Pioneering artists who recorded on Bristol’s collectable independent alt-folk label, Village Thing Records, will reunite for a rare concert at Colston Hall on Sunday, May 6 – along with younger artists who have drawn inspiration from the Village Thing era.
The man behind the event, Ian Anderson (not the Jethro Tull guy), is also the man who lays claim to having “invented” Bristol’s Clifton Village. He recently returned to Bristol, where he edits fRoots music magazine. He said: “In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Bristol Troubadour Club in Waterloo Street, Clifton was one of the UK’s folk music Meccas. It’s no exaggeration to say that most of the folk legends of the day played at this seven nights a week venue.”
In 1970, Anderson, a singer/guitarist, and Troubadour manager John Turner – later a BBC Bristol celebrity – were, as was their habit, taking breakfast in Splinters Coffee House in Regent Street and drafting the text for a Troubadour poster. Anderson had the bright idea that they should invoke the ambience of New York’s Greenwich Village and put the location as “Clifton Village”.
The term had never been used before and, after printing and distributing the posters, the club began using that address on their newsletters. Within a decade, the name Clifton Village had begun to catch on as an estate agent’s dream, now widely used by fashionable businesses and appearing on maps of the area. A few months after its creation, Anderson and Turner were brainstorming a name for a new independent folk record label and artist booking agency, and came up with The Village Thing!
Village Thing Records, initially based in Anderson’s flat in Royal York Crescent, went on to release several dozen albums over the next few years, some of which have become hugely collectable , changing hands for hundreds of pounds on eBay. In 2010, the 40th anniversary of Village Thing Records was celebrated with a compilation CD Ghosts From The Basement and an all-day event of the same name held in London. Anderson left Bristol in 1973 but finally returned to his old home last year – to just a few doors away from the flat in Royal York Crescent where it all started.
He will now curate a special Ghosts From The Basement concert as part of Bristol Folk Festival on Sunday 6th May, featuring artists from Village Thing’s heyday and younger performers who take their inspiration from the music of that era, as part of the Bristol Folk Festival, which runs from May 5-7. More information and tickets available at www.bristolfolkfestival.co.uk