Tag Archives: She Keeps Bees

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.

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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.


Blackburn Festival – The Local stage…

On Friday just gone (23 July) we did a small night as part of a new festival in Blackburn, Lancashire. It was a great pleasure. I drove up with Alex Highton and Oh Ruin, and we met Dark Sky Singers up there. More on the bands in a bit.

I have been in touch with James at Playhappy Promotions for some time now, having had She Keeps Bees up there with him before. This here is a man of great taste (naturally) and also the balls to set up a few decent shows in a town which doesn’t see much to shout about. He’s put on shows with Blitzen Trapper, the Fence Collective (King Creosote, Pictish) and many other crackers besides.

The thing with this event is that it’s similar to what we’ve been doing in Rochdale with the Feelgood Festival. It’s an attempt to get some stuff moving which is good and relevant and decent and current and I hope to get up there more. The venue was called Jazzy Keks. Honest.

Alex Highton is my friend who’s been making music for yonks and yet now as a solo dude it all seems to come together. He was excellent and the folks dug it too. Nice. Songs written about his move from the city to the country and about his kids and family. Very Ray Davies/Paul McCartney/Graham Nash.

Oh Ruin is now officially just as excellent on his own as he is with a band (he played at Barbican with band Thursday night last and that ruled). I’d never really seen him do all the bluesy stuff he can do but he did and it was great and again the kids of Blackburn dug it.

Dark Sky Singers is a band you’ll be all clamouring to see in next little while. From Newcastle, and with a bunch of excellent songs and NINE actual people on stage, they’ve a release coming out on Static Caravan soon. Pretty dark and pretty pretty too. Not your usual, and it goes all repetetive and nice. I love it.


All this fun makes me tired

I’m shagged out after loads of traveling, and about to take some time off before I actually die of overwork. I’m in a bit of a daze as have seen Holland, South of France, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Syndey Nova Scotia, New York City and Austin Texas in the last three months. Fucking Carbon Footprint.

I made some comments about Groningen already but saw a couple of great bands, and caught up with some important folks (that’s what these things are about right?). Monolithic and Beth Jeans Houghton hit the right notes for me in Holland. I’m wondering whether Eurosonic is better for UK folks to hit than SXSW. WONDERING!

Exactly one week later and I was in Cannes in the South of France for Midem. I’m privileged to have got the gig to MC the British Music stage here (did it last year too) and it’s a lot of fun. This year I got to introduce some fine folks in the shapes of Chipmunk, Newton Faulkner, and Davey Knowles and Back Door Slam. They were sound people all, and it was a pleasure to meet them. I then spent a few days just being in Cannes. Which was of course very nice. And snobby. And expensive. And isn’t it funny how the high end fashion world makes as many ugly folks as beauties. Fuck. There are some ugly people in Cannes.

A trip to Berlin and Munich next, for She Keeps Bees, David Thomas Broughton and Shearwater. We managed to hook up SKB and DTB on a bill on a day off from the Shearwater tour on which David was support. The Berlin Shearwater show was amazing, with both DTB and SW on great form. Here’s a clip someone made of SW singing on DTB’s you’re a joke. Then SKB and DTB played a cracker at the venue called West Germany (In BERLIN – GEDDIT!?) and went ahead in spite of Andy from SKB having an ACTUAL HOLE in his back. Hospital trips and all that… if SKB ever did a blog, it’d be a good place for them to tell all THAT story.

An attempt to hang out a bit in Munich after SW/DTB was banjaxed by my need to head off to Canada for the ECMA‘s. I did at least get to see my old friends Ivy and Tobias of Club 2 fame, who put on a couple of excellent Billy Mahonie shows at Club 2, back in the day. Glad to see their still putting on great shows in Munich, and hope to see them again soon!

So the next day, and a MARATHON journey to Sydney Nova Scotia. A whole 36 hours. Munich>Gatwick>Heathow>Toronto>Halifax>Sydney… Man o Man.

The ECMA‘s were worth the trip though. A real pleasure to be in that part of the world and what a lucky bastard I get to be to be brought there to watch and listen to some great music. All of it really high quality but to my taste the best stuff was The Tom Fun Orchestra, Carmen Townsend, Joel Plaskett, Ruth Minnikin, Mercy the Sexton (?). All the folks there were superb, and in spite of the weather on the first day the trip was an absolute blast. Again, I met a whole bunch of really smart folks who I hope to see again, and perhaps work with. This is the reason we do this right? Right.

I flew back to London for a week for a couple of cracking gigs – Looking for a New England (launch of the event you can read about in the next paragraph), and She Keeps Bees, Oh Ruin, Musee Mechanique. Both sold Out, and both excellent.

Then flying out to NYC and SXSW for the Local’s event at SXSW and also working on the splendid event put together by The British UndergroundLooking For a New England. Featuring The Unthanks, Trembling Bells, Jim Moray, Olivia Chaney, Jackie Oates and Gadarene. Hosted by Will Hodgkinson (a man sharing my mum’s maiden name) and Sam Lee of the Magpie’s Nest. In between these we still had time to put on the Bootleg BBQ for Mojo, and that was again a blast. This featured The Unthanks, She Keeps Bees, Olof Arnalds, Caitlin Rose, Dengue Fever, Villagers, Gemma Ray, and Zun Zun Egui. It was at The Mean Eyed Cat which is THE BEST BAR ON EARTH. (that I’ve been to).

The Local‘s event that same evening at The Driskill saw Miss Li, Wave Machines, Electric Electric, She Keeps Bees, Zun Zun. A fracas between Zun Zun and a photographer almost saw us shut down and I remember being super excited that they might, and thus end up with The Local on the front of the Austin Chronicle. But alas it wasn’t to be. The night was memorable however more for the high quality of the acts that played, and I salute them! It was fucking expensive tho. Not a single band travelling with backline. What’s that all about?

Doing this kind of stuff can be pretty tiring (and lonely too weirdly) – we went straight from the gig to the airport for our 6.15 flight home. Also, meeting people (isn’t that what these things are about?) and going to see bands didn’t really happen as I did too many events. No time. So this week, with jet lag and a huge backlog of work, and weirdly skint, it’s all a bit deflating. I feel like I’ve been fucked and not kissed. Someone once said.

Still, managed to get home to Rochdale yesterday and see mother for a short time, and to pop in and watch Oh Ruin‘s BBC 6 Music sesh, which was ace.  (you’ll need to be sharp to listen to this as it runs out in a week). But again, travelling around, knackered. Some time off next week. At last. It was good to see Scanny tho, who kindly donated his Oh Ruin CD to the cause as we’d run out and wanted to give Radcliffe and Maconie a copy.

Despite this rather miserable ending to the post, and in no particular order, the following artists soundtracked the first three months to my year. I’m tired, and a bit overwhelmed but the music made by the below is of SUCH a high quality that I would URGE you to go and check them out if you haven’t already.

Zun Zun Egui (I have been crazy about this band since Green Man last year), Olof Arnalds, Oh Ruin, The Very Best, The Jim Jones Review, Dengue Fever, David Thomas Broughton, Shearwater, She Keeps Bees, Caitlin Rose, Olivia Chaney, Justin Rutledge (my god he’s made my favourite record!), Tom Fun, Villagers, Monolithic, and Trembling Bells.

I’ve probably missed some. But then hey I don’t exactly do this for a LIVING do I?

Also a really lovely backdrop to these last 3 months has been the fact that Rochdale remain at the top of League Two. (that’s the fourth division). You might think whatever. You probably do you prick. But this has NEVER happened. This guy, who gets paid to write about this kind of thing, puts it FAR BETTER THAN ME!!! (he also shares my mums maiden name (almost)).

Till soon. I hope.


Green Man

It was awesome. I write from croatia where I am working on the Electric Elephant Festival. The weather here is great, as expected but I’m blogging about how smart the weather was at GM and how it made all the difference!

Highlights for me: Zun Zun Egui, Trembling Bells, She Keeps Bees, Vetiver… wandering, some comedy… the weather…

Excellent stuff.