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Slice of Life - Middlesbrough - 3 September 2016

Slice of Life
Johnny Campbell
Tim Holehouse

Westgarth Club, 99 Southfield Road, Middlesbrough TS1 3EZ
3 September 2016
PNMT £8.00 on-the-door
[See Facebook event]

The Mob, Steve Lake (Zounds), A-Heads - Bristol, August 2016

The Mob
Steve Lake (Zounds)
A-Heads
21 August 2016 | Doors 18:00
The Plough Inn
223 Easton Road, Easton, BS5 0EG Bristol, United Kingdom
Facebook event listing.


Omega Tribe have announced, on a new Facebook page that the band has reformed, and the original members Hugh Vivian, Daryl Hardcastle and Sonny Flint are back together and in rehearsal. The band’s full statement reads as follows:

Omega Tribe was an English punk band, formed in Barnet in 1981. With the roles of Hugh Vivian on guitar and vocals, Daryl Hardcastle on bass, Pete Fender on guitar and Pete Shepherd on drums, their first EP, Angry Songs, was produced by Penny Rimbaud and Pete Fender for Crass Records in 1982.

Their subsequent LP, No Love Lost, (released by Corpus Christi Records, 1983) won the hearts of many hardened anarchos and secured their place in anarcho-punk history. A far more melodic style, encouraged by producer and new guitarist Pete Fender, created a highly influential template that many other bands were to build on.

They released a cassette only live release on BBP tapes in 1984.

In 1984 Sonny Flint joined on drums, and they took on a sax and flute player Jane Keay. Peter the original drummer switched to playing percussion.

Pete Fender departed early in 1984, after a memorable year for Omega Tribe. Line-up changes were fairly frequent after this period and a 12″ EP, “(It’s a) Hard Life”/”Young John”, was finally released in 1985 that showed a complete change of direction. By 1986, after the departure of vocalist and founder-member Hugh, the band was known simply as The Tribe. The band continued to maintain a presence on the UK live circuit for a further year or so but recording opportunity evaded them. Sonny Flint departed in 1987. The band split in 1988.

Omega Tribe reformed briefly to play guest spot at Vi Subversa’s 60th Birthday Bash at London’s Astoria 2 in June 1995. A short incognito tour under the name of Charlie showed promise, but the band’s members had other interests and the project was short-lived.

A compilation CD, Make Tea Not War, was released in 2000 on Rugger Bugger Records and a cut-down vinyl LP version was also pressed. Both albums quickly sold out.

Band members Hugh, Daryl and Sonny have reunited in August 2016 and are currently in rehearsals.

Omega Tribe 2016

UPDATE, 18 August: Despite the clear statement from the reforming Omega Tribe, some people have been asking Pete Fender if he is joining the reunion. Fender has reaffirmed that he is not part of the Omega Tribe reunion.

Omega Tribe have also been confirmed to be joining the bill of the next Another Winter of Discontent (AWOD) festival being held in London in February 2017. Details of their appearance to follow.

UPDATE, 19 August: Omega Tribe are now confirmed as joining the line-up for the ‘Vi Day‘ of the AWOD festival, alongside Dirt, Rubella Ballet, Hagar the Womb, Lost Cherrees and many other artists, on Sunday 19 February 2017. Tickets are on sale now.

Alastair Gordon’s new book Crass Reflections on Punk: Capitalism, Culture & Ideology is now available from the Active Distribution online shop. (This is the paperback printed version and not the limited edition version sold at the Leicester Crass Artwork Exhibition in June 2016).


Crass Reflections - Alistair Gordon

Alistair’s Gordon’s new book Crass Reflections on Punk: Capitalism, Culture & Ideology was launched at the Keep It Simple, Make It Fast conference in Porto, Portugal in July.

Jointly published by Active Distribution and Itchy Monkey Press, Crass Reflections is a revised and extended version of Gordon’s Throwing the Punk Rock Baby Out with the Bath Water: Crass and Punk Rock a Critical Appraisal, originally published in 1996. That text had its own origins in Gordon’s undergraduate thesis.

Crass Reflections revisits, revises and extends the text of Throwing the Punk Rock Baby and comes with a lengthy new scene-setting introduction by Gordon. The book has been designed by Russ Bestley, and includes a Foreword by Crass’s Penny Rimbaud.

This book comprises an undergraduate monograph an essays written in the mid 1990s. The central theme sets up and critically examines the need to examine the work of the anarchist punk band Crass in light of a poverty of discussion of their activities in previous cultural studies writings on punk. Equally, notions of endpoints in underground cultures are put to the question. The broad thesis of the monograph interrogates links between critical theory and Frankfurt school perspectives on art and subversive culture and Neo Marxist accounts of their phylogeny. There is critical discussion of the tension and similarities between Crass and Neo Marxist accounts of the role of dominant ideology (traditional notions of false consciousness/media effect) in contrast to the cultural monopoly of survival needs as the central motor of social reproduction in capitalist culture. The monograph concludes with a discussion of the importance of the legacy of Crass and the need for future research. This monograph was written before the groundswell of punk scholarship in its wake and serves as vindication of its obscure and early importance. It’s principle importance lies in the fact that most accounts beyond this work have focussed not on critical theory but instead on historical contextual salience, aesthetic value and biographical detail.

This new edition comprises a new extensive introduction assessing methodological approaches in punk scholarship and examines the stormy DiY publication and contextual history of the original monograph. Moreover expanded versions of an original chapter is included in addition to essays on subversive culture, the 1982 Falklands conflict and an examination of philosophical approaches to repressive technologies.

As preparations for the upcoming “exhibition, gigs & talks celebrating seminal label & shop Small Wonder” continue apace, organisers have released a video clip from the BBC Oxford Roadshow featuring an ‘at home’ interview with Poison Girls from 1982.

“You have to start off by taking a grasp of yourself. The process that we’re all brought up in tends to murder the imagination and that’s a good place to start… reclaim your imagination and reclaim yourself” Vi Subversa

Oxford Roadshow visit Poison Girls (Vi Subversa, Richard Famous & Lance D’Boyle) and hear how they retain control of every element of the group from design, packaging and their live shows.

Poison Girls released “Piano Lessons/Closed shop” and the Hex EP on ‪#‎SmallWonderRecords‬ in 1979 (WEENY 3 & WEENY 4) in conjuction with their own label X-N-Trix Records.

The Small Wonder exhibition opens this September in Hoe Street, Walthamstow along with talks and gigs.
‪#‎PoisonGirls‬ ‪#‎Punk‬ ‪#‎RejectTheSystem‬ ‪#‎ViSubversa‬

 

Details of the events (scheduled to take place in September 2016) will be shared through the Small Wonder Records – exhibition, gig and talks Facebook page. The organisers are also keen for input from supporters of the label and the shop:

Have you got any Small Wonder memorabilia, posters, tickets, cuttings or records we could loan for the duration of the exhibition? We’d also like to hear your memories of visiting Small Wonder, Pete, Mari, Colin and the music they released and sold. The Small Wonder Records exhibition is part of Punk Waltham Forest – run and organised by Beatroots Creative.

Steve Ignorant

Steve Ignorant appears as a guest on this morning’s (23 July 2016) Saturday Live show, on BBC Radio 4 (09:00-10:30); an edition broadcast live from the Pavilion Theatre at the end of Cromer Pier in Norfolk. The guest line-up includes:

Lesley Garrett, one of Britain’s most popular sopranos, actor and writer Charlie Higson who found fame with the Fast Show, the double bass playing beatboxer Bellatrix and Steve Ignorant, lead singer of seminal punk band Crass, who became a Norfolk lifeboat man and part time Punch and Judy performer.

The show is currently available (in the UK) to stream online from the BBC Radio iPlayer service: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07kldht

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SEAN CLARK CURATED the recent well-received The Art of Crass exhibition in Leicester, which developed to include a series of live performances and other events to complement the main exhibition. With the exhibition now completed and the artwork packed away and returned to its creators, The Hippies Now Wear Black invited Sean to reflect on the experience of putting together this distinctive exhibition of Crass creativity…

I’m sure it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, but how do you feel that the exhibition went?

Well, I’m only now just starting to take stock! It went incredibly well though. There were over 200 people at the opening, both Penny’s and Steve’s show were sold out and there was a steady stream of people coming to the exhibition.

How has feedback been? What sort of things have visitors been saying?

Feedback has been universally positive. I’ve literally had people coming up to me in the street in Leicester saying thanks for putting it on. These have been people who were already Crass followers and, importantly, people new to the band and its members. We had a “feedback wall” up in the gallery and there were some great comments too. I photographed them all and will be putting them up on theartofcrass.uk soon.

Did you achieve the sort of visitor levels you hoped?

I genuinely didn’t know what to expect. I initially put the exhibition together because I wanted to see the work in a gallery setting myself and I through there would be some interest. As the project it grew – with new works being added, and then the gigs – I got the sense that it would do pretty well, but you never know. Interest on Facebook does not always translate to people coming to an exhibition.

Have you any sense of how many of the people visiting the exhibition were encountering the work of Crass for the first time?

I can’t be exact, but I think it was pretty much a 50/50 split. A big surprise for me was just how many Crass followers there are out there. People in council jobs, heads of arts organisations, people who run companies and many others have all told me about their own “Crass stories”. For people encountering the band for the first time I think it has been quite inspirational.

Penny Rimbaud in conversation at The Art of Crass exhibition

Penny Rimbaud in conversation at The Art of Crass exhibition

Did you have any criticism about filling the exhibition space with old punk stuff from the 1980s? Did anyone question the relevance of the material?

I was expecting some criticism and had come up with a few ideas for responses. However, I didn’t need them. I think when you look at the work in its entirety it is unquestionably interesting “art”. Even the copies of the flyers we put up were interesting. When you look at them individually you see might see a scruffy hand-made thing, but when you see 20-30 of them together you something beautiful. It gives you a unique insight in to the band.

I decided not to have any music by Crass playing in the gallery because I wanted people to take a fresh look at the art that emerged from this group of people

Have the events and performers been well supported too? Have you been pleased with how the performers made use of the context of the exhibition?

Without wanting to sound to gushing, all the performers were amazing! When it became clear that I would be able to put on both Penny, Eve and Louise (Cobblestones of Love) and Steve Ignorant and Slice of Life I wanted to make sure that there would also be opportunities for local performers to share the spotlight too. There is a performance night in Leicester called “Anerki” and I’ve been to a couple of their events. They have a really creative mix of poetry, music, performance, comedy, hip-hop and they provided a 45 minute support set for Cobblestones of Love and then curated 4 hours of performances on the final day of the exhibition on the 18th June. Then on the evening of the 18th we had local bands Jesuscarfish, Brassick Bears and Not My Good Arm playing before Steve and Slice of Life came on. Everyone was so generous with their time.

How simple or difficult was the selection process for the exhibition – you could have filled a space many times larger than the one you were working with?

I probably could have filled a space twice as big. Certainly if I had included books, records, photographs. “ephemera” and so on. I think, though, the size was about right and the artwork on display made for a very coherent exhibition. If I do it again elsewhere – which is on the cards – I’ll consider adding a bit more if space allows.

It’s clear that several former members of Crass have been extremely supportive of the exhibition; that must have been really gratifying!

I contacted Penny Rimbaud and Gee Vaucher first and they were very supportive. Penny then put me in touch with Eve Libertine who was similarly enthused. I emailed Steve Ignorant and, again, he was great and offered to do a Slice of Life gig. I also had a chance to meet Dave King (who designed the Crass symbol) and he generously added some work to the show. I got to meet Mick Duffield (who made videos for Crass performances) just before the show and he said it was fine to show his video work. I tried to contact Andy Palmer a couple of times, but he didn’t get back to me and I respect that. I’d have happily included work by Phil Free, Joy de Vivre and Pete Wright but couldn’t find a way of getting in touch.

Not all the ‘artistry’ or the artists of Crass were represented in the exhibition though (Andy Palmer’s paintings or Mick Duffield’s video work, for instance). Was that any sort of disappointment?

I did include some of Mick’s video work in the area outside of the gallery and would like to make it a more integrated part of the exhibition in the future. You’ll find links to his videos, and more Crass-related things on theartofcrass.uk website. I found Andy’s website on-line and think his paintings are excellent. I’d like to get one to put on my wall at home! I wouldn’t include anything in a post-Crass context without his permission of course.

Fight War Not Wars - The Art of Crass - Leicester - June 2016

Looking back, is there anything major that you would have done differently if you were starting the process afresh?

Nothing major. It would have been nice to have a longer gallery slot, two and a half weeks was not really long enough. But LCB Depot in Leicester gave me the slot they had for free, so I can’t complain!

Have you a favourite anecdote or story that came to your attention during the exhibition?

Well, having said that everything went really well, there was one negative in that we had a strongly worded “noise” complaint from a local resident about the show on the 18th June. I mustn’t be dismissive of it, but in the email the person said that, “the music (with screaming and screeching) is of a kind that 99% of population would consider extremely unpleasant”. It’s possibly the best review I’ve ever had!

Is the intention that the web site will continue indefinitely as an online resource? Will it continue to be developed or will it be maintained as a ‘fixed’ archive?

Definitely. I’m in the process of finishing off the website – with full documentation of the events. I plan to keep collecting Crass-related stuff when I come across it and will keep adding to the website. It would be great to combine it with other collections in the future and see it exhibited again in the future.

Is there any potential for the exhibition to go on tour around the country in future? Have you had any offers?

I’ve alluded to this a couple of times. Yes, I think a tour of some sort would be great. I would like to see it going to unusual places around the country – not just London and big cities. I’m up for offers from potential galleries, a couple of offers have come through already. I might see if I can get some Arts Council funding to cover the costs, otherwise it’s a case of “Do It Yourself” again.

if you want to understand what Crass was about then I think you need to look beyond the eight or so years the band was around for

Have you considered compiling a book out of the exhibition – artworks, plus history and commentary?

Perhaps a catalogue more than a book. But let’s see what happens. The artists deserve recognition both individually and collectively and there are some interesting stories in there that are perhaps not part of the accepted “Crass” and post-Crass history. Gee Vaucher is about to get a long-overdue retrospective in Colchester and I think she will come to be seen as one of the most significant artists to emerge in the UK in the latter 20th century. It would be interesting to see Penny’s writing and artwork presented as a “body of work”. Likewise with Eve and the other former members. In fact, you’re convincing me, perhaps a book would be a good idea!

What is your own personal take away from the event? What did you learn through curating and organising the exhibition (either about Crass or about curatorship)?

I think that the most important thing is that there is more to the people involved in Crass than being in Crass. All of the ex-members I have spoken to have done plenty of other things. In fact, if you want to understand what Crass was about then I think you need to look beyond the eight or so years the band was around for. I intentionally called the exhibition “The Art of Crass” because I thought this would be a good way to explore this idea, and at the last minute decided not to have any music by Crass playing in the gallery because I wanted people to take a fresh look at the art that emerged from this group of people. I think it worked.

Exhibition curator Sean Clark (second left) with Slice of Life

Exhibition curator Sean Clark (second left) with Slice of Life | photo: Simon Balaam

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