I am the music man and I come from far away and I can play….. What can you play…? In my youth, on any given Saturday night, I would be amongst those singing at the top of our voices at the Bier Keller on Springfield Street.
We used to start queuing an hour before opening time, come rain or snow. The doors opened and it was a mad rush to get a seat at one of the long tables and order the first ‘stein’ of the night.
The night would usually start slowly but then the maestro himself would appear, the one and only Frank McGregor (and his accordion) and the night would really get going. The singing would get louder and louder and the steins swung higher and higher. This would all be done under the watchful eye of Dave ‘Shorty’ Shaw who would be ready to pounce and eject anyone who became too enthusiastic!
I don’t know why the Bier Keller shut down; it always seemed busy but I suppose places fall out of fashion and people’s tastes change.
Anyway, I hadn’t thought about Frank or the Bier Keller for a while until one day, earlier this year when my friend ‘Hutty’ told me that Frank McGregor was appearing at The Trimpell as part of the Nice & Sleazy Punk Festival. I couldn’t for the life of me,imagine that Frank’s repertoire could stretch to any punk classics. However, my mate Hutty was with me on that fateful evening when the carnival was resurrected and I knew he wouldn’t lie to me!
We arrived at Nice & Sleazy at the Trimpell club at Sunday teatime.
There were hundreds of people around who had been camping out on site enjoying the music and punk-themed shenanigans all weekend.
Now I remember punk in the 70s and the outfit mainly consisted of a Ramones or Clash tee-shirt, safety pin through the ear and a surly attitude.
This lot, with their multi-coloured gravity defying Mohicans and body art were a world away from that.
It was a glorious afternoon and the back field of Trimpell had been turned into a tented city (I’m sure the cricketers were ever so pleased). There were stalls, band stages and a beer tent.
Punk music isn’t my thing so we headed to the lounge bar, got a pint and sat with Hutty’s better half (that’s his dog Lucy andnot his wife because he makes her work most Sundays).
There were only a handful of people in the lounge. Most were outside listening to The Guttersluts.
In came Frank, accordion in tow. He must be 80 but he still looked as I remembered him.
As soon as he started playing, we were back in the Bier Keller singing and swaying. The punks joined in and the lounge was packed, everyone singing along with Frank.
The poor old Guttersluts were left wondering what they’d done wrong.
Talk about staying power, punk has nothing on Frank McGregor.