Monday, October 30, 2017

Thursday Night at the Thunderbolt, Bristol and MyEighties Broadcast

On Thursday, I'll be playing at The Thunderbolt with The Charlie Tipper Conspiracy and Karen. Tickets from bristolticketshop.co.uk (cheaper in advance though there will be tickets at the door).
Charlie Tipper will join me on the stage at the end to play our version of Femme Fatale, which we recorded last year in aid of Refugee Action:


Also on Thursday night, there is a Wasp Radio broadcast by Sarah Lewis, where she interviews people who were active in bands in the 1980s about their five favourite tracks; this starts at 9 p.m.
Sarah writes a lot of books about the 1980s music scenes; many of them are interview-based and give you a great insight into the people behind the music. He website has a list of what's available: https://www.my-eighties.com


Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Desperado Housewives at The Harrison

So much happens, it's hard to keep up, but in a good way. I have spent a large part of today writing a lecture and wishing I knew more about philosophy, but at the same time feeling glad that I don't, because of a suspicion that it might make me argue my way out of doing anything apart from sitting in front of the TV with a tub of vanilla ice cream. Only just catching up with last week, and this picture is of Kath Tait at the Desperado Housewives gig on Thursday evening. It was a very low-key affair but there was something very heartwarming about it all the same. We sit in a row and take turns to sing a song, so the mood changes gear every three or four minutes. Jude Cowan, the other one of the three, has a new repertoire of songs about animals in India. I particularly liked the one about seagulls following the boat across the sea; all of them stimulate your imagination, and you can picture the heat and the atmosphere as she sings them. Kath's songs are poignant and witty; it was seriously worrying to hear about the diminishing count of old-lady-sisters at the 252 bus-stop as winter progressed. I almost cried with relief when she sang the punchline: they had been hibernating! Phew!
It's an intimate venue, so the audience were close by and gently heckled and sang. Lovely to see Snezhina and Karen and friend, and quite a crew from Scaledown too. All three of us left with a  glow in our hearts, and some idea of doing a small tour of Ireland next year. Yes, let's.

Slap!


Writing, Barnet

I have just put on my grey lecture-writing jumper.
Somehow, I am going to trace a line from Chaucer's Pardoner who sold fake pardons to gullible pilgrims, pretending his cache of animal bones were the bones of saints, to Jean Baudrillard and his idea of hyperreality.
Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Walking, Hove

Sometimes the only way to escape the tyranny of the computer is to leave the room, leave the house, leave the town and leave the city. Living is not interacting with a screen: it is walking, looking, listening and being in the real live world.
On a still evening on the Hove seafront, peculiar things happen. Busy Lizzies lie in obedient lines, awaiting the compost vehicle; people get married; a crow tries to balance on a lamp-post before being frightened off by a cyclist ('Sorry, I scared the bird away', said the mobile scarecrow; but I'd managed to take the photograph before that happened).
The sunset! 
The sea was like a huge slab of sapphire toffee being melted by the setting sun.
And then I went for a delicious Thai meal in a pop-up restaurant, and then I went to Lewes, and then I went home.
And here is the computer, sucking me in again....







Penetration

I never saw them back in the day (washing dishes in a French restaurant to make money for art materials) so this was an absolute joy. Pauline, what a singer you are! The venue was sold out and the band sound proper punk. Rob has a great, strong bass sound (a bit like Andy Warren's from the Monochrome Set), the drums were sharp and punchy and the guitars made a wall of sound behind Pauline's fierce voice.
'We're going down the front to listen to our girl!', said someone in the girls' bogs.
Yep, she does us all proud. Go to see them, you must. They are playing Bristol, Derby, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow and they are absolutely storming.
(Couldn't resist taking a snap of the punk dog)
Sorry for short review, knackered but happy.



Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tonight at the Harrison Bar

Gigaholics presents Jude Cowan Montague, Kath Tait and Helen McCookerybook at The Harrison Bar, King's Cross. An informal evening of women song writers working if different styles:
http://harrisonbar.co.uk/event/gigaholics-3/?instance_id=1940

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sleeping Barbers Shop


Supporting The Nightingales and Ted Chippington



Wednesday was drizzly and dull, the perfect night for pickpockets and n'er-do-wells and the perfect night to play an East London pub down an alleyway. Round the table sat various Nightingales and Ted, examining menus and waiting to sound check. Oddy, there was a slight Gentleman's Club air to the pub lounge: something to do with the wing chairs, perhaps. The hanging about before the gig bit was nice. I like talking to them. Luckily, the three bean salad had more than just three beans in it; there must have been around 50 in there, which was a good omen. The venue manager even conjured up a cup of tea in a beer glass. Now that's keeping the artist happy!


Downstairs through a warren of corridors with mysterious black doors, the sound engineer was setting up; in the box, the sound was good, the lights were snazzy and it looked like it would be a good night. Upstairs, it was filling up: Katy, Wilky, Andy, Jaime, Cheri, lots of people who like Peel-scented artists had come out to play, or rather to listen. I finished the chilled chips that the guys had kindly guarded, then went down to play.
You know, I had such a great time. On one side of the stage were Fliss, Cheri, Dolly, a little crowd of grrrls, and on the other was Katy, singing away at the top of her voice. It can sometimes be unnerving playing to a lot of people you know, but other times you just get swept away by the energy, and its massive fun. Thank you for being so supportive, audience!
Ted came on next, and actually made me yell with laughter at his description of the neighbour who is so scared of him that he wouldn't come out of his car after his shopping trip, and who phoned the police because the frozen food he'd bought was going to melt. And the slugs! Everyone has a slug story, but only Ted tells them on stage; nobody else values slugs enough. The little slug, patiently making it's way through the cat flap across the hostile carpet so that it can eat the cat food, that's everybody's kinda slug. Bless!
So, to The Nightingales. What a power-packed quartet. They just get better and better; their songs are the aural equivalent of rockets shooting across the stage from one person to the other, ricocheting from Robert to Andreas to Fliss to Jim. Robert rediscovers his lyrics anew every time he sings 'em; he raises his arm to each band member in turn, and fishes a Swanee whistle and a kazoo out of his pocket at just the right moments. Andreas and Jim fire riffs at each other at astonishing speed, and Fliss: what can I say about Fliss? She is just incredible, and she is quite possibly the best drummer in the UK: she is a proper musical drummer.
Fireworks! They had new songs, even a rockabilly one, and they actually stopped playing after one song: this is unheard of. The audience clapped after they had got over the shock.
Bang! The gig was over. Dazed, we went home.
Tonje and Peter were on the train home, and we shared stories of snails, of course.
I have taken the liberty of posting some of Peter (Tainsh's) photographs. The Nightingales moved too fast for my camera, although I did manage to take a pic of Fliss's cymbal!

Jim Smith; Fliss Kitson; Rob Lloyd; Andreas; me. All by Peter Tainsh











Friday, October 20, 2017

Thank You Kenji Kenji

I am looking forward to seeing Friedrich Sunlight playing at The Lexington on Sunday 19th November.
I met Kenji Kenji a couple of months ago at The Lexington when a door to a whole new music scene continued to open- and to welcome me in. The Lexington is like the new Moonlight Club.
This is a link to his interview from Super World Indie Tunes; and thank you Kenji Kenji for saying such nice things about The Sea!
https://superworldindietunes.com/2017/10/20/super-world-interview-time-kenji-kenji-drives-us-bananas/
And listen to this; it's gorgeous:

Review of The Nightingales/Ted Chippington tomorrow; been taking time out nursing a bit of a cold tucked up in bed with a Scandi Noir paperback. Rather a nice relaxing day, actually.
Meanwhile I have fallen for this gorgeous dog, who I met the other night at The Sebright Arms and who dragged his owner over to say goodbye after I made a fuss of him earlier on.
Awww.




Stop Press! Stoke Newington Music Festival

I did this one last year- and look at the line-up of Sunday. Frank Chickens! Helen and the Horns supported them at The Fridge years ago.
Do please check out their website because there are some fantastic acts playing- Tall Poppies and even Janet Kay (what a coup: one of the best voices in the UK!) and of course, Hank Wangford, Fran Isherwood and John Hegley.
Someone has been very persuasive to get this lot to come out to play!
It's a charity event, see here: https://stokenewingtonmusicfestival.com




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Addison Brothers by The Bitter Springs

I never did get around to properly reviewing the launch for this single at The Lexington the other week. It was a brill gig, with the ever-hilarious Asbo Derek supporting Vic Godard and Subway Sect, who now feature the producer Ruth Tidmarsh on bass.
It was a wonderful warm-hearted night with a lot of witty bantz from Vic on stage. He is spending his Post-Office pension on the label, Gnu.
I love this song. Sometimes Vic joins the band on stage to sing this. I chose the one with legs because it reminded me of the first Curved Air album that everyone said hypnotised people but it didn't.
The b-sides are painted because there's something wrong with them, by Mandy Prowse, Vic's partner.
Reminds me of sitting in my Willesden bedsit aged about 23 with a bunch of pals painting King Kurt's paper single covers for their first single, Zulu Beat. An era of one-offs has returned, not before time; back then, I took a load up to Edinburgh and the record shop stuck them in the window straight away.
We wouldn't have known the word 'marketing' if it flew out of the sky and bit us on the bum, but these things work(ed). I chose yellow and blue for The Chefs t-shirts in Brighton because I thought tourists would like yellow and blue, and they did, and the t-shirts sold out.
Ha.






ToNightingales! The Sebright Arms!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Colm

I heard today that Colm O'Rourke, one of the longest serving sound engineers (and later recording studio manager) at the University of Westminster, has died.
This is terrible upsetting news. I remember when he first started his job; he had moved from being a virologist to being a sound engineer, and his team were affectionately known as 'Colm's Ladyboys'. Later, two students from the same cohort, Danny and Vince, died within a very short space of time; a couple of years further on we held a wake, and Colm's contribution was a moving performance of a song he had written, and words of such perception and affection that he managed to sum up with huge sensitivity the feelings of the 40 or so graduates who had come along.
It is so very upsetting to hear the news that he has gone too.
I saw that he has had a family and although they must be distraught,  I do feel glad that he had the good fortune to become a father. He had dreams of Ireland and he shared farmland with his brothers; he talked about it with such excitement and enthusiasm!
I can't describe how important Colm was. Life in academia can be stressful and maddening as well as extremely rewarding. I used to go down to the music basement every working day, just to say hello to Colm because he was always so nice to talk to.
He mastered The Chefs CD that we released on Damaged Goods because he had bloody good ears on him.
He's just one of those people that you can't believe isn't there any more. Oh, how terribly sad.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dammittt!!!!

As I put the final flourish to a hard afternoon's slog of preparing lectures for next week, I knocked a mega cup of tea all over the computer keyboard. The mouse was literally floating about in a sea of tea.
Aargh! It's on the radiator drying out, now.
Why am I so clumsy?

On Wednesday with the Nightingales and Ted Chippington


Seven Miles Out and Fun Up The Junction

Never let it be said that life is devoid of adventures.
Last week was spent listening to vinyl that has been tucked away in boxes, all over the house. Many of the seven inch singles have tiny scratches from when they were kept in a basket, and a litter of kittens used to sit on them and tuck their little paws into the paper sleeves to keep them warm.
It was a week of good fun listening and a fair bit of dancing round in the kitchen; I'd set the turntable up on the side, with the ghetto-blaster attached with a couple of dodgy wires, so that the kitchen units acted as bass bins. This was a trick learned from the old house, although the cabinets there were less full, and therefore functioned better. Still, once I'd pinched the wires a couple of times to connect them properly, it was all systems go.
I packed the lot into a bag, and also packed the guitar because Kevin has asked me to do a short set. kevin Birchall and Linda Yarwood DJ all over the north west of England and had extended an invitation that couldn't be refused, to play a selection of post-punk records at a Venue called Seven Miles Out.
Into the car, and off! Roundabout halfway there, the battery light came on and wouldn't go off. By the time I'd got to the M6 toll road, a warning light was flashing and despite an attempt to get to the Services, the indicators failed and I had to pull over on to the hard shoulder: by that time the brakes had also failed and I had to what fro the car to roll to a stop.
From a grassy bank, I called the AA and had to resort to writing poetry about kingfishers at Hampstead Ladies' Bathing Pond in a little book, as a distraction from the heckling van drivers and horn-honking HGV drivers. How very useful of them! And how pretentious of moi! (it did work, though).
The AA man was tattooed, and an AC/CD enthusiast. He was thrilled that I'd taught Bill Bruford's son. We talked about Black Sabbath and Phantom of the Opera (his wife's fave) as he located an alternator at a supplier that was just about to close for the weekend, towed the car there and fitted it. What a stroke of luck! Thank you AA man: may your life ever revolve around Heavy Metal!
This was the first time a Friday the thirteenth had behaved like one; and on arrival at Stockport, I discovered that the internet booking site had published the wrong postcode for the hotel. I almost cried as I sat in a backstreet trying to be patient with Reception, who later said that it was impossible to get to the venue, Seven Miles Out, by car, so I rushed there on foot with my bag of records, and left the guitar behind because it was too heavy to carry all of it. Of course, he was wrong, and Linda very kindly drove me back to the car park to pick it up.
One of those days don't always turn into one of those nights, though. The venue owners John and Rosemary could not have been kinder, and Linda and Kevin could not have been more welcoming.
Seven Miles Out is a gem of a place: it is next to the old Market in Stockport and it's decorated inside with graffiti with a strong Frank Sidebottom influence (he wrote a song about the owner, John). Kevin and Linda DJ together, and were playing a lot of stuff out of my own collection (Delta 5, The Fire Engines) which was a good sign. There was a chap there with some Chefs vinyl that he wanted signing ( a rare occurrence- I think the last person who did that was Shippy about ten years ago).
I played a very short set of songs (including Let's Make Up) then did the turntable thing, playing a selection of songs from the following list:

The Monochrome Set The Monochrome Set (I Presume). Of course, this was the first track so it jumped!
The Associates Ice Cream Factory
The Dollymixture Been Teen
Carmel More More More
The Farmer's Boys Whatever Is He Like?
Depeche Mode Just Can't Get Enough and New Life
The Rezillos Flying Saucer Attack
The Passage XOYO
The Nightingales Paraffin Brain (I think it was that one but I took two)
The Band of Holy Joy The Aspidistra House
The Teardrop Explodes Reward
Joe Jackson Stepping Out
Animal Nightlife Love Is Just The Great Pretender
The B52s Rock Lobster
The Flying Lizards Money
Die Doraus Und Die Marinas Fred Vom Jupiter
Aztec Camera Walk Out To Winter (also jumped!)
Scritti Politti The Sweetest Girl

(I played more than this, and some are probably wrong).
Who made people leap on to the dance floor? Depeche Mode!
Claudine, at the PR company who worked for them, affectionately nicknamed them 'depressed mood', but boy did they write good music. On the way home today I was singing their records in my head, and every tiny synth motif is completely easy to recall; Vince Clarke is extremely clever.
Carmel was also a dance floor hit, and The Rezillos. It's impossible too remember much but the next day my sides were aching, and I realised that I had been dancing along at the same time as playing the records. I'd forgotten what a good track Love Is Just The Great Pretender was. They were in a rehearsal studio once and I was completely starstruck.

Afterwards I had a really nice chat with the owners, who are campaigning to stay there, so they can provide a home for the sometimes 50 ukulele players who turn up on a Monday to play Roxy Music covers, for Kevin and Linda's nights, for Graham Marsland's nights (Bitter Springs, you should send a copy of The Addison Brothers to him because I think he would like it; would have given him mine, which I intended to play, but I like the hand-painted legs on the B-side too much to part with it). Gentrification is rumbling towards them like a relentless juggernaut, and you can support them at www.stockportproducehall.co.uk so they get to have a little bit of control over their own destiny.
A million thank-yous to Kevin and Linda and to everyone who came along!

On Saturday, I drove over the beautiful moors to Goole, where I joined Mick, June, Laura and Danny Whitfield for an ice cream before getting lost again on the way to the next hotel (45 minutes to drive a five minute journey). This time, it was the satnav's fault. It had a major breakdown later on in the evening, where it displayed a series of fetching jittery red lines and arrows, before giving up the ghost completely, but Mick came to the rescue and we got to Junction Goole in time for the concert by Eduardo Niebla.
In the first part of the evening, Eduardo was joined by Matthew Robinson on Spanish guitar, Willemijn Steenbakkers on violin and Dharmesh Parmar on Indian tabla. We were sitting right at the front, and I think Finn McCardle would have loved what Dharmesh was playing. The music was gorgeous and it was difficult not to leap up and dance; the tabla complimented and echoed what was being played on the guitars and the violin soared over the top; it made me wish that I knew more about music so I could steal some of the chord sequences, but ignorance has kept me honest.
After the interval, Goole's School of Rock, the East Riding Theatre Choir, and the band that Laura plays in, Ukulele Junction, all crowded on the the stage and performed two of Eduardo's compositions, songs based on the poetry of Ian McMillan. They were lovely to listen to, beautifully arranged and played: it felt like an honour to be there. At the end, Eduardo gave every performer a pannetone, which he had stacked up on the stage in the interval.
Laura, you were great!
Thank you to Mick and June for getting a ticket for me.
And today? Up at the crack of dawn and a very smooth and uneventful drive home down the A1, my favourite road and probably the subject of the next song, if what I sang into the phone is any good. and this afternoon? Writing lectures.
Next thing? Supporting the Nightingales and Ted Chippington at the Sebright Arms on Wednesday. I'm on at 7.45 and then I get to watch two really excellent things afterwards. Namaste!











Bristol Show

Coming up soon! And will write about this weekend (and last weekend) l8r today: got to write a lecture for tomozz.
Advance tickets for this gig are available at www.bristolticketshop.co.uk




Friday, October 13, 2017

DJ-ing in Stockport Tonight

It will be great to see Kevin and Linda again tonight; I have been invited to play post-punk vinyl and do a short set at Recordsville Social, 20 Market Place, Stockport starting at 8 p.m. tonight. It's free to get in!


https://www.facebook.com/events/374806452937315/?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%2222%22%2C%22feed_story_type%22%3A%2222%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D&pnref=story

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Kitmonsters Review of the Nasty Women Event

This is a great overview of a really busy and successful weekend by Terry Tyldesley:
http://kitmonsters.com/blog/nasty-women-uk

Helen and the Horns, Katy Carr, Honey Birch: Lexington Review.

So, Sunday night was brilliant.
We started off with a warm-hearted, humorous and powerful set from Honey Birch, who has done very few public gigs. I knew she could be trusted to play a great set after seeing her supporting The Raincoats and Angel Olsen at The Assembly Rooms in Islington, and she was even better on Sunday. Her voice is consistently strong without being overpowering, and she sings songs that reflect her life experience so far, but that still have a resonance for anyone regardless of where they are on life's journey. Every teenager swings between extreme angst and self-assurance, and Honey's art (which is elementary for more experienced performers than her, but rare in someone of her age) is to tap into the angst for the song writing part of her life, and into her self-assurance for the performance. Playing a pink and blue guitar, she defied gender stereotyping and won over not just her friends in the audience, but also those lucky enough to catch her set who had come to see Katy or Helen and the Horns. I was delighted to se her mailing list filling up!

Katy had broken the odds to get back from Poland, and her set was utterly different from Honey's, but just as engaging. On keyboards or ukulele, she brought different parts of Polish history to life without the audience realising just how much they were learning, because of course Katy is a consummate  musician, a multi-instrument playing songwriter whose pop and electronic sensibilities merge perfectly with Polish folk music influences to make a completely unique sound. Her soaring vocals pulled us into the emotional trauma of prisoners of war, and the bear who was a mascot and who drank and smoked along with the soldiers: so many characters populate her songs! Katy has been playing a lot to the Polish community recently, and this night was a chance for her to regain her audience of Londoners (and a couple of chaps from Leicester, but more of that later); in this she succeeded magnificently. Wow.

So our bit: slightly differently, this was a gig of nostalgic pleasure for us (although we played a couple of arrangements of songs from The Sea album in the set). The Horns are sounding really good and I just felt really, really happy to do this gig with them.
Right now, I'm definitely a solo artist; it's what I like best, but there's nothing like being submerged in the sound of this band as a treat from time to time. I could hear people singing along and the music all just flowed: it's funny to be able to remember everything all these years afterwards, and it does seem to be a pity that only alternative people like John Peel and our first record label 'got' what we were doing at the time because our music was so positive. I was really chuffed when Damaged Goods released the compilation a couple of years ago because I don't think there is a band in the world that sounds like us! Sorry to blow our own trumpet (ahem).

The whole idea of this night was to share our music not just between ourselves, but also with our different audiences, and I think this worked incredibly well. The audience was remarkably and unexpectedly star-studded (shouts to Gaye Black, Lester Square, Gina Birch, Ana Da Silva, Karen from the Gymslips, Shanne from the Nipple Erectors, Karina from Mike Flowers Pops, Andy Diagram, Eva Eden and more people who I can't remember, and who I hope won't be Bad Fairies at the Christening in future). And shouts to the two guys who drove down from Leicester and who spent the whole night smiling and loved Honey's and Katy's sets too. I hope you enjoyed your stay in That London and got back home safely. And shouts to everyone else in the audience, of course, and the poor people who got stuck on public transport, my student who came to sell the CDS, and the crew at the Lexington (what a place!) and especially to Delia, who is an amazing woman.

I missed the last train home, even after belting up Pentonville Road with the Green Goddess on my back, a bag of vinyl and my holdall. I caught a bus in the end and chatted to Roger from Forbes, and then on the next bus, to a homeless man called Trevor. I got home very late.

Thank you everybody,

Monday, October 02, 2017

Look Yes I Will

Yes I will write about it, it was great, and star studded and everyone had an amazing gig and went home smiling!
But I missed the last train home and by some miracle got the bus part of the way with Roger, then the rest of the way on a bus with homeless chap called Trevor who first of all tried to get money, then almost got thrown off the bus for drinking, then tried to chat me up to get a bed for the night.
Oh, I'm so tired. Four hours sleep then went to work today.
Review later in the week.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Helen and the Horns Tonight: The Lexington

I've given the Green Goddess a set of new strings, will iron the new dress (made by the extremely talented Wendy May) and I'm just about to memorise the words for Back Street Luv. Yes, Helen the Horns go psychedelic with a cover of the Curved Air hit! I learned it to play with Vic in Brighton a couple of months ago, and the challenge to do an arrangement for the band was too great to miss. I have also arranged Summer Days from the new solo album, plus we will be playing lots of the older stuff.


Honey Birch, Gina's daughter, will kick off the proceedings at 8.30, Katy Carr has flown back from Poland specially and will be on at 9.10, and then we will be playing at 10 p.m.
A great place to shelter from the rain, and a true one-off night!

Tickets here (and on the door of course): http://www.wegottickets.com/event/411451