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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Music fans keep history of Barrow scene alive

PIECES of Barrow’s vibrant music history are being kept alive thanks to a veteran rocker’s retirement project.

The Furness Musicians’ Association was the brainchild of 65-year-old Malcolm Hartley following his retirement as curriculum manager for business at Furness College last year. The group, which boasts more than 250 members on its Facebook page, now organises gigs, promotes live music and raises money for local causes.

Mr Hartley, of Prospect Road, Barrow, played bass for Octave Union, a band which supported acts as well known as Pink Floyd and The Foundations. Other successful Barrow bands at the time included The Tornadoes, who won an all England NME beat group competition in the early 1960s, beating world famous crooners The Hollies into second place.

Also well known on the North West music scene were Chapter 5, who supported The Troggs when they played in Barrow in 1966.

Mr Hartley got the inspiration for the project after talking to friend and fellow musician Mike Fallon.

He said: “Over the years Mike had collected a significant amount of photographs of local bands from as far back as the early 1960s. He was concerned these photographs were deteriorating so he had them scanned and put onto a CD. He was kind enough to give me a copy and I posted some of the photographs on Facebook to share with my musician friends. The response and feedback was incredible, so I created a separate group on my Facebook page and over the next couple of months I posted the full collection.”

Mr Hartley enlisted the help of friends and fellow musicians Pete Downing, Matt Kassell and Mike Kidson to help run the group.

After rapidly gaining members, the FMA discovered it had the potential to do more than share photographs and memories.

Mr Hartley said: “We realised we had created something which could be used for more than just celebrating the history of local bands. We started to have regular meetings to explore how we could develop this project in order to encourage and support live music in the Furness area. To accomplish this aim, we decided to formalise the group under the name Furness Musicians’ Association.”

The FMA hopes to organise and present up to 12 gigs a year to raise money for local causes. Mr Hartley said: “Now with the strength we have on our Facebook page we can ensure live music survives and grows in the Furness area.”

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