Julie Tippetts (Julie Driscoll) The Argus Butterfly Peterlee March 1976

Julie Tippetts (Julie Driscoll) The Argus Butterfly Peterlee March 1976
julietippettI’m going to start my meander through acts beginning with the letter “T” with a gig that was strange, musically scary, and unique. And it is also one that I am so glad I attended. But first I’ll think back to when I was a kid in the ’60s.
The image of Julie Driscoll on TV, with her wide made-up eyes and scary hair, singing “Wheels on Fire”, remains forever etched in my memory. I would have loved to see her perform during that period; her work with Brian Auger is simply incredible, and I watch her quite often on YouTube. The first chance that I got to see her live was when she came, with her band Butterfly, to perform at the Argus Butterfly pub in Peterlee. By then she had married, become Julie Tippetts, and had undergone a radical change in vocal style and musical direction. The Argus was, of course, a legendary venue (see below for a picture of the pub) having hosted many bands in the late 60s, when it was the home of the Peterlee Jazz and Folk Club, including an early show by Led Zeppelin, and gigs by Family, Jethro Tull, Free, Deep Purple, Man and others. It was a sparse crowd that gathered to see Tippetts that night in 1976, which was a shame, because what we witnessed was something simply astounding. Tippetts had released the album “Sunset Glow” the year before.
Miles explained in the NME (1975): “In 1970 Julie Driscoll married Keith Tippett, the modern composer, and entered the mysterious other world of contemporary music….She began training her voice and got more involved with experimental work”. All Music Guide says: “After her soul, pop, and R&B beginnings, Tippetts redeveloped her voice… began to extend its reach in improvisation, breath control, and uncommon phrasing. She is one of the most compelling and original singers in recorded music’s history. Sunset Glow is a curious recording, one that walks the razor’s edge of composition and improvisation….strange song structures, varying dynamics”.
Her performance that night was truly way out there in left field. This was vocal improvisation and strange curious songs, and timings. arugusUnlike anything I had heard before. Her band was Brian Godding (guitar), Harry Miller (bass), Mark Charig (cornet) all of who were with Julie in Centipede in 1973, and a “new” guy John Mitchell (percussion) who used to be with Arthur Brown. Julie accompanied herself on piano. One song ‘Mongezi Feza’ consisted entirely of Julie singing the name over and over again, improvising and playing with the sounds. To call the music avant garde jazz does it a disservice; this was experiments in sound, using the voice as an instrument and seeing how far she could take it. It was mind blowing stuff. Sometimes so strange I wanted to laugh, yet compelling and so challenging and moving. Marie and I sat near the front, wondering what on earth we were experiencing.
The gig sticks in my mind today, and I keep promising myself that one day I will go and see Julie perform again. She performs rarely these days, usually with her husband on piano, and in London or the south-west. I really must try and see her again.

Advertisements

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Peter Luxton on September 29, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Hi ….On Julie Tippetts I suspect the song she was singing was actually called ‘Mongezi Feza’…not Morgazie Frazer’. This was the name of a well known and influential South African trumpet player who like many South African jazz players ( Dudu Pukwana, Chris McGregor, Harry Miller) moved to Europe in the 1960’s /early 1970’s, as a result of apartheid. He based himself in London, but sadly died of pneumonia in December 1975, a few months before the gig you attended in Peterlee. A number are still active today e.g. Louis Moholo. I worked with many of them from 1977 onwards , after I moved to London.

    Fantastic blog BTW ! I lived in Newcastle from 1969 until the late seventies and attended many great gigs, particularly at Newcastle Polytechnic and the City Hall, some of which you have brought to life again!

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on September 29, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Hi Peter Many thanks. Glad you enjoying my ramblings. And many thanks for clearing up the name issue. I’d picked up the spelling from a review of the time. I googled the name and nothing came up. Now I know why, cheers. I’ll correct it now. Best wishes Peter

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: