Saturday, 12 July 2014


      Flyer for the 1st 101'ers gig.....supporting "Matumbi" in a benefit gig for the Chilean Solidarity campaign

Extract from Chapter 3, "SQUAT CITY ROCKS"  All pics....Ray Eagle

".....I have talked about the obsession with music that gripped the original occupants of 101.  Simon was learning the alto sax and Pat had got hold of a bass. This was furthered by the arrival of Antonio who had experience with the drums, and then of Woody, who at a previous stage had learned chords from Tymon Dogg on various busking expeditions and had later gained some experience in a band or two down in South Wales before coming to London. Earlier that summer, Antonio had managed to borrow a drum kit from a squat up the road which he installed in the basement of 101. Similarly, the other equipment was assembled from various sources until finally there was enough gear for a group rehearsal. As Simon Cassell was later to comment:
    -   “I can remember the first band session in the basement of 101, with Pat, Woody, Antonio and me …… I can’t remember what we played, some rock’n’roll tune, but it had real energy and I remember afterwards we all thought, yeah we’ve got a band here.”

                                Rehearsal in the basement, 101 Walterton Rd (Drawn by Esperanza Romero)

Over the next few weeks the rehearsal room was “conditioned” as much to deaden the sound as to stop the sound from leaking outside. This entailed stuffing a mattress in front of the window and nailing a carpet or two to the walls. Broomsticks as mike stands  and beaten up old amps with their valves open to the air were the order of the day. By the end of August, Alvaro who was a tenor sax and piano player and who had in fact had success with a pop-rock band back in Chile had also started playing with the fledgling group, and apart from adding an element of musical experience to the proceedings, it was he who came up trumps with the offer of a possible gig at a Chilean Solidarity Campaign concert in South London. There was a problem though. Antonio had just left the country on a visit to friends in Germany. The band was without a drummer.

                                               Woody (Joe) and Pat on the bass. 1st gig The Telegraph, Brixton

Meanwhile, my musical endeavours with the clarinet had been supplemented by the acquisition of an old pair of bongos, which in turn had led me to the occasional solitary bash-around on the drums once they had been installed in 101. With little to lose by trying, I  accepted the suggestion to sit in on a rehearsal, I suppose you could say an audition. With  no small element of surprise I was subsequently offered the drum stool, which can only lead you to imagine the rudimentary nature of our music. Shock horror when suddenly we were informed the gig had been brought forward a week! I had less than a week remaining to get my act together!
It was just as well that the music we played was basic to an extreme. For the gig we prepared six songs, all  of them R&B standards: “Bony Maronie” – Larry Williams, “No particular Place to Go” and “Roll Over Beethoven” – Chuck Berry, “Gloria” – Them, and “Hoy, Hoy, Hoy”, a lesser known song by Chicago blues man Little Johnny Jones. The sixth song I’m not certain of, but think probably it was Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” or maybe Berry’s “Around and Around”….. the mists of time are thick at times. I got hold of a pad, and for quick reference wrote the structure for each song in my own notation. Something like:
    -   Intro count Woody,  pause,  BANG, BANG, BANG, Side/side 1ST verse, Solo Alvaro, verse 2 &3. END change Up/down, 4 times riff, Kerplunk for dead END”.

                                         Richard on drums & the back of Woody.... 1st gig, The Telegraph, Brixton

Woody was my drumming mentor those days. Apart from having owned a kit before lending it out to a friend, he was a Chuck Berry/ Bo Diddley fanatic, and their music was to be the source for my crash course in drumming.  We had a very basic system for classifying the rhythmic feel, the songs being either “Up and Down” or “Side to Side”:  the former being a straight rock beat, the latter with more of a syncopated shuffle feel. This was hard and fast rock and roll with a BIG FAT snare-drum back beat interspersed usually with one or two  thuds on the bass drum in each bar. It was pretty obvious that what was essential was not to lose the beat, and usually the song ended faster than it had started. This of course was much more preferable than to it slowing down. For someone coming in to drum with no experience, this music was perfect. There was no finesse required, just energy and application, and I loved it.

                                   Alvaro (Sax) & Simon "Big John" Cassell (vocals). 1st gig @ The Telegraph.

Alvaro (billed for the gig as “El Huaso” – a Chilean term for Gaucho) took the solos on Tenor, Big John sung most of the songs (and took out his alto on some) while Pat, Woody and I concentrated on the rhythm, Woody also taking the mike on a couple of tunes.  “El Huaso and the 101 All Stars”  made their debut at the Telegraph pub in Brixton the following weekend. The poster I have says Friday, 6th September. I am pretty sure it was a Saturday - it had that Saturday afternoon pub feeling. Whatever, we turned up at the gig to  support the reggae band “Matumbi”, although we had an uncomfortable wait as they arrived  late having had problems with their van. El Huaso was appropriately dressed in poncho and wide brimmed sombrero. The rest of us kitted out in our normal attire – myself with a hat that was a fixture I virtually slept in, Woody with a very old leather jacket barely held together at the seams ….  “Image” was not a concern. When Matumbi did arrive we had to ask them if we could borrow their amps and drums for our set. No problem. Real cool bunch of geezers as they sat smiling through our set and barely had time to come on and do their own.

So we had done it! Our friends, naturally enough, were enthusiastic. A number had come down south of the river to hear us and the general feeling was – “when’s the next one?” For me though, things were complicated. I had only been with the group a week, drafted in as a stand in, and with other plans in mind. Increasingly attracted to things Hispanic, I had booked a flight to Barcelona with a vague arrangement to meet with friends of Antonio. Within a week of the gig I was on a plane to new climes and unknown adventures. A week after I had left, Esperanza was to head home to Malaga and her novio, and meanwhile the band awaited the return of Antonio before its next outing."   

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