The John Craven Legacy
Evan Paris
Evan Paris
Re: What the RCE acts got up to after 2006
Hi Eve, Here's the breakdown you asked for. Feel free to edit to your heart's content!

Postmaster General 2018
Evan Paris
Evan Paris
11:11 AM

Re: What the RCE acts got up to after 2006
To: Eve Harper-St.James

Hi Eve,
Here's the breakdown you asked for. Feel free to edit to your heart's content!

The closure of RCE Records in March 2006 very much marked the end of a magical musical era. At the time of its demise, there were only a handful of acts on its books, and this is the story of what happened to them next:

In 2006, Autoparp teamed up with Llefrith, Helena Jones, and John Craven, to perform for the Clustcwyr Christmas Concert as Rita Fairclough: essentially the continuity Cookie Crumbs in all but name. In 2010, Autoparp announced that their next release would coincide with the publication of the Chilcot report. They stuck to their word, and in 2016 they finally self-released Racing from Chilcot, a 12-volume collection (one for each year since their last record) of previously unperformed recordings, including collaborations with Rhonwen Stephens. They followed this up with their first live performances in over a decade, again with the involvement of Rhonwen Stephens. They also reunited with Julie & Tim Gower for a series of gigs as The Margarets. The next Autoparp LP is due for release at 11pm on 29th March 2019.

John Craven and Helena Jones
By that point arguably the two surviving figureheads of the Clustcwyr scene, the once adversarial Craven and Jones had become a couple in the wake of the death of label founder Dafydd Morgan in 2004. A number of provisions in Morgan's will had forced the two artists together: not least an insistance that the two perform together in order to receive joint ownership of the Clustcwyr barn. The offices were converted into a flat, and the pair maintained the studios (as well as the Christmas Concert tradition) until 2007 when flooding destroyed much of the equipment. A good deal of the Clustcwyr back-catalogue was also severely damaged. The former studios have subsequently been repurposed as a practice space and venue. As well as managing the Clustcwyr barn, Jones and Craven performed together extensively throughout the mid '00s, including a brief tour of Europe. Sadly, in 2009 John was forced to retire from performing when a hand injury became seriously infected. His condition deteriorated and at one point he was in intensive care. He recovered enough for he and Helena to marry in 2010, but in the same year he was also diagnosed with dementia, and he died in 2012, at the age of 69. Helena continues to perform the occasional gig in Cardigan with long-time drummer Daniel Curran and former Cookie Crumb Kelly McEllerhone. In 2016 she took part in a Helena's Box revival, and she's also been working on a project with Rhonwen Stephens.

Diwydianfa had parted company with Clustcwyr following the John Craven and the Angels of Death collaboration of 2002. They released five more singles before disbanding in 2007 to concentrate on political activities. Petra Corren had stood for Plaid Cymru in the 2005 general election but failed to win her seat. In 2008 she gained a place on the Carmarthenshire County Council, only to be expelled from Plaid two years later after an undisclosed incident involving the council's Chief Executive and an otter. In 2012 she retained her seat as an independent candidate. That same year, Diwydianfa performed as The Angels of Death again for a John Craven memorial concert at Clustcwyr. Corren chose not to stand for re-election in 2016, instead rekindling Diwydianfa as a performance art collective, for the most-part with new (and no-longer strictly musical) personnel: membership of the group appears to have been somewhat fluid, and Corren herself took something of a back seat after the collective's 2017 stint at the Edinburgh Fringe. They embarked upon a tour of the UK, performing their anarchic blend of music, magic and dance in city centres. One part of their show was a disappearing act using a nuclear missile prop (intended as a metaphor for nuclear disarmament). It is not known where they originally got this prop (common speculation has it that Chris Holland bought it in a pub), but concert footage proves it had been on stage with Diwydianfa before their split with Clustcwyr in 2002. The disappearing missile formed part of a televised routine for ATV's "Saturday Night at the Lindrick Palais" variety programme on 5 May 2018. One viewer wrote in to express concern that the missile was a genuine ex-Soviet weapon (or to congratulate the designer on their copy). Four days later, members of the Diwydianfa troupe (subsequently identified as Cam Jones, Ffion DeGroot, Daf Harris, Ed Llewellyn, Rosie Proctor, Clare Swinford, Alan Stevens, Em McLaren, and Science Department alumna Hyzenflay) were performing in Trafalgar Square when the device exploded. The detonation is assumed to have been accidental.

Julie & Tim Gower
The ex-Margarets returned from San Francisco in 2011 and retired to Tresaith. The couple did a tremendous ammount to help out Helena Jones during John Craven's illness (and indeed after his death). In 2017, they teamed up with Autoparp for a 40th anniversary revival of The Margarets, including a number of performances across Wales.

Steph Jesper
The most prolific artist on Earwax in its last days, she scaled down her involvement after the closure of RCE, in order to pursue a career in Librarianship. At Easter 2012 she performed with Magenta Moor at a memorial concert for John Craven. She now works in York as an IT advisor, and spends her evenings trying to find a way into the city's artistic underbelly, like some sort of parasitic worm. However, more often than not she just finds her way to the bottom of a bottle of Tequila.

Llefrith's Anweddog was the last release on the Clustcwyr label (along with their Glas compilation). After the demise of the label, the duo continued to perform across the Welsh folk scene, much as they had since the late 1990s. They even joined Autoparp, Helena Jones, and John Craven, for pseudo-Cookie Crumbs supergroup Rita Fairclough at the 2006 Clustcwyr Christmas Concert. Kirsten and Lizbet married in 2016 and in the same year they teamed up with Helena Jones, Daniel Curran, and Andy McKay to perform a series of Helena's Box retrospective gigs to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their debut album. Llefrith remain regulars on the Cardigan folk circuit.

Earwax stars Mosfet had just released their third album when RCE expired. They played a number of gigs in Sheffield in the immediate aftermath but have since retired from the music scene. Sue now teaches and David works in IT.

The Science Dept.
The various personnel of the Science Department managed to keep the Club Mill Studio ticking over until it was destroyed by flooding in 2007. The cost of restoring the studios proved prohibitive, and Club Mill is now in a state of dilapidation. The collective have continued to perform (while still pursuing solo interests and side projects) but the gap between gigs increases exponentially, and the sense of community is sadly lost.

Rhonwen Stephens
Rhonwen and her rhythm section continued to play the west coast folk scene during her pregnancy in 2006. She then took a short maternity break before self-releasing her sixth album, Hwiangerddi, in 2009. In 2013 she separated from long-time partner and collaborator Michael Fox, and she now mostly performs solo. In 2014 she released Seithfed Hech, a more experimental work than previous albums, and she collaborated with Autoparp on a number of tracks for their 2016 collection Racing from Chilcot. She frequently joins them live. She's currently understood to be working on a new project with Helena Jones.

Et Zenda
By April 2004, Magenta Moor had been completely absorbed into Et Zenda (or vice versa). The lineup of Adam Lucas, Jo Hustler, Linda Jessop, Claire Lucas, Maggie Moore and Ian Matthews continued to perform sporadically, largely on a casual basis. Adam has been scaling back his involvement at the Graphics Barn, with Claire and Maggie taking on the management of both that business and the Clustcwyr barn.


I've also updated the Christmas Concert list, as I think it gives a useful sense of what continuity there's been there.


craven.htm - March 1999

This page outlines the history of the oldest remaining section of the A/V Woman web-site, namely those pages dealing with John Craven and his various friends and relations.

The John Craven story began as a conversation I had in 1998, in which I described the 80s career of Steve Hillage: depressed with the lack of interest in his hippy Electrick Gypsy ideals, Hillage becomes jaded and his sound takes a turn for the scary. He teams up with children's TV newsreading pioneer John Craven, who balances his ultra-good screen persona by writing and performing satanic heavy metal music on the sly, and together they release three albums concerned with the positive aspects of wiping out the human race.

I expanded the John Craven story in January 1999, when, while walking in the snow, I outlined the history of "Et Cetera", one of the most influencial bands in history. This band had recorded an album in which each track ended abruptly with the words Et Cetera at the moment it began repeating itself. The album was pressed on cursed vinyl, and ended up being melted down and turned into keyrings after no copies were sold; then subsequently made into Tesco carrier bags after the keyrings also flopped. Et Cetera's album, The Self Titled Eponymous Debut, contained songs which had since been stolen and covered with immense success, such as "All Sit Down" by James, and "You Spin Me" by Dead or Alive. One of the members of this pioneering and shafted band was John Craven.

On Monday 25th January 1999 (I(3)), in a desperate attempt to make content for my new web-site, I wrote out Craven's life story. The page - John Craven: A Short Biography (craven.htm) - charted the life of Craven, listing his albums and tracks, and culminating in a forthcoming compilation album. At this point, John Craven the musician and John Craven the newsreader were one and the same person, but other than that, most of the details of his life have changed little. Differences include the idea that Et Cetera were a group of music journalists, and that Craven's membership of Pink Floyd stretched as far as Meddle. Also. some of the dates have moved slightly over time, so as to avoid anachronisms.

Between the 17th February and the 5th March 1999 (I(4)), some of Craven's songs were given lyrics. The version of the Craven page, right, is from this time and shows the links made to the lyrics from the tracklistings. John's first three solo albums were still no more than a single sentence of text at this point, and the concentration was firmly on Et Cetera and the Craven Angel trilogy.

Things remained little changed until Tuesday 7th November 2000 (I(12)), when sleevenotes for Craven Images were added (cravenim.html - at this point as black text on white), along with "Et Cetera: A Short Biography" (etc.html).  This page (the text of which is now incorporated into the Strong-esque Discography) detailed the origins of the band and discussed each of their tracks in turn. It did however confuse some of the details of the fate of the Et Cetera record with that of Pink Floyd's Rets.

craven.htm - January 2001

Five days later, on Sunday 12th November(I(12)), John Craven was given his own subsection of the AVW site: "John Craven's Black Pages", a play on the real Craven's Radio Times column. New subsections included a Craven discography in the stlye of M.C. Strong's Great Rock Discography (including full tracklistings of all Craven's albums except Songs to Scream At), a new lyrics page (with the lyrics of the first two solo albums), and an album by album analysis, including sleeve shots and write-ups (the index of which is pictured below).

A further expansion was made on Thursday January 11th 2001 (II(2)), when a similar album analysis section was added for other Et Cetera solo releases. The Strong-esque discography was expanded to reflect this, and a further lyrics page was made for Lucas & Hustler's Emotions album. The menu screen pictured above dates from this expansion but is otherwise no different to the original Black Pages menu.

images.html - November 2000

On the 14th January (II(2)), a series of MIDI files were added to the site, to give an impression of how the stuff sounds, while April 5th (II(5)) saw the arrival of a Frame-esque family tree, showing the development of the Et Cetera clan. 

The AVW site went off-line in Summer 2001, by which point John Craven and the York Pub Guide had become the two main attractions. An examination of the April (III(5)) front page (av2.gif) demonstrates this pretty well. Also worthy of note is the fake sponsorship at the bottom of the page, which includes an organisation called "Earwax Records".

Prior to the plug being pulled, short biographies on all the Et Cetera members (except Tim Scott) had been added to the site, along with little portrait photos.

With the AVW re-launch on Friday 31st August 2001 (III(10)), came a new subsection - "Recordiau Clustcwyr" (Clustcwyr being a probably highly garbled translation of "Eawax" into Welsh) a fictional Welsh record label that would become the new home for Craven and Et Cetera. "Recordiau Clustcwyr" is rendered in the same font as the Earwax Records sponsorship from the old front page.

clustcwyr/index.html - February 2002 The crumby little image, right, is of the Clustcwyr front page as it stood on 23rd February 2002 (IV(4)), when the first incarnation of the Site Guide was put together.

With Clustcwyr being a record label, it was necessary for it to have more than just one band (plus solo projects) on its books, and so a whole series of new acts were invented, and added to the Strongesque Discography and to a chronological list of Clustcwyr releases. A new family tree was also added to cater for the new artists.

The first non-Et Cetera artist to get a series of pages to themself was Cathy Carrow, who had proven to be the spiritual mother of most of the non-Et Cetera bands. She was killed off and given increasing postumous analysis throughout January 2002 (IV(2)).

black/index.html - March 2002

On 17th March (IV(4)), John Craven's Black Pages were revised and reworked to incorporate a frameset, a news page, and an ever expanding interviews archive (see image above). Two days later, on 19th March (IV(4)), Cathy Carrow's pages were expanded (below left), and a series of homepages were created for each of the currently active artists on the label. A drop-down menu was also added to the front page around this time (below right).

carrow.html - March 2002   clustcwyr/index.html - March 2002

Clustcwyr was (formally) joined by a sister label, "Earwax Records", on 17th April 2003 (IV(5)) (following several months of references in the discographies), with the two becoming part of a larger record company, "RCE" (both pictured below).

earwax/index.html - April 2003  rce.html - April 2003

On 29th July 2004 (V(9)), after a period of stagnation, the RCE / Clustcwyr / Earwax pages were overhauled and updated. The Strongesque Discographies were broken up into dedicated artist-specific pages, and new artist homepages were added. The chronological discography was given a respray, and was hyperlinked along with the family trees.

Space issues and a lack of time to keep up the relentless torent of fictional releases led to the decision to wind up the RCE empire. A pared-down site arrived on 20th May 2006 (as part of the VIII(7) overhaul), with an introduction explaining the steps that led to the demise. Content from artist-specific pages was absorbed into their respective Strongesque Discographes, and sound files were removed. This is largely the version of the site we see today, albeit transferred to the domain in November 2008 (XI(1)). The only changes have been a reworked family tree, and an accompanying tidy up, on 5th June 2016 (XVIII(7)).