Category: thoughts and musings


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 flipping’ 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 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 TimFest or Emerapolloza? Or maybe not bother. The votes are in….it’s a resounding not bother.

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?

 

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532525_10151752635811804_1749102226_nIt’s funny how the different strands of past musical activity, the bands, the people, the places and of course the songs themselves, seem to weave in and out of your life, like a maypole lacing together ever tighter so that ever more tapes are running cheek by jowl with their neighbours. I noticed it today when two scheduled posts over on Dancing About Architecture popped up side by side and reminded me of how history follows you around.

Completely out of the blue, a new Black Hat‘s record came my way for reviewing. They were a band who I used to help get Railway Town gigs for, with my erstwhile colleague Gimli the tallest dwarf in Old Town, under our Songs of Praise promotional umbrella. And what a fine band they were too, a wonderful blend of Jam-esque punk edge, reggae back beats and indie chops all coming together to forge incendiary and most memorable anthems. But before the Black Hats, there was Chamfer, and that was where I first saw frontman Nick leading a band making beguiling orient meets occident sounds.

I first saw them at Level III supporting Space Hopper, a band who would shortly evolve into Belarus, produce one near perfect indie-pop album and fade out, though I would get to know some of them through subsequent bands, namely Dave Corrigan’s raggle-taggle roots outfit Good Things Happen in Bad Towns, whose music would later be the starting point for the brilliant Astral Ponies…also featuring Belarus’ mainman Lee Alder.

But I mention this because also crucial to the Space Hopper/Belarus story is Rich Millin, someone who was the tub-thumping better half to my bass lines in a couple of later bands, particularly for the red wine fuelled, folk frolics of Sweet Plums and for a couple of gigs, pig-town, country-punks, Black Sheep Apprentice. And this is where the other review comes in to play. Siamese Youth are a new outfit, based in Berlin and heavy on the 80’s synth=pop groove and they are being helped along their way by none other than my good friend Rich, who has made his home there for many a year now. Hence the review and the serendipitous timing of which prompted this nostalgic wander.

It’s a small world and every now and then something comes along to remind you just how closely knit and global village-like it truly is.

People watching is also a great inspiration for writing. In his formative years as a writer, Jack Kerouac would sit in a bar or cafe and at speed write detailed sketches about his surroundings, the fixtures and fittings, the history and imagined backstory of the place in question. Again, The Railway Town offers a low grade version of such iconic ideas. And just like the bubble of my vision of sharing a coffee with Tom Waits busts into a slightly right wing, English cafe, my Kerouacian ideals are replaced by a chain coffee shop on the lower reaches of the main drag.

And whilst there are cooler, independent places more worth of my time and money, Baila in Old Town, Darkroom Espresso and Barristacats in the less salubrious parts of the town’s rough and ready heart, it is to Cafe Nero I am continuously drawn. 

For a start it is named after a mad emperor, one who famously and probably quite apocryphally, played the fiddle whilst The Eternal City burned, but mainly because its large glass frontage means that I have a glorious window on a not so glorious world. The coffee is good, the snack options fair and the staff all seem picked to match a few certain criteria.  They are generally female, attractive, slightly alternative looking and with that glorious, slightly unpinpointable (hey, Cervantes and Shakespeare made up words too) accent of someone who speaks fluent English as a second language, that evocative, mid-European burr. All of which works for me and also makes me miss Berlin.

But outside is where the action is, a bustle of people to-ing and fro-ing for work, lunch-grabbers and shoppers,  mixed in with The Greys, those people who seem to just be hanging around looking for opportunity or relieving boredom through hijinks, hustle and hassle, dressed in the drab sports gear that is their uniform. I’m sure that they too had ambition once but I guess at some point had it surgically removed by an unlicensed doctor operating above a kebab shop in Gorse Hill because they needed the cash for speed.

The pleasant surroundings of this establishment are put into sharp contrast by the fast food joint opposite whose use of primary colours on the facade seem to create an audible noise whilst below a line of mobility scooters are parked up like a scene from The Wild One as their supersized Marlon Brando’s tuck into another full English still unable to make the connection between fried food and weight related issues. “Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against? “The answer is quite possibly salad.

All fodder for a book I may never write but all thoughts that I feel the need to get out of my head to make room for other, more bill-paying, assignments.

Banksy-Nighthawks-810x399Writing is a very solitary process that’s for sure. And as much as I like being the master of my own work space, that breaks come as and when I chose, that the coffee pot is three feet away from me and I don’t have to deal with any awkward encounters whilst waiting for the toaster to ping, it can start to send you a bit stir crazy. There has been more than one occasion when I am sat at my desk perhaps scribbling another short review of an American alt-country band who may not be quite reinventing the wheel but are reinventing Ryan Adams, and I realise that I feel off-kilter, ebbing and that it probably stems from the fact that I haven’t left the house for three days. Not good. It is at these times when I head into The Railway Town and find a place to be sociable (at a distance), get some air, a change of scenery and watch the world go by for a while.

It is usually an excuse for a fried breakfast and whilst there are some nice places to chose from I usually aim a little down market and head for Pappas. (You will have worked out by now that I’m using the Kerouacian system of changing the names of people and places, local readers will work things out, non-locals won’t care.) In my head, I’m a writer of note slumped over a plate of chilli, getting buzzed on black coffee trading quips and cigarettes* with Tom Waits (hence the title) in a late night Denny’s, in the early 80’s …and for some reason it is all happening in black and white. The reality is very different.

The reality is I’m surrounded by bald men in big shorts and Bench t-shirts having burgers whilst their wives bang on about the shopping, the housework, the holiday, the kids and every niggle in-between. At least two of the tables will be spouting Brexit rhetoric, deriding anyone who looks different from them, despite being in an eatery run by a Turkish family. There’s a table of white street gangsters, their whole speech pattern seeming somewhere between Hounslow and South Central…fa real, blud!…and between it all the botched and the bungled, the lost and disenfranchised all go about their unadventurous existence.

Still, they do a great bacon and eggs and that’s what really matters.

*I’d take up smoking just to compete the picture **

** I’d forgotten just how much fun footnotes are ***

*** I’ll stop now. 

They say “Writers write” a statement to the fact that you can only really consider yourself a writer if you are actually producing work. And write I do, music reviews and promotion, travel articles, local news, even content for games designers is part of my working day. But where as that is how I earn my living there are so many other things going on in my head, mainly inspired by my walks into town to get lunch that I thought, as a form of exorcism, I should use this blog as a receptacle for such wittering. It’s not important, I doubt if anyone really cares to read it but sometimes I just need to empty my brain of the niggles and nags of life so that in its uncluttered state it can world more freely.

Writers write…and so shall I.

railsea-port.jpgWhen I set this site up I found myself positioned at the heart of the local music scene and whilst I had a site that catered to all my non-local music musings over at Dancing About Architecture  I set this place up to specifically talk about the gigs and happening in and around this Railway Town that I call home.

Since then The Ocelot Magazine saw fit to replace my sonic ravings with a cut and paste fashion two-pager that seems to be mainly a place for the author to advertise the free stuff she is given and thus screw more freebies. The Swindon Advertiser decided that my Sounds Around Town live music recommendations could easily be replaced with a cut and paste listing with information garnered from the event pages of the gigs in question and thus self-penned by the artists in question. As we say in freelancing…them’s the breaks.

So with my ebbing away from the music scene and having to find gainful employment elsewhere, this column now feels under used. Add to that I always feel the need to sound off a bit, but wish to avoid the pointless bickering that comes with Bookface and Twatter, the logical conclusion is to make this blog into a combination of the artistic endeavours that still cross my path and the occasional shout into the smokey ether that hangs above Railway Town. And so, that is exactly what is going to happen next. Read, comment, enjoy, ignore….the blog is your oyster.

Extra points if you spot the inspiration behind the image that accompany’s this post.