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Last night I ordered a new DMX light controller. This will give me more control over my LED par cans, enabling me to produce better quality light shows for my own band and performances, not to mention other performers I work with.
Many thanks to Paul for the invitation to guest blog. I’m Ruth and I live in
Ilfracombe, which is why it’s been an expensive week so far.
I had to go to a meeting in London yesterday. The meeting lasted less than an
hour but it took nine hours, twenty miles of driving and a stonking train fare
to get there and home again. Not to mention the cost of the mysterious
transformation that yet again took place somewhere between Barnstaple and
Paddington. How is it that I get on the train in Devon looking respectable, and
when I get off it in London I look like a bag lady? I’m sure I’m not the only
person this happens to. Maybe that’s why there’s a branch of Monsoon in
None of the people at the meeting knew where Ilfracombe was. That was
interesting, because they’re in the book business, and while most of the trade
is mourning the fact that bookshops are closing down all around us, what do we
have right here in our own High Street?
I suppose its relative remoteness is one reason that Ilfracombe has managed
to hang onto all sorts of businesses which, for friends who live in bigger towns
with easier communications, are only a fond memory. A proper greengrocer. Two
real butchers. Bakeries and a post office that aren’t just add-ins to
supermarkets. A fish shop. A local printer. Pedlar’s. Shops that deliver. Shops
that don’t charge silly prices. Shops where the staff know what they’re talking
about - usually because they’re the owners. That’s not to mention the proper
pubs, the farmers who sell locally-raised meat and the places to buy free-range
eggs at the front gate. As the daughter and grand-daughter of former Ilfracombe
shopkeepers, I listened to the Londoners saying, "Ilfracombe? Where’s that?" and
I smiled, and I thought, it’s in a very good place.
By Ruth Downie
The Vaults Bar used to be underneath the Collingwood Hotel in Ilfracombe,
North Devon. It was an L shaped room with awful acoustics. As a young band in North Devon, it was a great venue. It could be hired, with the bar for £20. Bands would charge £1 on the door, and always get 100 or 120 people through the door. The ceiling was very low, the walls were a very rough texture, but despite the acoustics, the atmosphere was always electric. Sweat would be dripping down the walls.
The first band I saw there were Cut & Run. This was the tail end of 1985. I had not long moved to Ilfracombe, from Great Wyrley, Staffordshire. I thought they were great. I remember them playing Silly Thing on that occasion, still one of my favorite Sex Pistols songs. I later became friends with members of Cut and Run.
My own band, The Pyromaniacs From Outerspace played many gigs there, both as headline and support act. I have many videos of the gigs. Sadly, they are all on VHS, so consequently, have not been seen for years.
Some of the other bands I saw there were, Cult Maniax, Fatal Attraction, Beat the Retreat, Burning Fantasy, Blyth Power, The Gotham City Gangsters and The Stan and Eddie Chain. The first time ever saw Jive Turkey was at the Vaults Bar. They were a Torrington band, doing Stranglers covers. They went on to to become a great band with Radio 1 air play.The last gig I played at the Vaults Bar was with The Backtrackers. It was a party for the Sure Start. Someone stole my capo at that gig.
Of course, the Collingwood Hotel is now knocked down after a fire, and the Vaults Bar was closed years before that. Whenever I walked past the derelict bar, before the fire, I would have a tear in my eye, and a lump in my throat. I could hear the muffled sound of ghost bands still bashing away. But they've all gone now, not even the ghosts can be heard.
There is nothing like it in Ilfracombe now. I do miss the venue and the great times I had there as both a performer and as a member of the audiences. What memories of the Vaults Bar do you have? What bands did you see gig there?
The Backtrackers http://paulclews888.weebly.com/backtrackers.html
This video contains some of the bands that played at the Vauls Bar. It was recorded about 1986, on Ilfracombe sea front, next to the Carousel Bar in the Victorian Pavilion. Also knocked down, and replaced by the Landmark Theatre. It was uploaded by Guy Roberts. See me with the Pyromaniacs From Outerspace at 1:55 with my Tokai Strat. I am still using it today. You can also see Eldon Evans on drums. Beat the Retreat, Fatal Attraction, and Burning Fantasy are also featured.
50 Dollar Bill
Never Say Goodbye Johnny Ray
Cult Maniax (do not watch if offened by strong languge)
No More Beach Boys
Road To Nowhere
The Amazing Adventures Of Johny The Duck And The Bathtime Blues
Poison Pen Letter
Cool Cats Dancing
Inside the Horse
The Bishop At The Gate