Monday, November 29, 2021

The Lexington

I'll write more about the evening tomorrow; I'm just on my way to work. But what an evening. One of the best things about playing out there in the live music scene is watching the other bands!

But here is us, playing Not What I Intended.



Sunday, November 28, 2021

Celebration of Pat Fish's Life, the Dublin Castle

Last night there was a celebration of Pat Fish's life at The Dublin Castle in Camden. It was a freezing night but the venue was warm, not just in temperature but also in mood. I can't write much because I'm getting ready for tonight at The Lexington, but the extent of musical co-operation was extraordinary. Jazz Butcher drummer Dave Morgan has rehearsed a backing band for many of the acts (which included Heidi Berry, who was in fine voice). Sets were two to three songs long, and master of ceremonies Jem Price threaded his good humour throughout the night and sang three of Pat's songs himself.

I met Pat at a gig with Asbo Derek in 2019, coincidentally at a gig at the Latest Music Bar. He was a gentleman, playing solo to a boisterous audience who settled down and listened with great interest once Simon Rivers (of Bitter Springs fame) intervened and told them to listen to this great song writer. I think everyone needs a Simon Rivers to do this for them at some point in their lives. And of course, once people listened, they were won over by Pat's distinctive songs.

The stage was full: bass players, guitarists, keyboards and on one occasion, two drummers, who covered not only some of Pat's songs but also songs by artists that he liked. I contributed a version of Femme Fatale helped by some very lusty backing vocal singing by the audience, who clearly needed to express how they felt in a positive and vocal way.

Returning home early because of Covid worries, we watched the rest on live stream from the venue and caught Pete Astor's set onwards. Although I believe the internet cut out part of the way through (Heidi's and mine bits: designed by men? I think so! Ha ha!), the stream will be on Facebook to watch. However' I'd prefer to share a film of Pat from the Latest Music Bar that I recorded on the night:




Saturday, November 27, 2021

Photos from Tall Trees, Cambridge

What a lovely new music pub in Cambridge with a musician host, an attentive audience and a good PA. What more could a band want for their debut gig? Here is Ian Button at the sound check with a canine companion waiting for its turn to try out barking in the microphone, and me and Robert.







Thursday, November 25, 2021

Oh Yes And...

.... Gideon Coe played a track last night. That was quick Sir!




Equal Parts 2

Just in time for the gigs this weekend, here's the digital version of EP2!

If you buy the downloads you get a lovely postcard with the codes, and also a discount on the future vinyl 10", when the pressing plants aren't so busy and we can go into production. 

We just wanted to share out music NOW when it's fresh out of the oven! Take a listen, maybe buy track (or six), and sing along on Friday at Tall Trees in Cambridge, or on Sunday at the Lexington:

https://mccookerybookandrotifer.bandcamp.com/album/equal-parts-2



Monday, November 22, 2021

Different Poster, Same Gig: Sunday At The Lexington


 https://www.wegottickets.com/event/509639

Equal Parts 2

Surprise! A spontaneous decision was made this weekend to release our second batch of Equal Parts recording digitally in time for our gigs in Cambridge (Tall Trees, Friday) and London (Lexington, Sunday).

These will be our first ever live gigs (yikes!) and it seems so annoying to be held up by the non-availability of vinyl (cheers, mega-artists and labels for suddenly deciding vinyl is 'in' and causing a shortage) and we decided to release the digital versions of the tracks just so life didn't feel constipated. So here is the link- and you can also get a postcard with the artwork.

I hope you enjoy them. They were such fun to write, just like the first lot! We'll be playing them at the weekend, with the full band (Ian Button on drums and Jon Clayton on bass).

https://mccookerybookandrotifer.bandcamp.com/album/equal-parts-2



Sunday, November 21, 2021

Jane Bom-Bane's, Friday Night

I was delighted to come back to Bom-Bane's café in Brighton, not just to play but also to show the She-Punks film. Many members of the extended Chrisp family attended, Max from the El-Trains and her partner, my friend Kathleen from Sunderland Art College popped in to say hello (hadn't seen each other for 40 years), and despite a couple of missing people (hello Alison, Kim and June!) there was still a very nice crowd who really enjoyed the film and hung around afterwards to listen to the songs, and even to sing along: https://soundcloud.com/mccookerybook/live-at-bom-banes-cafe-19th-november-2021

Jane is an amazing host and we have a lot in common, including a lot of friends. She used to sing in a 2 Tone band in Coventry and there is plenty to yak about, plus she gave us really lovely food. It felt, just like the last time, like a night out for me as much as for anyone else. 

Next morning, at the cheap hotel with the fabulous breakfasts along Western Road, this gull tried to will our breakfast through the window so it could gobble it up. For various reasons, it was a bit of a hello-goodbye trip, but I'm looking forward to returning mid-December for more japes and tomfoolery!




Monday, November 15, 2021

When Push Comes To Shove

Every so often I feel emotional about working with young people and music. It can be such a torturous process to get a piece of music off the ground and make it fly. 

All the interruptions: being knackered after your barista job, the stress of the pandemic, people taking your rights away, prejudice, poor health... yet still the music flows. No matter how much their lives are tipped up, their creativity rights the balance and off they go. 

I've just walked into a rehearsal room and known straight away that a door has been opened that looked as though it was locked. You could actually feel the pleasure of achievement.

This is a great thing to take home at the end of the day, not just for them but also for me.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Louder than Words Festival, Manchester

What a great thing, to be invited to speak about She's at the Controls at Louder than Words! It was worth bringing out my best dress, the parachute dress, made by Debbie Little, for an excursion. Manchester yesterday was sunny, busy and excited about the festival too. 

I got there in time for Zoe Howe's interview with Lesley Chow, who was joining the festival online in Melbourne. I had been intrigued by the reviews of Lesley's book that I'd read, and the interview was such a fascinating insight into so many parts of the book that I went straight to the stall and bought it afterwards. It is a discussion of music and singing that I think the students I'm teaching will also enjoy (part of last week's lecture was on Elvis's singing style, his yarrups, and Michael Jackson's trademark hiccups). Zoe is a musician as well as an author and her interviewing style reflects her own insider knowledge of music- and also her humour. I loved the way they talked about girl fans being predictors of future success for recording artists- just follow the screams!

My talk was about an hour later, and I had the opportunity to meet Roisin Dwyer beforehand, who is a music journalist from Dublin. Roisin's questions covered the wide span of issues that I wrote about in the book, and it was a proper conversation. There were some interesting questions from the audience, and it was great to see Cazz Blase there, and also Darren-from-Bolton, who I wasn't expecting at all. I played some songs afterwards chosen for their Saturday afternoon friendliness, and they seemed to go down well. It was altogether a relaxing experience, one where I felt it was worth all that stress of 'writing when I didn't feel like it', which I'm sure  a lot of authors go through. I can't believe I actually finished it, after ten years, but there you go. It got me to this lovely festival, and it was worth it just for that.

After catching up with Cazz and Darren (pizza and coffee in Home, where Gina and me showed Stories from the She-Punks a couple of years ago when Covid was just a nasty twinkle in a bat's eye), I went back for John Robb's chat with Jordan. Again the conversation was relaxed, warm and funny: Jordan spoke about the attention to detail in the forthcoming Danny Boyle film based on Steve Jones' memoirs, for which she is a consultant. She has a very clear memory of the time as well as being an entertaining raconteur; there were descriptions of the process of making props and filming in the old London Weekend Television building where 'that' interview happened, combined with a little edge of band talk that gave it a frisson of the edginess of punk times.

I wish I had been able to stay for more (I think the poetry started at 8.30 a.m. this morning so it was another full day of events). I bumped into a lot of people that I knew and it was nice to see Daniel Rachel, who is now writing book on Two Tone, but unexpectedly I had to come home this morning. Lesley's book is beside me, ready to read.

One final thing: the festival was tremendously well organised. Hats off to John Robb and Jill Adam for putting on this yearly event, to Roisin Dwyer for being a grade A interviewer, to the volunteers who were so helpful and welcoming, and last but not least, the sound engineers (of course) who were absolutely brilliantly helpful and good at their jobs.

And I finally got to eat the other half of my chocolate biscuit (in-joke!).












Friday, November 12, 2021

Mini-Comic for Tomorrow

I decided to photocopy some mini-comics that I did in 2014 to take to the Louder Than Words festival tomorrow. I used to put these in rehearsal studios (they usually ended up on the floor) and gave some to a woman who was teaching music tech to young women, when I was at a conference in Porto.

Also- what serendipity! Mojo magazine printed this article in their most recent issue. Just in time for tomorrow. I wonder if anyone will have read it!



Thursday, November 11, 2021

Thick and Fast

It's busy! after Ms Melody's fantastic talk to the students at the University of the East last week, Ian Ballard from the label Damaged Goods came this morning. It's so great for the students to hear all this stuff. We had Cassie Fox from Loud Women the week before, and started with Ben Ashman from Universal Records products division.

This afternoon, I've been reading my book because the interviewer for the Louder Than Words festival on Saturday, Roisin Dwyer, sent through some questions and the answers are tucked so far into my subconscious that I couldn't retrieve them.

I did find my mini-zine from 2014 though and I'm trying to work out how to print some to take with me. there will be copies of the book there, but this is a potted version of it, minus the interviews with real people, of course.

Here is the ticket link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/shes-at-the-controls-helen-reddington-in-conversation-with-roisin-dwyer-tickets-168933323117





Tuesday, November 09, 2021

A Site Of Many Eccentricities

We suburban people have a tendency towards doing our best to stamp out difference, which presumably most of us feel disturbs the equilibrium. Hence Barnet Council's decision to rip up the beautiful painted paving stones that our resident artist Ben Wilson created about ten years ago. Here he is in The Guardian, finally achieving some recognition: 

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/nov/07/pavement-picasso-london-chewing-gum-artist-ben-wilson

Just think- we almost had a destination outdoor art gallery on our doorstep! Luckily, I encountered Ben in 2006 and he painted a custom chewing gum painting for my first solo album cover. I've bumped into him several times since then: he has the friendly demeanour of a proper folk artist, and he has a very relaxed approach to the destruction of his work, whether by footfall (this painting is at the top of Normandy Avenue, and has almost completely worn away), or aggressive council policy. Somewhat charmingly, he got the wrong street. I was living in Bedford Avenue at the time, next street along, but I liked the oblique relationship: it seems to fit in with the whole idea.

https://helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com/album/suburban-pastoral

This morning, I conjured up spirit-of-Ben. The artist Derek Tyman contacted me to ask for a 60 minute audio cassette, which he said could be a compilation playlist of favourite songs from Youtube for an art project he is doing on a barge in Holland (more about that in another posting probably). Further down the email was reference to other sound-based things artists had submitted, and I decided to submit an Other Things recording. So I went out for a walk with my guitar, retracing the steps of the early morning  lockdown walk I made where I came across the Little Egret. I have written an odd-sounding song about the encounter, and dug out two more 'nature' songs to take with me. With the recording facility of my phone on, I talked through the walk as I ambled along, and then spread out under a tree to sing Woodwide Web. The grass under the tree was still very wet with dew but it was a sunny spot, and a dog-walking woman stood in the distance and watched suspiciously. This is an outside recording of that song from another time:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXRthc-jH64

I suppose I'd thought there would be more dog walkers and possibly more panting and barking: it gets a little congested along there, but I failed to write the song about dogs that I'd meant to write, so it really didn't matter. Further along, on a park bench and to the accompaniment of the very loud Council grass mower, I sang the Little Egret song and also one of mine and Robert's, Won't You Tell Me. A woman walked past with a baby in a pram and smiled, but the audience was mostly magpies. After 54 minutes, the walk came to a natural end and I strolled home, of course passing much more extraordinary sights: identical adult twins on a bike ride together, and a man doing very 'loud' arm stretching exercises as he walked along the pathway. And I almost deleted the recording by accident, but I think it's still intact.

When I got back into town, a schoolgirl was singing really loudly to her friends just outside the church. I guess it must be a singing sortuva day, but no matter how hard I sang, the Little Egret didn't come back. The magpies will have to suffice.





Taking A Deep Breath Before...

I'll tell you later. Meanwhile, I seem to have picked up a cold, after just recovering from a throat virus that was so bad I had to take two days off work. I don't ever get colds, in normal circumstances: I'd assumed that I was immune to that particular virus. I so wish the students would wear masks in the corridors, but none of them do. 

Monday, November 08, 2021

A Busy Weekend And A Not Busy Monday Morning

On Saturday, it was the exhibition at Tate Britain of wonderful floaty techno-auomata. I found them mesmerising and a complete inspiration. They are like jellyfish, bees, dandelion seeds... so lovely. I will upload a video later.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/hyundai-commission-anicka-yi

Then on to Trafalgar Square for the climate demonstration, with a lot of inspirational speakers. They brought it local- the environmental racism of placing an incineration unit in Enfield where the population is (a) poor and (b) there are a lot of people of colour in the community. It's a vertical issue, starting in local neighbourhoods and overarched by a network of billionaires who simply don't give a f*ck, and who are so deluded by their wealth that they think they are going to be able to colonise Mars in their lifetimes- and enjoy living there. They'll all kill each other, won't they?

Last night was Sunday Drawing Club, with two Darrens and two Roberts in the room, and I drew a new header for my Bandcamp page, which I'll have to re-do because it doesn't fit! Oh dear. The bantz was top class as always. 

https://helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com/

So here I sit, having come in to work early to see students for personal tutorials, snowed in by cancellations. Nothing to do but listen to Colin Blunstone. Ahhh! That's it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFf5f1EoBSY

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Rehearsing with Robert

 

Yes, we have two gigs at the end of the month, on the 26th at Cambridge Tall Trees, and on the 28th at The Lexington in London. This was us running through our songs together, the six from the EP and another five that we recorded during the summer.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

McCartney Fandom

There's a massive amount of McCartney fandom swirling around the internet at the moment. Call me a cynic, but still being alive allows you to write history with yourself at the centre of it. Or even rewrite it, if you need to.

The silliest stuff is about John Lennon not writing solo songs as well as McCartney during his lifetime. This is a little difficult if you were shot dead at an early age, isn't it?

Tinnitus Audio Streaming

Could I ever do it? Let people know what I hear?

Last night in a fit of insomnia, I remembered that people buy tracks consisting of the sound of white noise in order to help them get to sleep. I had a listen to the different layers of tinnitus in my head. The jangling is the loudest, followed by the whistling, which is really high pitched and intermittent. Then there's the high and constant sound that can only be described as the sound you'd hear in the background when the old-fashioned tube TV was on: ultra-high in pitch, and a sort of electrical tone. Underneath all this there is the roar and this is what I tried to tune into, to raise the level almost as though it was being mixed on a mixing desk. Sure enough, the rest of the noise fell into place around it.

What was weird was that by tuning into this low noise, I began to hear another sound: the pulse of my heartbeat. Once I'd tuned into this, I fell asleep.

I'm due to see a doctor about all this in December. Many musicians experience tinnitus, and we talk about ti a lot and know that it is permanent. We live with it, and suffer fools gladly as they recommend solutions that don't work. We can still hear though it, which is the most important thing: one of the best mastering engineers I knew, Colm O'Rourke, listened through it all and finished a lot of ace tracks despite it all.

Ting-a-ling!