Friday, December 03, 2010

The Oakengates Crawl

I've talked before about where I live (see here), a small "town" called Oakengates, formerley a foundry and mining town, now part of Telford in Shropshire.

When we first moved to the town my Dad bought me a book written by a Rev. Cartlidge that traced the history of the town back to Roman times. Also in the 1980's another book was written, imaginatively titled "The Oakengates Book". It was a series of oral histories, quotes from local residents about the recent history of the town. Our local library "re-published"" it a couple of years ago and I managed to get a copy.

I was particularly taken by a couple of pages in "The Oakengates Book" that laid out a map of Market Street, which is the main street in the town. Marked on that map were all the pubs that there used to be in the street. Now Market Street from one end to the other is around 350 yards in length and at one time there were 16 pubs in Market Street alone! That's one pub approximately every 65 feet!

On a seemingly unrelated tack a friend of mine, Howard, had the idea for what he calls the Oakengates Song Project (more info here), in a nutshell he envisaged that all the musicians who were capable in and around Oakengates (and there are quite a few) might write a song about the town and we could have a night in our local pub where we premiered all these songs.

A great idea. Unfortunately only taken up by Howard and myself.

So, armed with a book and a brief to write a song about the town, what I did was write something called "The Oakengates Crawl". Inspired by the list of 16 pubs in Market Street (and some others) and a story in "The Oakengates Book" about a chap who would go into Oakengates and have a few drinks after work on pay day (he would start at the top end of Market Street and drink his way through all 16 pubs and then go home. Unfortunately he was one day found dead on some wasteground between Oakengates and his home. At the inquest into his death the landlord at the first pub he visited was giving evidence; "At what time did the deceased leave your public house" he was asked "Oh around 7.30pm" he replied. "And by 7.30pm how much had he drunk ?", the landlord responded "The same as usual, about 8 pints" !!!) I committed to song the tale of an (almost) imaginary pub crawl through Oakengates.

On the 25th November 2010 two significant things happend to my song. Firstly in the afternoon my brother carted all his recording equipment round to my house and, using the conservatory as a control room and the living room as a studio, we recorded "The Oakengates Crawl". That very same evening, with sterling assistance from Howard and Sally, we performed my song for the first time in public at our local pub The Crown Inn. Not once, but twice. The second time with full audience participation after distributing song sheets around the main bar.

My brother took away the recording we made and, together with his partner in musical crime, sprinkled it with some musical fairy dust, making it sound better than I could ever have hoped.

And now I am sending my song out into the world, so here it is for your enjoyment (hopefully). I'd be more than interested to know what you think.

The Oakengates Crawl by russh29


denniscrupi said...
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denniscrupi said...

Holy cow, Russ, this is quite good. I would like to buy it on iTunes if you can get it up there. It'd be nice if you'd, I dunno, get prolific and stuff. In the words of your beloved Morrissey ; ) "you have a lovely singing voice..." Dennis

jerel w said...

Hard to say quite how much I love this song which catches a lot of things I hold dear , my salopian home town and its history, its pubs, folky sing songs, real ale : If I ever go on Desert island discs this will be one of my six. Sadly however this is most unlikely to occur.....