carl twobob and staying positive


I could be using this space to further vent my anger at that exploitative, throatfucking corporate wannabe bastard Amanda ‘Cunting’ Palmer and her various crimes against legitimacy, art, friendship, trust and truth over the last few years that peaked so sickeningly last week with her attempt to steal the very souls from the sleeping, open mouths of her fans’ children*

I could be using this little corner o’ the internet to further bemoan the lack of originality, adventure and general care that went into this years Mercury Prize nominations;

Or, I thought, I could use it for something positive. After all, that’s why I write about music – fan first, cynic second – I wanna celebrate and share the things I love. It’s a struggle to keep it that way sometimes but there’s no point spreading further negative beams of bile and hate into an already brutalized, moaning, squirming music world when there are brighter sides to life (and I should know, because I’ve seen them), and so we’re going to talk about my friend Carl.

Carl has promoted music at my local and favourite pub, The Fox in Lewisham, for the past 8 years. He’s booked every band I’ve been in during that time – from when I was in a group that could pack the place out regularly to the evening Mark, Shaun and I donned animal hats and played an entirely improvised electronica set to a dozen or so bemused faces, he’s booked my bands because he’s willing to give people a fair go. Sometimes even to his own detriment.

I know for a fact that he’s gone home penniless at the end of rough nights where the punters simply didn’t show up, wrists were not stamped and beer was not bought, while the bands have all taken home a little something to reimburse them for their efforts. That, as the boys from the Wire would have it, is just how Carl do.

The whole time he’s been promoting there (and promoting is a key word – unlike almost all other London promoters** he actually promotes the bands he books because he thinks they deserve to be heard, because he wants you to see them at this excellent venue and he wants to be striving towards a positive result for all involved from the punter to the brewery) he’s been a payoff guy. Everybody gets paid. Every time.*** Even if he doesn’t.

Aside from that little bit of wonderment there’s the fact that he’s booked so many awesome bands – the likes of Breton, William and Gemma Ray all cut their teeth at this venue for this guy. He knows talent when he sees it and even on a night when the music wasn’t to your taste you could tell that this wasn’t just some mug of a booker just throwing bands on to fill spaces. It always made sense in one way or another.

Now this praise isn’t to be taken as some massive backslap for a mate – Carl and I haven’t always seen eye to eye by any means – but our mutual respect, both personal and professional has kept us tight even when our hackles were up with one another.

Carl has put his heart and soul into booking for the Fox and this Saturday will be the last time he does so, at least for a little while. People just don’t come to the Fox like they used to, at least not as regularly or with the same level of enthusiasm. While the nation’s belt has been tightening the crew at the Fox have been doing everything they can to keep the place running, healthy and vital (three words one could easily attribute to the Fox’s amazing landlady Emily). It’s hard work. Harder than they’d ever let on I shouldn’t wonder.

For Carl it’s all become a bit too much of a struggle I suspect. He hasn’t told me his reasons for leaving (albeit potentially temporarily), nor would I pretend to know with any level of certainty. All I know is that for me personally this guy has been important. I never would have met my bandmates were it not for Carl’s nights at the Fox, I never would have seen Blue Balloon play, we never would have signed him, we wouldn’t be looking at the band we’re considering for the label now…hell, Mark and I probably wouldn’t have a label. I’m sure it’s the same for dozens, maybe hundreds of people who’ve frequented the Fox over the last decade. Their lives just wouldn't be the same.

Maybe live music at this level is never gonna go back to how it was just a few years ago, maybe the ‘scene’ has had its way with this little Lewisham bar and moved on, callous whore as it is, and maybe, just maybe, with a couple of months to ponder his next move and recharge the musical engine Carl will be back booking, aflame with enthusiasm and generous measures of scotch. Either way, what fucking fun we’ve all had.

Come and celebrate the Fox and Carl with us on Saturday 22nd (There's bands on and it'll be awesome) because the places where our memories are made, where the most important people in our lives congregate and where we have experienced wonderful things over and over again over so many years don’t just happen by themselves – those experiences are engineered and facilitated by people like Carl, and that should never be forgotten. It's not like he's going away - Carl is still running quiz nights, club nights and so on in the immediate future - maybe you should tap him on the shoulder when you see him and ask him when he's making his return to full time live music promotion?

If you value your local pub, venue and promoter then fucking go there, spend the little money you have and tell them ‘thank you’ at the end of the night. Because otherwise you’ll lose the things you love.

Come back soon mate.


*she didn’t actually technically do this
**I said ALMOST all, don’t get your panties bunched
***shaun still reckons carl owes him a few quid from foxfest 3 years ago