April 17, 2020

If it weren’t for Joe Strummer!

Coronavirus has landed and you might think there is lots of time to get things done – but actually I’m finding the day as a booking agency boss, busier than ever rescheduling all the shows in the world. Anyway, I thought I’d take a moment to let you know, how it all came about.

Almost exactly 20 years ago, I moved back to Bridgwater, Somerset where I grew up. It was meant to be for a singular summer. I’d been a science teacher in a London comp, I’d returned to university to do a masters, I’d taught TEFL in Prague, but none of them was my calling, so I went back to my parents and took stock. I was 30. I decided to stay in Somerset for a while, spend some time writing songs, immerse myself in the local music scene and see if I could find some focus. I rented a house, got a part-time job and did just that.

Around the same time, Joe Strummer from The Clash moved to a village near Bridgwater and became a director of a community film centre called The Engine Room. The board of directors decided to put on a fundraiser with Joe and his band The Mescaleros. The show would take place at The Palace, the local nightclub. I knew Phil the manager at The Engine Room, he knew I was in a band and asked us to be one of the support acts. (It’s not what you know…) Anyway, the gig was ace and for a moment really put Bridgwater on the map.

The whole experience got me thinking – perhaps I could start putting on bigger shows. Until then we had only promoted small gigs in pubs and small rooms. I mean The Palace held 800 people so it was a reasonable size.

I got in touch with an agent, booked a band called Proud Mary – lost some money, booked another – The Scissor Sisters made a lot of money, booked another Chumbawamba – lost a lot… and so began my addiction… more and more my own music took a back seat and for the next eight years, I became a professional promoter, putting on shows from Glasgow to Truro, Cardiff to Norfolk and everywhere in between.

In 2010 fate transformed us to booking agents – but that is a story for another day!

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