I’ve never known weeds grow in quite the way that they do out here in Spain. I guess that the rain of the past weeks has helped their considerable spurt.
I find little joy in gardening but these are no beanstalks leading to magic kingdoms. They’ll just engulf me unless I take action and so, armed with a bucket and a pair of gloves, this morning I set about tackling them.
‘Tackling’ feels like the right verb to use for this was (and still is) a sporting endeavour. It’s me against nature and despite my very best intentions I suspect that the best I can hope for is a score draw. Or a narrow defeat.
Regardless, there was great satisfaction to be gained in pulling at them. Their heads popped out of the gravelled driveway masking the submerged stems that wrapped themselves underground around clumps of earth, stone and tarpaulin. The ones that broke off before I got at the root mocked me but some came out of the ground complete. When they did I let out a little yelp of self-congratulation. The stray black cat, that’s made a habit out of spying upon me from a safe distance, smirked as it watched.
“You crazy, sweat-ridden Englishman”, it no doubt thought.
Try as I might I can find little connection between pulling up garden weeds and todays choice of music. Linda Em, Irish and living in London released her ‘Wild Fire’ EP last week and it’s all sorts of smoky-seductive fab.
If I was really pushing it, I could suggest that I’d love a wild fire to destroy these weeds. Or I could observe that the lead track is all about a power struggle in a relationship built on control and passion, where there can be no victor. That does feel a little like my battle with the weeds except I have little passion for them.
No, it’d be foolish to force links. It’s best perhaps to simply sit back and allow Linda’s wonderful tunes to wash over you. Let the candles smoulder as the duet in Wild Fire tells the story of dying, impossible love. Allow yourself ‘the bitter sweet surrender’ mentioned at the end of ‘Two Hands’.
The weeds will no doubt continue to grow.
As my plans to move to Spain edge ever closer, I’m keen that Sonic Breakfast will still host gig reviews from the UK. My good friend, Paul Champion, has covered a couple in Leicester and now the lovely Katy Adkins reports from Cambridge after a happy Friday night.
Sonic Breakfast introduced me to Ferris and Sylvester with its blog (here) about their newly released EP, Made In Streatham (Jan 31st 2018) and it was a love-at-first-listen affair. Over the last month this has been my go-to music and I’ve felt that inquisitive longing to get to know their work more extensively. Last night’s gig in Cambridge has left me temporarily sated.
After a drive of just over an hour, with my +1 sidekick in tow we arrived at The Boathouse, Cambridge, to find just a single parking space available and it was directly outside the venue – joy! This adventure was going very smoothly so far and there was a growing sense of excited anticipation for what was to come.
The Boathouse is part of a popular chain of gastro-pubs and seemed an unlikely venue: we found that we were not the only people to find themselves questioning the bar staff about whether we were in fact in the correct place. We were directed through a small door, upstairs to the intimate function room, where seats were set out in front of a small, warmly-lit stage area. Whilst waiting for the acts to prepare and as people arrived I learned that this was one of a number of warm-up gigs being hosted around Cambridge by the organisers of The Den Stage as part of The Cambridge Folk Festival set to take place in August 2018. They whet the appetite of potential crowds with up and coming acts whom have already graced The Den stage or those who are expecting to later this year.
(To read about the support acts, click on page 2)
It felt somewhat neat and a little appropriate on Valentine’s Day to receive the new song and video from Louis Brennan, Airport Hotel.
Sending brightly-coloured cards with glossy emotions does little more than sabotage and sanitise the complicated feelings we all experience around ‘love’ and it’s perhaps this that turns many off from celebrating with flowers, chocolate and poor poetry on St. Valentine’s Day.
In Airport Hotel, the emotions are real and raw; let yourself get carried away with Brennan’s expressive, baritone voice as it gradually reveals the story of ‘forbidden’ love that permeates throughout the song. The string arrangements rise and fall as Louis ponders how he might explain to his wife (and kids) that he has fallen for another. It’s stark, dark and yet beautiful storytelling that’ll surely tug on the most emotionally detached.
The release of ‘Airport Hotel’ comes slightly in advance of Louis’ album ‘Dead Capital’ which is scheduled to drop on February 23rd. It’s an album that Sonic Breakfast is quite excited to hear. Back in 2017, Louis released another track from it, ‘Bit Part Actor’. Brooding, dark and melancholic with the poetry taking centre-stage, the video stars one of Sonic Breakfast’s favourite comedians, Ed Aczel.
In despondency, it’s entirely possible to find lovely art.
A cold, grey wintry Monday morning and it’s hard to think that ‘everything is alright’. It’d no doubt be easier to hibernate under the bed covers until the next tint of blue creeps through my curtains. It’s so easy to say that I can’t be bothered with today.
But that’s hardly adopting the principle of ‘Carpe Diem’. I can grumble as much as I like but the truth is I’ve got a fair bit to live for at the moment – the progression towards redundancy; getting the house ready for rental and the year of living in Spain. It’s not looking at things through rose tinted specs to say that today is full of opportunity.
And as I grasp these thoughts I pull back my curtains and see some blue sky.
I’m drawn to this uplifting tune and new video from Blue Rose Code.
Blue Rose Code, aka acclaimed singer-songwriter Ross Wilson, released his latest album, The Water Of Leith, in Autumn 2017. It met with some top-notch reviews from Folk, Acoustic and Americana magazines all declaring that this was Wilson’s best release to date. The previous ones had hardly been flops.
(See what Sonic Breakfast thinks by clicking on page 2)
It’s been four years since I first saw The Young ‘Uns play live at Musicport up in Whitby. I recall that their set was a real highlight of the festival, something I captured in my EFestivals review (here).
“Saturday afternoon and I take a chance in the theatre with The Young ‘Uns from Teeside. The programme simply tells me that these are ‘one of the most sought after folk acts today’ and that they bring ‘abiding enthusiasm for traditional song’. Those familiar with the ‘translate the programme’ game we often play at festivals would suspect slim pickings from this description. This could well translate as ‘Once played Cockles and Mussels to rapturous applause at a folk club in Durham’. But, this set is a lesson in sometimes going with the flow. Sometimes acapella, sometimes with accompaniment from accordion and guitar, this trio of twenty-something men banter so effortlessly on stage that the captive audience are dragged into their jolly world. Songs about political struggles of yesteryear mix in with emotive tales of love to ensure that, by the end of their set, the audience are standing on their seats demanding more. Folking great.”
(Click on page 2 to read about fantastic new work by the Young ‘Uns)
Sometimes you hear a song or watch a video and know that it’s one you want to feature on your blog. You start writing about it many times but give up or move onto something else because your words refuse to come out in the right order. That’s the dilemma I find with Maheekats and Without Horizons.
(Click on page 2 to discover if I resolved that dilemma)
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)