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Deaf School: The art school dance goes on

Exclusive: 40th birthday marked with special concert, Paul du Noyer book launch and exhibition

Written by . Published on August 12th 2013.

Deaf School: The art school dance goes on

 WHEN Deaf School jumped out on an unsuspecting public in the mid 1970s, they shattered a silence that had held Liverpool in its grip for over a decade.  

Ironic, given the name, yet after the Beatles swift departure in 1963 there was little new to twist or shout about. Until the city's Second Coming of Pop, manifested when Deaf School's members met at Liverpool Art College in October 1973.

Thirteen or more of them on stage on a good day: Enrico Cadillac Jnr, Bette Bright, Rev Max Ripple, Cliff Hanger, Steve “Mr Average” Lindsey, Ian Ritchie, Eric Shark and Tim Whittaker the star players.

The aim had been to cobble together an act to play at the student Christmas dance in the historic Hope Street canteen. What they ended up serving was a polished, unique glam-noir signed to Warner Brothers. Theirs was an infectious sound and vision: theatrical live shows combining high-energy pop and cabaret.

(Click here to add text)Book launch at LIPA on Oct 18. If the city had been in the grip of a musical permafrost after Merseybeat went south, Deaf School delivered the blowtorch for a whole new generation of musicians and artists. The pool had thawed back to life.

Now Deaf School return to Liverpool this October for a weekend of very special events heralding their 40th anniversary. Practically every learning institution in town is involved.

First up, Liverpool Confidential is proud to present the launch of Paul Du Noyer’s new book, Deaf School: The Non-Stop Pop Art Punk Rock Party, at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts on Friday October 18.

Join us for chance to meet band members, hear readings and get your copy signed. A real must for Deaf School fans.

It coincides with the opening of an exhibition at the Liverpool John Moores University, earlier the same evening, with Deaf School band members Miss Bette Bright and Cadillac cutting the proverbial ribbon.

The next night (Saturday October 19)  the entire band will celebrate by playing play a very special book launch performance in the intimate East Village Arts Club.

The book launch

In the book, published by Liverpool University Press next month, veteran music journalist Paul Du Noyer charts the band’s careers and the impact they continue to have on pop and art cultures. Du Noyer and other critics regard them second only to the Beatles as Merseyside’s most important band. 

Their early ineptitude, short songs, dramatic stage presence and distinctive look (short or dyed hair, charity shop attire) and adoption of aliases – all pre-dated punk, the movement that ironically made them suddenly unfashionable when it exploded on the music scene in 1976/77. Following their victory in the 1975 Melody Maker Rock/Folk/Pop contest, Deaf School signed to Warner Brothers, but chart success eluded them.

DS_Cbgbsjune77_1Deaf School perform at
CBGBs, New Yoirk
The band’s members went on to successful careers in music, art, film and TV, including Clive Langer as a writer and producer (Madness, Elvis Costello, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Morrissey, Catatonia), Bette Bright as a solo singer (before marrying Deaf School fan Suggs of Madness), Steve Allen in A&R and Ian Ritchie as composer for TV.

 Du Noyer explains: "The book is my way of thanking Dead School for all the fun they've given me. And of course I'd like more people to know their story. Deaf School are a sort of secret and it's high time they were recognised."

Mark Featherstone-Witty, Founding Principal and Chief Executive of LIPA agrees: “LIPA is delighted to be part of Deaf School’s 40th anniversary celebrations.  Our plans for the renovation of the iconic Liverpool College of Art building where their fantastic story began will also be part of the weekend.  We look forward to telling future generations how important the band and the building are to Liverpool’s rich cultural heritage and the world’s pop industry.  Happy Birthday Deaf School!”

The Exhibition

As the archetypal art school band, Deaf School reflect the creative impact such institutions have had in shaping British pop music, from the Beatles and Roxy Music to Pulp and Florence and the Machine.

Fittingly, the venue for the month-long exhibition, The Art School Dance Goes On Forever, is the other end of Hope Street, in the public areas of LJMU’s John Lennon Art and Design Building.

Deafschoolbettejazzcafe21xii11Bette BrightIt is curated by Bluecoat Artistic Director Bryan Biggs, who studied fine art alongside some of the band members,  in collaboration with Liverpool record sleeve designer Steve Hardstaff.

Biggs says: “The display illustrates the fertile art school environment from which Deaf School sprang, highlighting the art and pop music crossover.

“Exhibits include original art works – including some by late band members Tim Whittaker, Sam Davis (Eric Shark) and Roy Holt – posters, record sleeves, press reviews, photos, rare footage of live performances and some of the band’s stage costumes.”

The Performance

Meanwhile, the birthday party gets into full swing the next night with the East Village Arts Club gig. Another must-go and it's bound to be a sell-out.

Founding band member Clive Langer says: "The story has unfolded really well. I started Deaf School and I'm very proud. And here we are, still doing it. And the creative spark is not dead. There's a power in Deaf School. And where it's going nobody knows.

"The main thing is, I'm still in love with it."

Are you Deaf? Liverpool events at a glance


Preview gig: Monday 26 August, Liverpool International Music Festival, Sefton Park, Liverpool.

Exhibition: The Art School Dance Goes on Forever, John Lennon Art and Design Building, Duckinfield Street, Liverpool L2 5GU, Oct 19-Nov 15, SPECIAL PREVIEW: Friday Oct 18, 4pm. Open Monday – Friday, 10am-5pm (and Saturday Oct 19).

Book Launch: The Non-Stop Pop Art Punk Rock Party by Paul du Noyer: Oct 18, 6.30pm-8pm. Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Mount Street, L1 9HF, 0151 330 3000. Free tickets here although you will be wanting to buy that signed £15 book, won't you?

Deaf School Live! Book Launch Celebration show (in association with Merseyside Arts Foundation), Saturday Oct 19, 7pm-10pm, The East Village Arts Club, 90 Seel Street, Liverpool, L1 4BH, 0151 559 3773. Information and tickets  (£20 ish) here 

The Insight: Paul Du Noyer In Conversation with Bryan Biggs and Steve HardstaffWeds Oct 23, 7.30pm. The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BX.

More info at www.deafschoolmusic.com

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SaladDazeAugust 13th 2013.

Blinking heck. All the tickets for the book launch have gone. Cancel that bus from Page Moss, mam.

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialAugust 13th 2013.

Sorry Salad and to everyone else who wasn't lucky enough today. We too were quite taken by surprise (ooh Reverend Ripple!) and will be putting another limited allocation on in the next week or so. Please go on the reserve list and we'll do a first-come-first-served thing. Thanks

AlanAugust 15th 2013.

Ho do I get on the reserve list please?

1 Response: Reply To This...
HelpfulAugust 15th 2013.

Just go to the event page deafschool.eventbrite.co.uk/… and click the button that says "add me to the waitlist".

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