FEATURE: Spooker Rekkids | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Everyone in Middlesbrough who likes music is familiar with the satisfying underfoot crunch of the car park gravel and the squish of the ornate carpet at Westgarth Social Club. It’s one of very few venues left in Middlesbrough where a promoter can go with a PA and an idea and just do it. You can count on one Simpson’s hand the amount of pubs or clubs left with spare rooms and understanding landlords, we all know this. What you might not know is that the Westgarth have a record label living in their attic. Previously the ‘women’s bar’, it’s been closed since the 80’s, until members of Dressed Like Wolves, General Sherman and Hold Music got hold of it. As three similarly folky but wonky bands, they were playing in each other’s projects and putting on gigs, as main Spooker Rick Dobbing explains:

“It seemed to make sense to put everything we were doing already behind a thing we could push collectively and help out bands we all believed in.”

And so, after many ghost doodles, Spooker Rekkids was born.

Spooker Rekkids use the words ‘wonderful’, ‘lovely’ and ‘enchanting’ a lot when they describe their events, so shake off any connotations you might have with ghoul-based names, Spooker Recs are unashamedly twee. They’re here to charm, not alarm. That doesn’t always mean quiet, though; they don’t shy from an eccentric racket. Last year they released By Toutatis’ EP Beasts on iTunes, wisely avoiding the tempting but expensive vinyl route. Rick doesn’t doesn’t rule it out for the future though: “We plan on vinyl. We always plan on vinyl, it’s wonderful.” Their first physical release was by Dressed Like Wolves’ tongue-twister In The End We All Just Walk Off Into The Sea In The Eyes Of The Ones We Left Behind, released on CD complete with dementedly scribbly sharpie artwork. It was regarded as a lovely lo-fi gem by many.

Releasing music seems a natural extension of Spooker Recs’ previous form of bringing bands to play at the Westgarth. So far they’ve brought us the critically acclaimed intelligent, art-baroque-folk three-peice Haiku Salut, the one-man wonky-folk of Cult Party and the warm melancholy of Sullivan and Gold. As well as using the main stages, they’ve also realised the potential of the brilliant attic space. The Spooker Rekkids YouTube channel brings candle-lit heartfelt wonders to your various screens, and the two cosy Spooker Sessions online now are great examples of how to make something a bit special: grab a band, cram loads of their pals in a tiny room, and do a unique version of a song. Alternatively, as in the case of Sullivan and Gold, put one man and his keyboard by a fireplace. The results are intimate, genuine and a little mesmerising. They’re planning more of those, as well as upcoming releases by General Sherman and Hold Music, and more gigs, next up being Derbyshire dream pop Grawl!x on Saturday 7th November. If nobody covers There’s A Ghost In My House for a Spooker Session soon, I’ll be most disappointed.

Spooker Rekkids’ next gig features Grawl!x, with support from Dressed Like Wolves and General Sherman, at Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough on Saturday 7th November.

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