Weekend Beatnik, Rif Mountain & the EFDSS present a 40th anniversary celebration of Village Thing (see below) and the lost songs, dreams and folkadelia of the early 1970s at Cecil Sharp House, London on 25th September. Includes Concerts • Sessions • Author Slam!
Among the artists who will be appearing:
From Village Thing’s basement: Wizz Jones (and Pete Berryman), Steve Tilston, Tucker Zimmerman, Ian A. Anderson, Dave Evans, Ian Hunt, Maggie Holland, Keith Christmas and Keith Warmington.
From up yonder Rif Mountain and beyond: Nancy Wallace, Jason Steel, The Owl Service, The Straw Bear Band, Pamela Wyn Shannon, Adam Leonard, Ellen Mary McGee, The A. Lords with Mark Fry and more special guests t.b.c.
In the literature lounge: Rob Young (Electric Eden), Jeanette Leech (Seasons They Change), Mark Jones (Bristol Folk), Will Hodgkinson (The Ballad Of Britain), Richard Morton Jack (Galactic Ramble) and Colin Irwin (In Search Of Albion) will perhaps illuminate the answer to that troubling philosophical question “what the f*** is psych folk anyway?”
Get yer tickets ere An all day ticket is £20 (£25 on the door).
What was Village Thing?
In the late 1960s and early ’70s, the contemporary folk scene in Bristol – centred on the Bristol Troubadour Club in Clifton village, the student quarter above the city centre – was the liveliest and most creative outside London.
Singer/guitarist Ian Anderson (then billing himself Ian A. Anderson to avoid confusion with a rock artist of the same name) founded Village Thing Records along with John Turner, the Troubadour’s manager and bassist with local surrealist folk/jazz/comedy outfit The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra and Gef Lucena of local independent label Saydisc.
Working out of offices in Park Street that they shared with local graphics company and rock promoters Plastic Dog, and subtitled “the alternative folk label” (decades ahead of the coining of “alt.folk”), Village Thing Records released two dozen albums and a few singles between 1970 and 1974. With immediate strong national press and radio support, the label prospered with its unique and hard-to-pin-down mix of established names and newcomers, original UK singer/songwriter/guitarists, some visiting Americans, and the odd folk entertainers. It was the contemporary folk scene’s complement to the more traditionally-based recordings being simultaneously released by Bill Leader’s wonderful Trailer label, and both were manufactured and distributed by the folk ‘major’ of the day, Transatlantic, partly via EMI. It was difficulties imposed by Transatlantic that caused Village Thing’s eventual demise in 1974. In their heyday, a typical Village Thing album sold around 2,000, whilst the biggest seller, Fred Wedlock’s The Folker shifted 20,000.
Over the years, Village Thing’s releases have gained an increasing cult status amongst collectors of contemporary folk and songwriter/guitarists, often gaining the more recent descriptions ‘psych-folk’ or ‘acid folk’ – neither terms existed in their era – and changing hands for high prices. A few of the albums – Sun Also Rises, Steve Tilston, Hunt & Turner and Fred Wedlock – have been re-issued by Village Thing’s parent label Saydisc, others by small collector labels like Scenescof and Lion Productions in the USA, Sunbeam Records in the UK, Vinyl Japan and Riverman in Korea. The Al Jones was briefly re-issued as part of a 2-CD anthology on Castle via Sanctuary and some of the Derroll Adams appeared on a European anthology but a number of these are already out of print.
There’s already a re-issue of all of Dave Evans’ The Words In Between plus the majority of Elephantasia on the Weekend Beatnik label. In 2010, Weekend Beatnik have released Time Is Ripe, a ‘best of’ the Ian A. Anderson albums, and will release Ghosts From The Basement a 20-track compilation of Village Thing’s songwriter/ guitar/ blues oriented material on 26th July to celebrate the label’s 40th anniversary in September 2010. Both the latter include previously unreleased tracks. Also planned by them is a CD re-issue of Al Jones’ Jonesville with five previously unissued tracks from the mid 1970s.