Library’s silence ends with explosion of post-Punk music and culture

Artists Roshi Nasehi, Dash MacDonald and Demitrios Kgotis (DashnDem)
Artists Roshi Nasehi, Dash MacDonald and Demitrios Kgotis (DashnDem)

Silence will no longer reign over Leighton Buzzard library as the punk culture explodes among the bookshelves.

An exploration into the role of libraries as custodians of local history will delve into Bedfordshire’s post-punk culture of the 1970s and 80s to create a contemporary living artwork through live music and theatre, plus a free, one-day film festival.

Steve Spon, left, with Graham Dowdall (Pere Ubu) at The Defekters rehearsals. Picture: Andy Wilshere

Steve Spon, left, with Graham Dowdall (Pere Ubu) at The Defekters rehearsals. Picture: Andy Wilshere

The movement which transformed music, art, fashion and continues to leave its mark on the modern day will re-emerge at Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre on two different days as part of the ambitious Library as Laboratory art project.

This has been imagining the future possibilities for the service in Central Bedfordshire, discovering how these cultural and community spaces can better serve our 21st century lives.

Silence will be broken in the library on Friday, November 27 at 7.30pm, when a raucous gig creates a new living history artwork, as Bedfordshire’s original post-punk mantel gets taken on by modern musical upstarts for the live recording of a unique compilation tape.

Created by artists DashnDem and Roshi Nasehi, the project, will pay homage to a 1986 cassette tape called Dump it on Parliament, made in protest of a proposed nuclear waste dump in the county, at Elstow near Bedford, and created by alternative musicians from Bedfordshire including The Twitch, Karma Sutra and Click Click.

The Defekters in rehearsals. Picture: Andy Wilshere

The Defekters in rehearsals. Picture: Andy Wilshere

Dump it on Parliament Revisited is being produced in partnership with Steve Spon, the frontman of influential Luton band UK Decay, who inadvertently coined the musical genre term ‘Goth’ that helped inspire a movement spawning the likes of Siouxsie & The Banshees and pre-fame Adam & The Ants.

Steve is working with local bands – including Spoilers, The Defekters, Corolla, The Kindred (from Luton), Grand Mal and Council Tax Band (from Bedford) – to produce covers of the original tracks and create new songs for the performance while, on the night, there will be surprise dramatic, theatrical interventions from Adventures in Theatre, Grove Youth Theatre (Dunstable) and Arts Leaders.

The Defekters recently made history by becoming the first band ever to play in Dunstable Library when they used it to rehearse the cover version and original song that they will play at the live gig, in front of the watchful eyes of Steve and Graham Dowdall, a member of avant rock legends Pere Ubu.

Then, early in 2016, all of this music will be included in a brand new Central Bedfordshire Libraries sound archive, documenting the era.

Post-Punk gig

Post-Punk gig

DashnDem said: “We don’t want libraries to disappear, but that means they have to move with the times while retaining what is unique about them. This project looks at how we can better emphasise their place as repositories for local history, making it more accessible and relevant today and to future generations.

“Socially, culturally and economically the post-punk period has similarities to the modern day but, fundamentally, it was a movement of people, artists and musicians that cared about their community and were socially engaged with what happened their towns. That’s why revisiting this era and reworking the music can help connect communities and generations, old and new.”

Tickets for Dump it on Parliament Revisited are £5 and available from https://centralbedfordshire.ticketsolve.com/shows/873540825/events/127523234/ticket_zones/867221/ticket_allocations/128537402.

For more information, go online to: https://www.facebook.com/events/934314119974192/

To set the scene for the show, there will also be a free one-day film festival on Saturday, November 21 (2pm-11pm), called This Is Now: Film and Video After Punk. The screenings will document the power of the post-punk artistic experiment with a series of rare, innovative, provocative and beautiful short films from 1979-1985, both from Bedfordshire’s underground scene and the London zeitgeist that spawned it.

Presented in partnership with LUX Films and the BFI National Archive, the programme includes works by influential filmmaker John Maybury and artists Cerith Wyn Evans, Isaac Julien and Grayson Perry, while key figures captured on film include Leigh Bowery, Michael Clarke, Siouxsie Sioux, Public Image Ltd and many more.

From 6.30pm there will also be a Q&A and panel discussion with host of guest speakers, chaired by music journalist and author David Stubbs, who has written for NME, Melody Maker, Uncut, The Wire and Vox.

The early 1980s saw the emergence of vibrant, ground-breaking new styles, techniques and perspectives in artists’ film and video. The panel will discuss the historical social and political background to this bold new wave of moving image production, looking specifically at the vibrant Bedfordshire post-punk scene of the time. Speakers will include Tim Morrison (Gorilla Tapes), Jean McClements (founding member of Gorilla Tapes and member of the Luton 33 Video Group) and Steve Spon of UK Decay, who produced music for several Gorilla Tapes productions.

This will be followed at 7.30pm by a screening of rarely seen archive footage from Bedfordshire’s alternative post-punk scene of the 1980s, featuring bands such as UK Decay and Click Click. For more information, go online to: https://www.facebook.com/events/1698670063700515/

Tickets for This Is Now are free but booking essential, available at: https://centralbedfordshire.ticketsolve.com/shows/873540819/events/127523222/ticket_zones/867221/ticket_allocations/128537385

Some films in the This is Now programme are not suitable for young people. Please refer to the film ratings on the festival line-up at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1698670063700515/

Bookings for either This Is Now or Dump it on Parliament Revisited can be made through the new Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre app, downloadable for free from the iTunes App Store or Google Play.

For more information on these events please contact Emily Finney at Bedford Creative Arts via email: emilyf@bedfordcreativearts.org.uk or call 01234 818670.