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Tim Chipping

Ranting & Reeling

Tim Chipping’s monthly column

On the 17th of April 2015 at about 4.43pm, on a sunny but not especially warm day, something music industry insiders had feared for some time finally happened. Despite the warnings and the best efforts of several dedicated organisations, Britain ran out of decent band names.

The shallow well of inspiration that had begun to show signs of running dry with The Young’uns is now empty. Our children and our children’s children will be forced to grow up in an environment where all groups are called something ridiculous. We’ve let them down and we’ve let ourselves down.

Already the lesser-known acts on the UK folk festival circuit have begun to feel the effect of this devastating loss of any name that won’t make people snort Fanta out of their nose when they see it. To read them out loud is to sound the death knell for dignity. Half Of Murphy’s, Fred’s House, Threepenny Bit, Monkey’s Fist and Threadbare Ravens. We haven’t made those names up for cruel sport. Sadly they are all very real and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

There is a slim chance that success may render their absurd moniker acceptable. Hear a daft name enough times and it starts to sound normal, as in the case of The Bee Gees, Radiohead or Vin Garbutt. But for many of these poor sods, doomed to pad out the line-up of regional music events once the promoter has blown all the cash booking Richard Thompson, nothing can redeem the rubbish thing they ended up calling themselves.

For the likes of Cardboard Fox, The Two Nicks, Quinns Quinney and Jigantics the future is bleak. All they can look forward to now is a lifetime of having to repeatedly spell their name down the phone then seeing it typed out in the programme with a missing vowel or extraneous s, adding insult to injury. What choice do they have? There has been an attempt to reach some of the worst cases, such as the folk and blues quintet Junk And Disorderly or Bournemouth ukulele trio Mother Ukers, as these regrettable puns may qualify for help from the relief fund. Though it’s all a little too late.

We are now facing up to the fact that medium-sized marquees up and down the country will echo to the no doubt competent but nonetheless terribly named sounds of The Hot Seats, Reckless Elbow, Boxing Octopus, Edd Donovan And The Wandering Moles, Barcode Zebra and The Hittites. Who knew this would happen in our lifetime?

The good names are long gone. Taken by a selfish generation who never had to resort to combining words at random from a magnetic poetry set or using the government sanctioned band christening convention of a girl’s first name followed by the words “And The Wolf” (of which there were 26 at the last census).

Will future musicians judge us harshly? Will they curse the reckless way we squandered respectable band names on short-lived projects and one-off collaborations? Most likely they will cast their eyes over a list of BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominees and, as they read the once-venerated names of The Dougal McDougal Band, Daniel & Daniel, The Ruminants, Spúnóg and Mhairi McMuffen, they will doubt they ever existed at all.

Tim Chipping


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