Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ramblings and Music-ings

Thank you to everyone who watched the Stageit show last night. The decision not to use the Facebook platform was deliberate; we seem to be channeling everything through that, and there's a sense of being gobbled up by an application that's refusing to be accountable. It doesn't seem like a good idea to belong too uncritically to an organisation that misuses data. That being said, it's almost certain the other global tech corporations are going to find themselves similarly called to account (!).
The problem with Blockchain tech seems to be that it will only work for people who have established their reputations already- and how will they do that?
That's enough uninformed speculation.
It has been a morning of musing and music-ing. It's nice to be writing a song that appears to be flowing smoothly, after going through that weird creative thing of being jealous of one of my own songs. After writing that particular song, a nice piece of music with rubbish words came along, and then some good words with no music (and they didn't fit together). Then one morning last week, I woke up and words and music both arrived at the same time. Just what I needed.
Today, first a family thing then more lecturing and tutorials. I still can't believe that the philosophy lecture last Tuesday was so boisterous and such fun; it's an absolute joy to work with people who love learning!

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Daylight Music with the Catenary Wires

There is so much out there to enjoy: last weekend featured Ian Button at the Country Soul Sessions, the fab club run by Drew Morrison and Alex, his partner.
Robert Rotifer was in Ian's band and it's always great to see him contribute his chord wizardry to people's songs: the year has been dovetailed by watching him with Judy Dyble in January, and Ian in December.

Saturdays are Daylight Music days (although they are taking a break now until January). Yesterday's was impossible to miss: the chance to hear The Catenary Wires' songs through the crystal clear sound system at the Union Chapel was enough to get the laziest Saturday slob out of bed and into the Union Chapel with a cup of tea and a slice of home made cake. Now they are a three-piece, Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey with additional harmonies and keyboards from Fay Hallam, and they flex that sound to its fullest extent.
They started with a song aimed at their local MP Damien Green, through the lens of the #MeToo movement. Was That Love's piercing words managed to make poetry out of shame, to all the better effect:
'I was trying to find a way to say no'.
Many women know that feeling.
I loved their rendition of Dream Town, which effortlessly glided into and out of sections of lovely harmonies. Great song writing! I'm hoping some of it will rub off on me! (I'm just about to immerse myself in an intensive song writing session).
To celebrate the release of their label WIAIWYA's Christmas compilation, they were joined for their Christmas song by Whoa Melodic on tambourine, who had kicked off the event sporting a bright green Christmas suit, an acoustic guitar and some very catchy songs.
And they like Slade.
Next, Liverpool's Jonathan Hering built up a twelve-part early music chant that pulled the mind's ear back to Medieval times of chilly abbeys and monks in hessian garb; we were pulled into his world more and more as his voice headed upwards into cool falsetto, icing the cake of layered harmonies from bass upwards.
 Finally the Ho Ho Horns (a group of eleven French horns: shades of the twelve days) played a lovely warm-hearted set of music, swapping lead roles with each player swaying gently in their own time to make a subtly undulating visual articulation of their complete absorption in the music.
They reminded me of the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra in New York, who did exactly the same thing. You don't see rock bands doing that, ever. Maybe you need to be classically trained in order to completely give up your ego and submit to the music? This was such an original sound: it's a great instrument and to find eleven of them playing in one place at one time more than makes up for the buses that don't turn up then all turn up at once, and the loss of two parents (a HANDBAG?).
Daylight Music is absolutely brilliant.
Hats off to Ben for running it for ten years, and also for the poorest cracker joke (i.e. the best) this year:
What carol do they sing in the desert?
O Camel Ye Faithful.





No More Mr Nice Try

Something about the march of Tommy's Twats has given me the energy of a furious rhinoceros today.

I went to the ICA to the zine fair that Offsprog One has a stall at, and I was getting her some water at the bar when I saw a chap with a brilliant shirt that was made of lots of checked shirts sewn together. He came up to the bar and I plucked up the courage to ask him where he had got it from.
'New York' he said, then sneered unnecessarily, 'Nice try!'.

At home I have three great checked shirts from when I was in The Chefs. One has a crap collar, one has crap sleeves and one has a crap body...
So.
I used to re-sleeve shirts when I was in my 20s: because why not?
That's what I plan to do this evening.
Nice try, Mr Not-Nice Guy.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Santas in Islington

Islington was thronging with posh Santas, many of them with backpacks, this lunchtime.
In the shopping centre, a cry went up:
'Whaddawe want?'
'Christmurce!'
'Whendawewannit?'
'Now!'




Friday, December 07, 2018

I Didn't Meet The Buzzcocks, But I Brushed With Their Aura

It's that guitar solo: it totally took/takes the p*ss out of every single overblown guitar solo that has happened before it or since.
Once Spiral Scratch came out, you knew you were OK because punk had  a sense of humour as well as a sense of disruption and fury.
The first bass guitar that I ever played belonged to the Buzzcocks.
Sue, the raven-haired bass player in Poison Girls was from Manchester and had somehow acquired it and lent it to me for the first few Joby and the Hooligans gigs. It was a deep red semi-acoustic with f-holes, and it was magnificent. It was a bit like being given a magic wand to play; every time I touched it, I glowed. It was hard to give it up for the little Jedson, cream with white scratch plates, that I bought later on and it was the best way to start, honestly.
The washing up job in the French restaurant meant that I missed many of the punk gigs in Brighton but attended by default.
The night of the riot at their Brighton gig, a local drummer turned up at my house at midnight bearing a cymbal that he had nicked from them. I think he felt guilty and needed a witness to what he had done: he looked very sheepish on the doorstep.
Later, I met a chap who had rolled one of their amplifiers into a multi-storey car park with one of his friends, and hid it behind a car until the furore had died down.
I had mixed feelings about this, because Buzzcocks were clearly not prats. Someone said that their roadies had been really heavy, and that's what made things kick off, but I felt it was a bit weird to nick stuff from your own. It would have bene different if it was Led Zeppelin or one of the other poncy dinosaur bands, I thought.
They were like the boys from school, weren't they? Pete Shelley was a good guy.

Photo of Poison Girls below via Pete Fender: and that's the bass. I wonder if it was Sue who invited Buzzcocks to play in the Vault? She knew them quite well I think.


From This Month's Bass Guitar Magazine


Shanne, Emily, Gina and me in Bass Guitar magazine; Jane Woodgate also played on Gina's track, which is available here: https://storiesfromtheshe-punks.bandcamp.com
There are two tracks up there which we are selling to raise money for music copyrights- pay as much as you like/can and big thanks to those who have supported us so far!
We may have a screening in Lisbon, in which case we will need to buy the 'foreign' rights. Yipee, more negotiating with rude interns at major publishing houses!




Saturday Night with the London Set

New video by Peter McAdam aka McDada for Saturday Night with the London Set!

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Monday Night 8 p.m.

Last gig of the year, straight from my kitchen. Despite what it says on the page, this begins at 8 p.m. Long time since I've done one of these, but not everyone has Facebook so it seems better to do it this way! The way it works is that you sign up in advance and pay what you want.
Me and the mice, with hopefully no marauding Offsprogs this time around!

https://www.stageit.com/helenmccookerybook/from_the_kitchen_single_launch_for_saturday_night_with_the_london_set/66345


Poe

There is something very Poe about this morning.
Out the back the trees drip with condensed fog, a few bedraggled yellow leaves hanging sadly from their branches.
Almost hidden, three blackbirds perch silently waiting for nothing.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Women of the World

Thank you to everyone who turned up to sing on the day, and who sent mp3s from far and wide. This was recorded almost two years ago. Still raising funds towards the music copyrights for the documentary. More news coming....

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Car Key

My car has three flat tyres. Having three flats, it is in E flat major but that's not much use in a  car.

Holly Golightly at The Lexington

The Lexington last night was rammed and buzzing; everyone was really excited, dressed up to the nines and ready for the Holly Golightly Christmas gig. Word was that she is really on form, and the word was right.
With a Guild guitar in hand set permanently to tremolo, a double bass player, an ace guitarist and an ace drummer, she led us by hand through dark swampy-textured music with shades of Northern Soul and Bo Diddley; her songs of love and loss were sung in a unique, sweet voice that could ramp up the power whenever she needed it. Boy, can she carry a tune! Languid and charming as a front person, she allowed her band plenty of rope to contribute their own styles to her songs, while still being authoritative and utterly engaging. There was rhythm, there was space, there was emotion, melody: everything to keep you with them through a mesmerising set. One of the best things about Holly is that she hasn't got pop-star-itis. Her between-songs banter is down-to-earth and still definitely English although she now lives in the US. This inspires a huge amount of affection from the audience, who roared along with a lot of of the songs- and Debbie Smith could be seen dancing very enthusiastically at the side of the stage. Fave song of the night was I Can't Stand It.







The support band were fab too; more on that later!
Got her album and can't wait to listen.


Working on a Sunday

Sometimes I wish I could lose this sense of responsibility. I think it is an older sister thing, and I wish it would go away.
Why am I working on a Sunday?

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Drawing Again

Inspired by the first talk at the FM2U event at Rich Mix this morning, I left and tracked down an elusive promoter, then came home to do a bit more of this. More writing and colours to come. More later.