Flyers and ephemera

Starting a discussion about self-archiving political movements and the international left

I have been in discussions with various people over the last few months about how movements ‘remember’ themselves and how they engage with their ephemeral history. I am interested in how these movements have often self-archived their materials and what they have done with these materials – are they open to researchers and people interested interested in the history of these movements? Some organisations and movements (as well as certain individuals) have donated their historical papers to various university archives or museums. These are valuable to researchers, but still privilege those who can gain access – usually academics and independent researchers who can afford to do archival research on site.

However some organisations and enterprising researchers are overcoming these obstacles by scanning and digitising the materials of the various progressive and left-wing movements across the Anglophone world. Sites such as the Marxist Internet Archive have been scanning many American, Canadian, British, Irish and Australian documents from the international communist movement, including various Trotskyist and anti-revisionist groups. A number of institutions across the globe have followed, such as the University of Wollongong’s Communist Party of Australia journals, the collection of South African radical material digitised by DISA, the Anti-Apartheid Movement collection at Oxford University, and the Amiel and Melburn Trust collection of British new left journals and the CPGB’s Marxism Today. As well as these institutional initiatives, others are digitising their historical documents at the grassroots level. This can be seen with the Red Mole Rising website, which is archiving online the materials of the International Marxist Group, the Irish Left Archive, the Red Action archive and the Anti-Fascist Archive, amongst others.

The wonderful thing about these online archives is that they are democratising the research of these movements. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can now access these documents, without incurring the costs of doing archival research. This is particularly helpful for those conducting research internationally. The downside is that these initiatives are often costly in terms of equipment and labour, with individuals having to volunteer a lot of their time and effort to provide these resources for others. Also by relying on the efforts of individuals with access to certain collections, there are significant gaps in what is available online. For example, I would like to see more stuff from Militant and the Workers Revolutionary Party made available.

It is exciting to be conducting research in this era of increased digitsation, but there are limits to what we can access at the moment. More people need to get involved – either providing original documents, or offering their services in the scanning process, or by helping out with the costs of hosting the websites (particularly as Scribd and Dropbox are increasingly used to hold these large file depositories).

At the same time, many original activist documents are languishing in people’s attics, basements, garages and other storage areas. These need to be located and preserved. If you have a collection of left-wing ephemera stored away somewhere, do try to find it and think about donating (or selling or at least, lending) it to people who can digitise it and preserve this (often obscured) history.

I hope this starts a discussion about how historians and activists can work together to help ensure that the documentary history of the international left is not overlooked.

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Who made Radelaide? More ephemera of a music scene past

Here we go again with another collection of flyers from the Adelaide music scene from 2001 to 2010. I’ve extended it out to 18 this time as I couldn’t choose which ones to post. As usual, any gig flyers or recollections of these gigs are most welcome.

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Debbie was in Sound of Mercy Killing with Seb (from Hit the Jackpot, Love… Like Electrocution). I don’t really remember Fabulous Diamonds.

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Bird Blobs were a post-punk band from Melbourne. I remember that they ended up on a Beyond Punk! CD given away with MOJO.

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This is an old business card from Brillig. Much more sturdy than the average flyer.

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This gig would’ve been organised by Lara (mixer extraordinaire and guitarist in Star Ten Hash).

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I organised this gig and played in two bands that night – Awesome Welles and Stroszek. Another band, whose name escapes me at the moment but morphed into The Clap, opened the show, with a dazzling stage set-up. They had banners claiming ‘band practice is counter-revolutionary’ posted to the wall and the drum kit I seem to remember.

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Another flyer for the final Paddington Bear Affair show. Space Horse were amazing.

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The Jade Monkey hosted Patterns in Static shows once a month during 2004-05 (I think). I believe that Dj Steph was Steph from No Through Road, Birth Glow, Batrider and now Summer Flake.

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All I remember about Group Seizure was hiring a DI for their bass player. The place I hired it from still send me texts about their sales (8 years later).

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I Want a Hovercraft were a pretty cool two piece from Melbourne. I saw them support Josh Pyke at the Gov once. I don’t think I stayed from Josh Pyke’s set.

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The Rhino Room was an odd venue, now more known for its comedy. Kick was a monthly night run by Joel and Louie, who also organised Sunday soccer. Great for hangovers!

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Another Patterns in Static gig at the Jade Monkey.

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This flyer cracks me up. I don’t know why.

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No Through Road were essentially the house band for the Prince Albert. There wasn’t much room for bands to play at the PA, which made it difficult for bands like NTR (with 6 people), but created a wonderful atmosphere.

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All I remember about this gig is that it ran horribly late and I had to teach the following morning. But seeing Miss Golly Gosh (Adelaide’s answer to Bikini Kill) was always good.

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Downtown Art Space occasionally hosted gigs, but like Avalon/SEAS Gallery, suffered from not being licensed. A great flyer designed by Ringo.

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I’m not sure who NUN were. But a nice looking flyer.

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Lizard Lounge was where Le Rox used to be after it moved out of the Hindley Street Pizza Hut. Apparently Le Rox was the place to be in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so it was like an Adelaide tradition. I’m not sure what is there now.

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Your Wedding Night had that song ‘L-A-C-H-L-A-N’ which was pretty big on Triple J. I remember that most of their other songs were fairly lewd.

So there you go. Another bunch of flyers. I have nearly exhausted my collection at the moment, but there are a few other boxes at home that are full of ephemera that need sorting. If I find anything cool, I will post it in the near future. I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts. Please get in touch if you have. And like Hatful of History on Facebook!

From the Jade Monkey to the Grace Emily: An ephemeral history of the Adelaide music scene, pt 3

This is the third post in an ongoing series on the ephemera on the Adelaide music scene, 2001-2010 – essentially it is some old gig flyers that I’ve collected. I’ve been photographing 10 at a time (see other posts here and here) to record a discreet moment in the history of the Adelaide music scene, in a particular subculture. Although in Adelaide, many people would argue that there was considerable subcultural crossover – punk, indie, metal, electronica, goth, folk – because there weren’t enough venues/bands to sustain completely independent subcultures. So here goes with another ten.

 

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The Grey Daturas were a guitar/noise band from Melbourne. I remember being blown away by the volume of them, especially at the usually noisy Cranker.

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This gig shows the origins of some quite successful bands. Henry Wagons pops up on Spicks n Specks and Rockwiz, while Wolf & Cub (in some incarnation) signed with 4AD Records. But I think Matt Banham’s (No Through Road) tweets are the best.

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Dr Ianto Ware is now some high-flying government agency type, promoting Australian music around the place. The Prince Albert was a great venue for music and football watching. I remember seeing Italy kick Australia out of the World Cup in 2006 at the PA.

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The Jade Monkey has now been knocked down to make way for some hotel. We won’t see gigs like this anymore.

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The Grace Emily was a good venue for promoting female-led gigs and this may have been part of a series of gigs put on by Cookie Baker to promote female musicians in Adelaide. Leigh Stardust was awesome – great music and even better on-stage banter. She should really come out of retirement.

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This was one of the few punk shows that played at Urtext. As I mentioned in a previous post, Urtext was notoriously difficult to find, so flyers sometimes had directions to the venue on the back (see below).

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Snap! Crakk! were ex-Adelaideans making electro-indie-pop in Melbourne, although they were more humorous when they were Snap! Crack! Le Pop! Daggerzz Sound System was a monthly night at the Cranker run by Tom and Brett from Love Like… Electrocution. It made for a great Thursday night.

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This was the first gig I ever organised and was one of the few times that the Lizard Lounge was fully occupied. A great gig, although Uberstomp and Sound of Mercy Killing didn’t play. Nick and I were The Hated Salford Ensemble (taken from the name given to the synthesiser Johnny Marr used on The Queen is Dead), and we also played several songs with Ringo Stalin and the drummer from The Paddington Bear Affair for an encore of ‘Every Day is Like Sunday’ and ‘The Last of the Famous International Playboys’.

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Karl’s event that combined the hawking of DIY wares during the day with great bands at night. Avant Gardeners were unusual in that they used an overhead projector and ink as part of their backdrop, which made for a visual, as well as aural, experience. I remember Karl sold me a rare green vinyl version of PiL’s first record for $15 at this event.

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I’m not sure what incarnation of Aviator Lane this was – Mike played a solo performer, as well as in a three/four-piece band – but Princess One Point Five was a pretty good act to be playing with.

If you have any flyers that you’d like to see preserved on the internet, or if you attended (or played at) any of these gigs, please get in contact or comment below.

An ephemeral history of the Adelaide music scene (ie some old band flyers), part 2

Following on from this post in January, this post is the second installment in my series of curating the music flyers of the Adelaide scene between 2003 and 2008. Here we go again down memory lane…

Snap Crack

Minke was a bar underground below the Rosemont Hotel on Hindley Street. It wasn’t really a band-oriented venue, but a place to go at the end of the night. Snap! Crack! Le Pop! were a great three-piece who played electro, tongue-in-cheek songs. The band became simply Snap Crakk when Michael and Yama moved to Melbourne.

Jerks

The Underground was a Christian-run music venue that was used by a lot of hardcore/straightedge bands. As it had no bar, it was all ages. Hardcore kids used to line up all down Waymouth Street for gigs. The Paddington Bear Affair were a great band – a six piece of underage kids (when they started) that played screamo styled music. Their drummer ended up playing in my crappy band.

Calvin Johnson

K Records’ legend Calvin Johnson played an ‘unplugged’ (literally) set at Rocket Bar on Valentines Day 2005. As he only played acoustic guitar with no PA, the audience had to be very quiet or they drowned him out.

Brillig

Jacques Chirac Attacque was my band’s name for this show only. We had a policy of changing our name for each gig. As the flyer says, we were also Space Horse and Go Black Panthers! at different shows, as well as Jimmy Floyd and the Hasselbainks, Not in the Face, Time for a Tiger, Hot to Trotsky, the Hated Salford Ensemble, Stroszek, and Mike Rann and the Mechanics, amongst others. This show sticks out in my memory for two reasons. Firstly, while the Jade Monkey was a well-known Adelaide music venue, our drummer had never played there and got lost, only arriving two minutes before we were supposed to go on stage. Secondly, we took the French theme seriously and had a fight with baguettes on stage during our last song.

My Disco

This is an alternative flyer to the gig at Avalon featured in the last post. It was probably designed by the guys from My Sister the Cop, who always had very intricately drawn flyers.

Jemima

Jemima Jemima were quite an avant-garde band, with Michael from Snap Crakk on guitar. They released one CD on Unstoppable Ape Records and broke up very shortly afterwards I believe. Sweet Raxxx were Adelaide’s answer to Gravy Train!!!

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Limited Express (Has Gone) was a Japanese band that was touring with The Roger Sisters. The night before their show at the Grace Emily, the kids from Paddington Bear Affair organised a secret show for them. The venue was supposed to be the squat on Coromandel Place (next to the Historian Hotel), but some of the occupants of the squat refused to let people in. The bands thus played in the lounge room of a small flat on Hindley Street. It was the debut gig of I’m Gonna F**king Kill You, who were practising in the flat when a whole bunch of people rocked up, having walked down Hindley Street after finding out that the show at the squat was not going ahead.

No Thru Rd

No Through Road were a regular feature at the Jade Monkey. As they were headlining, I’m assuming it was the full six piece version of the band at this particular gig. When No Through Road debuted the full band at the Jade Monkey, the lead singer Matt apparently fell of the drum kit and hit his head during their cover of Weezer’s ‘Say It Ain’t So’. Very rock n’ roll.

Proscineum

The Proscenium was a goth/electro club off of Hindey Street that had been a famous Adelaide venue since the 1980s. The basement wasn’t used that much, but occasionally had bands. This show was the last gig for Love Like… Electrocution with their original guitarist Tim, who ended playing in Snap Crakk.

Brutal Snake

Brutal Snake started off as a solo act featuring Tom (from 1984, St Albans Kids and Love Like…) playing very noisy guitar, before becoming a full band. Artax Mission had a similar noisy post-rock guitar sound. I am assuming that this was still when The Exeter had gigs in the back beer garden, rather than in the front room. Brutal Snake in the front room would have been, well, brutal.

So there you have it – another round of flyers. Hopefully this shows some of the subcultural history of Adelaide, which often goes undocumented. If anyone has any memories of these shows, or have any other flyers that they’d like to see up on the web, please comment below.

Archive days: A round-up of my UK visit

So I have returned from my whirlwind research trip to the UK (with a horrible return leg via London, Dubai, Singapore and Melbourne), in which I visited seven archives across the country. The archive gods were good to me and I found some very useful material on a range of topics. I calculated earlier today that 862 photos while I was there, with an average of 123.14 photos per archive (although this is skewed as the British Library doesn’t allow digital photography).

At the British Library, I looked at the bound papers of Rajani Palme Dutt. Many of Dutt’s papers are in the Labour History and Study Centre at the People’s History Museum in Manchester, but the British Library also holds six bound volumes of papers (including manuscript drafts, correspondence, pamphlets, and CPGB memorandum). I am not sure  why some of Dutt’s papers were separated and ended up in the British Library, but it may have to do with the increased tension between Dutt and the Party leadership in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

At the National Archives at Kew, I was interested in investigating the papers released from 1982, but did not find as much as I hoped. I did find some exciting material on the development of the British Nationality Act 1981, including this document (title page only):

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My main research was at the LHASC at the People’s History Museum in Manchester, looking at the relationship between the Communist Party of Great Britain with the Communist Parties in Australia and South Africa. The PHM is a far more delightful place to do research, rather than the small confines of the LHASC’s old home on Princess Street. The only problem was that the archive is on the lower floor and the light in February was sometimes not enough for taking photos of archival documents. I was primarily interested in the papers of the CPGB’s International Department, which oversaw the Party’s work with other Communist Parties and its campaigning on international issues, such as anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism. One of the excellent finds from within these papers were a nearly complete set of the Africa Newsletter, published by the Party’s Africa Committee.

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I also found some uncatalogued boxes of the papers and ephemera of Kay Beauchamp, who was a member of the International Department and between the 1960s ad 1970s, one of the CPGB’s experts in the area of ‘race relations’. Amongst these papers are notes for Beauchamp’s autobiography, which, as far as I am aware, has never been published.

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After finishing up at the LHASC, I took an afternoon trip to Liverpool to catch up with Nick Barnett, an aspiring Cold War historian (check out his paper at the British Scholars Conference in Texas next month), who showed me the sights of Liverpool, including watching Liverpool lose to Zenit St. Petersburg at the Baltic Fleet pub and a very popular noodle bar in Chinatown. The following day I took a brief day-trip to the Hull History Centre to look at the papers of CPGB leadership figure, Robin Page Arnot, and the papers of the British committee of the League Against Imperialism. I have already blogged here on the amazing ephemera that I found in Arnot’s papers, but the LAI stuff was also quite exciting. I think a trip to the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, where the bulk of the LAI papers are, may be planned for the future!

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After a week in North, I travelled back down to London to visit the Institute of Commonwealth Studies Library to look at various archival files on the Communist Party of South Africa. The ICS Library had some wonderful pamphlets from the days of the CPSA (before it changed to the SACP) and I spent hours, as well, looking through the microfilm of the CPSA weekly newspaper from the 1930s Umsebenzi: The South African Worker. If I go back to London, I have already locked in that i need to revisit the ICS Library to look at the 9 rolls of microfilm pertaining to the CPSA paper, The Guardian.

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My final archive to visit was the Black Cultural Archives in Lambeth. After the closing of the archives at Middlesex University, the BCA became new home of the papers of the Runnymede Trust, but it also holds the papers of several black activist groups and figures, particularly those involved in the black feminist movement, including the papers of Stella Dadzie. From Dadzie’s papers, I found the bulletins of the Black Women’s Group from Brixton, which were fascinating, especially in their critique of the white left in this issue:

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In my last week, I also travelled up to Sheffield to present a seminar paper to the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield on the topic of the ‘dynamic’ border. It was very well attended (thanks to Lucy Mayblin and Margo Huxley for organising the seminar) and I think it went rather well, despite some very curly questions.  I was quite impressed with the look of the city centre too, and hope to travel back to the birthplace of stainless steel (celebrating its centenary in 2013!) in the near future.

I had fun, but I am very glad to be home. Now it’s writing time!

Ain’t no party like a Communist Party dinner from the 1950s

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Today I’m in Hull (one of my ancestral homes and former home of The Housemartins – although those two facts are not related). I was looking at Robin Page Arnot’s papers in the Hull History Centre and accidentally ordered a file that was full of invitations for Arnot to various CPGB functions. I came across a menu for the 27th Annual Daily Worker Staff Dinner and Dance held on Maundry Thursday in 1956 (29th March). The function was held at the Imperial Hotel (in London presumably) and would have been held after Khrushchev’s Secret Speech, but before the CPGB 24th Congress, where the controversy over ‘democratic centralism’ started.

So what was the menu that night?

The entree was oxtail soup.

The main course was roast stuffed chicken, with roast potatoes and vegetables.

Dessert was a choice of Coupe Jacques or cheese and biscuits.

Coffee was to be served afterwards.

(Can you imagine The Supersizers doing a tv show based on this menu? The Supersizers Go Commie!)

As well as this exciting menu, there were to be four toasts, with Mick Bennett being chairman for the evening:

The ‘Daily Worker’ – Harry Pollitt

Response – JR Campbell

Our Guests – George Sinfield

Response – Harold Poole

The after-dinner entertainment were the Ventom Swift’s Swing Serenaders for dancing and ‘old time music hall’ presented by Unity Theatre, as well as a ‘topical’ sketch by members of staff. Novelty and spot prizes were also to be handed out during the evening.

Those communists sure knew how to party!

An ephemeral history of the Adelaide music scene (ie some old band flyers), part 1

When I first started this blog last year, I talked in this post about my collection of flyers for gigs around Adelaide that I had collected over the last decade. As I have a bit more proficient with blogging, I thought I’d post some of my collection in stages here. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane!

IMG_2267I played at this gig in Awesome Wells (sic – spelt wrongly by Tom who put the show on). Avalon/SEAS gallery was a great venue, but it was not a licensed venue and thus putting on shows there were difficult to organise.

IMG_2272Another show at Avalon/SEAS. This gig was famous for two things. Firstly, the vocalist for Pretty Girls Make Graves was sick, so people from the audience were recruited to sing with the band. Secondly, the vocalist from Les Savy Fav was mental – I remember him running up the stairs out of the venue as far as the mic lead could let him.

IMG_2268A secret show put on by St. Albans Kids. The gig actually took place in the car park behind The Austral.  St. Albans Kids also put on guerilla shows in Rundle Mall (at the corner of Gawler Place), out front of the Dom Polski Centre and on top of the car park opposite the Elephant & Wheelbarrow. I remember Hardy Coxon being excellent that night.

IMG_2270The first show I played in Awesome Welles. Apes of God (Damn) were particularly awesome.

IMG_2271Before Format and the Adelaide Zine Fair, Dr Ianto Ware was plugging zines at shows like this. I reckon this was shortly after the Jade Monkey opened (which is now shut down).

IMG_2269This is the oldest flyer I have in my collection. Allure used to be a cocktail bar above Supermild on Hindley Street. I think Roo Shooter also played this gig.

IMG_2274Urtext was a weird venue (it was actually a disused office space), but they did put on some great shows. Batrider were originally from New Zealand, but became a default Adelaide band over time.

IMG_2275Halloweens were always spent at “the Church” in Parkside (not the nightclub). A very cool party room and some of the best costumes I’ve ever seen.

IMG_2273You can’t have a collection of gig flyers without one from a gig at the Cranker. Nuff said, really.

IMG_2276This was a gig with the original Wolf & Cub line-up and I think one of the first gigs put on at the Lizard Lounge when it was in the old Pizza Hut on Hindley St. Kiosk were amazing.

So there you go. I will post more in the future. If you have any recollections of these gigs, or flyers that you’ve tucked away, let me know!