Of The North and The South and turning Coal into Diamonds.
There once was a girl who sat on a rock in the hay bottom at night. She’d listen to the deer snort and the katydids, watch the lightening bugs and the stars, and all the while wonder. She had a radio with her, and her tiny world felt as big as the universe as it played wonderous songs and stories. There were three stations: the rock and roll across the river, the country up the road a piece, and the preaching – and on especially clear nights she could get NPR if she sat just right.
And then there was the vinyl. Her Ma’s collection of every Elvis LP, EP or single in existence, Her aunt’s music from across the pond, and her Dad’s classicals. It never mattered how quiet the night got, because it was never truly quiet.
She passed through 8-tracks, lived on mix-tapes, and graduated with CD’s when heading to college. The big town. Huge buildings, more people than could possibly exist in the world, and it was never ever quiet. Unless it was late at night, and the Student Station was playing, and that great big world didn’t seem so huge anymore.
She blew like the wildflowers until blowing right back to that same little holler, the same little coal towns.
And the world went silent.
Except it wasn’t.
The music was still there, in the air, the land, the water. And the voices.
That’s the funny thing about coal, it gets the reputation of being coarse and dusty and antiquated. People forget that put under pressure it turns to diamond. It flows through its lands just under the surface in great arteries, pulling people with the same response to pressure in close. Generations have dipped into that crucible and poured out such music and story as to soothe the harshest ache and share the deepest sorrow. It simply is, and all we have is how we choose to respond to it.
And here she found herself, while the world was locked away, Great Britain’s North country and the hills of the Southern US are exploding onto the music scene. Again. That wellspring of creativity is pushing through lockdowns just as it has pushed through every stress for generations.
Our side is easy to describe, you already know it, you grew up breathing the stories and music, it’s in your bones. But, now you get to meet your cousins across the pond. All those stories we heard about from our great grandparents? Apparently, they’re real.
Her friend David from out Wigan was generous enough to kinda paint it for us a bit, and here’s exactly what he said.
Wigan, what can I say. For me it’s just home, and it’s always been everything I needed.
Nothing flashy, we were one of the last big towns to get a Nando’s (posh Portuguese fast food consisting of chicken, think KFC with skinny jeans and trendy brogues).
I guess there shouldn’t be any surprise there is and often has been a thriving music scene. After all it’s nestled between two of the world’s greatest musical powerhouses, Manchester and Liverpool.
The North in general (not just the North West) seems to provide the most relatable lyrics when it comes to music, maybe it’s the working class roots, or as Apryl says maybe it’s something in the water. Or in the pies. ‘Wiganers’ as we call ourselves are often called Pie eaters too (usually attempted as an insult in sporting circles as followers of the Latics (Wigan Athletic soccer team) and the Warriors (Wigan Warriors Rugby League) will testify. Except, it’s not really an insult these days. You see it stemmed from the old coal mining days and the miners of Wigan were the first to break the strike and go back to work, much to the disdain of the other local communities.
These days though you can’t walk down Market St* or Standishgate (the main thoroughfares in the town) without stumbling past a pie shop.
* Market St was used on the cover of The Lathums – Fight On EP.
There’s even a world pie eating competition held at the renowned Harry’s Bar in the town centre. (Another music link, walk down ‘Clarence Yard’ down the side of the pub and you get to what was known as ‘Club Nirvana’ which is where the Arctic Monkeys played back in 2005 when Alex Turner was a scrawny 20 year old with his guitar up around his neck.
You see Wigan doesn’t just produce music, it attracts it too. Despite being half an hour away from the much more fashionable and historic venues of Liverpool and Manchester even the likes of Green Day have played this little northern town.
The current music scene in Wigan is stronger than I can remember though. Wigan has boasted some great success over the years most notably with The Verve, but never has there been such a clutch of bands at the top of the independent music scene.
The Lathums look to have crossed that bridge with plenty of attention from the BBC but right behind them there are the likes of Stanleys band, Garden Party, Pink shirts for pale people, RIVVER, Fletchettes, Facades, Island Dam, Joe Astley and the Wallgate band.
~DAVID FROM OUT WIGAN
So, there you have it. We’ll try to get as many of the locals to come talk to us as we can. But, for now, go check them out!
So, sit back and grab a cup of tea. The guys are going to tell us their story, and sing us a song, and everything will be alright.
That’s what we’re all about, plain and simple. Shining a light on everything we all share, helping creators, encouraging the lonely, and exploring everything.