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Blog: Ruth From Po!

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Earlier this week I heard the awful news that Ruth from Po! had passed away. I knew she'd been ill for a while and that things had recently got worse, but it was still a horrible shock to find that she'd gone. I didn't know her particularly well or anything, but she'd been a huge influence on my life (as she had been on MANY) and was a complete hero several times over, so I just wanted to say a bit about how much she'd meant to me over the years.

The first time I ever met Ruth was about 100,0000,0000 years ago in Leicester when I accidentally bumbled upstairs in The Mag one night to find Po! doing a gig. In fact it was this gig here in this video!

Here in the future it's entirely normal to find video footage of a gig you went to, but seeing this from 30+ years ago did my head in, although not as much as actually BEING there did, for LO! it totally and completely blew my tiny mind. I had vaguely heard this sort of music on the radio late at night or in other people's record collections, but actually BEING there in this tiny room above my favourite pub was ASTONISHING. As the video shows, they also sounded AMAZING and I couldn't believe that this was just some PEOPLE doing a gig as if it was a normal thing to do, while playing HIT after HIT after HIT. It remains one of the best gigs I've ever been too, partly because of the shock of it all but mostly because it was so GRATE.

Afterwards I shuffled round to the side of the stage to buy a copy of their album 'Little Stones' off the bass player - this was the legendary Mr Gary Gilchrist who I have since spent MANY hours in pubs with, but who has to me ALWAYS been "Gary from Po!" and thus a figure of AWE. The album was just as brilliant as I hoped - their version of "All I Really Want To Do" is still my favourite - and the very idea that you could release a record YOURSELF, without having to ask for permission, was a REVELATION. Really, that was the beginning of me realising that if you wanted to play gigs or put our records or any of that you COULD. It wouldn't necessarily be as AMAZING as that particular record but, apart from getting hold of some CA$H, there wasn't anything else to stop you.

After that I kept an eye out for future gigs, but they hardly ever seemed to happen. I bought subsequent albums, which were GRATE, and was astonished to find out that Ruth had been part of the Alan Jenkins Diaspora (that's not one of his band names, but it very easily could be). I delved into the Leicester Music Scene and made all sorts of LIFELONG PALS, and a huge part of me doing all that was the inspiration of that one gig.

Many many years later in 2016 I heard that Ruth was out and about doing gigs again, so found an email address and asked if she fancied coming to play at Totally Acoustic. To my amazement she was completely up for it and came down to play ANOTHER of my all-time favourite gigs EVER. As the blog says, I couldn't quite get my head around the fact that RUTH FROM PO! was actually THERE in the same room as me, playing all those amazing songs that I'd loved so much. I must admit I had A Bit Of An Old Cry!

You can hear some of them on the podcast of that night, and some more from when Po! came to play the next year and then again in 2020. All of those shows were incredibly emotional for me, and I had a REALLY hard time picking which songs to keep in!

Not long after that Ruth was an inspiration all over AGAIN when she started up the Unglamorous Music project. Seen from afar this was a BRILLIANT idea where she basically got together women who'd THOUGHT about joining bands but had never got round to it and then got them to FORM bands. This resulted in a sudden explosion of GRATE BANDS and, even more importantly, a sudden explosion of JOY. It got covered in all sorts of media outlets because it is clearly a fantastic idea that brought happiness to many many people, and it was a source of GLEE at my end to realise that this was the person who'd already inspired so many of us so much just getting on and doing it AGAIN in the same way. As before she showed that if you wanted to be in a band you did not have to ask for anyone's permission, and that is pretty much as PUNK as it gets.

I don't really know how to end this to be honest - all I really wanted to do was to express how much Ruth had meant to me over the many years, and how brilliant it was to have known her, if only a little bit. I know she wasn't just Ruth from Po! but that was the person I knew, and I'm very very glad I staggered upstairs in the pub to see her all those years ago. Thanks Ruth!

posted 18/10/2023 by MJ Hibbett

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What a wonderful post! I missed Po! The first time round but after meeting Ruth through improv and hearing her casually drop that she had done a Peel session with her band, soon discovered how great they are. And I was lucky enough to be badgered by Ruth to form one of the Unglamorous bands (despite the fact she tricked me there on the premises of helping in the workshops!). It is so wonderful to hear new reflections of other incarnations of Ruth. She was the definition of remarkable and will be missed by more people than she could have ever known.
posted 18/10/2023 by Sophie

Ruth's blog is charming.
posted 18/10/2023 by drive by url dropper

Such sad news. It's entirely possible I was there with you, Mark, and if not that one it would have been another. Unglamorous is a brilliant thing to leave behind alongside the music.
posted 19/10/2023 by Chris

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