July 1, 2005 by cosmoakacitizensmith
how can i describe him?
he’s fifty years old, a tyler by profession and a bass player and musical agitator by calling. he lives for the music, make no mistake about it.
he also has the energy of someone half his age. myself included. sometime i say “nick, chill out, take it easy, i can’t keep up, spend some time with yr kids or something,” but it’s no good, he stops when he drops.
i met him the first time i ever played in the south wales valleys on my own. i walked on stage at a rugby club armed only with an acoustic guitar and within about twenty minutes him and his m8 dai had got on stage and we’d jammed though an entire set.
start as u mean to go on. we haven’t stopped since.
when we both ended up in cardiff, we had a kind of informal agreement to spread some craziness here in the welsh capital. i had my musical and political agenda. and so did nick, but don’t get me wrong. he would never describe himself as political, but i do think that the way he operates is a good example of music and anarchism in action working on the grassroots.
his genius lies not just in his playing but putting on events. his “hotter than….” nights are without doubt the best in town. why? because they are not about getting the biggest bands in, fleecing the audience and making a killing.
they’re about getting showcasing five or six varied local acts, (anything from funk to punk to capoeira – no barriers here, m8!), getting musicians who are just starting out to play alongside the more established underground acts, charging a nominal fee, (£5 for all day entertainment in the sunshine), putting all the cash in the middle and sharing it out at the end.
the result? it’s like an inter-generational, multi-cultural good vibe family, no trouble, no bullshit and no-one ripping anyone else off. what a contrast to the crap club nights in town.
it really can be that simple.
i think he personifies a side of life in the valleys that i like, where things are shared out and no-one is above or below anyone else, and this really comes across in his whole approach to his nights.
he also helps out younger musicians from the area, jams with them and sets them off on a musical path. and he’s currently involved with starting a grassroots music collective with a view to taking this vibe further afield.
now one of the reasons i’m bigging the guy up is because to meet him, you wouldn’t hear him boasting or bragging about it. he just gets on with it and does his thing.
so here’s to ya m8!
i sometimes think that anarchists in this country reckon we have a system of living so sorted that we shut ourselves off from anyone different and bask in our own “purity.” this is a shame, cos ways of organising that can be loosely be termed “anarchist” are perfectly able to exist alongside other quite different and often contrasting ones, and indeed may at times be more effective at producing the desired results.
also, people who may not consider themselves “anarchists” do actually employ techinques that are associated with this philosophy without actually realising. i can only talk about the music side of things which is something i am involved in. but it’s worth thinking about…..
as my m8 belgian andy once said, “chaos can work beautifly sometimes.”