The Vauxhall and Kirkdale part of the app features a re-creation of a pub sing-song which was once a familiar scene across Liverpool. The inspiration for this was watching the fantastic 1960’s BBC documentary, the Singing City, which features scenes of the writer of many well-known Liverpool songs leading a collective sing-song in a pub amidst pints of porter and thick with cigarette smoke. The other inspiration was the memories of many of the members of the older peoples digital history group, the times they spent in pubs as young men and women before the time of juke boxes or digital music, when playing music in the pub was actually sometimes illegal. In a previous project they wrote and recorded a piece of dialogue with artist Jon Turton which aimed to bring this alive which you can hear here.
For some of our members their interactions with friends and neighbours have inspired their deeper understanding of the musical traditions of Liverpool – Andy wrote this about his friend and neighbour John Wheelhouse a country gentlemen who joined us for the afternoon at the Bramley Moore.
‘In August 2005, I moved into sheltered accommodation in a place called Dingle Grange, where the only thing happening, in terms of residents participation, was one of the residents, Mr. John Wheelhouse, would sit on his own, with his guitar, amplifier, microphone and his book of songs, and happily work his way through the book, from cover to cover, then start all over again……
John explained to me , that when he retired he was looking for something to do, and as he loved Country music, and had previously tried singing along to karaoke tapes, and other forms of backing music, with no success, so he figured he had to teach himself how to play the guitar, to accompany himself. So, after much struggle, and painful finger tips, he succeeded in learning sufficient chords to the many songs he had collected in his books.
At this time I had had a guitar off and on for years, though I was never very serious about learning about music, until I encountered John. I decided I wanted to to learn what I could, so that I could play along with the music that John was making.
As most Country music follows a fairly simple, straight forward pattern, I soon learnt these patterns of chords, and realised that though the music appears simple, there is a lot more to it, in terms of rhythm, bass notes, and lead guitar parts, as well as other factors, such as extra instrumentation, i.e. harmonica, or keyboards, drums etc. This is before we get into the melodies and harmonies involved in singing. One thing I have learnt through playing with John, is that YOU NEVER STOP LEARNING……
We have played together most Friday evenings in the communal lounge at Dingle Grange for the the last 5 years, and have also played at a number of parties in Dingle Grange and other sheltered accommodations around Liverpool, as well as a number of appearances in the Open Mic Nights, held every Friday night in the local pub, The Phoenix.
I have tried to take what I have learnt at FACT about recording film and sounds, and have started to make a film about John and his music, and also about his time at sea in the Merchant Navy.
Playing with John has not only made me a better musician, but he has taught me so much about the history of music from the 50s and 60s, and how it has affected the development of music subsequently, for which I will always be grateful.’