POMPEY POP

If you’re not part of the solution …

11 Comments

… you’re part of the problem – as the old Counter Culture slogan went.

I’ve played at the Cellars a few times and I’ve been there as a punter a few times but I’m certainly one of the people who might have been more of a regular and wasn’t. On Pompey Pop Facebook Malc has said

“Problem is not enough punters. I’ve been there when even a well know name was on and probably 10 to a dozen people watching. Maggie Bell for example. Same as with pubs, no good complaining they are all closing if you don’t go. Number of times bands play to just a handful of customers. Amazes me how they can pay the bands.”

I think he’s entirely right and I understand Oscar’s deep disappointment because he was a regular, loyal customer and folks like him deserve better

But I’m part of the problem. People often ask me ‘am I going/did I go’ to see XYZ and I usually say no. My days as a punter are almost over and I can’t ever quite explain why. I guess it’s partly that I’ve done so many gigs over the past 50 (ish) years that to a large extent ‘the thrill is gone’ – is that just typical of an old ‘muso’?

It’s also partly that I’ve seen so many utterly awesome acts in my life that very little measures up (although I’m less ‘open’ than Oscar to new stuff) but at 65 I’ve probably turned into my dad – loveliest of blokes but didn’t drink and never went out evenings if he could help it.

Is it just me? Why don’t we go in numbers that keep these things going? Can we blame the kids? Should they be going?

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Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

11 thoughts on “If you’re not part of the solution …

  1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Dave – going to live gigs should primarily be for the young, part of the enjoyment for us was that it was a place for us, not somewhere we’d expect to meet parents. The under 30s are going to live gigs – but probably not to the same places. This can be seen very clearly on the folk circuit. Old style folk clubs still exist, but are literally dying, but folk in its many forms is more alive than ever, but the under 30s go to different places to see the same acts. That said I’ve seen some great gigs in the last few years – and not all oldsters either. Leonard Cohen has only improved with age, whilst some should have stopped some time ago. Looking forward to Ron Sexsmith and Sufjan Stevens over the next few months – we probably won’t be the youngest at both of those, for a change….

  2. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Dave – going to live gigs should primarily be for the young, part of the enjoyment for us was that it was a place for us, not somewhere we’d expect to meet parents. The under 30s are going to live gigs – but probably not to the same places. This can be seen very clearly on the folk circuit. Old style folk clubs still exist, but are literally dying, but folk in its many forms is more alive than ever, but the under 30s go to different places to see the same acts. That said I’ve seen some great gigs in the last few years – and not all oldsters either. Leonard Cohen has only improved with age, whilst some should have stopped some time ago. Looking forward to Ron Sexsmith and Sufjan Stevens over the next few months – we probably won’t be the youngest at both of those, for a change….

  3. From my experience the only night you’re going to get the oldies( at Basins this was the over 35’s )out is a Saturday
    Night
    If you are going to put on anyone during the week it has to be for a younger audience in which case the bar take will be well down
    So the lesson is as a promoter you have to put on stuff that you personally don’t like instead of trying to educate the kids which will cost you money!!

  4. Well I love to see good live music today just as much as I ever did. (Glastonbury coming up booked a caravan pitch as well,sad old bastard). However with me it’s probably because I concentrated on bringing up two kids and didn’t think at the time that going out watching / gigging was conducive with family life. When I got going again at about 50 with a little help from friends I felt that there was quite a bit to catch up on and so the “thrill has not gone” Having said that it was difficult on a rainy night to come from Hayling make the effort and find a parking space to see a band at the Cellars .

  5. I used to love the atmosphere at the Cellars on a Monday night jamming with Steve Hampton and friends, and for a short while being with Steve’s band “Ready Steady Go”. In a way, I’ve got a lot to thank Hampo for because he encouraged me to, quote “Get off yer ‘arris Wattsy and come and have a jam with us”. Methings Steve and Jax knew I’d been through a lot of medical and personal trauma and he came up with the obvious answer, I never looked back after that. Apart from seeing the absolute amazing Zombies there, Zoot Money’s band, Jon Cleary and the Monster Gentleman (watch a certain member of that band and you knew where the word “monster” came into it.) The guitarist was the biggest muso I’d ever seen in my life, he was as wide and he was tall ! When he climbed off stage to visit the little boy’s room (sic!), I had images of him struggling to get through the doorway and getting stuck trying to leave, luckily there was no problem. Cleary was a master of New Orleans Blues and jazz, the vocals hit the spot and his piano playing was in a class of it’s own. I must have missed a lot of good music there through being a non-driver and bus services not quite as regular as they could be.
    Is there no way the Cellars can be saved ??

  6. I am making an observation here that this closure reflects in some way on the ‘ lack of return ‘ we have encountered in our quest to generate enthusiasm in the younger set to want to add relevant cultural details of the more recent years to our Portsmouth Music Experience project at the guildhall————–Our visitors book constantly returns comments based on the memories that the exhibition brings back…….I fear that these days there seems to be a lot of ‘shrugging of shoulders’ amongst the younger set…..Much as we are achieving the goal that we set out for in the first place ‘ I’m sure that we hoped we would be able to blend in the old with the new….
    I think the missing ingredient in the recipe for this is ‘enthusiasm’………We had it ,(sometimes in abundance), and it would appear there aint too much of it around these days…Times do change after all. Question would be , For the better or not ????
    There’s a well used phrase out there——“Society is to blame” ( well probably)
    I also have to own up to ‘not getting out much anymore’, but I have spent a good few years working in and around music, and my cup has been running over a lot of the time, and being able to put my feet up is no bad thing….However I did decide I don’t need to lock the door and throw the key away, and so am getting ‘stuck in’ again….
    Its a generation thing as I see it…..Too much expectation and taking things for granted….Time moves on , as it obviously will ,but I am not a great fan of the attitudes that seem to accompany it………………
    Lets make sure that that little place on the corner will be in our history book………………
    R I P CELLARS………THANKS FOR BEING THERE

  7. My problem with going to gigs is, i never feel right being off stage and I hate to be asked to sit in. The drummer has to leave the stage to accomodate the sit-in which I think is not right, a guitarist can stay on stage. Just my funny thing.

  8. Dave as I don’t currently live in Portsmouth I was wondering how many nights a week was the Cellars putting on live music and what is the rent that is talked about?
    Also was most of the music of the R n B, Blues,genre broadly speaking?

  9. We must ‘soldier on’ and support local venues. I’ve just got back from the Square Tower where I saw the superb Cale Tyson and Pete Limburgh. Many thanks to Ken Brown and his SquareRoots team for another great evening. Last Friday Ben Waters and his band played the Ashcroft Arts Centre at Fareham and in my humble opinion it was a gig which it would be hard to better. The Villagers played the Wedgewood Rooms last Thursday and I’ve also got a ticket for Jesse Malin later in May. Definitely worth booking.

  10. Very Interesting following along with the comments. Life does get in the way of things we like to do. There is indeed a change in the way we get our entertainment these days. I personally really enjoy seeing a live band but there do not seem to be many good local bands here in the cultural armpit of Florida. It is interesting here that as far as selling a band (your own band) to a club owner now revolves more around the claims you make of how many drink buying punters (Your loyal following) that you can bring in rather than if the band is good. Usually the band will get a one night tryout and the owner counts how many new people come in and bases their hiring decision on that. So bands do a lot of self advertising to ensure all their friends drop in. I have to agree that as a musician I have never really enjoyed watching bands play as I tend to hear the bum notes and get pissed off at the lack of showmanship. The wife used to get on me about that but now she is as bad as me. The loss of any good venue is always a sad day both from the performers and the audience perspective. Looking in from a distance it seems to me that Portsmouth has a very lively and diverse live music scene. Phil I rather liked your thoughts about the communication challenges. For a moment with the Facebook group it seemed like a joining of the musical age groups but now that seems to have been hi-jacked by one or two people putting all kinds of crap on there for what appears to me to be more commercial self promotion than in the common interest. Soon after that it seemed like the page lost the bulk of the contributors. I guess we are the old fart establishment now. Music bridges the gap but how do we bridge the societal gap? Great shame about the cellars but I have to also wonder what kind of music they promoted. Interesting fact here (which I bet holds fairly true over there) is that bands playing the blues tend to attract beer drinkers but most other music seems to attract people buying mixed drinks which means way more sales and profit for the club and bars. Well enough ramblings from me.

  11. YeS Pete agree about the Facebook pages it appears to have been taken over by commercial interest. Thought it was just me being Grumpy.

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