Automatic Dlamini (featuring PJ harvey)
The Chesterfields (featurig Simon Barber)
Bridgwater's most successful attempt to date at collectivising punk
anarchy and overthrowing the Dark forces of Reaction that held progress in check in the
town--started off as a fanzine for punk band The Dangerous
On September 7 1977 the first edition of Sheep Worrying Magazine was brought out as a
promotional tool for the DB's social scene. At every subsequent gig a new edition came
out. Irreverent and anarchic it was put together by Smedley as editor, Rod Jones-as
overall visionary and with art work from Dave Newton plus consistent articles from Kim
Newman & Eugene Byrne it was eagerly snapped up.
In 1980 Jones and Smedley devised the concept of 'Sheep Worrying Enterprises' which
was conceived of initially just to promote the Dangerous Brothers but after several
brainstorming sessions it's potential value as a force within the community to make things
happen and organise creative people in a supportive environment became clear.
In April 1980 the Dangerous Brothers single 'False Nose/County Councillor' was
released on the Sheep Worrying label. Sheep Worrying-now distributed by Rough Trade,
became recognised as an indie label around the world through the underground 'alternative'
In the summer of 80 the Bridgwater Youth theatre had been disbanded in the first
wave of Tory cutbacks.Many of it's members were part of the DB's scene. Smedley and local
writer Kim Newman co-operated on a stage musical-written by Newman with songs by Smedley
and based on ideas from within the group and formed their own theatre company 'Sheep
Worrying Theatre' featuring members of the defunct youth theatre to put on the show
'Another England' about a Nazi take-over of the country which was performed at the Art
Centre in September 1980. The play was so popular that the group immediately produced
another play ''The Scandalous History of the reverend Henry Prince and his abode of
love'-written by Charlie Mander and featuring Newman in the lead role. The play was a key
choice as it had been banned by the Bridgwater College Principle JC Miles, when the Youth
theatre had attempted to do it. The show was a sell out And the idea nicked by Charisma
films for its movie 'The Missionary'.
In August 1980 Smedley co-ordinated contacts from bands all around Somerset to
produce a less DB's orientated Sheep Worrying magazine and upped circulation to 500 and
then to 1000 now using the fanzine as a focus for bands all over the county filling a
glaring gap in the local music scene. By 1981 the magazine was coming out monthly and
circulating from Bristol to Exeter-being featured on the BBC west TV programme 'RPM' ,
demonstrating that things were happening outside of the cities.
In September 1980 Smedley got the Arts centre temporary manager John Ridley, to
agree to letting Sheep Worrying run the Arts centres rock music programme-building on the
work done by former manager-and now nervous breakdown casualty Bob Ormrod in developing
the Arts centre as a rock venue. The Sheep Worrying group stipulated that only bands
playing their own music should get the gigs. It was this radical step adhered to in the
face of stiff opposition that kept the place accessible to local bands, inspired bands to
form and reform and maintained an average of 4 original local bands a month playing the
Bridgwater Arts centre.
In 1982 pressure to include name or semi-name bands led to s temporary split and
compromise and thereafter many up and coming names from the Indie scene played the Arts
centre under the Sheep Worrying banner.
During this time Sheep Worrying brought out 3 cassette compilations of local bands
'Tubular Sheep' 'Dark Side of the Sheep and 'Magical Mystery Sheep' and also ran an
alternative film club and 2 'festivals of Alternatives' including an outdoor football
& rock festival at the YMCA.
Sheep Worrying Theatre group managed to perform at least 3 plays a year by local writers
as well as staples Newman and Mander. In 1984 Stuart Croskell won the Somerset original
Playwrighting award with his play 'Harry' and the followng year it was Dave Butland with
In 1984 the Sheep Worrying organisation became more overtly political with the
heightening of the Class struggle in the country and the vicious attacks nationally by the
Thatcherites and their local supporters. Tory councillor Margaret Rees, who bought the
house next the arts centre labelled it's rock audience 'Jive- joint wierdies' and
campaigned to stop discos, rock music, and later amplified music there-finally succeeding
in the 1990s after Sheep Worrying had gone.
Articles in Sheep Worrying magazine satirising Police violence and caricaturing local
Tories , led to the District Council withdrawing Sheep Worryings Grant. Trouble at gigs
caused by National Front skinheads from out of town led to increasingly tough conditions
imposed on the gigs by the Art Centre board of Management. Smedley was described by senior
Tories as 'The most Dangerous man in Somerset'. In fact he probably wasn't.
A series of Bridgwater 'socialist' history plays written by Smedley from 86 to 88
supported by a couple of booklets followed from the 1985 'community play' The Kings
Justice by Charles Mander which was test run by Sheep Worrying. Brickyard Strike, The
Siege of Bridgwater and The Vernon Bartlett Show were followed in 1989 by 'Jack and
the Poll tax' a satire on the big issue of the day.
In 1990 Sheep Worrying was beset by internal division and lost control of the Art
Centres rock programme to a small group of Management chosen individuals who shortly after
left the area but had succeeded in transferring the rock programme back into the hands of
the Art Centre Committee. Similar restrictions by the Art centre on withdrawal of subsidy
from Sheep Worrying Theatre in the same climate led to a campaign of picketing of the
Centre by a dwindling group of activists. The last show 'The Bad New Days'-a music hall
satire was in 1991
Sheep Worrying magazine reached issue 52 before folding.
Sedgemoor Contemporary Music Group, Sheep Worrying,
The Dangerous Brothers, Club Whoopee, The Sedgemorons,
Red Smed and the Hot Trot Smash the System Boogie Band, The
Spanners, The Visitors, The
Funbunnies, Thermo Lovelies, Dexter
Brinks, Bikeshed, Copyright
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