The History Of The Band
The work of the Living Archive of Milton Keynes is impossible to describe in a few neat sentences. ‘A creative cultural and community development agency,’ is their current tag, and that’s a good start. Initially it was an attempt to construct a bridge between old North Bucks- Wolverton, Stony Stratford, Bletchley and the villages - and the new city of Milton Keynes.
For our purposes, though, we concentrate on the series of plays put on by the Archive in conjunction with the Stantonbury Drama Group, through the ‘80s and ‘90s. These were dramatic reconstructions of local events based entirely on spoken and written evidence, assembled by Roger Kitchen, Roy Nevitt and many others, and accompanied by music written and played by a ‘shifting assemblage’ of local musicians
This shifting assemblage crystallised into the concept of a Living Archive Band during the 1990s- it was the musical wing of the Archive, and was called on not only to provide music for the plays, but to perform in a variety of concert situations, as ambassadors for the Archive and in celebration of the history and identity of North Bucks and the new city of Milton Keynes.
Perhaps the high point of all this endeavour was a revival of the play ‘All Change’ in 1999, which played for one frenetic night at the brand new Milton Keynes Theatre as part of its opening week’s celebrations, before moving in for five more nights at Stantonbury.
Each successive play in the canon brought its own new batch of songs. The principal songwriters were Rod Hall, ‘J’ Cunningham, John Close, Paul Clark, and more recently, Neil Mercer and Kevin Adams. Naturally there were stand-out songs, and two or three more would be added to the greatest hits list after each production. Together these songs form the core of the band’s repertoire. Fifteen songs were recorded on the CD ‘Real Lives’ in 2000, by the nine-piece ‘electric’ band.
A small corner of North Buckinghamshire- parochial, maybe. Yet the experiences and recollections of so many ordinary men and women have a power and relevance that resonates far beyond the locality. This is the story of Everyman.
In 2003, during a brief hiatus in the extended life of the ‘old’ band, Paul Clark, Marion Hill, Brad Bradstock and Sue Malleson formed ‘4MK’. The aim was to present the repertoire of the The Living Archive Band in a more intimate, acoustic fashion. In 2004 Kevin Adams re-joined, and the Living Archive Band name was dusted down and put back to work. In 2009 this line up produced the definitive 2 CD set ‘All That’s Changed’ . Subsequently both Paul and Kevin fell ill, and through most of 2010 bookings were fulfilled with the help of Godfrey Yeomans and Dave Crawford. Sadly Kevin and Paul have had to retire from live playing. Dave and Godfrey have stayed within the ranks, and most recently the line-up has swelled to seven with the addition of Lizzie Bancroft.