WHAT ANNOYS – DELIGHTS – AND IS OFTEN UNEXPLAINED.
What is ANNOYING me this week?
What is DELIGHTING me this week?
BBC 4 Programme on The Story of Musical Halls with Michael Grade
Old Time Musical Hall music.
SOME OF MY DOINGS:
And so to the Edit – This has been the major activity of this last week and so it will continue for a while at least. The film Double Booked has moved into post production, which sees me sitting for hours in front on a computer screen.
In between the edits I have fitted in an interview with Maria Smith which she has published on her blog First Draft Café, along with some of the fantastic photograph collages that she put together from the stills she took on the night of the shoot.
You can read the interview and see more photographs here: http://t.co/ggoW8M4y
I have not written a poem for at least three months, but this is not worrying me as I have been busy on other things that have been discussed in this blog. I think it is good to take a break from writing in your normal medium. It is a chance to gain new experiences, a chance to consciously or sub consciously to take another view of the world that I write about. When I am ready to write again, which won’t be too long I am looking forward to see how my approach has changed.
So nothing new to read as I attend the first of this years readings tonight. The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club is at 7:30pm-ish at the Giggling Goblin Café in Ashby de la Zouch. This has turned out to be a wonderful mix of poetry, song and the occasional story telling. The host is Brian Langtry who has written many plays and musicals in his time, including one about the miners strike in the1980’s which tells the story of the 30 Leicestershire miners who held out in the strike action against the tide of East Midlands miners who returned to work. Brian often sings songs from these shows. The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club really good addition to the poetry calendar. Not to be missed.
Next week sees THE FIZZ – as said last week I will keep plugging the Fizz until the day – 24th January at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey with guest poet Gary Carr – plus Open Mic. – Admission is Free.
Followed on Friday 27th with Gary’s own evening – Spoken Worlds at The Old Cottage Tavern, Bykerley St in Burton OnTrent – Starts at 7:30pm – Sign up for reading slots in the Spoken Worlds famous 3 halves.
Over the weekend I caught a programme on the Story of Music Halls with Michael Grade. http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/the_story_of_music_hall/
It was wonderful to see how these fantastic palaces developed from bars into great architectural, sculptures. Palaces such as the Britannia Panopticon in Glasgow that had stars such as Stan Laurel perform on the stage. You can still visit following the work of activists such as Judith Bowers who realised the magical significance of the place and took it on to save and refurbish it. http://www.britanniapanopticon.org/1.html
Other Music halls such as Wilton’s in Stepney also survived due to forward thinking people who had an eye for the past. http://www.wiltons.org.uk/
It was my adventures into steampunk that drew my interest to the programme, my only previous experience of music hall was The Good Old Days, which I never really got as a teenager – but then this was the world of my parents – you don’t get that as a teenager.
But the musical hall stars were the rebel rock stars of their day. They we singing songs about sex before we thought it was invented. I never realised that songs such as Daddy wouldn’t buy me a bow wow were crude. Then there was Marie Lloyd, who was the punk rocker of her day, her material being far too risqué for the first Royal Variety performance, despite her being at the height of her career.
Other artists, dressed as the Victorian equivalent of Glam rockers, such as Champagne Charlie who performed drinking Moet & Chandon, who it later turned out, sponsored him to be seen with their champagne. Corporate Sponsorship is nothing new.
I saw similarities between the old time music halls and today’s poetry events which are held in bars and cafes and I wonder if we will ever see these develop into Poetry Palaces or better still, we reclaim these wonderful old music hall like Judith Bowers did and hold poetry events on the same stages that hosted Harry Lauder, Marie Lloyd, Vesta Tilley, Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin and Arthur Lloyd.
I am returning to MY LOST POETS this week,
with a Music Hall singer and songwriter ARTHUR LLOYD (1839 – 1904)
Now before you raise the question of whether this is poetry, I would like to qualify why I have chosen a music hall song writer as a lost poet. I know that the lyrics with their comic metaphors and innuendo are not high poetic art, but they were popular with people, indeed I could sing along to many of the popular music hall songs, they were catchy tunes and lyrics, they passed the Tinpan Alley old grey whistle test. So they have a quality about them, a charm that I want to understand.
Arthur Lloyd was born in Edinburgh, the son of a music hall actor and comedian, Horatio Lloyd and his wife Eliza Horncastle an opera singer. He was the third child of what became a very large family with many of his siblings becoming music hall performers.
Arthur developed an interest in becoming a music hall performer at an early age but was discouraged by his father who declared he would succumb to the demon drink and end up a drunk. The music hall was synonymous with drink. Entry was often free to the public with prices of the drinks stumped up to cover the costs. The performers had their own private bars just beyond the stage door, known as green rooms where they would rest between their turns; the temptation of drink was ever present.
However when Arthur was 15 his father relented and sent him to Plymouth to learn the ropes with Arthur’s Uncle Fred. It was during this time that Arthur ventured into his first Music Hall performances, he was given due reverence on his first turn due to him being the son of the famous Horatio, but by his third turn, the audience was less forgiving of this inexperienced performer. But Arthur persevered; eventually returning to Scotland to become part of his Father’s touring company. This was fine during the touring season but Arthur soon became disenchanted by only earning £2 per week and started to get his own engagements eventually securing a contract with the Whitebait concert hall in Glasgow that paid him twice as much.
He began by singing existing songs, such as song called Married to a Mermaid which was sung to the tune of Rule Britannia and was first performed as part of an 18th century musical play. His break through came with a performance of a song written by Sam Cowell (I’ve heard that name somewhere before!), The Railway Porter was a hit for Arthur, Importantly Arthur always credited Sam who had given him permission to use it. Copyright was always an important issue to Arthur.
Arthur’s career as a performer developed from here with performances all over the country at the music halls in Birmingham, Manchester and London. By 1863 he had started writing his own songs and became the most prolific of the songwriter performers writing and publishing over 190 songs.
His songs were comic, written the lot of the working class man the woes of his daily lives and the obstacles of attracting girls.
Songs such as:
Cruel Mary Holder (1866)
Not for Joseph (1868)
Take it, Bob (1880)
Arthur married Katty King in 1871 and they had seven children several of who followed them into the music hall, including Harry and Annie who both performed with their father.
Arthur continued to tour the provinces throughout his life and often appeared in the London Music Halls, he performed at several command performances for the Prince of Wales.
Katty died in 1891 and Arthur died in 1904 at the home of his daughter in Edinburgh and is buried in the Newington Cemetery in the city.
Arthur’s songs though popular in their day are in the main no longer sung anymore. The Music Halls went into decline between the 1st and 2nd world wars, the rise of cinema, radio and then television saw entertainment for the masses change and many of the music halls fell into disrepair and many were pulled down.
Pantomime is a remnant of the great age of music hall. Arthur’s songs were said to have a pantomime quality about them.
Whether they are considered as good poetry or not, they certainly give an insight in to what entertained people in the last half of the 19th century and early into 20th.
There is a fantastic archive of Arthur Lloyd – compiled by his Great Grandson Matthew.
SOME OF MY COMING SOON DOINGS
Jan 17th – Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
Jan 24th – THE FIZZ – Polesworth – Guest Gary Carr.
Jan 27th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
Feb 7th – Night Bluefruit – Coventry.