Tom's Island

Jamming at Nanpean Farm

As a result of the St Just Collective's public response, it was decided to set up a smaller nucleus, to work on a more constructive musical approach. This hardcore unit featured Ian Payne (vocals and guitar), Alison Reynolds (fretless bass guitar - the same instrument that I later acquired), Seth Marshall (drums) and myself on guitar.

After Seth moved to London, the line-up changed considerably when his twin brother Pete took over on drums and I switched to bass when Alison was unable to continue. This group became more workable when we were joined by Gavin Nichol (ex-Sadig Sadag) who had a good writing and playing relationship with Ian Payne. By July 1986 this had become the line-up of the band Tom's Island and we started gigging by the end of that month.

I had become interested in bass playing over a period of many years and after Alison Reynolds moved away, the demand exceeded the supply. I also played bass with Steve Dyer and what was to become the Wyan band. During this time David Bickley continued to visit on a regular basis, often jamming and gigging with the band, playing a variety of instruments - synthesizers, piano, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and percussion. One of the great successes in August 1986 was the Dance Away for Ethiopia gig that Charlotte Gunn organised at the St Just Town Hall, to raise money for famine relief in Eastern Africa. This was the first of many gigs we played in St Just and established the band very strongly in the area.

I also played with Steve Dyer's band that night. It was halfway through the Tom's Island set that Seth Marshall made his return to the band and took over playing the drums for us. Pete devoted more of his time to playing guitar and photography, studying at Dartington College, and later formed local band Freakish Ways.

In September, Gavin moved to Wales to study arboriculture and we were fortunate to find a replacement in Alan Burton, playing percussion, rhythm guitar, doing backing vocals and even playing his uillean pipes on a version of Lyonesse played at the Greenpeace gig we did in December 1986. At this time, Tessa Weaver joined us as second backing vocalist and by 1987 the band was reaching its peak in sound and energy.

In March we did a charity gig at the St Just Town Hall to raise the initial funds to start off the Nancherrow Project - a local committee with the purpose of purchasing and setting up an arts and music workshop in St Just. It worked. One of the local bands of the late 90s, Blew, began at the Nancherrow Centre, then following a move to Manchester they changed the name to Haven and became a local success story.

Throughout the summer of 1987, Fred Quale stood in for me on bass guitar at the gigs I couldn't make, while I was away doing long distance trucking. This was a necessary ploy to earn extra money for a new instrument and amplifier and speaker set-up. The last big gig Tom's Island did was another charity fund-raiser, this time for Green-peace at St Just's Town Hall.

I was now playing fretless bass guitar, which I continued to do with Steve Dyer's Wyan band for some time. 1989 saw a new band with Ian Payne and Seth Marshall, this time with a sax player known simply as Stefan. However its future was short-lived due to conflicting ideas of musical direction. We did two gigs under the name of Storm Dogs. Very wild and funky in its early stages of development, Seth and I believed it had great potential, but the general consensus was not inspired in this direction. It could have been excellent . . .

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