Bristol Archive Records Blog

My Festival Romance

June 11th, 2017

by Thomas Brooman
Book Review – Gerry McMahon
Well done to Thomas Brooman on getting his thoughts on the WOMAD festival experience down in writing. Brooman was the leading figure behind the WOMAD festivals’ international success, running from 1982 to date. At one point WOMAD – an international festival celebrating the world’s many forms of music, arts and dance – ran to ten festivals per annum. That’s no mean achievement.
His perspectives on the rigours, realities and roller-coaster rides of festival organisation make for a real good read. It offers rare insights and intriguing perspectives from the vantage point of the man with whom ‘the buck stops’.
Starting out on the festival trail as a 15 year old in 1969, the author can take some credit for leaving an indelible mark on the world of music festivals. One of the more interesting features of the tale is the phenomenal commitment to the WOMAD enterprise of Genesis’ front man Peter Gabriel. Whilst many stars of the music world are pre-occupied with their own status, Gabriel displayed an admirable selflessness and commitment to the promotion of what’s now labelled ‘world music’
The book is enhanced via various inputs, including anecdotes on liquidation and associated financial disasters, chastening drug tales, bad behaviour from sources as diverse as New Age travellers and Siouxsie and her Banshees, and a sample of reflections on the festival experience from Brooman’s mates.
The musical ‘glitterati’ also get a look in, as Brooman regales us with tales of his interactions with luminaries such as Nina Simeone, Bob Geldof, Van Morrison, Shane McGowan, Johnny Cash, Midge Ure, Thomas Mapfumo, Pete Townshend, Robert Plant, Al Green, Ginger Baker and Lenny Kravitz. He even bumps into comedian Billy Connolly in the course of his cross-continent excursions!
Notably, the author also offers some philosophical perspectives with a practical edge. For example, these include the observation that fame is often more a liability than an asset in life. He also warns that the music business – including band and festival work – is no gravy train. He had worked at it for over a decade before he ‘was ever paid a penny’.
Like many pursuits, festivals and the music business are ultimately all about people and relationships. Hence, Brooman’s experience and advice are noteworthy, concluding that you should ‘trust in others’, but you should ‘cut the deck and cut it again whenever you sit down to play’. Sad but wise words from one who should know!
Oh! It should also be mentioned he’s open enough to tell the reader that he was eventually sacked by WOMAD – albeit leaving us guessing as to why! Likewise, he’s also big enough to tell us that his first marriage failed – albeit leaving us to guess as to the impact of the music-festival business thereon.
Concluding on an upbeat note, the author tells us about the day he met the Queen of England to receive his ‘Commander of the British Empire’ award at Buckingham Palace for his services to music. Now I do recollect that reggae legend Peter Tosh had something to say about that carry on! Anyway, ‘whatever floats your boat’ – and the music business is better for the telling of this tale. Thanks Thomas. Go read.
To buy:

My Festival Romance first review 4/5 Record Collector

May 25th, 2017

Here’s the first review of the new Thomas Brooman autobiography – ‘My Festival Romance’ 4/5 in Record Collector.
My Festival Romance Record Collector 4 out of 5 review

Paul Jocelyn RIP

May 23rd, 2017

RIP Paul Jocelyn, legendary Bristol sound engineer, The Croft, The Exchange and prior to that his own PA company
Paul Jocelyn_n

Claytown Troupe – In Store Now

April 13th, 2017


My Festival Romance – Published 1st June 2017

March 29th, 2017

My Festival Romance

ALAN GRIFFITHS 12 April 1959 – 23 March 2017

March 24th, 2017

Alan Griffiths was a songwriter, guitarist and more, singer, frontman, producer and performer, and one of the most supremely talented musicians Bristol has produced.

His life changed when he saw Television and Blondie at the Colston Hall in 1977. It was both an inspirational ‘light-bulb’ moment, and the start of a life-long obsession with the work of Television, the band, Tom Verlaine and other members.

This led to his forming Apartment with drummer, Emil Joachim, and bassist, Richard White. The track ‘The Alternative’ on the seminal ‘Avon Calling’ compilation of Bristol bands, followed by a single ‘The Car’ / ‘Winter’, both released by Simon Edwards on his Heartbeat label, showed this was a group to be reckoned with. Radio One picked up on them as well, so Alan had already made an impact, barely out of his teens.
Spurred on to get out of his day-job as an electronics technician, Alan took the band into a new epoch in forming The Escape with Emil and new bassist, Neil Action and later Stuart Morgan. More recordings in the bedroom studio – dubbed by friends as the ‘House of Secrets’ – in his parent’s house in suburban Downend took his career to another level.

The band undertook a flurry of gigs all over the country, including the ‘6 Day Nightmare’ week of shows in London, and were getting local and national press and radio exposure, which led to TV appearances on ‘RPM’ locally and the ‘Oxford Road Show’ nationally. Radio One jumped in with the offer of a session on day-time radio, and all this hard work led to a record deal with Phonogram.

Although that deal didn’t work out for the best, it led to The Escape, then Alan as a session player touring with label mates, Tears For Fears, and for him on a more regular basis for many years co-writing, co-producing and working with Roland Orzabal. In the gaps between this activity it gave him the space to pursue a new, more textured project with John Kelly that gave us the music of White Hotel.

Alan had always been interested in production and music for TV and films, inspired by his love of Hitchcock movies, Bernard Herrmann scores and Gerry Anderson animations, and his expanded studio set-up gave him the opportunity to do so. His most regular ‘gig’ was for the ‘CSI’ franchise, while also writing for and contributing to Hollywood productions and adverts.

His had a rich and varied career. But for me his work with The Escape and Apartment – with all releases available via Bristol Archive – shows that his music and songs will always live on. When he ‘listening to the rain’, he was hearing something ‘else’, and ‘waiting’ for the inspiration to come. And it did.
He never ‘waited’ when that moment came. He just got on with it, and the muse and music flowed out. He lived life where he was true to himself. And to quote the first song by The Escape that I ever heard, he didn’t ‘want to steal time that yesterday never bought.’
(Dave Massey)

Alan Griffiths 2-Trinity 1979

Stormtrooper LP – Super Rare

February 8th, 2017

Available to order now! Stormtrooper Limited Edition (250 copies worldwide, 50 in the UK) on transparent Red Vinyl – ‘Pride Before A Fall’ (The Lost Album)

Super rare, super sexy and signed by the band. High Roller Records, Germany pressing on transparent blood-red vinyl, ltd 250, bonus 7″, 8 page booklet, mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel/ Temple of Disharmony. Beautiful product. To order follow the link:

The Stingrays – Must see show!

February 7th, 2017

Heartbeat, Fried Egg and Circus Records – THE STINGRAYS back in town – 40 years: Check this folks

Claytown Troupe – 8/10 review in VLR

January 29th, 2017

Claytown Troupe 8 out of 10 Vive le Rock album review

Claytown Troupe – Vive le Rock

January 29th, 2017

Claytown Troupe Vive le Rock Feature Jan 2017