Monday, 2 April 2012


I’m not sure how I feel about the ‘Rhythms’ exhibition at the museum ?
On the one hand it’s nice to get a little bit of proper recognition of what people have accomplished over the years, but at the same time it’s organically growing all the time and you can’t just ‘time-capsule’ it and put it in a box.

It looks like I’ll have to write something after all.
The ‘Arcadeclectic Stage’ is otherwise going to be conspicuous by its absence…
Oh well, at least WE’VE got the photo’s to prove it.
That is one of the things I’ve never understood ?
We take photographs of all the acts that grace the stage and we also either record them or film them.
Currently it’s filming, but back in the days of being situated in Hitchin’s arcade, we used to record them, therefore we have a record of what went on, or to be more precise, the actual artists have a record of what they performed in the majority of cases.
Now with the filming being out-sourced I think the system is working even better.
We and the artists have a complete record of the photographs taken while they were there and so reasonable records can be kept and two or possibly three people have access at any time.
None of the other stages do that.
Not even the main stage where the world acts play.
The photographs are split between whatever photographers are there on the day, all of whom are vying with each other, and the artists rarely see any of them and that is the same with the other stages also.
The only chance anybody has of seeing any of them is if they are downloaded onto the Rhythms website.
Personally I think it would be better to have two photographers covering each stage and that’s it.
Then you have the coverage.
Plus, ‘Rhythms’ then has access to all the photographs if they are ‘in house’.
That’s what I think, and I haven’t deviated from that basic idea in years.

Anyway, I cobbled something together, attached a few poems and photos and sent the whole thing off to Olivia at Hitchin Museum who had contacted me in the first place, and this is what it said…

The Arcadeclectic Stage… (Pronounced Arcade Eclectic)

Formed out of the embers of the old Arcade Stage that used to be at the top of the arcade next to the Corn Exchange just off the market square.
Envisioned originally as poetry only, it was never going to work like that in that particular setting owing to spill over noise from the market square Main Stage, and so common sense prevailed…
Well, it did up until the point where I asked for complete autonomy.
But that was granted, and so the Arcade Stage begat The Arcadeclectic Stage when we moved to The Priory site, and has never really looked back from that moment.

Anyone who spends some time in front of the Arcadeclectic will notice something that stands out straight away…
It is not commercial in any way, shape or form, and neither is it ‘Politically Correct’. 
The artists that play it have an attitude in common.
This is what we do… Like it or lump it !
And for some reason the audience likes it ?
There are no egos stroked there.
We have a saying… ‘Please leave your ego at the gate, as we don’t need it…’
The crew do their best for the artists and the artists do their best for the audience and that is really all that matters.

Entertainment is a strange thing…
When you think about it, how far have we actually come from the days of lions vs Christians ?
It’s really not that far, is it ?
If you have the courage of your convictions and you are prepared to face down a crowd to get your particular ‘vision’ across, then you have a chance of playing it, genre’s are not important.
Punk, Folk, Country, Bluegrass, Rock, Blues, Rock’n’Roll, Rockabilly, Jazz, Poetry, Avante-Garde, Rap, Soul, Reggae, Experimental, Classical, Madrigals, Opera, Instrumental, World Music, we’ll take it all, but God help anybody who decides to ‘coast’ through their set because the crowd in front of that stage will never let them get away with that, and they WILL make their displeasure felt in no uncertain terms…
It’s that lions vs Christians thing again.
And if you lose that audience then quite honestly you are nowhere, even if maybe you thought you were somewhere to begin with ?

But please don’t think it’s all attitude and no substance…
Anybody who was there will remember powerhouse sets by Blyth Power which got everybody, including the three year olds, down the front and dancing and moshing to their vision of English folk-rock music.
Or maybe The Fish Brothers and their twisted take on punk rock mixed with Max Miller type music hall ?   
Or The Astronauts playing the complete ‘Peter Pan Hits The Suburbs’ album for the very first time in the thirty years since its release ?
Or ex Sex Pistol Glen Matlock’s acoustic show ?  
Or Zounds… Playing their one British festival date of 2010 on the Arcadeclectic stage for ‘Rhythms’ ?
Or Northern Frisk, who play ‘pop’ music from the sixteenth century, getting the crowd up to boogie to a bit of John Dowland ?
Or last year’s notoriously hilarious, probably libellous and with more expletives per minute than the poor overworked crew are heard to mutter over the whole weekend, set by our local larrikins, Spandex Ballet ?

Then there were the poets…
The Faction fronted by Chris Bowsher of R.D.F….   Al Damidge… 
Bernie (Maipenrai) Shelton, who was having so much fun we couldn’t get him off the stage…  Local lad Grant Meaby and the rest of the Parnassus crew… 
Rachel Pantechnicon… Project Adorno… and my co-compere, Joy T. Chance, who I’ve worked with for more years than either of us care to remember…

And let us not forget the artists who first graced the Arcadeclectic and went on to perform on bigger stages and at bigger venues…
C.C. Smugglers… Tearing up a storm with their take on rockin’ country blues…
Lika Sharps…  Who are really indescribable, but who I’d recommend to anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see…

It’s the Arcadeclectic Stage and it doesn’t take prisoners…  And we’re proud of it.

Chris Ripple
Arcadeclectic Stage
Rhythms of The World

‘We had something to say, not something to sell…’
Suzie Rotolo

And that was it… Ending with that beautiful quote from Bob Dylan’s ex-girlfriend of their time together in the early 1960’s from her Greenwich Village memoir which sort of sums the stage up with an unerring accuracy beyond anything I could come up with.
Now all I have to do is wait and see what occurs ?
You know that saying ‘honesty is the best policy’ ?
Well sometimes it ruffles feathers because there are egos involved.
I hope I haven’t ruffled any, but if I have then so be it ?
It can’t be helped, and as Van Morrison once put it…
‘It’s too late to stop, now…’

Haddy outside Hitchin Museum
Wahay !  
We’ve been invited to the preview of the exhibition and according to Olivia they’ve used a fair bit of my stuff.
Great !
At least we’re represented.
The worry is always that the main stages take over and the smallest gets left out, but apparently we’ve got our own little section in front of the main section whatever that means, but we’ll find out when we
go ?

When we get there the place is absolutely packed with people.
Old friends, new friends...    
Haddy with the BIG boss...

It seems that the whole Rhythms hierarchy is there, and so we hobnob with the rest of the guests until Ade’ our licensing expert grabs us and says ‘have you seen your bit on the Arcadeclectic, it’s brilliant…’
And there it is…
Our own little space in front of the main space with poems and photos and it’s all there…
'Ebou's Song' and my mate Ebrima Gassama who had the original ideas

Including a copy of ‘Ebou’s Song’ with one of the two photos I have of the guy, and a small explanation of how the thing got written.
Recognition at last, eh mate ?
In The Gambia they thought you wild, drunk and stoned, but here, within an official exhibition at a government funded establishment, your ideas don’t just fit in, they seem to encapsulate everything that the organisation represented in the museum exhibition stands for ?
If you are looking down (or possibly up) mate, you are definitely going to have a smile on your face at this.
Me, Joy T. and Glen Matlock
Olivia, don’t let anybody ever tell you any different darlin’, you are an absolute STAR !
Finally, we have a little bit of recognition of what we do out there on the outskirts and it’s all there.
Not just us, but Bob’s TV interview on repeat video
'Rhythms' founder Bob Mardon on right

Old t-shirts, posters, photographs of acts we’d forgotten about.
Q. 'Why do you wear a Confederate bandana' ?  A. 'Because I'm going bald and I burn...'

Everything was there from its first humble beginnings as a fund raising event for Oxfam to the present day.
Twenty years of Rhythms of The World.
Even an old shot of me from the old 'Arcade' days...

And it runs for a complete month until the real thing takes over.
Honest to God, the staff of the museum had done an absolutely wonderful job.
Now all we have to do is get people along to see it and after they’ve seen it maybe they’ll actually want to partake of the real thing ?
Nice one.

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