In 2003 I discovered the BROADGATE GNOME site (the music one - not the current Vox one). It had a brilliant Band
directory - stronger on the 60's, although there were a lot of band details missing that I had from my involvement on the music scene and from the Hobo period. So I complied a directory from the info I had rom 69 to 75 and sent it to them. They uploaded some of the entries but the site hasn't been updated for a few years. I also found Rex Brough's site too which was stronger on late 70's / early 80's. There are of course cross overs and I'm sure there's more out there than on any of the sites.
Anyway I was down in Cov 2003 and noticed the redevelopment of the city centre, creating a heritage trail but no mention of the music. No big surprise there! So I developed some ideas towards a Cov music museum - sent it the Gnome and some others but otherwise it went on the back burner as I was busy with projects up north.
More recently found time to begin the Hobo site, and found an article by Pete Chambers in the Cov Telegraph along the same lines. Pete has now seen my proposals and says they stack up pretty well with his. He's been dreaming of this for a while too. So there's a bunch of ideas here and Pete has had some feedback from Pete Waterman, Hazel O'Connor, Two Toners etc. supporting the idea. I don't have all of Pete's ideas on it but here's link to Pete Chamber's article and below are my initial thoughts by way of hopefully stimulating some discussion and more interest. If you have some thoughts or some useful suggestions, feel free to leave your comments. As Pete Chambers reads this too, he will pick up on them as well. Issues will be around funding it and location and the nature of it. I present this as a kinda discussion paper to see what comes back! This is the 2003 proposal unaltered by any later developments!
otwithstading Homer Simpson’s adage that “good things don’t end in ‘eum’ ” I have a proposal! The proposal is
the above title but much more. Ok - to appease Homer think-a-likes we can change the title and put the above in parenthesis.
Coventry is being re-developed again, with a sense of heritage inflecting city centre walkways. The Skydome is being erected for state of the digital arts concerts. The car museum is getting a new spaceage frontage and possible a refurbishment. Cars are Coventry but like Motown (Detroit) so is music. So what evidence do we see along the heritage trails of that rich musical lava flow that threw up Two Tone, Waterman, Dando Shaft, King and others that erupted on the world’s stage? Not much I think!
In Liverpool they have the Beatles Story Museum. Not much to it – I took a group of WEA students and they were through to the other side in minutes. Disappointing given what the Beatles represent to popular culture and the creativity it spawned! The time has come, I think, to put that rich musical lava flow on the heritage map with the musicians and artists of Coventry being the idea architects and storyboarders.
SO WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA THEN?
There are 8 main elements to the idea, all of which will be discussed separately.
q Museum (audio/visual/interactive)
q Record Production / Store
q Merchandise / shop
q Education Programme / Workshops
q Meeting / rehearsal space
Conceived as a tourist attraction / heritage venue and creative outlet for today’s musicians and artists, the main idea of course is the museum. Perhaps this
§ Might trace the history of music in the city from earliest times in context,
§ Dedicated rooms/areas to the biggest names /attractions – Two Tone / Waterman etc.
§ Local Bands and music in decades – 50’s /60’s 70’s / 80’s etc up to present
It might include posters / band cards / instruments and equipment / simulated discos / record shops etc/ records / clothing styles / oral transcripts / relevant music / videos / computer simulations / art work / poems / etc etc It would span rock / pop / ska /punk /folk / poetry / discos / festivals etc. Timelines and group family trees / photos / montages etc.
It would have a restaurant area and venue. During the day it would be there for visitors / tourists. Lunch time, local bands / poets / singer songwriters would perform and it would aim to attract people working in the city centre for their lunch with local entertainment. This would provide a cool facility and income generation to develop and maintain the museum. In the evening, it could act as a venue for local bands etc. Perhaps theme nights that fit in with the museum – 60’s ‘80’s etc, mixed media nights / discos / folk nights / ska night – whatever. It would aim to provide a venue like many of the pubs have for local band in the past. There would be space on the walls for local artists to display and even sell their work.
Merchandise might give work for local artists / crafts people as well established merchandise related to established artists. The usual suspects I suppose – T shirts / mugs ….If much of it was made by local artists this would fit in with the spirit of the local music and arts scene and enable them to earn a living from their artistic leanings. It would also be about income generation for the development of the museum / paying local bands / publicity / employment etc. Good economic arguments.
The museum would have a good Education Programme for visiting groups – schools – student / community groups. Songwriting workshops / Guitar / keyboard workshops / relevant talks and demonstrations etc. Weekend schools / writers and artist workshops.
Rooms could be available for meetings and rehearsal space / artists studios for hire at artist affordable rates,
An exciting proposal would be the Record Production / store element. The record store would of course sell discounted records by the big names – Two Tone / Hazel O’Connor / SAW and so forth as well as other bands who’ve made records – Indian Summer / Dando Shaft / Sent From Coventry / Singles by L. Pigeon / Sorrows and so forth. But also special CD’s could be made to be sold only at the museum (or via its website) e.g. outtakes / remixes of Two-Tone records – rare unreleased alternative takes. Another good reason to visit the museum and income generation as well as interest value. Also compilations of groups who have made singles – regardless of whether they hit the charts or not. Also many groups never cut a record but may have good taped material home or live. With today’s digital equipment some of them could be digitally enhanced. Where justified, some groups may get whole albums, other may have only one or two tracks usable. E.g. 70’s group Wandering John made a live album tape. There were faults with it and the band split up. However they me one or two tracks that could be salvaged with today’s technology and any instrumental imput needed. It would be great to have a compilation of some these past groups on CD. People such as Roger Lomus might be interested in this, knowing many of the groups and with his great recording / production knowledge. This could create quite a bit of excitement.
So how do we get this started then?
I’m e-mailing some of the people with Coventry music websites with a view to getting feedback on the idea and forming an initial steering group. As some, like myself, no longer live in Coventry, communication could be by e-mail with maybe a periodic meeting in Coventry if practical and needed. The ideas could be developed / shaped up into a formal proposal and presented to the Coventry Museums / local authority. I will make some enquiries.
This group could act as the steering / advisory group but as most of us are busy enough, the local authority would possibly take charge of the project, identify an venue for it, include it in its heritage trail / tourist plans, find funding, employ researchers etc. the new Coventry websites for local bands – Broadgate Gnome / Rexbrough / Tim James / The Black Room and the forthcoming Hobo site could be starting points for the research with their data bases on the local band scene and the contacts they have with local musicians.
So what do you think? Is there anyone you think should be involved / informed of this? You can pass this on to them and they can e-mail me with any feedback. I’ll keep you informed of any progress on it.
Note - as the Gnome have pointed out - while the Coventry big names are important and will be what draws in the wider interest and demostrate the achievemnt, the museum should reflect the whole of the music scene in Cov, whether bands made it or not or even those whose rejected the music business as an ambition for their muse.