A Coventry Music Museum Proposal from 2003 - Via Hobo Magazine
In 2003 I took my kids back to Coventry to visit relations and we had a walk around the city centre. They were busy redeveloping things and were establishing a History trail - sites relating to ecclesiastical history around the Cathedral area - the Car Museum etc but where was the music?? In the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery there was one small display cabinet dedicated to Two Tone and that seemed to be it!
I had a case full of material relating to Coventry's vibrant music scene in the 70's and early 80's for the the Broadgate Gnome (run by Ian Green and Paul Leather) and sent them the Hobo A to Z of bands info from the early 70's, most of which they had no information about. They were well received but they only uploaded material as far F and no further work was done on the site - no doubt they were busy with work commitments but it was a disappointment.
|Coventry Music Museum 2013 - photo Paul Kennelly|
Through their site I found two other similar sites - Rex Brough's A to Z of Coventry bands which was stronger on bands from the late 70's and early 80's but also hand info on earlier bands two and Tim James site which was more of a personal site about his musical influences and interactions but still a great contribution to building the huge archive of Coventry music. I had wanted to do the Hobo site for a while but hadn't got the html skills to achieve it so began by contributing the band info to the existing one by Broadgate Gnome and intended to work on getting a site built to house all the band cards / cuttings and other material that is now on the HOBO sites here. By the end of 2006, Vox Blogs had started up and the sites were easy to use without html knowledge and could house text / graphics / audio and youtube. It was idea and from the the Hobo site developed, bringing together many of the former Coventry musicians on line and which helped to launch a number of new projects including the Gnome Label with Broadgate Gnome and helping Peter Chambers with the Coventry Music Exhibition at the Herbert - from which Pete went on to establish Two Tone Central and the brand new (as at 2013) the Coventry Music Museum (at last).
However, when I got back from Coventry back in 2003 no of this had been established and i wrote a
|Two Tone Central|
|Pete Chambers Coventry Music Museum 2013|
Visit the New Coventry Music Museum opened 2013 by Pete Chambers
join them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/Covmusic/?ref=ts&fref=ts
COVENTRY MUSIC MUSEUM
(A proposal from Trev Teasdel 2003 and circulated at the time to contacts in Coventry)
Nnotwithstanding Homer Simpson’s adage that “good things don’t end in ‘eum’ ” I have a proposal! The proposal is the above title but much more. Ok - to appease Homer think-a-likes we can change the title and put the above in parenthesis.
Coventry is being re-developed again, with a sense of heritage inflecting city center walkways. The Skydome is being erected for state of the digital arts concerts. The car museum is getting a new space-age frontage and possible a refurbishment. Cars are Coventry but like Motown (Detroit) so is music. So what evidence do we see along the heritage trails of that rich musical lava flow that threw up Two Tone, Pete Waterman, Dando Shaft, King and others that erupted on the world’s stage? Not much I think!
In Liverpool they have the Beatles Story Museum. Not much to it – I took a group of WEA students and they were through to the other side in minutes. Disappointing given what the Beatles represent to popular culture and the creativity it spawned! The time has come, I think, to put that rich musical lava flow on the heritage map with the musicians and artists of Coventry being the idea architects and storyboarders.
SO WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA THEN?
There are 8 main elements to the idea, all of which will be discussed separately.
Conceived as a tourist attraction / heritage venue and creative outlet for today’s musicians and artists, the main idea of course is the museum. Perhaps this
§ Might trace the history of music in the city from earliest times in context,
§ Dedicated rooms/areas to the biggest names /attractions – Two Tone / Waterman etc.
§ Local Bands and music in decades – 50’s /60’s 70’s / 80’s etc up to present
It might include posters / band cards / instruments and equipment / simulated discos / record shops etc/ records / clothing styles / oral transcripts / relevant music / videos / computer simulations / art work / poems / etc etc It would span rock / pop / ska /punk /folk / poetry / discos / festivals etc. Timelines and group family trees / photos / montages etc.
It would have a restaurant area and venue. During the day it would be there for visitors / tourists. Lunch time, local bands / poets / singer songwriters would perform and it would aim to attract people working in the city centre for their lunch with local entertainment. This would provide a cool facility and income generation to develop and maintain the museum. In the evening, it could act as a venue for local bands etc. Perhaps theme nights that fit in with the museum – 60’s ‘80’s etc, mixed media nights / discos / folk nights / ska night – whatever. It would aim to provide a venue like many of the pubs have for local band in the past. There would be space on the walls for local artists to display and even sell their work.
Merchandise might give work for local artists / crafts people as well established merchandise related to established artists. The usual suspects I suppose – T shirts / mugs ….If much of it was made by local artists this would fit in with the spirit of the local music and arts scene and enable them to earn a living from their artistic leanings. It would also be about income generation for the development of the museum / paying local bands / publicity / employment etc. Good economic arguments.
The museum would have a good Education Programme for visiting groups – schools – student / community groups. Songwriting workshops / Guitar / keyboard workshops / relevant talks and demonstrations etc. Weekend schools / writers and artist workshops.
Rooms could be available for meetings and rehearsal space / artists studios for hire at artist affordable rates,
An exciting proposal would be the Record Production / store element. The record store would of course sell discounted records by the big names – Two Tone / Hazel O’Connor / SAW and so forth as well as other bands who’ve made records – Indian Summer / Dando Shaft / Sent From Coventry / Singles by Lieutenant Pigeon / Sorrows and so forth. But also special CD’s could be made to be sold only at the museum (or via its website) e.g. outtakes / remixes of Two-Tone records – rare unreleased alternative takes. Another good reason to visit the museum and income generation as well as interest value. Also compilations of groups who have made singles – regardless of whether they hit the charts or not. Also many groups never cut a record but may have good taped material home or live. With today’s digital equipment some of them could be digitally enhanced. Where justified, some groups may get whole albums, other may have only one or two tracks usable. E.g. 70’s group Wandering John made a live album tape. There were faults with it and the band split up. However they me one or two tracks that could be salvaged with today’s technology and any instrumental imput needed. It would be great to have a compilation of some these past groups on CD. People such as Roger Lomas might be interested in this, knowing many of the groups and with his great recording / production knowledge. This could create quite a bit of excitement.
So how do we get this started then?
I’m e-mailing some of the people with Coventry music websites with a view to getting feedback on the idea and forming an initial steering group. As some, like myself, no longer live in Coventry, communication could be by e-mail with maybe a periodic meeting in Coventry if practical and needed. The ideas could be developed / shaped up into a formal proposal and presented to the Coventry Museums / local authority. I will make some enquiries.
This group could act as the steering / advisory group but as most of us are busy enough, the local authority would possibly take charge of the project, identify an venue for it, include it in its heritage trail / tourist plans, find funding, employ researchers etc. the new Coventry websites for local bands – Broadgate Gnome / Rexbrough / Tim James / The Black Room and the forthcoming Hobo site could be starting points for the research with their data bases on the local band scene and the contacts they have with local musicians.
So what do you think? Is there anyone you think should be involved / informed of this? You can pass this on to them and they can e-mail me with any feedback. I’ll keep you informed of any progress on it.
Note - as the Gnome have pointed out - while the Coventry big names are important and will be what draws in the wider interest and demonstrates the achievement, the museum should reflect the whole of the music scene in Cov, whether bands made it or not or even those whose rejected the music business as an ambition for their muse.
Trev Teasdel 2003
Comments transferred from the Hobo Vox Site
I went back to Coventry a few years ago for a journalism course. I had been trained as a tour guide in the City so agreed to take a couple of groups around essentially to see the sites. The people were more interested in my stories of the music scene and such , even though there was very much to be seen in relation to them. This broke the first rule of guiding,,"Dont talk about anything that isn't there!"
The Culture of the 60s and 70s can be interesting. The more usual facts ,,Chuck Berry recorded in the Library, The Italian Job filmed there, John Lennon planted an acorn, are important;; but its the background of everyday life that people relate to
I think its important that some effort goes into collecting and recording the memories of those that were there, even though they may not have achieved anything by modern day comparative standards.
Posted by: BroadgateGnome | 02/11/2007 at 03:06 PM
That's good feedback Gnomes - Yes the context is important - not just on a superficial level - the clothes and cars (and cars are important to Cov of course) but the different mind-sets - the search for alternative life-styles, concerns for the environment, emergent feminism, the radicalism etc etc against the industrialism and materialism. All of which affected the music. Ok some were pure pop - but much of the music was inflected by the idea that things were changing and it was possible to change the world, make a difference, create something which added more depth to a lot of the music. Of course there were contradictions involved and the world went a different direction. But that kind of context would need to be explored and yes some kind or oral voices project might help with that. DISCUSS.....(or add your own threads to the discussion!)
Posted by: HOBO - Coventry Music Magazine | 02/11/2007 at 03:42 PM