WHY IS S.E.LONDON SUCH A BREEDING GROUND FOR MUSICIANS?
It is reckoned that in Lewisham, Greenwich and Southwark there are more
Musicians' Union and Equity card-carrying members pro-rata than in any
other London borough.
International music stars from the area are well documented.
David Bowie, Squeeze, The Bromley Contingent, Peter Frampton,
Norman Cook, Gallagher & Lyle, Dire Straits, Ginger Baker ...
But there has been a thriving counter culture for many years too.
Charles Hayward, Sidi Bou Said, Keith Tippett, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band,
Conflict, The Llama Farmers, and Jenkins himself typify this diversity.
And these are incomplete lists of the famous.
So what is it that makes S.E. London such a music hotbed? Something
in the local waters perhaps, some of which are also forced underground
to pursue a course outside the mainstream?
Ten or twenty years ago you might have pointed to the gig circuit as
a functional infrastructure to support all this creativity. OK, we might
not have been so generous at the time, but we've since learned how 'lucky'
we were. But the loss of all those venues has had little effect on the
well-spring of talent.
Grass-roots musical activity is as frantic as ever with the likes of
The Balloons, the Brain of Morbius, Sample Terrorists, Joe Bazouki
shoe-horned into tiny gaffs, then nipping abroad to earn some money.
And check the free festival circuit and try to find one without a South-East
- Sunsnsake, Inner Terrestrials, P.A.I.N., Tragic Roundabout, Headjam
all out there and in many cases helping to organise the festivals.
Billy Jenkins has based himself in the thick of this racket all his
roughly along the line of the River Ravensbourne from Bromley up to
Wood Wharf at Greenwich near Deptford Creek and back to Lewisham.
No-one has written more music about South-East London than Billy, with
albums like Sounds like Bromley, Greenwich, and Still Sounds
like Bromley, full of aural images such as Dreadnought Seamen's
Hospital, Parking Meters and They Built a Ring-Road in my Garden.
And, in 2010 - I Am A Man From Lewisham, with compositions including
Deptford Market, (On) Catford Broadway and Francis Drake
See Vox Pop for a compilation of replies.