Portsmouth music scene

Letters to the Evening News


Freedom To Rock 'n' Roll, 22nd January 1957

WHAT is this thing called freedom that is splashed across the front pages of the national pages at every opportunity. My own favourite conception of it can be found expressed in the words of the American Constitution's " life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Although many people seek happiness, they are often, stopped dead in their tracks by the very people to whom they pay taxes to look after their interests. We are told that " a matter principle" is involved, and so a harmless programme of "Rock 'n' Roll" and dance music, built up around the popular young entertainer Tommy Steele is banned from a Portsmouth cinema on March 24th 1957.
Of course, that particular day happens to be a Sunday, a day of the week on which it is quite all right for waging hot and cold war, hunting the fox, and playing football. A programme featuring world famous Lonnie Donegan and his skiffle group was to appear in Portsmouth. I see now that hey are advertised to appear at a Ryde cinema instead. It seems that in the Isle of Wight they have more enlightened ideas. A city needs life, music, poetry a joy of living. Only the people in it can give these things. Our city is a musical wilderness, a culturally barren maze of badly lit streets.
I do not know why people put up with it. I like "Rock 'n' roll " I play " Rock 'n' roll:.' I see nothing wrong in ' Rock , 'n' roll." I like Italian grand opera. I like the immortal works of Beethoven, Wagner, Rossini and the rest. I like good literature, I also read what might be called cheap paper-backed literature. But I do not want to dictated to.
Douglas Peel. Southsea.

Sunday Dance Music Concerts, 18th February 1957

SO Portsmouth is not to have Sunday dance music concerts. May I on behalf of a very large number of people in the district ask why on earth not? Sunday concerts of this type in cinemas and theatres have become regular features of entertainment throughout the country. To my knowledge no town (and certainly none the size of Portsmouth), has seen fit to ban them.
If the objections raised quoted in your columns supposed to be confined to a town like Portsmouth then this argument is immediately sunk by the fact that our twin, Plymouth, features these concerts at one of its cinemas.
As has been pointed out, similar concerts are staged at the South Parade Pier during the summer months. These events too , few and far between, are without doubt the most popular that the City provides. Holiday propaganda contributed by Southsea's publicity offices states that this year these concerts will be staged fortnightly. This is welcome news for locals and visitors alike-support for these ventures is assured.
But why must the residents, particularly the younger ones, be denied this sort of thing in the winter months? Serious music-lovers are catered by by Municipal Con certs, so why discriminate against those who prefer. Iighter forms of music? Classsical light, '" pop," or jazz it's all music.
Puzzeled Gosport.

Contrast With The Concerts, 3rd March 1957

Last Friday evening the King's Theatre, Southsea,Presented a sight to please the eye of any entertainments manager.
The place was packed. I was there rubbing shoulders with the cream of "Rock' n' Roll " society. At least half an hour before the house was to begin there wrere long quese of teenagers many of whom had booked their seats.
As I gazed around me at the eager, friendly and expectant faces, and listened to the animated conversation, I was struck by the contrast of approach that people have to their pleasures. The previous Sunday, waiting to go in for the symphony concert one may well have been attending a funeral. Perhaps it is the aesthetic intensity of the dilettante who, I feel, make up the bulk of Sunday concert goers.
I do not know everything there is to know about musical appreciation, although I have tried to cultivate an appreciation of this great art by attending concerts while in such places as New York. Hamburg, Rio de Janeiro, Naples, Rotterdam, Lisbon and quite a few more cities, including London. Perhaps one day I shall be able to say, like "Stalls Regular" (EN. March 1) that such and such an entertainment is "beneath my contempt."
However, my size in hats has remained, and still remains quite normal. Somehow I do not think that a good evening's laugh at a " Rock 'n' Roll" entertainment will affect my enjoyment of music of a more serious nature.
Meanwhile, a regular audience at the King's such as my young "Rock W Roll" friends made up last Friday would ensure that we did continue to have a theatre -a theatre which, incidentally, continues to put on some good plays.
Douglas Peel. Southsea.

"Rock" and that other tempo, 13th March 1957

IFRock'n'roll is escapism from what are they escaping? I'll tell him. They've got plenty to try and escape from, and I hope from the bottom of my heart that they make it, for all our sakes. If it means that they get off their seats to make their own amusement and happiness, at the same time helping their blood to circulate, then I say " good."
In a society that judghes a man by the length of his hair or jacket, and treats him accordingly, something has got to happen, because people react to the treatment accorded to them. In the High Court recently a trade union official made statement that could have been an echo of what I myself was saving ten years ago. He said, "They do not see human beings on the factory floor, only production targets." He was, I feel, trying to say what manybishops and philosophers say, and what the greatest man that ever trod this earth said 2,000 years ago: "For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world yet lose his soul".
Life in Britain has developed into one big production target, a 'madly hectic, ruthlessly get quick-rich society where more and more people are working day and night in ugly factories in order to buy a multitude of " labour-saving devices." It's " telly " in the parlour and babies in the day nursery,washing machines in the kitchen and home life out of the door. The tempo of life is stepped up with such machine like precision that it is just hammering out any desire for individuality.
Did you mention culture, way-of-life, civilization, J.K.? The latest the news, is that America is about to test a new ballistic missile--a nice little job with an H bomb warhead, and over 100ft. long. It has a range of 5,000 miles.
We are told that America and Russia are neck-and-neck in the race for supremacy in the use of these playthings. You ask JK, "from what are they escaping and I ask "there be an escape?" Remember our own local wartime book "Stricken City" What may the next edition be Iike?
Douglas Peel. Southsea.


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