Category Archives: Uncategorized

Are we so delicate?


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 noticedĀ  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

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’sĀ  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.