This CD was born out of a year-long project with firefighters in the West Midlands, Essex and Manchester in 2000-01. This created Black and White in the Red, a touring theatre production based on many hours of interviews with over 50 black and white firefighters, conducted by Dave Rogers and Fred Wisdom. Rogers and Wisdom engaged in many a hot debate around fire station mess tables about issues ranging from fire service culture and recruitment practices, to the MacPherson report on the Stephen Lawrence enquiry, sexism and homophobia, with a primary focus on black experiences in a predominantly white fire service. What emerged was some of the most powerful recorded material that Banner has collected in all its years of creating live theatre and song from direct personal experience.
This CD of nine songs from the show, intercut with the recorded voices of black and white firefighters, powerfully mixes together ska, folk and jazz musical genres.
- Too Much Pressure
- Son Of A Gun
- The Blacks Are To Blame
- I Only Want To Be Me
- Curtis McLardie
- Fight Back
- Down In Alabama
- Union Banner
Writing and Research
Black and White in the Red was written as a collaboration between Dave Rogers and Fred Wisdom of Banner Theatre. Dave created the script and song lyrics and Fred composed the music.
Thanks to the musicians who helped to make this CD, especially Andy Hamilton, the legendary sax player who first worked with Banner on our 1986 album, Rebellion Rap/Songs of Struggle (1986), and who this time added other members of his band the Blue Notes to the mix.
Banner Musicians: Dave Rogers (Lead vocals, backing guitar); Fred Wisdom (Guitars, backing vocals); Phil Minal (Drums, percussion)
Guest Musicians: Andy Hamilton and the Blue Notes (Andy Hamilton:Alto Sax; Andy Peat: Trumpet; Brian Alder: Double bass); Pam Bishop (Concertina); Tim Hubball (Electric bass); Mat Taylor (Sax, penny whistle, clarinet); Scott Matthews (Slide guitar, harmonica); John Johnson (Trombone); Lisa Burrell, Kay Williams, Alex Williams (Backing vocals); and for the first Banner tour of Black and White in the Red, Sarah Richards (Drums and percussion)
Recording and Production
Many thanks to Basil Gabbidon of Steel Pulse fame for producing this CD and bringing his many and varied musical knowledges to feed and nurture this musical collaboration. Also thanks to Ian Stratford of Zip Studios, Wolverhampton, who engineered this CD with great sensitivity and patience.
We would also like to thank Sami Scott who edited most of the sound recordings, Phil Minal who edited the rest and provided the use of his recording studio for the early recording sessions.
Front cover: Kevin Hayes
Pgs. 2, 3, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16: Courtesy of FBU
Sleeve Design by Kevin Hayes
Special thanks to all the firefighters, managers, union officials and control staff interviewed for this project and all the many other people in the fire service who helped with publicity, promotion, room hire and unloading the van! Many of their voices are featured on this CD, including: Paul Ahmed, P. Ashby, D. Blaney, Mat Brady, L. Bunman, Carl Calder, Jack Deal, Barry Dixon, Dick Duane, Brian Frazer, Carol Fry, Martin Gallagher, Pete Gallagher, Andy Gilchrist, Dave Glennis, Steve Godward, Samantha Gordon, Paul Greaves, Keith Handscomb, Jagjit Hayer, M. Kennedy, M. Kirby, Mike Lawson, Steve Martell, Curtis McLardie, Helen McLardie, Micky Nicholas, Carl St. Paul, Leroy Philpott, Bob Pounder, T. Richardson, P. Rogers, Gari Savanu, Warren Simpson, Jagtar Singh, Carl Smith, Ronnie Stanley, J. Stuart, J. Thomson, Tennison Turney, Graham Tranquada and A. Watson.
Thanks to the many Banner friends and supporters who made this project possible, and in particular Joyce Canaan, Jacqueline Contré, Maggie Ford, Sophie Partington, Anne Marie Sweeney.