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THE OTTAWA MUSIC CO.

 

In 1971, I was looking for a group to be in, or people to form one with. On the way, I met a lot of interesting composers and players. One of those was Dave Stewart, then playing with Egg. I went to various concerts of theirs (I met Lindsay Cooper for the first time at an Egg and Comus concert when Lindsay was playing in Comus). One evening, Dave and I hit on the idea of forming a Rock Composer's Orchestra - a pool of musicians and composers who would perform one another's music. Out of this conversation 'The Ottawa Music Co.' emerged. There were three series' of concerts. My notes say the first began in Redhill on Sept 2, 1971. The second and third are hazy I'm afraid, but the constitution of the group changed between series' - mainly, more people were added. After the first series I joined Henry Cow and they all became members of the Company too. By the end there were 22 musicians involved. Ottawa also appeared at one of Henry Cow's Cabaret Voltaire evenings, in 1972, and at a special Sunday Matinee organised by Henry Cow during its residency at the Watford Palace Theatre (we had written and were performing music there for Rob Walker's production of Euripides' 'The Bacchae'). This last Ottawa show I remember as being particularly over-the-top, involving, the band breaking up on stage at the end of part 1 and in parts 2 and 3 the various splinter groups formed by disaffected members performing - with comments from their disaffected ex band associates. There was also a narrator who kept the public (mis) informed about what was going on and at one point I remember (Egg's) Mont Campbell swinging across the stage on a rope shouting 'It's a mug's game'...Though we were formed to be an ensemble to play one another's compositions, The Company did play 6 pieces by other composers: Peaches en Regalia, Moon In June, Dali's Car, The Savage, Smoke gets in Your Eyes and There's No Business like Show Business. Needless to say, we ran the concerts ourselves and money they did not make. But it was inspiring. And fun.

The surviving programme for the SECOND series of OTTAWA concerts tells me that the company then consisted of:


MONT CAMPBELL - E Pno, Bass, Voice, French Horn
DAVE STEWART - E Pno, Organ, Bass, Guitar
TIM HODGKINSON - Organ, Saxophone
ANTHONY MARSHALL - E Pno
CLIVE BROOKS - Drums
CHRIS CUTLER - Drums
JEREMY BAINES - Flute, Bass, Keyboard
BOB BERY - Bass, Voice
CLIVE BELL - Flute. Keyboard, Voice
STEVE HILLAGE - Guitar, Voice
FRED FRITH - Guitar, Violin, Voice
BARBARA GASKIN - Voice
JOHN GREAVES - Bass, E. Pno, Voice
PAUL GULLIVER - Clarinet
RICHARD EVANS - Bassoon
ANN ROSENTHAL - Voice, Clarinet
AMANDA PARSONS - Piano, Voice

With non playing assistance from

WILLIAM PHILLIPS - M.C., Tapes, Horror
ANTHONY VINALL - Stage Management
ALF, JACK, PHIL - Roadying, Mixing
JANE COLLING - Refreshment Tent
TERRY YETTON - Lighting
PETER CUTLER - Literature

The pieces played on this occasion were:

1. STUDY FOR 4 KEYBOARDS (Mont Campbell)
2. ENNEAGRAM
(played by Egg )
3.BREAKING GLASS (Bob Bery) a long composed song suite performed by
Bob Bery, Dave Stewart, Chris Cutler, Steve Hillage, Barbara Gaskin and Jeremy Baines
4.TRILOGY 1 (Anthony Marshall/Jeremy Baines) 3 part instrumental suite performed by
Anthony Marshall, Chris Cutler, Jeremy Baines, Dave Stewart, Fred Frith, Steve Hillage
5. SPIDER (Anthony Marshall/Jeremy Baines) performed by
Anthony, Jeremy and Chris.
INTERVAL
6. 3 PIECES FOR WIND QUARTET (Mont Campbell) played by
Mont, Clive Bell, Paul Gulliver and Richard Evans
7. NEARCH (Campbell) played by
Mont, Dave Stewart, Chris Cutler, Paul Gulliver, Richard Evans
8. LOBSTER IN CLEAVAGE PROBE (Stewart) 'The first complete piece I have written' (DS from programme note) Played by:
Dave Stewart, Tim Hodgkinson, Steve Hillage, Anthony Marshall, Mont Campbell, Barbara Gaskin, Ann Rosenthal, Clive Brooks, Chris Cutler
9. PLEASE DON'T DISTURB & ALL THAT I AM, 2 SONGS (Bell)
Clive Bell, Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Anne Rosenthal (clarinet) Mont Campbell (Fr Horn)
11. AND MANY MORE OF THEM (Greaves) played by
Greaves, Frith, Hodgkinson, Cutler, Bell
12. TEENBEAT (Frith) as above)
13. MOON IN JUNE (Wyatt) played by
Anthony Marshall, Dave Stewart, Barbara Gaskin, Steve Hillage, Clive Brooks, Chris Cutler, Mont Campbell
14. DRIVING TO AMSTERDAM (Hillage)
Hillage, Gaskin, Brooks, Campbell, Stewart, Marshall, Cutler.

The Palace Theatre concert was the last.

WHAT'S IN A NAME -

Bob Dylan (of whom I was a great admirer at the time) reputedly once said of a concert 'That was worse than Ottawa and Ottawa was the worst goddamned hole in the universe'.

P.S. There's a lot more about this period which will wait until Aymeric Leroy finished his book- I agreed to hold it off the site until then

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