I first heard Nick Parker’s ‘Down With The Yoof’ on Fresh On The Net’s Listening Post. Most weekends, I really enjoy taking a listen to the 25 or so new tracks that appear on there and voting for my five favourites. It’s a great way to discover new, upcoming acts.
Sometimes, bands that I’ve voted for will get in touch with me by E-mail, thanking me for the support I’ve shown or kind words I’ve written. Nick Parker did just that and offered to send me his forthcoming CD, Besta Venya. I’d enjoyed the humorous story-telling in ‘Down With The Yoof’ so much, a tale of a Dad trying to remain cool and failing badly as he traipses around charity shops in pursuit of that double denim look, that I jumped at the opportunity.
The CD promptly arrived – and with it came Nick’s brief biography. I was drawn to one line in it.
“Glastonbury based Nick Parker started gigging in his early teens playing mandolin and singing in folk/rock/skiffle band ‘Why?’, and spent the next 10 years bouncing around on stages at hundreds of venues and festivals around the UK and Europe.”
So Nick had once been a member of Why?. Why could I remember their name? What was it about the band Why? that rang my bells?
(Click onto page 2 as my brain becomes less addled)
It’s time to rip up the notebook (or at least to stop trying to make notes on my phone). You see, that’s what i do at gigs. Those notes help to jog the memory when I come to write about what I’ve just witnessed. I’ve got pretty rubbish recall otherwise.
Such is the immediacy of Idles, seducing us with their every sinew, here in Nottingham at the Bodega, I’ve got to just live in this moment. For this short blast of punk, spit and throb, I’ve just got to be. Fuck my phone – I’d probably drop it in the mosh pit anyway.
(Click on page 2 for my review..of sorts)
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)