Sunday 1 March 2015

Stomping at the Rivelyn with Victor Swanvesta

I had a very good Hip Replacement, thanks. Perhaps my best. 

Hip Replacement is the name Alan Parry calls the night (or day, because this was an all-dayer) he promotes under the guise of 78 DJ Victor Swanvesta. The name actually was an idea of mine. I used to promote wild mixed-media events with maverick Edward Barton under the umbrella title Hip Replacement. Of course a promoter can never relax at his own event, but this natural unease was compounded by the worry of not knowing what madcap Edward Barton was going to do next. Which is why I enjoyed Victor’s Hip Replacement rather more than Edward’s Hip Replacement. I resurrected my own disc spinning alter ego, DJ Disfazia, for the occasion. DJ Disfazia stands out from the rest because he doesn't talk between records. It's in the name, dummy. 

Victor, who talks at the turntable, is a 78 DJ on the rise, with interviews (plural) with Dr Rock on BBC Radio Yorkshire and articles (plural) in the Scarborough News. It said, “Alan Parry, better known as Victor Swanvesta…” And everyone there had a grand time, except for a couple of fellow DJs, there to supplement the efforts of Victor Swanvesta, Disfazia and Charlie. These actually staged a walk-out.   

Hip Replacement, the name, works on several levels. Obviously, it’s a pun on the common surgical operation, which we middle-aged types are sadly prone to. It also carries the promise of an alternative to mainstream culture. “Don’t watch that, watch this” kinda thing. Or, more subtly, it suggests that hip itself can be superseded by extra-hip. That is, hip that no-one knows, or no-one yet recognises as hip. Could this be why the traditional arbiters of the hip and groovy – i.e. those DJs with their funny Northern Soul 45s, which exchange hands for £60 or £100 a go – feel threatened by the rise of Victor? Could shellac really overtake their precious vinyl? 

The records on Victor’s playlist come from the auctions or junk-shops or are donated by senior citizens. It’s an eclectic and unpredictable mix. ‘I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’ by Billy Cotton and his Band and ‘It Takes Two to Tango’ by Gilbert Harding and Hermione Gingold tweak the collective psyche in unexpected ways: they’re songs we know without being aware of. And how long has it been since Johnny Dodds stormed the dancefloor?

This is the true spirit of Hip Replacement, and this is the spirit I tried to honour as DJ Disfazia. I mean, any fule can play groovy soul, but it takes real genius to play groovy folk. 

Here is DJ Disfazia’s playlist, as heard by patrons of Hip Replacement at the Rivelyn Hotel, Scarborough, February 22, 2015 (please excuse the different typeface; I’m cutting and pasting from a pre-existing document): – 

Betty Harris, 'There's a Break in the Road' 
Kid Ory, 'Under the Bamboo Tree'
Duster Bennett, 'Fresh Country Jam' 
Kolettes, 'Who's That Guy'
Shirley Collins, 'Space Girl'
The Country Dance Players, 'Newcastle' 
Peter Bocking, 'Sunshine Superman' (the only copy in the world? It’s an acetate given to me by the late, lovely Pete Bocking himself) 
Lord Power, 'Temptation' 
Dele Ojo & His Star Brothers Band, 'Ori Lonise' 
The Wildweeds, 'Never Mind' 
Erma Franklin, 'I'm Just Not Ready for Love' 
Bennie Moten, 'Lafayette' 
Tapper Zukie, 'M.P.L.A.'
Rev. Kelsey, 'Little Boy' 
Chris Kenner, 'Land of 1,000 Dances' 
Mitch Mitchell and Gene The King, 'Definition of Things' 
Davy Graham, 'Angi' 
Lee Dorsey, 'If She Won't (Find Someone Who Will)' 
Rosetta Tharpe with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, 'Rock Me' 
Captain Beefheart, 'Too Much Time' 
Nikki Giovanni, 'Ego Tripping' 
Maxine Sullivan, 'Keeping Out of Mischief Now' 
Washboard Rhythm Kings, 'Brown Skin Mama' 
Memphis Jug Band, 'Cocaine Habit' 

I can’t give a detailed run down of Victor’s playlist, but, as well as the above-mentioned Gilbert and Hermione and Cotton, I spotted Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent (a dominant presence that weekend, mainly because Al had recently bought a truckload of Gene Vincent at a local auction, and so I was catching up on his Dandelion record and the early 70s Kama Sutra LPs). Oh, and something called ‘Boogie for Googie’ by Joe Daniels and His Hotshots. I only know this because it somehow got mixed in with my box of records and I took it home with me. Parlophone.

In all honesty, only one DJ actually got the patrons of Rivelyn dancing, and that was Charlie, the great soulman from Middlesbrough. That’s one up for the Middlesbrough posse. To clarify, the Scarborough posse walked out not for artistic reasons – I would like to think that Gid Tanner and Lee Perry can peacefully co-exist – but because of the technical shortcomings. Only one speaker was working, for example. At one point, a needle careened over the precious grooves of a precious ska single in a barrage of ear-splitting white noise. The Scarborough posse muttered darkly. The consensus view was that Victor had neglected to change the cartridge after his 78 spot. It was a typical Parry Tours excursion, really.

The other person who contributed so much to the success of Hip Replacement was Glen, Al’s partner and helpmate, who minded the vintage stall and served up her homemade Gumbo and had a hearty welcome for everyone. As the wife of a new friend, Andy, said to me, “As far as I can tell, Glen does all the work and Al just self-indulges.” Unfair comment, I would say, but it made Glen happy when I reported the remark.   

Of course, Hip Replacement was merely the icing on a cake of a glorious weekend in Scarborough. On the Friday, we visited the new micro-pub on Falsgrave Road, the Stumble Inn. The beer was so good, and so plentiful, that I found myself nursing my first hangover in twenty years on the morrow. Patrons there included Harry, the friendly fascist. A building across the road, just  down from the railway station, is under new management. It’s full of posters and signs saying ‘Vote UKIP’. It seems to be the party HQ of UKIP. There’s a serpent in every Eden, it seems. 

 The blog is topped and tailed by two works by Austin-based graphic artist Guy Juke. Prints of both adorn Al's front-room. The Memphis Jug Band is by Robert Crumb. I'm not sure about the other illustration, but it caught my fancy. 

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