Monday, July 30, 2018

The Chefs on Marc Riley

Marc Riley will be playing The Chefs BBC archive music session this week on BBC6 radio.

Images from Munich, Some Scary. Well, Rather a Lot Actually

I'm listening to Clay Hips, Kenji's other musical project, and taking a break from trying to get compensation from EasyJet. Although these are peculiar puppets and mannikins and stuff, they do show fantastic craftsmanship both past and present. And silly.

Live on Dandelion Radio

Big thanks to Rocker for recording these songs in Bristol a few weeks ago; thank you for the support!


I could weep. Back to the friendly clothes moths, some slightly sour milk in my tea and the plants in the pots dried up: I thought it had been raining?
God only knows how I managed to drive back from Luton. I'm so tired, and full of semi-nightmares after an afternoon at the Munich Town Museum: the entire top floor is full of puppets, the scariest ones you could possibly imagine.
Home, home, HOME, I love you, I love you, I LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2018


Life has taken a surreal turn. Five hundred of us queueing up, no room at the inn, no flights and only three staff at e airport late at night to try to sort it all out. A taxi ride into Munich with a young Turkish chap who took a photograph on my phone of the blood moon we were headed towards as he was driving along (it just came out as a little dot, but the autobahn looks good). We got to talking about music, and I told him about the student a couple of years ago who was a really good Sus player, so he put on some of his favourite Turkish music and talked about his home town and the food back home. 'Germany has no kitchen', he told me.
I had to brush my teeth with Orla Kiely body wash because I threw away the remains of the toothpaste, thinking that I wouldn't need it. My mouth was fragrant, at least.
The hotel breakfast was fabulous- I ate mountains of fried potatoes and grilled zucchini, followed by a nice lump of plum cake, then rolled up to my room to slob about until it got cool enough to go for a walk outside (it's still boiling here).
Then I had to go to buy clean socks and underwear (I hope you don't renege on your promise to pay for all this, Easyjet) and was looking for a bookshop but couldn't find one. The current detective novel isn't going to last that much longer- but I suddenly remembered that years ago, I put Desmind Coy's very colourful memoirs on to this iPad, and reading about his exploits has been a great laugh today, punctuated by some Turkish kitchen, washed down with a glass of bitter black tea and a handful of cherries from the fruit shop along the road. Desmond is the older half brother of Don Letts, and has had a lot of scrapes. You have to ignore the ones to do with women if you're a female reader, but there is plenty of other stuff to enjoy, especially since he has lived through so many differmt musical eras and met a lot of people before, during and after their fame.
I hope there are no storms tomorrow. I want to go home.

Big Thanks to Punk Girl Diaries!

Friedrich Sunlight at Lokalhelden, Augsburg

I first heard Freidrich Sunlight play at The Lexington last year; it was a great night of music with Louis Philippe also playing, and The Monochrome Set headlining. Jane Barnes, the promoter extraordinaire, had invited me along and I don't think I realised just how much enjoyable songwriting I'd hear that night.
That was when I met Kenji, the velvet-voiced singer of Friedrich Sunlight, and was delighted to hear that he was a fan of The Chefs. There was no way I was going to refuse a trip to Augsburg to support the band in Lokalhelden, a chic cafe just around the corner from where Kenji and Till live.
Their upstairs neighbour very kindly lent me a guitar to play, and the audience was great: no chatting, just listening and smiling, with a smattering of children who were music fans in their own way.
It was a such a treat to be able to see the band play up close. Every song was a favourite song, even the brand new ones that they are writing for their next album. The band consists of bass, drums, electric guitar, keyboards and Kenji on vocals and acoustic guitar, and the songs are beautifully arranged so that there is space for everything to happen. I don't think I have ever seen a band that has tamed its muso-egos to such an extent; it's definitely not the Anglo-American way to stand aside in the arrangement and wait for your space. No posturing or posing for the audience: every musician is concentrating on making the song sound good- and the arrangements are to die for. They stack vocal harmonies like pop angelic choirs but never overdo it. And the songs! Nothing lasts over three minutes forty five: they are perfect pop songs, with shades of The Monkees, The Beach Boys, 1960s French pop, Dusty Springfield... all with lyrics sung in German in Kenji's sweet voice. They were completely inspiring. I have made some phone films which I'll upload when I'm home, apart from the one where I started singing along to a song that I'd never heard before, just because it was such a gorgeous song. I don't think anybody needs to hear that tuneless wailing!
They played a well-deserved encore, having battled the sweltering heat for an hour to deliver the most perfect jewel of an evening. Best night of 2018; thank you so much for inviting me! X
(catch them in Berlin tomorrow, Sunday, supporting The Zombies)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Travelling to Augsburg

Reminder to self: no more evening flights when travelling alone. After being dumped in JFK at midnight four hours later than scheduled, and it was just me and the cleaners (thank you Norwegian airlines, and for washing your hands of any responsibility), Easyjet landed us at Munich an hour late. This was survivable, apasRt from the train to Pasing for the Augsburg connection terminating a few stops early and being befriended by a mad drunken young Swedish guy who snatched my ticket from me and garbled in several made up languages (he thought I was Polish) at maximum volume, before Facetiming his girlfriend and apparently giving her a running commentary while we changed trains. Then my phone ran down to 1% battery while I was trying to message Kenji to say what was happening.
Too scary. But Kenji and Till very kindly waited up and met me at the station.
Yesterday, Kenji did a guided tour of Augsburg: what a sweet, neat city it is! The first even social housing is here, built in the 16th century and still available for 80 cents a week to people who pray three times a day and who are in need. The old museum parts are straight from a fairytale, with painted wood four posters and that scent of very old wood pervading the building. There is a bomb shelter on the premises, a sad reminder of a war with losses on all sides, and some ghastly gas masks. We walked past Berthold Brecht's house, and through lovely little streets of painted houses next to waterways babbling through the streets.
Then we went to collet the guitar from the rehearsal space, a dramatically draped series of rooms full of interesting instruments and an almost laboratory feel: this is where songs are made!
More tomorrow: sorry for the typos but I'm using an iPad and typing is like being a spider scurrying across the screen.
Oh, and the gig last night was brilliant. I feel like my heart is bursting with happiness! What a great cafe- and Friedrich Sunlight were so good I just wanted to join in every song, even though I didn't know the words or the melodies. I filmed some of the songs on my phone, with a rather embarrassing wail at one point where I did just that, despite myself.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Chefs

Must do Let's Make Up as a kitchen song.

Augsburg Gig

In a couple of days I will be supporting the wonderful Friedrich Sunlight in Augsburg. My school German will need to be dusted off, and the Munich public transport system negotiated. I hear Augsburg is a beautiful city, and I am looking forward to hearing Kenji sing again because he has  lovely voice.
The I'll be hot-footing it (see what I did just there?) back to London for Lucie's Lounge on Saturday. New song in the pipeline but probably not quite ready for Saturday; my fingers are still stumbling over the guitar intro.
Meanwhile, it's too hot to work!

Monday, July 23, 2018

We Finished The Documentary Today!

Unbelievable- we have done it! I do have to sort out the music but I reckon by the beginning of September we will be ready to go. We have done so much fine tuning, but it still has the DIY feel and spontaneity that the work in progress had. Watch this space!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mocked By An Offsprog, In My Minds' Eye

Ah, the new song is a soppy one, a hippy one.
I imagine Offsprog Two's perfect impression of me playing a song on my guitar, all sincerity and rolling eyes. You can't be a narcissist with daughters who take the p*ss so effectively.
Might have a go at a kitchen version tomorrow. I have a mouthful of stitches but somewhat miraculously, I can sing. It's a bit too dark out there to do it now.

Hidden Eggs at Process, Somerset House

Pick up the latest copy of Hidden Eggs at Somerset House today- an issue devoted to political gardening:

Friday, July 20, 2018

Vic Godard at the Somers Town Festival Last Saturday

Fleas4U by Paul Magrs

Paul Magrs is an artist and writer originally from the north-east and now located in the north-west of England. He posted this beautiful painting of Fleas4U sitting on the back fence, seeing off the sunflowers who are peering over the wall into the back yard. Fleas is a watch-dog, or rather, a watch-cat, and I will soon be training him to be my bodyguard.

Paul's blog can be found here:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Stay At Home

I have a few days of enforced staying-in after a minor operation has left me unable to speak or eat. In some ways this is horrible, but in other ways not. There is a total lack of pressure to do anything (I can't) and I stocked up on crime novels on the way back from the hospital yesterday.
Also, the day before a new song just popped up in all its imperfection and every so often I pick it up and change bits of the lyrics and think about how the chorus might go. It is about nature.
Porto is an inspiring place and probably the best bit (after the conference, that is), is the beautiful Crystal Palace Garden, up there on the hillside and bustling with greenery. Gardens are joyous places: Kew, Cluny in Perthshire, and Drummond Castle just outside Crieff.
And Gaudi's Garden in Barcelona; I wrote a song about that garden and I should probably post it online again after it was deleted a couple of years ago.
McDad was a keen gardener, and also competitive: he could never grow Ivy-Leafed Toadflax, which grows as a weed here in London, but he could grow Tropaeolum, which grows almost as a weed in Perthshire and which he finally persuaded to grow in the garden they had in Edinburgh. I tried it here but it's too hot and dry, and the slugs gobbled it up as soon as the shoots appeared. McDad thought that was very funny, until he remembered being unable to grow Ivy-Leafed Toadflax.
Almost the whole of Tuscany seems to be a garden: those tall, slim, dark green trees striping the landscape just as they did in ancient paintings.
The best gardens of all are British railway lines: ox-eye daisies, yellow toadflax, poppies, ragwort, rosebay willowherb: drifts of beautiful wild flowers colonising the oil-soaked iron and stone routeways. Sometimes, I daydream about making degradable paper darts and shooting little packets of wild flower seeds into desolate areas to plant more wildness in the industrial vacuums that humans create en route to destructive 'greatness'. My friend used to cycle round London throwing handfuls of seeds over the hoardings into bomb sites.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Saw this lot on Saturday at The Somers Town Festival, along with Vic Godard. Super hot afternoon, in every way.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Happy End: Singing Of The Socialist Motherland

Sarah Jane Morris in great voice, with a fantastic arrangement by the late Mat Fox. Boy, did I used to love this band! Mixture of skills, genders, ages and all that stuff; they were spectacular, completely spectacular! #my-past-belongs-to-me

The Hope and Anchor Last Night

The Loud Women organisation has a radio show, an e-zine and a thread of gigs throughout London that showcase female and female-fronted music. This was the first of their shows I had played (and I hope not the last); the variety was absolutely amazing.
The night kicked off with Carolyn Striho from Detroit; she had played keyboards for The Slits in the US and also sung with Patti Smith. Accompanied by her husband on guitar, she gave it all she got and roused the crowd into a proper Saturday night mood. Carolyn herself plays guitar and keyboards and has a big, big voice that filled the Hope and Anchor with positive energy.
Anna, the promoter, who fronts her own metal band, introduced the bands.
When I went on the crowd were incredibly positive and even the woman behind the bar sang along to The Sea. They seemed to really connect with my songs and despite having a crappy cold it felt really good to sing and play to such a greta bunch of people.
Concrete Bones were on next and it was heartwarming to see Maya singing in front of her band. I met Maya when she came to a song writing weekend at The Premises a few years ago and she has a gorgeous voice; now fronting this band, she looks perfectly at ease. Flanked by two women guitarists and with an excellent drummer too, there is no need for a bass player in this band. The last song, Concrete Bones, was really strong and I am looking forward to hearing their forthcoming EP.
Finally, Tokyo Taboo took to the stage; they are loud, extrovert and their singer Dolly Daggerz swished through the crowd and sang a song from a perch on the bar, never missing a note. Again, she has a big, big voice and is backed by a very well-rehearsed band of musicians; this seemed like a band ready to be signed and on the brink of success.
The atmosphere of the whole night was brilliant- the audience was completely up for everything and it reminded me a bit of those 1980s gigs in Scotland where people went for a good night out and made bloody sure they got one. The sound in the Hope and Anchor is crystal clear and the sound guy did a really good job.
And now, relax....


Bloke bought a CD, then won one in the raffle, which he gave to his friend.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Sing Along To This Tonight!

As played by Gideon Coe, one of our fundraising tracks for Stories from the She-Punks.

Choir: Stephen, Katy, Eva, Guy, Shanne, Terry, Karina, Karen, Denise, Jono (out of shot) and by email, the she-mails: Sot, Anne, Gina and Kirsten.
Drums: Zoe Street Howe, Bass: Jono Bell, Guitar and Vox: Helen McCookerybook, Trumpet: Andy Diagram, Recorded by Jono Bell, Mixed by Ruth Tidmarsh.

Playing at Hope and Anchor Tonight with Concrete Bones and Tokyo Taboo

I'm on first- 8.30. Really looking forward to hearing the other bands!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Merci Beaucoup Monsieur Coe!

Finishing Writing

The end is in sight for the book on women producers and engineers- I think the first draft of it will be finished next week. All day yesterday I was writing, from 7.30 a.m. onwards with the occasional break so Offsprog One could scan and finish her next issue of Hidden Eggs. It helped to have someone else grafting downstairs while I was grafting upstairs.
It's quite possible that the documentary will be finished next week too.
How strange it will be- a book in the pipeline for eight years, and a film for three... life might become normal again, and I might be able to concentrate a bit more on music.
Going away to the conference was a big boost. Where else than Porto could you chat to someone like Christine Feldman-Barrett, who travels from Australia? Or Mary Fogarty, who used to teach dance at the University of the East, and who now lives in Canada?
I feel a bit like a fish swimming through a sea of life, just exploring different things and trying to adapt to everything as it changes. There is not a big plan, just a big sea. I have not been very good at swimming away from dangerous creatures in the past, but maybe that is something I'll get better at; it has always seemed better to swim towards new experiences, rather than away from bad ones.
Enough metaphors!
Why aren't there any crisps in the house when you want them?

Monday, July 09, 2018

Rendezvous D'Automne On Gideon Coe

Thank you Gideon, and for mentioning Saturday's gig at the Hope and Anchor too, and Vic's gig in Somers Town in the avo, which I will be going to!


A fly got on the plane at Porto and was still merrily buzzing around when we got to Stansted.
The fly could fly off the plane, but we couldn't; there was nobody at the gate to let us in, and the crew didn't have permission to land, so we waited on the plane for half an hour and some people got cross until the captain put the air conditioning back on.
Thirty one degrees?
The missing gate person was at home sunbathing, innit!

KISMIF: More Photos From Porto

 Panel with Gina Birch and Ana Da Silva; Panel with Lucy O'Brien and Gina Arnold; panel with John Robb and Jordan; The University building, Porto; and watching the Brazil/Belgium match. We watched the England/Sweden match out there later in the week and were charmed by a Portugese lady sitting in front who cheered alongside us.
KISMIF was a vibrant and exciting conference; congratulations to Paula Guerra and Andy Bennett for organising it!
Extra bonus, hanging out with Sara Cohen yesterday and going to the exhibition of Frida Kahlo's photo collection in the old prison building.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Posting from Porto

Second day in Porto, and the KISMIF conference is still in full swing. Yesterday saw a panel with Ana Da Silva and Gina Birch being interviewed, lots of interesting conversations with interesting people about their research, and a stormin' Raincoats gig, supplemented by the brilliant Anne Wood on fiddle, guitar and vocals, with crystal clear sound in front of a floor-to-ceiling plate glass window through which the sun gradually began to set during their show over one of the most attractive areas of Porto. They gave it all they got: The Feminist Song was immensely powerful and they finished with Lola, and got a standing ovation.
There is something about this conference's truthfulness that has been really empowering. Lucy O'Brien's keynote speech this morning was Lucy plus. She has always done the research and had the ability to speak, but this was Lucy as an orator; she spoke from the heart, to our hearts.
We have had a presentation from Sam Bennett about her book on Siouxsie and the Banshees' Peepshow album, talks on archiving from Andy Linehan from The British library, and so much more. I will write more, but have just walked about four miles down into the Old Town and back.
More tomoz.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

I Wish You Were Still Around, Dad

The disappointing daughter who took off with punk bands for seven years and more, and never could fit in with anything.
I hope I have made you proud, Dad.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


I am in bed in hotel in Porto eating walnuts and fresh cherries.
I know that sounds like the heart of luxury and it sort of is- except what seemed to be London-induced heatwave hayfever is be turning into a full blown cold, complete with snowdrifts of tissues and a heartily painful cough.
It's much cooler and fresher in Porto than it is in London which makes it more bearable, and so does simply being somewhere else.

Tomorrow at the KISMIF conference, I'm doing a talk on the influence fo reggae music on women punk bands, and Gina and Ana from The Raincoats will be taking part in a panel later on in the morning. There will be a Raincoats gig in the evening, which I will faithfully report on.

This is an incredibly busy conference; Lucy O'Brien is also talking, and John Robb, and Andy Linehan from The British Library. Paula Woolf was on the plane over, and it was great to catch up with her in the relative calm before the influx of academics from all over the world; there will be people from New Zealand and Australia as well as all over Europe and the USA, all talking about music scenes, dance cultures, comic books, punk and DIY cultures.

I lost one of my favourite earrings in the Hotel Da Musica here in 2015. Do you think it's still there in their Lost Property Box?

Monday, July 02, 2018

Perhaps an Addition to the Playlist for Wednesday, because...

... this is the music we grew up with, us 1960s and 1970s girls.

Sunday Night

Sunday night was the launch of Drew Morrison and the Darkwood's new album, Electric-Notes Wild. A whole bunch of us were invited to play on the same bill.
It was a night of music to remember- and full of quirks, to boot.
A bird had crapped on Robert's shirt so he went to Muji to buy another one on the way to the gig, but they hadn't removed the security tag, so he did the entire gig with the tag still on his collar.
And the pedal steel player from the Tennessee Rhythm Riders took a call on his mobile in a gap between songs, much to the band's consternation. 'Love you', he said at the and of the call. Then he held the phone up and the entire audience yelled 'GOODNIGHT!' at the tops of our voices.
It was a night of listening to really good song writing and great singing- the girls done good, with Sarah Vista, Emma Scarr, Collette Winter and Lynette Morgan all singing their hearts out; it was brilliant to see women represented playing guitars and fiddle, and there was generally great showpersonship all night.
The Darkwoods album songs sounded brilliant played live. I took photos but I've posted videos so you can hear the music and get more of a feel of what it felt like to be there.
Great to see Peter Tainsh and the trusty camera (there will be great photos), to meet and talk to the other musicians, and to see Jim Morrison and his partner Anne again. He plays fiddle for the Tennessee Rhythm Riders and was the only one not wearing a mega-hyper-cowboy shirt, which led to a few quips from the band. And great to play, as well: looking forward to playing at Sarah's club later in the year.
Thank you for inviting me along Drew: what an atmosphere!
In the tube station at Leicester Square, an opera singer was singing My Way at the top of his voice. Lots of people had stopped to hear him.
That's the musician's mantra, isn't it? I felt rather emotional.

Mandolin Jack

then me

then Ian Button (Solo)

then Robert Rotifer (singing auf Englisch, though)

then The Devout Sceptics

then Sarah Vista and Jeff Mead

then Black Scarr

then Drew Morrison and the Darkwood (and this is their entire album set from last night)

then The Tennessee Rhythm Riders

Saturday Night

Saturday night was The Premises studio party- absolutely packed for Viv's birthday celebration.
I had to share this- Urban Flames, who have now as a choir doubled in size. They exuded bonhomie from the stage, and the solo singing was absolutely superb. They played this song twice- once in the set and once as an encore. They also sang some of their own compositions. What an absolute treat!
Jeremy was there, who used to play bass in a band I had back in the day, with Dubulah and John Parratt, the drummer. It was good to see the crew who work on the song writing projects again. Apparently Shola's song lyrics from The Fog are actually part of the walls: a very thin piece of paper was needed to pad out a particular part of the rebuild, and her words did the trick; there is something sweet about that.
Carleen Anderson made a special appearance; she would give Minnie Riperton a run for her money with her effortless singing somewhere up there in the sky where most mortals can't reach; later, she led us all in a rendition of Happy Birthday To You for Viv, closely followed by Happy Birthday To You, with Urban Flames singing on stage alongside her.
London is just brimming with great music at the moment. More to come!

Friday Night

Friday night was Scaledown night; it was a sultry evening but me and Champagne Friend found seats and we thoroughly enjoyed the happy vibe and the music- especially the first band, Captain Lovelace, whose delicate songs floated gently on the breeze that passed through the open windows, which added a backdrop of amiable conversation from the street, and the occasional traffic sound. Scaledown is one of Londons' hidden treasures noted particularly for its friendliness, which sustained me a lot during tough times a couple of years ago.
And Mark and Shaun are always on good form, ably supported by Jude.
They could actually be an act in themselves, but don't tell them that or they'll get big-headed!