This session will present some early insights from Southampton as Popular Music Archive, an exploratory research project which took place over the course of 2018/19. Against the backdrop of Southampton’s City of Culture aspirations, the aim was to uncover some hidden postwar pop music histories: using interviews and events to voice forgotten or obscured narratives, create debates, expand networks and learn from others’ experiences. Over the past sixty years, local versions of folk, jazz, skiffle, rock’n’roll, blues, punk, postpunk, reggae, lovers’ rock, new wave, indie, speed garage, two-step and beyond have all intertwined. It is a compelling story, revealing much about broader social issues: postwar planning, housing and employment problems; race relations, social mobility and red light districts; cooperatives, student populations and licensing regulations.
Here we will highlight the DIY and informal archiving practices of a range of locals, who have sought to preserve and curate the city’s music-making heritage. We also invite those with a stake in this heritage to participate by sharing their own archives, collections and treasure troves: sounds, words, images, memorabilia and, of course, stories. Finally, we look ahead to pose questions. What lessons can we learn from the past about the capacity to foster sustainable local economies and inclusive cultures? What has the project missed and what else do we need to explore? Who owns and has access to a city’s music heritage; who is responsible for maintaining it? Finally, what kind of role might a Popular Music Archive play in connecting Southampton’s future identity to its cultural memory?
Funded by the Solent Research, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange fund.