The Antelope cancel gigs on outside stage

High Wycombe gig punters would have been disappointed to hear on Wednesday 14th August 2019 the news that The Antelope pub in the Town Centre had cancelled all forthcoming gigs at their outside stage.  A post on The Antelope Facebook page said: “Due to a few people in the local area consistently complaining about the noise during our live music events, Wycombe District Council have decided that we can no longer have any outdoor live music.”  A statement from WDC provided to wycombegigs.co.uk explained: “The conditions of the live music licence – and a subsequent noise abatement notice – were continually breached, despite council officers giving extensive assistance and advice to the licence holder.”

The Antelope have since set up a petition to save live music at their venue.

 Both statements are provided in full below, plus a link to the petition.

The Antelope – High Wycombe – pictured in 2014 for wycombegigs.co.uk

The Antelope is one the oldest pubs in High Wycombe Town Centre and has a long tradition of hosting live music.  It was a regular venue for Blues gigs, dating back to the 1960’s and provided a stage for many local acts throughout the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s and into the 2000’s.

The venue closed temporarily in 2014 but new landlord Mark Adkins stepped in and re-vamped the venue as a live music venue – culminating in the opening of a 500-capacity outdoor, festival style, stage in 2017 under the Management of Mark Adkins.  Well known acts, including The Hoosiers, Republica and Doctor and The Medics graced the stage in 2018, while numerous tribute acts, such as NoOasis, Sex Pistols Experience, Metallica and Amy Winehouse continued to pull the punters in during 2019.

The full statement on The Antelope Facebook page on Wednesday 14th August 2019 read:

“We’re very sad to announce that there will no longer be live music on The Antelope Stage, therefore all of our upcoming gigs are cancelled.

Due to a few people in the local area consistently complaining about the noise during our live music events, Wycombe District Council have decided that we can no longer have any outdoor live music.

Initially, they set us a very low decibel limit that was impossible to keep to, and after we failed to keep to that limit they told us we couldn’t have bands with a drummer.  We purchased a drum isolation screen as that would likely keep the noise below the required decibel limit, but they’ve now decided we aren’t allowed any live music at all, despite our efforts.

Obviously we are very disappointed with this news, given all of the time, money and effort that has gone into our addition to the Wycombe Live Music Scene.  We tried everything we could to stop this from happening, but sadly it wasn’t enough.

Thank you to all of the customers who have supported our stage by buying tickets and enjoying the gigs, and of course to all of the talented bands that have performed on The Antelope Stage x”

Following the news posted on The Antelope Facebook page, I contacted Wycombe District Council for a statement and they provided the following on Monday 19th August 2019:

“Over the last year and a half, Wycombe District Council have received a number of complaints from local residents about the live music from the “lope stage” outside The Antelope pub in High Wycombe. As a result, our Control of Pollution and Licensing Teams have been worked extensively with the premise licence holder to ensure that the business complied with licensing law and was not causing a public nuisance.

Unfortunately, the conditions of the live music licence – and a subsequent noise abatement notice – were continually breached, despite council officers giving extensive assistance and advice to the licence holder. As a result, we decided to refer the premises holder to a licensing panel– this was our preferred option rather than seeking a prosecution.

Given the breaches continued after the final warning and Noise Abatement Notice has been issued, the Panel decided that the licensing objectives could only be met by limiting live music to inside the pub. The decision notice stated that they were “sympathetic to the premises licence holder’s attempts to revitalise the premises, which included live music at the venue”. However, they noted that having volunteered a condition to his licence to minimise a nuisance to local residents from live music, the licence holder had consistently breached this condition.”

On Tuesday 20th August 2019, Roxi Cox from The Antelope set up a petition at charge.org that included the following statement from Mark Adkins (Landlord, Antelope) in response to WDC:

“I took over The Antelope in January 2015 and after a bit of a revamp, the pub opened it’s doors to the public, at the end of February. When I took over, the pub was very run down and attracted less than 50 customers even on a Saturday night. I set about reversing it’s fortunes as I knew it could be a great pub and an asset to the town again. Firstly, I barred any customers that were not well behaved and after a year or so, the pub had a good enough reputation with the Police that I felt confident in applying for a late license. When I spoke to the Police Licensing Officer, I was told that if I went for a 3am license, the Police resources would be split when O’Neill’s closed and that if I went for a 4am license, the resources would be split as Yates closes at that time. I knew that if the closing time was late enough, most customers would have drifted out in small numbers and there would not be an issue with the remaining customers at closing time. I applied for and eventually received a 6am license. I am very pleased to say that the customers have been great and we have not had issues at closing time. I mention this to highlight that as a Pub Landlord, I am always responsible with the decisions I make, and thoughtful of all outcomes of those decisions.

I installed an ID scanner that ensures that anyone who is barred cannot show up months later with a different look, or approach the door when a different door-person is working. We have less problems than any other late-night venue in the town for this reason. We are still the only venue that has this technology in place.

My license allowed me to have live music in the garden as long as it finished by 11pm (which seemed reasonable), so I set about building a stage. It is a large construction – approx. 9m wide, 5m deep and 1.2m high. I built it in sections so that it could be moved if required and it is not attached to the ground and therefore does not need planning permission. If I do something, there are no half-measures; it is built so solidly that a 4×4 could drive on it. After covering the stage with an inflatable cover, erecting the truss and setting up the lights and sound equipment, we then had (in my opinion) the best live music set up in the area. Last year The Antelope was proud to host Toploader, Republica, The Hoosiers and Doctor and the Medics. We also hosted various popular tribute bands and lesser known original bands. We have a policy of giving the support slots to small, up and coming local bands and thus we were able to help promote local talent. As luck would have it, the sound system that I purchased (with no knowledge what-so-ever) gave an excellent and clear sound. The Antelope has become, in a very short time, a music venue that both attracts bands and customers. Indeed, many bands have told us that with the sound quality, size and all the other great aspects of our stage, we are their favourite music venue in the Bucks area.

The stage events not only paid for bands to perform, but also gave employment to photographers, sound engineers, stagehands, door staff, advertising staff and booking agents. Customers & bands would often eat at other businesses prior to a gig and also visit other pubs before and after the gigs, which helped bring revenue into the town. While not the most important thing on a list of reasons to visit or study in the town, it does attract people that would otherwise look to other towns and is a benefit to the town as a whole.

We were informed that the sound was carrying too far, so began working with the council to fix the issue. I designed and installed a sound wall that runs along the church wall which had reduced the sound escaping by about 10 decibels (Db). I also purchased sound limiting crossovers that stop the sound going above the limit that they are set at. We were set a limit of 48Db at a measuring point outside Tiger Taxis on Castle Street. The important point to note here is that the crossovers only work with the sound that goes through the speakers. I asked the sound person from WDC about the fact that drums are generally louder than the 78Db that was set by them at the front of the stage and was told that as they are very quick hits, they would not affect the overall reading, as the 48Db is measured over a 15 minute period and the average is taken.

We were informed that a sound reading was taken during Frogfest that was above the limit but as we had around 450 people in the garden, and there were many other people in the town centre still due to the other stages, this did not set alarm bells ringing, as a crowd of this size is bound to produce a lot of noise.

I have sound level measuring equipment that does not give the average reading but does show the peaks. When I have taken measurements outside Tiger Taxis, the readings are both corrupted by passing traffic (a lot louder than the stage music) and also anyone nearby talking, car radios etc. I was concerned that the peaks from the drums were causing an issue as my research informed me that there is reverb on drums, i.e. the beat is not as short-lived as I was informed by the WDC sound person.

I asked the WDC sound person for help as they have equipment that can give an average reading (and costs about 7K!). I was told that they could not assist me again as they were taking action against the pub. I purchased a drum isolation booth (which cost over £1400.00) but as it had to be made and shipped, it arrived too late for us to test it by the time of the license review hearing, and was not taken into account when mentioned in the hearing.

I have never ignored the sound levels and due to the information given by WDC, I thought that the pub was within the limits. The sound limit was added to my license as a voluntary change and I was told it was achievable. I do not believe that WDC (or their employees) seriously think that live music does not generally include a drummer. I know that if I ask you, there may be a clever-clogs that can name some bands that don’t use drums but I personally struggle with it. An employee from the council actually suggested that we only have bands without drums!

As far as I am concerned the fact that the sound levels were not addressed before is due to the incorrect advice given by the WDC officer. I could have purchased a sound booth for the drums much sooner had I known it was an issue. I intend to appeal the decision of the license review hearing, and I was not going to ‘go public’ with this, but the WDC statement cannot go unanswered. Interestingly, although I have requested a copy of the minutes of the hearing, I have been told that I need to find them for myself on the WDC website. After spending hours looking without success, I even sent a request in to their website techs. No response as of yet. If there is anyone out there that has managed to find the key to unlock that secret level, please let me know the code.

I apologise to any residents nearby that have been affected by the live music at The Antelope, but I do hope that they take into account the fact that we only have live music on weekends during the warmer months and not all year round, and that they recognise it is only ever in the evening, and always finishes before 11pm. I’ve personally noticed that the town centre is always noisy during and even after this time on weekends due to the presence of pubs and bars in the area. There have even been instances in the past where The Antelope was accused of causing a sound disturbance with the stage, but we were able to prove with CCTV that the stage wasn’t actually in use at the time of the disturbance. This highlights to me that the town centre is naturally noisy enough on a weekend to receive complaints, even without our stage in use.”

References and further reading

The Antelope Facebook page

https://m.facebook.com/TheLopeWycombe/

Wycombe District Council Licensing Committee

https://councillors.wycombe.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=121

Wycombe District Council Licensing Policy

https://www.wycombe.gov.uk/pages/About-the-council/Council-policies/Our-licensing-policy.aspx

Includes the statement on page 5

“The Authority wishes to support, where appropriate, licensees to provide a wide range of entertainment activities throughout their opening hours and to promote live music, dance, theatre, regulated informal entertainment etc. for the wider cultural benefit.

They are a factor in maintaining thriving and sustainable towns and villages which is one of the Council’s aims. Where there is any indication that regulated entertainment, especially live music and dancing, are being deterred by licensing requirements, the policy will be revisited with a view to investigating how the situation might be reversed.”

Petition

https://www.change.org/p/wycombe-district-council-save-the-live-music-at-the-antelope-high-wycombe

 

 

26 July 2019 – CANCELLED – Public Service Announcement/Calico Street Riots/Freudian Session/Bleed Happiness – The Antelope

Another blow for live music in High Wycombe with the news that the gig below was CANCELLED due to Council restrictions.

Statement from Public Service Announcement said

It is with great regret that tomorrows gig has been cancelled! This is due to the council restricting the volume for live gigs to be an unworkable level. Let’s hope that the issue is resolved as The Antelope and particularly Roxi were trying to promote live music in Wycombe.

A quick mention of a cheap entry gig at The Antelope, High Wycombe on Friday 26th July 2019.

£1 will get you into to see Public Service Announcement, Calico Street Riots, Freudian Session and Bleed Happiness. Doors open at 7pm.

Public Service Announcement – plus 3 bands at The Antelope, High Wycombe on Friday 26th July 2019

Regular visitors to the this site will be aware of Public Service Announcement. They released their first EP earlier in 2019 and this date will be first of three gigs on consecutive evenings.  They play Holroyd Arms, Guildford on Saturday 27th July 2019 with The Members, while on Sunday 28th July 2019, they make their return to the annual Red Lion festival in Chinnor.

Some brief information on the other bands I found online

Calico Street Riots

Six piece English Folk Punk!

The idea to make a festival band was born whilst at Reading 2008.

Check them out on YouTube – obviously influenced by The Pogues (plus more swearing!)


The Freudian Session

 Four piece Punk/Metal band bringing all the noise and banter to every show they play! Huge influences from the likes of The Wildhearts, Metallica, Rise Against, Therapy?, The Clash, Maximum The Hormone, anything punk or metal related!

YouTube link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPJPXAm2TJo

Bleed Happiness

New three piece rock band from Wendover, made up of Jack Taylor, Oli Williams and James Langstone.

Check the audio of their debut EP on YouTube

Public Service Announcement

Come Back To Me – live version of a track from their debut EP

Facebook event page

https://www.facebook.com/events/476666583137577/

Venue website

https://www.thelope.co.uk/

 

21 June 2019 – Buzzcocks/Skids/Penetration – Royal Albert Hall

I was delighted to be able attend a celebration of Pete Shelley’s life on the evening of Friday 21st June 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall in London.  The concert featured Buzzcocks (and an array of special guest singers) with support from The Skids and Penetration.

Buzzcocks/Skids/Penetration
Celebration of Pete Shelley’s Life
Royal Albert Hall
21st June 2019

Buzzcocks lead singer Pete Shelley passed away suddenly on 6th December 2018, aged 63, leaving this already arranged gig as an opportunity to pay respect to the unique song writing talents of the Manchester icon.

It would dismissive and rude of me not to squeeze in references to High Wycombe in this article.  Buzzcocks may never had played High Wycombe but that was the place, back in February 1976, that Shelley (then named Peter McGleish) first witnessed The Sex Pistols.  The rest is history.

Meanwhile, support acts, The Skids and Penetration both did make it to play live in High Wycombe – Richard Jobson and his merry Scottish band treading The Nag’s Head stage in June 1978 for their first appearance outside of Scotland and London.  Penetration also sampled the delights of High Wycombe Town in June 1978 as they took a break from supporting Buzzcocks on their UK tour.

So, fast forward more than 40 years to the Royal Albert Hall in 2019 and it seemed almost surreal to witness all three of these acts on the same night and on the same stage.

It was perhaps apt that Penetration kicked off with their Buzzcocks cover, ‘Nostalgia’.  It set the tone for an evening that proved that Shelley will be remembered as one of the greatest pop song writers of his era.

Penetration – Royal Albert Hall 21 June 2019 – Picture: Paul Lewis

Penetration – set list

  • Nostalgia
  • Come Into the Open
  • Movement
  • Free Money
  • Silent Community
  • Don’t Dictate
  • Shout Above the Noise
  • Beat Goes On

Richard Jobson is a great frontman and the latest version of The Skids he has assembled is able to do admirable justice to the impressive back catalogue of classics from the late 70’s and early 80’s.  We even got a run through of, according to Jobson, the ‘worse ever Skids song’ in the form of ‘TV Stars’.

The Skids – Royal Albert Hall 21 June 2019 – Picture: Paul Lewis

Skids – set list

  • Animation
  • Of One Skin
  • Charade
  • Kings of the New World Order
  • The Saints Are Coming
  • Working for the Yankee Dollar
  • Scared to Dance
  • Hurry On Boys
  • A Woman In Winter
  • Circus Games
  • TV Stars/Pretty Vacant /What Do I Get?
  • Masquerade
  • Into The Valley
Buzzcocks – Royal Albert Hall – 21 June 2019 – Picture Paul Lewis

Buzzcocks came on stage to an ever-rotating backdrop of band and Shelley memorabilia – just in case you got bored with the music.  However, from the opening guitar riff of ‘Fast Cars’, sung by Buzzcocks original Steve Diggle, there was little chance to draw breath.

Buzzcocks – Royal Albert Hall – 21 June 2019 – Picture Paul Lewis

The guests started to take stage from the fifth number in – The Damned’s Captain Sensible attempting to the take on Boredom with the assistance of an oversize lyric sheet!

Buzzcocks – Royal Albert Hall – 21 June 2019 – Picture Paul Lewis

Former Buzzcocks John Maher and Steve Garvey joined the line-up for the short and sweet ‘Love You More’, with vocals coming from Penetration’s Pauline Murray.

Buzzcocks – Royal Albert Hall – 21 June 2019 – Picture Paul Lewis

You can see from the set-list below how the remainder of the evening panned out – all the guests adding their own unique style to the songs.  The versions may not have been perfect but this was more about the remembering the songs rather than the performances.

Buzzcocks – Royal Albert Hall – 21 June 2019 – Picture Paul Lewis

Buzzcocks – set list

  • Fast Cars
  • Promises
  • A Girl From the Chain store
  • Autonomy
  • Boredom (featuring Captain Sensible)
  • Love You More (featuring Pauline Murray))
  • Why Can’t I Touch it (featuring Peter Perrett)
  • Fiction Romance (featuring Richard Jobson)
  • What Do I Get? (featuring Dave Vanian)
  • Something’s Gone Wrong Again (featuring Dave Vanian)
  • Time’s Up (featuring Thurston Moore)
  • Noise Annoys (featuring Thurston Moore)
  • Sixteen Again (featuring Tim Burgess)
  • You Say You Don’t Love Me (featuring Tim Burgess)
  • Harmony in My Head
  • Orgasm Addict
  • I Don’t Mind
  • Ever Fallen In Love (featuring all the guest vocalists)
Buzzcocks – Royal Albert Hall – 21 June 2019 – Picture Paul Lewis
Buzzcocks – Royal Albert Hall – 21 June 2019 – Picture Paul Lewis

R.I.P. Pete

26 May 2019 – FrogFest – High Wycombe

The annual FREE FrogFest festival takes place in and around High Wycombe High Street on Sunday 26th May 2019.  As per previous years, as well as the live music, there are food stalls, drinks and kids entertainment.  The festival aims to promote High Wycombe as a vibrant and attractive destination and encourage families to visit the town centre.  Please support this free event.

FrogFest 2019 -High Wycombe – Sunday 26th May 2019 – 11.30am to 10.30pm
image from @HWFrogfest

The line-up for the 2019 event is expected to be as follows

MAIN STAGE

11.30 – 11.50 – SOL SAMBA
12.10 – 12.35 – GEORGE JACK
12.55 – 13.20 – CASUAL MADNESS
13.45 – 14.15 – THE SOBERNAUGHTS
14.40 – 15.10 – XCS
15.40 – 16.10 – STEPH WILLIS
16.40 – 17.10 – TINY TINA TURNER
17.40 – 18.20 – DOLLY AND THE DINOSAUR
19.00 – 19.45 – MILLIE MANDERS AND THE SHUT UP
20.30 – 21.30 – THE HAWKMEN

SQUIRREL STAGE

11.50 – 12.10 – VIBES STEEL BAND
12.35 – 12.55 – MY MATE DAVE
13.20 – 13.45 – GARANCE LOU LOU
14.15 – 14.40 – SLOTH IN THE CITY
15.10 – 15.40 – MIB
16.10 – 16.40 – CARA MEANS FRIEND
17.10 -17.40 – ROBERT J HUNTER
18.20 – 19.00 – SUZY CONDRAD-SHE ROBOT
19.45 – 20.30 – JOCEE

Facebook event pages 

FrogFest – High Street and The Mad Squirrel

https://www.facebook.com/HWFrogfestLineUp 

The Antelope has also arranged for live acts throughout the day, including headline performances, after the main FrofFest has closed, that include tribute acts for Muse and The Rolling Stones. 

Antelope: FrogFest 2019

https://en-gb.facebook.com/events/390303571822939/

 

 

27 April 2019 – Sex Pistols Experience/Rebel Station – Antelope

The Sex Pistols Experience return to High Wycombe on Saturday 27th April 2019 with a gig on the outside ‘festival’ stage at The Antelope pub just off the High Street.  Support comes from London punk/rock ‘n’ rollers, Rebel Station.

Sex Pistols Experience with Rebel Station support
Poster from gig at The Antelope Saturday 27th April 2019

This is the opening night of The Antelope’s summer run of gigs and I would recommend you check out the links below for the latest information regarding other forthcoming gigs at this long running venue of live music in High Wycombe.

Returning to the Sex Pistols Experience, they are widely regarding as the leading tribute to the punk icons and their appearance gives me the usual opportunity to link to the February 1976 gig at the college featuring the original band – some 43 years previous!  Sex Pistols also returned to play at The Nag’s Head in September 1976.  The fact their music is still be played, puts to bed the thought at the time that ‘punk’ was just a passing trend.

So, if you want to wallow in nostalgia and hear some classic tunes at the same time, get on down to The Antelope and support live music in the town.

Facebook event page

https://www.facebook.com/events/1104775026394350/

Venue

https://www.thelope.co.uk/

Band links

http://www.sexpistolsexperience.co.uk/start.htm

http://www.rebelstation.uk/

3/4/5 May 2019 – Animals Rock II – Dashwood Arms

The second annual Animals Rock charity event at The Dashwood Arms, Piddington – raising funds for Animal SOS Sri Lanka – takes place from the evening of Friday 3rd May 2019, through to the evening of Sunday 5th May 2019.

The event follows the success of the inaugural event in May 2018.

Animals Rock II – Dashwood Arms
3rd, 4th and 5th May 2019

Dates/Times

Friday 3 May 7.30-Midnight – £5

Saturday 4 May 1.30-Midnight – £7

Sunday 5 May 1.30-Midnight – £7

Children (up to 16 years of age) – FREE

Weekend pass also available at £15 direct from the venue if purchase on or before 2nd May 2019.

Expected running order

FRIDAY 4TH MAY

7.30-8.30 – 2NONBLONDES

8.30-9.00 – STEPH WILLIS

9.00-10.00 – BEST KEPT SECRET

9.00-12.00 – NBS

 

SATURDAY 4TH MAY

1.30-2.30 – ZARAK

2.30-3.00 – DAVE DUNBAR

3.00-4.00 – TINY TINA

4.00-4.30 – VICKY ROY

4.30-5.30 – THE OUTPATIENTS

5.30-6.00 – HIM & SHE

6.00-7.00 – THE LERNERZ

7.00-7.30 – PHIL DAY

7.30-8.30 – FRET HEADS

8.30-9.00 – MOJO

9.00-10.00 – SULTANS ON SWINGS

10.00-12.00 – HUSTLER

 

SUNDAY 5TH MAY

1.30-2.30 – OVERTIME ROCK

2.30-3.00 – TONY GOFF

3.00-4.00 – RENEGADE

4.00-4.30 – SANDY LENNY

4.30-5.30 – CIRCA NEVER

5.30-6.00 – RUSSELL LEAK

6.00-7.00 – NeoN

7.00-7.30 – TERY CUSTACE

7.30-8.30 – HELL FIRE CLUB

8.30-9.00 – RAFFLE DRAW

9.00-10.00 – WORLD GONE CRAZY

10.00-12.00 – THE MFU

See Animals SOS Facebook page for more details

https://www.facebook.com/165576613502654/photos/a.191294430930872/2299446383448989/?type=3&theater

21 April 2019 – Healthy Junkies/Ragged Charms/Public Service Announcement – Phoenix Bar

There was a three band ‘punk’ influenced event at The Phoenix Bar, High Wycombe on Easter Sunday 21st April 2019 featuring Healthy Junkies, The Ragged Charms and Public Service Announcement.

Entry was a bargain £5 for the chance to see live three bands with differing influences but all with a passion for live music – as always, I urge you to support your local live music venues in High Wycombe and the surrounding areas.

Easter Madness at The Phoenix, High Wycombe – Sunday 21st April 2019
Featuring The Healthy Junkies, The Ragged Charms and Public Service Announcement

Headliners Healthy Junkies are a London based band with a punk/garage sound.  They have been on the live circuit for close to eight years and appeared at The Phoenix in March 2018. Their relentless hard-work has also seen them deliver a wealth of recorded output – including four albums – the most recent ‘Delirious Dream’, released in October 2018.

The band consist of Nina Courson (vocals), Phil-Honey-Jones (guitar), Dave Whitmore (bass) and Pumpy (drums) and provide an energetic mix of punk, metal and pop.

Looking for a reference point for influences, their sound has been compared to the likes of Sonic Youth through to Transvision Vamp, with perhaps an underlying nod to Nirvana. Don’t expect anything but pure on-stage energy and a slick delivery in the process.

Here’s a taste of what expect

Opening the evening were Public Service Announcement.  They are no strangers to The Phoenix, having first played there in 2017 and most recently, a headline slot on 15th March 2019.  The band consists of John Fleming (vocals), Pete Colverd (guitar) Dan Comben (bass) and Al Lane (drums).  John and Pete are former members of High Wycombe post-punk outfit Basta Roc and played their first gig as Public Service Announcement in April 2017 during a charity event in memory of Gareth Jones.

Public Service Announcement
Dan, Pete, John and Al

Nearly two years on and the March 2019 gig marked the release of their debut EP – a five track beauty called ‘The Beginning’. The band originally started out playing a mixture of covers and re-works of Basta Roc songs.  However, the writing bug appears to have kicked-in and the EP boasts tracks to be proud of.

The five tracks are: ‘What’s Happening’, ‘Come Back To Me’, ‘Five Years’, ‘When We Were Young’ and ‘Magnificent One’. Catchy tunes that stick in your ahead and with subject matter related to all ages.  I urge you, at the very least, to take a listen to ‘Come Back to Me’ – written about struggling to cope with relatives and friends with dementia related illness.  I was genuinely blown away when I first heard this played live at The Red Lion in Chinnor in August 2018.

On stage in the lead up to The Healthy Junkies were The Ragged Charms – a band making their first live appearance in High Wycombe but with a number of connections to the historically musical town.

The band were formed a year or so back through a collaboration between lead vocalist Ali Jones and guitarists Carlton Mounsher and Johnny Crees.  The trio had previously worked with The Deadbeat Apostles but branched out to form their own sound and eventually added Andy Chalk and Neil Peters on bass and drums respectively to complete the rhythm section of the band.  The five-piece made their live debut in January 2019 at The Isis River Farmhouse near Oxford.

The Ragged Charms
Ali, Carlton, Johnny, Andy and Neil

And so to the connections with High Wycombe: Carlton Mounsher went to school in High Wycombe and was in what is considered to the first punk band from the town, Deathwish.  Deathwish first gigged in October 1976 and famously/infamously (delete as appropriate) supported Generation X at The Nag’s Head in March 1977.

Andy Chalk also has a history of playing bass in 1980’s High Wycombe based punk/new wave bands but has more recently launched the Punkarolla radio show on Wycombe Sound in November 2016 and briefly played bass for High Wycombe punk originals, The Xtraverts, during 2017.

Drummer Neil Peters comes from a slightly more recent local pedigree – playing with Straylight Interstate in the late 1990’s and then Subrosa5 as we moved into the 21st century.  Neil is no stranger to gigs in High Wycombe having played the Phoenix under its original ‘Roundabout’ name, plus outings at The Antelope and The White Horse.

All this adds up to a version of The Ragged Charms that include an eclectic mix of sounds with influences drawn from Black American music through to traditional blues and straight forward rock ‘n’ roll. Ali’s vocals perhaps give their sound a sub-conscious comparison to PJ Harvey but they have enough variety in their output to let you make your own mind-up.

Band info links

Healthy Junkies

https://en-gb.facebook.com/healthyjunkiesband/

https://twitter.com/HealthyJunkies

http://www.healthyjunkies.co.uk/

 The Ragged Charms

https://en-gb.facebook.com/RaggedCharms/

Public Service Announcement

https://www.facebook.com/PSArocknroll/

1 March 2019 – Punkarolla – Damned special

On Friday 1st March 2019 I was back as a guest on Andy Chalk’s Punkarolla radio show on Wycombe Sound.  This time sitting alongside another long-time friend, Martin Percival, talking more about the 40th anniversary of gigs in High Wycombe and reminiscing in particular about an appearance by The Damned at The Town Hall on 18th April 1979 – a gig where the punk originals were supported by a then up and coming punk/reggae group The Ruts and local band The Beez.

We played a selection of our Damned favourites from throughout the years, plus tracks from the support acts on the night.  There was also the usual stuff old and new.  It was broadcast  between 9pm and 11pm on the new monthly (1st Friday of each month) time slot – hosted as usual by Andy.

It is possible to listen live in the High Wycombe area via 106.6 FM, via the internet and radio player.

Shows are also available to ‘Listen Again’ for four weeks via www.wycombesound.org.uk

The direct link to the Punkarolla ‘Listen Again’ page is:

http://listenagain.wycombesound.org.uk/index.php/shows/punkarolla/

Shows from the earlier series are also available to listen to via MixCloud

https://www.mixcloud.com/WycombeSound/playlists/punkarolla/

Andy also has a Punkarolla Public Group Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/224313594628909/

I have since posted up more details of The Damned gig from April 1979 as a mark for 40th anniversary.  This include set-lists from the all the acts that played that evening.  If you want to hear previously un-circulated audio clips, please leave a comment and I’ll try to get these online.

An enhanced version of the advert from the Bucks Free Press is included below.

Damned, Ruts, Beez – High Wycombe Town Hall advert from Bucks Free Press Midweek – enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk

More on the 18th April 1979 gig via this link >>

 

25 December 2018 – Punkarolla Christmas Special

Liven up your Christmas Day 2018 by listening to the seasonal special of Wycombe Sound’s Punkarolla show hosted by Andy Chalk between 8pm and 10pm on 25th December 2018.

It is possible to listen live in the High Wycombe area via 106.6 FM, via the internet and mobile app.  Shows are also available to ‘Listen Again’ for four weeks via www.wycombesound.org.uk

The direct link to the Punkarolla ‘Listen Again’ page is:

Punkarolla

Shows from the earlier series are also available to listen to via MixCloud

Andy also has a Punkarolla Public Group Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/224313594628909/

 

Pete Shelley – 17 April 1955 – 6 December 2018

In this article we fondly remember Pete Shelley, founder member of ‘punk’ band Buzzcocks, who died on 6th December 2018 at the age of 63.  Shelley’s legacy includes a memorable list of classic pop songs, as well as his part in evolving the ‘punk’ music around his home-land of Manchester.  As a 20-year-old he travelled with two friends to see a Sex Pistols gig at High Wycombe College.  What they saw that evening provided the catalyst for what would become two iconic gigs at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in June and July 1976 and pave the way for the likes of Factory Records, Joy Division, The Fall, The Smiths and of course Buzzcocks, to help shape the future of British music.

Shelley (real name Pete McNeish) had tentatively formed a band in late 1975 with 23-year-old fellow Bolton student Howard Trafford (later to become Howard Devoto).  On Wednesday 18th February 1976 they saw a first ever live review of a Sex Pistols gig in the New Musical Express and it inspired them to travel to London to track down the Pistols’ next gig.

Hence, with the help of a borrowed car, the pair, plus to-be band Manager Richard Boon, would travel the 180 miles south and learn that the Sex Pistols were due to play support to Lord Sutch in High Wycombe at the Buckinghamshire College of Further Education on Friday 20th February 1976.

It was also while they were down south that they would pick up a copy of Time Out magazine where the headline for the review of TV programme Rock Follies, ‘FEELING A BUZZ, COCKS’, gave them the idea for the name for their yet to be seen band –.  After seeing the Pistols in High Wycombe they would return to Manchester to form Buzzcocks and promote the famous gigs at The Lesser Free Trade Hall.

Buzzcocks would play one of their first ever gigs at the latter of these two dates.  Devoto took on lead vocals, while Shelley played guitar, aided by Steve Diggle on bass and John Maher on drums.  In January 1977 they would release their debut EP, ‘Spiral Scratch’, on their self-funded New Hormones label – one of the first truly independent record releases in the UK.   The EP included the now iconic ‘Boredom’ but the other three tracks, ‘Breakdown’, Time’s Up’ and ‘Friends of Mine’ had the same fresh sound and catch riffs.

Spiral Scratch EP – released January 1977

soon after the release of ‘Spiral Scratch’, leaving founder member Shelley with decisions to make.  Rather than recruit a new singer, Shelley bravely took on the front man role himself and the distinctive Buzzcocks sound was cemented with Steve Diggle moving to second guitar and Steve Garvey eventually becoming the permanent bass player.

With song-writing duties firmly on his shoulders, Shelley developed a way with lyrics that was virtually unique amongst his punk counterparts.  Back in those formative years of punk rock, rather than tap into what was fast becoming clichéd lyrics referencing such topics as hate, war, crime, anarchy and violence, Shelley wasn’t afraid to mention love and write songs that included backing vocals of grown-men going ‘ooh, ooh’.

Also, unlike some of the other early London ‘punk’ bands who morphed out of the ‘pub-rock’ scene, Buzzcocks genuinely struggled to play their instruments during their early outings on the live circuit.  Their early gigs would see the band muddling their way through primitive incarnations of their hits in the making – Shelley, in particular, with his sawn-off cheap guitar.  However, the sound quickly developed into something unique and one that was enhanced to a new level in the studio.

Buzzcocks would eventually sign for United Artists in August 1977 – releasing their debut album, Another Music in a Different Kitchen in March 1978 – their rise to success would be fuelled by a series of consecutive pure punk pop singles – ‘Orgasm Addict’, ‘What Do I Get?’, ‘I Don’t’ Mind’, ‘Love You More’, ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve Fallen in Love With)’, ‘Promises’, ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’, the list goes on and on.

It is relatively sad to look back to see that while many of the other original iconic British ‘punk’ bands played High Wycombe – including, Sex Pistols, Damned, Clash, Stranglers, Jam, Siouxsie and The Banshees and Generation X – Buzzcocks were never to perform on a High Wycombe stage – perhaps they weren’t ‘punk’ enough in the eyes of the promoters of the time?  The nearest they came were appearances at Aylesbury Friars – first on 6th May 1978 and then on 28th March 1979.

It was at the latter of these two appearances, while still at school, that I was lucky enough to see them for the first time.  I’d been captivated since seeing their Top of the Pops appearance of ‘I Don’t Mind’ in April 1978.  I remember being amazed that it was possible to write a song that included the lyric ‘pathetic clown’.  A couple of months later I heard their follow-up single ‘Love You More’ for the first time – lasting less than 2 minutes, I had to hear it again as soon as possible – hence a trip to town to buy the single in, by this time, its easily recognisable Buzzcocks style graphics.

My Buzzcocks memorabilia.
Including song book, badges, bootleg tapes and flyer from Aylesbury gig, March 1979

I took the cover to the Friars gig in March 1979 in the hope of an autograph. At the end of the gig those with similar thoughts patiently waited to the left-hand side of the stage for the band to return.  There was not much of a delay before Pete Shelley and fellow band member Steve Diggle emerged and happily signed autographs and chatted with their fans.  At this point some random meathead security man decided he wanted to clear the hall and claimed the band had ‘gone home’ and there was no point in waiting.  At which point Pete Shelley said in his distinctive high-pitched voice, ‘I’m still here!’.  The intellectually challenged security man then repeated his claim that the band had ‘gone home’.  Shelley responded with a slightly louder, ‘I’m still here!’  I can still hear his voice in my head saying those words.

In my youthful craze to hear more, I began accumulating live and early demo recordings of the band and soon discovered that Shelley’s pop songs were not limited to singles, or just three-minute songs. ‘Fast Cars’, ‘Moving Away From The Pulsebeat’, ‘Fiction Romance’, ‘E.S.P.’, ‘I Believe’, to name just four.

The band split in 1981 leaving a hole for many of their followers.  The records and tapes were stored away and we all moved on (for a while).  Then in 1989 they re-formed and we were reminded what an incredible back catalogue of songs they could call on.  The live shows were more powerful than ever.  They recorded new music and also gigged until the point of Pete’s death and had arranged a 40 year anniversary gig at The Albert Hall in June 2019.  I’d already got tickets and was in the process of going through the Buzzcocks archives when the tragic news arrived.

‘Oh Sh*t!’ was my one of my first reactions on the evening of Thursday 6th December 2018.  Shelley had a song title for almost every emotion and in this case, the ‘B’ side of the 1977 Shelley penned classic ‘What Do I Get?’, seemed the most apt.

If by chance any family or friends of Pete read this, I send them my sincere best wishes and thanks for Pete’s life.

Love You More – from Paul

My signed ‘Love you More’ cover, ‘To Paul’ from gig at Aylesbury, March 1979

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Breakdown – Buzzcocks – Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall – July 1976

I Swear I Was There – Granada TV documentary 2001
Listen from 3:16 for Devotto and Shelley recalling the trip down south in February 1976

Buzzcocks in their own words – interview at British Library – 9 June 2016
Listen from 13:50 for comments from Shelley and Boon about Sex Pistols gig at High Wycombe February 1976

I Don’t Mind – Buzzcocks – Oxford Zodiac – March 2006 – first published December 2018