Welcome to this blog that aims to be an archive in many senses. It will be an archive of The Fabulous Dirt Sisters but it will also be used to tell the story of me conducting research about them.
The story of my interest in The Fabulous Dirt Sisters goes back to 2007. On one of my many trips to the Feminist Archive South in Bristol, then based in the backroom of Trinity Road Library, I happened upon a copy of their first record Flapping Out, which was released in 1986. Of course I was desperate to listen to it being a massive fan of all things feminist and music. Unfortunately there was no record player at the archive so I was disappointed, being left only to handle the object and wonder what noise would emit from the grooves when needle was placed to vinyl. Later at home I scoured the internet looking for references to this band but I was left disappointed. The world seemed empty of the Fabulous Dirt Sisters’ resonances.
Living in Cardiff at the time, I fortuitously mentioned my current interest, passion and frustration to a neighbour of mine, Pat Gregory, who had lived in Nottingham in the 1980s and had been involved in the peace movement there. She eagerly proclaimed ‘The Fabulous Dirt Sisters! of course, I have the record upstairs,’ which she duly went and fetched from her loft. Pat, unfortunately, did not have a record player at the time and was also frustrated that she could not listen to the music. She said, tantalisingly, ‘I can see them, but I can’t remember what they sound like,’ while still relaying how much she enjoyed the vibrancy of their music.
With a curiosity that rose to fever pitch, I left Pat’s house with Flapping Out under my arm and went straight to my room where I placed the record on the table and finally pressed the arm down. The sound emanated and I wasn’t disappointed. The music was quite unlike anything I had heard before. Teeming with personality and bizarre rhythms, it sounded like a Balkan Jewish feminist party from another age which finally I had been allowed to attend. Why do we not have access to this music now? I shuddered angrily to myself.
It was not until January 2010 that I managed to get hold of Kaffe Matthews, who was probably the most visible member of the band in the public eye, for an interview.
Having spun some incredible tales about the Dirt Sisters’ busking tours around Europe, which will be available at a later date on the blog, I was desperate to speak to the other members of the band to hear their part of the story.
In May I went up to Nottingham to meet with Karunavaca (nee Dorry), Stella and Deb where we shared curry and the memories of their lives in The Fabulous Dirt Sisters.