Be ready to look out for a fitting tribute, by John Blench, on the Teesside band The Freelanders titled "There Is A Story To Tell." It is due to be published very soon - not as a hard-back book - but on line! There will be a shortened version, with about 3,000 words initially, but the full biography with around 40,000 words will be available on line in a PDF format so people can download it. We will, of course, keep you informed of progress so watch this space!

There’s a fascinating chance to delve into the unique and vibrant Northern Soul scene in a world premiere exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery. Northern Soul is a music and dance movement which emerged independently in Northern England, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales in the late 1960s from the British mod scene. It mainly consists of a particular style of black American soul music based on the heavy beat and fast tempo of the mid-1960s Tamla Motown sound.
‘Northern Soul – A Photographic Journey’ runs at the gallery until Saturday, February 20th and is the latest long-term project by Wigan photographer Brian Cannon. His photograph © titled "Brighouse 2013" can be seen above. Brian has been creating music-related imagery professionally since 1988 and his notable past clients include Oasis and The Verve, for whom he produced all the record sleeves in the 1990s. He continues to document the Northern Soul scene today in a geographically diverse, fly-on-the-wall manner. Entry to the exhibition is free and the gallery – which is in Church Square - is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.
Another Northern Soul-related event has been organised: Northern Soul at the Central Library in Hartlepool is also running until Saturday 20th February. The Northern Soul subculture has spawned a number of memoirs, novels and short stories. There will be a collection of books available for people to browse while they visit this exhibition created in homage to Northern Soul. Featured in the display will be a Gold Dust 1969 Lambretta GP 200. 

Bruce Thomas, from Eaglescliffe, and a former member of the Teesside band The Road Runners, who went on to play bass with Elvis Costello and The Attractions, has a new book just published and it's certainly a must for all music lovers - because he's been there and done it, believe me!

Bruce was prompted to write "Rough Notes" when a friend told him: "There’s only one history of rock ...and pop and you were there!" It follows his career from the paper-round he did to buy his first guitar and see The Beatles - all the way through to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 - and beyond.

He recalls his time as bass player with Elvis Costello and The Attractions - setting the record straight on the so-called feud between him and the singer - and includes accounts of working with Paul McCartney, touring on Elton John’s private jet, a day at Johnny Cash’s ranch and dinner with Yoko Ono as well as encounters with Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Abba, Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, The Who, Freddie Mercury, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, John Belushi, Michael Hutchence ...and a certain Jimmy Savile.

Yet "Rough Notes" is far more than a personal memoir or catalogue of trivia. It traces the entire story of rock and pop from its beginnings in the 1950s, right through to the present day - despite the fact it’s been said that …’writing about music is like dancing about architecture’. You can buy it direct from Amazon UK or Amazon US. Click on the above images to view the book cover - back and front - larger.

How it all started: For almost fourteen years I lived on the Costa Blanca in Spain. Following a visit I made to my hometown of Hartlepool in June 2004, it was suggested to me to start a web page featuring some of the old bands, or groups, that graced the pubs and clubs of the area back in the 1960's. The idea started after Billy Crallan, George Hart and Ed Saul all joined forces to play some of the old songs to help celebrate Ron Blair's 60th birthday. Billy Crallan, Ron and I played together in The Trakkers and George, of course, was the original lead guitarist of The Hartbeats.

The photograph above shows George, Billy, me and Ron at Hartlepool Cricket Club. So, what started as an idea has now expanded into many pages - and is dedicated to the great bands of that era and the friendship we all enjoyed. Photograph © Marion Crallan.

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