Monday, 21 November 2011


some of our friends are silent

A little time ago I got an email from Mr Jerry Dammers of The Specials and now the Spatial AKA Orchestra. He said he had an idea and eventually it turned out to be yours truly singing Frown land, the Beefheart song, at his next gig. I went along to a rhythm section rehearsal where we tried out the idea with bass, drums, two guitars and Jerry on keyboards. I was warmly welcomed and the whole thing was very relaxed for me. I had listened to the song Frownland until my head hurt and I was prepared. The guys soon produced this slippery and slick groove that knocked along like a well oiled machine in no time at all.
I watched them playing some nice dubby ska for the Johnny Clarke songs after my bit. It was clear to see these guys are very good. Johnny had come over from Jamaica for the show and was getting settled in town. We all agreed the Beefheart song would work and I turned up for the full rehearsal the day before the show on Friday. As I walked into the room I was a bit surprised by the sight of the full orchestra and even more blown away when the brass and every one else kicked in to the riff. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end.
We ran through the song three times and that was it. I even got a warm round of applause from the whole orchestra. That was a first. Having the chance to stay around and see how this all worked was fascinating. These folk were all very committed to the project and the atmosphere was special and totally harmonious. I wanted to live there.

sound check

Friday came with a little nervousness. I rose as late as I could but got to the Barbican by 3pm. It is an amazing venue and public space. I had not been previously so it was quite a treat. Most of the orchestra were assembled and Ollie Bayley, electric bass, was directing operations and getting some music going while Jerry was still putting the dots together for new scores for all. Rather him than me. That is plain heroism to me but essential for this band. I sat in the front row drinking it in. Time passed and after my sound check the band continued to work. These guys refine their bits and pieces until it’s always better. Every thing in the set list was rehearsed at the sound check.
johnny clarke and anthony joseph still sound checking
As I got to know people I relaxed and the evening wore on. The doors opened and the show began. I was on fairly quickly after some tunes from the orchestra and the recitation of the words to Frown land by the resident poet Anthony Joseph. I marched out into the lights wearing Jerry’s sartorial idea of The Captain. This consisted of a dark suit with the arms to the elbow, a white dress shirt, a stove pipe hat, black leather shoes and some red beads which were a last minute addition from the very nice man who was in charge of wardrobe. I wore a black mask to hide my true identity ha ha! Every one in the band wore a costume and mask or shades.

We rocked through the song in what seemed like a flash and I walked off to the sound of applause. It was a sold out show and they were very receptive. I headed for my dressing room grabbed some goodies and headed for the roof via a lift. What I didn’t know was that Jerry was calling me back for a curtain call. Oh well! I would get my chance to unmask during the finale so it could still all turn out ok.

still sound checking
I wandered to the top of the balcony, still in my Beefheart clothes to check the band. It sounded fine and the mix was perfect. I got back to watch the rest of the set on a monitor back stage and made sure I was ready for the finale and my unmasking. It really was fun.
There were so many high lights for me, especially seeing my old mate Rick Rogers and his friend who re-counted tales of booking the EBB for Belfast Uni, at the height of “The troubles” when almost no other band would venture there. Great days!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these folk. See this band if you can. It’s a vibrant collective with a sound ethos and is a rare and fine thing. I felt proud to have been part of it.

Thanks for asking Jerry. Any time!

Next stop a little village called Russells Water, near Henley on Thames. Where I was to play for Lea at his 53 rd birthday bash. After a brief sojourn at the very smart Red Lion Hotel it was time to taxi out to the gig. Eventually I found the venue and was pleasantly surprised by the neat and well kept village hall with a professional acoustic treatment in what to me seemed the middle of no where. It is a good example of how Lottery funding can be of major benefit when used properly in a community.
Folk were in the middle of setting up a pa system and sound checking. A table was laden with all the good things to eat at a party and there was tea. Magic!
My host, Lea Andrews was in a band some years previously and they were going to play a few numbers with drum parts off a lap top. Their guitarist had a few feedback problems which persisted what ever he did, poor man. Eventually it was sorted and Lea and his daughter Alex (13) kicked of the evening with a couple of songs. It was sweet to hear her clear pure tones against the voice of her dad and it worked nicely. Then Lea’s band played a couple of songs and things were warming up.

It was in many ways a typical FDPFAFDW audience made up of old friends and the family of the host including Lea’s 92 year old dad. I had a long talk with him after the gig. We might have stayed chatting for ages but I think it was time for him to be in his bed.

I began my set with This England which is quickly becoming one of my current favourites. I had to have a polite word with folk and explained I couldn’t really concentrate on what I was doing if people were going talk loudly and soon things settled down. That is the only time this has happened on these gigs and I am surprised it didn’t happen more often. What I do is strong but it does require folks attention. Of course it is not every one’s cup of tea and a party is a party. I never was a party person but at the same time, I would never want to dictate to folk except when  - it is about me (lol) which isn’t very often.
Any way, although the audience thinned out a little after my little chat those that remained were very attentive and warm. I ran through my songs and began to really enjoy myself. There were a few oohs! and ahs! at points in the songs where I have become used to hearing and better – feeling them, which makes it for me. I had some nice feedback from people later and got the chance to meet people face to face. The diversity was again typical of these gigs and as the time wore on it began to dawn on me that this was my last gig of the year. I shall enjoy the break. I will re-charge, write my next show for 2012 and get on with the job of making my new and some old songs and new ideas, part of a full blown electric manifesto.

Mean while my night in Russells Water was a reminder that a minstrel’s life is a good one if you are fortunate to have the kind and supportive patronage that I have received this year. Thanks Lea and all who made it work. It is a great privilege to be invited into folks lives and to be part their history.



Michael from Albuquerque said...


Anonymous said...

I agree. Sounds like a a really great event.


Anonymous said...

Hello Edgar
We spoke after the concert at the Barbican. It was a great evening and you were far out. I saw you years a go and it was a complete surprise to see you with Spatial AKA.
You lit up the whole place. Beefheart lived again. Superb.

Dean Butler said...

Hi Edgar. Always love reading your blog. In there you say part of the 2012 electric manifesto? Does this mean the EBB will be doing some shows next year?
PS Please do some near london :)

Anonymous said...

As you said at Hyde Park so many years ago,lets remember the sick,lonely,disadvantaged and the poor.

edgar broughton said...

No Dean not the EBB.

Re -the sick,lonely,disadvantaged and the poor.
I say now - hit the streets.fight for them. Protect public services.strike. Fight back.

Anonymous said...

Yes PROTECT PUBLIC SERVICES NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. The morning after pill is NOT a contraceptive and is NOT a 100% so why take the risk in the first place - it works the same for our Public Services if we do not protect them it may be too late!

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Clarkson says he thinks all strikers should be shot preferably in front of their families. What a horrid thing to say about anybody. What person WANTS to see another person shot for whatever reason in front of family or in front of anyone or in front of nobody - just to advocate that anybody should be shot I find utterly gut wrenching. Showing his true colours there is Mr Clarkson. One Trade Union leader was going to make an official complaint to the Police but agreed to accept Mr Clarkson's apology. I bloody wouldn't I think the man is dangerous. I guess if you spend your life driving fast sports cars in exotic places you lose touch with reality but to want them shot! Check your brakes next time you get in a car Mr C.

Anonymous said...

Here is the full detail of what Clarkson said. Puts it into context.
It comes after an exchange, on Wednesday, in which Mr Clarkson presented two views when asked about that day's strike over pensions by public sector workers:

"I think they have been fantastic. Absolutely. London today has just been empty. Everybody stayed at home, you can whizz about, restaurants are empty," he said

"It's also like being back in the 70s. It makes me feel at home somehow," said the Top Gear presenter, before adding: "But we have to balance this though, because this is the BBC."

Mr Clarkson went on: "Frankly, I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. I mean, how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?"

When the presenters pointed out that these were Mr Clarkson's personal views, he said: "They're not. I've just given two views for you."

I think you should lighten up a bit, it was his attempt at humour, if you find that offensive you must lead a sad life. If you want to be really offended, watch the youtube video of the racist woman on the tram, that is offensive, Clarkson was joking.

Anonymous said...

Yes I found it offensive but I find you much more so as you are just downright rude. Just because you disagree there is not need to be rude you started off quite intelligent too by giving the full 'detail' of what Clarkson said but then you kind of lost it by resorting to insults.

Incidently there was a tense moment when Mr C passed a similar inappropriate comment on the One show. It was tactless but really not worth getting out of the pram over.

Anonymous said...

Blimey, you find me rude? did I hit a raw nerve? methinks you've been pampered to much by the nanny state. I won't apologize for offending you, because no offence was intended, perhaps you need to grow a thicker skin like alot of other people in this country.

Anonymous said...

Honestly it is really not worth bickering over. I was merely saying how I felt about Clarkson and being a fan of Top Gear I guess I was bit more upset about it. He, of course, like all of us is entitled to his opinion(s). What I found offensive with you was when you said "You must have a very sad life." As it goes I don't but what if I did? I just thought it was uncalled for. I also thought we all kind of shared a common ground on here but I think I am probably more at home with gentler folks everyone on here seems so self opinionated, its like you took my comment so personally like Clarkson was your dad or something. I found that a touch worrying.

Anyway it does not matter - lifes too short and all that!

Peace to you!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I have no affilliation with Clarkson, Actually, I think he's a bit too far up his own arse, BUT, what he said was a wind up and it obviously worked, surely we should be more concerned with the real problems in this country instead of wasting energy on a minor personality seeking attention to sell a few more dvd's.

ps, I'm a public sector worker, and it did not offend me, and I certainly don't want anyone to get offended on my behalf, Like I said earlier, the woman on the tram is more worrying, someone who really needs counselling, yet it's a wind up by Clarkson that gets everyones hackles up!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think Ian Hislop summed it up well when he said how Clarkson had said the strike was great as he could drive fast and the resturants were empty yet he still hated the strikers and wants them shot.

Yes the woman on the train is far more of a concern I know only too well as I have been the victim of racism before.

I have a lot of friends who are public sector workers who joined in the action on Wednesday. Lets hope it is the start of real change.

There is no right or wrong to our debate it is just a matter of opinion. You have your opinion I have mine - shows we are alive and thinking about things. I actually see our little chat as a positive thing - I hope you do too.


Anonymous said...

You are correct, our little discussion is a positive thing. What gets me is the way people have been brainwashed to be outraged at insignificant things when there are more preesing issues that need dealing with. It's ok making a big deal out of the pension fiasco, but what about PSW's pay cuts, no rises for at least two years, add that to inflation and that amounts to quite a significant cut, we are an easy target for this criminal government, yet they spend what they like on illegal wars, expense fiddles which they deem to be fair, the list is endless, and I include the previous government in this. Maybe I'm a bit simple, and missing a point, but instead of raising retirement ages, why not lower them and make way for the youngsters to enter the job world, money saved on benefits would help the pensions, and give the young some hope.

Anonymous said...

You know I actually quite like you now as you talk a lot of sense! I so agree about retirement with regard to making way for the young who the way things are going are not going to get a look in.

I love the spate of 'how the government spends your money programmes' as what they do ultimately is justify the government spending 'our' money but they do it in such a subliminal way and through the best medium - television. It is a kind of "Ok folks it is YOUR money and it is not nice that the government spend it but as you can see they have no choice" But to me that is crap as they are not just spending my money they are stealing it as I did not say they could have it! And to add insult to injury they are spending it on things I do not want or agree with. The one about income tax made me laugh!

I have no faith in this government as I had no faith in the previous government. I do things on a locl level for the Peace Party, The Green Party and the Socialist party as I can see the benefits all be it on a small scale. I feel at least it is a start as I really do believe we need to get the spirit of community back before we can turn things around on a large scale. Take our situation: we had different opinions - we discussed them rather than dismiss eachother - now it seems we have similar ideas.

Anonymous said...

What a surprise. Edgar Broughton and Jerry Dammers. You were great. Powerful.

Gill and Toni