Day 15 The Hoo Ha Residence Club!

Today marks the half way point of my residency at Smiths Row and to celebrate I am hosting a Hoo Ha Record Club in the gallery. I'm late. I have to dye my hair and choose my records thismorning, both of which take hours. In my head I've already chosen my set but it's a question of finding the vinyl I need. My records needless to say are not in neat alphabetical order but strewn about the house in various locations. Every time we have a Hoo Ha I leave it till the last minute and turn the house upside down looking for the one track I must at all costs play.
A Hoo Ha requires the DJs to arrive 10 minutes before the start to draw set times out of a hat, or jug in this instance. Today we have 13 DJs, all from Bury or who have a historical connection with Bury. The theme is The British Landscape. Most have played a Hoo Ha before, apart from Ross from The Vinyl Hunter who has worked in every record shop the town has seen for the last 20 odd years. I'm guessing he has a pretty good record collection. Ross is up first, from 12-12:20. I wonder how it's going to work in the gallery. Normally we host the Hoo Ha at Oakes Barn in the evening, so naturally, as people drink more and the night goes on, they end up filling the dance floor until, at the end of the night they are chanting "HOO HA! HOO HA!". I don't expect that to happen today but the point of having a Hoo Ha in the gallery is more about listening to music in a different context and thinking about the songs thematically in relation to the gallery space, the work on the walls and the wider context of the British Landscape. People don't dance but they do listen and everyone is checking out everyone else's records. Iain is second on and plays 'Gates to the Garden' by Nick Cave which Cave wrote about Bury St Edmunds when he was in rehab here in the mid 90's. The gallery is filling up now. It's market day outside and it's hot too. The smell of onion and garlic keeps wafting in through the window and people keep popping out for food. There's a lovely Thai stall so I fetch a green curry. Reuben is on third, then Andy. Each DJ has 20 minutes which equates to five or six songs, so as a DJ it forces you to focus in on what you consider the best tracks to reflect that theme. People always ask me if there's too much of a crossover, with DJs playing the same songs, but it never happens. I'm amazed at how diverse the selections are and it's become a great way for me to discover new music. You get to a point where you think you've heard everything but the Hoo Ha proves to me time and again that there will always be something new. You will never hear all the good music in the world. There's not enough time in life to do that. The Machismo's prove that even further, I don't think I know any of the tracks they play and can't find half of them on Spotify afterwards either. The other amazing thing about the Hoo Ha is that it has revealed a whole community of music lovers and vinyl collectors in this small market town who had previously never met each other. Now some new friendships are forming. I feel like I've known Shaun and Mark for ages but it's only since the first Hoo Ha in March that I've spoken to them, and new people are coming every time. Ross, Jonathan Carpenter, Rob Puricelli, Lee Bennet. All with great record collections and different tastes. 
Shaun and Terry play some excellent records then it's my turn. I never plan the order of my set in advance but today I know what track I'm going to start with, The Queen Is Dead. Nothing evokes England, particularly the North of England, for me quite like the Smiths. Then a bit of Saint Etienne, followed by The Fall. Noel Coward is an interruption in style, then back to the favourites, Pulp, The Pet Shop Boys. 
On Thursday evening the lovely people from Off The Press (Sam, James and Anna) spent four or five hours hand screen printing our Hoo Ha Record Club tee shirts. Sam delivered them to the gallery yesterday and by 3 o clock thisafternoon we've nearly sold out. By the end of the day the gallery is filled with people wearing Hoo Ha Record Club tee shirts of various different colours and sizes. We're becoming a tribe. Alison, the art director at Smiths Row, stuns us with her choice vinyl selection. Echo and the Bunnymen, The Fall, The Pogues. She hasn't played these records for nearly 30 years! I teach her how to DJ and insist that when she goes home, she cleans them all and plays at the next Hoo Ha Record Club at Oakes Barn in September. Mark, Matthew and Richard play great sets, then Kenny rounds off the day with a right old mixture. I'm exhausted. The gallery is full of booze and record bags. Smiths Row will never be the same again. HOO HA! HOO HA!


1 comment

  • Chris Waugh

    Chris Waugh Upper Bucklebury

    Well jel'!

    Well jel'!

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