I’m not holding your coat
This is such a good read. A story of how a person got into punk rock, started putting on shows and was drawn in by the community spirit of the whole thing. Ian says in his introduction that too much focus is out in bands. They are only one part of the scene. Well it is great to get another insight here.
Nancy’s catholic school upbringing helped sow the roots of rebellion that punk took on. Not only that it informed her whole life and career. Don’t do what some nuns did. Compassion over fear wins every time. Nancy’s first taste of organising for change was in sixth grade. A petition of school mates led to trouble but eventually change. And it set down a marker. You can make a difference. Music can help with that difference and music for Nancy had the “power to take me out of my suffocating surroundings and give me a voice where before I’d had none”. At that stage there were many like Nancy around the world, ready for the diy punk rock explosion.
Nancy was listening to Suzi Quattro, The Runaways, Blondie and Patti Smith as well as the Ramones and the Emerging UK punk bands. Punk was a cry for change but also allowed her to feel a sense of empowerment delivering a message of don’t mess about with me. As a woman in 1970’s Philadelphia this was important. Sad it had to be that way but true.
A band that led the way for Nancy was The Clash. For me it’s amazing how many people I’ve come across that have been inspired by the Clash, calling out what was wrong in the world and then call upon kids to fight for that change. Books and dissertations have been written about the influence the band has had but through so many pages their name appears and keeps appearing 40 years later.
There was another side to life that sometimes can be hard to imagine these days. The music scene was dangerous, some cities had venues in areas where people wouldn’t normally visit but somehow got through the danger to capture the music. Venues were hard to find so it wasn’t a case of location, location, location. It was a grab it while you can affair.
In October 1981 Nancy put on her first show. She had already been managing the sadistic colours for a while and had got them some gigs but this was her own promotion- everything from venue to P.A. to bands to posters. And so Punk Fest 1 was born. Punk Fest 2 happened soon after and a few more gigs too. Overall this lasted for a small period of time and while we get a few gigs with good detail I would loved to have read more Stories of the trials and tribulations of those who put in gigs.
A positive note from this book is the belief that punk enabled the author to break free of the patriarchal bonds she felt at home, or in her city. Not all punks attain that belief but that is the version of punk rock I believe in.
Buy it here