The lovely Peter Finch has written a book called (you’ve guessed it) The roots of rock – from Cardiff to Mississipi and back. And to celebrate, there’s a launch party!
Peter’s book draws on a life long love of music and the need to trace its roots … he explains the book way more eloquently than I could ever dream of, so I’ll just let him tell you what it’s about:
“I want to find out where the material I listened to as a young man and which became the backdrop to my life came from. I want to discover where it lived. How it was. How it is. How it got there. I want to find out on the ground how the blues, hillbilly, old time dance music, bluegrass, Hank Williams country and western, rockabilly, Nashville slick and straight ahead Rocket 88 rock and roll came about. What were the components of these musics? How did they cross the Atlantic? What parts came from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales?”
“Most importantly I want to discover how the magic all this became made the transition back to rain drenched Wales. How did it flow across the Bay of Tigers to manifest itself in the bright blue drape jackets of Valley’s born Teddy Boys? How did it appear amid the banjos plucked in folk clubs in pub back rooms on the Welsh Capital’s Broadway and Charles Street?”
How did it rock in the dance halls of Sophia Gardens, Cowbridge Road and Death Junction? And, in particular, how did it inform the taste of more than one Welsh generation? Mike Harries, Man, the Sons of Adam, Amen Corner, The Sun Also Rises, Edward H, Meic Stevens, the Manic Street Preachers, Cate Le Bon, Richard James, Georgia Ruth, Gruff Rhys, Trampolene, Baby Queens, Climbing Trees, and Euros Childs.
The book starts in south Wales, in the place I come from. The Cardiff delta. The flood plain made by the three city rivers – the Ely, the Taff, the Rumney – aided ably by the Roath Brook, the Nant, and that long lost waterway, the Tan. Cardiff is not the centre of the music universe by any means but it has had its moments. Bill Haley came here in 1957 and played the Cardiff Capitol. Lynyrd Skynyrd did the same thing in 1975. John Lee Hooker was here in 1964 at a surf club on the Wentloog flatlands. Jerry Lee played Sophia Gardens in 1962. Dion wandered to the Capitol in 1964. Chuck Berry duck walked there a year later. Johnny Cash visited in 1966. Elvis never. How and why? I want to know.
So there you go! I can’t wait to read it.
See you at the party?
Butetown Arts and History Centre
4 Dock Chambers, Cardiff CF10 5AG
Monday 7 December, 19.00
The Roots Of Rock From Cardiff To Mississippi And Back by Peter Finch will be published by Seren Books on 7 December, 2015. There’ll be a paperback at £9.99 and a e-book at the same price. You can order your copy from Seren Books.
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