Sunday, 29 June 2008



Arthur Brown was born in Whitby in 1944. His dad was a pub pianist who undoubtedly tickled the ivories in many a Whitby hostelry. A sort of 1940s Mark Liddell, if you will. The family moved to Cardiff when he was 11, but he was born within earshot of St Mary's church bells, and that's what counts.

Indeed Arthur was a religious man, a devout christian. In 1968 his debut LP with his band, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, was hailed as a landmark. The lineup was Sean Nicholas on bass, Vincent Crane on keyboards and Drachen Theaker on drums, later to be replaced by Carl Palmer. Unusually there was no guitarist.

The highlight of this album was a five track mini opera about the conflict between the comfort of sin and the fear of Hell! Of course everyone remembers Arthur from his appearences on Top Of The Pops singing the chart topping Fire! because he wore a burning hat and proclaimed himself 'The God Of Hellfire' in no uncertain terms. Click on the video near the bottom of this article to see Arthur baking his psychedelic brain for your entertainment. You don't get that on Britain's Got Talent!

So Arthur almost certainly wouldn't be allowed into Rosie's on two counts. He clearly contravenes the stringent hat policy of North Yorkshire Police, and Fire Safety Regulations would also be breached by his incendiary titfer.

Sadly, after the success of his first album, things went a bit Pete Tong. He was sued for nicking the tune for Fire! off somebody else. Then, to cap it all with a fiery trilby, halfway through the first US tour Crane and Palmer left to form Atomic Rooster. Later Carl Palmer went on to be the Palmer component of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the bastard!

He carried on for a bit with little success, until Alice Cooper nicked his act hook, line and sinker. Arthur hung up his inflammable headwear and eventually became a carpenter. Jesus would've been proud

Saturday, 28 June 2008


As I write this Glastonbury is in full swing. A quick glance at the telly and Amy Winehouse is stumbling about looking thin as a rake. Eat some pies lass!

Its a sure sign that June is over and done with and July is about to start. I can see the coachloads of pensioners arriving now, complaining about the price of the Superloos and that the fish dock smells of fish. Its a FISH DOCK!

But there's lots to look forward to in July from the cream of our musical elite. For instance...


During July the Yabbas are doing a World Tour of The Star Inn, Whitby. They've also got a slot with The Blue Meanies and POPWATCH favourite Carl 'Wonderful Land' Robinson at The Spa Pavilion, just to break it up a bit.

July 3 - The Star, Whitby

July 10- The Star, Whitby

July 18- The Spa Pavilion

July 31- The Star, Whitby


Still after a new drummer as far as I know. I'll keep you updated though, in case you're fretting about it.


Speaking of drummers, Matt has now been officially installed on the Merkin's Myspace site, so he's definitely got the job. A contract of employment is being drafted as we speak. He doesn't have many heroes though. Just Pennywise up to now.


Very quiet at the moment on the Rangam front. I hope its not a sign that Heath's given up. Rangam have given many young bands a chance to play, and also brought loads of bands to Whitby that wouldn't otherwise have played here in a month of Sundays. When nobody else was doing it, Rangam were there flying in the face of apathy. Support Rangam and buy Heath a drink. Hero!


Always flagged as being 'Our very own answer to The Arctic Monkeys', but they're better than that. Their own songs are definitely gaining in stature and they're always exciting to watch.

July 6 - Culture Shock Festival, Northallerton

July 13- Border's Bookshop, Middlesbrough

July 20- Empire Red Festival, The Empire, Middlesbrough

That's 48 bands in one venue. It starts at midday and goes right through until 11pm. £5 in advance. I'd say that's value for money.


There's going to be an Ammonites CD out later this year it seems, on the Reverb Worship label, so keep a seasoned ear out for that gem.


A demo of a song provisionally called Seconds Out is available to listen to on Jon's site. Its songwriting as it should be done. Surprising lyrical twists and turns make it a punchdrunk lo-fi jewel. He hasn't got a name for it yet though, but he's open to suggestions. Also if you could chip in with a middle eight he'd be grateful too. However, as always, timewasters are actively encouraged.


Two magnificent songs recorded at the band's recent sojourn to a metal studio in Sheffield are now up on the Discarnate site. I don't know how they get the drums to sound like that either, you know where the bass drum goes right fast? Crikey! Click on the POPWATCH link to hear Purge The Unclean and The Voice Of Insanity.

An article on the mysterious Discarnate should be gracing POPWATCH soon, if the band send me the answers to my questions back. Keep a death metal eye out for that.


The lads are currently looking for gigs and polishing their shoes like nobody's business.There's a great video of them doing a song called Chimes on their MySpace site, which is in the POPWATCH links section. It also features Mark Liddell walking across the stage and fiddling with the mixing desk thingy a bit. Genius.


The Fraggies, as I like to call them, are putting on a gig at The Coliseum, Whitby on July 26th. Its a Whitby based version of the successful Music In The Basement shows they've been curating in Glaisdale recently. As well as their good selves you'll see Andy Stone, Barbara Hellen, Miles Cain and The Committee if you go. If you don't go, remember 90% of accidents occur in the home, so you're probably better off going out anyway. Safety first!

Also they play Kirkby Fleetham Folk club on July 19th in Northallerton.


Always busy. Pop over to their site, which is in the POPWATCH links for full details.

July 4 - Thornborough Festival

July 5 - Culture Shock festival, Northallerton

July 16- The junction, York

July 25- The Ship, Marske


Yes, even after all the time you've just spent reading this, Utoxator are still looking for a drummer! Have you tried down the back of the sofa lads?

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


Tuesday 15th July, 8pm
The Station Inn

A chance to pit your pop wits against the cream of the local music scene at a special one off fundraising Pop Quiz! Entry fee: £1 per person, maximum of 5 people per team

Following the fantastically successful gigs at The Resolution, Whitby Now's tuesday fundraisers take a slightly different tack and a new venue -many thanks to Colin and Andrew at The Station Inn for letting us take over their lovely pub for the evening.

... so come on popwatchers, get together with your band, your family, your workmates and put together a team to find out who has Whitby's biggest pop brain!

Saturday, 21 June 2008


Gentlemen, have you ever tried getting into Rosie O'Grady's to see Carl Robinson play his astonishingly accomplished covers of Shadows tunes (Wonderful Land is a particular favourite) with a hat on?

Every Thursday we go there, and I often wear a small wooly beany type hat, because it is my right to do so. It has nothing to do with male pattern baldness and the fact that the wind off the harbour is a bit cold sometimes. Let's just get that straight. OK?

A friendly bouncer always asks, in a very polite fashion, if I will be kind enough to remove the offending item of headwear prior to entering. This is on strict Police advice. No hats in Rosie's! So does this rule apply across the board?

Well apparently not. Goths are allowed in with hats on! Let's just think that through for a minute, shall we? It means this fellow on the left, who could quite clearly be hiding a huge sharp scimitar, or even a loaded AK47 under that gargantuan stovepipe topper, would be welcomed in to order his cider and black, before killing everybody.

Rabbi Joel Dinnerstein here, who merely wants to watch Keith Newby in his 'Rock Of Ages' jacket perform a disappointing version of Parisian Walkways, would be turned away. Why? Because of his dangerous cap, of course.

Still, looking on the bright side, there's no chance of Jamiroquai ever playing Rosie's!

Hats off to North Yorkshire Police!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


Click Here For A Tribute To Jack's Shoes

Writing a blog can be a lonely lifestyle choice. Sitting here on a Wednesday night with the rain hammering against the window and a tiny woodlouse scuttling over the laminate floor under the gas fire, which remains switched off due to escalating fuel bills. Maybe he's going to a woodlouse gig?

Anyway, tonight the renowned art critic Brian Sewell has found a window in his busy schedule to help me on POPWATCH. He's agreed to cast an expert eye over the posters each of the bands fashioned for this show. I hope you find his insights enlightening.


This was the first time The Scarlett Alliance had played as a duo, so understandably nerves were in evidence. Speaking to Jack after the set, he admitted that his head was down at the start, but after a few numbers were safely under his belt, he gained in confidence and started realising that they have every right to be proud.

A nice raw guitar sound and Sam's solid drumming propelled the songs forward, and its so refreshing to hear something other than a guitar/bass/drums/vocals combo. Personally I was looking forward to their second set, only to be told they weren't doing one! Bah!

Sam says they had practiced one long(ish) set, so that's what they did. I would have liked to have seen them take to the stage a second time, because I think they would have gained some bottle and been a bit more brassy. Failing that, maybe one of the bands should have opened the evening and The Scarletts maybe gone on after that. But its all conjecture, and I know Sam and Jack will be writing some new original material to engage our ears at a later date, because they said so. I hope they were pleased with their first ever gig. They certainly should be.


Ah, the lure of scarlet and the vision of young men portrayed on a strip of celluloid at a jaunty angle. This composition cleverly juxtaposes the motifs of film, conjuring up images of Hollywood in all its decadent, technicolor glory, with some writing that tells you what time to come.

It's aesthetics and function, if you will, combined in one dazzling artifact. A red and black manifesto of intent and meaning. A bit of paper with some pictures on, to be brutally honest.


Firstly I should apologise for taking so long to put 3 Foot Ninja's link up here on this POPWATCH blog thingy. Its my fault because it seems there's something that doesn't allow bands to join me as MySpace friends. I've no idea how that happened, but I intend to sort it out quicker than you can say Jack Robinson.

Speaking of Jack Robinson, its a complete coincidence that 3 Foot Ninja actually have no one in the band of that name. Joe Bell plays bass, his brother Jordan is the guitarist and Sam Power drums like a dervish. They all sing too, which I always think must be particularly hard if you're a drummer. Mind you, Phil Collins used to do it, didn't he? He was rubbish though.

The Ninjas were thoroughly professional, as befits a band that has supported The Subways on tour, and as full of energy as one of those radioactive clouds off science fiction films that has lightning inside it. Highlights of their set were Bloke I Don't know, which was released as a single, and Nightmare Return with its catchy 'She's in the back of your mind' chorus. Apparently they're currently working on another single. I bet its Nightmare Return? Good song, that.


Notice the use of many different typefaces in this magnificent visual feast. They represent the difficulty and futility of ever finding love in a bitingly negative world, with all its different multi layered methods of communication.

The boy with the guitar clearly stands for the torch of reason, shining out like a beacon of light in a desolate wasteland. Or Loftus, as I believe its known round here.


James Forster is as daft as a brush. For the first set he wore a funny hat and a green shirt with a white cross on it. For the second set he donned a ridiculous black sticky out wig. Then somebody told me it was his real hair! Sean Danby played drums with aplomb (which is normally a word reserved for use only by football commentators), and Mike Purves played bass with, well, a plectrum I would imagine.

That's the trouble with the youth of today, instead of joining The Boy's Brigade or doing voluntary work in a Nursing Home owned by a millionaire with cold eyes, they insist on grouping together and playing loud music to dissolute drinkers in previously respectable hostelries.

Stupid Tourists was marvellous, as always. There seemed to be one about tying up your shoes and standing in poo, which is a subject not covered by many bands, so hats off to The Panda's for drawing to our attention the shoe/poo interface scenario.

There was a very brave and moving song about James' Dad too. Respect!


The first thing you notice is that there are no people in this renaissance masterpiece. The rectangular shapes of the amp and speaker contrast with the guitar's slender neck leading to the body of the instrument with its feminine, almost voluptuous curves. But I'm not really into that kind of thing, me.

Interestingly, the artist wants us to arrive at 7.30 on this one, a full 30 minutes earlier than the others! Is there really any benefit in being premature? My partner claims not.

I'm told that the manufacturers named this particular amp in my honour. I thank them for it, but I can't quite make out what it says!

Bye for now.

Many thanks to Jean, who contributed all the band photos without knowing.

Monday, 9 June 2008


There are now two chances to vote here on POPWATCH, so exercise your right to democracy immediately!

You can vote on what you think Whitby Now should concern itself with in the POPWATCH poll, but that won't change anything, its purely to gauge opinion and create an impression of what people think about what is surely a major asset to the town's musical community. Its not been endorsed by Whitby Now, neither is it meant to undermine them in any way.

Secondly, but way more importantly, you can vote for THE MERKINS! Yes Pug is standing for Mayor. If you vote him in he'll get to wear that right chunky chain thing. Can you imagine seeing his picture in The Gazette opening the new Homebase by unveiling a plaque featuring a picture of Saint Hilda holding a hammer and a nail gun? Of course not, silly! The Merkins need your help to become BAND OF THE WEEK on the Freaky Weasel Promotions site. If they win the site gives them loads of promotion, which in turn promotes Whitby and Whitby Music.

You see where it says THE MERKINS in blue here? Click on there to got to The Freaky Weasel site. You vote by leaving a comment under the photo of The Merkins. You'll find a Band Of The Week section with our heroes and a selection of no hopers. Click on the link and vote Merkins! The only slight snag is that it seems you have to be a friend of Freaky Weasel to vote. So put in a friend request now! Lets knock Whitby apathy on the head good and proper, with a big iron clawhammer! Oh dear, its back to that DIY theme again!

Here's Clicker with a nail gun, who'll come to get you if you fail to vote. Probably.

Saturday, 7 June 2008


Yes, its Whitby Now fundraiser time again next Tuesday. Three fantastic beat combos are being offered up for your delectation this time. So to whet your appetite, here's what's on the menu, starting with a dish that surely falls foul of the World Wildlife Trust guidelines?

As cocky as a peacock coming out of Boots' with his first condom. Its music you can bounce up and down to whilst wearing a ludicrously coloured shirt and wraparound shades, even during the thickest sea fret since Captain Cook was a bairn. And yet, incongruously, they're still officially the housewives' choice.

Panda Lasagne: Minced Giant Panda meat between layers of Italian pasta. Currently available at The Moon and Sixpence. Do you want that with fries or spicy potato wedges?

There's an in depth expose of this duo further down this page, so if you peruse that you should be able to work out where they're coming from. Lets just say if Jack White had been born in Ugglebarnby instead of Detroit, this is what he might have sounded like.

First ever gig with drummer Sam. Minimal, raw and heartfelt Esk delta blues of the highest order. The highest order!

One of the professional bands at the last Whitby Now. They kicked in with the first song immediately their introduction was over. The rest thought it was a cue to begin tuning up.

To hear them, click on the link in the POPWATCH links section. Wait a minute! There is no link! Maybe they never replied to my message? Maybe they don't like parochial local online fanzines? Maybe I'm too old, and they're so young? There are so many maybes and so few definites in life, aren't there? Discuss.

Friday, 6 June 2008


Here's a nice safe band construction kit: You get three likeminded mates, a guitar, a bass, a drumkit and a microphone. Add a book of indie chords and you're off!

Except The Scarlett Alliance didn't do it like that! Jack had been playing guitar for three years or so, always meaning to form a band but nobody seemed to be on the same wavelength. When he was offered a gig by Jericho Keys of The Banter at The Res, he thought "why not?" Who needs a band anyway?

"It was the night of my first gig and I had such a big crowd (Which I couldn’t believe), but all I could see at the front jumping around was Sam. He looked like he was enjoying it and I had always meant to ask him whether he was interested in drumming, as I knew he was good from school." And so The Scarlett Alliance as we know it today was born.

Jack and Sam knew each other from their first days at college, but were never best mates. Yet their friendship has blossomed since forming the band, despite moving in different circles outside The Alliance. Jack still plays footie a fair bit, although not as much as he used to. Sam's more your beach bum. Surfing when the waves are good, dreaming about surfing when they're not.

Their view is that there's more encouragement for young local bands at the moment than ever before. As Sam says "Just look at us, this is our first gig and it’s for Whitby Now!" Big fans of The Banter's wiry edginess and High Tide's chill out aesthetics, Sam was also well impressed by Yabbadabbadoo when he saw them last week. On the Whitby music scene Jack reckons "It’s a bit of a mixed bag of genres, which can only be good I think."

Inevitably comparisons are going to be drawn with a certain other guitar and drums duo. "It was always going to be hard for me to try and avoid sounding and looking too much like The White Stripes", claims Jack. You only have to talk to him for a few minutes before references to the red clad twosome start popping into the conversation. Their own name derives from the fact that Jack White's daughter is named Scarlett (don't forget the two ts at the end there!), but there was an episode of American Dad featuring a sinister organisation called The Scarlett Alliance as well. On a less wholesome note, they also share their moniker with the official organisation of the sex industry workers of Australia, but we'll gloss over that!

With The Kooks and Razorlight on Sam's list of favourites, and with Jack namechecking the magnificent Seasick Steve and Duffy too ("such a sexy voice, and a very good singer."), other influences may well seep into the new songs they're planning to start working on after the Whitby Now gig. "As soon as we've played this one we are going to try and write some more , I have some material ready to go, but we've been concentrating on this gig too much to finish them."

Both self taught musicians, there is a directness and authenticity to their sound. Couple that with lashings of fuzz to set the fillings in your teeth rattling, and you're onto a winning formula. No recordings of them playing as a duo exist, but to catch a flavour of what to expect, nip over to The Scarlett Alliance's website via the magic of the WHITBY POPWATCH links column. Of course this is no substitute for the real thing, to get the full effect go to The Res on June 17th and surf the waves of fuzzed out guitar and drumbeat whilst still clutching your pint.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


Rumour has it that somewhere up on The Ropery is a warehouse stuffed to the brim with old vinyl discs awaiting loving homes. I found out about this mythical Aladdin's cave of untold treasures one day when I wandered into that jeweller's opposite The Little Angel.

At the back of the shop are a couple of boxes of vinyl. I thumbed through to see if there was anything of note, but it was the usual stuff. U2, Leo Sayer, Neil Diamond, that sort of thing.

The guy behind the counter asked what I was after, and I told him I'd been looking for some Kraftwerk since a couple of LPs mysteriously vanished into a black hole some years ago. I think the black hole was Mark Watson's bedroom.

He made a phone call and I was told that Computerworld and Electric Cafe were in stock and he'd have them in the shop tomorrow. £11 for the pair!

I know they sell a few in Oxfam, but there don't seem to be any second hand record shops any more, so for me Al's Tracks was a godsend. The stuff is mostly fairly mainstream, but they do have stock that isn't on the website, so its worth asking if you're after a particular record.

Granted its not as satisfying as thumbing through racks of dusty albums before turning up a forgotten gem, but if you live in Whitby, its the next best thing!

Click here for a link to Al's Tracks. Happy Hunting!


The mighty UTOXATOR are still trying out drummers, so if you fancy your chances bashing away behind Alz, Luzio and Dan 'Mosha' Myers, all may not yet be lost. In the meantime they've recorded a new EP, due to be out this Summer on Left-over Music, with their soon to be departing sticksman Ben.

Splendidly unwholesome sounding Death Metallers DISCARNATE are currently working on songs, and they're off to record them on June 21st in a Sheffield studio. That'll be Wayland's Forge I should imagine. Dave's promised to keep us updated on their activities, so keep POPWATCH bookmarked!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008


I've been to a couple of really great but pretty sparsely attended gigs recently, Jim Moray a Radio 2 Award winning folk star promoted by Musicport, and The Forefathers, 5x9 and Chris the Poet at the Rifle Club promoted by Rangam. I can think of loads of people who would have enjoyed one or the other and probably both... but, where were they and why weren't they at the gigs? Was it simply that they didn't know?

How do people publicise gigs these days and is that publicity working? In this age of the internet the traditional poster is only really subliminal advertising, but is your poster easy to read? Do the important details (act, venue, date & time, price) leap out to be easily absorbed?

What about the internet? Do we need a 'popwatch' email list? Will people take notice if the information just pings into their inbox? Are we all using Myspace and Facebook to their full? It's not enough to just have a page, what about groups, events, targetted mailing (a close relative of spam!) of people in the locality, special offers for friends, cross posting on newsgroups, building your own mailing list, the list goes on and will keep on developing as social networking grips us all...

And then there's the press. Is the Whitby Gazette behind a vibrant and exciting Whitby scene? It has to be said that it can sometimes appear not... gigs confined to footnotes, articles run on odd days -either weeks in advance or the day before. Is this down to the paper or do the promoters need to be sharper? Are we courting the writers? Is the press release interesting? Is there a story? Will the artist agree to an interview? What about other press, the Link Magazine, Scarborough's High Tide, other local papers and the national guides like the Guardian which all have regional sections and are all free.

Or, deep breath... is it the audience? Are we simply unable or unwilling to go? What's stopping us? Is it because we assume gigs like the Rifle Club are full of drunken rioting teenagers or that gigs that Musicport put on are full of fusty dusty middle aged hippies? (neither is the case, under 18s are banned from the Rifle Club and Musicport attracts a very mixed age group). Are we all simply too old? Do jobs, children, mortgages and Coronation Street get in the way of beer and bands? What if there were a monthly gig with a creche? Or a rock'n'roll babysitting circle?

And what about the under 18s? I know I was definitely under age when I started going out to gigs (ah, the heady days of Sludge Ghaut and Futile Mass!), how can we encourage a scene where young, old and everyone in between can have a good night and good music without endangering themselves or others or the licensee's business?

So, ideas please?! If we crack this then just imagine the fun we can have!

Sunday, 1 June 2008


Firstly, I apologise for the terrible headline. It was the best I could think of at ten past midnight on a Saturday.

When The Merkins played at The Resolution on May 27th, it was the best I've seen them play, and yet somehow it was tinged with sadness, because it was their drummer Pete's last gig. I'm not ashamed to admit that there was a tear in my eye when, during a particularly strenuous paradiddle, he dropped one of his sticks only for it to be returned to him by Kane Waterfield, who was watching keenly from close by. Two drummers helping each other out across the generations. If only the world could be more like that?

So we'll no longer see Pete's ever smiling face at the back of the stage when The Merkins play next. Nor will we see him absorbed in a paperback on his bus outside Boyes during his break period at work. Its the end of an era.

So who's going to step into his shoes and take up the sticks behind Pug, Heath, Dave and Mr De'ath? Well I can tell you. Its Matt.

Here's a little question and answer session by way of an introduction.

Matt, are you Whitby born and bred?
I'm from York actually, but I've lived in Whitby pretty much all my life.

How long have you been a drummer?
Hmmm, a few years now. I'd say about four probably.

What other bands have you been in?
This is my first, apart from jamming with mates.

Do you write stuff as well?
Well I haven't actually written any that I've got as far as playing yet, but I'd certainly like to in the future.

Do you play anything else apart from drums?
Guitar. I have a Fender Lone Star Strat which I love dearly.

Outside The Merkins what do you do for pleasure?
Practice drumming and guitar. I also ride BMX and surf a little.

Which drummer do you most admire?
Probably Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, or Byron McMackin of Pennywise.

How did you find out they needed a new drummer?
Pug contacted me and said "Hey man, wanna play drums in my band?" and I said "Yeah! Why not?".

Why not indeed?

By the way, we don't have a picture of Matt as yet, so until we do we've put one in of somebody called Michelle Merkin. Honestly! Straight up! Google it.