CELEBRATING A LOCAL HERO, AND THAT HERO'S LOCAL
Those of you who know me will know I talk a lot about the future and the wonderful possibilities it holds. I constantly urge myself and others to be entrepreneurial, to be positive and always strive, piece by piece, to improve our own lives and the lives of our families by moving forward. But every now and then, when taking a quiet walk through a familiar place, or listening to a song we haven’t heard in years…who can help but reminisce? Who can help but think about the great times we have had with loved ones?
In fact, it’s funny what can trigger sentimentality. In Oxford Square, in my hometown of Blackpool, there sits a spartan, no-frills European supermarket; but that’s not what I see when I pass it by. What I see is a bustling bar, what I hear is the laughter of a whole pub football team after a match. What I remember is the voice of a great friend, singing songs written by his own hand. That’s because on the very land that now houses an Aldi, an iconic Blackpool landmark used to stand. It was The Oxford public house, and its landlord was the frontman of one of Lancashire’s most acclaimed bands, The Stealers.
The publican was Dean Evans, who took over The Oxford in 2008 with his partner Penny. A wonderful couple, together they revamped the venue and put live music back on the map in the town, bringing in many brilliant bands, and giving up and coming acts a chance to hone their art. He possessed an impressive passion for rock music, which was a boon to culture in the area. Yet more impressive than this, was that his passion was present in every aspect of his life.
It was present within him right to the end of his life; just last year, he tragically passed away after courageously battling a rare form of blood cancer for an agonising six months. At the age of just 35 he had accomplished much and meant a great deal to many people, as was made clear by the outpouring of love and respect by his heartbroken family and friends following his passing. Many of them have committed themselves to carrying out charitable work in his honour. I, along with Rob Hill and Wes Evans, will be doing my part to keep the memory and spirit of Dean alive by organising a fantastic event to raise money for ‘Bloodwise’, the blood cancer research charity.
On Friday the 8th of December, for one night only, The Stealers will be reforming for a special performance at the Bootleg Social. Join us in celebrating the life of a local legend with a night of proper live rock music. Supporting will be Precious McKenzie and The Getsettes; tickets cost just £5 plus booking fee, and all proceeds will go to help Bloodwise improve the lives of those suffering with blood cancer and increase survival rates. Working together we can one day hope to create a world without such unforgiving diseases.
It is hard, when faced with such untimely loss, not to simply throw your hands up and shake your head in despair. There is often so much we have left to say, so much that was left to discover and share. For instance I only found out after he had gone that, like me, Dean had a keen interest in the history of piracy and was considered something of an expert on all ships that flew the Jolly Roger. He was even studying for a PhD in the subject!
So it is important, no doubt, to try our best to learn about people while they are here. Just as it is important to hold our memories of them in our hearts and appreciate what they have done for the world after they move on to the next stage of existence. I for one will be enjoying to the songs Dean wrote in a new light, and listening intently to see what wisdom he left for us written into the lyrics; especially the first song he wrote for The Stealers, Sleepwalker.
As time goes on, the wounds left by his passing start to heal, and his family and friends do move forward into the future. We will not be forgetting Dean and the impact he had on our lives. And when we gather on the 8th of December, to celebrate him, his talent and his bravery… we hope he will be looking down on us from the big jam session in the sky, smiling and thinking “Blackpool still rocks.”