Sunday, 29 April 2012

Horace The Gentleman - Art and Blues at St Pauls Gallery

One of Horace The
Gentleman's Beijing trip
inspired paintings.
Horace The Gentleman is the bassist from The Specials, and an artist. We said hello at the preview for an exhibition for his work on Friday, and can confirm that he is officially the most charming member of a two-tone band we have ever met. The 'Gentleman' epithet has never been better applied. Also, he performed with Blues to Go, a blues and rock n roll band, rocking out a Chuck Berry cover and a great version of Standing On Top of the World.

The Specials are a bands who have been passed down to current twenty-somethings by their original fans. We're now in a mid-generational flux where we will be able to see if these bands like this will be carried further. Far fewer people with parents who grew up the 1940s have intergenerational music appreciation than the children of baby-boomers. Since the regular explosions and implosions of popular culture from the 60s onwards, passions have been handed down to children and carried into adulthood. Elvis Presley is an early example, Aretha Franklin, Nick Drake,  Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Queen, The Who, The Ramones, The Specials, Madness... Are the children of the first few years of the 21st Century going to inherit a passion for Oasis, Blur and Nirvana (even the Spice Girls) from their 90s-raised parents, or are they going to listen to The Beatles and Rolling Stones like their grandparents and parents?

Pop culture is often criticised for a lack of depth, for a transience that means it burns brightly, then leaves nothing behind. There is something more than nostalgia for an ephemeral joy, however, about passing down a musical act to your children. It is about creating a sense of family when the media tells us daily that we are fracturing - if we don't sit around the piano anymore singing the latest manuscript, we can at least debate whether Paul Simon's work was better solo or with Garfunkel, then listen to Graceland.

A major inspiration in Horace The Gentleman's recent paintings is a visit to Beijing to see his son, who was living out there.  Sitting five feet from Horace as he played the bass, surrounded by these paintings, gave us pause for thought about this. We urge you to call your Dad or someone else you care about, and talk to them about the music you both love.

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