Thursday, November 29, 2018

Lucie's Lounge on Saturday

A photograph from Lucie's Lounge on Saturday: Bella, who makes art from slender stems of wire and who talked about her art (she has work in the open studios at Eel Pie Island this coming weekend); Robin Irene Moss, a songstress visiting from New York who sings of sibling love and rivalry and damaged butterflies; Lucie, the world's best rhythm guitarist (seriously), and me. The evening also featured the wonderful percussionist Sandira Michael who played along with Lucie with great verve and subtlety. The Bloomsbury Tavern's upstairs room, where Lucie runs her night, is a little jewel suspended above Shaftesbury Avenue; outside, sirens pierce the misty air and the London evening traffic roars through the streets. Inside, the fairy lights are up already and we sing along to Lucie's songs setting aside our cares for the night. Lovely.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

10th December Stageit Show

From the kitchen: come and join me from the comfort of your own home. Your own kitchen even, with a cup of tea! Photo by Ruth Tidmarsh.
https://www.stageit.com/helenmccookerybook/from_the_kitchen_single_launch_for_saturday_night_with_the_london_set/66345


Research Meeting

After two pretty hefty days of teaching (yesterday had some energising added extras, looking at a unique film work in progress in the morning and listening to a very interesting guest speaker in the afternoon), today I will forge a channel through the rain and head in to work for a meeting about research.
I have been collecting proof of having things published, which is what academics have to do. It's a whole other world to teaching because it involves hours of sitting by ourselves reading thinking, writing and generally being a detective.
I though it might be nice to stop. Although its exciting (a bit like being a word detective) its extremely time consuming. The book I finished earlier this year took eight years to write, and I timed an article that I wrote and it took 100 hours.
I would like a normal life.
Then a chapter on Oh Bondage Up Yours popped up. How can I resist? Somewhere in a box I still have a short interview with Poly that I never published. So I had to say yes to that one.
Shall I dress in a tweed suit today?
Have I got to that time in my life?
I have one on a hanger, but I strongly suspect that it has been riddled with moth holes.
Nope, rain splodge clothes for me.
I wish I had bought those wellies I saw in the charity shop the other day but it was sunny, and I didn't think it would ever rain again.

Photo from Friday Night

Thanks to Sarah for sending this and lots more! That was a great night.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Bachelor Boys

A true story. Joby, Nick, Steve and me. None of the boys wanted to play bass so that became my job.
A skifflish version of true life.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sarah Vista at Aces and Eights in Tufnell Park


The Aces and Eights, a pub opposite Tufnell Park tube station, has a bijou basement where Sarah Vista and her band host a monthly night with an DJ and invited artists. We first met at Drew Morrison's Country Soul Sessions where we were playing support to his band, Drew Morrison and the Darkwood, at their album launch. I loved Sarah's music that night and luckily it was mutual: they invited me down last night to play a set and it was an irresistible invitation.
The sound guy at the venue is proper- he asked us all to be quiet while he sound-checked everyone and that was pretty impressive. Having witnessed a sound engineer at a major London venue spend the entire gig on Facebook, such care and attention deserves a medal.
Sarah's audience is amazing- very male on this particular night but not always, stylishly dressed and very vocal, and also very sweet. They absolutely adore the band, and roar with approval at the end of every song, with lots of bantz between them and Sarah in between.
In fact, the posse in general is really lovely and genuine. Me and the girl crew who came along had some great craic with the tall cowboy Michael from Whitley Bay who sells the merchandise. He is really good fun and so is his husband Peter.
Sarah's music is well-arranged, tightly played and really shows off her songwriting, which is playfully dark and features coffins, poisonings and shootings, all delivered with spiky charm in a lovely clear voice with a husky tone and a hint of a yodel from time to time. I was intrigued by some of the chord changes, which had a definite Tex-Mex flavour that distinctly veered the songs away from straight country or Americana into a territory of tumbleweed and dustbowls, via the Holloway Road.
Jeff Meads on guitar, banjo and mandolin adds haunting atmospheres and textures to the mix, and Emma Goss on double bass carries the rhythm with excellent tempo, with just the right number of skips to show just what a subtle and confident musician she is.
This was perfect music for a dreich north London Friday. Take a look and listen here: https://www.sarahvista.com
It was very hard to follow such a vibrant performance but the audience were really up for whoever Sarah presented (thank you for such a positive introduction) and seemed to really enjoy my songs, even laughing at the little hidden jokes that people don't always latch on to. Those little snorts of laughter were much appreciated! And at the end, they made a collective vocal horn section and sang the trumpet parts of Freight Train at the tops of their voices (had they been practicing at the football yesterday afternoon?), which I swear you could have heard at the top of Hampstead Heath. They were brilliant; thank you for listening so closely and thank you for singing so magnificently, loud chaps; and thank you also loud women, and to my girl pals who sat at the back and sent good vibes all the way to the stage. I hope the couple from Whitley Bay who came along after seeing the gig at the Surf Cafe in Tynemouth last year, have a fantastic weekend of London partying too.
It was just a great, warm-hearted Friday night and I do so encourage you to go to see Sarah and her crew: you will love them. Live music RULES, believe me!

Lucie's Lounge

Tonight I'll be playing a small selection of my hits at Lucie's Lounge, upstairs at The Bloomsbury Tavern, London.
https://maps.apple.com/place?address=236%20Shaftesbury%20Avenue%2C%20London%2C%20WC2H%208EG%2C%20England&auid=1742283213250961945&ll=51.5168381%2C-0.125784&q=The%20Bloomsbury%20Tavern
There will be lots of other performers including the inimitable Lucie, at this bijou venue.
This'll be my last gig of the year apart form an online one in December.
Last night's gig was a brilliant night. Absolutely love Sarah Vista and her whole crew: amazing people. I will write about it tomorrow.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Hits tomorrow!

http://helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com


Aretha Two Ways

On Monday we mapped the dynamics of Say a Little Prayer.
One student wielded a pen, and other the stopwatch, and the rest of them shouted 'Louder! Louder' so the red line could ascend to a lovely mountain peak and then fall back again. Here is our map, from two perspectives:




Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Friday at Aces and Eights

Fortified by a constant flow of slimy throat tablets as recommended by Kenji and Ruth Arzy, I'm preparing for this gig on Friday just opposite Tufnell Park tube. Only a fiver, and Sarah Vista is a sight to behold with her wonderful cowboy (and cowgirl) band. I will have singles with me and some of the last remaining copies of The Sea. Bands 8-10 p.m. and after that a DJ set.


Cough Orchestra

Three of us- women- in the central part of the tube carriage, coughing characterful coughs, sometimes in unison and occasionally solo.
At one end, Mr Sneezeman.
Fifteen juicy squelchious sneezes before he gets his hanky out, then a very trumpety blow or two to punctuate the cough chorus.More sneezes, more trumpety blows.
Result? A perfectly orchestrated journey.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

For Joby, For Tomorrow


Women in Bands in Brighton Since the 1960s

This is a really informative article by D J Gremlin and Nick Linazasoro in the Brighton Evening Argus about women in bands in Brighton:
https://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2018/11/15/grrrl-power-female-musicians-in-the-21st-century-a-special-exclusive-report/?fbclid=IwAR01jRF5LfJnuk5aNGkk98jdBnkTZu8AWX2R6q0TqevAzlmUAm6i7VexaPo


King Kurt at the Con Club, Lewes

Nice to see the band together almost completely in its original incarnation at the Con Club, Lewes.
I've known the lead singer, Smeg, since he was a 16 year old whippersnapper in Brighton with his band Smeggy and the Cheesy Bits.
John Reddington, one of the guitarists, has now switched to sax because the original sax player now lives in Canada.
Pic by Jonnie Bones

Women's Brains

What a mega-ginormous surprise! A 'research' study is being promoted by right wing newspapers that has found that women's brains are little pink fluffy things, while those of men are complex shiny hard machines built like cruise missiles.
How extraordinary! What a coincidence that following on from #metoo and Trump's misogyny (supported by Republican women who have sons, apparently), we are being sent back to our sewing and kitchens and Girl Power (thanks, Spice Girls).
What a hoot that Andrew Neil can poke misognistic fun at the extremely talented journalist who has brought down Cambridge Analytica, and not be punished for it by the BBC! What a man! What a journalist!
I spend any idle hour that's not spent coding washing machine programmes or switching the electric kettle on (f*ck it, that's a difficult one!) dreaming up parodies of the way that 'enlightened' men mansplain their feminism to me and other women.
Angry?
Not me!
That's a male prerogative!


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Last Night at the Bass Culture Expo

I took a change of direction, a change of destination yesterday evening; I'm so glad I did.
Tucked into the bowels of the concrete block that is the University of the West on Marylebone Road is an enormous hangar-like space where the Bass Culture exhibition is housed- for another week, I think. It's an exhibition of large, beautiful photographs of black British musicians, or musicians who came to London to record, part of an archive put together at the instigation of the researcher Mykaell Riley who once was the percussionist and co-singer in Birmingham reggae band Steel Pulse.
Last night's event was put together by the equally energetic and inspirational Jacqueline Springer, and it featured Mykaell hosting a panel with Dennis Bovell and Viv Albertine, with the Lover's Rock singer Jane Kay appearing on a giant screen at regular intervals throughout the evening.
The story built up: the contrast between the parenting of The Slits ('none of us had fathers, and me and Ari had slack mothers') and Janet and Dennis, whose parents had Victorian values. Prospective suitors and musical collaborators had to ask permission from Janet's father before they got to date her or work with her, and Dennis's father, despite being an avid Desmond Dekker fan, refused point blank to let this 15 year old guitar prodigy son play in Desmond's band, even though Desmond came round specially to ask (he was kept waiting in the garden, apparently).
Viv described Dennis laying out matchboxes, glasses and ashtrays on a table and weaving a remarkable thread of percussion through the track New Town on the Slits' Cut album; Janet talked about singing with Aswad, and both of them talked about Silly Games being a hit before they even realised. Ari walked in to the Slits' recording session at Ridge Farm with a ghetto blaster on her shoulder with the track blasting out on the radio; Dennis had thought they might have another go at the vocals before it was released. He described Janet cursing him because she had to sing that very high vocal at the end of every set, when she was tired out after an hour's singing.
All of them spoke about the dangerous seventies, and the subject of Rock Against Racism cropped up: Red Saunders, its founder, was sitting in the audience. Eric Clapton tried to shrug his comments off as a drunken rant, and even to deny it later on, but there is a narrative about it in Christopher Partridge's book. Christopher Partridge was a white man dating a black woman at the time, and they were actually at the concert where it happened. He described exactly how they both felt, and it's excruciating to read.
And the violence! Viv's mum used to come to meet her at the tube station with a knife in her coat pocket.
Despite some hair-raising stories (so very 1970s), it was an entertaining and very warm-hearted evening. I sat next to Katy Carr and we chatted to Viv afterwards about family meltdowns after bereavement, which is something we have all experienced.
I understand that the reggae choir is to play there next Thursday; now that will also be a wonderful night.




Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tomato Soup

Okay, okay.
It's good for the environment and the bank balance to take your own soup to work.
What nobody tells you is that it will take 45 minutes to clean the colour and the smell out of your flask later on.
Or to try to clean the colour and the smell from your flask.
It's still on the draining board soaking in a bicarbonate of soda solution, but I don't hold out much hope of a fragrance-free future for me and my flask unforchly.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

She-Punks Début Screening

Well, we had a sell-out night last night. Thank you so much for coming out in the cold rain to warm our hearts with your reception to the film!
Pics show: Jane Perry Woodgate who joined us for the panel, embroidering a memorial tapestry for a friend, just before the screening started; the audience at the beginning; Gina thanking Doc'n'Roll for adding us to the festival season; and two pics of the panel with Karen Shook as moderator, Gina, me and Jane, taken by Sarah Mathius.
There was a very lively discussion afterwards between the panel and the audience.
It was so busy that I didn't get a chance to talk to everyone, but it was lovely to see members of The Shillelagh Sisters, the Mo-Dettes, The Slits, The Adverts, The Raincoats, The Nipple Erectors,The Ettes, the family (joke), Feral 5 and numerous members of The London Set. Sadly there was no live music like when we played at the British Library screening; there wasn't time but we'll do that another time.
I hadn't realised till yesterday afternoon that I had lost my voice. I was trying to buy a lint roller in Robert Dyas and opened my mouth to say 'thank you' and only air came out, no sound. Mainlining Fisherman's Friends did the trick, but sadly I missed the jolly pub follow-up because by then the volume had been completely turned down. Today I can whisper but alas, I've had to cancel tomorrow morning's workshop on Northern Soul. Shame: a good dance about on a Monday morning sure could help to drive the blues away.
Hoping to have more screenings soon!









Friday, November 09, 2018

Ruth Barnes, Soho Radio

It was great to speak to Ruth yesterday; her show is going up on Mixcloud and I'll let you know when.
We talked all things She-Punk, and also about Saturday Night with the London Set and The Chefs, and lots of other things off-air. Ruth is a great broadcaster and a podcaster too.
Here we are after the show. Note the manic gleam in my eye; early tutorials, lecture, guest presenters, work meeting...  radio interview.
TGIF, and I'm SO looking forward to the screening tomorrow!
Next week, everything goes back to normal (i.e. mad).


Thursday, November 08, 2018

Poison Girls, Punktuation and Joby and the Hooligans

This photo is by David Peacock and must have been taken towards the end of 1977: Poison Girls, Punktuation (Vi Subversa's 14-year-old son's band) and Joby and the Hooligans all playing on the same bill.
We were close to them; Sue, the bass player from Poison Girls, lent me her bass to play before I had my own. The bass had belonged to the Buzzcocks (Sue was from Manchester too), and Vi Subversa lent us her son on drums. Vi was a real encouragement to punk bands in Brighton (how could you not play in a band, if  40-year-old woman was fronting a punk band on guitar?) and she used to listen to Joby's views without being offended, and respond in such a way that she actually changed this mind on some things.
She taught me that sometimes it's really good to shut up and listen, not to judge, and then to respond thoughtfully after processing what has been said (maybe I need to remember that!).
She was very good at listening, and I don't think before I met her that I ever felt really listened to. She almost acted as a pressure valve in the Brighton punk scene and she was missed when she left for Essex with the band.


Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Chefs on Gideon Coe

Nice bit of support last night: Gideon Coe played Records and Tea by The Chefs and announced the screening of Stories from the She-Punks on Saturday. Big thanks, Gideon.
I also absolutely loved the music he played by this band, Grand Veymont:
https://grandveymont.bandcamp.com/album/grand-veymont


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Feet On Earth

A day of marking student work tomorrow.

Dave Hammond's Smelly Flowerpot

Thank you for the plays for the Saturday Night with the London Set single; I am looking forward to a trip to Cambridge in January to do an interview and play a few songs on his show.

https://www.mixcloud.com/daveyhammond/the-smelly-flowerpot-on-cambridge-105-radio-05-11-18/?fbclid=IwAR1KamJTK9MJiF5QiWoYHwe_FZXBVBt3G8NBL6nlCeuBARcHIhqJOlysnUg

Jo Good Show, Radio London: She-Punks

We did this, this afternoon:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06nwwvh

Ticket link for documentary: http://genesiscinema.co.uk/GenesisCinema.dll/Booking?Booking=TSelectItems.waSelectItemsPrompt.TcsWebMenuItem_0.TcsWebTab_0.TcsPerformance_13955640.TcsSection_4496269


Joby Again

Hard hat after The Village People, and later copied by Peter from Peter and the Test Tube Babies, who was an ardent fan.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Joby

How sad it is. I was talking about you this afternoon Joby, about that silly cul-de-sac you lived in with those idiots who sent you to jail for playing your music loudly all the time. And the time we went up to Sussex University with our guitars and begged Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers' manager to let us play a few songs at the beginning of the evening, and he said no, so we got really drunk and then he changed his mind and we got up on stage and you sang in one key, Steve played in another and I couldn't even see the fretboard of the bass and they pulled the plugs on us!

Back there in the punk times there were a lot of horrible and harmful people about but you always, always treated me with respect.
It was the best fun being in a band with you, and getting into scrapes and out of them again.
You were a proper chum and I am very glad never to have lost touch with you.
You were funny, fearless, bonkers and dangerous all rolled up into one.
I will never forget you clenching your arse in those tan tights with no pants when you hit the high notes- the bass player sees it all from the back of the band!
Sending you more love than you can possibly imagine Joby.
Rest in peace, you old bugger.






Five Ay Emm

I woke at 5 a.m. and started to think of challenges for the MA students. By 6.50 when the newspaper plopped through the door, I realised that sleep was done for the night.
Early in to work, I think I worked out how to send the BBC a link to the documentary (fingers crossed).
This morning's workshop was on psychedelic music and we listened to Rotary Connection, Soft Machine, Curved Air ,and even by accident The Turtles because the Frank Zappa link wouldn't work.
The mountain of getting Shoplifting cleared for the film is half-climbed; it's a work day so can only drop in on emails, but I'm hoping for more progress each time I log in.
This afternoon, the history of recording technology and its intersection with pop music production.
Lunchtime: packed lunch (early risers have time), The Fatback Band, and wondering if it is true that I arranged for a chap to come and film an interview this afternoon about the Brighton punk scene.
All will become clear later today, no doubt.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Fatteeg

There scarcely seems time to breathe at the moment. We did interviews over the last couple of days- Talk Radio on Friday and Resonance yesterday. All exciting and fun, but I'm low on fuel.
The last signature for the music copyrights is wending its way over to the publishers this weekend, and then I hope we'll be able to sign the last music contract.
The computers are saying 'no' to sending the promo films (don't they always?) so that's a bugger.
I was supposed to do a Skype interview this afternoon which didn't happen. Maybe the person who asked to do it is just an e-ghost wafting about in the ether, hitting on busy people for fun. I wasn't wearing Skype-friendly fashions anyway this avo, just a Sunday t-shirt and a Sunday face to match.
Instead I looked in my email trash and discovered that I have been hacked and have to pay 850 bitcoins to stop the hackers (there are two separate ones) from sharing the porn sites with my loved ones that I habitually visit. Unless the e-ghost has been doing this on the sly, my bitcoins are safe (I haven't got any anyway).
Mixing documentary-making with two jobs is completely knackering. I have poor sad bedtimes, and would feel anxious but there simply isn't the time. I sent a whoosh of vinyl singles out last week and got the vintage Gretsch out for a spin just in case my fingers forgot what they were for. They were delighted to have the exercise, and thanked me with a new song which sadly, my brain can't add lyrics to at the moment, although there are some scribbled biro meanderings slipping off the page in a book next to me on the chair that I'm slipping off.
Outside, attention-seeking fireworks are whooshing and banging like nobody's business.
Go away! I'm tired and not at all impressed by your futuristic endeavours!

Friday, November 02, 2018

Photograph of the Desperado Housewives by Peter Tainsh

From The Harrison last Sunday. Jude, Kath and me.

Doing Interviews for the Stories from the She-Punks Screening

Vanessa Lobon, from Doc'n'Roll, Gina and me went to Talk Radio today to be interviewed by Matthew Wright about the film. There are a few radio interviews coming up and this was the first one.
We have been moved to the bigger auditorium, which means there will be more tickets available.
The ticket link is here:
https://www.docnrollfestival.com/films/stories-from-she-punks/
We also did this interview with Cazz Blaise a couple of weeks ago, and it's just been published. Tomorrow afternoon, we are off to Resonance FM to speak to Dexter Bentley.
https://www.thefword.org.uk/2018/11/stories-of-the-she-punks/