Monday, June 26, 2017

Music Monday: Mirage - 1980s Brockley Brit Funk

There was food, music, books and sunshine to be had in Crofton Park earlier this month (3rd June 2017) with stalls along the main road as part of  Croftest in the Brockley Max festival. Some fine soul and house music was being played by the sound system outside First Glance hair, with the DJ announcing that one track was by a band from Brockley in the 1980s - Mirage.

Naturally that got me curious...
Mirage were a brit funk outfit who released Summer Grooves (backed with Love and Devotion) on Flamingo Records in 1980 (see discogs entry). It was produced by Colin Green at Trident studios in Soho. I don't think it was a big chart hit but has been recognised since  - it is included on Joey Negro's fine collection Backstreet Brit Funk (Z Records) and was used as the signature tune for the Radio One Roadshow for some time.

Another single, As From Now (backed with Luckiest People) was released on Copasetic Records in 1981.
I can't find out much more about them - Morris Michael was keyboardist in the band and wrote the songs,  I believe he is still recording/performing as Mo Michael though these days he plays the blues.

Does anyone know anymore about the Brockley/Lewisham connection to this band?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Music Monday: Jem Finer's Longplayer

Jem Finer is probably best known as a member of The Pogues, for whom he co-wrote the Christmas favourite The Fairytale of New York and the transpontine anthem Misty Morning Albert Bridge. In recent years he has focused more on his work as a sound artist and composer, most notably composing the awesomely ambitious 'Longplayer' - a piece designed to last for 1000 years, and which in fact has already been playing since the start of this century (including at Trinity Buoy Wharf on the Thames at Poplar in East London).

It is essentially an optimistic work, assuming that the species will survive that long and that humans will still be co-operating to make and appreciate music centuries into the future.

The Longplayer Trust established a partnership with Goldsmiths in New Cross and as part of this the innaugural Longplayer Day is taking place thi Wednesday 21 June, from noon until midnight. with free events taking place across London. It all starts in Goldsmiths Great Hall, followed by  Siswå Sukrå - a Javanese gamelan group - performing on Goldsmiths Forecourt at 1:25 pm. Other locations include Margaret McMillan Park in Deptford - where The Study Group will be performing Pauline Oliveros' summer sostice piece, Welcoming the Light and The Greenwich Foot Tunnel, where Violinist and composer Angharad Davies will be performing. Deptford percussionist Charles Hayward will be performing on the Thames shoreline at Newcastle Draw Dock, and it will all finish at the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf where Jem Finer will give a short talk.

I've been to a Longplayer event at the lighthouse before and it is quite mesmerising, as well as being an interesting location right next to where the River Lea flows into the Thames.

Full details here

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Laurie Grove Baths event at Goldsmiths

An interesting event coming up tomorrow night (Thursday 15 June 2017, 5:30 to 8:30)  at Goldsmiths focused on the Laurie Grove Baths. This building hosted swimming pools and public washhouses for a hundred years or so before it closed in 1991 and was taken over by Goldsmiths, for among other things, artist studio space. I've written about its history here before. More recently I came across this tragic episode-

'Dives To Death In Baths

Large crowds at Laurie Grove Baths, New Cross, London, saw Arthur William Burgess, 29, of Biggin Hill, Kent, dive to his death. Burgess climbed to the top diving board, piunged into 6ft. of water and struck his head on the bottom. Mr. A. J. Gould, baths attendant, of Deptford, dived fully clothed and brought Burgess to the surface. Artificial respiration was administered, but Burgess was dead when he was examined at hospital in Deptford' (The Newcastle Sun, New South Wales, 18 Nov 1952)

'Slippages and Water Matters: Inheritances of the Laurie Grove Baths

Slippages and Water Matters is an exhibition opening with panel discussion followed by drinks and snacks. It marks the launch of Water Cultures - a series of public work on the urban sociology of water, organised by the Centre for Urban and Community Research. Slippages is an exhibition co-curated by the Feminist Methods Masterclass. It features work by Katerina Athanasopoulou, Yani B, Ama Josephine Budge, Hari Byles, Clare Daly, Chloe Turner, and Santiago Rivas.

Over the years the Laurie Grove Baths has been used as a place for washing, swimming, dancing, playing music, wrestling, boxing, bowling, fine art, and urban research. In this exhibition we immerse ourselves in work which exposes and explores slippages; institutional, emotional, social, historic. This collection of collaborative work speaks about the slippery qualities of inheritances such as these, and the ways that humans, non-humans, materials and things have occupied, subverted and transformed them. How do we continue to do so?

Exploring topics from gender, to mental health, ecologies, colonial legacies,  knowledge production, graffiti, and more, we occupy toilets, waiting rooms, and stairwells. The panel discussion will feature:

- Les Back, talking about his work on the local history of The Baths;
- Sophie Watson, discussing her research elsewhere in London on water as material for public space, 
- Alison Rooke in conversation with the authors of the installations.

The event will be followed by drinks upstairs in the Council Room.

Water Cultures is a series of collaborative public work, organised and supported by CUCR on the urban sociology of water'.

The event will take place in  Laurie Grove Baths, 21 Laurie Grove, London SE14 6NH.

credit : Francisco Calafate-Faria

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hissing Queen Victoria 1888

When 19th century writers referred to transpontine theatre houses, on the wrong side of the river from high culture and power, they seem to have particularly had in mind the Royal Surrey on Blackfriars Road.

I recently came across this review of a night there in 1888 - a reminder that in some parts of London, Queen Victoria was very unpopular at this time:

'I went on Saturday to the Surrey Theatre see In the Ranks and... to study the audience. The play was badly acted, but the scenery was rather good. One incident I may mention. A mother goes down to some barracks to see her son, a private soldier, and proposes to kiss him. The son objects to being kissed, saying that he is "serving the Queen.” The mother replies, "She wouldn't mind a mother kissing her own son, for she's got a mother’s heart herself.” Now the author obviously intended that that sentiment should be cheered, and so it would have been at any West-end or provincial theatre. But at the Surrey it was hissed. I am afraid the Socialists, Anarchists. Atheists, and Republicans are getting too much influence in that part of London' (Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter - Saturday 24 March 1888).