Hungarian Rock Hall of Fame – Rock Museum in Budapest

A rock museum opened in Budapest on 8 February 2014 in the Radnóti Miklós Colosseum, a new cultural and event centre in the 13th district. The displayed material – posters, photographs and other documents, instruments, equipment, artwork – come from  a variety of sources, but mostly private collections, and encompasses the years of state socialism, from the birth of Hungarian rock and roll in the early sixties until the 1989/1990 regime change and even beyond. The event posters were often saved by promoters, who have now donated them to the museum; the instruments, equipment, as well as a few stage costume items come mainly from the musicians themselves. The collection is continuously expanding – the curators are aiming at collecting more material from musicians outside Budapest, as at the moment the display primarily focuses on Budapest and shows less of music making outside the capital. The exhibition also features an interactive map of Budapest’s rock music venues – mainstream and underground. The curators have also compiled an accompanying book. There is an accompanying Facebook community. It will be interesting to observe how the collection will grow, and whether online participation and discussion regarding our rock music heritage will continue to unfold.

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From ‘The Wire’ Magazine: Preserving Sound: A documentary on the British Library’s Sound Archive

The Wire describes itself as ‘an independent, monthly music magazine covering a wide range of alternative, underground and non-mainstream music’. 

This video linked here will prove instructive to those interested in music heritage and preservation. As described on the magazine’s website:

“The Wire takes a tour of the British Library’s Sound Archive, deep below its London residences on the Euston Road, to talk about sound conservation and take a tour of its collections with some of its key sound curators.

“The 20th century was about audiovisual material, our memory of the 20th century is heavily audiovisual, but our sense of the 21st century is going to be a different kind of audiovisual… archiving is not going to be so much about what we can bring in, but about what to exclude,” says Will Prentice, British Library Audio Engineer and Conservation Specialist.

Nathan Budzinski interviews Popular Music Curator Andy Linehan, Audio Engineer, Conservation specialist Will Prentice, and Wildlife Sounds Curator Cheryl Tipp.”

http://vimeo.com/74616017

Roma Café, Tampere

During my visit to Tampere on 7 June 2013, I was walking around Finlayson , the rehabilitated cotton mill factory area, now home to cafés, restaurants, offices,  museums, galleries and other creative spaces.

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I had just visited the fascinating, cleverly arranged Media Museum (see my separate blog post for photos) and a neighbouring gallery featuring an environmentally conscious exhibition centred around the theme of waste, when I spotted a large tent being pulled up in one of the open-air squares within the complex. I found out from the couple of young people setting up the tent that a Roma cultural event with music, dancing and food would commence in a few hours’ time, at 3pm. So I wandered off to town, visited the Klubi venue and Epe’s Music Store (I had already purchased my ticket for the Sauna Open Air Metal Festival the next day in Swamp Music earlier in the morning –  I had a brief chat with the staff, they assured me that there was quite a vibrant local music scene, even if most of the acts are not known outside Tampere) and returned to the Roma Café location. It wasn’t extremely busy, about 25-30 people were present while I was there, but the atmosphere was very pleasant; the Roma guests performed and taught dances, while those who weren’t brave enough to participate ate cakes and drank coffee.

I chatted to Elina Niinivaara, one of the organisers, who told me that the Roma had come from from Romania and were travelling around Europe trying to find jobs;  most of them have children and other family back in Romania, and they are trying to earn something to send back to them. This year the Roma involved in the event had come to Finland because they had heard there might be jobs for them  – which turned out to be not quite true.  Since finding a job remains so difficult, the travelling Roma remain economically and socially marginalised.  Elina explained that in Finland, they mostly stayed only for the summer months, when it is possible to sleep in cars or outside without freezing.  In the autumn they go back to Romania or to other countries, and many already  leave during the summer – many are disappointed when they find out the miserable work situation in Finland and try to collect money for the trip back home as fast as they can.

The purpose of this event was to actively facilitate the social involvement of this population, and besides raising awareness about the issue, to enable this minority group to assume a position whereby they have the opportunity to share their own culture and knowledge (e.g. through the teaching of dance and sharing their cuisine) and thus, so to speak, reverse their passive political position. Elina also invited me to the evening event that would follow, with a live music performance at a local bar. This proved to be much busier and livelier than the afternoon event; the first performance featured three musicians performing mostly popular Roma songs, and even some rock and roll; the second act was, interestingly, sitar music.

Of the group that performed  the evening club, at least some had been in Tampere the year before as well, but the Roma people at the café event were there for the first time, as far as the organisers know.

I wanted to record an interview with Elina but she was too busy; however, she and her colleague Stina Riikonen were kind enough to send me responses to my questions via email afterwards, so the following is based on the responses of both.

The organisers are a working group of 5-6 persons (plus several helpers). Some of them are visual artists, some students, some have been working in the social sector. The initiative had come from two of them who had met through a network working for migrants’ rights – they wanted to do something with the traveling Roma. As there was only two of them, and as they had started to think about some kind of a café event, they contacted a their friend Stina Riikonen, a visual artist who had been developing and organising a series of multicultural café events with changing cultural themes (http://kulttuurienkahvila.net/). Together they began to develop the idea further.

They contacted the Roma in the streets, in collaboration with a church-based centre that had opened a place for the Roma this spring where they can have a shower and get some clean clothes. They advertised this place for the Roma and at the same time created contacts and talked about their plans. They had an interpreter working with them a few times, which they found extremely helpful – it probably wouldn’t have worked without.

In the end they had more people willing to participate than they were able to take. They were trying to make sure that the selected participants would all be from different families, so that the payment would be equally distributed among the groups; and they were also looking for people with different kinds of skills and ideas.

They had several goals, including the following:

1) “to give some Roma a decent job for at least one day”

2) “to turn around the everyday situation so that at the event the Roma would be the guests of honour and the ones who teach and perform to the audience”

3) “to create contacts with the Roma and get to know their situation better”

4) “to break prejudices by creating interactive and intimate atmosphere where people can meet the Roma”

5) “to show that we see that all people are truly equal.”

In terms of evaluating the event, they have been very satisfied with the results: they feel that they mostly reached our goals and in some cases even achieved more than they had expected to. It is, however, difficult to determine how exactly the participants evaluated the event. But it is telling that they all spent the whole afternoon together (this was not expected from them, they could simply have performed their bit and left with the payment), danced and laughed. Several also asked if they were planning to continue, and at least one hoped for a common private party. The most touching evaluation for the organisers came from somebody who said that the day reminded him of his childhood, when they used to travel around in Romania with his family and work together, dance and play together and eat together.

To the question of whether they were planning anything similar for the future, the answer was yes and no. It was a lot of work for them to organise the event, and none of them got paid for it. However, they have been talking about possibilities to continue working with the Roma. The multicultural café event series will continue, but most likely with a different theme.

The event was financed through small grants from different sources: NGOs, the city of Tampere, the Social Forum etc.  Roma Café was organised in collaboration with Tampere Social Forum – it was not exactly part of it but a parallel event. They got a lot of help from the Social Forum and also visibility. The Forum was organised in the museum in the square at Finlayson, which explains the location for the afternoon event. For the evening club they looked for a place for quite a while and ended up in Artturi after some compromises regarding money, space, equipment etc.

(Tampere Social Forum is connected to other Social Forums – see Wikipedia)

The organisers thought multicultural events were quite commonplace in Tampere and there was quite significant interest in them, but the culture of travelling Roma was definitely not among the popular ones. Indian food, African music, or South American art sells well, but no-one would organise an event about the culture of travelling Roma (Finnish Roma minority, on the other hand, does interest quite many people). So in this sense this was also a political act: to invite and give stage to the people “most despised in our society.”

My many thanks to Elina for her company throughout the event, and to both her and Stina for the informative responses.

East Punk Memories – full documentary

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“In the mid-eighties, defying local regulations that prohibited illegal filmmaking, Lucile Chaufour shot Super8 material about a group of Hungarian punks and how they were struggling under the communist regime. More than twenty years later, she returned several times to interview the same people about what it was like to be a punk in Hungary, what punk stood for back then and how it has changed since and also how they see life in Hungary before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Is this what they struggled for?”

East Punk Memories – a film by Lucile Chaufour
With Kelemen Balázs, Tóth Miklós, Mozsik Imre, Márton Attila, Papp Zoltán György, Ványi Tamás, Rupaszov Tamás, Horváth Attila, Erdős József, Vojtkó Dezső, Asztalos Ildikó, Törjék Tünde
Including music by QSS, ETA, CPG, Kretens, Aurora, Modells, Bandanas

Source: http://toldimozi.hu/programok/east-punk-memories

Berlin visit 3-5 May 2013 Part I

Since my first visit to Berlin in September 2012 consisted only of one evening and one full day, and I used most of that time to observe All2gethernow’s music conference at Noisy Musicworld, I decided to return to do some further exploration of the city and its music heritage, as well as to become more familiar with Newthinking and All2gethernow. My host Andrea Goetzke made sure that I was able to do both.

In particular, upon Jez Collins’ recommendation, I was interested in visiting the Ramones Museum (truly amazing experience, especially for a Ramones fan like myself!) and participating in Fritz Music Tours. The latter on this occasion included a two-hour tour of Hansa Studios, led by Thilo (previously interviewed by Jez), which was then followed by a bus tour primarily centred around places related to David Bowie, as well as Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and others. Since Jez already reported on both the museum and the tour, I just want to mention how fascinating I found the sense of place the tour managed to convey – a sense of Berlin as a city for music making and creative inspiration sought out by people coming from various other parts of the world, both in the past, i.e. the Wall era, and in the present. Thilo’s amazing collection of photographs, which he showed us one by one as we moved from one room of Hansa Studios to another, or his demonstration of the Studio 1 mixing desk through playing music that was recorded at Hansa (Bowie’s Baal, U2’s One) made these locations feel less like the locus of heritage, and more a continuous, living source of exciting cultural activity.

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This sense was reaffirmed by a Bowie-themed exhibition (A Tribute to David Bowie HAUPTSTRASSE. The Berlin Years 1978-1978) at the small Egbert Bacqué Contemporary Art Gallery, where the bus tour ended. We were treated to an exciting introduction by Bacqué, the exhibition’s curator. As we learnt, upon hearing about Bowie’s new album, announced on the 8th January 2013 along with the release of a video for the new song “Where Are We Now” – a retrospective of Bowie’s Berlin years, which was in fact frequently referred to during the bus tour –, Bacqué immediately decided to alter the previously planned spring programme for the gallery and organise instead a homage to the artist. Photographer Joachim Seinfeld was commissioned to take photos of various sites significant in the Bowie story; besides these photos and the accompanying explanations, the exhibition also featured the work of various local artists inspired by David Bowie.ImageImage

Later I also spent some time walking around the Kreuzberg area, observing the variety of subcultural venues, and visiting places like the refugee tents in Oranienplatz – see the attached photos.

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Image(To be continued with a report on the 4th May WSLab workshop organised by Newthinking)

Made in Birmingham Online

I’m very pleased to announce that the ‘Made in Birmingham’ is now online and can be seen in full.

This film was made in 2010 under the auspices of the Birmingham Popular Music Archive (curated by Jez Collins) and produced by Roger Shannon and directed by Deborah Aston.

Made in Birmingham: Reggae Punk Bhangra tells the story and development of these three genres in Birmingham from the mid 70s to the mid 90s through the use of rare archive footage and interviews from those who were actually there.

Footage from bands like the Killjoys (pre Dexys), UB40, Steel Pulse, Musical Youth, Beshara, Swami, Apna Sangeeta, Au Pairs, Prefects, Fuzzbox and The Nightingales and others are interspersed with interviews with UB40’s Brian Travers, Paul Foad and Pete Hammond from the Au Pairs, Musical Youth’s Dennis Seaton, Steel Pulse’s Amlak Tafari and many others who highlight the social and political issues of the day and how the music of that time reflected the diverse communities of Birmingham.

This is a great insight into Birmingham and some of its rich musical heritage.

Berlin (continued): I was a passenger…

Jez Collins continues the report on the Berlin mobility.

Cultural Spaces and Places

Taking its name from the third Eric B and Rakim LP, Let The Rhythm Hit Em is a mixed media exhibition being held at the rather imposing and impressive Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien.

The exhibition looks at the relationship of and between art and music. With over forty artists exhibiting there was a broad range of art on display some which grabbed me, others less so. I was really interested in the venue however. If I understood Nadine and Jana right, the venue has been ‘given over’ to arts and cultural organizations in Berlin to use as a exhibition and cultural space on what I understand to be no, or very low, rental charges. This allows for experimental rather than commercial interests to be at the forefront of programming.

Apologies to the artists for not noting their names down when taking the photos (the beer was strong!)

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The exhibition is on until the 15th January

Heritage and Tourism

UK Music recently published a report into the economic value to the UK of music tourism http://www.ukmusic.org/assets/media/UK%20Music%20-Music%20Tourism.pdf Likewisem popular music is often used by agencies at national, regional and city level to illustrate the role it can play in social, cultural and economic well-being. Its importance can be illustrated by examples as varied as the Seattle Music ExperienceBritish Music Experience or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A central aim of our Leonardo research project is to explore the place of music heritage in our partner cities, so we were really pleased to find Music-Tours Berlin which became a welcome part of our itinerary.

We signed up before we left England and opted to take the three hour bus tour, joined by our Spanish partners, Marga, Israel and Chris.

We met tour founder and guide Thilo Schmied outside of Hotel Adlon at 9am. Famous, as we were to find out, as a bolt hole of presidents, kings and princes and the King of Pop – Michael Jackson – and his son Prince, along with Paris and famously Blanket. For it was here that MJ dangled his son Blanket over the balcony to his fans and a rather large number of paparazzi. And so we kicked off our tour.

The tour took in the world famous Hansa Studio’s were Iggy Pop, David Bowie, U2 and countless others have recorded, the house Iggy and Bowie shared, the bar next door they drank in, some of Nick Caves hangouts, the site of Tresor, the home of Berlin techno as well other clubs that have given Berlin the unofficial club capital of the world title.  These are just a couple of the sites we saw but what really made the tour for me was Thilo’s personality, passion, knowledge, and pride in Berlin.

Thilo obviously knew the stories, the people and the history of the city and its music but his enthusiasm in making sure we also got to know some of this history left a lasting impression. It was so much more than just a list of places which would have been the easy, but boring, thing to do. It was easy to understand how music was entwined with the city’s history, no more so than in this interview with Thilo. I could easily travelled around with him all day, alas he had another group that afternoon.

523740-Thilomemory from BCMCR on Vimeo.

So what made him start the tour?

For Thilo, he was embedded in the music industry when he spotted an opportunity which he thought he could exploit by using his local knowledge. Working with a number of partners, Thilo is constantly changing, refining and creating new tours as he welcomes bookings.

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All2gethernow

Paul and I were invited to speak at the All2gethernow event that was taking place as part of the Berlin Music Days event. Our German partner, Andrea Goetzke, was responsible for helping to organize the event which also included the UK organization, Un-Convention, who organised the Un-Convention Factory.

All2gethernow brings together speakers from across the wide music spectrum, commercial and cultural, to discuss, share, meet and hear new ways of understanding music in the digital age.

The event was held at yet another amazing Berlin venue, Kater Holzig which in turn was the new site of the legendary Café 25 venue.

We had an ok turnout for our talk, I think there may have been some language difficulties, but it was good to start talking about our projects and practices outside of an academic audience.

The event also had some of our friends talking and presenting: John Robb, punk, journalist, print and online author; Steve Lawson, musician, and educator; and Ruth Daniel founder of Un-Convention.

We dipped in and out of the event as we were zig-zagging all over Berlin meeting interesting people, but what I saw I enjoyed and overall Berlin was a real eye opener for me. I think there is much here for the Leonardo project to learn and report on. The use of spaces and places, the support given by city and state agencies and the attitude of the people.

I’m sure we will be back.

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