The intro of a song is all that’s needed for special memories to come flooding back. Just a bar or two and you find yourself catapulted back to a particular moment in time: whether funny or joyful, romantic or melancholic, it’s the music that will take you there.
Many of us possess some of our favourites as part of our vinyl hoard. My own record collection – of which I was immensely proud – met a sad end at university when someone made off with most my albums: John Mayall, Doobie Brothers, Captain Beefheart, Gang of Four, Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell… far too many to mention. Fortunately a few survived the clutches of the mystery vinyl thief, and I’ll be taking them with me to one of the Stylus Stories evenings which are happening in north London.
Stylus Stories is a night that was put together by four Hornsey lads, Dave Black, Dave Scott, Steve Wilkins and Tommy Doyle, otherwise known as The 45ers – Dansette Dave, Victor Vinyl, Stylus Steve and Tommy Turntable. The four were growing tired of running pub quizzes and at the end of 2012 they were casting around for a new formula. Steve suggested they should do a vinyl night – and thus was the beginning of Stylus Stories.
The success of that first event took the four by complete surprise. They expected a crowd of around 30 or 40, if they were lucky. But that night, people filed into The Great Northern Railway Tavern in Hornsey… and they carried on filing in, bringing in boxes of albums and carrier bags stuffed with singles, memorabilia, picture discs. The theme had ignited that symbiotic passion of music and memories. The stories unfolded, and the vinyl spun.
There have now been around a dozen or so Stylus Stories nights, with the event now finding a new home at the Earl Haig Hall in Crouch End. Victor Vinyl explains the evenings thus, “you don’t have to contribute, but if you do, you can offer a story that has a personal thread about your life to share with the audience, and fuse it with a tune that is universal to all.. .it’s a meeting of individualistic with the popular, the unique with the universal, the unknown story and the well known music, or something like that. It doesn’t have to be funny or bawdy, it can be sad and lonely if you like, and indeed some are. It’s not all about blokes not getting shagged at pop festivals in 1972.’
Meeting a couple of friends for a drink one eve at Earl Haig, the Stylus Stories beer mat on our table was the catalyst for a storytelling session between the three of us. One friend told a tale of finding herself unwittingly roped into helping make a well-known music video: ”When I first came to London I had a job delivering and operating technical equipment for theatres and film. An early task was to deliver lights and a smoke machine to a small film studio in Wandsworth. When I arrived, they were filming something weird with a girl on a wire. I was asked to stay and operate the smoke machine. A few weeks later I saw the video on Top of the Pops, promoting the debut single by The Buggles: Video Killed the Radio Star.”
Whether you would like to share your story (or maybe keep it to yourself and just share in the fun), dust down the vinyl and pop along to the next Stylus Story event. Oh, and if you don’t possess the vinyl of your chosen song, just let the 45ers know, and they’ll track it down for you.