As some readers may be aware, London has made a major effort to celebrate the fortieth anniversary since punk rock emerged in 1976. There have been exhibitions all over the city, concerts, talks and other commemorations. Some of these have attracted some criticism, but the interest and the spirit has been there.
In my own home borough of Waltham Forest, the council has sponsored its own programme of 40th celebrations. These focus around the fact tat Small Wonder Records was situated on Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17. Small Wonder was not just an independent record shop that led the way in promoting punk and selling the records by mail order world wide; it was also a pioneering label. Amongst the significant bands who first were released on Small Wonder are The Cure (Killing an Arab), Bauhaus (Bela Lugosi is dead) and Crass. I have been involved with this project, interviewing ex-customers for an exhibition that will tour the borough, as well as helping out at the venues.
(By the way), at the launch party on Thursday just gone, I met Leon Parker who is curator of the website www.britishrecordshoparchive.org . He is keen for readers like you to contribute their knowledge and reminiscences to build the archive. Have a look!
So, what are other boroughs and towns going to do? London led the way, but for many smaller towns 1977 is going to be the significant year. For example in Barnsley the first bands formed (The Restricted) and the first gigs took place. Are these being marked and if not- why not?
Likewise, in my book Feeling called love (the title borrowed from an early Wire single), I set part of the story in Dunfermline. There, much like Small Wonder in E17, Muirs Records were early promoters of the music and set up No Bad records specifically to release the first single by local band, The Skids. What is Dunfermline doing next year too mark its own distinguished place in punk rock history?
Punk was a DIY movement and we may very well need to nudge councils along, but there is a lot of creativity and surprising activity to celebrate.