I’m in Glasgow for a long w/e, principally to catch the NiteWorks showcase gig at the iconic Barrowlands tonight. Whilst the city is a wee bit smarter than the last time I was here, in probably the 90s, fewer wobbly men on street corners, the Barras seems astonishingly run down and sad, not that it was ever remotely spruce and sprightly. Anyhow, in the taxi up to the Finnieston for tea last night, we dipped into the southside to avoid the traffic, and I suddenly noticed a name I recalled, the Laurieston, a perennial name in the post of the great late James Bla(a)st. Here’s a swally to ya, Big Man!
Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham
Well I wasn’t originally going to review this show, feeling it might prove even a bit too niche for the AW f***ies, few as we seem to be. But I couldn’t let it lie, not after listening to their superb and imaginatively titled 3rd album, III, purchased for a princely tenner at the gig. So peel back your senses or pass on the other side, oblivious in your ignorance. I first came across two of this trio, Tom Moore and Archie Churchill-Moss, fiddle and melodeon respectively, a year ago, they being (new) members of Jim Moray’s False Lights, reviewed here a year ago. (Look it up!) Some years before, in 2011, in conjunction with Jack Rutter, they had won the 2011 Folk on 2 Young Artists of the Year, producing a couple of well received albums, I and II, before diversifying into other work, both musical and breadwinning alike. Now they are back in this original format, still looking improbably young to my ancient eyes. So to the concert. The Kitchen Garden Cafe is tiny, seats crammed into the tiny space, ahead of a small ground level stage area. Tonight, » Continue Reading.
So, as 2018 folded with the death of Dr Hook’s Ray Sawyer, so 2019 opens with the Captain, who died yesterday. Otherwise known as Daryl Dragon, he was a 7os sideman with the Beach Boys, which, for me, gave his schmaltzy hit some credibility. And yes, Tenille was by his side.
Amongst the presents from my beloved Mrs Path came a new Sonos speaker. So, delighted, and in good faith I came to add it. Update, came the instruct. Lo and behold, no longer was my laptop, where the system lies, able to add a new speaker. This was now only available thru the app for a phone. I added the app. No longer supporting, came the reply. As in, get a new phone. What bollox and enough to want me to bin the gift. This seems akin to having a household toilet flush only amenable thru’ the windscreen wiper lever of your car. If the car is an up to date model, What is the point of Sonos deleting the system based ability to add in favour or remote, other than to prop the ailing phone business? I hate the modern world.
Began this post in another strand, but it got me thinking. Any inveterate users of Airs’n’b out there? I confess to having used ’em a dozen times across the UK and once in Paris, usually with great success. (One dud) Many major cities are cracking down, however. Does anyone have experience in Manhattan/Brooklyn, Boston and New England? Still a viable option?
02 Institute3, Brum
Well this was a treat, a full 28 years from the last time around. And just down the road from where I saw ’em last time, the long gone Mr Bill’s Bier Keller. So how had the decades fared them? I’m no fan of the Institute, but this was in the 3rd room, even smaller than the Institute2, a bijou basement box with a capacity of maybe a couple of hundred. No queues, a walk straight in to a sauna of steaming mannus middleageicus. First on, and worth a shout, were the Stone Mountain Sinners, a rabble of rootsy rockers with more than a hint of cowpunk, minding me a little of the Tansads in their pre-Merry Hell prime, courtesy the male/female counterpoint vocals. A gap nearly sufficient for the solitary barman to serve the thirsty hordes and on marched the Men. 6 of them with the front line of Cush, Swill and Paul unsullied, on guitar/vocals, guitar/vocals and mandolin, augmented by lead electric, bass and drums. No fiddles or whistles this night, this was a pedal to the floor, full-on plugged in music. The bass and the brand new drummer made a » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
I’ll get to that, but there is something somehow here that reminds me of America, the HWNNHMs, in both the hirsute appearances, the ambience and , just, their backstory. Although rather than being U.S. airforce brats stranded in South Ruislip, these 3 young brits met in the Lebanon, all gainfully employed as language tutors. And, much as you wouldn’t think it, their homegrown acoustica found interest, they becoming, apparently, the new sound of the suburbs, Beirut style. Broadly folk, and avidly espousing electricity, with hints of of many a 60s and 70s celtic influence in evidence, Planxty being drawn to mind not infrequently. The vocals are sufficiently robust as to avid the risk of twee, their own songs mixing relatively seamlessly with the trio of trad. arrs. I feel there is probably some welsh blood coursing through the band, much of the material making reference to that land, though I won’t hold that against them. Indeed it is the principality that the record was made. At times peeks through the cadences of their adopted home in the middle east, showing the similarities rather than heightening the differences between ethnic musics. One criticism might be » Continue Reading.
The Robin 2, Bilston
I absolutely loved Midnight Mushrumps, me, rushing out to purchase it after hearing snippets on R4: first band to appear on all 4 BBC radio channels, they said, a bit of catnip pomposity for my indubitably then prog-pomp tastes. Bit of a Tubular Bells for mediaevalists would be a lazy way of putting it, or at least the side-long eponymous suite. (In truth I barely bothered with the other side.) So, when I got home for my lunch yesterday, and the yearly programme for this worldfamousinWolverhampton venue had dropped through the letterbox, and I spotted this band were playing there that same day. I was familiar they had reformed, and issued a new record, after a 41 year hiatus, surely a record in itself, so I duly felt it my duty to attend. The Robin I have visited a couple of times. It seems now to be a little down on its luck, though I read it has been taken over and money invested. I suspect the same might be true of the audience, perhaps minus the investment. Uncertain whether it was the carpet or the punters, but there was a distinct » Continue Reading.
Message in from his record company, big man’s died. Around forever, I guess I only really caught his later work, knowing this song only through cover versions, let alone his much much earlier work. The epitome of a slow swampy stew, his slur of a vocal was unmistakeable. Raise a glass tonight.
I somehow have caught wind of the Band of Love and their debut disc Folk Fever, where disco meets trad arr head on, uncertain if any survivors. Is this a monster or a monstrosity?
Birmingham Town Hall
Having recently penned some put-down of music deemed worthy, I thought I might be at risk of petard related auto-injury tonight, as I trained it in from Lichfield. Entering the venue I was struck by the sheer forest of facial foliage on display, lumbersexual heaven, making my mere whiskers look strictly amateur. On stage 2 pianolas were tinkling slowly away in unison, stripped of their panelling, displaying the moving parts to the pretty packed hall. Bang on 8 on strolled a zen like figure, dressed in white, hands held in prayer or greeting: “Hello, I am Olafur and I would like to play you some music”. Centre stage, in front of the pianolas, was his grand piano, other keyboards to the side and on top, a couple of mac notebooks nearby. Furthering his introduction, we were asked if we could sing, ahead of asking for a prolonged unison capture of a single note, duly recorded, which acted as a drone for his first piece. Starting with his trademark minimalist near repetition, slowly and unobtrusively his string quartet slunk on and joined in, cello and lead violin right and left of him, 2nd violin » Continue Reading.
Interesting interview with Marianne Faithfull here. I was surprised to read of her link with erstwhile Chilli Willi (amongst others) axeman, Martin Stone, citing he was her go to guitarist. Odd, as I have never been aware of that, even to the extent of starting to do a discogs search of her solo output which showed lots of other names but not his. Or was it back in the mists when he was a bright young mod in theAction?
Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea
Surely I can’t be the only AWista in love and awe of this band? Hot on the heels from the launch of their their 2nd album, “Air Fàir an Là”, this brief tour of Scotland and some lesser known spots in England was all the opportunity needed to suggest a long weekend on the south coast, they also being toppermost of Mrs Ps poppermost. And Shoreham must be one of the more unlikely venues I have been to, but I can report it a delight, a vibrant arts centre with a lively catalogue of music, plays and more. Good bar, too. Niteworks are an absolute delight, in existence some 10 years, with a paltry output of 2 CDs and an EP to their name, preferring to hone their talent, and, in the meantime, building up a huge fanbase in their native land. Not for nothing were they chosen to close the Edinburgh Hogmanay shindig festivities in 2017. Loosely, very loosely, they might be argued a marriage between a less twee Capercaillie and a less miserable Massive Attack, a trad folk influence with a heavy techno underbelly. The late Martyn Bennett surely part » Continue Reading.
Digbeth Arena, Birmingham
I originally only had the one night planned, the 2nd, Garbage, knowing little about Matt Johnson’s The The, beyond Hanky Panky, the Hank Williams covers project, probably somewhat unrepresentative. But @locust had given such a cracking review of her experience a month or 3 back, I felt duty bound to go. And am I glad I did! Smack on 9.15 and on they/he came, a dapper becapped man of indeterminate and a slew of young turks on supportive roles. Making immediate and ongoing use of back screened video, compelling amalgams of old videos, performance footage and apocalyptic visuals and scenescapes, the sound was crystal clear, vocals fully discernible within the expert mix of guitars and keys. And drums, a terrific bombast to counterpoint the end is nigh atmosphere of the lyrical themes. I didn’t know many of the songs, but I felt I did, so instant were they in their hooks and arrangements, and will be making sure I do know them better in days to come. Given the fact the majority of these songs are up to 30 years old, it seems astonishing how prescient the then themes were, » Continue Reading.
This was going to be review of the 45th Towersey Folk Festival, but, d’you know, I couldn’t be arsed, not by the time I got back. OK, this was in part not the fault of the organisers and their agents; it’s a jolly fine festival and all that, Heck, I’d even been before, sometime in the 90s, but maybe I am just being churlish. It rained a lot. Not, I accept, their fault. The beer was 50p more than usual. Or more than I thought fair. (£4.50 since you ask. It mounts up.) So who played? OK, I probably went because of that Thompson. And he was good. I went to bed happy on Friday. But I shouldn’t have struggled to find owt else. Over the next 3 days. But it wasn’t easy. Apart from unfeasibly good concertina whizzes, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, a (very) young Lenny Kravitz lookalike who could squeeze shit hot box, most else was essentially worthy and intrinsically dull. I ain’t going to name and shame but you can see for yourselves. Yes, Beth Orton gave a delightfully elfinesque gamine performance, Big Country showed off the conceit of a band based around a long since dead focus, not » Continue Reading.
No, he’s still here. For those, like me who have a tinge of affection for the Convention that is Fairport, even if the current has little appeal, I enclose a link to the webpage of Maartin Allcock, whose tenure with the band, from 80s revival of the brand to, what, 10 -15 years ago, gave a much missed balls to the old codgers, as well as to the Tull that was Jethro. I happened on a review of this years Cropredy and it seems he is not long for this world, a bummer as I enjoyed chatting with him briefly at the bar last year, alerting him to an absence of his most recent record at the CD stall, upon which he nipped to his car and remedied, and signed then a copy for me. A decent seeming bloke.
The clip I found on the youtube, Maart being the fella in a leather jacket, on electric guitar, centre stage, to the side of Simon Nicol. Ramshackle performance of course, but, that song, always the closer, is always so, and is a come all ye of all the performers still present. Let’s hope Maarts cancer is like Wilko’s.
Aged 70, Tommy Peoples, the wild fiddler from the first incarnation of the Bothy Band has died. Hot on the heels of the first break up of Planxty, Donal Lunny formed this band to crest the wave curled by Planxty, extending and taking further the incomparable swirl of traditional irish tunes into an acoustic hyperspace. Peoples was already semi-legendary, and I recall the sleeve notes of a Bothy Band best of, commenting euphemistically on his being a little too wayward to stay for long. I suspect they mean thirsty. I was lucky enough to catch the Bothie’s once, toward the end of their existence, long after Peoples had departed, but exciting nonetheless, in a triple bill with Paul Brady and Andy Irvine and with Richard and Linda Thompson. It was transcendent
In which Reginald D Hunter gets another road trip across the USA at BBC license payer expense. It’s actually very good, a lot more fun than the 3 parter Songs of the South, which suffered too much from his own opinions and all the decent clips/performers having been used up on equivalent programmes. This, a single hour, explored the whole US/Mexico border from Tex-Mex thru’ Calexico, invoking many delights along the way. On i-player or whatever it is called for a while, as it was first aired last week, me only catching it tonight.
And I mean proper consumption, as in look out teeth, look out gums, look out stomach, here it comes! Coming to the end of a fortnight in Cornwall and have, o yes, eaten some good grub of a piscatorial nature, washed down with ales a plenty. So what/where have you eaten this holidays so far? Top 3 for the Paths, not necessarily the best in the Duchy, but the best where we were. 1. Schooner’s, Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes: omigod, cornish ‘tapas” in a glorious setting. 2. The Shack, Falmouth: one shackstack and one lobby please! 3. The Mariner’s, Rock: best fishcakes ever. Best pint: Mena Dhu cornish stout, consumed sitting outside the front of the Seven Stars in Flushing, watching the sun go down and the swans come in (33!!!) over the Fal.
O, I just don’t know where to begin…… The positives? Well it didn’t rain and the support acts were great. Pete Thomas gets better and better and I quite took to Davey Faragher, who winced beautifully at every duff note. To the beginning. With it threatening to rain all day, and the forecasters expecting it, there were only occasional spatters on the windscreen as I drove down, a surprisingly simple park and wander into the grounds. Not too packed and the arena made good use of the available architecture, with the outside lawn, if you will, as it spread down to the lake, pleasantly thronging with geese and humans in seemingly equal numbers. Food, beer and toilets a semi-circle of convenience, all looked promising. Nick Lowe, on prompt at 6, clearly knew the demographic, opening with ‘People Change’, the first of several acerbic tales of middle aged disappointment. Dapper in pressed white shirt and slacks, his quiff a thing of wonder to behold, white as his shirt. A fabulous version of the Dionne/BeeGees ‘Heartbreaker’ then led into a selection of old Rockpilers, you know, ‘Cruel to be Kind’, ‘Heart’, all just sung with precision » Continue Reading.
Victoria Park, London
With security more akin to the Hyderabad/Heathrow flightpath, I joined the steady throng marching past the bemused shopkeepers of Bethnal Green, an area just beginning to display a beard or 3 of hipster gentrification. It looked like the whole of this delightful park was devoted to the 10 day extravaganza, that had begun the w/e before with a 3 day event, then 4 days of free and then a final separate trio of days. I had signed up for saturday and sunday, topped by the National and by Nick Cave respectively. A little muzzy from a night on there lash with my son, where we had hit all 3 of the venues commended by Grace Dent in her Guardian resto review of the day later, I needed a little calm to start the day. So up first for me came This is the Kit, the excellent Kate Stables project for her quirky modern folk, offset by shimmering guitar in sharded chordwork, clattering yet taut drumming and the unusual pairing of tenor sax and bass clarinet, frankly the delight of the arrangements. Kate shifts twixt banjo and guitar, but, oddly, what works so well » Continue Reading.
No, nothing to do with the peak of Raymond Douglas D’s lyrical canon, I’m talking the Victoria Park shindig, the National tomorrow, Nick Cave on sunday. I believe @SteveT is attending on sunday, but any other denizens of this deep who might fancy a ludicrously priced beverage of dubious provenance? Below may help a timing. Let me know. https://clashfinder.com/s/ape2018/
Catton Hall, S. Derbyshire
Well, this was supposed to be a review of the whole of Bearded Theory, but let’s just say the rest of the fare was largely slim pickings, but hey, when a festival is a 10 min drive from home, that surely counts for something, especially when you can put up your tent on Thursday night and go home to bed. Plant was their big star this year, I feel, and the build up demonstrated quite how many were there on that account alone, topping saturday night at 9.30 odd. Sleaford Mods had the warm-up slot and were entertaining, if limited, allowing most to have empty bladders and full glasses for Mr. P. I saw the last iteration of the Shapeshifters, with Juldeh Camara on world music shift, and they went down a storm on Plant’s Wolverhampton homeground, as described during the great drupal crisis of 2014 (https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=2501405800039355454#editor/target=post;postID=2085129172658976132;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=11;src=postname) This time, with Camara back on griot patrol, west country folk-fiddler Seth Lakeman was the ethnic focus, and I was agog to see how this played out in a live context. The answer, as the band came on, was that tonight was arguably more about » Continue Reading.
I want to do a piece, elsewhere, on L.A. Woman and it’s cover versions. Quite a challenge as, outside the obvious 4 or 5 songs, the rest of the album has not attracted much in this field. In particular I am trying to track down the Alexis Korner version of The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat), which he released on his 1975 album, Get Off My Cloud, an all-star old buddies shindig from the look. The nub is that the track ain’t on youtube and I can’t find it “anywhere else”. I would be prepared to buy a copy, long since out of print, but the amazon market place of £732 i find a little off putting. Anyone have long forgotten copies lurking that I could, um, borrow or hire? It’s the sort of thing that erstwhile poster @johnny-concheroo, aka the man who fell to Perth might have, or even, given the Korner interface into jazz and skiffle of ye olden days, @colin-H. (Yes, I know this reads as if I am trying to kill music, but, with the record so long unavailable, it is hardly Mr Korner’s estate I am ripping » Continue Reading.