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59832831_2835369863156182_5602576901085331456_nA couple of weeks back those awfully nice people at Songs of Praise put on a bit of a blinder of a show. Ex- Case Hardin main man Pete Gow was the headline draw aided and abetted by a band garnered from the great and good of the Clubhouse Record’s roster and a 5-piece string section. In a church! On a Saturday Night! With a bar!

Now, I would have thought that this would be seen as being something a bit special but apparently not. Despite features in The Adver, Ocelot, Swindonian, SOMR and the like, it failed to pull many at all. It was up against some stiff competition with The Radioactive Zombie Mutant Bikers From Hell in town to play loose approximations of tired classic rock songs and Fred Spode offering his take on Joe Bonamassa numbers – so, covers of covers of covers. And what is it with Joe Bonamassa? Apart from blues aficionados, no one had heard of him 5 years ago and now he is touted as some sort of minor diety by cover bands!

Anyway, I digress. So basically you weren’t there, and I have the maths to prove the probability of this sweeping statement. And because you weren’t there you not only missed a glorious set from the aforementioned Clubhouse posse, you missed a elegant and eloquent opening set from Tamsin Quin, helped by Jamie R Hawkins, no slouch as a singer-songwriter himself. It looked a lot like this….

There were plenty of “gutted I missed it,” comments and Instagram hearts after the fact, which is either lovely or annoying depending on your viewpoint, and of course, the lesson learned is that shows like this don’t happen often and when they do they need to be supported. “I’ll catch the next one” doesn’t work if the promoter decides that there is no point doing the next one.

I was just going to post the video and leave it at that, but I do get annoyed at what I perceive as apathy for shows which really bring something new and add a new dimension to an already struggling live circuit. Rant over, I’m off to eat cheese and listen to Mazzy Star, enjoy your Sunday.

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image.pngIt feels almost like getting the full set. I’ve recently had music in from both Tamsin Quin and Phil Cooper and as this little pop-folk triptych seem to swirl around in various matched and mixed combinations popping up on each others records or playing in each others bands, it seem entirely right that I have something in from Jamie too.

It’s always hard to make heartfelt music sound sincere, many artists, presumably with the best intentions, fail because they end up resorting to cliche or schmaltz or just suffer from not having a deft enough step to navigate such difficult territory. Jamie has always wandered such pathways with ease. A combination of clean-limbed but clever guitar work and a masterful choice of words deliver the perfect tones of raw honesty that such songs require,  and Thank You, Friend, like many of his songs, drips with exactly the right sentiment. You can fake many things in music, and indeed life, but sincerity is not one of them.

Blending pop accessibility with folk earnestness, intimacy with a universally relatable message, a hint of retreating darkness in a brightening future, a clever mix of dexterous playing with resonant weight,  Thank You, Friend is Jamie doing what he seems to do so  honestly, so exquisitely well, so charmingly and somehow, so effortlessly.

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Stopping and watching the world go by, as I have said before, is a fascinating pasttime. To this end I am back in one of my favourite haunts, the one where you get served coffee by effortless cool twenty-somethings with fantastic accents. Being match day and the coffee house in question located on the thorough-fare between the train station and the football ground there is a heavy police presence outside. I make my coffee last to watch the antics. There is always antics. Sometimes even shenanigans! Let’ hope that we don’t get any chicanery.

I don’t really do sport. Not any more. There was a time in my formative years when I did. In fact I represented my hometown in two sports and had county trials for a third. But that was a few years BBE. Before the Beer Era. I get playing sport, I don’t really get watching sport. But of course the ones here for the antics, and possibly even the shenanigans, are not really here for the sport either. That’s why there is a heavy police presence.

I have probably missed the main pack’s arrival, they are already in the pubs, judging by the sirens ricochetting down the streets, but I do get to witness the rearguard’s arrival and the sight of, mainly, 50-something, bellied, balding men having to be escorted between station and stadium but 30 year old police in riot gear (in case of chicanery) is amusing to say the least. “I appreciate the overtime but I didn’t really get into policing for this,” is, I surmise, going through many of the officer’s minds.

It’s at this point I like to play a game. Obviously I can’t hear any of the conversations and exchanges taking place outside. I can only hear the coffee shop soundtrack, one comprised of inoffensive, middle of the road music, the choral chaos of 24 separate conversations taking place and the staccato beeps of cash tills and timers. But you can put your own script to the moronic melodrama as it passes by.

Today’s cameo featured a baldy, belly-bloke (BBB) and a playground duty policeman (PDP) and an encounter that seems to be about the BBB’s right to wander off the beaten track as he is being herded towards his destination.

Perhaps…

PDP: Excuse me sir, can you keep heading down the designated route.

BBB: (shouting, pointing, making sure his friends are watching) How dare you victimise me, you almost touched my arm. If I want to head off down a side street and smash a window then that is my right. I’ve seen many documentaries about people who died for my right to be an arsehole.

SUBTEXT

PDP: (Can you stop acting like a 8 year old, hopped up on an orange squash sugar rush and act like the grandfather you are. I bet the kids are so proud.)

BBB: (I am a legend. My tea better be ready when I get in this evening or there will be trouble.)

Maybe not…
Still, I am home now. But I do live a stone’s throw from the ground, and let’s hope that remains just a metaphor, so at least I get to sit and work with the dulcet tones of “hoooarrgeunnnrendooooon” and other such anthemic gibberish, probably involved mass questioning of the identity of the opposing fans, floating through my window. Who are they indeed?

Sport, it isn’t really for me.

PS: No gross generalisations or hyperbole were harmed in the writing of this rant.

11133786_10153234946553064_9116099339198896169_n-1Even though it is demonstrably not true, I have been tarred with a reputation for hating covers of songs and those who make them. But I will say that if you are going to attempt a song already in the popular canon, especially one as well known as this, then you need to be either breathing new life into it, giving it a new sonic space to exist in, new musical pastures to frolic in, or you need to be understanding of what makes the song live, its essence and pay tribute to that. And this rather masterful rendition of Crowded House’s most elegant opus (forget all that Weather With You nonsense, this is the real deal) is very much the latter, a tribute.

And who better to take on such a task? Phil always shared certain sonic DNA with Neil Finn, and Neil Finn sits at the right hand of Our Lord Mike Scott so already there is a certain pedigree at work here. I used to book both Phil, and Jamie R Hawkins who is the second vocal which you can hear adding some wonderful harmonic grace to the proceedings, and so even before things kick off the very notion of what is going on here is pretty exciting.

As I said, this is a very faithful rendition, but then again to me, and probably to Phil too, this is hallowed ground so why subvert it when you can pay tribute to it, and pay tribute it does. There is the same elegant dexterity to the guitar work and even without trying to sound like the great man himself, you notice that Phil has exactly the right voice for the job plus Jamie’s  added vocal weight is perfect. Succinct, spacious, eloquent, charming, just like the original.

Not many cover versions live up to the standards set by the original, how could they, but I would say that when you set this next to that glorious single, there isn’t a lot of light shining through the gap and how could you ask for more than that? Okay, a Neil Finn house show, but until that happens…

 

Pre-save for 4th October release

65711033_566705930400984_5857755841741979648_nJust when I have resigned myself to being that stereotypical oldie, moaning about things not being as good as they used to be and being able to remember when all this was fields (….of the Nephilim*) along comes someone to remind me of how good things really are. That there was no past golden age of music, that things are no better nor worse than they have ever been, and that there are always clever people coming along with refreshing and interesting music if you know where to look for it.

I must confess that I get wary when confronted by a ukulele, I remember the uke-pop overkill of 2015 when no self-respecting popster would be seen without one in public but this, thankfully, feels different. Very different.Take the opening salvo Cogs for example, the pesky little four stringer is in there somewhere but it still sounds like quintessentially English pop music rather than an advert for pineapple topped pizzas. And pop it is, carefully constructed, lyrically driven, thoughtful and rather well done  at that.

I Remember drives on a thudding kick drum beat dressed up with delicate strings and hazy, half-heard harmonies and Your Favourite Place breaks out the understated soul groove.The EP rounds off with Music Manic which is simultaneously the most complex, most interesting and probably least overtly commercial of the quartet. But for me that is where the good stuff is found; fuzzed out guitar, strange and sonorous sonar sounds, the lyrics delivered by half raps, world weary singing and distant radio voices. Slightly weird, wonderfully compelling!

No matter what your tastes in pop music Jordy has it covered, genres are mixed, styles-spliced, pop-divides lept in a single bound. But the greatest thing about this young artist’s opening musical statement is that it is both commercial and cultish. The pop pickers will love its easy ways and the more underground movers and shakers will kill for the bragging rights of being the first to its sonic treasures. Great stuff…hmmm, maybe I’m not so stuck in my ways after all.

*Give me a break, I’ve been waiting to use that joke for over 20 years!

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I guess if this blog is going to pick up any significant numbers I should embrace some of the bigger names that this fair town has offered up over the years. And just as I was thinking about that, serendipitously this popped up. It was posted by Henry Priestman, then a member of The Yachts, later a Christian and these days a member of Ian McNabb’s trusted musical entourage.

Anyway, it will give the readers something to argue about until I make a scathing comment about cover bands or suggest that certain venues aren’t great at advertising their gigs.

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