Category Archives: Music

Daughters Influence

Looking at the BBC 6 Music poll to find the best track since the station began broadcasting in 2002 I realise that to some extent my musical taste was influenced by Third Party. Some of the stuff which I like on the list was defo from what she would play on You Tube.

From the 100 songs things which particularly caught my eye were The Futureheads Hounds of Love which would have come into the same category of music as Scouting for Girls (who were missing) and The Killers Mr Brightside which was on there. Florence and the Machine Kiss With a Fist is somewhere on the list too and is a contender, as was Five Years Time by Noah and the Whale. They’re the group I’ll eternally regret not going to see at Cambridge Folk Festival when they were on. Not sure if we were seeing anything instead or just didn’t get to the stage where they were on – whichever gutted.

The Strokes Juicebox isn’t my favourite song of theirs. For me nothing will beat the moment I first heard New York City Cops, which literally made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck in a way I think only Supergrass’s Caught By the Fuzz has before. Not sure why when I was talking about key gigs I’d been to in a post the other week that the Strokes at Alexandra Palace in December 2003 wasn’t on there.

For me the greatest song though? Well it is a toss up between Vampire Weekend’a A-Punk, Richard Hawley’s Tonight the Streets Are Ours and Kaiser Chiefs Oh My God.

Which am I voting for? Well it has to be Kaiser Chiefs because it’s a indie pop classic which you can dance around whilst doing the ironing, jump around in a crowd or just generally tap your feet whilst bobbing your head whilst sitting reading a book to. Pure indie pop anthem.

Voting closes tomorrow evening – what would you vote for?

And what would you vote for which is within the period but not on the list? For me it would be The Wombats – Let’s Dance to Joy Division.

(Note links started going funny half way through and so if you want to see them you’ll just have to follow earlier links to the You Tube playlist.

Simpsons Style?

If you watch the Simpsons you’ll see that beneath the apparent dysfunction there is a solid foundation which is based upon family and friendship. The same could be said if you read either Denise Welch’s second volume of autobiography Starting Over  and Jo Whiley’s My World in Motion, both of which I’ve read recently.

I start with Welch’s book which is a fascinating insight into both the breakdown of her marriage, the media treatment of her and the nature of celebrity as well as her experience of being on and winning Celebrity Big Brother as well as competing in Dancing on Ice.

The book is, as indicated, a second volume of autobiography and whilst there is a short break in time between volumes it picks up in many ways where her first book Pulling Myself Together left off. That said the exact starting point of this book is when she discovers the press are about to announce the break up of her marriage. Like the last book it contains her battles with depression and continues to discuss the way in which she is both very much family woman and party girl. Hedonism mixes with traditional family values in a heady cocktail of apparent contradiction at times.

The book makes the point, which I would argue the Simpsons does in many ways, that real life is often much more complex than we often appreciate. In many ways Welch has publicly displayed a range of subterranean values which exist in our society but which we seek to portray in a negative way. The result is the press have vilified her at times for being x,y or z.

Now I don’t wish to romanticise some of the hedonistic aspects of her lifestyle or indicate that I personally hold some of the same moral codes that she apparently does or has regarding sex. However, I do want to say that she is very obviously not the person who the media sometimes seek to portray her as.

The Jo Whiley book acts as a complete contrast to the Welch book in some ways whilst having a range of similarities in other senses. Both books focus very much on the importance of their families (including both their parents and children) and the centrality of these figures in their lives. However, whilst Whiley’s book indicates that she has her moments of hedonism her writing shows she has lived a very different life to Welch in many ways. Part of this is the different nature of their jobs and the different levels of ‘celebrity’ involved. This discussion of celebrity and the different levels of it is something Whiley explores as a general sub-theme with her book.

Whiley’s book begins by an extremely moving description of her sister who has Cri du Chat syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder and the caring responsibilities which have been associated with her care. The sheer level of love within this chapter without seeking to romanticise the situation in anyway is something incredible to read. It made me
realise this is not your standard biography, it is neither ‘poor me’ material or seeking to avoid making the personal public.

Throughout the book, as she discusses her family, life and work Whiley also puts together playlists of tunes she associates with particular people, periods or aspects of her life. The mix of music mentioned is, as probably expected, somewhat eclectic.

As already mentioned I found this book moving to read. However, I also connected with it in a way I haven’t with any other celebrity autobiography. The key reason for this is that whilst Whiley’s life is a world away from mine in many ways in other ways it wasn’t.

Her eldest daughter is only a couple of years older than Third Party and so when she was talking about some parenting it was within a time scale I understood.

Secondly, she is a member of the festival culture, a proper one rather than a celebrity one. Her description of Glastonbury highlights this. Whilst there are the backstage descriptions she talks about how much of her time has been spent in the kids field, for example. She writes about the Glastonbury which I know and which, as I have spoken about before, Third Party grew up within.

The next reason this was different was because it took me back to the places I was when I heard certain records or radio shows. I can tell you exactly where I was on the evening of the chaotic early Newcastle Oasis show she talks about. I was in my student room listening to her and Steve on the Evening Session.

The geography of much of the book helped too. I know what it is to rush down onto a train at Milton Keynes station hoping you’ve got on the right one and managing to leave something important on it when you get off.

Finally, within the book was a description of extended family which resonated with me. The multi-generational love of music, particularly live music is something that I understand.

I have been inspired by the Jo Whiley book to come up with my own short playlist of important music/ gigs.

Earliest proper gig (i.e. not one my dad took me to which I can’t really remember) – Toyah Wilcox (my 10th birthday treat).

Music of my early secondary school years – The Riddle by Nik Kershaw.

Music of my later secondary school years – Happy Hour by The Housemartins and Panic by The Smiths.

Music of my later teens – Only Living Boy in New Cross by Carter USM, This is How it Feels by Inspiral Carpets, Billy and Jackie by Fat and Frantic and Mary Mary Run DMC

Music of my BA years – Def Con One by PWEI, Caught by the Fuzz by Supergrass, Size of Cow by Wonderstuff

Music when Immy was tiny – Fire Starter by Prodigy, Wonderwall by Oasis and Parklife by Blur and Year 2000 by Pulp

Festival favourites – One Way of Life by The Levellers, God is a DJ by Faithless, Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport by Rolf Harris and N17 by The Saw Doctors

Music as I’ve got older – Roots by Show of Hands, Meet On the Ledge by Fairport Convention and St. Jimmy by Green Day

Most precious stuff – Anything by Billy Bragg, anything by Ralph McTell, Boys Don’t Cry by the Cure, This is Us by Martyn Joseph, anything by Grace Petrie and Come As You Are by Nirvana.

Best gigs – Green Day Milton Keynes Bowl 2005, Manic Street Preachers Brixton Academy 2000/2001 (just know during PGCE year), Dire Straits Portman Road, Ipswich 1992, My Chemical Romance Belfast Kings Hall 2007, Kirsty McColl Northampton Roadmender 1995 and Wonderstuff Leicester De Montfort Hall 1995. And a late addition Prodigy Cambridge Corn Exchange October 1997.

Counting Down – New Music

So it’s that end of the year time when people review the year. I thought I’d do it in categories and highlight some stuff I’ve enjoyed this year. Note this is not going to be a set of back links. Thought I’d do something which was a little more useful/interesting.

Starting today with new music I’ve discovered. By this I mean groups and artists I’d not been aware of before. New material by established artists will come in a separate category.

First off we have Exeter punk band the Cut Ups whose song about their home town can be found on Soundcloud. Their album Building Bridges. Starting Here. was out this year.

Next of we go to my indie discovery of the year Kissed Her Little Sister.

The International Festival produced several new artists to enjoy. Steve Winch‘s Braggesque set was much enjoyed as was Chrystina Tomlin’s rocking acoustic set. The Harbour of Songs project which was also part of the festival introduced me to Raevennan Husbandes who had an amazing voice.

Most recent local act to have grabbed my attention are easy listening/bluegrass trio Louise Petit who have their EP Fear and My Other Friends out now.

Greenbelt is almost guaranteed to introduce me to something new which appeals over the weekend. This year I wasn’t disappointed. It was American folky Willy Porter who grabbed my attention, especially with his track How to Rob a Bank.

All in all a bit of a vintage year for discovering some great music. I could have listed so much more but this lot includes a range of people who I’d highly recommend that you may or may not have come across elsewhere.

Louise Petit @ Acorn House

Haunting bluegrass and pop/folk filling the reception of a MK office block on an icy Wednesday lunchtime. Louise Petit (a 3 person band with Louise as vocalist and ukulele/ guitarist) took a majority of their set from their Fear and My Other Friends EP. To be fair it wasn’t a standard office reception they were playing, the venue Acorn House is the local voluntary sector hub and they do have within their foyer a small gallery space as well as their reception desk.  The trio had some interesting and attractive modern art from  Calibre Graphics as their back drop.

The waif like vocalist had an attractive vulnerability about her during the performance, coming in part as she revealed during the banter from the completely unplugged nature of the event and the lack of a mic.

The first track Ghosts had a gentle jazz feel and was soft to the ear. The next Demons had a much more definite bluegrass feel to it with the drum and double bass giving a sound which was a little reminiscent of Old Crow Medicine Show. It had a really catchy chorus.

Damn This Part of Me had an enchanting and extremely haunting melody. It was an example of that sound which comes out of the way gospel and bluegrass have come together in the past. Listening to the soft sounds caressing me I could feel the music gently washing over me and nourishing my soul. It was an extremely beautiful song, which to me was the highlight of the set.

Then it was on to a cheesy but fun rendition of White Christmas. Louise, the singer, seemed to relax during this song which was being sung as patches of snow lay with the ice on the pavement outside. The audience were given shakers and bells to jingle at this point. At the end of it the drummer’s mum shouted out a request – which was played later. It was lovely watching the enthusiasm this woman had for the music as well as the pride she had for her son, (as well as seeing said son slump down behind his drums with that look embarrassed children of any age have).

You Love Me First was an easy listening love song with that timeless feel which means you would be hard pressed to identify exactly which era since the 1950’s it came from. It sounded like it should have been plucked out of a romcom sound track.

Christmas Time With You was what the drummer’s mum had requested and is also the new single and the link I’ve put in to the title will take you to the You Tube video. It is a good simple Christmas song which has the chorus “I like Christmas time, more than that I like Christmas time with you.” It’s a tune which wouldn’t have been out of place on Tracey Thorn’s Tinsel and Lights Christmas album which is currently out. Both Thorn’s new material from this album and the Petit tune reflect the more chilled out approach to Christmas music which appears to have come back into vogue. Appreciated the free download code for Christmas Time With You which was given out at the end of the gig.

The last track they played was Love is Pure which was another bluegrassy number and which was one of those taken from the EP.

Overall a really good lunchtime gig which generally worked well, although at one point the noise of those at the reception desk was a little distracting. Apparently it was the first gig of this type they’ve put on at Acorn House, but I certainly hope it won’t be the last. Really enjoyed this treat of discovering a new act on a cold and miserable day when I’d only popped out to go to Sainsbury’s. The couple of pictures from Ambrose Hudson Arts which were also on display in the gallery area were also interesting to look at although I personally preferred the Calibre Graphics ones.

Random Sharing

So it’s one of those points when this blog becomes a bit like a community notice board as I share some random and unconnected things I’ve come across recently.

She Said Lenny is a short film which I discovered on the OML FB site this morning. I am sharing the link because it is a beautiful short film and I’m a sucker for a good old fashioned love story. I’m getting quite into this idea of shorts where you can watch a movie over a cup of tea.

Nominations are currently being taken for the Brook and FPA Sexual Health Awards 2013 which seek to recognise outstanding projects and professionals. We, especially as Christians, are often very quick to bring attention to bad practice in this area, so what about recognising the good practice where you know it’s occurring?

Folk East, the Suffolk folk festival which unfortunately happens over the same weekend as Greenbelt, is moving to a new site. Their new home is Glemham Hall and the first act announced to be playing are Spiers and Boden which are a spin off of Bellowhead, according to this BBC Suffolk article.

TEDx Milton Keynes Women has a TEDx event on Sunday with a range of speakers locally and some being beamed in from a US TED event.

Steve Winch @ MK IF Review

Yesterday evening we headed back to the Milton Keynes International Festival site for a bit to listen to some more acoustic music and the set we caught up with was by Steve Winch. I’m taking it the website links to the right person, because I got it from The Stables website where he is appearing in October as support to Simon Townsend…..but I’m not entirely convinced as it makes no reference to Small Town Adventures in Hi Fi, his debut album. In fact in this age of social media and online content he appears to have a v. low profile, for example the only FB page I could find was a standard one where you had to request to be added rather than simply being able to like. Whether this low profile approach is part of a strategy I am unsure….if it’s not I hope that he or his management get it rectified because he deserves to be a much bigger artist than he is. We’d not come across him before and hadn’t been that blown away by anything since stumbling across Grace Petrie, (who plays a similar kind of music), last year at Greenbelt.

The sound check gave the first indication that this was going to be enjoyable, he played part of Billy Bragg’s To Have and To Have Not….something I kept hoping he would be singing in full on the couple of occasions he introduced covers. The snatch he played to get the levels right was excellent.

The set began with Some Where South of Heaven which was a Folk Punk number which mixed religious imagery with anti-capitalist politics in the lyrics. Like Bragg, Petrie and others of their ilk he mixed these overtly political numbers with reality love songs and the second number he played Little White Lies fitted into the second category.

One of my favourite songs of the evening was CV of Despair which talked about the problems and angst of job hunting and finding only rejection. The structural reasons behind this situation as well as its effects were discussed through some deep and poignant lyrics.

A harmonica emerged to accompany the guitar, (which needed constantly retuning due to the heat), on the forth number Price I Must Pay. This led into a cover of The Jam’s That’s Entertainment which rocked. The mood then switched back and we heard the most moving song of the evening; All the Young Men which was a deep anti war song.

Unrequited  Everything was another reality love song and preceded a rant about Springsteen being cut off at Hyde Park. This rant was given in the context of introducing a beautiful version of Born to Run which was the penultimate song of the evening.

The final song of the set Wishing Well saw a switch in tempo away from Folk Punk and into Blue Grass – a style that Winch played well and could be introduced further into the set. There were echoes in my mind of hearing Old Crow Medicine Show at Cambridge a few years ago as he played this one.

TOH took a few photos on his phone of the evening and the beautiful tent. They are not overly bright due to the lack of lighting, etc but in addition to showing the contemporary man in black who must have been sweating loads in his beanie they also show the lamp shade and the design of the tent which were beautiful.

Steve Winch @ MKIF12
Light in the Arabian Tent

Escape to Spektor

Surfing  has been down for a couple of days and so last night we took Third Party off to see Regina Spektor. It was awesome and some much needed light relief. Regina Spektor, for those who don’t know plays whimsical and folk-punk type stuff. Think Duke Special meeting Patti Smith. She plays piano, keyboard and electric guitar with and without a band. Unfortunately one of the band had recently passed away and she was obviously still grieving when she explained this, as she left the stage. Oh and the support…well quite frankly not worth mentioning because she was well……best not to say, which is why I’m not naming her.

Leaving with you this You Tube version of Laughing which includes the lyrics. It’s one of those songs which those of us trying to get our head around where God fits into the post-Christian world might find useful to reflect on, aswell as a good song.


Eurovision Second Semi Stuff

Before I start a special note to Ian, this could act as a spoiler if you do get the semi’s in Oz – so you may not want to read.

It’s been evident this year that there has been less cheese than usual at the Eurovision and with the 50% jury / 50% public vote thing going on that political voting has been curbed slightly.

Last night there was some really good cheese but it failed miserably to get into Saturday’s final. Very disappointed that the song written by Papa Smurf himself, Father Abraham, didn’t get through. Also disappointed about the fact that the Slovenian rock/folk mash up isn’t through. Think Aerosmith/ Run DMC’s Walk this Way but with bizarre traditional european folk replacing the rap. On a positive note the UK can vote for Cyprus which is a truly UK entry having a lead singer from Wales, and other peeps in the band from Scotland and England (aswell as some Cypriot guy in there somewhere), it’s not a bad song either. For some reason I couldn’t get the You Tube stuff working to include the songs within the post, (not sure if they are stopping these being embedded or what). Anyway if you do want to see what I’ve been going on about just follow the links to see the Netherlands and Slovenia which didn’t get through and Cyprus/ the UK’s better entry, which did.

Wishing I could vote for Tom Dice

Not sure why the UK can’t vote in tonights Eurovision semi-final. Apparently you can only vote in the semi-final your country is represented in. If I could of cast my vote for who I wanted to see in Saturdays final I would have voted for Belgium’s Tom Dice and his song “Me and My Guitar”.


Rusby and Not Slumbing it in Tractorland

The air was still warm when we came out, there were fairy lights around the stage and the music was haunting in places. There was a festival vibe around, even though this was a gig at the Gala. Tonights installment in the Durham folk calander was Kate Rusby and band.

Wandering around her website I found a link to Harvest at Jimmys, a festival in the heart of Tractorland mere minutes on the bus away from where I used to live. It appears that the Harvest Festival has been reinvented to include gormet meals, with Mrs. Paisleys Lashings offering a three course meal with wine or seasonal cocktail. A snip at £60.

As if that wasn’t enough for you it is also possible to buy VIP AAA packages, including champagne reception, so you don’t have to mix with the tractor boys and girls for just £150 a day. Oh and if you want to stay for a mere £350 you can choose one of the boutique camping options. These include a Kocoon which is described as follows:

The Kocoon is the very latest in capsule accommodation for festivals. It is made from a Spruce wood locally grown in the Scottish Borders, the internal insulated leatherette upholstery insures that you stay warm when its cold. The Kocoon is totally waterproof as the fabric of the unit is structured identically to that of a timber framed house including the breathable waterproof membrane, whilst still creating the sensation of outdoor living. They are spacious enough to fit a king sized double mattress and you can easily stand up inside as it’s 2 metres high in the middle.

The sleeping area is raised off the floor which means it’s comfortable and you have plenty of storage. There is a 12v power supply, so don’t forget the car adaptor for your phone charger. The solar panels are backed up by leisure batteries so you will always be able to plug in.

Inside there is lighting, an integrated sound system with I-Pod / MP3 Docking and a lockable storage box for extra security. We kit out the Kocoon with a fleece lined airbed and can provide sleeping bags if you want.”

Part of me wants to be cynical and start getting all worthy about social exclusion and inclusion. However, let’s be honest if we had the money and were into festivating most of us would go for both the three course meal and the kocoon. Good luck to those who can afford it.

One small question though, seeing as they are most definately not going to be attracting the doggy on a string crowd can we assume that they have not had the problems with police approval of licences that other festivals have, which I’ve mentioned before on here.