Musician taps into rich seam of history

MUSIC RESEARCH: Singer/songwriter Gareth Davies-Jones,has a residency at the Mining Institute in Newcastle to write a project reflecting the region's mining history.
MUSIC RESEARCH: Singer/songwriter Gareth Davies-Jones,has a residency at the Mining Institute in Newcastle to write a project reflecting the region's mining history.
0
Have your say

A MUSICIAN has dug deep into the region’s mining heritage to unearth a new sound.

Singer-songwriter Gareth Davies-Jones spent weeks flicking through the pages of documents at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers.

The result of his residency, entitled The Seam, is a musical performance that tells the story of the library collections through song, which will tour the region, including dates in Boldon and Durham City.

His first piece from The Seam is Practical Coal Mining, based on the engineering manual of the same name.

He said: “Looking through the volumes of the 1951 2nd edition, the flow and eloquence of the writing in what was principally a very technical tome really struck me. It was so very lyrical.

“The introduction and contents pages in particular appeared to have a rhythm and metre all of their own. Practical Coal Mining is a real celebration of the knowledge and skills required to mine in the mid-20th Century.”

Other themes which have emerged from his research and from chatting to the volunteers who are passionate about the library’s collection include: stories of the subterranean dance halls, the lyricism of adverts of the first edition of The Mining Journal in 1836, the debate around the 1883 parliamentary select committee report on a proposed channel tunnel, the 50 year retrospective memoirs of a former colliery

manager in County Durham and more.

The Institute’s librarian, Jennifer Hillyard, said: “As a singer myself, presenting our unique collections through song and music is a terrific way to tell the story of our collections.”

Steve Davidson, president of the Institute, said: “Here in the North East, we have led the world in our scientific and technical knowledge of mining. Our library collections here bear record to that.

“Our collections are of world importance – and that’s something to sing about.”

* The Seam will be performed at Palace Green Library Café on February 18 at 7.30pm and Boldon Community Centre on February 21 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from www.wegottickets.com.

Prior to the tour, a launch event will be held at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineering, Newcastle, on February 7 at 7.30pm.