Radford Calling by Andy Abbott

Andy Abbott
13 September 2011

Since I moved to Bradford by mistake in 2006 (my girlfriend and I went for a day out to Saltaire and ended up staying there) I have become increasingly enamoured with the city as a place to make, promote and enjoy music. In the early 2000’s it was, for me, a gig where you can expect to play to an empty room, bar a couple of crusties and a dog. In 2006, however, there seemed to be a turn towards, or revival of, a distinctive, heterogeneous and energetic grassroots music scene.

My first experience of this was when my band That Fucking Tank played on a bill at The 1 in 12 Club where, instead of playing in between three generic hardcore bands, to our surprise we played to a swarm of politically articulate youngsters and as support to a satirical boy-band called Pro Life (complete with choreographed dance moves).

Also around this time, available to pick up freely in and around the city, was a fanzine called Mono that dared to discuss local issues such as the Save the Odeon campaign in amongst the usual band interviews and reviews.

Over the last five years there’s been the typical peaks and lulls common to cultural scenes, but with the present feeling like a rising swell. Bradford Playhouse has been, at least momentarily, a fantastic enough space in which to experience music to attract gushing accolades as ‘the best venue in West Yorkshire’ from the dark corners of the internet. Similarly, No Hands club night in its current home at The Polish Club has been consistently deserved of the label as the county’s ‘least pretentious and most free Indie disco’, and the 1 in 12 Club continues to build on its legendary status and act as the city’s most inspiring provision.

I couldn’t have hoped for a better time, then, to have been appointed as Fellow in Music at University of Bradford; a role that entails ensuring staff and students have access and exposure to interesting music. It seems there’s an abundance to unearth, experience and share, and that’s something I hope to partway achieve through my blog http://bradfordmusicchap.tumblr.com/.

Equally of interest to me is finding connections with Bradford’s musical past. Gary Cavanagh’s Noise of the Valleys has been a joyous read in that respect and helps reveal how it’s the people of Bradford that make listening, facilitating and making music in the city so uniquely rewarding. Long may it continue and resonate louder!