Friday, 23 March 2018

2021 Anthem?

 "We're The People of The Phoenix-and We Rise."

And they are?
Tim Boyce (guitars), Andrew Hudson, (bass,keyboards) Nick Moore (drums,) Jah-Man Aggrey (percussion) Skatta (aka Nathan) ,Vidish Athavale,Saher Robinson,Geoff Veasey (lyrics,vocals)   

What's rising and where?
       By the nature of the project, I had to be a little secretive about what I was up to  in my home town at the start of 2018. Now it has gone public I can finally reveal that for five weeks I was part of a very diverse collaborative group, recording and filming studios in Central Coventry as part of The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery Melody Makers project.  I was aware of this group's work beforehand,so I volunteered to try and add a Folk input to it, conscious of what an important part Coventry and Warwickshire Folk and Roots music has played in this area's cultural development. 

My Town?
           I was born in Coventry. I grew up there,went to school there and lived there for many years. I worked  there, in various guises, for around forty years. As a postman, or helping on a mobile shop round.   As a Saturday boy at Ball Hill Woolworths or selling goal tickets at Highfield Road .And latterly as a teacher. 
       During that time I had a modest input into several cultural aspects. Early doors, I was a choirboy at All Saints Church. (Just down the road from where we did these recent recordings). I became involved in Amateur Dramatics at Caludon Castle and in plays at The Criterion Theatre and in Coventry Catherdral. I read poetry  at the Cathedral, The Umbrella Club and anywhere else that would have me. 
          I came back to Coventry after a three year  stint  reading  English Speech and Drama at a London college I got involved in writing and producing Primary School music and drama. I ran school choirs,and had the honour to choreograph and produce a Reggae Dance Group,culminating in public performance in Primrose Hill Park and introduced by the divine Eartha Kitt. I also fronted  a rock band in the 1970's,later a Folk band and I am still playing music twice a month on a local radio station and gigging  in a Folk band called Nunc.( Two of whom are Coventry born and educated). 
        So despite being one of the oldest members in the Third Melody Makers Collective I came into it immensely proud of my home town,aware of most of its musical heritage and determined to carry on giving something back. I've always enjoyed giving back to Coventry,because it has done so much for me. It has provided me with roots,my children were born and educated there. It is why I am and who I am yet gets such a kicking sometimes from certain aspects of the media. (And indeed,at times,from some of its own inhabitants). 

       I am over the moon that Coventry has been chosen as City of Culture 2021. I hope it seizes the opportunity to embrace Warwickshire, too. As far as I am concerned, except  for a brief administrative blip (about which I wrote another song!) Coventry has always been part of the Old County.  Me too. My family story is very similar to that of many other Coventrians . My dad and his dad were born in Nuneaton after the Veaseys migrated there from rural Warwickshire during the 1890's. My Mum and her dad were born in Yorkshire but followed the same kind of migration south in the 1930's. The two families met and combined there as so many others have done before and since. It is a meeting place: a crossroads a melting pot -it is this kind of movement in and out of the city that provides such a rich canvas to work upon. Long may it continue.

Bits wot i done
      My part in "Home Town" was to contribute part of the lyrics,and sing them. It was written originally both as a homage to Fargos Village and a positive reply to "Ghost Town." A song I still love and admire, but which does not reflect the modern, thriving city.  My family grew up in the streets round Far Gosford Street. I find it incredibly satisfying that the area is still thriving. It was easy to write. I adore Fargos Village and Nunc have had some great nights there,playing The Twisted Barrel. We had tinkered around with "Home Town" as a band but  never got to performing it live anywhere. It is in every sense a very new song. 
       I got on famously with the whole Melody Makers group, but especially with Rapper Skatta, who was old enough to be my Grandson, and the other lyricist there Videsh. The whole group liked the ethos of "Home Town" and the melody-which is the original I first sang to them. As you still hear it on Soundcloud. Vidish Saher and I  evolved the ear worm of a Chorus and Nathan (aka Skatta-sorry Fam) wrote the Rap/Grime verses. The musicians were just incredible. They layered in percussion, guitars keyboards and some very complex chorus vocals. This made it entirely organic and gave the piece "life." 

The Engine Room
Behind all this, Pete and Julie Chambers from Coventry Music Museum and Darren Wood of The Herbert,offered advice,background,ideas,inspiration and hands on expertise. When The People of The Phoenix go up to accept The Grammy-it's these three we will dedicate the statuette to. 

The Future
     We created a unique chemistry together whilst recording. Several group members refer to during the documentary interviews. How it happened is exactly as they describe it. We even coined a name-People of The Phoenix (from the chorus).  All of us said we could imagine pumping that together out on stage at a future Godiva Festival, with 60,000 people holding up torches , singing the chorus.  Or doing a 2021 Promotional video with us all riding round the Ring Road playing it on the 1987 Open Top Cup Final Bus.  The whole piece creates a feeling of togetherness and a positive vibe which I feel (we feel) is possibly unique. Who knows? 

             Home Town on a Friday Night 

Soul Food, Street Food,Vegan bites,
Crepes and Burgers and sweet delights
signs lit up and the fairy lights-
Gosford on a Friday Night
Gosford on a Friday Night

Mango Citra and IPA
Saison and Porter brewed night and day
Sine Qua Non blows the blues away
Twisted Barrel on a Friday Night
Twisted Barrel on a Friday Night

You can get a haircut, you can get a shave,
Turkish four course if you're feeling brave
Have a real good night (as long as you behave)
It's all happening on a Friday Night
It's all happening on a Friday Night
It's all happening on a Friday Night

Winter Spring and Summer too,
You'll always find a welcome waiting for you
You'll always find something new to do
Home Town on a Friday Night
Home Town on a Friday Night

Buy a new Vespa or an old LP
Read a paperback on an old settee
Hear a reggae band,Open Mic for Free
My Town on a Friday Night :
My Town on a Friday Night

Craft shops, clothes shops,market stalls
Picnic tables and glitterballs
Headscarves,headbands,knitted shawls
Your town on a Friday Night
My Town on a Friday Night
Home Town on a Friday Night.

SKATTA RAP 1 and 2 


Home Town! On a Friday Night
(That's where I'm going!)
My Town on a Friday Night
(In The Sky Blue City)
Two Tone its in our hearts:
We're the people of The Phoenix and we rise!

Home Town On A Friday Night - By The Melody Makers Collective (Group 3)