Category Archives: A Town Like New Orleans?

Off Air, Broadcast, W Stephen Gilbert

A Town Like New Orleans? BBC2
by W Stephen Gilbert
Broadcast
31 Aug 1981

The BBC Manchester series City was a more random collection of reports on where we’re at. I caught four editions, particularly enjoying Ian McNulty’s well thought-through film on musical life in Leeds. Apart from the diversity of musical styles, the fragmentation of socio-political attitudes also came over.

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Clive James, The Observer

Television
by Clive James
The Observer
23 Aug 1981

An unintentionally wonderful programme called A Town Like New Orleans (BBC2) showed what happens when people whose proper concerns should be some form of fruitful labour start mucking about with art. Few real artistes despise business – in fact the more original they are, the more they tend to respect the workaday world – but it is a hallmark of the dabbler that he prides himself in being set apart, and so it proved here.

Leeds it appears, is crawling with jazz and pop musicians who have managed to convince themselves that they are contributing to the biggest explosion in their respective art forms since King Oliver met Louis Armstrong or Phil Spector invented the wall of sound.

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Something stirring up North

A Town Like New Orleans?
BBC2
by Dennis Hackett
The Times, 15 Aug 1981

This was the last of an occasional series under the generic title City, “occasional” being a word often applied to something someone is not quite sure about. The town we were invited to compare with New Orleans was Leeds, as unlikely a parallel as one could imagine except that we were concerned with a particular aspect of it: music.

“Leeds is going to expand musically”, a voice told us. “It is going to be like New Orleans.” If that perhaps is not quite the way it is, there is evidence – with more than 200 live groups in the town – that something stirs in what might be thought of infertile ground.

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A Town Like New Orleans? City, BBC2 (1981)

BBC2
21.45
CITY
A Town Like New Orleans?
Radio Times, 14 August 1981,

In every town there are thousands of musicians – ignored by both television and the music industry alike – playing live music for fun and very little money. Watch and enjoy the Jack Bennett All-Stars, Another Colour, Howard Sarna, the Roskoe Players, the Zero Slingsby Quintet and The Commies from Mars.

The making and breaking of street music

A Town Like New Orleans?
BBC2
The Mary Kenny Saturday TV Review
Daily Mail , 15 Aug 1981

They talk about books, plays, films, television programmes which ‘change your life,’ such is the dramatic impact.  Life changes come from inside the human soul, though, not from outside.

But last night’s programme A Town Like New Orleans? (BBC-2 – and the title refers to Leeds, of all places) had a direct influence on my behaviour. Having seen it, I deliberately went out and put money in every buskers collecting hat that I could see.

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Today’s Television, Peter Davalle, The Times

Today’s Television
Peter Davalle
The Times , 14 Aug 1981

A TOWN LIKE NEW ORLEANS? (BBC2, 9.45 pm) is about a musical explosion, or rather a series of pops, because this is a film about Leeds’ two hundred or so jazz, rock and folk groups that pack the pubs, the pavements and the front rooms of unlovely semi-detached houses. There’s even a couple swaying to flute and recorder among the daffodils of their back-garden.

The sounds of music are familiar enough to my ears, ranging from the innovatively interesting to the derivatively awful. What is special about Ian McNulty’s film is what the players have to say.

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