Monthly Archives: January 2011

Woody Sez

I was invited to this show and it was excellent. I am not “your regular theatre goer” but I do get to a few shows a year due to friends being in the plays, or other nights out organised by friends. It’s usually excellent. I have been chastised for making the “subjective” point that the production of 11 and 12 at the Barbican last year, roundly praised in the press, was boring as all heck. I did make the point at the time that given I’m not “your regular theatre goer”, it was perhaps a bit high for me, and that there are bands I would pay to see play one note every five or so minutes for a couple of hours, and be riveted.

The Woody Sez thing is pertinent in a few ways right now, given the continued popularity of Folk in its many forms, and the frequent mentioning (often plagiarising) of Woody Guthrie by many of today’s artists. I had only a layman’s  knowledge of the story of the man and his work, and this was a very entertaining way of getting an insight, and a chance to listen to a bunch of his work beyond This Land is Your Land, The Car etc…

I made a few observations, which I will share with all four of you reading this.

As this was a press night it was full of them all jibber jabbering away so when the play starts unannounced giving no-one the opportunity to shut up and listen, it feels like a proper London gig, and I wonder if the few still chatting away standing with their backs to the crowd will ever sit down and watch. Thankfully they do. Authentic if nothing else. Authentic again when feeble attempts at a clap-along fizzle out seconds after they’ve started. It IS London after all. (And granted it’s in a very warm seated theatre too)

I was concerned that the musicianship might not be as good as it could be given perhaps that these are actors and not musicians and I felt snobby thinking this, but they were excellent, all four of them, and they’d got the bluesy attitude of carry-on-at-all-costs-when-making-a-bum-note down pat. I wonder if some of the holier than thou types in the folk world might pick holes in this aspect and I hope not, as it would surely be to miss the point.

What follows is a life story of Woody Guthrie told through his songs. His early life, move to California, the Great Depression and him finding his voice. His was a troubled life as you might expect, and yet he maintains this positivity, and humour through it all. There’s a great quote towards the end where he says: If we lose the the songs we have (love songs, political songs, dance songs etc) then we are apt to lose the world with it. He was very keen on learning about culture through songs, and a country’s history.

I wonder what he would make of the way things are today, with every musician on earth seemingly clamouring to align their art with whatever film or product, and the homogeneity of the output that this leads to.

Anyhow, it’s excellent, you should go.




Unconvention Groningen

I’m sitting in a rainy northern dutch town listening to some Manchester stalwarts discuss the music culture of that rainy northern English town. It’s a weird and interesting thing to be listening to this here, and it makes me feel both proud and a bit embarrassed too. Clearly the town has a great heritage and a very sophisticated music community which continues to bring excellent new artists to the world, sucking a great deal of the north west in and spitting them out all cocky and confident and rounded. Still, there’s something not entirely comfortable about shouting about your home town (I do trade on my own identity being from the north west).

That said, the room is full and people are listening intently to Graham Massey, John Robb, Fiona and Ruth Daniel, and Peter Parker.

I can’t help thinking that people’s experiences are and, that they’re all individual. Pretty interesting though, I have to say. Glad they’ve started to discuss how the heritage can suffocate the current scene, which is vast, and amazing.


The Local’s best of 2010

This was on our mailout which you can sign up to here: (Link)

Lucy Jamieson’s top shows:
1) Nedry and Devilman at the Lexington in April – Devilman were an orgy of bass and noise, Nedry were gorgeous. Venue was packed
2) Giant Sand and Kristin Hersh at the Barbican in July – cos I done this
3) Sam Amidon at Cafe Oto in December – I don’t think it’s because it’s fresh in my mind, it was just really very special
4) Flying Lotus at the ICA in Sept (I think) – Cosmic jazz at it’s finest
5) Mathias Aguayo live and Dominic Eulberg DJing at Berghain in Berlin in July. I really did go clubbing in Berlin, and this night was incredible
6) The National at le Nuits de Fourviere in Lyon in August. This was amazing – they played in an amphitheatre on top of a hill. Wow

And LJ’s top albums:
1) Sam Amidon, I See the Sign – I can’t stop listening to it
2) The Books, The Way Out – freaky
3) James Blake, his various eps and singles – brilliant
4) Fourtet, There is Love in You – just an exciting album
5) Walls, Walls – like MBV a bit, but still sounds new too
6) Ripperton, Niwa – I went a bit dancey this year and this album’s excellent

My top shows (no particular order)
1) Shhh! Jan 2010 at Cecil Sharp House. A mixture of loads of the good stuff many of whom have blossomed this year (Sam Amidon/Dry The River/Oh Ruin/Coming Soon) and some kickass headlines from DTB/Jon Hopkins – can’t wait for the next one in Jan
2) The Local tent at End of the Road – Wolf People in particular – amazing plain ol’ psyche rock band plus The London Snorkelling Team. Jazz presented by an Irish man in a white coat at a small town hall community centre, with overhead projections
3) David Thomas Broughton: At Scala with Shearwater who themselves were amazing and appeared as the DTB Memorial Choir! Also at Union Chapel opening for The Unthanks and bewlidering/upsetting a good chunk of their audience
4) The Very Best at SXSW completely smashed it in this back yard. Inviting everybody onto the stage I kept looking up and seeing folks I knew dancing like MADFOLKS
5) She Keeps Bees at The Lexington with Oh Ruin in support. This was smart. SKB on top form at the end of a month of shows and all kinds of problems, and Oh Ruin smashing it
6) Malicorne at Francofolies de La Rochelle – the whole festival was amazing but this set was spine tingling – Emilie Simon, Arnaud Fleur Didier, Dominique A, Phoenix, loads more… Great to be at a Festival where its not just the usual suspects.

Also: Monolithic, Bushmans Revenge, Puma at Cafe Oto, Hannah Peel at Oto and XoYo, Alex Highton and Oh Ruin and Dark Sky Singers in Blackburn, The Rochdale Festival including Travelling Band, Kirsty Almeida and Lightning Seeds (a top day), Leif Vollebekk, Tasseomancy and She Keeps Bees at Pop Montreal, Jenn Lane, Yes Nice, Aidan Knight at Breakout West Kelowna, Carmen Townsend and Tom Fun Orchestra at ECMA, Kyrie Kristmanson at Oto

Bloody hell I could go on… at times like this it’s a nice reminder that I do love my job in spite of the difficult bits (and there were many in 2010 I am a very privileged boy indeed).

And my albums:
1) Justin Rutledge – The Early Widows – I get some stick for liking this as “I don’t like his voice” or “it’s very mainstream”. I think both comments are bollocks. It’s a really well made (by Hawksley Workman), beautiful modern indie country album. I have definitely listened to this more than any other record in 2010. It’s soothing and soft, even in the heavy parts
2) Oh Ruin Silver Lining – EP – We released this softly on iTunes and it’ll get a full release in the Spring. It has 6 songs all very excellent dark moody and bluesy brilliance
3) Dark Sky Singers – Like no English – new from Static Caravan – North East big band with some excellent well written folky/acoustic songs
4) Vuk – The Plains – this given to me by a new colleague I met at Francofolies but it’s by a Fin. And it’s brilliant. Great songs reminiscent of all the bonkers and brilliant females you’ve ever liked
5) Elephant9 – Walk the Nile – like psyche jazz rock madness from Norway, naturally
6) Quack Quack – Slow as an Eyeball – brilliant alt prog math kraut trio my dead on fave band of last five years featuring our Lord Neil Turpin the best drummer you’ll ever see, and in Moz quite possibly the next best – definitely crazy, and Stu on the heavy heavy bass. Three more brilliant and talented yet humble people you’d be hard pressed to meet

There are also two albums I am privy to which no-one else has heard yet, and they rule:

David Thomas Broughton – Outbreeding out in May
Alex Highton – The Woddditton Wives Club out in the Sping