Half The Sky 1979 -80

Diane McLoughlin, sax; Gill Moon, drums; Helen Haigh, vocals; Izzy Postill keyboards; Nony Ardill, guitar; Vick Ryder, bass

Half the Sky 2

The band took their name from the revolutionary Chinese saying popular at the time: ‘women hold up half the sky!’ Helen was lead vocalist and most of the band sang as well as played. Their gigs included benefits at Dame Colet House in Stepney which was near where some of the band members including Helen lived; a gig for Lesbian Line at Caxton House in Archway and the Women’s Monthly Event at Waterloo Action Centre. They played a mixture of soul, pop standards and some original material including one called ‘Reclaim the Night!’
Women Hold Up Half the Sky


The Happening 

A love of the sixties sounds – Motown, Stax etc – led to a one-off 1980 gig at Islington Town Hall by The Supermarkettes – Alison Rayner, bass; Angele Veltmeyer, sax; Deirdre Cartwright, guitar; Frankie Green, drums, with others – which morphed into The Happening. Musicians and singers participating included Caroline Gilfillan, Barbara Stretch, Karen Parker, Jackie Clune, Jackie Crew, Jane Haydn Rowles, Ann Day, Diane McLoughlin and others. This in turn grew into The Emma Peel Fan Club which included Alison Rayner, bass; Ann Day, drums; Annette Brown, trumpet; Deirdre Cartwright, guitar; Diane McLoughlin, sax, Issy Postill, keyboards; Jessica Palin, percussion; Laka Daisical, lead vocals; Rachel Bartlett, sax; Sarah P, Jan Haydn Rowles and Kocoa Brown, vocals. Various guest vocalists included Brenda Rattray, Carol Grimes, Jackie Clune, Lorna Gee, Sarah Jane Morris. This “… biggest, loudest women’s band currently on the club circuit” (Time Out), whose gigs became a regular major London event at such venues as Stoke Newington Town Hall, The Scala at King’s Cross, Hackney’s Ocean, and the Forum in Kentish Town, played their last event – a fundraiser for the Women’s Environmental Network
and Breast Cancer Care – in 2005. Women from the band continue to gig as The Electric Landladies.

Two singers on stage in Islington Town Hall with microphones, dressed in 1960s clothes, lurex dresses, long wig, black gloves. Colour shot taken from audience.

Caroline and Barbara with The Happening at Islington Town Hall, photo (c) Frankie Green


The Harmonettes

Caroline Gilfillan, Dee Orr, Dinah Jeffrey, Trudy Howson


Dee Orr and Trudy Howson also had a musical cabaret act called The Doris Gay SistersPreview of a Harmonettes gig. 'Latest home-grown exponents of the acapella style, appearing as part of the women's festival at Jackson's Lane. Quartet from diverse past and present performing groups as the Stepney Sisters, Guest Stars, Lottie and Ada, Sisterhood of Spit, Hi Jinx and the Raving Beauties.' Accompanying black and white posed photo of the four seated on steps, wearing black shirts and white ties, smiling and holding their hands up as in expressions of surprise and glee.

City Limits, February 1983


The Harpies 1980 ~

Ann Day, drums; Caroline Gilfillan, keyboards; Joanna Holland, guitar; Patsy McGuire, bass; all, vocals.

Photographs courtesy the estate of Caroline Forbes

A posed black and white publicity shot of The Harpies standing in the doorway of the front of an old house, possibly a London squat, two grinning at each other, two looking out, wearing jeans and denim jackets and shirts.

Caroline shown singing into microphone and playing keyboard at a gig.Ann Day in performance, playing drum kit.

Joanna playing guitar and singing at a gig, microphones, stage lights and audience members also in photo.Patsy playing bass guitar at a gig, microphones visible.

Programme for Gay Pride events at Action Space (Drill Hall) says of The Harpies' first public performance 'this band will get you on your feet and dancing!' Illustrated by a photo collage of an open wallet spilling out cash, photo of a woman's face, tickets to Spats (a London lesbian club), a UB40 signing on card, keys and a packet of Rizla cigarette papers.

A torn fragment from a page of Gay News with announcement of The Harpies gig. 'London's newest lesbian band make their eagerly awaited debut at a women only gig at Action Space on Saturday, the final night of Gay Pride events.' Photo of the heads of the four members.

The programme lists events which include The Harpies, York Street Band and Poetic Justice, a lesbian poetry group.

Action Space Gay Pride 1980 programme, inside pages

Review of Harpies gig from the Communist Party newspaper The Morning Star describes their enthusiastic reception at Action Space's 'packed to capacity' gig. 'Versatile and totally accessible music.' 'Should go far but need to book a bigger venue next time.' Photo of the four members posed against a brick wall.

Morning Star, 1980

Pink ticket for Harpies gig at the Hearty Goodfellows pub.'Sapphisticated Productions proudly present The Harpies. "Strong, confident and dykey in a relaxed way, a stunning performance" (Spare Rib.) Disco and late bar. Tickets £1.'

Back of the pink ticket for a Harpies gig is a four part cartoon of two girls' conversation. 'Wassa matter?' ' Harpies are in town and I ain't got a ticket yet.' ' Shame!' 'Tee hee. I knew she'd say that. Just as well I asked Willow to get me one!'

As well as the other bands in the archive, Ann Day also played in Accordions Go Crazy (1988 – 1996, folk/fusion), Go Ga Ga, (1988, fusion/world) and Hot Peaches (1990 – 94, gay/trans cabaret theatre); subsequently she has played with solo artists and bands including Sianed Jones (recording with Slant & gigging); Heather Myles, (recording & touring Europe and the US); Daffs (pop trio); Cats Cradle; Joli Blon (cajun/zydeco); The Emma Peel Fan Club; Electric Landladies; The Annie Whitehead Whitstable World Workshop, and is currently MD of Sambo Pelo Mar, Whitstable’s community Samba band.


Hi Jinx 1980 ~ 1984

Barbara Stretch, bass, vocals; Caroline Gilfillan, drums, vocals; Dee Orr, percussion, synth, vocals; Diane McLoughlin, sax; Jenny Nabone, sax, flute; Nony Ardill, guitar; Ros Davies, trombone

‘Our music was feminist and political and fun, and written by us all …  and varied from  rock-jazz-blues-salsa with influences of music from around the world really –  heavy on the female take on life, love and our struggles to be heard as individuals by making music and singing for the joy of life itself.’ ~ Dee Orr, 2011


A black and white publicity shot of Hi Jinx, posing in a tropical setting. The seven women are sitting close together on a sofa, some with arms around each other, laughing and grinning, under bright lights, with a huge beach umbrella, straw hats, palm tree branches, saxophones and a trombone.

photo Monica Zanoline

A listing from Spare Rib for a women only event at Stoke Newington Town Hall in July 1984 featuring Hi Jinx. A fund raising benefit for Gwent Women Against Pit Closures, organised by Hackney Greenham Women. Also featuring the film 'Salt of the Earth', about women winning a 1930s Mexican mining strike, and guest speakers from Gwent Women Against Pit Closures.

from Spare Rib 145, 1984

A review by Gail Ann Dorsey of the twelve song cassette 'Hi Jinx: Steppin Over and Out.' 'Rich and lively music covering various styles of Latin, R and B and Caribbean.' The group had just disbanded after two years as 'a major force and influence in the London women's music scene.'

Hi Jinx review from Spare Rib issue 151,1985

Spare Rib 151, 1985

Headlined 'Pop go the rates as GLC backs girl band,' the right-wing daily London paper reports on how the band Hi Jinx has produced a record called 'Streamlining' to protest the Tory government's abolition of the Greater London Council. 'We felt as Londoners our right to vote was being taken away. The song is a plea for democracy.' The article is illustrated with a photo of the band with their instruments on the South Bank, the Thames and Houses of Parliament in the background.

From The Standard, May 1984

'Announcing at Rackets, the Pied Bull, 1 Liverpool Rd, London N1, a funtasy (sic) party with Hi Jinx, 15 November, their last women only gig.' Slogans pasted on the flyer read 'Look like a new woman, 'Fancy dress to impress,' 'Take up dancing,' and 'Posing is such fun.' Drawings of a woman playing saxophone, another posing dramatically with arm upraised, and musical notes.

flyer for Hi Jinx last gig, November 1984, at Rackets women’s club, Angel Islington

Black and white front cover of 7" single. Silhouette of London landmarks in white. Text states 'Keep GLC working for London'. Song titles: 'The Streamlining Song' and 'Courage (comes in many forms)'

Inversion of the front cover images. Includes band members: Nony Ardill (guitar and backing vocals); Barbara Bebop (bass); Diane Dare (Alto Sax); Ros Davies (Trombone); Jenny Jinx (Flute & Tenor Sax); Dee Orr (percussion and lead vocals); Caroline Robins (drums). Recorded at Tin Pan Alley Studios.

Hi Jinx in a lively performance on stage showing percussionist, bassist, drummer, guitarist and horn section players on a large stage, under bright red lighting, with amplification equipment.

Hi Jinx

'GLC peace day for Londoners, Saturday 22 October 1988, Jubilee Gardens and County Hall. Free.' Acts appearing include Hi Jinx, Carol Grimes and the Crocodiles, the Guest Stars, Main Squeeze, the Breakfast Band, Teresa Trull and Barbara Higbie, Jah Warrier. Vivid blue, green and yellow poster illustrated with a collaged photo of London's County Hall, musical notes, squiggles, a laughing face, and the GLC logo of hands breaking in half a nuclear missile. 'The GLC, working for Londoners and for peace.'

Hi Jinx photos courtesy Dee Welding

Handwritten A4 sheet detailing the number of tapes sold of the Hi-Jinx album and where from (shops, the band, mail order and personal sales). The total out is £914. 57, the total in is £624.40, the total owed from shops is £327. Dated 3/3/85

Courtesy of Ros Davies


The Hot Doris Band

Four woman accapella group

'A September Saturday night with the Hot Doris band, four women acapella group, and Out of the Blue' jazz , reggae and rock with Alison Rayner, Ann Day and Deirdre Cartwright, at the Duke of Wellington, Balls Pond Road, N1. Women only.' The flyer is decorated with collaged photos of women pondering, and slogans 'what you long to know - and dare not ask!' 'why should women be the playthings of chance?' What's ahead?' 'Where life moves in restful tempo.'




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