Billy Childish or The State Of Music 2013 Part 1

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Recently I have been asked to write an article about The State Of Music . If we need to pick a starting point for that, let’s start with Billy Childish. Born in 1959 , I include him in the best of my generation, maybe the very best. He paints, writes poetry and novels. And his musical output makes Jack White seem lackadaisical and that’s not easy to do. This little bio is from his website.  http://www.billychyldish.com/billy_chyldish/home.html

Since 1977 Billy Chyldish has released over 150 independent LP’s, published 5 novels and over 45 collections of poetry, but his main job is painting. He has had solo and group exhibitions internationally including New York, London, Seoul and Berlin. He was included in British Art Show 5, which toured throughout four cities – Edinburgh, Southampton, Cardiff, and Birmingham. In 2010, he was the subject of major concurrent survey exhibitions at the ICA in London and White Columns in New York, and in 2011 he became Artist in Residence at the Chatham Historic Dockyard where he currently works.

The depth of his genius is not to be taken lightly. When I look out at pop culture, I see this obsession with past icons , and that list includes just about all rock stars that have done themselves in way too early . I also see my generation trying to hold on to our past, which can best be summed up by classic rock, not that there is anything wrong with that but listening to Stairway to Heaven for the 50,00th time doesn’t do it for me. Which gets us back to the State of Music in 2013. To me that means being relative. saying something or doing something that has relevance. You could be mixing The Beach Boy sound with the Ronettes  with a dash of Jesus and Mary Chain like Bleached . You could be ripping it up like Ty Segall or you could be part of the scene in San Fransisco or Austin or just about any town in America or Canada/UK/Scotland/Sweden/France etc, etc. The  internet has shrunk the world, we don’t need Rolling Stone to inform us to who is the newest hippest kid on the block. There are about 10 apps for that. For me , I need to listen to those that don’t give up being relevant and that includes Neil Young, Bruce and Patti Smith, from the generation before me. In my group, we have Westerberg, Weller, Prophet, Mick Jones, Billy Bragg and Billy Childish. If You need or like links…..From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Childish#Music

Childish made records of punk, garage, rock and roll, blues, folk, classical/experimental, spoken word and nursery rhymes. In a letter to Childish, the musician Ivor Cutler said of Childish: “You are perhaps too subtle and sophisticated for the mass market.” Childish’s groups include TV21, later known as the Pop Rivets (1977–1980), sometimes spelled the Pop Rivits, with Bruce Brand, Romas Foord, Russell Wilkins and Russell Lax. He later formed a garage rock inspired band called Thee Milkshakes (1980–1984) with Micky Hampshire, Thee Mighty Caesars (1985–1989), The Del Monas then Thee Headcoats (1989–1999). In 2000 he formed Wild Billy Childish & The Friends of the Buff Medways Fanciers Association (2000–2006), named after a type of poultry bred in his home town. The Buffs, as they were sometimes affectionately known, split in 2006, and Wild Billy Childish & the Musicians of the British Empire were born, recording a song about one of Childish’s heroes George Mallory titled “Bottomless Pit.” In early 2007, Childish formed The Vermin Poets with former Fire Dept singer and guitarist Neil Palmer and A-Lines guitarist and singer Julie Hamper, his wife. Thee Headcoats began their monthly residency at the Wild Western Room in the St John’s Tavern, north London, in the early 1990s, and continued after moving to the Dirty Water Club in 1996. The Musicians of the British Empire (MBEs) played at the venue more or less once a month until February 2011. Childish has not played live since then.

Childish has been namechecked by a number of famous musicians including Kurt Cobain, Graham Coxon, The White Stripes (Jack White had Childish’s name written in large letters on his arm for an early Top of the Pops appearance) and Kylie Minogue who named the LP Impossible Princess after his book Poems to Break the Harts of Impossible Princesses [sic].[5]

On September 11, 2009, Damaged Goods Records – Childish’s current label – issued a message to subscribers stating that Childish’s wife Julie (aka Nurse Julie, bassist in the MBEs) was pregnant. Childish has since been recording as bass player with The Spartan Dreggs, with Neil Palmer on vocals and guitar and wolf Howard on drums. (end)

You can spend months/years getting to know the music of Billy Childish, but while you are learning his past he forges ahead and you’ll look up and you will find yourself 6 albums and 3 groups behind, and that is the glory of Billy Childish. So , if you ask me what is the current state of music, I will start with my generation and the impact that they have had and continue to exert on music today.

and now some Billy Childish

Wild Billy Childish-Punk Before Chips

Wild Billy Childish-Coastal Command

Wild Billy Childish-Radio Dreggs

03 – The Pop Rivets – Beatle Boots

05 – The Milkshakes – Please Don’t Tell My Baby

11 – Thee Mighty Caesars – Cowboys Are Square

23 – Thee Headcoats – Girl From ’62

07 – Anarchy in the U.K.


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Co-founder of 50thirdand3rd, stepped away to spend time with family and write. From Pittsburgh, now in Florida, Cool Canadian artist wife, 4 great kids, and two granddaughters!! I'm a lucky guy!

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