Archive for September, 2019


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!

69534814_2289696567805814_2039127223759273984_n.jpg

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.

70502869_10156507525233244_8310818480047783936_n

67660225_10156216512895741_3032076379299512320_n.jpg

octoberOkay, it ain’t The RV that this blog’s title suggests but it’s my blog and so I’ll write about what I want. Like many regular promotional nights, this fairly recent and extremely worthy effort is already facing an uncertain future so I think if you like jazz, like pubs, like jazz in pubs, like inventive and cool music or just think that supporting creativity, music, sociality, pubs, booze and everything in between rather than staying in and watching Celebrity Shoe Size with, more than likely Katherine Ryan, on a Monday night, then this tells you everything that you need to know.

“Three musicians, they have never played as a trio before, but there is so much musical knowledge among them they could write a book on the fundamentals of jazz. One graduated from the National Institute of Music in London, one teaches music and the other runs a big band!

So for the jazzers out there, this should be an unmissable evening.”

‘xactly!

a1436536964_16.jpgLife. It’s a funny old business. One minute you are sat in the south of France drinking wine, sketching the surroundings, writing songs and soaking up the sun, the next you are in a Swindon recording studio putting down one of those songs, surrounded by some of the best musicians the region has to offer. Having submitted a song, this song in fact, to a competition called For The Song, things moved at quite a pace. The song was selected as the winner, then there have been recording sessions, live shows in two countries and now work on a full album is on the cards. All in just over a year. Tempus does indeed fugit!

And if Paul started the competition with a good song, he came out of the studio with a great track.  Like the story behind it, there is a natural momentum to the way it builds, from a spacious, acoustic indie-folk vibe to a roots pop-rock final destination, but does so by adding supple sonic layers and subtle musical textures almost without you noticing. And unusually for a song which starts in such understated territory there is an addictive beat right from the start, a beat that drives things on to their natural conclusion, infectious and energetic, allowing the instrumentation to deftly and quietly join the party, a guitar motif here, some extra percussion there, building vocal harmonies and shimmering peripheral sounds. Why be big when you can be clever?

It also paints some wonderful images lyrically, a reflective and poetic tale of living your life to the full, embracing what the world has to offer and filling your “eyes with amazing things.” And whilst the lyrics might be urging you to give new things a chance, nothing underlines the rewards of just saying yes to new things better than this songs back story.

image.png

70352532_10156836773674412_6272372326432505856_nI used to write a weekly music column. I used to be someone. I could have been a contender. Look at me, Ma! I’m on top of the world! Ahh well, fuckem! I hope that the Swindon Advertiser’s policy of appealing to a “younger crowd” via a more “online platform” is working out.

Still, I thought in the interest of drumming up a bit of excitement for some really cool bands I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, I would drop a few names about as, in all likelihood, they won’t get much of a mention anywhere else, not being grunge tribute bands or husband and wife acoustic pop cover duos.

There is a connective point for all of this and that point comes in the shape of a splendid chap called Tim Emery, a man of high sartorial taste and low-slung basses (as pictured) and who I first got to know as the four-stringer with the most excellent Case Hardin.’ Though right from our first conversation it was clear that our respective musical histories were intertwined through various odd musical acquaintances, strange sleazy bands and even sleazier venues. Case Hardin’ have, sadly, called it a day but front man Pete Gow brings his solo show to Christ Church, yes, an actual flippin’ church, aided and abetted by a Clubhouse Records assembled band plus the Siren Strings, for a night of dulcet alt-country crooning and gorgeous classical sweeps on 28th September. If you need a dose of the charming Tamsin Quin (and who never needed that) then that is also the place to be.

The aforementioned Mr E is, as far as I know, not part of that set up but you can find him at The Beehive on Friday 20th with CCRR…or Creedence Clearwater Revival Revival. No guesses who they pay tribute to but fans of The Snakes should note that there are a lot of familiar faces to be found lurking within this wonderful gang.

Emery-watchers will also be able to get a double helping of our crepe-shoed hero striking some poses and throwing some shapes with Last Great Dreamers. Back up to full strength after a recent three-piece excursion, this bunch of Dickensian clad, power-popping, trash-rockers open Fatboy’s Cancer Charity at Level 3 on Friday 4th October as well as popping up again on the Saturday for an acoustic set in The Rolleston. And just look at the company they will be keeping….

So the question is do we call this EmFest or Timapolloza? Or maybe not bother. The votes are in….it’s a resounding not bother.

Some logistics and links…

FRIDAY 4th OCTOBER 2019

DOORS OPEN 6.45pm

LAST GREAT DREAMERS 7.30 – 8.15
Tax The Heat 8.30 -9.30
Rock Goddess 10.00 – 11.15pm

SATURDAY 5TH OCTOBER 2019

ROLLESTON STAGE DURING AFTERNOON
Alicia Griffin 1.45pm – 2.15pm
The Lawless 2.30 pm – 3.00pm
Dangerous Kitchen 3.15pm – 3.45pm
Wolfpeake 4.00pm -4.45pm
Last Great Dreamers 5.00pm – 5.45pm
DOORS OPEN 6.00pm

MAIN STAGE
SPACE ELEVATOR – 7.00pm to 7.40pm
HOLLOWSTAR – 7.55pm to 8.40pm
Bad Touch – 9.00 to 9.45 pm
The Quireboys – This Is Rock And Roll – 10.00 pm to 11.15 pm

And finally, and just to mess up the chronology of this article even further…hey, rock and roll isn’t about following the rules, Level III is also the place to be this Saturday (21st) for Steve Tilling’s much talked about proggy/alt-rock/stripy trewed Circu5. They are joined by I Am The Manic Whale and another band with a Swindon connection, Let’s Swim, Get Swimming. Bands do have some strange names these days…he says eyeing his Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band album in the corner of the office.

Well, there you are, hopefully I’ll see some of you around for a pint and possibly an intense discussion about which is actually the best Waterboys’ album.

Nothing ever happens in this town yaknow?