Tag Archive: astral ponies


November’s Musical Musings

Lucy SpragganNow that the seasonal chill is setting in, the big coat has been taken out of mothballs and evenings no longer lend themselves to outdoor entertainment, thoughts naturally turn back to live gigs taking place in the warmth and hospitality of the proper music venues. And for those looking to reap the obvious rewards which come from checking out the original portion of the sonic menu, there is plenty to choose from this month.

Kicking off at The Tuppenny on the 7th, The Astral Ponies bring together a wonderful blend of Victorian music hall, Americana, psychedelia and folky tunes. But it is their quintessentially English eccentricities which mark them out from the crowd, their strange sartorial choices and their biscuit fixations. Come for the music, stay for the Viennese Whirls….and possibly cravats. And in the “if you like that you’ll love this” department ,on the 9th, The Rolleston will play host to blues, bluegrass and country infused roots delights of Lost Eleven.

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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.