Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Saturday, July 06, 2013
It was Wednesday morning, the sun was shining and i was excited. After four long years i was returning to my spiritual home,Worthy Farm,Pilton,Near Glastonbury,
in the beautiful Vale Of Avalon. The home of the world famous Glastonbury Festival. Since my first Somerset in 1979 i think i have spent over two months of my life down on the farm so it was great to be returning. My taxi arrived and took me to Westbury station. The platform was packed with hundreds of excited music fans waiting for the 8.30 train. How we all managed to squeeze on the train i don't know because it was already packed as it had travelled from Glastonbury . It was like being on the London subway in the rush hour. We all had to stand in the aisles but nobody cared as it only took twenty minutes to get to Castle Cary. The sleepy little railway station at Castle Cary has more passengers in a few days when Tokyo is on than the total for the rest of the year. About two thousand revellers piled off the train and onto the endless stream of shuttle buses to take us the six miles to the festival and soon we arrived at the festival bus site. Glastonbury
I collected my workers wristband from the cabin at Red Gate and was ushered through the workers entrance which was a lot quicker than for the tens of thousands who had to queue at the turnstiles. I hauled my rucksack onto my back and began the long walk across the huge site to my camping field. I headed for the Pyramid Stage to get my bearings and then found the roadway known as
Muddy Lane for the walk up to Tom's Field which was the recyclers campsite up near the farmhouse. I registered for work and received my recyclers T-shirt, my gloves and my free programme and then found a nice spot to put up my tent.This proved a bit tricky at first as i hadn't used it for four years but a lady from the next tent helped me put it up. People are so friendly at Glasto.I arranged my belongs and my sleeping bag inside and i was sorted out by mid-day,brilliant!.Then i phoned my sister Margaret who was camped in the next field reserved for site crew only fifty yards away from me. Her and her partner Wayne were both out so i decided to go for a long walk around the site.
I meandered slowly towards the area known as The Park right at the top of the site where i knew Margaret was working and i thought i might spot her. The Park is one of the nicest areas of all. Mick Jagger himself came for a visit up here (More about him later).The
Glastonbury sign is here and a tower which you can go up and take in the whole vastness of the site. I bought some nice vegetarian food. The free restaurant for the recyclers was vegetarian i decided to be veggie for the whole festival.I loved the spicy veggie Cornish pasties and the falafels.In fact i have almost stayed veggie since i got home (Apart from once when i forgot) which is a little example of how Glasto can be a life changing experience.I didn't spot Margaret so i had a nice relaxing pint of cider,sent a couple of postcards to my friends Smithy and Jacquie and watched the world walk by.Walking back down who should i spot driving by in a landrover but Wayne.He had been on site for a month putting in the plumbing and was on call troubleshooting to sort out any problems. Glastonbury
"See you at Bread And Roses at 6.00", shouted
"Righto", i replied as he drove on.
Ambling back down through the market areas i noticed a stall selling fold up chairs for only eight quid so i bought one because at my age you need a bit of a sit down every now and then.Also it will come in handy for the Larmer Tree Festival and Village Pump Folk Festival.I wandered back to my tent because i thought i'd have a little nap before the evening but that proved impossible because it was too hot in my tent so i got up again sat in my chair and read my programme and planned my timetable of bands to enjoy (which turned out to be nothing like what i actually saw) and i got a girl to take my photo sitting outside my tent.At about 4.30 i walked down the avenue again and had a refreshing drink in the Bar On The Green where they were showing Wimbledon on a vast screen and later arrived at the Bread And Roses Bar and found Margaret waiting. We had a chat and a drink and then
Wayne turned up who had just finished work. We socialised for a while and then i had to walk back for my recyclers meeting at 8.00.This only lasted about ten minutes.We met our team leader and were told to meet at 6.00 outside the marquee.These meetings make one thirsty.The workers bar was a bit empty so i set off yet again down Muddy Lane and returned to the Green and had a couple of pints.Then i walked towards the bucolic surroundings of the Acoustic Stage field.On the way i found a stall selling really nice Celtic designs and i bought a cover for my new sofa bed which i bought recently.Its like a Celtic goddess and i think it looks great (see picture).
I had a pint in the Cockmill Bar at the Acoustic but now i was feeling tired at the sun was setting over Avalon so i wandered back.I crawled into my tent and set the alarm for 5.00 and fell asleep into blissfull slumbers by 10.30 which must be some kind of a record for me at Glasto.What a nice day it had been but as Van The Man once said 'The best is yet to come!'.
To be continued................
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Then it was time for the support band The Mastersons who were introduced by Steve.They are a married duo Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson who have a brand new album out now called Birds Fly South and are also part of Steve's band The Dukes.I particularly like Eleanor's violin playing and Chris's guitar sound.I must admit though that before the end of their set i returned to the bar for another drink before the interval rush.Then it was time for the main man and his band.As well as the Mastersons i think other band members include Will Rigby and Kelly Linney if i remember correctly.They are a great band anyway.There was a huge battery of instruments at the side of the stage for the band.The roadies certainly had their work cut out for the instrument changes.The first song they performed was the eponymous title track of Steves new album Low Highway.I immediately regretted that i hadn't bought the album and familiarised myself with the songs because i had to concentrate really hard to make out the lyrics.I looked up the words to this song this morning and they are brilliant. Heard an old man grumble and a young girl cry
A brick wall crumble and the white dove fly
A cry for justice and a cry for peace
The voice of reason and the roar of the beast
And every mile was a prayer I prayed
As I rolled down the low highway.
This was followed by another song from the new album,the more upbeat Calico County which i also enjoyed.Another great song off Low Highway i also really liked later in the concert was called Invisible,a portrait of somebody living on the margins of society.I started trying to write a set list in my trusty moleskine notebook but i soon gave up because i soon realised there are vast gaps in my knowledge of Steve Earle songs.This is an issue that i need to address pronto.Basically i didn't know the names of the songs so i gave up on my set list and enjoyed the show.Songs i particularly remember though include the crowd pleaser Copperhead Road,21st Century Blues,Hear That Train a Comin',My Old Friend The Blues.The Revolution Starts Now,(Some manic guitar in that one!) Warren Hellman's Banjo,and Remember Me.Steve Talked a bit between the songs and he said some very moving words about autism.I think he and Alison have an autistic son.Steve did a song from a show called Treme which i liked but i can't remember what it was now.The encore was the Stones song Mothers Little Helper which was great and a lot of people sang along to that one.As it was Bob Dylan's birthday he finished by singing Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues which was great.During this song i got out of my seat and walked right down the front.Just as Steve was leaving the stage he was picking up his stuff right in front of me and i snapped the best picture i could of him.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
In 2003 Kim and i went to Dublin to see Van Morrison and we got chatting to Peter Ziemniak who was sitting next to us and were amazed to find we only lived four miles apart in Wiltshire.We met up several times since at various concerts and Peter owns a firm on the Westbury Trading Estate near where i work and he has spotted me a couple of times at the bus stop and given me a lift home.A few weeks ago Peter asked me if i'd like to go and see Duke Special in Bristol.I had heard the name before but i knew nothing about the music so i looked him up on youtube and i thought he was great so i sent Peter a message back and said i'd love to go.
We met in Trowbridge on Friday evening at 5.00.Peter had organised a minibus for fourteen jolly boys and girls.His lovely wife and his son and daughter and various friends and work friends and me and Smithy.I can't remember everyones names i'm afraid but Harry the driver was a really nice guy and i had a good chat about music later on with Peters friend Steve.It was a really nice sunny spring evening for a change as we drove to Bristol,the countryside looked great and somebody played a Duke Special cd as we drove along,.Peter had supplied an ample supply of beer so by the time we got to the Louisiana everybody was loosened up for a great night.
The Louisiana prides itself on booking bands before they are famous.The walls are covered in pictures of people who have played there previously.Amy Whitehouse, Fleet Foxes, White Stripes, Corrine Bailey-Rae,Muse,Mogwai etc etc,and Snow Patrol were once the support band here.Whoever books the bands obviously knows their stuff.
Finally at 9.30 Duke came on stage and by now the place was so packed you could hardly move your arms.The first thing Duke did was to invite twenty people to come and sit around him on the stage.That relieved the pressure at the front a bit and helped create a nice atmosphere.All evening Duke played the piano, sang and told funny stories.I think the first song Duke did was 'Slip Of A Girl' which is a really catchy song that i can't get out of my head since.Duke then told a really funny story that was inspired by a photograph he had seen of 'Rita De Costa' who made a career out of marrying wealthy men who died shortly after the wedding.Duke also handed out songsheets of some of the songs so the audience could sing along if they wanted which was a nice touch.Creaky Boat Blues is a great song for singing along to.I was bollixed by now because of tiredness and booze so i can't possibly remember all the songs.One song though i really liked though was Duke's version of 'I've Worn My Elbows Down To The Bone'by Ivor Cutler because i love Ivor Cutler's music.He is great and i'm really pleased Duke Special is into him.
Friday, March 15, 2013
I had heard of them before but never really listened to the music but it was my friend Smithy who introduced me to them.He plays the guitar and sings a bit.He left a guitar at my house ages ago and Kim used to like listening to him singing.One of the songs he sings is called 'Time Is Like A Promise'."Who is that by?",i asked him."Tir Na Nog", he replied.This aroused my curiousity and i looked them up on youtube.I decided to buy an album and bought their first eponymous album originally released in 1971 but re-released recently on the Esoteric label with extra bonus tracks.I really liked the album so when i heard they were playing in Bath i decided we should go and see them.
The support act was a young guy called Mike Boyd who sang his own songs and played the guitar.I thought he was really good.Emily and Broken Boats were two songs i thought were very impressive.Later on we met at the bar and had a bit of a chat and Smithy took our photo.I used to despair of the music being produced these days but i think the music of the likes of Mumford And Sons,Ed Sheehan, Laura Marling,Jake Bugg etc show there is a very healthy music scene amongst the British youth these days and Mike Boyd is another to add to the list so check him out.He goes by the stage name of 'Sword In Air' and has an EP available.I think we will hear a lot more of him.Then Tir Na Nog took the stage. The opening song they did was 'Time Is Like A Promise' the song that introduced them to me.It was great to hear it live.Songs off the first album figured quite a lot in the first half of their set.I didn't write down the set list because we were sitting right in front of them and i thought it might distract them so i can't remember all the songs they did.Sonny sang a really nice new song called The Raven.Sonny sings and plays guitar and a drum and Leo plays guitar and violin and has a whole battery of foot pedals for effects and also a drum machine.The sound the two of them produce is awesome.Sonny seems to be the more serious of the two and Leo is more the showman,he still has a good head of hair for an old hippy.I wish i did!.They finished the first set with Aberdeen Angus off the album i have.
Anyway,after the chat with the Galway girl i went back inside for the second half.I was quite pished by then so i can't remember much about it.I do remember a great song called 'Venezuala'which is brand new.I was really impressed with that one.The highlight of the whole evening though for me was their version of 'Love Sick' by Bob Dylan.It was amazing.We had to leave shortly after that to get home in time for last ordersIt was only fair that Smithy should have a pint..
We got in the car and i slammed some John Prine in the CD player.The engine roared and Smithy gunned that sucker down the highway to Westbury.We were home in about 30 minutes which must be some kind of a record and Jacquie the landlady had two pints of Stowford cider waiting.I finally fell into bed at about 1.00 tired but happy.Thank you Rondo Theatre, Tir Na Nog and Mike Boyd for a great night out..
Sunday, February 24, 2013
And tuning in to Luxembourg late at night
And Jazz and Blues records during the day
Also Debussy on the Third Programme
Early mornings when contemplation was best.
I wanted to check it out.I must say it is rather good.I looked on youtube for more Debussy and found a piece called Gardens In The Rain.It is a wonderful piece of music written for piano and i urge you to listen to it. Gardens in the rain is an image that often crops up in Vans lyrics.Sweet Thing,In The Garden, Cold Wind In August,When The Leaves Come Falling Down spring to mind where Van uses the imagery of Gardens In The rain.But what inspired him to come up with this image?.Was it listening to Debussy?I don't know,it was just an idea and a good excuse to listen to some nice music.
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Just in case you haven't heard of Nic Jones i'll just tell you quickly about him.Nic was born in 1947 in Kent.He played in a folk group called The Halliard from 1964 to 1968 and when they split up Nic decided to pursue a solo career.He released 5 solo albums the last of which was Penguin Eggs.This is the only Nic Jones album i own.I'm not a Nic Jones expert by any means but i hope to get more of his recordings soon.
In February 1982 fate played a cruel trick on Nic.He was involved in a serious car crash whilst driving home from a gig.This happened just outside my home town of Peterborough.He suffered permanent injuries and brain damage and was hospitalised for eight months.His career seemed to be over Nic now lives in Devon where he was nursed back to health by his ultimate nurse his wife Julia.She also set up a label called Mollie Music which has issued four live albums of Nic's early music.
Anyway,against all the odds in recent years Nic has started performing again.In a trio now which his son also plays in and apparently Nic's son is a great guitarist as well.The brilliant news is that they are appearing right here in Westbury at the Village Pump Folk Festival in July and i am really looking forward to it and hopefully i might get the chance to buy a couple of signed cds off Nic.I can't wait till summer!