28th June 2017
Going to gigs
Introduction to the series.
Trevor Locke writes:
Every Wednesday I will publish an instalment of my series of articles called ‘Going to gigs.’ Partly, this is an exercise in bringing the past to life. Partly, it is also about understanding what live music is about. Mostly it is about bands.
Introduction to the series
I have written about music as part of local history*, arguing that music is such an integral part of the life of any community – anywhere in the world – and that to neglect it is a fundamental oversight, as far as local history is concerned. Keeping accounts of what music people played and what people listened to has never been easy. The very ephemeral nature of music means that little is left behind after the fans have gone home. Only those dedicated to first-hand accounts can preserve any record of this side of human activity.
That is what I did for over a decade – I went to gigs, night after night, making notes of which bands played, how they played and the reaction to them of the audiences that were there. Some of these published reviews can also be cross-referenced to paper sources, such as my reporter’s notebooks (from 2006 onwards) and my personal diaries, in which I kept notes about which gigs I attended and usually which bands were playing at them.
Each article, in this series, will look back at the bands, singers and music artists who have made Leicester such a vibrant and entertaining locale for music, over the years that I have been around. In some articles, I might also dig down into the history of Leicester’s music to see how much we can learn about the roots of what we see today. In these articles, I can but sample what I have seen on the scene. There is so much material it could not be published as a whole – at least, not in this magazine.
My sample of the music scene offers something that is of value, both to writers and to historians. Hopefully the fans too. There are other sources that reveal more of the story of Leicester’s musical heritage and ten years is only a tiny fraction of the timeline of the city’s music. I am currently researching music in Leicester, going back as far as records or analyses allow and drawing on as wide a range of sources as I have access to.
Why is this important? Is there something about Leicester that makes it significant in the broader picture of the nation’s musical heritage? I would argue that this is the case. Some of the people active on today’s music scene would agree with me that various aspects of what has happened here are of national importance. In particular, the contribution of the black community – the artists of Leicester from the Caribbean and African community roots stand out, as having played a part in the development of British musical life. The same may be said of the music of the Asian (Indian) communities. My broader work on the history of music in Leicester will draw on those sources and explores this theme.
Bear in mind that the city of Leicester is only a part of the local geography; the city is one of the largest free-standing urban areas in the UK, surrounded on all sides by rural environs until one reaches the market towns of Loughborough, Market Harborough, Coalville, Melton Mowbray and other townships. During my ten years as a music journalist, I had no transport of my own and was dependent on public transport to reach outside of my home range. I rarely travelled outside of the city to witness music and, only on very rare occasions, followed Leicester bands to places like London or Birmingham.
From the outset, I was careful to acknowledge the importance of Leicestershire, in any coverage of music. Many of the best bands came from the county and that is why I called my magazine Arts in Leicestershire.
My series will draw on the now archived material that used to be published on the website called Arts in Leicester. So, broadly speaking that will be the period from around 2004 to the start of this magazine in June 2013.
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