Felton. Although I'm not too clued up on Jan, I believe
she was more involved with production.
Sharon Duffy - A later student was Sharon Duffy pictured in the cutting.
Sharon was the sister of one of my close friends in the mid 70's Craig and she married Jim (Silk) Twynham who was leading Coventry DJ and promoter. Silk will be covered in more detail later.