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Tamworth Arts Centre : History

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Letterbox - Big Moans from the Big Noise Man

Hello Sam/Martin,
This might be a long letter but please bear with me because I am quite annoyed.

Firstly, our gig with The Yogots and Sherbet Trees. Mr Martin Warrillow, who reviewed it seemed to think it was ‘dodgy’, ‘shambolic’, ‘sacrilege’ and not ‘sensible’. What we tried to do (my idea originally) was to do something ‘different’, but as I have learned in 1989, a band can’t do ‘different’ things, even in Tamworth because of people like Mr. Warrillow.

‘Whatever happened to conventional gigs?’ he says. I may be wrong, but I thought it would be boring to see The Big Noise and The New Puritans yet again, so we tried to enjoy ourselves, in an original way- something Mr. Warrillow obviously has no perception of at all.

‘Better audience reaction than Catch 23 last week.’ He said. It’s so difficult for Martin to understand, it’s a week before Christmas, the last gig of the year for most people, balloons, a Christmas tree, a vicar, a monk, a nun, etc…on stage, everyone just wanted to party, which they did, I’ve never seen so many people dancing at the Arts Centre.

Admittedly, we played not very well, but live gigs are not about musical ability: the Musicbox poll would be very different if this was the case. (Editor’s Note: You came fifth, remember!).

Obviously, Mr Warrillow would enjoy himself more at a ‘Bash Out The Odd’ gig, where they play their instruments properly, note perfect and technically good.

I know what you’re thinking, if you’ve read this far- it was Mr. Warrillow’s personal opinion, yes, and this was mine!

Secondly, this Arts Centre business. The band was playing for the paying of the lights and the stage. Well, perhaps I’m being very cheeky, but I think it’s a disgrace. New bands often make a loss on gigs there, £40 for an acoustically awful room, and a bar (which they must make money on). It doesn’t open until after 5 o’clock, so you have to rush to get the gear in, set up the PA and sound-check four bands (expected by Tamworth for some reason). Fortunately, the new bar staff are very helpful. The best thing that could be done is for the money ‘raised’ to be spent on polystyrene tiles or old carpet for the walls, to get rid of the dreadful reverb of the room.

I know that all this bitching is not your scene at all, but too many people just accept everything as they are. I don’t want to sound like a ******* but I am!

As for Mr. Warrillow, I don’t want him to come to any more of our gigs, because he will definitely be appearing in future handouts.

Carl (The Big Noise)
(P.S. This is all my view only, not The Big Noise or the New Puritans.)

- Sam Holliday replies…

- In defence of Martin Warrillow – I thought this review was quite fun and conveyed to those who missed the gig that it wasn’t your average Arts Centre bash. I thought his tongue was in his cheek and his comments were fair, and I’m amazed you took so much offence. Perhaps, bands in Tamworth are so used to getting ‘nice’, ‘positive’ reviews from me that when someone even slightly criticises, they can’t cope. Sad really.

- In defence of the Arts Centre – The debate around the Arts Centre has not fallen on deaf ears, and I have been impressed by the genuine desire to improve matters shown by manager Dave Fortune. Many groups, Catch 23, Kraze, Fetch Eddie, etc. – have rallied around since the last public attack and I for one feel that the criticism is a little unfair while they are trying to change things. Ask yourself this Carl, where would The Big Noise (or for that matter any local band) be without the place? Not fifth in the poll, that’s for certain!

Love, Sam, XX

Tamworth Herald- 19/01/90
Musicbox – Big Noise Letter (No.2!)
Dear Sam,

After reading Carl’s ‘big moan’ in last week’s Herald. I would like to voice my opinion on these matters as, if I was not a member of the band, the article would have given the distinct impression that The BIG NOISE are a bunch of mardy, ungrateful, selfish wazzocks. (My word – Ed!)

Martin is obviously entitled to his opinion and I thought he was fairly accurate in fact, if a little short of Christmas spirit. The whole point of gigs is surely to entertain people and all I can say is if the audience enjoyed every gig as much as this one I for one would be very happy. As for the Arts Centre – it has helped us get off the ground and it is understandable in these times that raising money is necessary when funds are so short for the venue. I personally think that $40 is fair – but that’s just my opinion. Finally thanks to all those that saw the gig on the 17th – it was above all a great night.

See you soon
Ben Machin (The Big Noise)

Tamworth Herald- 19/01/90
Musicbox – Arts Centre stages fundraising gigs – and discusses new hire charges for bands
TAMWORTH Arts Centre will host a trio of fund-raising concerts next weekend – at a time when it is considering new charges for local concerts.

The centre came under fire recently for the state of its stage and it responded by putting a brand new one in with some extra lights. The costs however were quite expensive, so without being asked, metal kings Kraze came forward and offered to set up shows to raise money to pay for the developments. Since then the likes of Catch 23 and Fetch Eddie have also pledged to play and with a Euphoria gig also taking place on Friday it will make for a weekend of fundraising for Tamworth’s most famous venue.


We hope to have more details in next week’s paper of who will be playing and when, but in the meantime bands may like to know that the Centre sis considering drastic changes to its hire fees. Dave Fortune is toying with the idea of installing an in-house P.A., abolishing the hire fee and then taking a bigger percentage of the door. This would certainly aid new bands who may not be able to guarantee a large crowd and would not have to worry about actually losing money. This is the practise in most venues throughout the country and Dave now wants to know YOUR views on the idea. Contact him directly at the Centre – or via MUSICBOX – to let us know what you think about the possible change.

Tamworth Herald- 19/01/90
Musicbox - Art for Arts sake!
Tamworth- Arts Centre this weekend stages three cracking fund-raising concerts with some of the biggest names on the local scene.
Catch 23, Kraze, Fetch Eddie, Spiral Eye and a ‘Euphoria’ rave are just a few of the delightful events planned to raise money for the centre this week and it promises to have all the feel and fun of a festival.
All three shows are designated to help finance the various improvements at the Arts Centre in recent months and all the bands have offered their services free of charge.
Six great bands will be playing over Saturday and Sunday- Spiral Eye, The First Conspiracy, Kraze, Fetch Eddie, The Big Noise and Catch 23 - but the whole thing kicks off tonight (Friday) with a Euphoria rave. Here is what is happening when, starting with a preview of the Euphoria gig by Ms. Jo Marsh…
Tonight (Friday) Euphoria Dance Event
‘Euphoria’ does its humble bit for stage salvation tonight by holding the second of many happenings. The previous December event was considered an astonishing success by the organisers, if only for the realised vision of a strobe flickering Arts Centre jammed solid with sweat-soaked dancers. The very few murmurings of discontent received on the night have been accounted for and thus the musical cross section covered will be broader than before, catering for the more discerning (i.e. whinging) ‘Indie Fan’, although dance is still the key word of the night. The message is clear: ‘do the magic boogie till we all black out.’ The rave is on! (7.45-Midnight, cost £1.50)
Saturday Night- Spiral Eye/ Fetch Eddie/ Big Noise
In real ‘Festival’ style, a very diverse trio indeed. The Spiral Eye boys are currently on a major national tour, picking up friends as they go with their rambling psychedelic rockslog and they will no doubt receive a big welcome from their hometown crowd. Fetch Eddie have also been away from these shores for a some time and will also be welcomed back with open arms by their Tamworth followers while The Big Noise make a bravely early return to the Arts Centre considering recent events! All told however it makes for a cracking three band line up and one which is likely to bring in a big Saturday night crowd.
Sunday Night- Catch 23/ Kraze/The First Conspiracy
Another splendid and highly varied line up comprising everything from pure metal to pure pop. At the metal end of the spectrum we have Kraze who deserve enormous credit for putting this whole Arts Centre fundraising event together. Kraze will continue to pull the crowds in with great regularity as do Catch 23 of course who will be looking for a celebratory concert for winning the MUSICBOX Band Of The Year accolade. Completing another spiffing line up are The First Conspiracy, a group who will use this important show as a major comeback gig after a recent line up change. They have been much missed and their re-appearance is just one more reason why you shouldn’t miss Sunday’s bash.
So there you have it, three good nights with, I am certain you will agree, something for just about everyone. All the funds raised will go towards the Arts Centre and as all the bands have volunteered to help and shown their concern for the place, surely YOU can do the same by getting along on one, two or three of the nights. It costs £1.50 on each occasion and starts 7.45-8 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The weekend starts (and ends) at the Tamworth Arts Centre. Are you ready for it?
Tamworth Herald-19/01/90
Musicbox - Carl Gets ‘em going
The recent letter from Carl of the Big Noise slamming the Arts Centre and a review of his band at the venue brought a big response. Several top bands contacted me to say they thought he was ‘out-of-order’ (some said a bit stronger than that!) but he wasn’t entirely without support. Here are two conflicting views of Carl’s letter - one in support, one very much not…
Dear Carl,
Congratulations on your letter (January 5), your usual waste of time and space, only this time a non-musical venture?
From you’re loathing the Arts Centre (‘dreadful reverb’ etc) – take it you won’t be performing there again?
Don’t worry, I’m not as optimistic as you are moronic.
Oh! But you really fancy yourself as the tortured artists don’t you? How dare Martin Warrillow ‘slag’ ‘Your baby’ (‘my idea originally’).
Oooh, Careful! You do seem to have difficulty grasping the concept of irony/sarcasm didn’t you?
Above your head? Something simpler?
You want clarity?
“Stop whinging you soft *******”
Glascote Heath
Dear Sir,
First letter of the New Year from me, and it’s in a theme I tried to get some support on four or five years ago – the Arts Centre. Many months ago, the bands were forced downstairs by Nick Ewbank after consideration – to be exact, he talked to Wolfsbane (who loved it downstairs) and not to Breaking Point, One On One or Caprice to name but three who hated it.
The room is poor in terms of being able to see a band (hence everyone standing on stairs in the back of the room)  and acoustically poor - anyone setting up a PA has great difficulty overcoming feedback problems. Funnily enough, on the same page as you’ve printed ‘Big Noise’ Carl’s letter, you have a photo of One On One. Dave Ingham, Tim Latham, and I (and I think some others) went to see Nick Ewbank after the ‘No more auditorium’ decision, and were basically totally disregarded. When I raised the matter (was it in the Herald?) shortly afterwards, the response varied from apathetic to hostile.
Carl, I’m 100% behind you in your displeasure with the Arts Centre. Dave Fortune has expressed himself as willing to help - perhaps he could use his position on the Arts Advisory Council to head some cash into the downstairs room of the Arts Centre, rather than having bands play to raise money for essential facilities? Perhaps, also, Tamworth bands should pay more attention to what is happening around them, and consider what long-term effect there will be on them of the actions of Arts Centre management, pub and club management etc. A New Years resolution for you all - ‘I shall not be apathetic!’
All the best for 1990 to my fellow Tamworth musos, and the Musicbox staff.
Mike Fleming

Tamworth Herald – 14/09/90
Musicbox – Arts Centre back on the map
The Tamworth Arts Centre looks set to have a renaissance.

The venue, which has been somewhat overshadowed by The Rathole in recent months, is to come alive again soon with a series of concerts under the banner of ‘The Phoenix Events’.

We have received an official press release about the aims of the events which reads thus…

“The Phoenix Events will be a series of weekly gigs at Tamworth Arts Centre featuring a wide cross section of Tamworth bands, providing a showcase for the more established bands and a platform for new bands trying to break through. The Events will be non-profit making for the organisers, giving bands an opportunity to capitalise on their own popularity by taking a direct share of any proceeds. The Events will in addition be fundraisers for the Tamworth Rock Festival of 1991. Some places are still available for bands wishing to participate in the gigs during October.”

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