Back to the musical 70s


Lunchtime today I was up in the town centre at the annual Mayfair. Hoddesdon Churches together were giving away burgers and sausages in the centre and had managed to field a number of bands. There was a band from the Catholic church with what seemed like a vast number of guitarists. And a band of 14-15 year olds from St Cuthberts – my own son on keyboards. The music was definitely of a 1970s vintage whatever the age of the players – but I was struck by the fact that with the band of older players it felt like a comfortable pair of slippers they were slipping on once again after innumerable times. What grabbed me was the younger band who finished their set with an improvised instrumental after a quip about going into their jazz odyssey phase.  But their sound was anything but comfortable – they were playing prog rock ideas which were 30 years old without embarrassment or irony. They knew what they liked and belted it out – and it didn’t sound (to my ears at least) like a complete cliche – as it would have been if I had been playing it.  They finished with Bowie’s Suffragette City which was hilarious. I used to play that song with my band Asmodeus when I was at school. And Bowie was hitting the singles charts. Ahh proud father….
It also got me thinking that  churches make an inordinate contribution to music in proportion to their numbners. If church going is running at around 7% of the populatoin and a church of 100 has at least one band maybe two then we are talking perhaps 10 musicians  playing regularly. Churches these days have decent sound systems so they are great training grounds with the gear and the space. Getting places to rehearse and to gig is usually a nightmare in these times where every venue needs to have a performing license for more than 2 musicians. Churches are often outpunching their weight. St Cutberts uses 3 bands (not the one featured here) plus a choir and that’s not all the musicians – say a third of the members are involved in some kind of music in or out of church.



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