Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Shanne Bradley

Yes- her name is Shanne Bradley, not 'unknown woman', and she formed The Nipple Erectors and auditioned Shane McGowan to be in her band. She was one of the first punks and saw The Sex Pistols play at St Albans Art College in 1975.
Just thought I'd mention it.

Mike Flowers Pops

Went to see Mike Flowers Pops last night- what a fantastic night! I couldn't find their best ones on Youtube so have substituted an original for now: Beautiful Balloon and The Candyman were arranged and played exquisitely with perfect collision of sentiment and pure emotion. What a thing to pull off! Loungecore rules!
More tomorrow including pix.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

In Support Of Musicians Against Homelessness

I’m playing to support @Musicians Against Homelessness #MAH2017, please text MAH to 70004 to donate £3 to Crisis and help homeless people in the UK this winter.
I wrote this with clear lyrics that a child could sing and understand. Thinking about those people in the camps, as well as the people on the streets in our cities, towns and villages. How have we allowed this to happen?

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Hull O'Rileys

This was the last gig of my tour and the first for Vic and Subway Sect. I was all set to feel rather sad because I've had such a great time on the road for the past few months. At first sight, the venue was like a sort of youth club- and it is indeed a boxing club part of the time. It had a bit of a feel of Whitley Bay Ice Rink about it.
Mick, June and Laura had come to pick me up, and when we went in, Subway Sect were sound checking and Mandy was setting up the merch stall. Andy, the promoter, had bought a kettle for £3.00 especially for Vic, who only drinks tea. This was a good move, because that's what I only drink too, so the omens were positive from the start. The DJ was Doodlebugnuggets, who did the Furley and Co. gig in the summer and who has immaculate taste- a smattering of Northern but lots of good other stuff (many thanks for the Mixtape link from Furley and Co. https://www.mixcloud.com/doodlebugnuggets/doodlebug-nuggets-freetownway-3/).
The place is huge, but has perfect sound. I couldn't see the audience, but was heartened to have people join in with The Sea, and indulge in a bit of encouraging heckling here and there.
Afterwards, I realised that Ian Damaged and Duncan had come down (Damaged Goods has a warehouse in Hull) with a bag of Chefs CDs.
Subway Sect took to the stage, Vic had s sip of tea and off they went, in their inimitable way. Mark is playing guitar at the moment, and I was extremely impressed by his ability to scratch his nose mid-solo without losing a beat, carried by the sustain on his guitar. As the band hotted up, Mandy started dancing and soon we were all at it- even Richard Cundill, although he pretended he didn't want to. I understand Ian is a rare dance floor visitor too, but there he was, and in fact there most of us were, using energy we didn't realise that we had, Laura too, all with big smiles on our faces.
We sat down for Hand Job, and nobody but me seemed to notice Vic asking Kevin if he was going to play it on the organ.
It was a right laugh, and they deserved the encore they got after getting so many lazyboneses to their feet. I only wish I had remembered to take some of the curry they had offered with me at the end of the show. All I had to eat was a poppadum, and by lunchtime the next day I was starving (don't even ask about the 7 a.m. train back to work, the visiting lecturer who had to cancel at the last minute, and all the other worky things).
Off they went to Sunderland, Newcastle and Manchester (they hadn't booked the train tickets yet, I believe). I hope we get to do some more gigs together next year, because it's been a good laugh to gig with such great people. Maybe some song writing, perhaps.....

Friday, December 08, 2017

Christmas Eve Airplay

Something to listen to on Christmas Eve! Big thanks to Ralph's Indie Show xxx
Review of Hull O'Riley's to follow (what a larf), been very tired due to travelling straight form Hull to Stratford for lecture yesterday, transferring ProTools files today (lot of swearing at the computer by Jono did the trick!), working on the doc with Gina and copious watching of NCIS this eve.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

O'Riley's, Hull Tomorrow

Last gig of the tour tomorrow which is sort of sad in a way, but it couldn't be with a better crew- it's a support slot with Vic Godard and Subway Sect, and although a mega-cold is looming on the health horizon like a wall of huge clouds, I'm shoving it to one side until next week.
Almost all the spare time I have has been spent writing lectures and doing other University based stuff; sometimes recently it's seemed as though the weekend is a distant concept that only other people have. I thought song writing would cease to happen but it hasn't and it's managed to carve out a tiny space in bits of spare day that used to be filled by watching TV or going to the shops for a bar of chocolate. I almost fell off a cliff when the Apple computer upgrade deleted all the Notes and in spite of trying to get them back (they had saved to a Yahoo account and weren't on the hard drive) almost all of them are missing and the rest consist of the titles only. Goodbye to them; I will just have to think hard about the information that was there, and how to recreate it. It's not the biggest disaster in the Universe.
As usual, this blog posting is being written when I should be doing something else. Everything's packed for Hull but I'm lecturing this afternoon. Kettle on for coffee, than I'll rev up the brain cell that is functioning, and get to work.
Toodle pip!

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Article in the f-Word

This has just been published in the f-Word; Katy and me sat in her flat and had a talk about song writing one morning. We have often discussed ideas for songs with groups of friends as a song-circle, and we still meet up when we can even though Katy now spends a lot of time in Poland. Each of us has an entire album of songs inspired by our conversations, and it's been a great way to support our writing.
We did a gig together at The Lexington a few weeks ago (and Honey Birch played as well) and this chat happened some time around then. Big up Cazz and Jane for this!


Saturday, December 02, 2017


An Amazing Singer

This is Bridgette Amofah, who came to the University of the East on Thursday to talk to the Professional Practice students about her life as a singer and song writer. She graduated from the University of the West a few years ago and has worked as a solo artist, sung with Brian Ferry and is now singing with Rudimental. It was a completely inspiring talk and the students loved her. The vid shows Bridgette singing one of her own songs in 2013:

Stratford Nativity

It was only there for a few hours, but Saint Nicholas was watching over the Nativity Scene with one of his reindeer on Thursday in Stratford.

Friday, December 01, 2017


I'm writing a fantastically defiant hymn (or rather herm), to sing every morning, a bit like school assembly but just me and the birds out there in the frosty dawn. I've nicked the melody from a song called Don't Mention their Hands that was written for a musical pantomime version of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus over a trillion years ago.
There are post-it notes all over the table and the best thing about a private song is that you can sing whatever the hell you like, as loud as you like and as often as you like.
Ha ha!😀

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Creepy Paper Doll

One Saturday morning a week or so ago, a creepy paper doll appeared on the window-sill. It disappeared for a while, then turned up on my doorstep late at night. I left it there, in spite of the fact that I thought it might be trying to get in to the house.
Next morning, it had gone and I assumed that its owner had collected it on the way to school. No sightings for a few days, then just a way down the street, it appeared again, renewed and smiling its horrible green smile.
Creepy doll, I wish you peace and tranquillity, and a return to your creepy doll mama as soon a possible!
(just stuck it in the recycling bin)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Come Down and Meet the Folks, The Horseshoe

I've just got in from the gig at The Horseshoe. Thank you to Alan Tyler for inviting me down to what was a convivial and heartening evening in a pub that seemed to come straight from the old-fashioned world before anything horrible happened. If people had been smoking, we could have been in any era from the 1930s onwards, really. Chaps nursed pints, crisp packets rustled and there was even a baby in the corner; and various Rockingbirds were in attendance.
Alan and Patrick were playing their own songs when I got there, and the regulars were singing along with them and clearly enjoying themselves immensely. I like the song about the barge in Deptford, because I have been to lots of parties on the Creek before in another life: it was an evocative and gentle song. They harmonise beautifully and play and sing as one warm-hearted whole.
How much nicer it is to wander into a pub in Clerkenwell, plug in the guitar and sing to the assembled punters, than to slob in front of the telly watching repeats of TV shows that I didn't even like in the first place! There was a great punters chorus for The Sea (one of the better ones of the tour, if not quite the volume of the Bristol crowd) and I really, really enjoyed playing.
The headline act were Alden, Patterson and Dashwood, who had travelled from Wales although they actually hail from Norfolk. They feature Dobro, guitar and fiddle and their music has that woven-together, shifting folk Americana feel with a combination of traditional and self-penned songs. Their sung harmonies were lovely and the acapella song was light and airy; they were the perfect group for an evening with loyal supporters who defied the harsh winter chill to come out and enjoy live music, trusting their host to provide them with an evening's entertainment twice a month. Here is their website; they've got a bit of tour left to do, and you might catch them: https://aldenpattersonanddashwood.com

There was a bonus, too: I had been venturing out this week to search for a venue for a gig with the Charlie Tipper Conspiracy (who have now changed their name to Arrest! Charlie Tipper). I'd looked at the Betsy Trotwood but thought they might not fit in there because there are so many of them, but Rocker said they'd played there before, so that was going to be my first stop. Coincidentally, tonight Patrick invited me to play there anyway, and said they'd had a seven-piece there a couple of days ago, so I hope we'll do a gig there together in the New Year.
As McDad used to say, it's a great life if you don't weaken; there are songs in the pipeline, Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat (but I'm not going to eat them), I made a huge macaroni cheese that will last all week, and I have a huge pile of crime novels to last through the winter.
And there is chocolate in the fridge.

Landing Gear Engaged

I have a gig late this afternoon/early evening at the Horseshoe in Clerkenwell, and after that, one more at O'Riley's in Hull, supporting Vic Godard and Subway Sect.
Then, apart from some low-key dates, I have a lot of writing to do plus finishing the film with Gina. I have a feeling that I won't be tempted to do any more academic writing after this; sitting still is such hard work and I've just been loving playing so much.
I am planning another tour next year, and very possibly another album; I have played more than 30 different places since May and have enjoyed every second of it, even the scary bits like having the brakes of the car fail on the M6 on the way to Stockport.
Look out for more kitchen videos and concerts; not playing is boring!

Saturday, November 25, 2017


On Wednesday I updated to the new fancy operating system which has obliterated four years of Notes, including stuff for my next book, details of venues across the UK, and most awfully, info from a two-hour work meeting on Tuesday night.
I don't send stuff to the Cloud because it is not a fluffy innocent wet-weather feature, but  a gigantic computer in Switzerland or somewhere that belongs to people who I don't know. So after a little private gig last night I sat for more than an hour pasting code into Terminal to try to retrieve the lost data, all to no avail. I would scream and panic, but what's the point?
All sorts of other stuff was happening yesterday including knock-on effects of the Oxford Street incident, and I'm glad it's today, today.
Tomorrow my brain might be working enough to remember most of what we said at the meeting, and write it down with a pen on a piece of paper, and if it gets lost it will be my responsibility and not Apple's.
Then I have a nice early evening gig in the Horseshoe in Clerkenwell at 6.00 p.m. at a folk evening, which will be a nice gentle end to the weekend. I'm supporting Alden, Patterson and Dashwood, and entry is by donation.
Tonight? Tea and TV, which I haven't watched for centuries. Anyone know what's on?