In the intimate climbs of Spiegeltent earlier this evening, Eirene and I had front row n center, for a talk by a Punk Rock elder statesman, John Robb. He talked about his (first hand experience) take on the roots of Punk Rock. The birth of the culture prior to the taxonomy. He described the force and energy, the message and creativity that turned into what we now look back on as Punk Rock. The music, the zines, the fashion. He described a time when records were the ultimate commodity and the idea where you could make your own kind of culture.
Through anecdotes (the man genuinely is, seriously connected) he illustrated the people, instrumentation and environment the bore it all. The Arrows, Ramones, Stranglers, Clash. Badly taken in trousers in a pre “off the peg Punk” age. Some fascinating diversions included the history of Punk Rock footware and the relevance of Doc Martin Boots. All fascinating stuff.
I was quite surprised to see an ex teacher of mine being the master (mistress?) of ceremonies, and perhaps surprised more so, when she announced that John is next years Harrogate international festivals fringe festival curator. After the show, I had a chat with John. We talked about Acid House music and how I felt the roots of punk, although before my time were (and still are) hugely influential on a lot of the music from that point on. I also asked him about his plans for the 2014 fringe. An early days / depends on x,y and z kind of response, but it felt like he’s wanting to put his stamp on things. We talked about the Harrogate International Festival thing in general, and I expressed my opinion of how it (the International Festival, proper) doesn’t seem to connect with the youth, they perhaps feel its’ a bit ‘old’ and ‘elite’.. The one and only Graham Chalmers recently stood down as Fringe Skipper – I for one will be really interested to see what John does with the captaincy.
The real take home for me (more from John’s heavyweight music journalism career) was John’s definition of two types of [music] journalism – people who report on exactly what happened and people who say “this is interesting, check it out”. I’ve heard the same from another field recently [technology journalism] – pure fact and figure based reporting vs analysis. A thought I’ve had is that the concept of ‘the blog’ (DIY journalism) is history repeated – punk zines were the original blog.
Anyway – I’ve got 2 minutes to publish this, in fear of breaking my self imposed blog a day for 365, yada yada…