Val Wilmer on BBC Radio 3

Listen up! Don’t miss this BBC Radio 3 programme at 18.45 on 4th March, then available on iPlayer A Portrait of Val Wilmer documents the life of the celebrated journalist, photographer, and historian of Black music. Contributors include publisher and broadcaster Margaret Busby, percussionist Andrew Cyrille, writers Paul Gilroy and Richard Williams, Val’s co-worker at Melody Maker in 1969, and Val’s brother Clive Wilmer.

This marks the republication of Val Wilmer’s groundbreaking book, the 1977 classic As Serious As Your Life: Black Music and the Free Jazz Revolution, 1957–1977, ‘the story of how a generation of revolutionary musicians established black music as the true vanguard of American culture. Placing the achievements of African-American artists in their broader political and social context … Wilmer evokes an era of extraordinary innovation and experimentation that continues to inspire musicians today.’ The book includes a chapter on women’s role that has been acknowledged as a pioneering move in gender studies.

Out on March 1st and available as paperback and ebook direct from the publisher, Serpent’s Tail. You can pre-order a copy now:

This book saved me from giving up. Even though the jazz musicians Wilmer wrote about were mostly male, their approach to music making, their passion and their activism resonated with me and showed me a way to move forward musically.’ – Viv Albertine

 We congratulate Val, valued friend of the Women’s Liberation Music Archive, on her achievements.

See more on this amazing woman and her work over 50 years, including this 1973 interview by Rosie Parker in Spare Rib:

excerpted interview of val wilmer spare-rib 17 1973

News from the Fuse: legendary Ivy Benson musicians reunion


A reminder of a great gig happening next week at the Vortex, Thursday 15 February.
Claudia Lang-Colmer, Crissy Lee  & Ann O’Dell (Ivy Benson Reunion band) come to ‘Swing the Vortex’
These legendary musicians are joined by special guest Alyson Cawley on tenor sax.
The Reunion Band played at the last two Celebrations of what would have been Ivy Benson’s 100th and 101st birthday.

Rare photo of Claudia Lang-Colmer playing electric bass in 1962
Claudia Lang-Colmer played double bass in the Ivy Benson band from 1954 and is still an in demand player in Cornwall today.
Crissy Lee joined Ivy Benson in the early 1960’s and is a renowned drummer, bandleader and teacher and has appeared on television many times.
After leaving Ivy Benson, Ann O’Dell played with Roxy Music, Blue Mink and Bryan Ferry as a piano player and arranger. She led her own band ‘Chopyn’ and has continued to play and tour with many groups.Plus Double double bass Claudia Lang-Colmer & Alison Rayner Two of the UK’s top double bass players in musical conversation. Also don’t forget that Alison’s group ARQ, return on Wednesday 21 February to Soho Pizza Express Jazz Club after their sell out show last June. We had school reunions and parties of friends coming down to this event last time and they were treated to infectious grooves, lyrical melodies, jazz with folk, rock, classical and other world music influences, at one of London’s best and friendliest jazz rooms in Soho. This is a rare London date for the group, so book your tickets here: INFO/BOOK Take a look at ARQ playing live at the Soho Pizza Express last time VIDEO


Friday 9 March The Old Church, Stoke Newington Church Street. Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day with one of the ‘world’s greatest cabaret singers’ Barb Jungr plus Solar Flares BOOK NOW



Indie women’s bands of the 80s

Great to see fab musician and friend of the WL Music Archive Stef Petticoat featured in today’s Guardian – thanks to Angie of Amy and the Angels for drawing our attention to it!

You can see more about Stef and her bands such as Amy and the Angels and Necessary Evil in WLMA at

Stef Petticoat


Support freedom of movement for musicians!

The Musician’s Union invites you to sign the Change petition to Support Free Movement for Musicians Post-Brexit:

Support Freedom of Movement for Musicians

Brexit blues? Listen to the anti-Brexit song by Rosemary Schonfeld on

Forthcoming London gigs with great women musicians

Coming up: the new season of Tomorrow the Moon V with a brilliant lineup of young and old stars! Solar Flares, Trio Cucara, Alison Rayner Quartet, Electric Landladies, the Casamir Connection and more. Info from Blow The Fuse:

‘Kicking off on Thursday 12th October at the Vortex with a band led by the BBC Young Musician of the Year Alexandra Ridout. This is her first Vortex appearance and she is already a wonderful trumpet player at the age of 18. We actually played with her Mum, sax player Leigh Etherington, who featured on the very first Blow the Fuse album in 1994. So, it’s a real generational celebration night. Plus, a wonderful trio with Louise Elliott, Deirdre Cartwright and Alison Rayner. Buy tickets online hereScroll down to see the rest of the Autumn season and next time we’ll be announcing how to get your tickets for the Christmas Party of the Year – yes the Electric Landladies are back!


Thurs 12 October Tomorrow the Moon V: The Alexandra Ridout Quintet, is led by the BBC Jazz Musician of the Year Alexandra Ridout on trumpet. They are a group of exceptional teenage musicians who are already creating waves in the jazz world. Their passion for the music and outstanding musicianship produce an incredibly mature band sound that belies their tender years. Watch on YouTube Plus Solar Flares: Latin and South African influenced tunes played by this imaginative and melodic trio. They first played together in the 1980s with the Guest Stars and in the Deirdre Cartwright Group. Their rapport is apparent and their individual sounds blend to produce an earthy, joyful delight in playing. Louise Elliott Saxophone/Flute, Deirdre Cartwright Guitar, Alison Rayner Double Bass  Doors: 8:00pm  Price: £10.00 advance/£12 on the door Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, London, N16 8AZ



Thursday 12 October The Vortex, N16 Tomorrow the Moon V

The Alexandra Ridout Quintet led by BBC Young Musician of the Year

+ Solar Flares with Deirdre Cartwright, Louise Elliott, Alison Rayner

Saturday 28 October Trio Cucara Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate



Friday 17 November St Mary’s Old Church, Stoke Newington N16

The Casimir Connection + Trio Cucara Josefina Cupido, Deirdre Cartwright, Alison Rayner

Alison Rayner Quintet:

Monday 20 November ARQ Appledore, Beaver Inn

Tuesday 21 November ARQ St Ives Jazz Club

Wednesday 22 November ARQ St Austell, The Bosun’s

Thursday 23 November ARQ Cambridge Jazz Festival

Friday 24 November ARQ Orpington Jazz Club


Wednesday 6 December Gaelynn Lea St Mary’s Old Church, Stoke Newington N16

Thursday 7 December ARQ London, Lauderdale Jazz

Thursday 14 December The Vortex, N16 Tomorrow the Moon V

JFrisco + Free Spirit with Deirdre Cartwright & Kathy Dyson and YOU!

Friday 15 December Electric Landladies ***Christmas Party*** Details to follow!

Blow the Fuse is supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund

Let WLMA know if you have or know of gigs you want to advertise!



Videos from WLMA


WLMA likes:

This anti-Brexit song by Ova’s Rosemary Schonfeld – you can hear her performing it here:

The Ace of Cups – a women’s rock band almost lost to history!