Showing posts from July, 2021

Seaside Special - Rhythm 'n' Blues: South Essex

In comparison to our last stops on the  Stour and the Naze , this post is gonna be a bit of a ramble. And maybe a bit niche, too. I’m paying tribute to a personal hero, an Essex legend and maestro guitarist, Wilko Johnson. There’s a bit to say about a trip I took out to Canvey Island in 2016 to soak up the estuarian atmosphere that shaped his band, Dr Feelgood and the high water mark of British R’n’B in the mid 70’s. And there’s a bit to say about his back story to ensure we get the right flavour for the visit. Hope you will bear with me.  Canvey from Benfleet I’ve been a fan of the spiky, high velocity rock n’ roll n’ blues of Dr Feelgood since a mate introduced me to the band when I was revising for ‘O’ levels. Wilko had already left the band by the time I found them. Nevertheless, I’ve seen his raw, spare solo shows as often as possible over the last near-

Seaside Special - The sublime and the ridiculous: North-East Essex

The previous chapter wound its leisurely way to a comfortable halt in Felixstowe . Now, viewed from across the confluence of the rivers Orwell and Stour, that town’s container port dominated my vista. Gantry cranes, dock terminals, warehousing and impossibly loaded deep-draught container ships stretched out on a 1 ½ mile quay curling into the N orth Sea. The port is currently the largest of its type in the UK, handling 48% of the country’s container traffic.   Felixstowe from Harwich I was in Harwich on the north Essex shore, taking in the expansive, mechanised scene across the estuaries. Harwich is a port too, of course. One with a rich history heavily focused on military service and passenger travel. For a start, it is celebrated as the launch point of the ship Mayflower which went on to carry the Pilgrim Fathers to North America in the seventeeth century.   However time has treated these adjacent ports very differently. I f Felixstowe was booming, Harwich town wore the air of an