Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m a cyclist, a driver and a pedestrian

When I experience, hear about, or witness irresponsible behaviour in a professional context it reminds me of the debates between road users who annoy the hell out of each other all the time.

You get folks saying they’re better drivers ‘cos they’re cyclists and so on.

I hear “all agents are c*@!s”, or “all promoters are slippery”.

I also hear that that which you dislike in others is what you recongnise/dislike in yourself.


Are we so delicate?

Fragile

I’ve had this reputation for a while among certain of my friends for being a straight talker. This is a bit wrong. I am a bit of a show off sure, and will say something to get a laugh, or a rise off someone, but I’m not intentionally mean and it hurts me a lot when folks are intentionally mean to me.

I have recently been reminded of something. A while ago a (well known) journalist told me that not liking or getting The National that much prevented them from writing anything at all about them as they didn’t want to say negative things about a band. The thing that reminded me was another (well known) music industry type not wanting to inform someone that the band they look after isn’t really for them.

Surely there is a way we can tell our truth without worrying about hurting people, and surely in turn there is a way that we can see someone’s truth as not intentionally mean and just move onto the next thing… It’s important to tell the truth no? Without being a dick right?


Good artists to blame for bad ones… there I said it…

you're not going to get heard if you're just sat sitting Under a Rock

Today I have been grumpy with two excellent artists who both got in touch to get shows and yet it was such a trial to actually hear their music. Just send a link to where it can be heard online. Just send a LINK!

So much average stuff is made available instantly and probably gets noticed  because it was so easy for the person to hear it.

I could expand upon this theory and suggest that decent bands/artists are in some way to blame for the actual EXISTENCE of the mediocre ones due to some idiotic Wayne’s World “If we build it, they will come” attitude.

Make it possible for people to hear your music please. (Especially if it’s good)


Three Cane Whale

Three Cane Whale
Self titled

This is fantastic record deserving of all kinds of exposure. Shades of Pullman, Penguin Cafe, Yann Tiersen, it never dives too far into the new folk areas. It has a kind of indecipherable provenance. Is it English, French, American? Is it Post Rock, Folk, Chamber, Ambient?

It’s beautiful is what it is, and it has just perfectly soundtracked the first half of my train journey, sun belting through fluffy clouds, made three dimensional by the fast train.


USA dead quick…

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I didn’t do part two and three of the US trip. I flaked out. Actually it was worse than that. I came back from the US utterly dejected, worn out, mojo non-existent, and wondering why on earth I actually DO any of this stuff. (I have yet to find the answer but the fact I have started to look is a good thing).

Austin and LA were dead good on some levels, but various factors meant I had to spend far more money than I had, than my company had, and I came back feeling sick. Lost. Hopeless.

Then after some time and some fancy footwork and you start to believe some kind of miracle will happen again, and that it might be alright. Still not sure, but it might be. Anyhow, the pictures are cool, enjoy them.


The Local in the USA part one… New York 1

So March saw the latest leg in what has become something of a pilgrimage to Austin for South by South West. More soon on whether I think it’s actually worth all the hassle and money. Like the last couple of years we had a stop over in New York on the way out, for a few shows, and this time we added a few days in Los Angeles on the way home. Well, whyever not.

Oh Really at Pete's

Oh Really at Pete's

Saturday 12 March saw my own flight out, and growing some extra grey hairs worrying about whether Alex Highton or Oh Ruin would actually get in, given we’d made the decision to come without work visas. Quite why you should have to get them is beyond me, for a trip like sxsw, but still, the rules is the rules. And we started the whole frikking trip with the real possibility that one of them wouldn’t make it. It reminded me of going to Amsterdam for my brother’s stag do as Paul Clark, as I had lost my own passport. Terrifying. But ALL OF IT WORKED. NOT A QUESTION ASKED. All that worry. So we got to play our first show at Pete’s Candy Store, who seemed most unaware of us, which was weird. But then the show was great indeed. We were turning people away. OK, so it’s a very small venue, but you can only play the team in front of you right?

We are The Road Crew

Alex Highton (sorry no image) played a pretty subdued set then explained why by falling asleep on his chair during Oh Ruin, who were great actually, and then DTB playing his first show for a good while, made not the best use of a crappy system and it was very quiet up front, yet his faithful were ever so… erm… faithful. Some three die hards bussed in from Philly each time we played, which was amazing.

DTB at Pete's

It was really special to get to spend some time with my cousin and uncle while in New York, that Saturday afternoon, and also with She Keeps Bees that evening, and staying at the Bees place, only destroying one or two precious things.


Woody Sez

http://www.woodysez.co.uk

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


RIP The Luminaire

I’m in Bristol for this music event which I am privileged to have been asked to speak at. I find these experiences very interesting. Sometimes annoying, sometimes energising. I like to speak, and have become comfortable enough speaking in front of people. I believe I do a pretty good job of it. Many people far more experienced and clever than me are flatly not that good at speaking, or presenting, and I wish they’d do a little more in the presentation of themselves, their important messages getting lost in mumbles and unengaging banter which can lose a crowd. I am looking forward today to listening to a couple of panels about how to get heard, and the digital world. These should prove useful. I hope the people speak clearly and are engaging!

Like many people I got the email last night from The Luminaire informing me of their decision to call it a day. My friend Al English ex of ATP now of Blessing Force first told me about the venue as he’d played there with Youth Movies. so we had Billy Mahonie play there. My first experience therefore was of playing there. It was a busy night and I can remember the fun we had. The smooth running of the operation, the nice staff and so on. So I decided to bring a few of my Local or Knom Music events there and in the subsequent years we brought a good bunch of shows there. Some shows utterly bombed. Some were mad busy. We were always treated completely professionally, and with enthusiasm and kindness by Andy, John, Molly, Frid, Arthur, Matt, regardless of numbers.

I remember the countless times Andy told people to shut up. I loved the fact they wrote it on the walls. I brought one of our Shhh! events there once and it was a (quiet) blast. I have listened with interest at Andy’s rants about inequalities in venues, and I am aware in these austere times, of the shocking losses some places have the wherewithall to make – losses even half of which would buy some new kit or a stage for a new venue. I have enjoyed Andy’s rants about Agents too!

Perhaps all of us are responsible for this.  I should have tried harder to put more shows there. Some of those shows we took into bigger venues and performed very poorly we should have rammed the Lumi with. As punters we needed to accept that Kilburn isn’t that far away, and use what is actually a very fine public transport system to get to London’s finest small venue for a great night out more often. We’ll definitely miss this place now it has gone (is going).

I think as fans, and as musicians, we are often the last to take the reality check on what is working and what is not, as we’re the least willing to call it a day “just before the miracle happens”. What Andy and his team have done is incredibly sad but also bold and I can only imagine they’re very relieved just now. I look forward to seeing what their next move is. I bet it’s pretty exciting.