Sunday, 25 September 2011

the young ones - positive images

mark cavendish, pictured wearing his
Tour De France sprinters green jersey,
is world road race champion 2011

This has been an interesting and exciting weekend so far. It began with my trip to Birmingham for a FDPFAFDW show, more of which I will post here when I have photos.

Mean while I have to tell you about my night after the gig. Steve, my host, had booked myself and some of his mates into a little pub called The Adam and Eve on Bradford St about a mile from The Bullring and city centre. Though rebuilt early in the 20th century and extensively repaired following bomb damage during the Second World War, there has been an Adam and Eve public house on the corner of Bradford Street and Warner Street for more than 200 years. The original Adam and Eve public house was built in Over Meadow, a pocket of land on the Ravenhurst Estate owned by John Lowe. The future site of the pub is marked on an estate map drawn by Samuel Bradford in 1748.

The Birmingham I knew as a kid has changed beyond recognition. There is a Blade Runner style mix of modern and decay. Much of the old and traditional manufacturing that made Birmingham famous through out the world has gone leaving old buildings empty. This is a typical sight through out the midlands and the north but there is an energy and diversity everywhere that is extremely encouraging. This big old dirty town has seen adversity and depression and yet it seems undaunted.

When Steve’s mates and myself saw our rooms we were not overly impressed. Not that there was anything wrong with the rooms but I don’t think any one would argue that they were not basic to say the least. It’s always nice to find a towel or two in the bath room and a TV that is actually connected to some device that will produce a picture, such as an aerial. You get my drift.

Any way after the gig that ended at 1am Steve put us in a cab back to the Adam and Eve, our accommodation for the night. It was by now around 2am and the place was jumping to very cool dub style mash ups, old dance faves that covered the best part of 20 years and some very cool techno. The sound system was very good and the music great but it was the young people that made it so special. I wish some of the folk who have such a down on young could have been there that night.

Young men dancing together, young women dancing together and young men and women dancing together but … it was the dramatic range that impressed me. These young ‘uns were beautiful, expressive and joyous.
There was no pushing or shoving. No one was loud, rude or disrespectful. I had a word with the big, calm man on the door who told me it was always cool with almost no trouble.

I went outside for a little while and just watched people arriving. I was fascinated by the sense of community as people greeted each other and many of them spoke to me. Back inside no one stared at the old guys as we supped our beers and watched. Soon two of the guys retired up to bed and I stayed with their mate and we loved it. Turned out he was a big dance fan and the tunes had a special nostalgic significance. It reminded me of my Fundamental FM Youth radio days from Jungle onwards. I did wonder how the others would sleep. The sound system was LOUD and had endless pokey sub bass pumping non stop. Oh heaven! Just watching this joyous gathering dancing and miming all the words to the tunes and the huge repertoire of dramatic dance expressions was amazing. The young women serving behind the bar were delightful with a smile for every one right through the night. All of the staff seemed very friendly and in control.

At around 4.30 am the night was winding down and the lovely and bright young things were heading home so I went to bed. My friend stayed on for the end. I hope we meet again. It was special to share that with some one I hardly knew who liked this music as much as I did. We both enjoyed watching the young dancers as much as we enjoyed the music. I say it again – The kids are all right!

However basic the accommodation at the Adam and Eve I had a lie in until 1.30 pm on Saturday in fact I could have stayed longer. Totally civilised. I finally made it down to the pub to find it packed with folk having a drink before the Home game at nearby St Andrews where they were to draw 1-1 against Barnsley. The Adam and Eve is the last remaining pub on Bradford St. They host live music 6 nights a week and promote local musicians. If you are in the area on a friday night, late and you like your dubby/ techno tunes loud and in a space where people make the atmosphere then the Adam and Eve is spot on.

Sunday brings more excitement. Mark Cavendish has just won the gold medal in the Men's World Championship Road Race. It’s been 47 years since a Brit won it. The last winner was Tommy Simpson who later collapsed and died during a stage of the Tour De France on Mount Ventou, probably the cruelest of the French climbs. I remember my dad in floods of tears on hearing the news. If Dennis was still around he would have been so proud of Cav. Mark Cavendish is the fastest sprinter in the world and today was a truly historic day for all of us UK cycling fans so thanks pal and thanks to all of the UK team. You are the best.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

the way of the bow

Kyudo, which literally means The Way of the Bow, is considered by many to be the purest of all the martial ways. A true shot in kyudo is not just one that hits the center of the target, but one where the arrow can be said to exist in the target before its release.

I had a bow as a kid and frequently got into bother with my dad over the home made hunting points, for my arrow making, forged in the metal work room at Leamington College for Boys. This was the first time I had touched a bow since then. The rain poured down in sheets as I fired my arrows but there was some thing very calming and focusing about the process. This is some thing I will definitely do again.  My aim improved with each arrow and my breathing found a place in it. I have been practising various forms of breath control towards mastering circular breathing for chanting.

 little hoveton broad

The first week of my trip out and about was spent near water but the weather prevented any serious fishing adventures. The second week was on the waters of the Norfolk Broads and one of my favourite places.

I spent some days off the water after a week on it and on consecutive days I wrote two songs. This is something of a record for me. My current rate lately has been more along the lines of one every two months. Here are the lyrics to one of them.

castles come
towers fall
and kings who
lose their heads
our will be done
the time has come
no laying safe
in beds
this england now
is in decline
as bad has she has seen
save our souls
the cry goes out
now we must intervene

i'd do any thing - any thing with love
i'd do any thing - any thing with love

hear me now
i shout it out
some one has fallen through
and gone down to that darkest place
no dignity nor truth
it breaks my heart
to see the poorest
get poorer by the day
the time has come
for justice now
and we must have our say

i'd do any thing - any thing - with love
i'd do any thing - anything - with love

home for a week
headed north up the river ant

On the last evening of my away days I caught a little pike on the Stour to a small silvery artificial lure. The fish was very small compared to most of my pike but it was the only lure caught fish of my trip. I put him back with thanks and I hope he grows to a big ‘un if his momma doesn’t eat him.

my kind of driving

This afternboon I have been playing through some of the recordings of my performances this year and I can tell you there is an album in the can. I plan to start work on mastering the material in November for a 2012 release along with post cards and a new T-Shirt or two.

So I’m off to Birmingham for another Fair days pay gig on Friday. I have to change my guitar strings and do a little rehearsing. I hope too include the new songs if I can memorise them in time. My head is still on the water out in the wilds but I can hear the sound of the city in the a back ground as I write this. There really is some thing to be said for dipping in and out of the urban and rural extremes of this country. I love the contrast.

As you will know I am playing a fund raiser for Mad Pride in London on the 7th of October. This is exactly the kind of contribution to community I want to make as an artist. If any of you are involved in any fund raising, for a worthy cause, and you would like to me to appear at your event, please let me know. I require no payment only minimum expenses if any at all. I hope some of you will come to my London gig. If the rest of the bill is any thing to go by it shows all the promise of a great night out and it is all for a very worth while cause.


Thursday, 8 September 2011

I first came across Mad pride through their website some years ago. I like what they stand for and the way they go about their missions. Some time ago I said here that I was prepared to play for a worthy cause so here we go. Hopefully this is the first of many. I hope I might see some of you supporting this on the night. It will be my only London gig and another way to fight back and .....have fun. Power to you all!