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

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Friday, 31 March 2017

Ashamed to be British?


May triggers Brexit and today we begin to get a picture of the EU response. It seems clear that no one in the EU is going to let Britain have it's way. Why would they? They are saying that they will dictate the process in so far as the trade deals will come after they are satisfied with the "divorce" and only when it is finalised. Today we were told that the EU had no desire to punish Britain as Brexit would be punishment enough.

As many of you will know I work in Norway on a regular basis so I was intrigued by the comments of some young Norwegians regarding Brexit in a recent TV news clip. Most of these bright young ones said they were disappointed with the Brexit vote. That is was selfish with out thought for the coming generations and the interests of young people now. As an older person I feel some shame in so far as many of my generation voted to leave. I think it was a betrayal of the young. Then there are those that did not vote either way in the referendum.  As time has gone by it seems to me that they are mostly people who never participate much ( "whats the point?' ) or are possibly financially comfortable enough to think they will be able to weather what ever storm arises with little adverse effect to themselves. Then there are those who blame every one else for what they don't have. There will always be a scape goat for them and this time, not for the first time it was the new comers, the foreigners. They will whine the loudest if things go badly and the EU/UK deal is poor? 

The future of foreign nationals who live and work here seems fairly safe at this stage so it seems likely that the Brexiteers will not have the satisfaction of seeing them sent home so that "we get our country back". It is very likely that immigration will not fall enough to satisfy hard line Ukippers who will rail against the outcomes imposed by the EU who are desperate to keep the other 27 members onside, just as the disaffected in the Rust Belt of the USA will rail against Trump when they don't "get their country back". 

Today the EU stated that any trade deal would require UK adherence to EU trade union laws and workers rights. We know that while many Tories would want many rights curtailed and total autonomy in respect of law making, our need to trade will limit this. If the tone and content of EU reaction to Brexit today is anything to go by, we will have to comply much more than we might have first imagined before the triggering of Brexit.

Today some one made a rather controversial comparison with Brexiteers and some Germans after WW2. She said that many Germans denied any thing to do with Hitler and his actions nor did they support him. My friend said that one day it would be the same with Brexit when no one will admit to having voted to leave the EU. We shall see. 

I feel that I am beginning to live in an England soon to be isolated from it's european neighbours and possibly the countries that made it a United Kingdom.  It does not feel good or any thing like the best way forward. Yes I am a remoaner and proud of it. 

I some times feel that my writings here might be better appreciated if they were nostalgic writings about the EBB, the good old days and how wonderful it all was. I get that but I am not feeling it.



http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-article-50-theresa-may-eu-angela-merkel-security-divorce-bill-a7657116.html

https://www.artsawardvoice.com/magazine/blogs/i-m-ashamed-to-be-british-today


peace

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

stormy weather




Doris the storm


Doris and Donald, a lot of wind and all coming from the west. Trump aside, I am hoping to get some fishing in over the next few days so I hope storm Doris is not going to curtail that.

I have been hibernating more or less all of this year so far which is why I haven't written any thing here for some time. I have been writing and recording lots of music though so I have not been entirely idle.

I have been watching the news from the US and else where with increasing incredulity. The man Trump is worse than we could have imagined. It is difficult to imagine him getting through twelve months in office with out impeachment or indictment. I feel sure it can't be long before some geeky stats nut will tell us Trump has only 25 words in his vocabulary. When father and son were in business together they were legally represented by the law firm who at the time, represented the three most powerful mafia families in the US. His father was busted for a massive fraud related to the building of homes for US service men after World War 2. His father told Donald he was always right and that if any one disagreed to fire them. Unfortunately it seems he would apply this policy to judges and any one else who disagrees with his mad policies if if he could. What might he do to the free press if he could? Senate and Congress can limit potential Trump damage if it chooses to and we can only hope it does. 

Surely there has never been a more inept and ridiculous so called leader of the free world.  In the past century there have been two men, both with funny haircuts, who wanted to build walls to keep people out and one who wanted to keep people in. Trump will fail to satisfy the demands of the rust belt and other disadvantaged Americans, by restoring their vanished jobs just as May will fail to satisfy the demands of Brexiteers. 

I have said plenty about the underlying darkness that I believe colours Brexit and how I think those who "want our country back" will be disappointed by the final deal. The populist vote cannot be satisfied with out a big push to the right and eventually to the far right. Be careful what you wish for. Marine Le Pen has toned down her fascist rhetoric to satisfy the populist vote but it will return if and when she has power. 

On the subject of rhetoric its seems that political speeches have become so formulaic they begin to sound alike. It is infuriating, especially when a little truth and a properly answered question would be sufficient. After a total disaster due to inadequate management and neglect, we hear  " At this time we are thinking of the victims and their families. We are reviewing policy and have already made changes to operational practice. We will do every thing possible to prevent this happening in the future." So it goes as though we are stupid or at least too stupid to rise up and do some thing about some thing, which strangely brings me to Blair. 

The man, who some think should be brought to book for war crimes, has re surfaced with the campaign Open Britain. It was very weird to hear him suggesting uprising in the UK. Given his tarnished reputation it was sad to hear him critical of Labour Party performance though with some justification.  On the subject of political speeches I am sure I could provide a better delivery than Jeremy. Opposition to May's blundering is poor. If we had any doubt that she had no intention to deliver on her egalitarian, maiden speech outside number 10, we need doubt no more. The past few months have seen government total ignoring all pleas to do some thing about social care, NHS including mental health provision, understaffed prisons and the list goes on. There is money for non of it only the vacuous promises of the new Iron Lady. Meanwhile the poor and vulnerable suffer more and more as cuts bite hard and there is really no one who truly represents them. 

So what of Blair's uprising call? He who spoke very eloquently about Brexit and the state of the nation. A lot of people liked the message but despise the man. It sounds a warning some where deep inside me.  

My mind wanders off into a alternative reality where Illuminati pull the strings and Blair is their rep in the New World. Trump's progeny is  Anti Christ and the Bush tribe and his End Timer mates are revelling in the all of the potential destruction possible. They are all good pals and good pals with Putin who is in reality, only a lowly hit man. Considering the little good that any of them have done for the world, it might as well be true. For those End Timers and millions who believe we are living in the end of days there are many things happening in the world that they will interpret as fore told and supportive of their own view of it all. Whoa! Enough of that.

Seriously though, while there is much to be sad and concerned about, there is always much to be glad about for most of us when we look about us and around the world.  A little kindness goes a long way and we can all deliver some of this if we want to. The good and kind will never be an irrelevance even if their leaders are. In these times of austerity and division, we have to stand up for what is right and fair more than ever. We have to reject narrow and negative judgements based on a persons difference. We should resist and actively challenge all who judge and discriminate on such basis or piece by piece we shall see the rights and freedoms we enjoy reduced to dust. The thing that terrifies me most is that though I never thought I would see this in my life time, I fear I might. 


peace