Since we first opened our doors back in 2016, we’ve always said that 1000 Trades is all about the neighbourhood. Our little slice of Frederick Street is proud to welcome musicians, artists, DJs, designers, makers, comedians, born and bred Brummies, nomadic out-of-owners, ale-mad enthusiasts and that chap who strolls in just for one pint.
Over the next few months we’ll be celebrating the community that makes this place great. In the midst of a snowstruck Birmingham we sat down for a schooner with legend-in-chief Jon Harris.
Q: Jon – you made it! Thanks for coming in for this mischievously-named profile piece that compels us to have a drink. How are you?
A: I’m very well thanks, besides an unhealthy personal interest today in the likelihood of roads being clear of ice by the morning.
Q: We did have visions of you being stranded Day After Tomorrow style in the depths of snow-battered Brum. Has the city of a thousand trades always been home?
A: Yes! There was a very brief spell in Leeds, but I was born in City Hospital, so I don’t think you can get more Brummie than that.
Q: We’ll pretend we didn’t hear the Leeds part! Our regulars will know your face from behind the decks as our resident DJ at Pigeonhole. So how long have you been of the musical persuasion?
A: At the tail end of the 80s I was eighteen. It was the perfect time go out and see bands and listen to new music. I loved the Indie scene but was also swept away by house music. I remember a particular moment at The Click Club at Burberries on Broad Street. It was a Tuesday night when the DJ played ‘Pacific’ by 808 State alongside My Bloody Valentine. It all made sense to me!
My very first public DJ set was in 1990. I remember it well, upstairs at The Institute in Digbeth. The thing that always sticks out for me is ‘A huge ever growing pulsating brain…’ by The Orb going down particularly well.
Q: An apt choice, the 90s were heady days indeed. So that’s the beginning, give us the brief on what happened next…
A: Myself and Carl Morris played and promoted lots of nights over the next decade. From a Sunday night at The Brum Pub, the back room at Snobs, to being residents at Digital Dream and The Bubble Club. We were also residents at a great little club in Walsall called New World. We even set up a label called ‘Two Straight Roads’ that released quirky electronic music.
Family life and sensible job commitments curtailed my DJ activities for a while but the urge to construct sets and share amazing music has remained strong. A few years ago I sorted myself a space and put all my records and decks in one place. Nothing’s changed in the sense that I still spend most of my pocket money on records!
Q: Let’s talk our place. How did you come to bless this bar with your musical prowess?
A: I spotted the team were doing interesting things at the bar and saw an opportunity to revive my midweek night, Pigeonhole. We met up and talked enthusiastically about music and got a date in the diary pretty fast! I think we’re all keen to build things, perhaps aligned to the craft philosophy, to do things differently.
Q: If we’re buying you a drink during a set, what are you having?
A: I make a rule of never drinking when DJ’ing but I’m keen on their own brand beer!
Q: As our namesake goes, Birmingham is a city of a thousand trades. If you could pick one, besides what you do now, what would it be and why?
A: The one thing I wish I had is more practical skills to make things. I think being a carpenter would give the right balance of functionality and creativity – and allow me to listen to music at the same time!
Q: It’d definitely be useful while we renovate upstairs… Now we’re at the business end. Tell us what to expect from your New Years Eve set?
A: I’m on early so will resist the urge to play the Patrick Cowley mix of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel love’ and the other huge tunes of the time! Often people associate the 80s with white boys playing jangly guitars and synth pop, but I’ll include a spread of stuff from the decade that has that outsider feel. I started my last Nowham set with William Onyeabor and ended it with The Smiths. Expect the unexpected and I’ll set things up nicely for the rest of the evening.
Catch Jon Harris at NewHam, the special New Years edition of our credible 80s jolly. Free entry. You can find more information by heading over to our Facebook page.