Monday, June 13, 2011

Hobo Workshop, Holyhead Road

Coventry Evening Telegraph June 1973
By the end of 1972, the Umbrella Club premise at Queen Victoria Road had been closed for demolition. Until the Umbrella found a more stable base at the Charterhouse, London Road in 1974, the club operated from a temporary base in the Royal Navel Club and otherwise help it's committee meetings at Coventry Voluntary Service Council offices.

While the club continued despite these upheavals, the new venue at the Charterhouse didn't provide for all parts of its former programme and activities. There were conditions with the use of the Charterhouse. This meant band nights were a thing of the past. Trev Teasdel, who in the early 70's had organised the band nights with Al Docker, was concerned to try and continue those important activities at another venue. Trev started Hobo, Coventry Music and Arts Magazine in June 1973 with John Bargent and the campaign began for another venue to put on and encourage new and upcoming local bands and related activities - jam sessions, alternative films, street theatre etc.

In issue 2 of Hobo magazine August 1973 there appears the following entry for the Umbrella club -

Are holding a meeting on August 29th at their temporary base in the Royal Navel Club, Spon Street, at about 8pm to discuss ideas for their events programme for the latter half of the year. Anyone who would like to submit ideas, help organise events or is interested in what's going on (and remember these things are what YOU make them) is welcome to come along, the meeting is an informal one and is open to anyone. Please try and go along as its about time some things got off the ground again in Coventry.
View Hobo No 2 August 1972 on pdf here

Prior to issue 2 of Hobo, Trev had approached the Umbrella to get support for the magazine in terms of access to printing (duplicator and possible funding) as this extract from the July 1973 minutes indicates. The first edition of Hobo was printed at the Left Centre bookshop on Offset Litho but John Bargent (Bo) - referred to in the minutes as Mr John Blow, who had financed the printing so far, was leaving the magazine to be road manager with Khayyam, a Coventry jazz rock band featuring blues guitarist Chris Jones who's former band Chris Jones Aggression had played and practiced at the Umbrella. Trev was trying to finds ways to keep the magazine going. An ad hoc committee was formed but Hobo was never printed at the Umbrella. Bruce Norris, a poet from the Umbrella did act as poetry editor for a while.

While, for whatever reason, Hobo Magazine didn't get printed at the Umbrella, about a  year later at a meeting held at Coventry Council of Social Services (CCSS), Henry West, who was a member of the Umbrella Executive and director of CCSS approached Trev with a proposal regarding Hobo magazine. Henry had just engaged a new Detached Youth worker - Bob Rhodes, who was new to the area and whose remit was to work with young people in the city centre area who may have problems of homelessness, drug or alcohol abuse, unemployment etc.

In return, they could help to facilitate the work of Hobo magazine with access to typing and duplicating facilities, possible funding applications and a venue for holding Umbrella type music events. Hear's Bob's letter from may 1974.

By June things had moved on and the use of the ground floor theatre of the Holyhead Youth Centre was in the offing for Monday nights.

By July 1974 we had launched the Hobo Workshop gigs every Monday to encourage new and upcoming local bands and musicians and hold alternative film nights and street theatre workshops. Meanwhile Bob Rhodes with the assistance of Trev Teasdel (who Bob had helped on to a Social Studies course at Henley College) were now running an informal advice facility as part of the Hobo Workshop, which had been the intention of former Hobo editor John Bargent, who had previously worked with Release in London and had intended to set up Central Spot as part of Hobo.
From Hobo issue 1 June 1973
The Hobo Workshop ran for a year at the Holyhead Youth Centre and later in 1975 upstairs at the Golden Cross. Many young bands who were finding it difficulty to get gigs without the experience came to the Hobo Workshop for their first gigs. In one band, called Phoenix, was a young Dave Pepper. He went on to be a Cov music legend as leader of the X Certs in the late 70's and fronted many other Coventry bands, latterly becoming a cross-over solo artist in the USA.

The workshop gave Midnight Circus their first gigs. Midnight Circus, led by Neil O'Connor later became the Flys in the late 70's and made a record Molotov Cocktail and appeared on John Peel and Old Grey Whistle Test. After Neil's sister Hazel O'Connor broke through with Breaking Glass, Neil played in her band Megahype.
Two other bands who played at the Hobo Workshop were Analog and Trigon, two jazz rock bands starting out. Members from these two bands later formed the Reluctant Stereotypes, a jazz rock outfit that became a  Two Tone band in 1979. From Trigon, Paul Samson joined the Reluctant Stereotypes and later produced the Primitives who charted in the mid 80's. Paul Brooks and Steve Edgeson from Analog also joined the Reluctant stereotypes with Paul King on vocals (who later in the mid 80's) topped the charts with his own band King
Pete Chambers and the Two Tone Plaques
Holyhead Youth Centre
Meanwhile in the basement of the Holyhead Youth Centre, Charley Anderson, later of the Selecter was working as a youth worker and was rehearsing reggae style with a group of musicians who would later people the Two Tone bands Specials and Selecter. Trev had invited Neol Davies to the first Hobo workshop gig to organise another jam session similar to the one he organised at the Umbrella in 1970. Trev had invited Charley's band to join in but the guys declined as they were at that stage gaining their confidence. Neol went down to jam with them and try and persuade them to join in the jam session upstairs. Neol didn't re-emerged from the cellar and the next time we saw Neol and Charley, they were in a band called Chapter 5, so the work which began at the Umbrella in regards to the local music scene continued through Hobo Magazine and Workshop.until the end of 1975. The full story of the Hobo Workshop will be on the Hobo site soon

The Holyhead Youth Centre itself continued to be an important seeding ground for Two Tone and other artists until recently. Photo in this Coventry Evening Telegraph Article on the Hobo Workshop show Analog on stage with Steve Edgeson, John Rushton, Paul Harley and Paul Brooks. Also in the photo - Bob Rhodes (left near the stage) Trev Teasdel and Phil Knapper (older brother of Stu Knapper -later of punk band Riot Act) back right and in the center Liz Scott and boyfriend (part of the Hobo workshop team).

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