Saturday, June 24, 2017

Gig At David's Music in Letchworth

I hope you don't mind me nicking your photograph Andy! Thank you for welcoming me back to Davids, which is thriving and has expanded to have its own café and is still stuffed to the gills with all sort of wonderful records and books.
This was the first time I've stopped a gig for being too loud (out of courtesy for someone ordering some Simon and Garfunkel CDs) and started again when the transaction was finished. What a thrill to be in the same category as heavy metal! I also liked the guy behind the till reading the lyrics from the lyric book along with the song I was singing at the time. All this and back home in time for lunch; perfect. If you don't already know about David's Music shop, and live within striking distance of Letchworth, I thoroughly recommend visiting not only the shop but Letchworth itself, which despite some modern trappings ( a Morrison's and a Wilko's) still has a slight hint of Ladybird Book about it, and a general air of relaxed friendliness and quirkiness in equal measure.

Friday, June 23, 2017

No Peanuts, No Sitting

The heat conducted me through town this afternoon, and I happened to pass through Oxford Circus.
Amplified music signalled a pause in the journey: there, a fabulous sight greeted my eyes.
We are all still sinners, but the 'No Peanuts, No Sitting' man has changed his modus operandi to an infinitely more dramatic and arresting trajectory.
I'm not sure whether we are sinning more, or whether his performance art hasn't been appreciated by Arts Council England (is he serious?) but he has upped the ante considerably.
No longer is he a soberly dressed man in a mac with a little dark blue nautical cap and steel-rimmed spectacles parading piously through the crowds of shoppers. Oh no!
Probably inspired by an illustration in a frayed plastic-covered 1960s library book, he has fashioned a kind of leprechaunish costume: a hat, bright emerald-green shorts, and glaring red braces. I'm not sure where the idea for the large Star of David on his chest came from, but it's there in the mélange. All of this is topped by the sandwich board, mounted on a device to hold it way up above his hat so we can see what it's all about.
The loud music that had pulled me to a stop was a sort of improvised Jimmy Shand hybrid whose accordions tumbled out a senseless rhythm and rambling Scottish-ish melody; no-peanuts-and-no-sitting-man was bouncing around in time to the music, revolving manically with a fixed grin on his tense jaw, feet twanging out horizontally in turn from his raised knees in a parody of an Irish Jig.

Oh London, your joys are ever bountiful!
If you don't believe me, go and see for yourself.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Poster, New Dates

Juts as I finished this poster I got another date offered to me, in Bristol in November with the Charlie Tipper Conspiracy. A good excuse to make another poster in a  couple of weeks' time.
So this weekend: lunchtime at David's Records in Letchworth (playing at 12.00) and then early evening at the Surf Café in Tynemouth (playing at 6.30).
Please do come along to say hello and listen too!
I will not be travelling by dog cart.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hot Cross Bunnies

I am not going to email anyone else at work until the heatwave is over; the replies in scolding tones to quite innocuous communications are getting quite tedious!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Days, Oh Sometimes They Get Too Warm!

Helen and the Horns Gig, 1st October at the Lexington

If you like(d) us, put the date in your diary while I sort out the ticket link (might take a week to do).
It will be a special gig and I'm looking forward to dusting off the old songs and giving them a blast, and I think The Horns are too.
We don't look like this any more, but we do sound like this:


My smartphone isn't that smart. It's decided that my fingertips aren't fingers and it no longer accepts instructions from them, unless I use the sides of them, which are covered in proper skin and not guitar-player's calluses.
In some way this feels like a triumph, but in some ways not.

Pigeons, 2017

'Stupid bugger, you steooopid bug-ger, you styoopid bugger...', chanted the wood pigeons from the bushes as I struggled up the hill in the heat with my guitar.
'Am I?', I wondered out loud, but I don't think they heard me.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Barnsley Festival

After playing what must have been the coldest day of 2017 for the Hoxton Radio broadcast at Spitalfields Market earlier this year, Saturday was the hottest day of the year so far (exceeded by today) and Barnsley town centre was thronging with people with a drink in one hand and various glowing areas of sunburn that I think were going to make their Sunday rather painful.
The Live in Barnsley Festival takes place in most of the central pubs in town, and music was flowing from what seemed like every single hostelry when I got there mid-afternoon, including plenty of punk covers; it was easy to tell what was close to this town's heart.
Barnsley is a lovely place, dominated by a Town Hall that looks as though it has been borrowed from Berlin, and a rusty iron pronged sculpture that local music expert Kevin Osborne, who invited me to play at the festival, described as The Nit Comb. Children were frolicking in the ornamental fountains and the streets were spotless: there was no litter anywhere and it was almost like walking into a film set.
The White Bear pub was where I was due to play; a band called the Magic Flute played before me and I really enjoyed their music- their sound was a sort of hearty, beefy heavy metal with a bit of Bellowhead thrown in to the mix, all delivered through proper songs, and obviously greatly enjoyed by the crowd.
Thankfully I have given up being fazed by following on from entirely different genres of music (or comedy, poetry, whatever) partly because of playing such diverse nights in London over the years. I could tell the sound engineer had good ears and that's all you need, really. The pub remained noisy but it was their afternoon out, and there were enough people down the front listening including a posse of lick-stealers who I caught in the act, some appreciative children and some very smiley people in general. I just thought there was a great atmosphere.
Thank you to Kevin for putting my name forward and for all his help, and for the photo. I think it's Heaven Avenue I'm playing.

Lagging Behind

I'm not doing that well on keeping this updated, am I? It's not only busy at the University of the East but I'm rehearsing for the Asbo Derek launch (mostly unfamiliar songs) and trying to keep abreast with gigs stuff too. Later I'll post some photos that Kevin Osborne sent me, of the gig in Barnsley but for now I am an office body sitting waiting to do some tutorials and with a reference or two to write.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dusk In The High Street

Live In Barnsley

I am delighted to have been invited to play the Live in Barnsley festival tomorrow. I will be playing at The White Bear pub at 5.30 p.m. and I'm looking forward to it very much!
Here is a link- there is loads of music happening and it's all free:


I read a review of the film that really made me want to go; then I saw the people in West London helping each other with food, clothing, accommodation, friendship and love and I thought, 'We don't need fantasy wonderpeople because they are around us anyway'.
This is the absolute antithesis of Tory self-reliance. Who is going to rescue you, who is going to cure your illnesses, who is going to educate you, if you have no money?
On the news broadcasts, we are seeing resistance through kindness, and through example, ways of being that are beyond description in mere words and far, far beyond political policy.
This is deeply moving.