Sunday, 23 December 2012
So the Mayan prophecy was a dud, as they are. We are still here. We love and breathe. The world didn't end. The Preppers and End Timers must be bitterly disappointed ha ha!
2012 has been a very exciting and satisfying year for me .There have been so many high lights I don't have room to list them all. There have been a couple of less exciting days including a couple of gigs that I would rather have not been invited to but for the most part things have gone very well.
In what has been a great year for me regarding live shows I have had the chance to meet so many of you and to have a real exchange with some of you. It has been fascinating being able to spend time with folk at the Fair Days pay gigs. I'll never regret having that idea. The FDPFAFDW shows have been among the most enjoyable gigs ever and the welcome I have received from people every where has been beyond all expectation. I send a special thank you to all of the FDPFAFDW hosts and to the other promoters who have put their faith in me for another year. Book me now for A FDPFAFDW show in 2013.
The next big task is to begin work on the new band project in earnest. I have done a lot of pre- production work and am now putting a set list together, a work in progress, so that I can get an idea of the shape and dynamic of a new show. This isn't going to be an Edgar Broughton Band covers band but it will retain the best elements of it.
So this government has failed to decrease the deficit. That is no surprise. It is clear they are still wasting our money while penalising the poor and vulnerable.The incidence of poverty is rising fast and the "fuel poor" are already facing the hardship of a harsh winter. Profits in last tax year for combined gas and electricity providers was 15 billion. They are still building the two aircraft carriers they wanted to scrap and de-mothballing the Harrier Jump Jets so they have some thing to put on the carriers. What is that costing compared to the tiny savings extracted from those in genuine need? ATOS is still persecuting disabled folk all over the country.
The Americans are still killing their children because they have to enact the right to bear arms. The only thing they need to protect them selves from now is their fellow Americans. We used to carry swords to defend ourselves but gave it up as unnecessary and impractical.
Meanwhile in the land of the free Bradley Manning is still paying the price for whistle blowing on the US army bandits who shot civilians in Baghdad from a helicopter, for fun. Obama is head of the armed forces so why doesn't he intervene? That lovely man Jack Straw's is still denying his involvement with the US rendering and torture of innocent terrorist suspects. Cameron has just visited Oman to sell weapons to a nasty despot but it's ok because he is our despot friend. Remember H.M.S. Galahad in the Falklands war? It was destroyed by a French made Exorcet missile sold to the Argentinians.
Stop those on Welfare benefits spending their cash on cigs, booze and Sky TV? Good idea? That will make a huge difference to the economy won't it? The Treasury will lose revenue but the new UK HAWKS and UKippers will be happy. Next - reduce wages to a level that takes all power from the work force in order to be able to compete with the Chinese and co. What about the bankers and spoilers? Well we need them to continue to earn obscenely massive salaries and a fat bonus so that we can maintain the status quo. It seems we are now dependent on the high street shops making huge profits at Christmas for our future to be any thing like secure in 2013. Is that scary or what?Enough! Resist! Do not join in with a scheme that is bent on maintaining a busted system. The end is nigh for the endless accumulation of STUFF that is likely to make us want more than provide the satisfaction and contentment that we crave.
What can you do? I have heard that a lot lately and the great British public is still mostly inactive, politically. I hope the people will find a way to be heard in 2013 and that we might see the beginning of a meaningful sea change in the way we interact with government and each other. I hope that we might find a way to re-assess what is valuable to us and to strive for what is right.
I hope reason and decency will prevail in 2013. I hope that more of us will get off our arses and do some thing to actualise the values we hold dear. I hope the vulnerable and all those in jeopardy can be protected and saved.
Peace to all.
Sunday, 2 December 2012
Sunday, 25 November 2012
Last Fridays Mad Pride gig, Billy’s (William Blake) Birthday Bash.was hosted in the smaller bar which suited me fine. It’s a warmer atmosphere than the larger hall which is currently being re-developed.
I arrived at 7.30 for a sound check. It’s a habit of mine to be on time. The doors were supposed to open at 8pm. I was first there and as usual with a Mad Pride gig nothing got going until 9pm. I always get a bit frustrated and some times tetchy but the sound guy was very able and within a couple of minutes I had a good vocal sound and a fair guitar sound from a house amplifier. Jason Why was at hand in his usual role as master of ceremonies and he began the evening with his usual energetic rant against government benefit cuts and Mr Cameron et al.
Soon the place was quite full and I settled down to enjoy the poetry and other musical offerings of the third kind. What I mean by that is you rarely hear any thing that is ordinarily straight forward at Mad Pride gigs and this was to commemorate Billy’s birthday. This was the man who saw angels in trees and was no stranger to mental illness as we now perceive it. This is the place to experience things outside the usual boxes. The very sweet and relovent Frank Bungay kicked off the evening with the touching and some times slightly disturbing narratives of his life. Later John Clarke performed his distinctive jazz poetry and later he gave me his book of poetry – All the way from Katmandu. He pointed out a poem in it called The Loop and compared it to my Beggar Man song.. We were totally on the same tip and that was nice! There were other brief performances in an open mic style and all added to the mix.
The audience kept arriving past Dave and Debbie on the door. Dave and Mark organise these gigs on a shoe string budget. A couple of the artistes run other events such as Raw Poetry and Raw Glam that provide settings for artistes of all kinds to perform and be seen as well as an opportunity to see interesting acts, some times for free. There is a very healthy subculture alive and well in London. There are numerous venues that you might not have heard of that provide an exciting alternative and antidote to X Factor culture.
I went on stage at about 9 oclock and played and sang my heart out. I just kept going with little regard or awareness of the time passing. The audience was wonderful and very kind. I felt truly connected and free of any inhibition. Later Jason, who is a bit of fan now, said “I was on fire”. You know what? He was right, I was.
Later came Taurus Trakker a smacking three piece. Thinking mans punk with a slightly disturbing (in a good way) psychedelic edge. Great to see a female rhythm section and it really rocked and so much so that I agreed to do an abridged Out Demons Out at their request. We rocked it though I missed not being able to solo on a strat. Still it was different and went down a storm. I suppose I tend to think all the colour and dynamics of the EBB version is an essential requirement for performing the piece but I am loosening up on some of these long held beliefs. I realise the essence of the song is what counts. It’s a vehicle and just needs to be always performed with total conviction.
Last act of the night was a lady with the unlikely name of Voodoo Citi and this was a treat. Grace Slick meets Stevie Nicks. Nice songs. Made me think about introducing the female element to some of my material.
I had vowed to leave after my set but as usual I found myself captivated by it all and I left at around 1am to catch a night bus with John Clarke back south towards Battersea. It took a very long time and I arrived home at around 3.20am but it was worth it.
When I arrive at a Mad pride gig I always moan a bit to myself that no one else has arrived yet and that I am the only one who seems to want to bother to get a decent microphone sound etc. Then I get completely sucked into the whole thing and love every minute of it.
So I could just relax and go with the flow or I could make ‘em all get a bit more pro for THE GOOD OF THE GROUP. I am going for the latter because we are worth it.
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
still we are here - we love and breathe
Girl sitting in the back ground wants to be a Bishop. Strumming her guitar and singing songs of Jesus. Some creaking men and a few women line up in opposition to quote the ancient translations of a creed that mostly served men. If it were not for the lack of credible argument in their opposition most of us would not care about the issue at all. Outside the Comet workers are quietly croaking in their swarm. They sell cheap gadgetry that has built in obsolescence to hurting people looking for solace in stuff. It keeps the pain at bay. The stuff is manna to the masses that no one needs. There is no machinery that allowed the Comet workers to fight the cause of those previously dumped out of the work place nor did they have the desire to do so. Bleat like sheep the hammer will fall on you next where ever you are. Solidarity brothers and sisters. Remember that? What happens when Olympic feel good factor fades? Cold Turkey? Mythical legacy?
Schizophrenics’ in the UK lose up to 15 years of life due to state neglect. In 2012 three to four hundred children with mental health issues are held overnight in UK police cells due to lack of alternative Places of Safety provision. Here is the news spun down the wires making us dull with it’s repetitive whine. “We are very sorry that this has happened. We will do and are doing all that we can to try to ensure this will never happen again”.
Dark clouds forming over great institutions like BBC and HSBC. The icons of a “ Great Britain” are falling like dominoes and many more are dressed in “The King’s new clothes”. The distant roll of the broken drums of protest is heard to rise a little but they are still not fully voiced. Lost in a sea of stinking politics, the goodly and righteous gag on the scent of the spoilt and rotten. The thin blue line in the north will be thinner still. Government cuts, Natural wastage, the Hillsborough enquiry and the police handling of The Miners strike will do them down. Police morale has never been lower according to Police Federation sources. The tips of ice burgs form in the path of imminent titanic catastrophe for a Coalition not fit for purpose. Balance of payments, National Deficit all is smoke and mirrors. Here what is being taken from the little people is wasted on the deficient schemes of mean government. The trick isn’t working and the debt will remain. New UNICEF survey places provision for and care of children and young adults in the UK near to bottom of the world and one place above the USA.
Some where a young, Chinese couple sip state made cola and dance under the light of cheap lanterns to a strange hybrid music born in the west. They have next to nothing save the promise of a better future and they are grateful. It’s a touching scene but how can we compete with a manufacturing base whose workers are looking forward to more stuff not less? Reduce wages and working conditions? Break the union pests who only rock the boat? What we have is less each day that passes and the decent standards and aspirations of a healthy civil society are a fading fast. Girl sitting in the background has heard the result of the synod’s vote. She will not become a Bishop. Another boy soldier has been killed in Afghanistan. Another mother weeps in Gaza. The leaves turn brown in the pale shine. It’s far out there watching the white lines - go by just like time flies - for everybody else and the racing cyclist. Still we here. We love and breathe.
So who are the heroes? They are the besieged workers trying to maintain what is left of public services. They are the teachers who will not be diverted by the bullying tactics that arise from a desperate need for a school to get out of the bottom half of the preposterous league table game. They are the volunteers, advocates and supporters of the vulnerable and they strive to meet the real needs of real people with shrinking resources. They are the young, bright hopefuls who want to live and work to make a difference. They are the ones who work to establish a value system that will benefit us all. They are the activists who will not give up on trying to wake you up to the need for you to participate in the struggle for a just society. Sophie is 22 years old and wants to be a social worker. She seems undaunted by all that this currently entails in the UK. In’t this wonderful? Dave 19 wants to be a mental health nurse in the NHS. All is not lost.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
I had a very nice time at The Montague Arms last night. It was a cold night and dismal. How ever, inside the Arms it was business as usual. The pub is officially closed and I fear last nights benefit for ALDLIFE might be the last gig. The Arms has been a top venue for many years and has always had a sense of community and predisposition for alternative and eccentric offerings. I imagine the place will be demolished and a block of flats will arise out of the demolition dust.
I love the audience at these gigs and I love their stoic participation and support of good causes that are often other wise ignored.
To say that the other acts on the bill were a bit wonderfully strange would be an understatement. They made me the accessible, pop act of the evening. What a glorious collection of anarchic of artists! Some one has to think and perform outside of the box and they all do it so well and with glorious conviction.
Jason Why did his usual music hall styled Mc job with great aplomb. He gets better all of the time. Out of what seems to be a kind of gentle chaos comes a really unusual and alternative head fest.
At some gigs I often begin the evening in a slightly uncomfortable place. I am so organised on the road that I find unnecessary delay or non pro service a bit tiresome these days if I am being totally honest. Last night was a tiny bit like that but I do realise that sometimes it is me that has to adapt and to banish the anxiety that arises out of a lack of control over what happens next. All of these great gigs are delivered on a shoe string budget and with love and little else.
There was a point early on when I wondered if things would ever get sorted but eventually I had my sound check and I settled into the evening.
I decided to go on before the last band instead of ending the evening and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The audience was very attentive and very giving. I always feel like we are communing together when I play for these folks.
For a change, I hardly said a word and it was nice just to change things up and jam. I am really enjoying joining bits and pieces together in a spontaneous way. I’m going to miss bits of that in a band context though I shall retain some of it.
As some of you will know I am still fascinated by the electric or acoustic debate though I fully intend to do both. In this respect I am a greedy man.
A guy came up after my set last night to tell me he hadn’t heard of me until a day or so before the gig when a friend invited him along and played him some EBB you tube clips and the Rock Palast DVD. He told me he preferred the acoustic stuff on the grounds it was “deeper and more emotionally accessible”. It is all a matter of personal preference and of course I respect all points of view. Any way after the gig for Mad pride I will be concentrating on the electrification of my new material.
I look forward to long months of rehearsals with the new guys with a mixture of excited anticipation and dread. For me it is the putting it together that is the hardest work but if it works it will be special and unique. This I know. Then the gigs will be relatively easy.
So now it is back to the pre production for the new live show and lots of playing with my new toys. There is so much to do and I have to get a move on. Looking back over the year there are a few things I would have done slightly differently but more on that at the end of the year. There are also a couple of things that didn’t get done such as the new T-Shirts and other goodies but it is a work in progress and this will be addressed early in 2013.
I have a lot to do before the gigs in Athens in January. I’m looking forward to that and to seeing what is going on in Greece for myself. I don’t fancy being “kettled ” in Athens but you never know. If it’s kicking off I’d have to have a good look though, wouldn’t I?
ps. If you are using Google Chrome and can't see the photo open photo with mouse click to view.
Sunday, 28 October 2012
See me at The Montague Arms..Saturday Nov10th ..289 Queens Road, SE15 2PA London.
Edgar Broughton, Chris Bowsher(RDF) solo, The Balloons and Psycho Yogiplay at this legendary venue in aid of
It's nearly time to get together with my MAD PRIDE friends for another instalment in the fight against welfare benefit cuts and the increasingly punitive policies of this coalition against the poor and the vulnerable.
Edgar Broughton, Chris Bowsher(RDF) solo, The Balloons and Psycho Yogiplay at this legendary venue in aid of
It's nearly time to get together with my MAD PRIDE friends for another instalment in the fight against welfare benefit cuts and the increasingly punitive policies of this coalition against the poor and the vulnerable.
''Want of money and the distress of a thief can never be alleged as the cause of his thieving, for many honest people endure greater hardships with fortitude. We must therefore seek the cause elsewhere than in want of money, for that is the miser's passion, not the thief's.''
When I was a young and ernest rebel Blake’s words were noble and golden and fired me with purpose and inspiration. He was a visionary and commentator of huge significance.
His great understanding and exploration of the human condition was always fascinating to me and in my callow youthfulness I aspired to make poetry and music that provokes thought and awareness of the issues of our time. Like Blake I want to see the poor uplifted and transported from their drudgery and hardship.
I want to live in a civil society that values the difference in people and protects the weak and vulnerable. I believe that how well we succeed, as a society, in this respect, will prove to be the basis on which we are judged by those to come in England’s green and pleasant land.
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
Are we seeing the beginning of the social engineering that will attempt to create a new order nation that will compete with the low paid emerging nations?
Is it possible that this Government and their friends want to create a new work force that will work for next to nothing, like robots with out rights?
Perhaps you might find this a little far fetched. You may be right to do so or you might be horribly mistaken. I am not sure but we are seeing the poor and vulnerable disenfranchised by the posh boys who have never gone with out a square meal or been forced to work for the minimum wage in a culture that puts the interests of the rich above all things,
This government is victimising the poor and vulnerable in the name of saving money while their banker mates are still not lending the money they were given to help small business and they continue to worm their way out of any accountability for the mess they helped to make.
I don’t need to list the endless examples of wasting our money by the ConDems that we see everyday.
We are all beginning to feel the effects of the decimation of public services.
Social work has become reduced to the point that the streets are slowly filling up with people who should be receiving care. There is little on offer for those who need it most.
Hospitals are often understaffed and dirty. Pastoral care takes a back seat while the paperwork mountain increases for every one.
I have heard terrible stories from genuinely sick people who live in terror that their benefits might be removed and there have been several suicides when this has happened. ATOS have been asking people what television programs they watch to help establish their intelligence level or to see if they could sit in front of screen and serve some function that could qualify them as employable.
June Mitchell applied for sickness benefit. When examined by ATOS, she complained of breathlessness and feeling tired. She was scored zero points and found fit for work. She went back to her GP, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and died shortly afterwards.
A nurse in Scotland was so shocked at ATOS’s behaviour that she blew the whistle on them. She said that people with serious lung diseases were found fit for work as long as they could sit in front of a computer, and that parents who attend with their children are automatically found fit for work.
If the Tories get their way, within five years the UK will have a smaller public sector than any major developed nation.
From "compassionate Conservative to growth rainmaker" to state-shrinker, Cameron has gone through a huge change since 2005. But that is nothing like what lies ahead for the rest of Britain in the next five years. Prepare yourself for welfare to be downsized into American-style workfare, for public-sector jobs to be turned into a second-class employment and for services, from school to healthcare, to demand that users pay more to get something decent. The future is American.
We face the biggest attack in a generation on public services, pensions, the NHS, education, benefits, jobs. Virtually every aspect of society is being affected by the governments austerity measures and over 80% of cuts are yet to be implemented.
This can only be challanged if everyone stands together in one mass movement which says no to all cuts.
On 20 October 2012 the Trades Union Congress has called a national demonstration in Central London against austerity under the slogan ‘For a future that works’. The march will be led by the young unemployed.
We must work to make sure this is the biggest possible day of action against all cuts which brings together everyone in society who is being affected.
We expect people fighting austerity in France, Greece, Spain and other countries will join us.
If any one wants to hook up with me on the march on Saturday please email me
If you cannot be at the march you can still sign the petition at
See link below for info.
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
I have recently returned from the north where I have been staying with my great friends John and Val near Wigan. John is my tour manager and fellow conspirator. Recently we discussed what seems to be the ever-growing tendency for people to chat through gigs. John has a theory that because folk have become accustomed to chatting on their phones about any thing, any where the habit has extended to conversation generally with out let or hindrance.
Of course this isn’t quite as significantly detrimental to a full blown electrical performance as it might be to an acoustic performance. I have been lucky or diverting enough to prevent people from chatting most of the time though there has been a couple of exceptions.
The last was at Burton where my good friend Peter Greening was promoting an event for the charity CRY. I should have known what was to come when Peter tried to get people to listen to his pre-amble about why we were there and what CRY means to him and his people. Twice he began and then there was a hush of sorts. How ever, as soon as Peter spoke many people carried on speaking at a volume that would prevent them having to listen. I began my set after the local rock band 5 days of November, which was an interesting dynamic. I battled on against a backdrop of babbling voices, which annoyed me, but it was even worse for genuine fans of good music (oh yes!) that had travelled some distance to support the cause and myself.
I had planned to play for at least an hour and a half but after an hour and ten and in the middle of a song I gave in to the noise and left the stage. I think some people including Peter and co were a bit disappointed that I finished early but not nearly as much as I was. I need the satisfaction of getting through the set and the simple courtesy that any performer might expect. They didn’t need me they needed some one who would provide the usual cheery nonsense that you might find at any small time corporate event. I know just the DJ.
For any one who thinks, or thought at the time, that I was being moody, I say this. Imagine you are having the best sex of your life and suddenly a voice in your ear is talking to you about the gap in your mortgage re-payments or that you might have left the gas on or ……. That is what it feels like when I can no longer concentrate on my job through the mindless babble. So there! I feel better now.
The Hi Fi Club at Leeds was better and I was better and every one loved me …. Ha ha! Swoon and I caught a cold. My special thanks to all of the staff and to Martin Dixon for a great sound and for the recording. Driving back to Wigan through the torrential rain that seemed to be a regular feature of the recent weeks, the satisfaction factor was back in abundance. I am always pleasantly surprised by the younger people who seem to connect with what I am doing as well as the women who seem to like what I do with an acoustic guitar more than what I did with the EBB. I know some of you guys prefer the full on electric stuff. I like it too but I am enjoying singing songs of the now that folk can relate to. Some times I only manage to do a couple of old songs and no one complains. It is very pleasing for me to have been able to construct and perform a new set of songs in less than a couple of years. This will feed into the full electric show planned for the end of 2013.
The gig was a delight. We finally met Katie who had put it all together for her dad. Katie was married a day before so this was a very special weekend for the family. We started off in a tent attached to the pub but after dining at nine we decided to move indoors as the temperature dropped to near freezing. Once ensconced I began a second part of the show. The acoustics were much better inside and I quickly warmed to the task. I really enjoyed meeting the family and their friends. They are lovely people and made us very welcome. The pub staff came into see the last part of the show and it was great to play for some younger people who had no idea who I was or what has gone before. It was very interesting to get their very positive feedback.
It was fascinating to listen to gig stories from Kevin and his brothers and mates who had followed my path down the years. This gig was special for me from all aspects.
Next day after an early breakfast ( for me) we set off back down in the valley with the sun shining. John checked a couple of old diesel engines but no steam trains were running. I caught a little perch on a lure under the canal bridge to the pub. I later cast the lure into a bush where unfortunately it stayed. A weak knot let me down. Ah well! It’s only stuff.
It was time to head back to London and then back to Wigan for John. We’d had a very interesting time. It is all part of a learning curve and the steepness of the curve lessens as time passes. There are so many possibilities I want to play with. This year is almost over from a gigging perspective though I might be going off to play in Athens in December if the guys there can arrange it. I want to see what is going on there for myself. Meanwhile it is time to continue band rehearsals with Bob Poole and Rick Medlock.
I have lots of enquiries re A Fair Days Pay For A Fair Days Work 2013 shows so if you want one book now for the best summer dates. I'm off to Norfolk for the weekend to play a FDPFAFDW on friday so see you then Jim.
I have just received copies of the EBB live at THE FABRIK Hamburg 1973. This features Vic Unitt on guitar. It is an historical piece that I am sure will be of interest to many of you. Thanks to Tom and all at Sireena records for digging it out and putting it all together. The cd will be released in Germany on Oct. 26, in UK on 12th November.
I have just taken delivery of the ZOOM A 2.1 acoustic guitar effects pedal so that should provide some fun when I can find the time to play around with it. I'm still teased with the possibility of acquiring the Roland synth guitar system and I should be getting my new Apple Mac music station this month. I have waited for the new model on Luke's advice. He is becoming quite expert with his Mac.
Last but not least on the 20th of October there is going to be a huge march against the cuts in London. Be there if you possibly can. Over the weekend and next week I will be setting out some of my thoughts on this and trying to make arrangements to meet up with some of you. We can see what damage the posh boys are inflicting. The recent proposals to further impoverish legitimate welfare claimants during the Tory Conference are unnecessary and despicable.
PS > Should the title of Lance Armstrong's book IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BIKE be changed to It's not about the bike it was about the performance enhancing drugs?
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
low tide fishguard
Having just returned from Pembrokeshire in South West Wales I am now ready for the last of the 2012 gigs. Next up is the CRY Benefit on Saturday in Burton on Trent. Next weekend is the Leeds gig followed by a FDPFAFDW gig in Leek. See GIGS page on website for details.
I was away for two weeks and it was just what the doctor ordered, not that I have been even slightly unwell for a very long time. The plan was to spend serious fishing time in the quest for the elusive sea bass. Well it has been elusive to me and quite a few others. It has been generally a very poor year for fishing.
Five minutes to 5 oclock in the morning. Three alarms ring at five minute intervals. It’s now or never. A quick dash by car to meet Matt Powell a Michelin starred chef with a passion for foraging and bass fishing. He guides people like me to where the fish might be. In the early light we scrambled down a cliff face to the rocks below. I had already declined one access path as unsuitable for some one of my age so we had continued along the top of the cliff where Matt found a slightly easier and safer access to the rocks. We soon had lures flying out from our some times precarious perch atop various rock ledges and peaks. I got the odd soaking from the odd small rogue wave. The tide was receding and as the water fell away a moonscape terrain was revealed. I would definitely look at a mark like this at low tide before fishing it but of course Matt knew the lie of the land.
We fished hard from about 6.30 until 12.30 in the afternoon. I was knackered and it would take two days for the aches in my upper legs to fade. All part of the price of a great and exhilarating experience even though none of us caught a fish. We climbed up back onto the cliff top and headed back to the parked cars. Matt produced a compact array of cooking gear and began to make breakfast.
matt the chef
Omelettes to die for with mushrooms and greenery foraged locally and lava bread of the highest quality.
What a wonderful meal this was and after we sat with kuksas filled with tea and full bellies. Matt is a very interesting companion with a sincere desire to do something sustainable and clean. As a foraging bass guide I believe he has re-invented himself admirably, offering a great service with lots of learning around a broad eco centered base. I wish him well. I am sure we will remain friends and it goes with out saying I’ll be back for more.
Lots of time was spent looking for great places to fish and this meant driving parts of the Iron Man Wales circuit that was used for the cycling stage. I can tell you Pembrokeshire around the Tenby area has some very steep climbs so after a swim and a 119 mile bike ride followed by a marathon they all deserved a medal.
The countryside is spectacular and we only scratched the surface. We fished quite a lot but didn’t catch much. In the second week of our quest we became comfortable fishing on the dock at Milford Haven. The weather and tides were against most beach fishing and fishing on rain soaked rocks so we settled for a couple of our last nights in wales on the banks of the estuary opposite the Milford Haven oil refinery. It’s a bit grim in parts in daylight and huge contrast to the vistas deep in country but at night the lights are quite spectacular. I had caught a small Pollack on a tiny metal lure on a very light rod which made the little fish feel enormous. LRF , light rock fishing is the name of the game and seems a logical method given the rarity of lots of large fish. So, as the rain began to fall on every one fishing this spot we began to consider cutting our losses as we had a long drive next day. I decided to change my bait from worm and mackerel to large pieces of mackerel fillet. It was to use the bait up as much as any thing. Minutes later the tip of my rod bent over and then nothing. My heart was pounding when the tip went berserk and I just had time to reach out to stop the rod going over the wall. I was into a large feisty sea bass. Two days later he provided the main dish of what was a really special feast. I have only taken one fish for the table this year and this was the one I had been set on for this summer. Fantastic! The last cast and there it was.
a bar of silver and a very dazed fisherman
The trip west was superb and we will be going back. The Welsh are lovely people and the country has real heart and character. Although Wales has it's share of poverty it has been largely unspoilt by the lack of gross tourism and over commercialisation such as you will find almost every where in Cornwall. Like every where else I have been lately the high street shops are fading whereas the Charity shops are springing up every where. Pembroke itself has a great community feel and there is plenty of evidence of community support initiatives locally. I caught a nice little perch off the bridge there during a short rest stop.
It is always nice to be home but I miss the smell of the sea and even the bitter wind that howled through the high open spaces. It was great to get away and out in it all. I spent some time with my guitar and managed to progress the writing of some songs a little bit further on.
I shall spend Thursday, tomorrow preparing for the upcoming gigs at the weekend and next week and then it will be rehearse, rehearse with the new band.
Monday, 3 September 2012
Ah the joy of it all! Manchester in the sunshine. Our little party arrived in leafy Chorlton from Wigan about three hours before the show began. It was Dave Owen’s 60th birthday party and quite a few folk were already in situ. We were welcomed warmly and we all said later that we felt right at home immediately.
On Thursday Dave had hired The Muffin men for a night out in the city and they had been partying ever since including a jam session on the Friday night with assembled guests who play guitar. Many of Dave and Nicola’s mates are avid Zappa fans and have met at various Zappa music events. My favourite countries were represented by the nationalities of some of these guests. German, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch and I‘ve probably missed a couple.
A gazebo was set up at the far end of the garden with a little rostrum for me and a platform for the amp. Chairs were set out in the extra-tented part and it was very cosy. I had plenty of time to set up and get a sound with the help of John who looks after me when I’m touring.
here me now - i shout it out
just before the show - with Dave Owen
The next hour or so was taken up with drinks in the garden and meeting the folk who were still arriving. Every one was in good humour and the international nature of the guests added a special flavour to the conversation as it always does. This is indeed a small world and one of the Norwegian guests was friends with some one who was at the gig I played in Norway a couple of weeks back.
Time passed pleasantly and soon it was time to start the show. I had spent a few minutes deep breathing and settling myself. I was gone off some place warm while Dave settled his invited audience and introduced me.
I often have an aluminium drinking bottle with the Liverpool FC badge on and my name. Dave couldn't resist taping a Man U badge over the LFC badge so I drank from a Man U bottle through out the set. All good fun.
I began with Arabesque leading to Speak Down the wires with a little indulgent chanting in the middle somewhere. I always get quite high when chanting and it requires very large intakes of breath. I was glad I had done the breathing warm up at the beginning. I didn’t say any thing at all for a few songs and I was in my element. It seemed as though I had time to think before each chord change and new lyric line. Some times I seem rushed and this is nothing to do with the tempo of the song but more about how centred I am, I suppose.
The little amp provided for me was superb and handled my guitar and voice perfectly. I love the simplicity of what I am doing from a technical perspective. Life is easy with out all the randomness that goes with a band set up.
I moved through the set and my audience was so very good to me. I felt them and this fed the music. I paused after about forty minutes to allow people to get a drink and so on. After ten minutes we were all back together. I know it was an intense performance and people told me so after it.
I jammed around with the new songs Be Still, Please Don’t Take Too Long and threw in a few new parts to There’s a hole in it. It was fun. I just felt completely relaxed and joined with the guests. Their response was extremely generous and this inspired me to play around with the material in a very free style.
Towards the end of my set I played a few oldies such as green Lights and Hotel Room and ended with Evening Over Rooftops. Poppy was the encore and it was job done.
Unfortunately Nicola, Dave’s partner, was busy preparing food for all so she missed the last part of my set. However the meat pie and red cabbage she made was fantastic. Honest, good home cooked food is always a highlight and this was special.
The after show conversations are always a treat for me. It is always a mixture of feedback for the show and tales of the lives folk are living. More and more I find so much in common with the good people who book me for these shows and with their friends and family.
I think my set in Chorlton was the best musical performance of all my shows in the past two years. I know the audience was a major contributory factor and having played regularly lately but then there are the elusive ingredients. They are hard to identify and part of what some call the muse. Any way for what ever reason I stand by my claim ha ha! So onwards and upwards. All of this is food for thought and food for the new show for 2013. The songs keep on coming and they seem to work nicely. I am having a ball. I was shattered after the gig and when we all got back to Wigan I soon hit the bed and was immediately fast asleep. This is a rare thing and I still felt weak after a good sleep and breakfast. A can of Red Bull helped but I realised I had put my heart and soul into the previous nights performance. It’s Monday evening and I am still a bit tired.
It was a truly memorable night for me and one that ranks with the best. Every single one of these gigs has been a delight in it’s own individual way.
Next I'm off to Wales for some serious fishing for a couple of weeks. The FDPFAFDW gig in Chorlton for Dave and Nicola will keep me smiling when the fish don’t bite and keep me interested in the next instalment life has in store and then I am back for the CRY benefit in Burton on Trent on the 29th September ( see gigs page on my website for details). Be there if you can. Its all in a very good cause and one very dear to the promoter and friends.
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
"Ive had to change the venue to South Wingfield Social Club, 43 High Rd , South Wingfield , Derbyshire DE557LX , as there are a lot of people coming and the other venue , wasn't big enough , we have some local bands playing as well as my very good friends Harvey Bainbridge and Jerry Richards ex Hawkwind , will be there”.The above was part of an email I received from Martin Needham prior to heading to Derbyshire for his birthday bash so you can understand that I thought this was going to be a bit different from some FDPFAFDW gigs. I would not be disappointed.
After a fairly relaxed journey to Nottingham I caught another train to Alfreton where I was picked up by Martin and his partner Sharon and delivered to the nearby Travel Lodge. I checked in, went to my room and unpacked my gear. I went to use the bathroom to find there was no light. Not a broken down fluorescent tube for me but no tube at all. I went back to the desk to report this and the insipid individual showed no surprise, in fact he knew already and asked me “Was this ok?” OK? I shouted. I asked how I was supposed to use the bathroom in the dark. He gave me the key to another room and I left. What an idiot! I didn’t think this was a portent of things to come for one minute and later, I was glad to find this to be true.
Onward and upwards and it was soon time to go to the gig. After a short drive in sunshine through leafy lanes, up hill and down dale, we arrived at The South Wingfield Social Club high on a hill. The venue used to be a Miners' Welfare hall built and run by the miners for the benefit of the community and their families. Almost all of these welfare schemes had their origins in the 1920's or 30's and were funded by weekly contributions deducted from the miners' wages, initially to build the schemes and subsequently to run them. Some of the schemes had the word "institute" in their title, probably an indication that they also had an educational as well as recreational purpose. Whatever their title, they all had one thing in common; they represented the hopes and aspirations of the men who worked in the mines, and their families. I walked into the hall and found it to be more or less what I had imagined.
The music was in full flow with a kind of New Order Hybrid / Chapman Family style band playing some cool songs with the aid of a drum machine. The singer had a great and distinctive voice and I sat listening and expecting more of the same but this song and the style it was delivered in was a one off in terms of what followed. This was a very,very good band and very nearly a great band. I was fascinated for a while. I thought how fine the line is between some thing really great and something nearly so. As a performer it is sometimes very difficult to see the difference and most of us tend to hope the song we are currently working on will be the best.
Soon more and more people arrived and soon the place was filling up. Outside a very well appointed fast food van was busy feeding the guests. Nearby a large field was in use as a camping area. The club occupies a large area and has it’s own bowling green which is in top condition and is an indication of the dedicated work that goes into maintaining a quality venue of any kind.The late afternoon session became the evening session and the music took on the distinctive flavour of the post Hawkwind movement with lots of gorgeous old analogue synth flavours and the obligatory, occasional narrative in the style of the electric poets and sci fi writers of the late 50’s through to the mid seventies. That is when it all first happened and here I was in the museum of a time that is loving maintained and perpetuated by some performers of that time and adored by a surprisingly large group of silver machined acolytes. Wonderful!
The lighting and sound crew were really good. People had taken a great deal of time and trouble to put this together and there was a genuine feeling of community. I couldn’t help thinking that the venue management and staff were a shining example of what can be done to meet the needs of a local community and to move with the times in constructive and positive ways.
Among the various chats I had with people I remember a discussion about political participation. Many years a go, while on a family holiday in Cornwall, my son Luke, who was around 12 at the time, discreetly drew my attention to a man walking towards us. After he had passed Luke asked me “Why do older men start to wear bait (slang at the time for rubbish) clothes”? Though there was some amusement behind the question, it was a genuine question and I could see what he meant. The chap was around sixty and dressed in clothes that were pale shades of grey, green, beige and brown. It was a kind of uniform for the fading. If the monks of old wore sack cloth and ashes to atone for their gravest sins then this man looked like he was just saying “sorry”.
It is as though there is a voice inside that whispers to some of us – You are old and should look like it. Know your place and disappear. Become invisible slowly.
By comparison some women often go the other way. For some a permanent wave / curled hairstyle becomes obligatory. This seems to go with garments covered in hugely loud, floral designs or great geometric nonsensical patterns that assail the eyes. Garish becomes the new black. Any way, my point was some thing similiar also happens to political participation and to people who used to be involved in agit prop politics. They give it up as though it is some thing for the young. As though it is unseemly to protest in a righteous cause at a certain age. I say if you can walk then march and if you can't then there is always 38 Degrees for most of us.
If you can march then be there with the rest of us. I know these are the days when if we don’t act it might be our last chance to do so with any effect all. I might have slightly upset a couple of folk with my rap on people participation and references to what I call hush puppy and perm time but it’s my job.
Time passed pleasantly and soon it was time to perform. Within the whole of the assembled throng my people made their way to front of the room and the others headed for the bar where they could chat noisily through my entire set. I have become more able to shut myself off from the distractions and myself and my listeners had a nice time – thank you for asking.
People who listen get it. They know what I am saying and why. They understand that my songs are for them and of today with a small selection from yesteryear. I had a great time and only made a couple of tiny errors. My set was caught on video by two separate crews so some of it should be worth a look when I get the footage.
Below is a version of Speak Down the wires performed at the party. There will be a free signed copy of BY MYSELF for the first person to leave a comment here, identifying the non deliberate mistake in the song.
martin (dr hasbeen) on stage
OK top of the bill next. Martin Needham A.K.A. Dr Has been and the band took to the stage. Previously Martin told me they were “crap” but “it was his party and he would play if he wanted”. Quite right too! Any way, as it turned out, the crap comment was obviously an expression of huge self modesty because they were in fact very good and I really enjoyed their set.
More chatting and then back to the Hotel, sleep and home on the train. We drove back to the venue in the morning to finalise a few things and then I got a lift to the station where it was bye, bye Derbyshire. I had a really great time as I do at all of these gigs. I honestly think that I have gained more from almost two years of Fair Days Pay For A Fair Days Work gigs, than from any others in the past 30. Martin is a promoter so I hope we will work together in the future. Meanwhile my thanks to Martin and Sharon and to all at the gig for looking after me and making me so welcome.
Next stop Manchester for a FDPFAFDW gig on Saturday for Dave Owen and Nicola Taylor. This will be a good 'un! I just know it.
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Inderøy coat of arms
Just before the flight to Amsterdam on my way to Trondheim in Norway, I was trying to think back to the last time I had flown alone. I was surprised when I realised I had never flown alone in my life. So another first. A new day and a new adventure. I was setting out for Stig and Tina Leinan’s FDPFAFDW gig.
The weather was warm and bright as we took off from Heathrow London heading towards Schipol airport in Amsterdam. As we took off from Schipol the sun was going down in the west and the whole of the sky was crimson. It was very beautiful. Some two hours later we landed in Trondheim. I collected my guitar from the rolling conveyor with considerable relief. It is always slightly anxious making, waiting for my instruments to appear.
As I walked through the green lane I immediately met Stig and the guys and soon we were on the last leg of the journey, a 100k drive past fabulous areas of bright water under a magical light. The glittering lights on opposite shores twinkled under the leaden sky and a fresh light drizzle fell almost constantly. We had not met before so most of the journey was the usual kind of induction we all undertake at the start of these gigs, getting to know each other and finding the common ground. It is always there.
We arrived at Inderoy and soon I was saying hello to Stig and Tina’s friends. Like so many of these gigs some invited people had not seen each other for many years. It feels very good to be part of the event that makes this happen.
It was late but Tina had made me a hot meal. I didn’t feel hungry but with in a few minutes I was tucking in. I soon felt the benefit. I realised the journey had been very taxing in a way and I needed energy. I soon got my second wind and found myself singing a song at the request of the assembled friends. I chose The Christmas song. It offered the chance for me to explain something about the way I am working and writing now and also why it is so.
After a dreamy sleep I awoke to find the plan was to cross the bridge to the centrum of a very small community. It was a good plan. There we walked around a small park that housed a wonderful collection of bronze and wooden statues by the sculptor Nils Aas (21 April 1933 - 10 February 2004) .
sound sculpture - fish - by Nils Aas
some of my new friends
There is strong and vibrant artistic culture here. The small community contains several art galleries and there is a strong community of musicians.
At least one of the galleries houses a space where school children can sculpt and get down and dirty with clay at a potters wheel.
Later some of us drove to see friends of Stig and Tina who had prepared a wonderful lunch for
us all. The salad, salmon and the reindeer was sublime and to top it off this was followed by a boat trip on the fiord.
us all. The salad, salmon and the reindeer was sublime and to top it off this was followed by a boat trip on the fiord.
captain eric at the wheel
Oh for one little rod and reel! One day I will return here just to fish. The fishing here is legendary.
I was offered the chance to go fishing on the day of my return journey home but I knew that I wouldn’t want to get up early enough for that, nor let people down by not turning up. It will keep. Next time I am going to make sure I have time to fish what ever happens.
The day rolled by and soon it was time to head off up the hill to the gig. The venue was a restaurant on a high hill overlooking the fiord. The place was built Viking style with a turf roof and with part of the structure built into the hill.
By now people were arriving from all over and I was getting very switched on by the whole atmosphere.
I was to use a Baggs acoustic amplifier for the evening. What a beauty! I had never been near one before. This was a treat for me so thank you Odd Harald for supplying it.
Soon it was time to begin and I did so with Arabesque. I haven’t played it for a while so it was nice to get the fingers going while I settled into the atmosphere of the room. I couldn’t have asked for a more attentive and appreciative audience. I ran through the set list and when I came to Almost Dancing I was astounded when some people, including Stig, joined in on the chorus and they can sing. It was lovely and brought a lump to my throat. This happened again on Green Lights and so it went on.
Occasionally I saw people wiping a tear or two away, especially through The Christmas Song. One of Stig’s favourites is Ice on fire and I was so pleased I had put some effort into running through it before setting out. You could have heard a pin drop. The song is a journey for me and there I was with a room full of people on the same journey though I know the thoughts and feeling the song evokes are different for every one. Transmission ended – more tears - we were joined.
august by the fiord
When I came to Evening over rooftops I had a full blown choir in the room and we sang it with great joy and volume. What a night! I had a fabulous time. I love meeting and speaking with the people after it all and people were so nice to me. I really felt at home there.
So back to Stig and Tina’s house where the party continued until the early hours. Some of the guys sang some of my songs and like many an EBB rehearsal it was evident that I can only remember the songs I am currently performing. This was met with the usual surprise and I get it – I wrote this stuff so how come I can’t remember it?
The answer is simple. I have to work hard to remember the endless streams of words that I produce and that are components of the songs I want to sing today.
Later Stig sang some of his own songs he had written years before. I got the message that these lyrics were political / socialistic and meant a lot to him and to his comrades who joined in singing with him.
I went to bed at around three and rose at 12 midday. A quick shower, coffee, hugs and kisses all around and it was time to leave by car for Trondheim. Some days I am blessed more than on others and this time was as good as it gets. I was a little sad to leave but I know I will return soon to that beautiful water filled landscape, where my heart sings and the air is good.
sunny at last
On the way back, flying over Holland I made a few notes about the landscape there. Flat and filled with dykes and ditches, canals and huge inland seas it suggested the promise of another water filled paradise. As I scribbled little maps in the plane and wrote a few annotations, I decided to try to match these up with Google Earth satellite maps. The first stages of a massive fishing expedition in the flat lands including a trip first to Amsterdam for some provisions? We shall see.
I landed at Heathrow and I was knackered but very happy. I wandered over to the KLM desk to ask where my guitar would arrive. The very polite KLM rep asked me my name and I guessed by her expression that for some reason the guitar would not be joining me. Any way it did arrive on the following morning by courier so just a small glitch.
The sun is shining today here in England as it was when I left my new Norwegian friends. I had a great time. It reminded me of the wonderful time last year with Jarle and Kirsten and all. I hope there will be other FDPFAFDW gigs in Norway.
Here is a very kind email from one of the guests last Saturday. This is what makes it all worthwhile for me.
Here is a very kind email from one of the guests last Saturday. This is what makes it all worthwhile for me.
Just want to thank you fore that you have understand it, and can give it to us in sutch a beautiful way.
It’s a long time since I’have lissen to music like this. I used to lisend a lot to ‘songs of love and hate’ by Leonard Choen.
I love sad songs, they have given me hope again. Like a frech gently breez from the sea....
With love from
Next stop Derbyshire on Saturday for a fun filled FDPFAFDW gig for Martin Needham. I have the distinct feeling this is going to be special and different again.
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