I’ve got a busy week of gigs coming up. I’ll be reviewing some for the Leicester Mercury and some directly for Sonic Breakfast. If they’re all as great as the one I went to last night, Gregory Alan Isakov, then it’s going to be a fine, fine time.
(Click on page 2 for the review)
I can’t claim that I knew Elizabeth well. Over the past couple of years, our paths increasingly crossed as we watched the incredible story of Leicester City FC’s impossible premier league win unfurl before our eyes. We shared food and wine at weddings and birthday parties. We laughed,smiled and focused on positive things; this was Elizabeth’s way.
Elizabeth had terminal cancer. From the time when this initial diagnosis surfaced, there were the inevitable ups and downs. “It’s a miracle”, she told me when the cancer in her throat was re-assessed as simple scar tissue. She fought ‘the little fucker’ with every ounce of her weakening body but I think, in our heart of hearts, we all knew it was eventually going to get her.
One of those moments of respite came at a festival. Elizabeth, the sister of my lovely friend Claire, joined us for an alternative music weekend at Butlin’s. In bracing Autumn wind, out on the Lincolnshire coastline, we played in table tennis tournaments and giggled because members of our gang forgot to pack their pants.
That weekend, I had driven to Skegness on my own. I stopped for a bite to eat in a Little Chef and noticed Neville Staple and his touring entourage on a nearby table. As cheeky as it was, I bounced into their circle with an odd request. “I’m going to watch you play this evening. Would you dedicate a song to Elizabeth? She’s not too well.”, I offered.
I was urged to write this down on a piece of paper else Neville might forget. I wondered whether anything might be said from the stage but at least I’d tried.
(Click on page 2 to read more of this story)
I’m not sure I care too much about discovering the new ‘Taylor Swift’. It’s not that I’m particularly dismissive about her music. She’s just somebody who’s largely passed me by. I could be wrong but I’d file her under the sort of Country crossover music that rarely registers above insipid. She’s the one they’d cover on X Factor if they wanted a week away from the R’n’B’ standards, right? I concede I’m probably doing Ms Swift a disservice.
So – when I receive a set of press E-mails about Northern Irish singer-songwriter, Catherine McGrath, and mention of Taylor is prominent within each release, I’m reluctant to give it a fair shot. She might be the rightful heir to the Taylor Swift crown but that don’t impress me much. Somebody reminds me that I was an early endorser of Ward Thomas (here) but I maintain that’s a different kettle of fish.
(Click on page 2 for what I really think about Catherine)
I’ve been casually exchanging e-mails with Emiel, the guitar player from an exciting post-rock band from Belgium, The Guru Guru, for a couple of months now. They were playing one of the fringe events when I was over in Groningen for Eurosonic. I wanted to head along but a combination of it being in a maze-like venue consisting of many rooms and alcohol (yeah, Ok, I got lost) meant I missed the chance.
(Click on page 2 to find out more about The Guru Guru)
You can tell much from the conversational snippets heard when leaving the theatre.
“I wouldn’t have wanted him to be my father”, confirms one woman as she buttons up her long beige coat and throws a silk scarf around her neck. “Yes, he does have a tendency to reveal too much, doesn’t he?”, says her partner, all stiff upper lip and British reserve. I chuckle inwardly as the couple head off into the queue to buy a special limited edition CD.
It’s true that Surviving Twin, Loudon Wainwright III’s show about his relationship with his father, is brutally honest. Fans of his style wouldn’t have it any other way but those not familiar with him might have been squirming in their seats at this tender, unflinching offer. We like our own family tensions to be orderly and ‘on a plateau’ but the relationships between the Wainwright dynasty have been anything but.
(Click on page 2 to read the rest of the review)
I’m not as knowledgeable as many about the Leicester music scene – but it is the city I live in and, as such, you do tend to hear about the locally based acts with an international profile. It’s really hard to get my head around the fact that somebody played on VH1 and with MTV awards might be ‘anonymously’ living in our midst.
So, it was something of a surprise when the new music of Oliver Sean was thrust under my nose via musicsubmit, a U.S. based promotions company. They often send me tunes to listen to and then link me up directly with the artists I like. Oliver Sean is a chap from Oadby, Leicestershire.
And he has a name that would lodge in my head. It’s not something I’d easily forget. My nineteen year old son is called Oliver and his middle name is Sean. Coincidence can account for so much but this seemed beyond that. I wondered if somebody was winding me up.
(Click on page 2 to find out if it is a wind-up)
There’s so much great music out there. February’s been a busy month and, because of that, my Sonic Breakfast mailbox has been piling up with fantastic new tunes. There aren’t the hours in the day to both do the day job and to listen to everything I’m sent – but there’s surely no excuse for not posting more regularly here. I’ll do better in March.
A fine PR company sent me a note on Friday suggesting that the new ‘Be Like Pablo’ video was likely to be the best thing I’d see all week. I’ll take their word for it. I’ve not seen many this week but this Scottish powerpop does have a pure, unfettered simplicity that can’t help but make you smile.
Sitting here in bed on a Sunday morning and procrastinating over the procurement tenders I have to read for the day job, it’s undeniable that ‘There She Is’ is providing suitable diversion. I’ve watched the video a few times now and love the contrast between vinyl and billboard, indie and Hollywood. From the opening vocal ‘oo’s’ before the lead joins in, this is a tune that had me bouncing on the bed.
For sure, in weeks to come, Sonic Breakfast will feature stuff of more serious intent. But for now, as a way to break my blogging malaise, Spring is in the air and Be Like Pablo have helped to give me a spring in my step.