Armchair Historians

Tom Carradine, Victorian Music Hall, Part 1

September 22, 2020 Tom Carradine
Armchair Historians
Tom Carradine, Victorian Music Hall, Part 1
Chapters
Armchair Historians
Tom Carradine, Victorian Music Hall, Part 1
Sep 22, 2020
Tom Carradine

In this episode Anne Marie talks to Tom Carradine, the genius behind Carradine's Cockney Sing-a-Long. Since its inception in 2014, Tom's old fashioned music hall style sing-a-long has become a fixture on the UK's thriving vintage scene. He has played sellout dates at London's historic Wilton's Music Hall, Hoxton Hall and he brings his act along with his affectionately named piano, Ol' Joanna, weekly to Mr. Fogg's Tavern where he leads the patron's in a good old fashioned "knees up". During COVID social distancing restrictions, Tom has brought his act "Tom Carradine's Self-Isolation Singalong" to the internet every Thursday where anyone in the world with an internet connection and Facebook can tune in live.

More on Tom Carradine:
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Joolz Guides
Joolz Guides on Armchair Historians, Part 1
Joolz Guides on Armchair Historians, Part 2

Resources on Victorian Music Hall and some of the musician's Tom references in interview
V&A, Music Hall and Variety Theater
Palaces of Pleasure, Lee Jackson
Canterbury Hall
The Eagle Tavern and Pop Goes the Weasel
Wilton's Music Hall
Hoxton Music Hall
Britannia Panopticon
Leeds City Varieties
London Palladium
London Coliseum
Hackney Empire
Frank Matcham

Some of the musicians Tom mentions
Vesta Tilley
Gus Elan
Mary Lloyd
Champagne Charlie, George Leybourne
Hetty King
Winifred Atwell
Mrs Mills
Harry Champion

Pop culture mentioned in this episode
Good Old Days
Penny Dreadful


To Support Armchair Historians:

Patreon

Ko-fi

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode Anne Marie talks to Tom Carradine, the genius behind Carradine's Cockney Sing-a-Long. Since its inception in 2014, Tom's old fashioned music hall style sing-a-long has become a fixture on the UK's thriving vintage scene. He has played sellout dates at London's historic Wilton's Music Hall, Hoxton Hall and he brings his act along with his affectionately named piano, Ol' Joanna, weekly to Mr. Fogg's Tavern where he leads the patron's in a good old fashioned "knees up". During COVID social distancing restrictions, Tom has brought his act "Tom Carradine's Self-Isolation Singalong" to the internet every Thursday where anyone in the world with an internet connection and Facebook can tune in live.

More on Tom Carradine:
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Joolz Guides
Joolz Guides on Armchair Historians, Part 1
Joolz Guides on Armchair Historians, Part 2

Resources on Victorian Music Hall and some of the musician's Tom references in interview
V&A, Music Hall and Variety Theater
Palaces of Pleasure, Lee Jackson
Canterbury Hall
The Eagle Tavern and Pop Goes the Weasel
Wilton's Music Hall
Hoxton Music Hall
Britannia Panopticon
Leeds City Varieties
London Palladium
London Coliseum
Hackney Empire
Frank Matcham

Some of the musicians Tom mentions
Vesta Tilley
Gus Elan
Mary Lloyd
Champagne Charlie, George Leybourne
Hetty King
Winifred Atwell
Mrs Mills
Harry Champion

Pop culture mentioned in this episode
Good Old Days
Penny Dreadful


To Support Armchair Historians:

Patreon

Ko-fi

Anne Marie Cannon :

Thank you for joining us today for armchair historians. I'm your host, Anne Marie Cannon, armchair historians is a Belgian rabbit production. Stay up to date with us through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Wherever you listen to your podcast that is where you'll find us. You can also find us at armchair historians.com armchair historians is an independent, commercial free podcasts. If you would like to support the show, you can buy us a cup of coffee through cofee or you can become a subscribing member through Patreon. You can find links to both in the Episode Notes. Today I have the great privilege of talking to Tom Carradine. The genius behind Carradine's Cockney sing along since its inception in 2014. Tom's old fashion musical style sing along has become a fixture on the UK thriving vintage scene. He has played sell out dates in the main auditorium at the historic wiltons Music Hall, Hoxton Hall, and prior to COVID, he would wheel his affectionately named piano old Joanna into Mr. foggs Tavern every Thursday night, where he would lead patrons of the previous residents of the British adventurer filius j five in a good old fashioned sing along donning the days meticulously selected vintage attire for town only ever wears Victorian to World War Two style vintage clothes since COVID, and the subsequent social distancing regulations has made it impossible for this show to go on. As before in public venues. Tom has taken his Thursday sing along to Facebook with the support of his lovely wife Faye in son Andrew, Tom has created an online international community where anyone with an internet connection can tune in and sing along to the nostalgic music of yesterday. In this two part episode, Tom talks about his favorite history of which I've discovered he's a virtual walking encyclopedia PS in honor of Tom and his favorite history, I showed up to our virtual interview downing my best Victorian attire.

Tom Carradine :

Hello. If I'd known I would have full on Victorian Duff, I'm kind of 1940s at the moment. Well, you know, I was gonna go with the 1920s because you know, I have this cute little Bob. But then when you said Victorian music halls, I was like,

Anne Marie Cannon :

Well, thank you, Tom paradine. Welcome. And thank you for being here.

Tom Carradine :

Oh, my pleasure is love. It's a job.

Anne Marie Cannon :

I actually do tours in Georgetown. We're a National Historic Landmark District. So I do a lot of I have costumes for the period. So.

Tom Carradine :

Okay.

Anne Marie Cannon :

How was Copenhagen?

Tom Carradine :

Whoo. In the words of Danny Kaye, it was wonderful. Oh, good, good, comfortable and everything with the mask and the flight was felt uncomfortable, and especially made me feel a little angry actually, for the fact that because a lot of my work is theater related. And I've worked a lot in the theater over the years, the feeling that you can be sitting on a plane next to each other with just a mask on a note of jokes. Yet you can't go and sit in the theater for less time. It's Yeah, so like when they when they bring random, there was no fit. There was no there was no kind of foodservice they brought around a bag with some refreshments in. But of course at that moment, everybody on the plane takes their masks off and shoves them so I was I get my mask on. It was just like on the way Thankfully, there was a seat either side and on but on the way back, the plane was full. So

Anne Marie Cannon :

yeah, interesting. My daughter's coming to visit from Pittsburgh. So we're gonna do a social distancing kind of, thankfully, my niece has a cabin which is on her property so we can all get together, outside. And of course, I'm sure it's my daughter, so I'll probably be a little bit less. I don't know. It'll be so nice to see her.

Tom Carradine :

Um, how long did you last saw her?

Anne Marie Cannon :

It's been a year. Wow. I've been here. Yeah. I

Tom Carradine :

haven't seen my Perry was going to properly in a few months. Skype and FaceTime is wonderful.

Anne Marie Cannon :

Yeah, I think after technology,

Tom Carradine :

that kind of connection you have is,

Anne Marie Cannon :

well, I miss, you know, I live in this great little town and I miss seeing my friends on the street and hugging them because I have that urge, you know, and then

Tom Carradine :

I'm quite I'm quite, I'm quite a hugger. And that's just my kind of natural response of greeting and and saying goodbye. So, um, yeah, it's really it's very old. And equally It was interesting in Copenhagen. They've they have social distancing rules, a bit more laid back then in in England, I suppose. And Mascheroni required on public transport. So not in shops, whereas in England at the moment in shops, and also we're limited to the number of people in the gathering at the moment in Denmark, there's not but yes, there's some people were happy to hug or shake hands. But equally, some people were still quite wary. And we were doing the elbow thing. And and I don't know whether you you've been reading much or listening too much of the news from over here, the fact that one of the one of the government advisors, Dominic Cummings, and a few months ago broke lockdown, and drove with with symptoms drive across the country. And and basically, that's kind of given everyone a free for all saying, Well, if there's one rule for us, and one rule for you, then so yeah, there's been there's been lots of kind of bending of the rules, I suppose.

Anne Marie Cannon :

Well, we just had Sturgis, I don't know if you know about that. It's a big motorcycle festival. And that event is responsible for spread, you know, for a huge anyways, I don't know, when we're doing terrible or doing it, you know, don't get me started. But anyways, I want to say let's segue into something positive.

Tom Carradine :

I know

Anne Marie Cannon :

that in this world that we're in, I just interviewed Jules. And so he had posted your thing along your self isolation sing along and I was like, Oh, this looks interesting. And I didn't realize that you were actually you know, his singer that you do a lot of his soundtrack for his videos. Yeah.

Tom Carradine :

pulling into that, really.

Anne Marie Cannon :

So then I'm like, I'm gonna check this out. And I started with and you know, there was, it's a new connection to that. It'll never replace that what we were talking about hugging people and that type of thing. But you and Faye and Andrew and you just like I'm getting choked up just thinking about I feel that connection you do. In fact, whenever I can I listen to you. And you know, I feel like I connect with your, you know, audience, and we kind of go back and forth while you're playing it. Just thank you. Yeah, there's one thing I cannot thank you enough for doing this. Like it? Oh, it's added something to our lives that I don't know if you realize the value of it.

Tom Carradine :

Oh, that's lovely to hear. I it's blown me away the kind of the community that we've created through it. And you're right, just the conversations between the viewers watching and their interaction with us. And with the material that I play. And I suppose it just shows the power of the songs that I sing. And we can obviously talk about that. today. It's

Anne Marie Cannon :

definitely I had the last two weeks not this week, I just dropped a new episode. But last week, I interviewed a guy named Frank young and he came up to me because we had music here outside, because we have this out there was socially distancing and everything I have to say that he came up to me and he said, You know, I watched the video, the weird side video that I posted. Kind of like as a, you know, this is what's coming. And he said, You know, it just brought me back to such a nostalgic place, you know, of his childhood. And, you know, there's just something inherent in the kind of music you sing it not just the kind of music you sing the way you sing it the way you reach out and connect to people, which is

Tom Carradine :

Oh, thank you. It's lovely. That's lovely to hear. And it means it's well as we've all kind of had to deal with lockdown and deal with the kind of the new normal in in a way. And it's been interesting that I was chatting to a friend before lockdown saying, I really I really enjoyed it. I really enjoy the singalong gigs in the pub piano type stuff, but a lot of that a lot of that is quite commercial is quiet. It's playing to a touristy crowd, and it's it has a bit kind of sway. And so I'm alone with all the old stuff which I adore, I might be playing more modern things and, and kind of playing playing to the crowd. I suppose that's what piano singalongs I've always been, I've always been playing the songs that people know. And, and so I said, I'd love to have more of an opportunity to share the stories and the and the history of some of these songs. And, and, hey, blame me for lockdown, I suppose. But it came true and it's been lovely to be able to have that opportunity to yesterday. Talk about the songs. And actually, it's interesting in the early days of the sing along the self isolation sing along, it was very much. And song song song, it was very much. It's all about the music and trying to cram as much in. But actually, it's been nice because there is so much interaction on the comments. And people are kind of interested in, in standalone songs and things that the yeah have the opportunity to kind of talk about that, or, or do a week about musical or a week about something, and kind of people sending requests and, and we can all kind of talk about those things, the songs, that means something to us, because, yeah, that kind of what fascinates me is that is the different frame of reference that we all have. So we might know the same songs. But it's where we learn that song from and what kind of, especially, it was interesting that the you mentioned in your message about kind of pop culture references and where those kind of songs sit with that. And so yeah, we all have a kind of different we can we can talk about that as well, that specific songs about their incarnations over the years. Yeah. And how those, it's almost like musical and those kind of variety songs have become fresh again and revisited. So yeah, that's just been loved to share that kind of thing with with an audience, which I can't do in a pub sing along when everyone's drinking, and it's just all about Mr. Fox time. It's all about just being in the moment. And yeah, well looks like

Anne Marie Cannon :

fun. It looks like a great time. I've never, we were supposed to come to England in we love England, we call it the mother country. We were supposed to come in in May. And we're going to spend three weeks we like had all this stuff planned. And of course, that didn't happen. And so like you I was forced to pivot what I'm doing. I'm not doing tours. So I've always wanted to do a podcast and talk about history. And I don't I like this idea of you know, I don't want it to be like a stuffy podcast about history. I want it to be like let's have a conversation about history. And and so here I am, I'm doing it. So I don't know, maybe maybe we're both responsible for COVID

Tom Carradine :

do you have? Do you have English relatives or English English roots?

Anne Marie Cannon :

Well, the story is this. My dad was his his grandfather was from Ireland. And he was a very proud Irishman. He thought that he was full on Irish, nobody is full on Irish. You know, and he started doing his family history research. And I, this was in the early 90s. And I was like, you know, I was tagging along with him. It's when I really started getting interested in that. And he said, If I find out I have any British roots, or English roots, I don't know what I'll do. And so he sadly he passed away in the 90s. And then I started when you know, ancestry and all that I started researching and what I found out is that his grandfather was pure English. A Church of England no less Church of England

Tom Carradine :

scandalous thank God he didn't know

Anne Marie Cannon :

while he's turning, he's rolling in his grave alley say but I really embrace the the English roots and I just started doing a lot of research. I've written a book of historical fiction that I make my main character come from where I trace my family history from Britain now that's nice. My it's not published yet my siblings, there's um, I have five siblings and they're all like what are you talking about? We're English and none of them really like they didn't latch on to it the way that I did and I think they were a little offended but I know this is all true because we did our DNA we did the record you know the family history. We use the record it all lines up it all lines up and so

Tom Carradine :

so what we're about in the UK

Anne Marie Cannon :

cam shirt so generally in the general area of Hampshire, my 1500s I think we go back to a little town called man's English roots are easy because the records are so intact. Cool. That's what the Irish but so yeah, we go back to like me and Stoke, and we kind of keep moving. What is that north south east east, you know, every so often and we ended up in Petersfield, which was okay.

Tom Carradine :

Yeah. Well,

Anne Marie Cannon :

I don't know. Is that is that Hampshire? Is that the next county over?

Tom Carradine :

I think it still is Hampshire. Yeah, it's on the way. I've driven through many times on the way down to kind of Southampton and Portsmouth.

Anne Marie Cannon :

Yeah, I've been there. So I've been there. I've done research and I've been there and it's my favorite place in the world is England. I love England. So anyways, we've gone way off the track and we haven't even started the reason we're here but I would, you know, and you can you can do this now or later if you want. I'd like you to tell the audience pretty much what you do, who you are and what you do, as only you can explain it

Tom Carradine :

Okay, well, I'm I'm Tom teradyne. I'm a pianist and a singer and a musical director. And I've spent many years as a conductor and a keyboard player on theater shows. And but my, my real passion is for Victorian Music Hall and the pub piano sing along. So normally COVID aside, I'm found performing across London, and the UK and even Europe, pushing my real piano around, and leading pubs and just groups of people in good old fashioned sing alongs so in the UK, that kind of piano tradition and kind of originates, I suppose, in in the Victorian Music Hall in the Victorian times, but then that kind of has lived through the wars, both both world wars, perhaps, and also through kind of through into to modern day there are there are still a few singalong pianists out there who are leading kind of groups in Yeah, in a good old fashioned. We would win in London, we would call a nice up and a good old fashioned singalong party. And so yeah, thankfully, I've been back in the day I was a I did a biochemistry degree of all things I'm trying to find. Where was it? Where are we now? That's kind of 16 years ago, ever since graduating, I've been a full time musician. So very proud to Yeah, to make a living from music. And now being able to do that, but sharing my love of many genres of music, but specifically Victorian musical, and perhaps the music of the 20s and 30s. with people and yeah, spreading a bit of sing along joy.

Anne Marie Cannon :

Well, I certainly do appreciate it. My mom and dad. My mom was actually from France. She grew up in Belgium. And then when the war happened, they were refugees in France. It's a documentary, I'm working on a documentary

Tom Carradine :

stories we had we had Belgian refugees come to Tunbridge Wells, because I live in London. Actually, I lived I live about 45 minutes out of London, to the southeast, and in a little town called Tunbridge. But the next the next kind of town along is a spoiled and Georgian spar town called royal Tunbridge Wells. She they took a lot of Belgium refugees during the First World War. So there's a there's a connection there.

Anne Marie Cannon :

When I was growing up, they had the record albums. And I remember singing along with Mitch, we used to listen to sing along with Mitch and he used to do a lot of songs. And that's where I was first familiar with, you know, the bicycle built for to these, that type of

Tom Carradine :

songs. So many of those songs are that we think of Richard singalong classics, are actually American songs or American imports,

Anne Marie Cannon :

which I love that you give the history I'm, I'm really enjoying the history because you know, we're doing your your show, and you're telling us a little history. I like that. I really love it.

Tom Carradine :

I'm glad because there are some that there are stories to tell about it. And also because especially working class, Victorian musical was very much a working class entertainment, and rooted and kind of the origin really in London, I suppose I'm particularly in the standard kind of working class parts of London. But it spread it spread further afield, and there were many. There are many great examples of musical venues across the country and the panopticon, The Britannia panopticon, in Glasgow, the mob crossing in Nottingham, I mean, every every town had at least one if not 2345 musicals because it was it was such a popular form of entertainment. But those songs, yeah, those songs have lived on and have been revived over the years. I mean, for me, it's listening to when a singer in the 60s and 70s called max by graves, he did a lot of kind of sing along material, but the songs have been revived and especially sing along pianists and wonderful single pianists like Winifred that well and Mrs. Mills she was a middle aged lady who played piano and she was she was a real sensation over here in the in the kind of 70s playing kind of non stop kind of party albums vary Honky Tonk, Ragtime, striped piano. Again, those musical influences are very much American influences coming across that we see with that. The swathes of music that that came across the Atlantic, particularly towards the latter years of the 1800s are most prevalent, I suppose, in the kind of early rack time in the teens and 20s as well. Those caught that kind of Ragtime striped piano sound, which became so it has become synonymous with a London pub pianist and that pub piano sound,

Anne Marie Cannon :

so we kind of jumped ahead and I didn't ask the question. So I'm going to ask the question, what is our favorite history that we're going to be talking about today?

Tom Carradine :

Well, if it's not declared so far, my favorite period of history is English Victoria. in history, perhaps late Victorian and early Edwardian sound very much the turn of the century, the turn of the century it was it was a huge, and I suppose the run up to the First World War that's my that's my musically what fascinates me so much a time that where the social history and the kind of English culture around that really kind of resonates. And I find fascinating, I find absolutely fascinating.

Anne Marie Cannon :

That was, you know, that's interesting. I never thought about that period leading up to World War One, but it was kind of, it seems like it was a really happy period maybe. And then, and then World War One really changed everything.

Tom Carradine :

No, I think I think that's true. And also, it's very much on the cusp of it's the kind of final period in British history where really the kind of class system is as structured as it was the Revelation the country went through. And in the tragedy of the First World War, and then the kind of rebuilding of, of England after that, and that huge, that huge loss of loss of life. And of course, then you get the in the same way that the after the First World War in the States, you get the leading through into the release of the 20s. Yeah, and then of course, the great depression that comes with it. And similar similar kind of effects over here. And then of course, the rise of, of all the political situation leading into the Second World War. And yeah, the certainly the Edwardian era. It's funny, I think, when you look at pictures of perhaps late Victorian and Edwardian entertainments in particular, because the especially photographs are very formal, and everyone is encouraged to have a straight face and look miserable. And also, because everything's black and white, of course, when we when we look at pictures, everything's in black and white. But what we forget is actually people wore color people enjoyed themselves people have fun thing with with the industrial revolution in the UK, I suppose, as well, especially for working class people. They worked hard, but they also played hard. And the things around kind of working time and having days off the, in the Victorian times when bank holidays and and kind of public holidays became a thing. And the whole factories of people in the cotton mills in Yorkshire, for example, would all decamped to the seaside for the day, those kind of those kind of day trips, the first kind of, there's a great book by Lee Thompson called palaces and palaces of pleasure, which is all about entertainment in the in the Victorian times. And it just kind of goes to show that along with that, we're going to see sports, they were great sports fans, football and cricket. And we kind of for the pictures we think it was they were very staid, but But actually, they knew how to have a good time. And certainly when you consider going to the Music Hall, which for many of working class person, it would cost money to go it wasn't it wasn't a dirt cheap thing to do. So you have to pay but but the kind of to go to the musical to go to a theatrical performance and almost kind of lose yourself in that for that brief moment that for that brief time, have a laugh, enjoy the song Sing along see some kind of glitz and glamour on stage. They're not as as kind of stiff and uptight as we kind of assumed they are.

Anne Marie Cannon :

So when did the Victorian Music Hall like what time period did that come about? And another question on the tail of that is, is there a connection between the music call and vaudeville? Is it? Is it?

Tom Carradine :

Of course. Absolutely. Yeah. vaudeville is the is the American equivalent. And then I think they both started to correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not I'm not so certain about the origins in the US. But I think the origins are in the same way. Victorian musical really kind of started when it kind of developed as a form in itself in in around the 1850s. And it was entrepreneurs, mostly like Tavern and pub owners who decided that in order to sell more beer, and encourage people to stay longer in their pubs that they should put on some entertainment. And it started off very kind of homespun with maybe perhaps a little raised stage in the corner of the pub. And originally actually, when amateur singers, there was a there was an English tradition of Glee clubs, kind of amateur singing together. And choral singing, you would do that in a Glee Club. You've seen the icon captures as well, those kind of the songs of the day. folk songs and things that you would sing while drinking as a as a group. But again, most probably amateur singers doing that while they were enjoying it, but that developed into Tavern is thinking they can make a bit more money. So a lot of the Victorian pleasure gardens, which were normally had a tavern attached and have large grounds with beautiful ornamental fountains and pagodas and things like that where you could go and stroll and promenade and have a drink and enjoy yourself and see other entertainments as well there. They became a bit more savvy with that and started building purpose built halls. And I think it's Charles Morton was the kind of real kind of for father of that and opened the Canterbury Music Hall near Waterloo in London, kind of rivaling The, the kind of straight legitimate theater that was over the other side of the river in the West End in the in the kind of early days of the kind of the West End theatres started. So Charles Morton built a musical in Canterbury, and then you get places like the eagle Tavern in Old Street, which actually is where the the nursery rhyme of Pop Goes. The weasel comes from out of town and somebody right up or down the city road in and out of the go in and out of the tavern spending your money and Pop goes the weasel. It has to do with them. Popping or pulling your I think was the Hatters popping their weasel, I think some form of implement, they use a tool in order to raise money to buy beer to drink. But yeah, people like that, and Tavern owners and also of course, in the east end in Limehouse and whopping john Wilton, who owned a pub called the I can't know what it is. He owned a pub and he gradually bought the houses on either side of it to make it bigger, eventually decided he was going to build a music hall in the garden. And so he did. And that musical then became wiltons musical, which is now the oldest grand surviving musical in

Anne Marie Cannon :

Okay, I was gonna ask you if there were any surviving music halls.

Tom Carradine :

Great. Yeah. In London in London. There are two great examples. There's wiltons, which is in Limehouse and there's Hoxton Hall, which is in Hoxton The Old Street both East End so both kind of working class neighborhoods. Wilton and they both have a kind of horseshoe shaped balcony that actually Hoxton Hall has I think it's two balconies. Wilson's only has one, but they're great. They're great examples of that kind of entertainment, a flat floor. If it wasn't like theater seating, you wouldn't be sitting in a you wouldn't be sitting in rows as in theater that we kind of know the kind of formal Victorian theatre I suppose. Or one of our famous theatre architects Frank matcham was a very famous in building these Victorian theatres with the kind of when you think of a West End theatre or or an old version Victoria that that's what you think of music halls was very often flat floor because it was about the tavern entertainment. So it was about sitting at a table with friends drinking and eating while you're enjoying the show. So yeah, Wilson's still exist Hoxton still exist. And as I mentioned, the Britannia panopticon, in Glasgow as well. That's another beautiful example that's in in in a much more dilapidated state hospital Hall is, is a kind of great state. It's been renovated and refurbished. And Wilson's actually the thing I love about Wilson's is they had a renovation and refurbishment A few years ago, but they decided to keep it in as kind of state so it looks like a state of disrepair. Because there are so many layers to the wallpaper to the

Anne Marie Cannon :

love that I love it

Tom Carradine :

that because actually, the way that the job was not the I think it's five houses together at the front, there are no huge rooms Front of House, there's a bar, and there's a upstairs cocktail bar. But there's lots of little individual rooms and and the doorway is kind of the steps and up to doorways and little little and triangular crevices with where there's a skylight and there's nothing else because that's the way that the building was kind of knocked through. It looks unfinished, the one great example of a refurbish musical, which I haven't mentioned, and might might be known to your to your listeners, actually, certainly anyone in the States, and certainly in the UK is the lead city varieties and Leeds which is a huge town, a very industrial town in the in the in the north of England. They have a beautiful Victorian Edwardian music hall that they've renovated. And it appeared on a very popular TV series in the 50s 60s 70s in this country called the good old days, that it was it was a typical musical entertainment kind of led by a chairman. So the performance would be would be kind of hosted by a by an emcee, a master of ceremonies, who would sit at the front in front of the stage on it with a little table with some candles on an a gavel. And he would kind of warm up the audience and introduce introduce all of the acts. So Lita varieties is a great example. of where a theater has been renovated and refurbished to its former glory, as opposed to wiltons, which is there's something magical about Well,

Anne Marie Cannon :

yeah, you know, I was telling you that I live in Georgetown, which is a National Historic Landmark District that it was founded in 1859. It was a, the, they call it the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, which was not really a rush. Our Town is over 240 buildings are protected. And they go back to the 1800s. But I have a friend who bought a building in there putting a bar and a restaurant in there. And he let me go in and look and I love you could see all these different layers of history, because the building has been there since the 1800s. It was originally a theater, we have like four theaters in the small town back in the 1800s. Wow. So there was a lot of entertainment going on here. Correct me if I'm wrong, sorry about the the the similarity between music hall and vaudeville for you in the States. It also develops out of kind of saloon bar entertainment is that Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. I'm hoping he preserves it. I'm like, Oh my God, because you can see the different layers of like you said, the wallpaper the floors, there was a bowling alley in the basement. Just all in. You know, to bring it back to one era would be lovely. But I love that idea of having all those different layers of history. Because it gives

Tom Carradine :

it's a tricky thing to do. In order to preserve it. I mean, welters needed needed stabilizing, it was going to fall down. And if they hadn't spent all the money on renovating it. It's been used in so many filming for films and music videos and things over the years. Interesting. Wilson's has beautiful barley twist columns are the only example of them in the world. If you see see these barley twist columns, then you know it's wiltons. But there was a recent TV series that was made set in France

Anne Marie Cannon :

called Penny Dreadful. And yeah, I watched I binge watched that.

Tom Carradine :

There we go about the Grand Guignol in in Paris, they, there was something they liked the look of wiltons but they but they wanted to do other stuff with it. So they can, so they replicated on a on a soundstage, basically wiltons so if you see those barley twist columns, in Penny Dreadful, it's not wiltons. But, but they did an amazing job at kind of, because waters is such a great example of, as I said, a flat floor music hall that kind of developed out of out of the tavern. Yes, certainly when you get later in British film theater kind of history. The peak of kind of theater building, as I said, For kind of formal theater for kind of, perhaps a slightly more kind of high class entertainment the musical you get the wonderful architects like Frank matcham and building these kind of chocolate box theatres these classic kind of English play houses with wonderful sweeping cancelling balconies, and beautiful sight lines and the acoustics are amazing places like the London Palladium, the London Coliseum, Hackney Empire now into the Ashley Hackney Empire was a variety theater, it was a music It was a musical, but it was designed by Frank matcham and there is not a bad seat in the house. You can you can see from every every seat it is it's joyous to play it as well because those theatres you really feel if you're standing on stage you're in the orchestra but you feel as if everybody is so close around you

Anne Marie Cannon :

have you played it all these places and

Tom Carradine :

I played many of them. Yes, Wilson's I played many times and Hoxton Hall two and a yet form at the Britannia in Glasgow though would love to have my family on my mother's side comes from Glasgow, so I really feel a real affinity with the city. I love. I love Scotland. It's a beautiful, beautiful country. And actually, yeah, family connections with the music hall in that my great. My great grandmother mother was a dancer on the halls in Glasgow. The only downside with that is the fact that when I was there in Glasgow on tour with another show with a musical theater show years ago, I went to the local history part of the library and wanted some information I had a name and kind of dates and things. And they basically just turned around and said, You've come to the wrong city, because outside of London, Glasgow have the biggest concentration of music halls in any other city. So there were there were hundreds of them and but that could be from huge theatres down to kind of tiny bar or tiny stages in pubs and bars. So unfortunately, that was the end of that that was the end of trying to find any more information really, because kind of performing in the musical was seen as being against prostitution, really it was it wasn't looked upon as a as a proper or a kind of a proper career. For a lady specially. Yeah, she never did it again. So, unfortunately, I have no no more information than that on

Anne Marie Cannon :

the name of the hall or anything like that or what her stage name was.

Tom Carradine :

Don't sir, then. And certainly in music hall, you would only see on a poster, for example, you would only see the build, we call them build artists. So because because all the variety artists and musical you call them a bit, because that's the the poster the bill poster, that's where we get the term top of the bill from where if pop star would be, then they would be in big letters at the top of the poster going down to lower down to the smaller apps that the regulars might recognize. And there was a very big musical circuit around the UK. So x would tour they would play one week here one week there and returns the venue's again every year, every six months or every year. And so you kind of got a graduate, a lot of those worked their way up the bill as they became more famous. And equally then I always makes me laugh that the bottom you were them, you jokingly call them the wines and spirits. And so the smaller acts that weren't very famous call the wines and spirits because then they would be among the the line about the proprietor being licensed to provide wines and spirits. So yeah, those those acts that were tiny in the little at the bottom of the poster, but many of those acts work their way up and became a became huge x in their own right, Music Hall didn't die out at a specific date. In the same way it must have been, I suppose the same way in the states really were certainly the First World War was a huge kind of watershed in entertainment, that the outbreak of the First World War was was perhaps the height of Victorian musical in the UK. And actually it was used as a very much as a recruitment drive for for recruiting young men to go to the fight on the front, very famous, very famous performer Vesta, Tilley, she was a female performer she performed in male drag. So you might call her a drag King, she either as a kind of an upper class top in top hat and tails, or in military uniform. And apparently she was she was she was known as the Britain's best recruiting sergeant, because her standing on stage singing these patriotic songs to an audience of of couples, lots of couples going a man taking his his girlfriend or wife to the theater, he would obviously then feel a passion to swell. And often they would have recruiting sergeants on stage where she would invite men to come up and sign up to to go and find

Anne Marie Cannon :

fascinating,

Tom Carradine :

shocking when you think about it. But But that aside, as I said that the you then have the First World War. And after that, the real kind of that's the real kind of height of musical then we you kind of lose the chairman character in in performance. And we move especially because of course the influx of the moving pictures and recorded entertainment as well. That means that the musical changes into what we would call variety, which was very popular in the UK until perhaps the 1970s. A real kind of variety circuit. Again, very similar to musical web acts with tall for a venue each week. And you would have a bill of performers. But the format was very different. And as I said you lost the kind of Chairman kind of character but many of many of the latter musical stars people like Harry champion and Hetty King kept performing as long as they could really and ended up performing. Yeah, I mean, Eddie King was when she was when she last perform. I've got I got to fill in the kind of 70s, early 70s and you know, in her in their old age, because you kind of come in the kind of turn of the turn of the century. Oh, okay. Yeah, kind of teens and 20s. So it's fascinating that it doesn't mean that there are a few acts people like a Gus Elan, who was a caustic comic, a working class, kind of costume monger street seller character. There's some great paths a news clip videos of him singing and people like Mari Lloyd perhaps the most famous female musical star and Mari Lloyd there there's there are video clips of her as well performing so thankfully the latter and the tail end of musical there are videos that exist of those performers. Unfortunately, the the the earlier performers and the kind of real kind of people at the forefront of creating that entertainment. In the 1850s 60s 70s we only have photographs, and sheet music, that's what exists. And everything else has to be a kind of a reconstruction or imagination of what they have the kind of style of performance. I mean, there are lots of written accounts of it, which is great, but unfortunately, yeah, I killed To go back in time to see 30 performers, it's it would just be because it was a very, very different style of performance, a very kind of pantomime, very kind of stylistic performance. Yeah, I'd love to go but I wouldn't want to live in a time. I would, I would really like to be able to experience that firsthand, I suppose.

Anne Marie Cannon :

I would love to go back in time. We're gonna stop here for today. But there's so much more to come in part two of my interview with Tom paradine, who, in spite of what Google might tell you is not the son of kung fu actor David Carradine. Be sure to check out the Episode Notes to find out more about Tom Carradine, his self isolation sing along Victorian musical history and the performers of the music calls. In the meantime, thanks for joining us today and have a great week. I'll let Tom take you out today. Enjoy.

Tom Carradine :

Everybody knows the next one. Crazy all for the love of you the seat of a bicycle. Legs so good. You can do better than that. We got the classic company introduction is have a banana after 301233 stand behind john when they say when we can find that's the base of the girls and boys. Maybe it's because maybe it's because