Sunday, 29 October 2017

70 still buzzing

the wreck of the Brighton pier

The photo above was taken by Alan Obee in the evening before the show at the Real Music Club some weeks ago. I really like the photo very much. Thanks Alan. It was lovely to see you and Jude.

Quite a lot has happened since I last posted here. I went up to Leicester for a couple of days to hang out with Luke. Oxfam put on a series of pop up gigs across the UK and Luke had elected to play the Beeston gig not far from Leicester. After a short rail journey we arrived at the pub in time to see a young woman already playing her set. She was quite good but hardly any one was listening or paying her any attention at all. She battled on in a way that showed she is used to this. I am always slightly shocked by the volume of the loudest noise makers at these times. The people who, four pints into the evening, are speaking loudly enough for people to hear across a room. When the song is a little louder , sure enough the noise maker ups the volume to maintain the annoyance felt by any one trying to listen.

Luke followed a singing uke player who was not good but who had a weird factor that was interesting if just one small, unintentional step from being comedy. I stood watching Luke with a group of guys who had been at the Focus gig I had just played in Nottingham. To our right a group of people sat chatting very loudly as Luke went through his first couple of songs. I leaned across at one point and asked "why don't you make some noise". They calmed down a little and some left. Three remaining women sat still chatting but then Luke played his heart rending version of the Kate Bush song Running Up That Hill. The whole pub was silenced and from then they listened in near silence to the rest of his set and the applause grew with each song. A very satisfying evening and well worth the time spent.

Next day was Luke's gig he'd organised for the landlord of the Western Pub in Leicester. This was a great success on so many levels. Along with some very polished singer, song writer friends of Luke, I was the guest artist. I played just before Luke and had a great time. The pub was full and there were people in the beer garden that couldn't get in the room. I think Luke was at his best and played a longer set than usual, to a crowd that know his material and get where it's coming from. Some of us sat at the back singing along. That made me proud. All good.

Next was the Focus gig at the 100 Club. Sound check was a joy and they gave me longer than I'd had in Nottingham so that was cool. I had a chance to say hello to the Focus guys who seem to be a very friendly bunch. I got the chance to hear a bit of their set. Very clever but a bit lacking in emotion for me. I love the flute playing keyboard wizardry of Thijs van Leer and the other guys are very good but it's not for me.

I had a very nice time with a very European audience. Most listened and others chatted. Some how it didn't seemed to matter. Its always like that at the 100 Club even when you are the headline act. It's cultural. Ha!
There were quite a lot of Dutch people come to see their heroes and that gave things a nice flavour. It was my first solo performance at the 100 Club and it was nice to see a few friendly faces such as Shoreham Steve and Oxford Pete and co.

Next a trip to see Blade Runner 2 at the Waterloo Imax cinema. 
Grim, bleak, cold, cruel and raining. Gone is the exotica of the street markets with noodles to die for and creatures made in Labs. It snows or rains forever. It's so desperately sad when every one is a victim and essentially slavery, unfettered greed and it's wider philosophy are the causes. 

Visually stunning and dripping with class. A sound track that is almost minimalist but with massive dynamics and full of emotion. I have some criticisms of the sound track but I'll keep them to myself. You judge. Go and see what must be one of the great films of our time. 

Back in the room......I am working hard on my new album and enjoying having uninterrupted time to do it. I am really enjoying fitting together the pieces I have been working on for the last few years, since By Myself. 

I am also working on two online projects where the musical parts, vocals will be performed by several contributors remotely. The parts are individually recorded, at home for example, and then posted online from where the separate parts can be downloaded and combined into a finished piece. It is something I have wanted to do for some time now and to be invited onto some one else's project is very exciting and challenging. 

This year is nearly over already as the clocks go back and winter settles. I've had and survived my 70th birthday so now I look forward to the next adventure. 

Look after yourselves and each other.


Friday, 13 October 2017

fish and trips

on the road again
It has been some time since I last posted here. The reason is very simple in that I have been relaxing on a mega level and of course getting a lot of fishing in. I have also been writing new material for next year's album release and I am happy and some what relieved to say that work on the new recordings is going well.

I took my usual September break with a gig in the middle at THE BRICK OUT HOUSE FESTIVAL at The Admiral Rodney Inn Cricket Ground in Hartshome near Swadlincote. I didn't realise until I arrived there that the gig was a benefit for Heart Foundation. It was a successful endeavour which made a nice profit. All good. There was a section of the audience who thought I was too preachy but thats me. It is what I do and the level of messaging is dependent on the audience and my perception of their response. I did go on about Brexit a bit and suggested the serious problems we all face are simply because we want the wrong things.

in a cause after my own heart

Since the early days I have been used to people coming up to me, saying things like “ I didn't come here to be lectured but to be entertained”. I understand but if a person is offended by my position and does not feel entertained they probably shouldn't come to another gig. In terms of entertainment I think I qualify and people seem to enjoy my political observations and song related stories so I don't worry about it much. On the other hand I met a lot of people pleased to see I am still flying the same colours and people who tell me that I represent them to some degree. That is what I really care about.

a little day boat perfect for getting in smaller places

Prior to the the trip to Derbyshire I had been totally engaged in the pursuit of pike and perch on the Norfolk Broads. After my second cast on Wroxham Broad I hooked decent pike but with a furious shake of it tooth filled jaws it threw the hooks and escaped. On the next cast I hooked another and this time it was landed on the back seat of the boat. It was a feisty fish and went back in the water easily, racing off like a torpedo. I thought this was a great start and boded well for the coming days. As it turned out this was the last landed fish for some days and I suspect changing weather with regular rain in the evenings, messed with the catch rate. I had a couple of other pike and lots of nice perch on worm bait but I prefer to catch a clever fish with the way I work a hard or soft plastic lure in the water. I say if they are there then I will catch them but it is not the absolute truth.

a nice pike

Strike pro baby buster jerk bait - 10 cms - 25 grams
minus 2 x treble hooks, 
the lure that took the pike above

It was getting chilly as I finished my set in Swadlincote and I was thankful this would be the last open air festival of the year. Autumn was making it's presence felt and the leaves were falling in abundance. There is some thing special about singing in the open air, with a good sound and the sound was great. I had really enjoyed myself and now it was time to get back to the wonderful waters of Norfolk.

With no boat for the next days the plan was to find a variety of good fishing marks in the areas that could be accessed by road. I don't drive so I am always reliant on another fishing companion with a driving licence as well as a fishing licence. The fishing was slow and almost at the end of it, on a river I had not previously visited, I caught a quite small but furious little male ( jack ) pike. Pound for pound it was a monster with aggression in spades. When I put him back in the water I wondered if he might make a 30 pounder one day or be eaten by his mum. Where there is predation the cannibalistic violence under the surface of any water is extreme and regular. In the Spring time even fish that don't normally eat other fish will take a small lure that imitates a small fish, indicating they will take a small live fish at this time. This is especially true if their space is invaded during spawning. I have caught roach and even a carp on ultra light, small bait fish styled, plastic lures at this time.

I know you are in there some where

I am always sad to leave the water but always looking forward to the next adventure. Next on the list was the gig with Focus at The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham. Strangely Luke and some friends were going to see Gary Numan at a venue which is literally the next door building to The Rescue Rooms so we all hooked up and they came to see my set before heading off to see Gary. I must admit I have few memories of playing with Focus back in the old days but I remembered the keyboard and flute player Thijs van Leer. From what I heard at the soundcheck I don't really get the band but Thijs is a great musician. His vocoded keyboards are really special and at the end of their sound check he sound checked his flute playing a virtuoso piece perfectly. Really lovely! That woke me up and focused me for my sound check.

I had been a little apprehensive about this gig. I wondered if Focus fans would get me at all. Quite a few folks had come to see me so that was encouraging. I needn't have worried. After Red Star the audience was on side and I had a ball. My song The sound don't come for Mick farren is going down well along with On the news and others. As the set went along I really settled into things and had a great time. I'm getting used to playing 45 minutes before various prog rock gigs. It is very interesting and I love the lack of pressure on me. I had to leave the gig before Focus played in order to get a train back home but I shall check them out when we meet up again for a show at the 100 Club next Wednesday.

Next I am travelling to see Luke play in Beeston tomorrow evening and then I will be playing a guest spot at his gig in Leicester on Sunday. 

It will soon be Winter and my 70th birthday looms large. I don't have any plans as yet but I suppose I should celebrate it. Not sure I care much though. Last gig of the year will be at the HRH Festival in North Wales on November 17th. It has been a special year for many reasons and I have had a great time touring around meeting people from all over. I will be taking bookings for A fair days pay for a fair days work gigs for 2018 from now forward so email me if you are interested.

I will report back on the upcoming events soon.