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doddery history

Doddery History

Hodmadoddery started in Park Street, Bath, in about 1986.
One of these days we’ll find something that will actually fix
the date for sure, but for the moment that’s a pretty good
approximation - it may even be an understatement.

We can blame some mutual friends for suggesting we might sound
good together; let’s keep the guilty parties anonymous, they
know who they are and they know what responsibility they bear.
Throwing together a bunch of songs from both of our previous
musical lives, and learning a few more from people we were
very keen on at the time (Dick Gaughan and Christy Moore, for
a start), we soon worked out we could get people to buy us
drinks for playing, so out to play we jolly well did go.

A nice cider pub called The Beehive, since closed and
re-opened under - spookily enough - the name of another one
of our favourite tipples, that was the place; they’d give us
unlimited farmhouse cider, Thatcher’s I expect, and allow us
to take a collection round the pub at the end of the night. So if we didn’t get much we’d at least take some more cider back to Park Street with us. It was a nice pub in those days (not going through one of its notorious rough patches), and we shared Tuesday or Wednesday nights, don’t remember which, alternate weeks with ‘Cramped in the Corner’, a collective of Bath luminaries some of whom are in quite good bands nowadays.

Tony must have seen sense at one point. He tried to get away. Made it as far as India, in the company of Vanessa, who’s quite integral to the first decade or so of the story. For the usual reasons they came back some months later, but for the obvious reasons urban Bath wasn’t really relaxing after Hampi and they fled again, this time in Nessa’s van and this time to Italy. That was their next big mistake, either that or telling Steve where they were. Tony and Nessa would live the travelling life most of the year, even up to three straight years on the road in a series of vehicles, and that lightweight Henwood would come out and play at being a traveller in the summer, play a lot of music and drink a lot of wine - Ness & Tony by then of course spoke excellent Italian and had loads of mates (there are lots of very hospitable people in Italy, of course); life on the road it might have been, but not so hard, at least not in the summer and that’s the only bit I’m telling here. The most remarkable of those vehicles was a former coach ("vecchio pullman" in Italian, which always amused me), the classic hippy vehicle, really; the back read: "Comfylux - Pearce Darch & Willcox - Yeovil, Martock & Maiden Newton" - we hoped people might have thought those were our names...

It was during one of these trips that we got the Italian Street Festival bug badly. Tony, if I’m getting things in the right order, had already participated in the legendary hardcore busker madness of the festivals at Pelago and Schio, but in August 1991 we wandered into Ferrara just as their soon-to-be-enormous Buskers Festival was ending for the year. Not knowing we weren’t supposed to, we played an arch just off the main piazza on the last night, the Thousand Lire notes fluttered into our guitar cases, and we went away with the resolve to do the festival properly the following summer. We were invited performers at the 1992 event, where we also met the legendary Cosmic Sausages, and a whole lot of bad habits were started. Since then we’ve played Ferrara every year except two, and other festivals up and down the country, notably at Bassano Del Grappa, Stigliano, Novara, Castellaro, and for our great mates at Pennabilli Artisti In Piazza.

Over time, and especially after Tony’s life on the road ended, we dropped the regular street busking and just did the festivals; but there are countless stories of those days we could regale you with, given a good enough bottle or two, and things were never consitently quite as stone crazy again (we do try, however). Just for my own benefit I’m mentioning The Imbarcadero (and Treviso in general), The Cheba in Pordenone, the utter impossibility of leaving Donnini (Little Women?), the guy in Vicenza who conducted us the whole way round the enoteca menu, our rude awakening by the Carabinieri in Orvieto, Casa Spinelli... and Gigi, Walter, Fabio, Alberto & Simona... and that’s just the old stuff. We also played in France, thanks to Steve & Vero and to Jim, and there was a famous trip with Mykey through the Alps and Aosta...

By this time we were also playing proper gigs in England too: Steve had inveigled himself into running some of them, via acoustic open stage nights (which were quite a rarity in them days, hard to believe, I know), and we’re particularly pleased with having been the traditional opening act on The Bandstand at Glastonbury Festival (for some years the first stage of the whole festival to kick off with live music) since more-or-less the beginning (thanks to Don), and having supported the Incredible String Band no less than twice (thanks to Chris).

And here we are. I’ll try to make this a bit clearer sometime (or revise from more accurate sources if I find any), and you can probably gain some more of it from the recordings and the pictures. If of course you have the slightest interest. This is all quite enough for now.

Hodmadoddery are proud to have had the following guests on live shows and recordings:

Ed Boyd, Maclaine Colston, Steve Davies, Marion Kenney, Brian Madigan, Simon Sausage Palmer, Gigi Scaccabarozzi, Henry Sears, Tony Stephenson, Zoe Stevenson, Mykey Vince, The Cloghoppers, and doubtless more who we've rudely forgotten (or never knew who they were!)..

Especially memorable places we’ve played (see also our bar list)

Artisti In Piazza, Pennabilli, Italy
The Bandstand at Glastonbury Festival
Bassano del Grappa, festival and street
Bath Christmas Market
Al Bel Fico, Pennabilli
The Bell, Bath
The Beehive, Bath
Bristol Zoo
Castellaro Lagusello, Arte in Strada, Italy (VV gli Ignoranti!)
Colmurano Festival ArtiStrada, Italy
Costa di Mezzate festival
The Dordogne, various restaurants in
Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre
Ferrara Buskers Festival
Glastonbury Liars Festival (at The Sheppey) (RIP Natters)
The George Inn, Bradford on Avon
The Golden Fleece, Stroud
The Imbarcadero, the Blue Bossa, both near Treviso, Italy
Linz Pflasterspektakel
Lucania Buskers Festival (Stigliano), Italy
Novara Buskers Festival
The Office, Argentiere, France
Orto Frutti Dimenticati, Pennabilli
The Playgroup at the Hat & Feather, Bath
...and at The Bell, Bath
The Porter Butt, Bath
The Prom, Bristol
Ravenna, Italy
Rocks East Woodland, near Bath
The Royal Oak Beer & Folk Festivals, Bath
St Catherine’s Fayre, Frome
Santa Sofia festival
Sasso di Marconi Folk Festival
Schio Festival
some very drunken bar in Aosta (Piedmont, Italy)
The Temple of Stuag
Tim Sebastian’s Pagan Feast, Mells
Trapisa di Sopra
Treviso, Italy
Don’s Bar at Trowbridge Village Pump
Venezia on the streets (& Casa Doria)
The White Hart, Bath
Wickham Road, Brockley
Windows Arts Centre, Bath

The Weddings of:
Steve & Veronique
Stefano & Cinzia
Enrico & Giovanna
Maurizio & Angela

(and others...)

and plenty more we’ve forgotten, erased, or just ain’t talking about any more...

first cassette artwork