Bridgwater Remembers Joe Strummer

International Clash Day Feb 5thThis Friday, 5th February, is International Clash Day and Bridgwater will be playing it’s part with a drop in event at the Engine Room from 2pm to 7pm .

Town Council leader Brian Smedley said “When Seattle radio station KEXP asked Bridgwater Town Council if we’d like to join in with their International Clash Day we jumped at the chance. Clash Frontman Joe Strummer moved to the area after visiting Bridgwater Carnival and declaring ‘This is a Clash Town, I love this place , I want to live here’ – and we should be chuffed as anything about that’.

The Clash formed in London in 1976, establishing their unique sound combining punk with reggae, dub, funk, and ska, behind socially conscious lyrics; changed the face of modern music with 5 albums and 16 hit singles. Later Joe Strummer  moved to Bridgwater where on November 17th 2002 he played the Palace Theatre with his band the Mescaleros in order to raise money for the launch of innovative new film and media centre ‘The Engine Room’

Strummer remembered

Newspaper clippings from the winter of 2002-3
Newspaper clippings from the winter of 2002-3

Cllr Smedley, who played bass with bottom of the bill support act the Visitors that same night, said “The fact that Strummer liked Bridgwater , chose to move here and then wanted to help us means a lot. When people were sneeringly dissing the town in ‘The Knowhere Guide’ or wherever, Strummer stuck up for us. He liked the town because it was rough and ready and radical. And we like him for that.”

Strummer died of a heart attack aged 50 on 22nd December 2002, just a month after his Bridgwater gig and a memorial night was held spontaneously at the Bridgwater Labour Club. At the time Smedley told the Bridgwater Mercury “ We wanted to dedicate a gig to the memory of Joe Strummer who as frontman of the Clash inspired my generation with a passion and politics in his music. The punk movement of the late 70’s inspired people to write and perform their own music and to tackle the establishment head on.”

Strummer on film

Julien Temple's film premiered in Bridgwater
Julien Temple’s film premiered in Bridgwater

Strummers life was immortalised in the 2007 movie by local film maker Julien TempleThe Future is Unwritten’ which was premiered at the Palace Bridgwater on 5th May that year. In the film,  Strummer is revealed not just as a legend or musician, but as a true communicator of our times. Drawing on both a shared punk history and the close personal friendship which developed over the last years of Joe’s life, Julien Temple’s film is a celebration of Joe Strummer – before, during and after the Clash. Temple also made the classic Sex Pistol films ‘The Filth and the Fury’ (2000) and ‘The Great Rock n Roll Swindle’ (1980) along with other great rock films such as ‘Oil City Confidential’(2009) about Dr Feelgood, various rock videos including several by David Bowie and his most recent film ‘The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson’ (2015) and he  will be at the Strummer event on February 5th showing clips from his film and being interviewed live on US radio station KEXP.

Strummers contribution to Bridgwater

The Engine room which opened in 2003
The Engine room which opened in 2003

The money Raised from Strummer’s Palace gig went towards the setting up of a Bridgwater base for Somerset Film.

Organiser Phil Shepherd said “ He played a wonderful gig for us and really proved himself as a showman. He was a terrific performer and by doing it for nothing he showed his commitment to Somerset, and our project which he considered to be worthwhile.”

The Engine Room has become a key part of the arts community in Bridgwater and is in the process of expanding it’s base into neighbouring buildings. Find out more about the Engine room here.

Strummerless in Seattle

Seattle down now.....
Seattle down now…..

The International Clash Day event was devised in 2013 by Seattle based radio station KEXP 90.3 . The Radio station is based in King County, named after civil rights leader Martin Luther King and recognised as a hub of creativity with a concentration of music industry leaders and musicians representing an expansive array of industry sectors and musical genres combining punk, reggae, hip hop, and more; establishing itself as a community-minded radio station.

You can listen to KEXP here.

Should I stay in or should i GO TO THE ENGINE ROOM ?

Bridgwater calling....
Bridgwater calling….

Cllr Smedley said “Part of this event will include the signing of a twinning declaration with King County, Seattle and Bridgwater jointly committing our endeavours to raise awareness of the life and works of Joe Strummer and the Clash. We will be streaming the radio station live from 2pm (6am Seattle time) and 7pm (UK time) as they programme Clash music all day, as well as rare interviews, live tracks, b-sides, covers, and side projects.”

“We’ll also be showing clips from Julien Temples films and he will be there to talk to people about them. We welcome anyone who shares a devotion to the music and ideas of Strummer and the Clash to drop in and out of the Engine Room as they wish between 2 and 7pm on Friday 5th February to show their support. The future may be unwritten but luckily the twinning proclamation isn’t so we’ll be signing that live on air….er, which is possibly a good idea…”

Bridgwater ‘in them days’