Saturday, 25 September 2021

Macari’s Musical Exchange - part of Wembley’s Pop Music history – Part 2

This is the second and final part of Philip  Grant's Guest Post on the Macari music shop. The first part can be read HERE.


Welcome back to this concluding part of an Ealing Road music shop’s story. In Part 1 we met two Alans, a vocalist and a guitar player, who started a skiffle group with school friends, and regularly visited Macari’s Musical Exchange. We join them again as a “beat” group in the early 1960s.

 

A Musical Exchange advert from the 1960s. (Image from the internet, courtesy of Tony Royden)

 

Alan Hayward and the Haymakers usually practised at Lyon Park School, and mainly performed at a club based there. One day, while rehearsing at the school, a teenage drummer called Keith Moon came to hear them. He showed them what he could do on his drums, and managed to move the drum kit as far as the door while drumming! The group was not impressed with him (nor he with them).

 

The young Keith Moon, from Chaplin Road, was a hyperactive boy, who joined the local Sea Cadets aged 12, and learned to play the bugle. On his way home from Alperton Secondary Modern School, he often used to go into Macari’s Musical Exchange, at one time learning to play the trumpet. 

 

Glo Macari used to see him in the shop, and he must have been quite an attractive teenager. She used to go with her cousin to a nearby greengrocers (probably Smith’s Fruiterers at 40 Ealing Road) to buy a couple of pounds of potatoes, just to see him sweeping up at the back! Keith then decided that drums would be his instrument, and Glo remembers him buying some drum sticks from her grandfather. He was allowed to play on drums in the shop, and took lessons from a local professional drummer, Carlo Little.

 

[In the early 1960s Carlo was a member of The Savages, the backing group for Sudbury “singer” and performer Screaming Lord Sutch (if you’ve ever heard a recording of his one minor hit record, “Jack the Ripper”, you will know why I have put “singer” in inverted commas!). Carlo Little was a well-respected musician, and even played a few times for the “Rolling Stones” in 1962, when another Wembley drummer, Charlie Watts, was not available because he was still employed as a commercial artist.]

 

An Macari's advert from the 1960s. (Image from the internet, courtesy of Tony Royden)


Keith Moon left school at Easter 1961, not quite 15 years old, and got a job. His earnings helped him to buy his own Ludwig drum kit. By the end of 1962 he had joined a semi-professional group, The Beachcombers. They all had day jobs, but played in the evenings and at weekends. In April 1964 he went to the Railway Hotel, Wealdstone, to hear a group called The Who playing. They needed a replacement drummer, and Keith grabbed his opportunity. The rest, as they say, is history! 

 

Keith Moon drumming with The Who. (Image from the internet)

 

You can hear The Who singing “My Generation”, and see Keith in action on the drums, here: 

 

 

Gary was another young Wembley musician who often visited the shop. He remembers Rosa’s husband, Derek, being the manager there at the time, and that Grandpa Macari would sit in the shop with his accordion. He sometimes played along with customers, and Gary once joined him on guitar as he played “Under the Bridges of Paris”. Gary recalls seeing Keith Moon practicing there, and being told to calm down in case he damaged the drum kit. One of the instruments Gary bought in the shop was a second-hand Fender Stratocaster, for about £60 – this iconic guitar would cost a lot more now!

 

A 1957 Fender Stratocaster guitar. (Image from the internet)

 

Gary worked as a courier, and the shop would call him if a customer needed help getting purchases home, such as large amplifiers. He remembers that the Macari’s bought the shop next door (46a, on the corner, which Rosa ran as Derosa Ladies Wear), and them making a recording studio behind the shop. He helped with the work on this, sticking dozens of old egg boxes to the walls as soundproofing.

 

Glo Macari told us the recording studio was in a room at the back that her grandfather had originally used for giving accordion lessons. It had three booths, and wires going up through the ceiling to a control room in the flat above. There was a two-track machine that recorded the music and songs straight onto demo discs. Groups would send these discs to local agents, to get bookings for gigs, or even sometimes to record companies, in hope of something bigger!

 

By the early 1960s, Glo’s father Joe and Uncle Larry were working at Musical Exchange branches at Denmark Street and Charing Cross Road during the day, and playing some evenings in hotels or for wedding receptions. She began going along with them as a singer, and made some demo discs in the Wembley studio herself. In the Spring of 1965, still aged 14 and a pupil at St Gregory’s R.C. School in Kenton, she got a recording contract.

 

Glo Macari singing for some friends in the shop, March 1965. (“Wembley News” photo, courtesy of Glo!)

 

This photograph of Glo Macari, singing in the Ealing Road shop, appeared in the “Wembley News”, with a story about her contract, and her musical family. Her first single, released on the Piccadilly label, was “He knows I love him too much”, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and recorded with the Ivor Raymond Orchestra. You can listen to Glo Macari singing this song here: 

 


Glo’s records never made it into the “Top Twenty”, but she went on to be a successful songwriter and musical arranger. Some of the songs she wrote were recorded by 1970s groups such as Smokie and Racey.

 

Record label for Glo Macari’s song “Boy Oh Boy”, a 1979 single by Racey. (Image from the internet)

 

Not all of the musicians helped by Macari’s Musical Exchange in Ealing Road could be recording artists or become rock and roll legends (or experience the problems that came with a “superstar” lifestyle). Most just played for fun, for their friends and contemporaries, or might have made a small amount from playing at dances in youth clubs, church halls or pubs. But playing a guitar, in a group, you were part of the beat music scene that made such a difference to popular music, in this country and beyond, from the 1960s onwards.

 

 Alan Hayward and the Haymakers, playing at Lyon Park School c.1964.
L-R: Alan Clarke, Roger Horsborough, John Hammond, Alan Hayward and Pete Scott.

(Photograph courtesy of Alan and Barbara Clarke)

 

Alan Hayward and the Haymakers had a small popular local following. This picture of them, playing in a classroom at Lyon Park School, was taken by a Wembley Observer photographer in 1964. Around that time, they were allowed to play several songs during the interval at one of the Saturday night ballroom dances at Wembley (later Brent) Town Hall.

 

One day, around 1967, Gary got a ‘phone call from a friend who was at the shop, telling him to come down straight away with his guitar. He arrived and joined in with a “jamming” session in the shop which included Pete Townshend of The Who, Eric Clapton of Cream (whose drummer, Ginger Baker, lived in Wembley Park at the time) and two members of Status Quo.

 

A modern picture of 46 Ealing Road, now Kenya Jewellers. (Image from the internet)

 

I’m not sure when the local branch of Macari’s Musical Exchange closed, but it was probably around 1970. By the early 1980s, Ealing Road was becoming a centre for businesses run by families of South Asian origin, from East African countries, where they had been made unwelcome after independence from British colonial rule. The two combined shops at 46 Ealing Road became Kenya Jewellers, and they still are.

 

During it’s time in Wembley the Macari’s shop had encouraged many young people play musical instruments, at the birth of modern Pop Music in Britain. The business continued, with its main shop in Charing Cross Road, before moving out of London, but is still run by the Macari family and supplying instruments to musicians today.

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading these two articles, and listening to some music from that time. If they have brought back any memories for you, which you would like to share, please feel free to add a comment below!

 

Philip Grant 

 

Editor's Note - These articles have provoked considerable interest along with earlier ones by Philip. HERE you can find a personal account of the enduring friendship between Ginger Baker and Charlie Watts.

Glo Macari has her own YouTube Channel HERE

Friday, 24 September 2021

'Just Another Immigrant Variety Show' comes to 5 venues in Brent next month - don't miss it!

 

ice&fire –and Matthew Schmolle Productions are delighted to announce the London tour of a brand-new all-immigrant variety show. WE LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT is performed by a clown collective of immigrant performers, who take the audience on a journey of variety and satire. grappling with our decade’s stickiest subject; immigration.  It’s a show where karaoke meets moral philosophy, incorporating a stand-up pigeon double act, smorgasbord of characters, plenty of juice, plenty of biscuits and plenty of food for thought.

 

ice&fire have established themselves as a theatre company renowned for their use of performance to explore human rights issues, in WE LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT, the cast do just that. Because while Brexit is now ‘done’ it seems we are still far from done with the age-old immigration ‘question.’ This all-immigrant variety show, has been created by Olivier award winner Donnacadh O’Briain (Ireland) and playwright Amy Ng (Hong Kong), with a company of actors; Jahmila Heath (Jamaica), Tomoko Komura (Japan), Gaël Le Cornec (Brazil-via-France) and Sergio Maggiolo (Peru). Collectively they are over 29,000 miles from home.

 

Touring to every corner of London, including in Brent visiting venues in  Wembley, Willesden Green, South Kilburn, Harlesden and Neasden, and serving up jokes, songs and satire, the performers ask; ‘What is behind our societal acceptance of immigration control? What does it say about us and what do those who have come to the UK from somewhere else want to say about it?’ 

 

Christine Bacon from ice&fire says: ‘As a company, ice&fire have for some time been concerned with the here and now of human rights stories and what can be done to make current systems more fair. With this project, we are trying to take a big step back and interrogate how and why immigration controls are seen as a common sense and 'natural' feature of our world. But with clowns, so it will make you smile.'

 

 

Matthew Schmolle says: ‘We are passionate about getting this show out beyond the traditional theatre-world-echo-chamber, getting it in front of the broadest audience possible and seeing what all those people have to say about these over-looked issues which underpin so much of modern discourse around immigration’.

 

PERFORMANCE INFORMATION

Tuesday 28th September – Saturday 16th October: 

Evenings (Timings vary, see www.iceandfire.co.uk/project/wltmimi for full information)

Tickets: Range from £Free - £15

Performance length: Approximately 60 minutes with no interval. 

 

Venues:

Thursday 7th October & Friday 8th October   The Yellow, Wembley

Saturday 9th October   The Library at Willesden Green, Willesden 

Tuesday 12th October   The Granville Community Centre, South Kilburn

Wednesday 13th October   The Roundwood Community Centre, Harlesden

Thursday 14th October     St Catherine’s Church, Neasden

 

 

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Brent’s “secret” housing projects – the Council’s response

 


Extract from Brent’s housing projects map, with ‘not yet in public domain’ schemes in black.

 

Guest post by Philip Grant in a personal capacity

 

Three weeks ago, I wrote a guest blog about Brent Council plans for “infill” housing schemes which were ‘not yet in public domain’. In the comments beneath it, I shared the text of an email I’d sent to the councillors and Council officers most closely involved, offering them a “right of reply”.

 

I did receive a short email the same day, from one of my Fryent Ward councillors who I’d copied the email to. Shama Tatler, who is also the Lead Member for Regeneration in Brent’s Cabinet, wrote:

 

Thank you for your email. Yes, you can be assured that we as ward councillors will be involved early with any proposal and will ensure resident voice. We have been doing the same in other projects in the ward.’

 

Encouraging words, although they do beg the question: “if they had been involved early in the four ‘not yet in public domain’ proposals in their ward, why hadn’t residents been given a chance to have their say about them yet?”

 

I had to wait a couple of weeks for a substantive reply, but on 16 September I received Brent’s response to my article from Cllr. Eleanor Southwood, Lead Member for Housing. I will set out its full text below, and would encourage you all to read it. 

 

I believe that all citizens of the borough should be able to express their views, on issues they feel strongly about, to those at the Civic Centre who make the big decisions. But we also need to consider what they say. Having these exchanges of views publicly available can help us to understand each other. (It can also be useful in trying to ensure that the Council lives up to the words of the elected members who represent us!)

 

Here is the Council’s response:

 

‘Thank you for your email and again apologies for not responding sooner.

 

 

For clarity, the map that you included in your blog, entitled by you or other, ‘Brent’s secret housing projects’ was published alongside a cabinet report providing detail of all of Brent’s current housing projects – this report and its appendices were public and therefore by definition, everything included in it is not a secret.  However I agree that the term ‘not yet in the public domain’ used as a key on the map was unhelpful, and as such we will not be using this term in future to explain sites that are at the feasibility stage.

 

 

I absolutely agree that Brent Council must work with residents to shape housing development projects, not just on the housing itself but also on the improvements that are made as part of each development we deliver.  We take this responsibility seriously - with workshops, public events, newsletters and questionnaires all used to discuss and get input on our proposals.  You’ll no doubt have seen my written response to a question at Full Council re the Kilburn Square development, which I think is good evidence of this.

 

 

However, as I’m sure you’re aware, the process isn’t that linear.  As you have also pointed out, in addition to our duty to existing residents, we also have a duty to residents who are homeless or in priority housing need – as at August 2021 there were 1487 families and individuals living in Temporary Accommodation, to whom the Council owes a housing duty.  Just for context, if we do nothing more to increase our housing stock some of those families could be waiting more than 15 years to get a suitable house that they can call home.  This is unacceptable and we’re committed to changing this outlook, which inevitably involves balancing differing views and priorities.

 

 

The approach to addressing the housing shortage in Brent is multi-pronged – we are working with Housing Associations and private developers to bring forward housing sites with good levels of genuinely affordable housing, we are reviewing and improving management of our existing stock so that we can make better use of what we have and, we are building our own housing for social rent to our residents. 

 

 

We don’t have a surplus of suitable land for development, so we are reviewing lots of sites across our borough to understand which might be suitable for housing – this is the feasibility work referred to earlier.  We’re always keen to engage with ward Cllrs and local residents ahead of any proposals going to planning.  I appreciate that proposed developments can create anxiety and that compromise is often required.  In addition, all of our work in housing development is framed by policy at a local and regional level, which provides strict requirements in terms of density, open space, parking etc, in order that Brent and London continue to provide homes whilst protecting what’s important for existing residents.   

 

 

I agree that working with residents is key and this will continue to be a core part of developing any proposals for new housing, balanced with the needs of residents who are currently homeless and the requirements of planning policy.

 

 

I hope this helps.

 

Best wishes,

Cllr Southwood’


 

Encouraging words again, especially her agreement that ‘Brent Council must work with residents to shape housing development projects’, but we do need to see that happening in practice, and at an early stage of any proposed “infill” schemes. If you live at Campbell Court, Elvin Court, Westcroft Court or Gauntlett Court, or if you know anyone who does, have residents there been consulted about the Council’s proposals yet? Please add a comment below with the answer!

 

I had read Cllr. Southwood’s written response to the question on Kilburn Square. Some of the points she made in that, particularly that 'the most cost effective building occurs when the council is able to build on land that it owns', reminded me that no one from Brent had responded to an email I sent to all members of the Cabinet on 13 August. That email was about my article on Council housing on the former Copland School site. I also had a letter on the same subject published in last week’s Brent & Kilburn Times (16 September). 

 

An elevation drawing from the Council’s plans for the Wembley housing development.

 

The Council owns the vacant site, and has full planning consent to build 250 homes there. It has access to over £100m of grant funding from the GLA to build social rent housing over the next five years. Yet Brent’s Cabinet has agreed to invite a private developer to get involved in the project, and to let that developer have more than 150 of the homes to sell at a profit!

 

I have replied to Cllr. Southwood, and raised this issue again. I can’t understand why, with the urgent need for Council homes that she emphasises, Brent isn’t building all of these 250 homes (including sixty-four 3 and 4-bedroom family dwellings) for affordable rent, instead of just 52!

 

I will include the text of my latest email to her in the comments section below. And I will, of course, share any response I receive with you.


Philip Grant.

 

BRENT COUNCIL ANNOUNCES A NEW WAY OF MAKING NEIGHBOURHOOD CIL DECISIONS Neighbourhood CIL presentations start on Wednesday with information on how you can bid for a share of the £2 million available

BRENT COUNCIL ANNOUNCES A NEW WAY OF MAKING NEIGHBOURHOOD CIL DECISIONS

 

From Brent Council

 

We want to make sure you know about an exciting change to the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) funding. The funding decisions are being handed to Brent residents, organisations and groups who work with and for them, and we are calling this You Decide.

The Five Brent Connects areas (above)  will receive £400,000 each of the £2m total and residents will decide how it is spent, through Participatory Budgeting.

How will this work?

We are inviting residents to join forces with local groups and organisations to decide what they think their area needs. What would make a difference to the lives of people and support them? What changes could funding bids for physical assets make? How could a street, estate, sports club, park or community venue provide more for local people by purchasing physical things? What do local people need?

Constituted organisations can submit a bid to You Decide for a share of the £400,000 for that Brent Connects area. Residents can share ideas with you.

Residents will then have the chance to vote on what they want at Decision Day events. Applications will be presented and voted on in each Brent Connects area. Anyone over 18 can vote.

Everyone is invited to attend the community-based information evenings, as a resident and/or representative of an organisation. Please register at this Eventbrite link. If you can’t attend your area meeting, please sign up for a different one.

You can find more You Decide information at www.brent.gov.uk/youdecide

Do spread the word about You Decide is how £2million of NCIL funding is to be spent. Please also tell us about events we can attend to share information at youdecide@brent.gov.uk.

KEY DATES


 

We want to create real buzz around this and we need your support to spend the money as you think it is best used. 

We want to create real buzz around this and we need your support so the money is spent as needed, and as decided by as many people as possible. 

Please share this information with friends, family, neighbours and all or any groups you belong to, and encourage them to come to an Information Evening – as a potential applicant, or voter  using this Eventbrite link

NCIL PB guidance note

NCIL PB application form (PDF)

NCIL PB application form (Word)