Links

Broad Roots - Broad Roots aims to organise concerts, festivals, workshops and other events that embrace the entire spectrum of folk, roots, acoustic and traditional music across a wide variety of cultures and genres.

Greenpeace - Greenpeace exists because this fragile Earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action.

Friends of the Earth - Friends of the Earth defends the environment and champions a healthy and just world.

Musicians Union' - Largest trades union for musicians in Europe, providing support and services for, guess what, thats it you got it, musicians.

Tony Winn - Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, Tony mixes the touching with the hard-hitting, the poignant with a laugh. He sings about Humankind and it's world, reflecting his own oblique views on life as a member of the human race (which he is determined to win!). Another side to Tony's performance is a selection of traditional songs and tunes on frailing banjo - an instrument he fell in love with at the tender age of 14 and which he has only recently had the courage to produce in public! ....................and a good bloke.

Rick Christian - Rick's repertoire includes songs by other writers as well as his own material, and although he enjoys the intimacy of folk clubs, he is equally at home playing larger venues........another nice bloke.

Amnesty International - Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights.

Morlings Music Shop - Located in the heart of Lowestoft's town centre Morlings was established in 1892 making it one of the oldest music stores in England and in fact the most easterly.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust - Suffolk is a beautiful county with some delicate and important habitats. The SWT is the county's leading conservation charity caring for all wildlife and John used to do voluntary as well as paid work for them before becoming a professional musician. Now, more than ever, organisations like this and the wildlife they help need our support.

Acousicity - Excellent acoustic venue in Colchester. Home of views, reviews, links & listings for acoustic based, singer-songwriter & folk music in Eastern England.

Geography

With its face full set to the blustering North Sea in the East and its back warmed in the wheat and sugarbeet fields of Suffolk in the West, Lowestoft, like its neighbour, Great Yarmouth, holds an odd mixture of life and is a sore thumb contradiction to the prosperous rest of East Anglia.

It's an end of the line town and not one that is travelled through on the way to anywhere else (being the most Easterly town in the British Isles, it couldn't be otherwise). People have a tendency to arrive here, either by birth or the A12, and stick, rather like flies to poison paper, for one reason or another.

Many travelling characters in town, having seen the world in all its Himalayan Heights and Grand Canyon depths, seem to have chosen to finally root down here, happy to drink beer, perpetually walk into the wind, moan and talk about getting out,or wait for something to happen.
It is said there is a mysterious fog that surrounds Lowestoft (we certainly get a few) and that when anyone tries to leave for good, it descends and confuses them so that they travel round in a circle and end up back in the old place unable to escape. Then again, there are worse places to escape to … I've slept on floors in a few of them!

Although there is much evidence of Neolithic activity, (usually one AM on a Saturday night) Roman remains in some places underground and a major Saxon site that was uncovered in the south of town in April 1998 (buried by a housing estate in July 1998), Lowestoft was properly born for the first time in the Viking age, its name allegedly originating from that time.

It plodded on steadily through the centuries, coming down with the plague like everywhere else, having a great fire and some particularly famous witch trials which set the precedent for what was to happen in Salem on the other side of the Atlantic. Cromwell visited, had a small fight and left; there was a war with Great Yarmouth about fish (the two towns still do not really speak!) and there was some particularly fine porcelain produced which is now much sought after throughout the world.

In the mid 1800s, Lowestoft, like David Ike, was born again. Morton Peto (who designed Nelson's Column) took a liking to the place and put the end of line rail track in, the harbour was built and, suddenly, the local fishing industry exploded. The 'gold rush' to the East for silver herring was only for some, as most of the fisherman and their families remained desperately poor. As the herring migrated south around the coast through the year, so they brought with them the Scottish drifter fleet and fishing girls; a massive influx of Scottish workers every October put their own stamp upon the town. In 1913, the combined Lowestoft and Scottish vessels fishing out of Lowestoft docks numbered 1,000 boats. The barrels of herring that the Scots girls cured and packed went as far afield as Russia. With the fishing industry came boat building and many shipyards were established and prospered. In the late 1980s, Richard's shipyard built the fastest boat ever to cross the Atlantic, Richard Branson's Virgin Challenger.

1913 was the peak year and the decades after the First World War saw the long slow decline of the fishing industry. In 2003 the last few trawlers were moth-balled, leaving the little offshore boats to continue the tradition and there are now no major shipyards left. Instead we have gas rigs being built on the edge of the harbour and a huge Birds Eye frozen food factory nestled inconspicuously on the most Easterly point in the British Isles (near the refuse recycling area, or the dump as we have always called it round here). The most recent, and possibly most interesting development, is the construction of the huge wind turbines that are being towed out to the new wind farms. Cutting edge, alternative power development going on here in Lowestoft, now there’s a turn up.
Then there's the tourism … many people visit Lowestoft in the summer months for the long, smooth, sandy beach that gently arcs its way along the south side of town until it turns to pebbles at Pakefield and the crumbling receding cliffs which many a house has spilled over.

They come for the blinking amusement arcades too and the big air display but probably not for the town itself which has a jarring, higgledy-piggledy quality about it due to the huge tonnage of bombs that fell on it during the Second World War; some statistics say the most heavily bombed town per square mile in Britain, but I think people in Coventry have something to say about that!

What else is there to say about Lowestoft? … um, Terry Butcher, ex England football captain was originally from here, and Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness) lived here for a while.

It is now home to well over 60,000 people ('poor white trash' famously recorded by the Sunday Times), many of whom are friendly, but only a fraction of whom go to the long-established Waveney Folk Club, the jazz club, blues club or the 2 theatres. Many good buskers ply their trade in the town centre (it gets more like New York every year!), usually with the obligatory dozing dog and, although the classical composer, Benjamin Britten did not busk here, he was born and lived here before moving to picturesque Aldeburgh just down the road. His old house is now a dentist's surgery and the shopping arcade bears his name, a fact of which I'm sure he would have been very proud. Dire Straits gigged here in the late 1970s at the South Pier on the same bill as a local band, and the crowd went to the bar after the local heroes had played while Dire Straits were on - Pick Withers still remembers it!

Of course I have to mention one local band that have recently gone global and have no connection to Joseph Conrad’s excellent book as far as I know, The Darkness, the splendid rock band that have seemingly come out of nowhere to make the tired town proud. I’m just wondering whether it will be a shopping centre or a multi storey car park they will name after them.

So, there you go … Britain's most Easterly gem, 120 miles north east of London but a couple of light years away in terms of atmosphere. A place that disobeys all weather forecasts, has (quote the district council) "public toilets that are second to none!" and they say that, if you take a colour picture of it, it will come out black and white anyway and that's why all the postcards are touched up blue.

Anyway, Lowestoft has many good qualities but it's definitely not a place for working musicians to base themselves and any who do, must be downright ………!!!!!!!!!!




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