Bands from a home town

When Wikipedia sprang onto the then infant ‘world wide web’ back in January 2001, arms flailed and cries were heard from roof-tops afar: ‘The Encyclopaedia Britannica is now redundant!’ Those leather bound fonts of all knowledge, once adorning the bookcases of many a learned scholar, now simply no more than decorative in their function. Indeed, it did seem as though the days of thumbing through the hallowed pages of the countries oldest published encyclopaedia would be well and truly over and maybe many other printed sources of information, to boot. There’s no doubt that Wikipedia is an amazing feat of modern technology. Information on just about any subject known to mankind at your fingertips. However, this doesn’t mean it’s faultless, and it was while checking out some information on bands and musicians of significance hailing from Huddersfield that I came across some glaring omissions!

The North of England has produced some of the worlds most influential bands, no doubt about that. It’s only when searching the internet for sub-divisions into county’s and town’s where these bands started out that things become interesting, and according to Wikipedia, Huddersfield only gets one band of note originating from this celebrated town! Why is this, and have they omitted anyone else of any worth?

Firstly, it has to be said that Huddersfield has long been a hotbed of talent. It has produced excellence in academia, architecture and distinguished actors and performers ranging from Sir James Mason,to Jodie Whitaker and Lena Heady all sprang from it’s bracing pennine valleys. It is the birthplace of Rugby League and the filmic setting for numerous T.V. and film productions from Summer Wine country to the ominous local shop in the BBC sitcom The League of Gentlemen. Huddersfield is the northern Hollywood, so why not Motown too?!

Wikipedia rightly credits the thrash metal band Evile as one of Huddersfield’s proudest exports. A band who were once described by Kerrang magazine as “Carrying the genre’s whole ‘revival’ on their shoulders”. They formed in 2004 and have since released four successful albums and several sellout tours across America and Europe. This is, however, where Wikipeadia’s area of expertise ends; a sorry standing when placed next to Sheffield’s armful of famous and not-so famous acts in its hall of fame! So who can we rightly add to the list and how far can it go?

Well, the bods at ‘Wiki’ obviously didn’t dig deep enough when they omitted the talented Billy Curry- violinist,piano and keyboard player, most notably with 80’s new wave band Ultravox. Another of Huddersfield’s finest is David Hewitt who left the town in the mid-70’s and had a major success as bass player in the rock band Babe Ruth, particularly in North America. David recently returned and currently resides in the Holmfirth area of Huddersfield where he frequently plays bass in a band with his wife, Dana, in The Dana Ali Band. It should also be noted that indie band Embrace often cited themselves as hailing from Huddersfield, as opposed to their actual smaller satellite town of Hipperholme. Even the Sex Pistols chose their last British gigs to be played in Huddersfield on Boxing Day at music venue Ivanhoes, as a benifit for the children of the striking firefighters. So, Huddersfield had its fair share of talent but why wasn’t it spread more widely?

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Babe Ruth. Dave Hewitt pictured on the right

There maybe many reasons that Huddersfield never spawned more signed, hit-making musicians/bands. Maybe its geographical location wasn’t as appealing to the talent scouts as a direct train link to the likes of Sheffield or Manchester. Also, as big a town as Huddersfield is, it doesn’t have the same number of music venues per square mile as the aforementioned cities- ergo, the kudos or networking opportunities that some of the more sprawling cities have to offer.
Also, Huddersfield has always seemed to have a boomerang effect on its musicians. Since the 1960’s, many of its homegrown talent tried spreading their wings and strutting their stuff down in the music Mecca that is London, only to return to be the big fishes in their small pond, sometimes even bringing with them an effected southern twang!

Rock My Reception acoustic wedding band is an act who’s members, after reaching for the stars in their four-piece guise as post-indie band ‘Serf’, certainly caught the moon of success after changing tack and tapping into the lucrative wedding market. Reverting to the simple and effective format of two acoustic guitars, plus vocals, their selling points are playing songs from any era at the request of guests, which provides a personal and original twist to the genre of ‘wedding singers‘. Their success at the National Wedding Industry Awards in 2014 and 2015 has firmly cemented their standing as one the countries leading wedding bands.

Whatever the truth is regarding the lack of hit-parade-storming, column-inch-grabbing acts throughout the fifty-plus years of rock n roll, Huddersfield’s best kept secret has been its true, original, homegrown talent- some of which whose artefacts still exist in the form of old photographs, vinyl, cassettes battle-worn from years of playing and storage. Some committed to dusty, mouldering obsolete formats rarely used. Snatches of pure magic, preserved like flys in amber.

Maybe, one day someone will collate all these relics and print them, for posterity, in a leather-bound volume: Huddersfield’s very own definitive Encyclopaedia Britannica!

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