People from the era tell their stories.
» John Nation
Being born in Bristol and living and working in the city for all of my life has made me feel a strong pride in being a Bristolian. It’s a great city full of vibrancy and creative people with a beating heart at its source.
Ever since I remember being a young person growing up in the Barton Hill district of the city, music always played a huge part in my formative years. I went to school and knocked about with Paul Nelly Hooper, another Barton Hill lad who opened my eyes and ears to numerous styles of music. Firstly Punk & New Wave which we saw many of the early bands perform at Barton Hill Youth Centre known locally as the Dug Out.
Bands like Souxise & the Banshee's, 999, Slaughter & the Dogs, The Slits, Sham 69, Adam & the Ants, and then local bands such as the Pop Group featuring Mark Stewart, The Cortinas, the X Certs, the Pigs … From there thanks to Nelly I got into reggae and dub where I would go to Revolver Records to purchase tunes. At that time Grant Marshall aka Daddy G worked there. Also at that time fellow Barton Hill boy Gary Clail was holding sessions at Blues partys toasting with his Bristol twist on it.
In the early 80's Nelly went on to become known for his work with legendary crew the Wild Bunch and of course Soul 2 Soul. This for me was when I really got into the whole Bristol party scene and the Roots of the Bristol sound. Not only that, I got heavily into a new vibrant art on the streets - graffiti art - which 3D, Ian Dark & Z Boys, Nick Walker, Inkie etc. had introduced me to, and regularly I would hang out in Special K's cafe, as did many people at that time.
I would regularly attend House Partys, Blues, The Dug Out, Western Star Domino Club, Tropic's, Princess Court Club & Reeves. Anywhere where there were tunes dropping and the vibes were popping.
I just loved that whole 80's Bristol vibe, Smith & Mighty, 3 Stripe Posse, 3pm, True Funk, Fresh Blood, Fresh Four, Pig Bag, Blue Aeroplanes, the list is endless as were the venues and nights that were born out of this sound.
Bristol was where it was at for me, never liked the London Thing, there was just something about Bristol and it was a huge melting pot and fusions of beats and the people. I’ve met and made so many friends from this scene, as well as the graffiti scene UK wide, which I’m still heavily involved with. But For me the 90's were just as fresh & exciting.
Interview with Jillo Wisternoff
Words © John Nation