Phil Gillam: Give local talent a spin
Shrewsbury is not exactly Memphis or Nashville or New Orleans. It’s not Liverpool either.
"Here he goes again," I hear you cry, "stating the flipping obvious."
No, what I mean is, we’re not noted for our contribution to rock ’n’ roll.
Which Shrewsbury bands have been inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame? Answers on a postcard please.
It’s true that Carol Decker, the flame-haired lead singer of 80s hit makers T’Pau, has strong connections to Shrewsbury, having once attended Shrewsbury Art College and all that.
And the great Ian Hunter, leader of the mighty Mott the Hoople, is from our fair town. Oh, what a fantastic band!
But that’s about it.
So wouldn’t it be lovely if a Shrewsbury band were to come along now and make it really big?
One local outfit that fully deserve wider recognition makes music under the name of Where’s The Fire.
Now, I’m not saying they’re destined for greatness, but what I am saying is they’re well worth your attention if you enjoy infectious, punchy pop-rock with a bit of attitude.
Their sound occupies much of the same landscape as that foot-tapping British rock ’n’ roll produced by the likes of Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe.
Where’s The Fire also remind me very much of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, and sometimes Del Amitri, sometimes Crowded House, sometimes The Beautiful South. It’s radio-friendly, electro-acoustic stuff that certainly wouldn’t be out of place on Radio 2, but equally might be heard on Radio 6 Music.
Their story goes something like this:
After playing covers and writing original material for many bands over the years (Tall Story, Easy Money, The Katz), and after having a few years’ break, Shrewsbury lad Russ Gibb (no relation to Barry, Robin and Maurice) decided to do it all again and teamed up with his former bandmate Danny Treherne.
Russ set up his umpteenth recording studio (G Force Studios, Shrewsbury) and started writing some catchy new songs and gigging with Danny as Where’s The Fire.
The Shrewsbury duo have just released their 12-track album - Against The Grain - with a little help from friends Chas Watkin (lead guitar on a couple of tracks) and Aled Roberts (mixing and mastering).
Okay, there’s nothing groundbreaking here. I don’t think these lads will have Radiohead running for the hills. But it’s good, solid, pop-rock, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
So if you’re a fan of some of the bands and artists I’ve just mentioned, check out these guys and support your local team!
The album and individual tracks are available for download - iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play ,Spotify, Amazon and others. The CD version is available at gigs or by request from www.facebook.com/wheresthefire.music
Changing the subject entirely … I’ve always had a soft spot for Shrewsbury companies with a long history.
One such firm is of course the family-run company, Tanners.
They’ve just raised a glass to 175 years in business.
Yes, indeed. Tanners Wine Merchants, which dates back to 1842, now has six branches across Shropshire, Mid Wales and the north west, and employs more than 100 people.
Their story began when Thomas Southam & Son was founded at Wyle Cop.
Having travelled the world as a ship’s captain, William Tanner returned to the town in 1872 and set up W & H.E. Tanner with his brother Edward.
Thomas Southam & Son was taken over by Tanners in 1936 and for some years the two businesses were run separately alongside each other.
The firm traded as Tanner & Southam until 1960 when the name Southam was dropped to avoid confusion with Southam’s Brewery which was then still trading.
“We are delighted to be celebrating our 175th anniversary this year,” said Chairman James Tanner, the fourth generation of the family to work in the company.
Certainly, the beautiful Tanners buildings at the bottom of the Cop are an iconic part of Shrewsbury, and I salute this company on its anniversary.