The G-Men

Nic Scott – drums
Steve Harkins – guitar / vocals
Micky Skinner – bass / vocals

I have found very little info on-line about this Carlisle band. It is a pity, as I really liked them and their music. They were playing around Carlisle about 1983 or 84 if I remember correctly, it was before Nightmares or Havana Affair anyways. I used to go to a few of their rehearsals near to St. Nicholas Bridge on a Saturday afternoon and marvel at the guitar skills of the guitarist.

At the time I was really into The Clash, The Jam and The Who and The G-Men used to do covers of those bands. I mean not just covers (like I used to do, a loose interpretation of the song) but they sounded like the records, note for note, riff for riff. I used to study the guitarist’s chords and instrumentals, he used chord inversions that I never knew about and I used to go home and look them up in my chord books. It was a Master class. I do not mind admitting it, I was in awe of his musicianship, I wanted to be as good as him! Anyone who could mimic Townsend’s guitar style was ok by me! Anyone who had a guitar sound like Weller’s was sounding good to me.

I made a fool of myself one night at Micks 1, blind drunk I went back stage and told him how I admired his playing and thought he was a great guitarist. He kindly gave me a talking too, but still I think he was what I had said. Why not give praise when praise is due? A local roll-model for a young lad learning to play guitar, a roll-model not taken from the national newspapers, TV or magazines but someone the boy can have a chat with face-to-face, and discus what he was interested in.

A lot of the bands in Carlisle passed me by, but I tried to go and see The G-Men when they played. They played Carlisle’s Great Fair Stage late afternoon on a Saturday. For those who are not from Carlisle, this was when the city center became a medieval market for a week, where stalls and events reconstructed the historical markets of Carlisle’s history.
I am not sure how punk groups played a part in a medieval market? But one saturday afternoon about 5pm The G-Men played along with a few other bands. I requested The Clash’s song “Stay Free” which I knew they did a really good copy of, they agreed only if I get up and sing it! Up I jumped on stage and warbled my way through Mick Jones’s lyrics. It probably sounded bloody awful, but for me it was heaven, singing one of my favorite songs with a band I admired, and singing to Carlisle, not bad for a youngster.

I am not sure what happened to them, at one rehearsal I knew there was problems with the bass player, as he would not play! I am not sure how they split up either… maybe Nick Scott could give a write-up one day?

Many thanks to Nick for sending me this photo, if you look behind the Marshal amp at the back of the stage you will see a young lad, sitting down next to the drummer, who was in awe of the guitarist, sitting behind the scenes admiring the music of the G-Men!

scog gmen

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Author: ethnopiper

A Ethnomusicologist and musician of traditional music, Small pipe maker, teacher and workshop presenter ... https://ethnopiper.wordpress.com/

10 thoughts on “The G-Men”

    1. Rob is in Southern Ireland now, Dingle, i think. He left Carlisle with a guitar and madolin under one arm and an amp under the other. I have not seen him for many years, but he is doing well. Those bum bongos were brill.

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  1. The bass player, Micky Skinner, went on to further musical greatness playing bass ( sporting Campbell -tartan dinner jacket)with the legendary, category – defying but always entertaining Dangerous Dining Club, from about 1987 to 1990. Like many a committed muso before him, marriage seemed to clip his wings, & he disappeared off Scotch side somewhere…

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    1. Cheers Gonzo, i used to go to some of the Dangerous Dining Club’s gigs (Jovial Sailor, Caldewgate), I knew Jeff, I did not realize Mickey was the bass player! Small world, i remember the bongos were the bottom half of a manikin doll…inventive band. All the best to Micky if you see him.

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      1. The bold Skinner has emerged from the Gretna woodwork & is set to claim some of the many beers I owe him at a gig in Brampton on the 26th. We’re lending moral support to a band of local fools called Loose Cargo, mutual friends from way back in the day. I shall pass your greetings on ☺

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  2. I think the singer was a lad called stuart. I used to go round to his flat on Warwick Rd with my mate Chris . I was very into the clash and the jam at the time. I had a shot at trying to sing with them but I’m not good enough. I know he was a pal of scogs who also came round so I am sure he will know who he was. As for the bass player it was about 34 for years ago now so no clue there.

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    1. Thanks Bob, much appreciated. If you do not mind how about writing your side of the Carlisle punk scene, your involment in it. it would be interesting to include that. cheers anyways.

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