Monday, June 13, 2011

Umbrella Band Nights 1970 / 71

After the successful mini fests - Transcendental Cauldron and Music Marathon, the Umbrella began to  feature regular / semi regular band nights on a Friday 9pm to 11.30 with a late night disco often lasting until 2pm run by Al and Steve Varney (later known variously as Atom Disco or Alstepeda (when Pete Webb joined), Purple Haze. Mostly local electric or acoustic bands but some from the wider Midlands such as Birmingham, Leicester and Derby.

CBR Music Agency
Prior to this the live music mainly consisted of Jazz or folk or rock n roll. The live music coordinator was Cliff Cowling, a boogie woogie pianist with a rock n roll band called (I think) RockitAl Docker (Drummer and band leader of Tsar) organised the band nights early 1970 with Trev Teasdel assisting on door and support. Trev took over about December 1970 when Al concentrated on gigging, until about May 1971 when Trev became engaged in organising a second Music Marathon. We came by bands through personal contacts, bands that wrote or phoned the Umbrella for a gig,bands that rehearsed at the Umbrella (April, Asgard, Nack ed en, Love Zeus, Mick Green Blues band, Slitnitzer, Whistler or for Birmingham bands we used CBR Music Agency - also in Queen Victoria Road. The Live Music programme was overseen at the time by Tony Cross who was on the Umbrella Committee and a fine piano / keyboard player himself.

Most of the band nights took place in the lounge or on some occasions in the small theatre which held about 50 people.

I don't have all the dates of the bands and some Fridays there were no bands owing to the lounge being booked out to other groups or when the Lanch Poly and Warwick Uni Arts Festivals were on. Here are the bands I have cuttings for or can remember. It's not a full list. Birmingham bands were booked via CBR music agency which was also based in Queen Victoria Road.

Al Docker
Jan / Feb / March / April 1970 - I can't pin point any dates for this period but I'm certain Al Docker organised bands during this period and I did the door. Among bands I remember were -
Crystal Ship, Whistler, Last Fair Deal, Wandering John, Chris Jones Aggression, Rocking Chair Blues Band, Nack Ed En, Slitniza Modern Jazz Trip.

May 1970 - Postcard ( I think this was a contemporary folk band or duo)
July 1970 - Trad B Jefferson + April 
                - Asgard
August 1970 - Steve Tayton and his Jazz Quartet
Aug 14th       - Vic's (Neol Davies) Heavy Rock Jam Session (see separate post on here)
Aug 21st        - Tea and Symphony (Birmingham band) + April
September 1970 - 11th - Indian Summer
Sept 18th            Ghost (Birmingham band) + Asgard
Sept 25th             Children
No entries for October and November that I can find
Patchy as it is  - that's all I can recall or find on Al's bands. The Newsheets and ads in the reference library might throw up more.

In December Trev Teasdel organised the bands

December 1970 - 11th Judas Goat ( Heavy band from Sapcote near Leicester)
December 18th     Gentle (Heavy band from Derby)
December 15th     Ra Ho Tep (Tim James's Avant Garde Jazz trio)
January 1st            Fresh Maggots (Acid folk duo from Nuneaton - album on RCA Neon)
January 8th           Jessica's Theme (Progressive Rock)
(In diary for 1971 I invited Dando Shaft and Whistler in January - can't remember if they did or not at this stage - also arranged for Whistler to rehearse at the Umbrella).
The other Fridays in January were taken up with AGM and the Lanchester Poly Arts Festival.
February 1971 19th Jessica's Theme (Return visit owing to popularity)
26th - Live band (Not specified)
Information sketchy after February until May 1971 but bands included Indian Summer, Rogation Sunday (formerly Acorn), April, Asgard, Whistler, Tsar, Love Zeus, Ameoba, Creation, Mick Green Blues Band. Medicine Head were asked but we couldn't afford them. From July 1970 Trev was doing the door for Pete Waterman's Walsgrave Progressive gig also and some contacts were made there or Umbrella based bands played the Walsgrave. eg Asgard / April.
From May, Trev and Lyndie became involved with organising the 2nd Music Marathon.

Notes on Bands
Band profiles are or will be on the Hobo A to Z of Coventry Bands 

Crystal Ship - Acoustic / psychedelic band that had a cool sound. No further info.
Nack Ed En - A three piece Rock blues band featuring John Bradbury on Drums ( later of The Specials), Loz Netto guitar - later with Sniff and the Tears 1978, Neil Richardson bass (later with Drops of Brandy).
April - were Cov's answer to Fairport Convention, rehearsed at the Umbrella and did a mix of Fairport and James Taylor and their own Numbers. Bassist Ron Lawrence later played with Sniff and the Tears and sessioned with bands like the Kinks.
Asgard - were Cov's answer to Pink Floyd - a three piece with whom Neol Davies (later of Selecter) guested on sitar sometimes. They rehearsed at the Umbrella and were being courted by John Peel who got them a gig at Mothers in Erdington where Floyd had recently played. The band split up before they got to the recording stage sadly.
Chris Jones Aggression - Three piece blues outfit around the virtuoso playing of Chris Muff  Jones. Chris toured Europe with residencies at Ronnie Scott's and The Speakeasy later with jazz Rock outfit Khayyam.
Whistler - Kevin Harrison's avant Garde Jazz rock outfit before Urge.
Wandering John / Last Fair Deal - Popular rock blues outfit with a smaller country blues trio that were very popular.
Indian Summer - Another highly popular progressive rock band who recorded a class album for RCA Neon. Bob Jackson - keyboards - went on to play with Badfinger, Pete Brown Piblokto, The Fortunes and more. Trev, who also did the door for Pete Waterman's Walsgrave Progressive night mid 1970, booked them for the Umbrella when they played there.
Fresh Maggotts - Acid folk / progressive duo from Nuneaton. Made album also for RCA Neon that became a cult progressive album later.
Tea and Symphony and Ghost were both Birmingham bands promoted by John Peel. Ghost were gothic rock as the name suggests and T & S were off beat progressive with a fantastic lightshow.
Judas Goat - from Sapcote near Leicester - rock band.
Gentle - rock band from Derby - associated with Pug Ma Ho  / SMACK who later settled in Cov with Ollie Oliver (Doc Mustard) and several musicians who joined Horace Panter's Breaker c 1976
Love Zeus - band formed at Umbrella - Al Docker drums / Tony Cross keys / Loz Netto lead / Neil Richardson bass? / violin player from Tsar.

Bands organised by Cliff Cowling until Al Docker Took over 1969-1970 and then Trev Teasdel 1970-1971

May 1970 Postcard
July 1970 Trad B Jefferson & April
July 1970  Asgard
August 1970  - Steve Tayton and his Jazz Quartet

Fri Aug 14th 1970 Vic's Heavy Rock Jam session (See Transcendental Cauldron post)

Fri Aug 21st Tea & Symphony and April (Groups wishing to practice should see Al Docker)
Fri 18th Sept  1970 Ghost and Asgard (Contrasting Styles)
Live Music May 1971
Live Music by Al Docker's group Tsar with Atom Disco (Al and Steve Varney) - Al Varney later became the bassist with Fission c1973. A piece in the Umbrella programme read "A freaky night for anyone who wants to listen to some good sounds!"
April 1971 Toadstool - John Brown's folk duo.
May 11th 1971 Don't Pick a Flower - John Leopold's folk duo. Poetry and Folk session. Contemporary and own songs.

May Tues 18th 1971 Poetry and folk with ROGER WILLIAMSON

Oct 19th 1971 Heron (London based contemporary folk group)

Members joining at this time Early 70's (although some of them had been coming to events a while before becoming members.
Jan Gage and Jan Coombs (Helped with publicising bands when Trevor was organising them in 1970 / 71)
Rosemary Jones (involved with the Folk and Poetry) Charles Bullen (Guitarist with Tsar) (Joined Sept 1971. Also Andrew Court and Nick Day.

Sectretary of the Programme Committee in 1971 was Lindy Watson (now Lyndie Brimstone) and on the committee were Esther Breakwell, Jim Ashworth, Maggie Heath, John Pinder and Gaynor Penton.
Other regular members at that time include Tes Walker, Malvin Preece (later DJ at the Village), John Scott, Jim Porter, Mick Cuttifoot, Lance Goodey, Sally Birch, Jenny Bowden, Doug Deakin, Pete Webb, Heather Lovatt

Advert form for Judas Goat in Cov Telegraph

Contract for the band Gentle.

From The Umbrella Programme.

Ra ho Tep


Cliff Cowling Trio

Jessica's Theme

Judas Goat


Love Zeus

Fresh Maggots

Drops of Brandy practices at the Umbrella

Rogation Sunday Letter

Ghost - Birmingham Band

Tea and Symphony

Al and Steve Varney's Progressive Disco

Umbrella Newssheet - 1971 Live Music summary

Al Varney - bass player with Fission 1973 - 5, also ran the disco at the Umbrella 69 - 72
Purple Haze etc.

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