Named after Ram Das’s tome, Be Here Now, the first real version of the band Here & Now played at Watchfield Free Festival in 1976, as a result of a very casual jam session between Stefan Lewry (Steffe) on guitar, Kif Kif on drums, Twink on synthesizer, and Keith th’ Bass on, well… bass guitar. After the success of the first jam, the band decided to play again later the same day; at which point 15,000 people turned up to watch. Amongst whom was Stevie Winwood and Viv Stanshall.
After being given the honour of closing the festival, they decamped to Bath and work on their material before heading off on a lengthy tour of France. On their return, they met Daevid Allen of Gong and their live collaboration became The Planet Gong, This rolling revue featured Here & Now with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and the addition of Suzy Blueshoes and Annie Wombat. During the French leg of the first tour, the band recorded a concert in Toulouse, which emerged as the album Planet Gong, Live Floating Anarchy 1977. They also found time to record the anthemic single, ‘Opium for the People’ in Paris.
Early in 1978, Daevid Allen collapsed on the eve of the second Planet Gong tour, so Here & Now had to carry on without him. Here & Now signed to Charly Records and late in 1977 released their first album, Give And Take. During this period the band undertook three major UK tours which were distinguished by being the first ever completely FREE tours of Britain. There were no admission charges, just collections taken to cover costs. Here & Now also found the energy to help provide PA, staging and lighting for the Stonehenge Free Festival every year.
Although the tours were all hugely successful, the strain of constant touring for free, their Stonehenge commitments, playing and organising festivals and the recording schedule, trying to balance the idealism of the original vision with the need to maintain the equipment and the tour bus, was too much. In the end, H&N put on paid gigs where value for money was paramount.
The band stayed on the cutting edge of the alternative music scene throughout the early 1980s, releasing self-produced tapes such as Stolen Moments, Coaxed out from Oxford, and albums such as Fantasy Shift and Theatre, which was produced by legendary producer Dave Goodman, of Sex Pistols and Never Mind the Bollocks fame.
Then, things started to go wrong. Stonehenge Festival was stormed and closed down by the police and the band decided to take a year off. Branded as “hippies” by the mainstream music press in the era of post-Punk, Here & Now were never accepted by the music industry establishment, despite their huge live following. Here & Now influenced a whole generation of post-punk free festival heads, including Ozric Tentacles and The Cardiacs.
Gavin left in 1990 to be replaced by Andy Roid. Daevid persuaded Keith, who’d been working parttime as Gongmaison’s booking agent, to come and play bass for an ITV Gong ‘Reunion’ show. This provided the perfect opportunity for Keith to reconnect with Steffe, who introduced drummer Steve Cassidy, giving birth to a new, potent alchemy and a truly wonderful album UFOasis.
Here & Now continued as a band through many line-up changes becoming the band you will see at Margate Rhythm & Rock 2019. Anyone who has ever witnessed a Here & Now performance will be marking their appearance heavily in their diary…
Keith Da Bass – Missile Bass / Vocals
Mark Robson – Keyboards / Vocals
Andy Roid – Synths / Vocals
Andy Burrows – Guitars
Gem Quinn – Drums