Recently I was sent two relics from my past by two unconnected friends. I am generally of a nostalgic bent so I have decided to write something about them.
The first is an old homemade recording of a band that I played bass with in Cork around 1994. I was admittedly a pretty crap bass player and we only played one gig in front of an audience and I spent most of that night on the verge of vomiting from nerves hidden behind my amp. I left the band soon after. They found another Ed, a much more talented one and have played together ever since in a band called Karma Parking. It was my friend Damo, the guitarist, who sent me this once off recording made in some room in Kinsale in '94.
It's interesting listening to it now, all 23 years later. Ufff. Jay, the vocalist, was a big Reggae fan and also an ardent Irish Republican, as is obvious from his impromptu lyrics. I was very aware of one thing at the time though I couldn't adequately express it. These days however, where a whole new lexicon of terms have been created in order to navigate our increasingly complex world, we could be accused of the dreaded 'Cultural appropriation'.
I was a tad less diplomatic back then, to put it mildly but I think if that term existed in '94 and we were accused of it I would been embarrassed but probably agreed. In hindsight I know better. Firstly, in Ireland and especially in Cork, Bob Marley was, and still is, lionised by many people, especially those from the more deprived areas. Many Irish identify with the message of struggle Marley espoused. Also, and more interestingly, there are some who say that the very Jamaican accent that our singer seems to be affecting is actually derived in some part from the Cork accent.
This may seem a wild claim and simply yet another Irish attempt to claim the loftier keys of civilisation (whilst hiding the rest) but it has some truth. English slavers pulled in to Kinsale some time in the 1600's, the very town where we recorded the tune, and forcibly took many fit men and women on their ships bound for the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, Montserrat and Barbados. There they were used as either indentured servants or as slaves on the Sugar plantations. Later they were replaced by West African slaves and I once heard that they said that one African slave was better than two Irish (The Irish tended to be more rebellious and drink a lot). There are many Irish place and family names in Jamaica and indeed the father of the first President after independence was an Irishman too. The Irish got the nickname 'red legs'. They sometimes formed rebellious alliances with their African compatriots.
So, to my fictitious and indignant accuser of cultural appropriation I say 'get on your bike quick smart, this recording is the picture of appropriate.... go bother someone else with your shitetalk!'
Here is some proof, a recording made in Monserrat in 1976.
And here is the tune recorded 23 years ago.
The second thing I was sent, from my long time friend and sometimes collaborator, Declan O'Connell of Cloghduv. It is a photo taken of me not too long after the time of the recording. I had by then decided music was not my future path and had begun playing around with cameras a bit more seriously. It was a surprise to me because virtually no photographs from that period of my life exist, or at least I don't have any. No digital, no camera phones and little interest, amongst me and my friends, in photographing ourselves back then... which may well be for the best.
In it I am on one of my first paid jobs as a Camera Assistant and pretty much the only memory of that shoot I have is the following. At that time I was trying to save up to attend a course in Cinematography that I had been accepted to in Budapest which was being taught by the recently departed D.O.P. of Easy Rider, Deer Hunter amongst other films, Vilmos Zsigmond A.S.C. I told the Gaffer on the shoot about it, an older man who I only remember as 'Con'. He asked me how much I needed and I told him £500. He took out a coin and asked me to pick a side. I asked why and he told me if I chose right he would write a cheque for the same amount. I chose and later packed my bags for Budapest.
I sent Con a bottle of whiskey as thanks but our paths never crossed again.
So, Cheers to Con! I had a great time in Budapest!
P.S. the boots I am wearing in the picture I am wearing right now, no kidding!