Monday, 17 July 2017

no comment?

Hi Folks

Just a quick word or two about participation. It is not mandatory for readers to comment here but it is very easy to do and I would like to hear from you. I would like to hear about your life, your thoughts and perhaps some times a critique of what I write. Plaudits and brick bats accepted with equal interest:)

It is easy to write comments here. You might have to establish you are not a machine, "robot", via a simple recognition device on here, but thats as difficult as it gets. Tell me what is going on with you or maybe, simply say hello. Its not like no one reads this. You know who you are :)



peace

Friday, 14 July 2017

Lovely Days


Esterházy Castle

The gig in the pub garden with Bruce Barthol a while ago was very pleasant and the glorious sunshine helped. A very small cooling shower appeared briefly which was welcome. It was so good to see Bruce looking well after recent health issues and good to chat about waters long gone under the bridge and the old times, when were both with Blackhill Enterprises. It was nice to see a few old friends. We should catch up again soon Nigel. Thanks to Ross Hannan and all who made it special. Rambling enjoyed it too and we were back in London by early evening.

So to Austria with my good friend and road manager John Bradshaw. We were playing the twelfth edition of the LOVELY DAYS FESTIVAL at Eisenstadt.
in the castle grounds within the ancient walls of Esterházy Castle. 

John lives in Cornwall so we agreed it would be best if he picked me up mid afternoon on the day before we were to fly the head for gatwick to stay in a hotel for the night. It was a good idea and made getting all of the tedious pre flight stuff simple and stress free. We arrived in Gatwick, checked in our hotel and then decided to head for Brighton where we had fish n chips on the beach in lovely sunshine. It felt good. At the beginning of another adventure.

Next day the flight to Vienna was with out incident. We were met by our driver at the airport and on the way to his van I took a dive off a very shallow curb and banged myself up a bit. The biggest worry was my right wrist. I was concerned but hoping for the best. 
That evening John and I went to have a look at the gig. It was the soul and jazz day and gave us the chance to check out the place in full swing. We met Paul the promoter and all the main people back stage including the very helpful stage manager Gunter. I love pro set ups and have got used to being looked after very well from a technical perspective. This translates into quick, easy sound checks and glorious onstage sound during my show.

As the evening wore on I became worried I might not be able to play the following day but after a dose of pain killers I slept well and in the morning I was sure I could play. A huge thunderstorm in the night had cleaned the air after a stifling, humid 30 plus degrees. As the worry lifted I began to relish getting onstage. 

At the sound check I met up with a guy called Tonto who used to rehearse and record at Wee Mee Nit the studio Steve ran. Tonto  is guitar Tech for Zucchero who was the headline act. Tonto was in a band called Crown Of Thorns. In my opinion they were the best of the bands that passed through Wee Mee Nit. It was very nice to see him and we had a good old catch up as he worked, tuning and cleaning the numerous guitars in his charge.

sound check    photo j bradshaw

The people poured into the grandiose lawns of the castle and I played my set. I was so pleased with how it went as I was a little uncertain as to how that might work out. I have not played a lot of in Austria. 

The aches from my fall were forgotten as I worked my way through the songs. It was a great feeling to see so many young people getting it along with the oldies. I had such a good time I decided to have a wander around out front after my set. I met lots of lovely people who had enjoyed the music down the years and folk who had never heard me before. 

It was time for food so John and I retired to the catering area where the food was to die for. Classic dishes served all day with the best coffee in the world. We got through quite a lot of ice cold carbonated water as the temperature stayed up in the 30s.

inside the castle   photo j bradshaw

High lights from the rest of the day were The Levellers who reminded me of the EBB in spirit and Uriah Heep who do what they do as well as any one. Still banging, heavy and tight. It was nice to hook up with Mick Box and say hello to the others who I don't really know. Canned Heat were cool and The Doors Alive are an exceptionally good cover band, helped by the singer being a near dead ringer for Jim. I thought Zucchero were impressive if a little over blown but I can see the appeal and why they are so massive in Europe. Not my cup of tea but I get it.

front of house   photo j bradshaw


So my fall had not spoiled any thing and the trip had been well worthwhile. John and I had a ball. We were well looked after and the overall organisation was near perfect. This cannot be said about the flight home on the next day. Weather screwed up the entire day and we arrived back at Gatwick 5 hours late. John had to drop me off and then drive from London to Cornwall. He is one of the few men I know who still love driving but before he set off we agreed he should check into  a hotel if needed. I had a feeling he would do the whole trip and he did. A text at around 3.20 confirmed he was home safe. I stayed up to get that text then fell into a wonderful deep sleep for ten hours. Thanks for looking after me mate.

Today I am still black and blue with bruises but recovering and looking forward to my next outing. I will be headed for Slovenia to play a FDPFAFDW gig at the unveiling of a statue to the poet Ivan Volaric, for his widow and friends.




peace

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

We heal

Hi Folks. I intended to write a post election piece here but tragic events overtook that and it seemed inappropriate. It also seemed like bullying to wade into reviled and feeble May and her shattered supporters as the scale of her defeat became clearer. To win but lose so much is unprecedented in our political history.

We watch as Tory policies of unlimited austerity, dementia tax and a lot more are shattered to pieces in the wake of the election. In the Queens  speech today Corbyn spoke with a new vigour. The dissent in the labour Party is very muted now, almost nonexistent.  May sounded like she might burst into tears and although we saw a little of her pissed off Thatcher face she is a defeated woman and the haughty conviction is gone. Tory policy is bankrupt of new ideas. It has nothing for the young and has managed to alienate it's own older voters. 

Rupert Murdoch has spectacularly failed to oust Corbyn as a viable contender in the new battle for hearts and minds. A battle where reason over profitable expediency rules the day. A fair days pay for a fair days work. Where it is argued that the vulnerable and needy should  get what they deserve. Where dignity and belonging is restored. That public services will be restored and the people who look after us are properly paid and acknowledged. That social need is always a priority over greed and that the only way to overcome the terrorist doctrine is to stand together with all the good people of all faiths and creeds, genders and nationalities. A new way. A new day. We won't get this from these Tories clinging on to power for dear life. Who would have thought that she could even consider the idea of a pact with the DUP?

Life goes on. 
Many years ago the EBB met a guy called Bruce Barthol. He had been the bass player with US band Country Joe and the Fish. The EBB met him when we with Blackhill Enterprises. Bruce was then in a band called Formerly Fat Harry and also with Blackhill.
We played quite a lot of gigs together and our paths often crossed on the road. When we were recording Hotel Room Bruce lent me his Martin acoustic guitar for the rhythm parts. Country Joe had given this to Bruce as a gift. It was a pig to play with fat strings and not really an Edgar Broughton action. It also had a small crack as I remember. It sounded fantastic though. So much so that it was decided to overlay the acoustic guitar parts many times. By the end my hands were cramped and blistered.

Any way I am playing a gig with Bruce at The Rifle Volunteer, 141 Reading Road, Wokingham, Berks RG41 1HD
-this coming Saturday between 3pm and 6pm. So if you are nearby drop in. It was a lille bit short notice but I suspect it will be some thing lovely and different from my usual gigs, so here goes. Looking forward to meeting up with you Bruce.

Recently I finished the lyric to a song I have been working on for months. That means mostly sitting around playing the chords and hoping something would come of it. Finally it did and here is the lyric.



We heal

Flowers in a bowl
coming into bloom
I feel there's someone  else inside the room
and there is something in the way
of what they want to say to me
I'm just the listener for today

The room is filled with violent things
vestiges remaining
and happy things of childhood
summer time but raining 
then -there they are - you think they are
the one who could have saved you
and you spend too long wasting time
wishing you could let them

We cry when it hurts
when it burns 
like fire
we cry when it hurts
we heal 
with time

Something in the air today
weak and pale like drowning
like all  the world was breathing in
then falling down and floundering 

A little child
entering the room
learning not to do what we do wrong
back when he was centurion
in the fields of Verdun
I'm just the singer of his song
Fill your heart with loveliness
acceptance no regret
no blame nor claim on any one
young and old all thriving
then - there - there they are - you think they are
three birds flown off a building
there's time enough - just enough
to find the deeper meaning


We cry when it hurts
when it burns 
like fire
we cry when it hurts
we heal 
with time





peace

Saturday, 10 June 2017

In Norway again



Lill and Jan Magne Pedersen

To say I couldn't be more pleased by last nights UK election results would be some thing of an exaggeration but I admit, I was pleased to see May so humiliated and Corbyn vindicated. Her decision to hold this election must be one of the worst strategic decisions by a UK prime Minister in the history of elections. Given the criticism of London that springs from all over especially in the north of England, I must say that I am very happy to be living in London now it is both the Remain and Labour stronghold. That said I will write more on this later but for now I have to tell you about my latest adventure in Norway, fast becoming my second home.

Over the years I have become increasingly fond of Norway and the Norwegians. Every where I go I meet the nicest people who I seem to be able to connect with easily. As I have said before, most Norwegians speak very good English and this helps connection though I am sad to say it doesn’t always inspire a need to learn Norwegian.

I arrived in Stavanger after a couple of hours delay to my flight. The weather around Heathrow was blamed. It was good to arrive eventually. The time spent waiting to fly is going up all of the time and there is a part of me that is beginning to ask if it is worth it. Whenever I arrive that idea is banished and I have the best times with great people.
I slept well at the house of my hosts Lill and Jan Magne Pedersen and awoke to a magnificent break fast with English Breakfast tea, wonderful. This FDPFAFDW event was for Jan Magne’s 60th birthday party.

I made a short soundcheck late in the afternoon with a small AER acoustic guitar amplifier/ p.a. It was a gorgeous little system and sounded very good. I am thinking about buying one. The gig started about 6.30 pm after waiting for a couple of people who thought the party was the following week. I guessed they were important guests because we waited for them to arrive. Once every one was settled in I began to play. I knew that it was likely some people would not have heard of me. They usually check me out on Youtube and are often very surprised when they hear the new me. It went down very well. When in Norway I am always surprised when people tell me they like the stories as well as the songs. Most people understand the nuances and humour in my tales.

Magne sang a couple of songs during the event. For one of them he chose to wear a dress and a ludicrous blonde wig. A very funny man with a great sense of occasion, he had the collected friends falling about laughing. 
Magne was a famous goal keeper in his youth and I think his experience on and off the field has contributed to his big personality and how he presents himself. Lill and their daughter Lena made touching speeches and the party rocked. It was so nice. I took a break while we all ate and after a couple of cognacs I played a few more songs including We Heal, a new song which got its first airing specially for Magne. The evening wore on and outside it was near daylight at midnight and beyond. I am totally entranced by the light in the summer nights.

After saying farewell to new and some old friends I headed back to the house. It was a job well done and it had been a very special party. I was staggered by the amount of alcohol provided by my hosts for the party and surprised at how many full bottles of wine, beers and spirits were heading back home with them. I think they will be supplied for months to come. I’d met some fine people and had some fascinating conversation. Many people were interested in the Brexit thing and what was then the forthcoming UK election. For me the the best thing about these private shows is that I get a chance to learn some thing about where I am and what is going on there.
Sunday really was a day of rest hanging out with some of the guests from the party, relaxing with the Pedersens. 




Next day was about the invite from my friend Ingwe to go out for the day on his boat for a little fishing or in my case as many casts as I could possibly fit in with out seeming to be anti social. Last year when Luke and I were in Kristiansand and Stavanger we met up with our friends Jarle and Ingve and stayed with Ingve and his wife Hetta after the Stavanger show. Next day Ingve took us out on the fjord for a cruise around the islands.





So this was my second outing on the boat. I drove for a little way out of the harbour until we were in open water. Soon we were on the fjord underneath the world famous Pulpit Rock which hangs over the fjord. It was amazing to be sitting right under it on Ingwe’s boat. 

I threw a lure in the water as often as I could when ever we stopped for refreshment or to meet up with people along the shore. I just have to keep going on the basis that the longer a lure is in the water the better chance there is of catching a fish. At our first stop i connected with a very small sea trout. I have not caught one before so that was interesting. Another bigger one came by later but that was the only fishing excitement of the day. Still as I often say , it is called fishing not catching.


Captain Ingve at the wheel

the crew

Our last pause came as the rain began to fall and the light turned brooding over the water. We were visiting a friend of the guys who had not heard of the EBB though his sister turned out to be a fan. Soon we were listening to Hotel Room at full volume as we sat outside under shelter as the rain poured down. It felt surreal listening to our sounds and telling tales of the old days while looking out at the mountains on the other side of the fjord where long ago the Vikings had sailed by to their nearby settlements.


It was getting late though still light as we headed back through driving rain to Stavanger harbour where we said our farewells, vowing to meet up again next summer. It had been a glorious day in both sunshine and in that evocative, brooding darkness that can fall across the landscape at any time. It had been an unforgettable day of fellowship with much laughter, sharing stories with good men and enjoying Ingve's very fine home made lager and Magne’s super sandwiches with a little cognac.

Next day I was homeward bound. The journey home was horrendous with delays and train breakdown just outside Heathrow Airport. I finally arrived home at 11.30pm instead of 7.30pm so I was a bit annoyed by that though nothing could diminish the good feelings I had about the trip to Stavanger and I am already looking forward to going back to see my very good friends.

Thanks to Lill and Magne for their wonderful hospitality to Ingve for the boat ride and all who made my stay so special.



peace

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

In Austria

Walter Kohl

I realise this comes a little late  but I have spent the last few days writing some new material.  I had a couple of days chilling after the trip to Austria which was a total blast. Walter and Christiana looked after me really well and I had the best time. It was good to meet up with Walter and Christiana's daughter, Isolde again. It was a very happy and special renewal of connections made before.

I arrived in Vienna after delays and finally found my driver who took me to my hotel. It was nice being alone in Vienna though I didn't stray far from the hotel. There was a tune running around my head so I unpacked my beloved Tangle Wood guitar and found some chords. No words as yet. On the subject of writing and writing songs, I have had some chords and a chorus for the best part of a year. No verses came to me in all that time but on my return from Austria I felt the muse. I sat down in front of my PC and banged out two pages of lyrics. The song has something of my Evening Over Rooftops style. Anyway it was so good to have moved this song on and I look forward to playing it.

The first reading of Walter's book Out Demons Out took place in the Tunnel, a club near the hotel where I stayed in Vienna. It was an interestingly varied audience with fans of the EBB and fans of Walter. Proceedings began with my singing Red Star and then Walter read from his book. I sang five songs interspersed with the readings. Walter chose the songs and the chapters that he would read. I also read an extract from the book, in English, which is taken from my Instantainium writings. It was an unusual format for me but I really liked the way it worked. There were familiar elements to the whole thing such as a regular PA system and two wedge monitors at my feet but in every other way it was a first time experience. I like that. Walter made the last reading and I sang two or three songs to finish off.



The whole show went down very well and Walter and I chatted with anyone who wanted to talk with us. The publishers were happy and so it was a job well done. For me  there was some relief that it worked out because this was really Walter's gig and I needed to deliver my part as best as I could to properly support him. 

Later Walter and I had an amazing conversation with two very drunk fans at the end of it. They were very nice but very inebriated. I lost count of how many times one would say WASA WASA is the best, then the other would say no SING BROTHER SING and so on. It was a good night. Eventually we made our way back to the hotel and to our beds. The drive from Vienna through Linz to Walter's mountain home was smooth and it was good to arrive. 
Walter and I had one very late session chatting. That was a remarkable conversation. I really began to understand Walter's own mission as a writer and how, in many ways, we are similar. 



Next day Walter, Christiana and Isolde took me to Cesky Krumlov just inside the Czech Republic. It is a very picturesque town with impressive architecture. We took a little refreshment in a riverside cafe there and looked out over a swollen river, under the great medieval walled banks, as the rain poured down. I kind of liked it more than the snow that still sat around outside the Kohl house. The following day we got together with Walter’s brother, Heinz, and his family for a very fine lunch in a country pub. Later we all spent the afternoon together and renewed our friendship. It was a very pleasant day.

Walter Christiana and isolde

So to the reading in Linz. This is more or less Walter’s home town gig. A bit like the EBB playing Leamington Spa. I knew he was a bit nervous and it was strange for me not feeling the nerves quite as much as I would if it was my gig. Anyway the day passed and we set off for the show at the StifterHaus. This is a Literary / Arts centre in Linz dedicated to the memory of the famous Austrian writer. At dinner after the reading, the director of the Centre asked me if I knew about Adalbert Stifter. I described him as the man who wrote about the woodlands and forests in great detail and cut his throat. It was accepted as a very brief summation of the man.



The reading went very well. It felt as though Walter and I had been on the road doing this for weeks instead of only one performance in Vienna. We performed our respective parts with ease and confidence with time for a joke or two. The audience was very attentive and appreciative. There were lots of Walter’s friends and family present and lots of writers, painters and creative people as well as Walter’s fans and mine. It was a very cool way to spend an evening in Linz.



I remember the drive home after dinner. Christiana drove the mountain road back up from Linz and she drove like a roadie, sure and quick. It was a nice little performance at the end of a happy day. A treat for someone who appreciates very good driving. A small part of a very enjoyable trip that will stay with me. I do fancy having a go at descending down the hill from the Kohl house on my bike. It is very technically demanding ( a bit scary!). As for riding up it 
( more scary!!), I don’t think that could ever happen .

Next day Walter, Christiana and Isolde drove me to the airport in Vienna and made sure I was sorted out and ready to  head for the departure lounge, bound for Heathrow. I know I go on to folk about how I get anxious and hate the checking in process and everything around getting sorted. Bless them for coming with me it was very kind. I was sad to say goodbye and watch them head back to their car. I was also very pleased that it had all worked out so well and happy that this was a mission accomplished. 

I feel sure this is not the end of the Kohl Broughton collaboration and I look forward to what ever might transpire. I hope the book does well and my thanks to all who supported the readings in Vienna and Linz.





peace


Sunday, 16 April 2017

OUT DEMONS OUT

Walter Kohl bottom left

In a few days I will be flying out to Vienna to meet up with my good friend Walter Kohl a well known Austrian writer. We originally met up to discuss his idea for a book, a “faction” called Out Demons Out. Now we are about to appear together at the first promotion events in Austria, for the finished book. I will be playing a few songs and chatting with Walter. It is all very exciting and something different for me.
Walter's idea was to tell the story of his childhood and growing up in post war Austria when the Edgar Broughton Band was looming in the not too far distance and then, when he first heard Wasa Wasa, how that had a dramatic effect on his view of things. The actual chronology of events is not adhered to nor are some of the facts. It is not a biography, although much of my/ EBB history is contained with in it. It is a novel. Actually it is also a novel that contains excerpts from my writings in The Instantainium.


“This one is for you, Edgar had said in the late afternoon, the sun was sinking already, and had stared into the brothers eyes for a long time. And then he started singing very softly. The air was thick like honey. It fell like beginning to melt, the brother said. Inside of me. And suddenly the village was back, and Hilda, and the bricklayer, and all the shit of that time.
He saved us from the village, actually, the brother said, and looked for Edgar.
Yes, said Charly”.

From Out Demons Out. A novel about The Edgar Broughton Band by Walter Kohl.


Each chapter is loosely based around a song title and tells part of the story of Walter's long distance relationship with the EBB and the effect the music had on him and his friends. Some of it is true and some is not. His choice. An intriguing concept.

I spent many hours being interviewed for this work here in the UK and in Austria. I have read a rough English translation which, impressively, Walter made himself. I have made some corrections while being very aware that the writer has to have most control over the finished draft. Fortunately Walter and I operate on similar lines and so this was not a problem. The book is in the German language at this time but we hope it will appear in English soon.

Walter sent me a couple of photos ( see above) from press clippings related to his book. He sent them because the strap line says “Out with the demons” and it is next to a photo of our Charlie boy enjoying some Austrian chocolate. I see where Walter is coming from but as it happens I quite like our Charles. He is the same birth sign as me, a Scorpio, he is roughly the same age and we both have a high regard for the Dalai Lama. He does make the odd gaff though , some thing I never do ha ha! During filming of the gardens at the rear of Buckingham Palace, he was showing the Dalai Lama the wild meadow garden. He was so obviously proud of it. He suddenly turned to his friend and asked him, “So how are things with China”? The Dalai Lama looked gobsmacked. The prince immediately apologised adding “ You can't really talk about that can you”? So it is with the royal one.
To be fair he occasionally speaks out against stupidity and verges on being political at times. Some thing the royals try to avoid as it contravenes their own protocols. It seems he is not a bad bloke on the surface. He certainly seems happier now he is with the one he loves and it looks like the royals have learned some thing from the recent past, especially after the death of Diana.
They have a long way to go to be a so called bicycling monarchy though.

Charles is very opinionated and that is not a bad thing but I suspect the slightly dusty, old school, hard line conservative streak would always have stood in the way of him ever becoming the key board player with the EBB.
I don't agree with his narrow ideas on style, especially architecture and though I can see having a chat would be fascinating I don't think we could ever be mates ha ha! But no, for me Charles is not the demon.
The demon is the despoiler, ravager of the world, destroyer of children, the war pig and the builders of walls that would lock us in.

People often ask me if I can play a version of Out Demons Out on acoustic guitar. It is just about possible but pointless with out the chemistry, magic and innate understanding of the other two. I say two because it only ever needed myself and Art and Steve to drive the thing. I played it with the Glastonbury house band a while ago and decided it would always be a cover version with out the guys so that's it. I won't play it again with out them. It is the one thing played by the EBB that always retained the spirit of how and when we more or less began as a proper band. The song has been through many developments over time right up to the version on the Rockpalast DVD which, is about to be re released.

The date sheet is looking interesting. I have a FDPFAFDW gig in Norway near Stavanger on the horizon with some lovely people I met last year when Luke and I were touring there. I love those gigs and the people who put them together. I have a couple of nice festivals including a return to The HRH Prog Fest in North Wales and one of my favourite bookings at the Real Music Club in Brighton. I expect there will be a few more dates coming in to add to the list. Just enough to keep me out of trouble and in practise.

I love it all except the time spent at airports hanging around and being dependent on others who don't have my priorities or interests at heart. I remember a woman who worked for British Airways chucking a flight case containing Luke's samplers down a ramp to the luggage guys below. The samplers provided all the sounds for the EBB set. Luke's face was a picture and she just told us it would be ok. We pointed out she didn't even take the time to find out what was in the cases. This meant both Luke and I were anxious about this until the next sound check.
I can get quite anxious about getting flights on time but I always make it with loads of time to spare. I have no problem with flying just the waiting around to do it. I became so used to a life with roadies it can be a bit irksome on my own. Happily when I arrive any where I am always looked after very well by people who care.

Easter is nearly over I am happy to say. To me it is just another religious irrelevance taken from the Pagans and incorporated into Roman Christianity by the emperor Constantine to keep order among the various Christian movements and leaders. Sadly the commercialisation of Easter has become more or less acceptable. What annoys me is that we have lost the celebratory style that accompanied the pagan festivals. I would have enjoyed the bawdy, licentious behaviour that would have been the order of the day. Orgiastic and free. Woah!
Having said that the kids have a great time at Easter and that really matters. So ignore what that Edgar whatsisface says. He doesn't like Christmas either. Out Demons Out.



peace

-->