Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On The Road In France 1979

In early summer 1979 Dave visited me in Bradford On Avon and when he returned to Nottingham I lent him a fiver to get home with. Weeks went by and he hadn't sent me the money. A fiver was a lot of money in 1979.Finally I phoned him up.  "Hey, you bastard, where’s my fiver?"."Sorry, I’m going to France tomorrow grape picking, why don’t you come?"                                                                    
                                                                                             I hitched to Folkstone and met Dave and we got on the Calais ferry. We soon got in with a gang and caroused across the English Channel. In Calais Dave threw up on the war memorial, what a great ambassador for his country he is. We slept the night in a bus station and next morning caught the bus to Bouloigne which Dave assured me was the best place to start hitching south from. The whole day went by and we didn't get one sodding lift. In the late afternoon we were joined by a crazy lady from Watford. I can’t remember her name so I’ll call her Jane. She was also going on the Vendage but she was under the impression that it involved taking your shoes and socks off and standing in a big barrel squashing grapes. After another two hours of no lifts we gave up and went to a bar and got drunk, then the three of us slept in a ditch by the side of the road. The next day we decided to split up, I would try and get a lift with Crazy Jane and Dave would go on his own and we would meet up at the Railway station in Toulouse. Dave walked off into the distance, it was to be a week before I saw him again. Almost as soon as he disappeared myself and Jane got a lift from a businessman on his way to Paris. Jane took a shine to him and changed her mind about heading south and said she fancied smoking a joint on top of the Eiffel Tower instead. At Abbeville we parted company and I was on my own, It felt great, and I began to get lifts now that I was alone and I headed for Amiens and then on to Rouens where Jeanne D'arc was burned. I walked through Liseaux in the rain on a Sunday evening and I thought of the old hobo in Kerouac’s Dharma Bums who was devoted to St Teresa of the flowers and I felt really holy and beat, I realized this was the only way to live. I had thrown myself on top of the world and I was floating. One of the many things I like about France is that your basic essentials of life like wine and tobacco are really cheap. You could get a bottle of Vin Rouge plonk for 3.5francs and I’d stuff that in my rucksack and take a slug anytime I felt my spirits waning.
After Lisieux I ended up in Chartres with its beautiful cathedral and then on to Le Mans famous for the 24 hrs race. A family gave me a lift from Le Mans and I was so exhausted that I slept in the back seat of their car for hours. When I awoke I was in Poitiers and it was hot and sunny. I felt that I was in the south. That night I slept in a field near Perigaux and by Tuesday evening I was cruising into Toulouse, I had made it in about 60 hours, I was really pleased with myself. As I strolled up the main boulevard of Toulouse beautiful girls gazed at me from doorways and they weren't waiting for a bus either. I felt great. At the Railway Station there was no sign of Dave but I wasn't concerned. I got chatting to a bloke from Finland who had a T shirt on that read 'England’s No 1 Girl'. He was a real character who liked the English for some reason and we started knocking about together. He turned out to be the best thief I have ever met. We would go into a shop and wander about in there and on leaving the shop he would produce everything we needed. Then we would go and sit in the park with the rest of the itinerant fellaheen and eat and drink to our hearts content. This was the life. At night I would return to Le Gare and sleep on the platform. As the days went by though I got increasingly concerned about Dave. Six days had passed since he had walked off into the distance. Finally one night I felt somebody shaking me, "Pat, wake up”. It was Dave but I was shocked by his appearance. He had a bruised face and a huge black eye. He told me that after leaving me and Crazy Jane he had made good time to Bordeaux but then couldn't get a lift for 3 days. Just when he was on the verge of giving up and jumping the train a large truck slowed down as it passed him, he ran up to it thinking he finally had a lift and the person in the passenger seat threw a melon at him and he was hit in the face by a melon travelling at about 20mph. He made a good recovery though over the next couple of days. I introduced him to England’s No 1 Girl and we passed the time begging and dossing in the park. After a while though we got bored and decided to head for Carcassone and find some work.
We bunked it on the bus, it was easy because on the buses in Toulouse the passengers get on the bus at the front and pay the driver and exit at the middle of the bus. So we merely entered at the exit! When we arrived in Carcassone we were almost in Spain. We met an English man with a stutter, he said, "I’ve been in Ca Ca Ca Carcassone 3 days now, it’s really boring". After we left him we found the most incredible perfectly preserved medieval castle that I’d ever seen. We kipped on the battlements that night with a brother and sister who came from up north in the Franco-Belgium coalfield. They were really nice but more important they had money so we enjoyed their hospitality for a few days. We couldn't find a farmer though who would take us on and give us a job on the grape picking. We said cheerio to the nice couple and moved on. We went to Narbonne, Beziers, Sete, Montpelier Nimes and Avignon. Finally we arrived in the town of Orange. We were disappointed to find that the Patti Smith Band had played in the Roman amphitheater there only the day before. Our luck had changed though and we got work with a farmer called Maurice in one of the outlying villages. The work didn't start for a week so we had to kick our heels and survive off our wits for a few days. We did this by begging.
"Pardon mademoiselle,je suis pas d'argent ,avez vous un franc pour mange sil vous plait,je cherche pour travail sur le vendage. Merci beaucoups!"                                            
                                                      Every time we got 3 or 4 francs together we would go and get a baguette and some fromage or pate and some wine and sit around in the park. One afternoon I counted nine different nationalities sat in our gang of wastrels and winos. It was great fun. Then the day came to go and start work for Maurice. It was back breaking work at first until we got used to it but I really enjoyed it apart from when Dave would catch my fingers from the other side of the vine with his secateurs. There were two other English on the farm, students from Oxford University but we didn’t hold it against them and a German lad called Werner who we got on really well with. We all slept in the barn on bales of hay and a happy month with Maurice passed really quickly.
When the work ended and we were paid off we said goodbye To Maurice and our new friends and headed north to Bourge En Bresse to visit a couple whom Dave had met a couple of years earlier, they lived with their baby in a tiny apartment but made room for us and we slept on their floor for a few nights. I had developed a nasty ear infection and Dave had some sort of galloping mouth rot. We both went to the doctor in Bourge En Bresse which was quite expensive. One day walking down the street Dave suddenly stopped dead in his tracks.
"What’s up mate, are you feeling rough?"
"No, cake shop”, he said, pointing at a shop window.
                                                                                        He could never walk past a cake shop in France without buying a gateaux. It was in a little flea pit cinema in this town that I first saw the film The Last Waltz where Van effortlessly stole the show with Caravan.
After we said cheerio to Dave’s friends we headed north to find more work on the vendage. We visited Reims with its magnificent cathedral which I called Le Grande Illusion and then Epernay in the heart of the champagne area. Hundreds of vendageurs were hanging about at the railway station where the farmers recruited their workers. In the waiting room of the station Dave started talking to this girl called Daisy from Belgium who was lying on the floor next to him. Then they joined the sleeping bags together and the next thing I knew he was shagging her, right there in front of everybody in the station waiting room. I was disgusted, (and also quite jealous!). The next day Dave met this old English geezer who had lived there since after the war .He was a drunken old sod but he had some useful contacts.
"Oh my dear boy, don’t worry, I’ll phone my very good friend Madame Jumel, and she will give you a job".

                 It was great at Madame Jumel’s, we had a great big dormitory to sleep in. The first night there when I got in bed I realised this was the first bed I’d slept in for two months. In the morning we just had coffee and biscuits, then all piled into the camion. We did about two hours work and then had breakfast out in the fields. Lunch was also outdoors. We used to work our way along the vine singing Old Macdonald had a farm in French, Coupe ici coupe la etc. When you got to the end of the vine there was always a crate of wine there so you would have a good slug of it and start off down the next vine. The evening meal was great, it started about 7.00 and ended about midnight with everyone as drunk as a bishop. We had some great laughs. We were in a village called Cramant. Some evenings we would walk to the next village called Avize and visit Daisy and her friends. We used to get drunk on champagne every night and also champagne brandy which was like rocket fuel.We got really friendly with this couple called Cati & Claude.
I met this really nice girl from Morlaix in Brittany. The Bretons are different to the rest of the French, they are a Celtic people, maybe that’s why she liked me, I don’t know. Sadly the happy days at Madame Jumel’s came to an end. Dave headed for Alsace Lorraine to do more grape-picking with Daisy but I decided to head for home. I said farewell to the little Breton and caught the train for Paris. In the bar at the Gare Du Nord I got chatting to this American bloke who said he was a performance artist. He was really into Lenny Bruce and hundred per cent truth and all that sort of thing. We chatted about books and music all the way to Calais. On the ferry it was a beautiful hot sunny day although it was now October. Britain was enjoying an Indian summer and looked really beautiful as we sailed towards the white cliffs of Dover. I had left three months earlier with nothing and had emerged from France with £200 and clutching two bottles of champagne. What a great year it was.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jackie And Van

One of my fellow Van Morrison fan friends Petra recently embarked on a project to compile a catalogue of the musicians who have played and recorded with Van over the course of his long career. She has done a great job including biographies, pictures and video's of the musicians and has had a lot of positive feedback from a lot of the musicians themselves. You can see Petra's Van's Musicians page here-
                                                          I have made a couple of suggestions to Petra of people she might like to add to the list and one of them was Jackie DeShannon. This is because I knew that Jackie had sung backing vocals on a couple of Van's albums and had co-written the song Santa Fe which appeared on Van's Wavelength album. One of my favourite Van songs is Warm Love on the album Hard Nose The Highway on which Jackie Sings backing vocals. In the song Van sings,' You can bring your guitar along, we'll sing some songs and have some fun'. Surely it would be Van who would bring his guitar along. Who is this guitar playing singer he is referring to?. Could it be Jackie herself?. This got me wondering about Jackie so I investigated further. I knew a bit about her already.
 She had a top ten hit with What The World Needs Now Is Love and had written hits for The Searchers and Bette Davis Eyes which Kim Carnes had a huge hit with. She had appeared with The Beatles on their first USA tour (See photo of George Harrison and Jackie playing Monopoly) and in England she had a brief relationship with a young guitarist called Jimmy Page (See Picture) and wrote and recorded with Jimmy.

 Looking through her discography I noticed that she had made an album in 1972 simply called 'Jackie' and I was interested to see that one of the songs was I Wanna Roo You which was written by Van. What amazed me though was that this album was reissued in 2003 with twelve bonus tracks and four of them were written by Van of which I had never heard of two of them before. I knew I had to buy this album and today it dropped through my letterbox.                                                        I must say it is a really nice album. As well as some of Jackie's own compositions there are covers of songs by John Prine, Neil Young, Steve Goodman and Drift Away which was a big hit for Dobie Gray and five Van Morrison songs. 
It is the Van songs that I want to talk about. The cover of I Wanna Roo You is quite pleasant and better than the Goldie Hawn version that I have on an album. The other four Van songs were produced by Van for his Caledonia Productions and recorded in Los Angeles on April 11 and 12 1973. They are Sweet Sixteen which was actually released as a single,Flamingos Fly which Van later released himself on A Period Of Transition and The Philosophers Stone album. I think Jackie's version is really good, Santa Fe which they co-wrote and The Wonder Of You which is excellent and I have put the youtube video below.Listening carefully to these tracks I am quite certain that it is Van on backing vocals. Have a listen and see what you think. 
You can also read what Jackie said about Van if you click on the words from the sleeve notes. Anyway I am really pleased that this CD is now in my collection and thank you Petra for inspiring me to discover something about Van that I didn't know before.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Robert Plant At Glastonbury Abbey 9/8/2014

It had rained heavily on Saturday but had stopped by 4.30 when I set off for Glastonbury with my friends Jacquie, Chrissie and Chris. It was Chris actually who got me back into listening to Robert Plant when he gave me a copy of the Raising Sand album with Alison Krauss. It only took 40 minutes to get to Glastonbury and parking was quite easy considering there was a sell-out crowd of 9,900 in the magnificent setting of Glastonbury Abbey. We met up with Redders who is an old punk rocker and had cycled there from Westbury and then Odele who I met on the recycling team at Glastonbury Festival and our little gang was complete.We had brought some chairs and Jacquie and Chrissie had brought some nice  food for a picnic which Odele added to so we were all set for a great night.
The first band on were the Wildflowers who I had never heard of until a couple of weeks ago when I looked them up on Youtube. They were quite good but after a while I lost interest and spent more time talking to my friends.

The next act though I thought was really good. His name is George Ezra. He is only young but his voice sounds a lot older than him and is almost impossible to define. He played a great set. I think my favourite songs were Cassie-O and his hit single Budapest.

Finally it was time for Robert Plant And The Sensational Space Shifters.

What a great band they are. Robert Plant has moved on from Led Zeppelin and is trying to be more experimental in the music infusing it with African tribal rhythms and using instruments I had never seen before.The band are  Justin Adams on guitar, John Baggot on keyboards, Juldeh Camara on ritti which is a one stringed African violin,Kologo on African banjo and drum, Billy Fuller on bass, Dave Smith on drums and Skin Tyson on guitars. He still does some Led Zeppelin songs but they are transformed with trance psychedelic rhythms  His voice sounds as great as ever but more restrained and better for it in my opinion. I usually write a set-list but I didn't bother on this occasion because I wasn't sure of the names of the songs. I really enjoyed a song called Rainbow though and Little Maggie. Whole Lotta Love/Who Do You Love was magnificent and Rock And Roll. I went down to front to take a couple of pictures . I really liked Skin Tyson on guitars and banjo.Some of his acoustic playing was wonderful. The whole band were great.The evening ended with a spectacular firework display and we were back home by midnight, tired but happy after a great night.

                                                                             Thank you very much Michael Eavis, Glastonbury Abbey and Robert Plant for a wonderful evening.

 The End.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monday, August 04, 2014

Review: Cambridge Folk Festival 2014, Part 2 Van Morrison.

As ladysmith Black Mambazo ended Brendan and I made our move to get to the front. Hundreds of people poured out and we poured in.We tried on the left first and then on the right but it was so crowded it was impossible to rejoin Dail and Evonne right at the front so we had to settle for a spot about fifteen yards from the front of the stage. While we were waiting for Van to come on we got chatting to a couple from Belfast and the ladies name was Anne McMurray who is a friend of a friend of ours Maurice Kinkead who does a lot of great work in East Belfast. She asked us if we were going to see Van in Orangefield soon. I'm not, but Brendan is. Anyway, what a small world it is.I hope Maurice will say hello to her from me next time he sees Anne. Van was due on stage at 8.25 for a seventy five minute set. The band shuffled on before that to tune up. Shana always looks beautiful but tonight she looked even more lovely than usual in a pink dress.It was the usual band of Alistair White, Chris White, Bobby Ruggerio, Dave Keary, Paul Moore and Paul Moran.
 I didn't recognise the first few notes and said to Brendan, "What's this?". Then Van came on and started blowing his saxophone and I immediately recognised Celtic Swing. The audience loved it, they were in party mood, out to enjoy themselves on the last night of the festival. The next song was Little Village which was great with Chris White excelling himself on the euphonium. Then it was one of Van's hits Whenever God Shines His Light On Me with Shana singing the parts that Sir Cliff used to do. The crowd loved this. A highlight for me followed, Someone Like You probably the second best known of Van's love songs but in all my history of going to Van concerts of 35 years I can't ever remember him singing this before. It was splendid with Shana joining in on vocals. At festivals you expect a bit of crowd involvement and most songs you accept it but during a beautiful ballad like this you would think people would listen. During this song a group in front of us were not even listening to the music but just prattled away to each other. Brendan couldn't stand it and tapped the ringleader on the shoulder and asked them in no uncertain terms to quieten down and have some consideration.Another Van classic followed Queen Of The Slipstream, I thought this was great and so did the audience.Van played some great harmonica on this song. If the audience liked that they absolutely loved the next one which was Baby Please Don't Go/ Parchman Farm.I didn't know anything about Parchman Farm so I looked it up on Wikipedia. It is an autobiographical song written by Bukka White about his experience on an infamous prison farm in Alabama. It was later recorded by Mose Allison with a different arrangement which i guess is where Van became aware of the song.
                    Then Van said, " As this is a folk festival, I'll sing a folk song". It was Dead Or Alive which is a Woody Guthrie song that Van recorded for The Skiffle Sessions album with Lonnie Doneghan. I bet Lonnie played at the Cambridge Festival a few times.Then it was the great Enlightenment which is a song I never get tired of hearing.Another great song followed Rough God Goes Riding. The next song though I could have done without which was Tear Your Playhouse Down which to me is one of the lesser of Van's lesser songs and in a time slot of only 75 minutes something like Here Comes The Night would have been a much better crowd pleaser.
The next song though was absolutely brilliant, Days Like This which delighted the hard core Van fans and festival goers alike. It was perfect with Van scatting along at the end and really enjoying himself. Next up was Moondance. The audience loved this when they recognised it. My only complaint is that when the time slot is so short there is no need to give all the band a solo. I know it gives Van's voice a rest but four minutes would have been long enough and they could have squeezed in another song without the solo's.A song which I heard ad-nauseam about ten years ago was next, Precious Time but I hadn't heard it for quite a while so I didn't mind and the Cambridge audience loved it so who am I to object.The whole audience sang along to one of Van's rare chart hits.They also loved Real Real Gone / You Send Me and Van seemed to be enjoying the party atmosphere because at the end he said, "One more time", and sang the last bit again. The Ray Charles Classic I Can't Stop Loving You followed with Shana trying to repeat the part that the Crawford Bell Singers used to do so well a few years ago. The audience went wild when they recognised the opening bars of Brown Eyed Girl which Van was almost obliged to do for this audience. He seemed to enjoy the audience participation and stopped singing at one point and let the crowd sing all the Sha La La's. I knew it was coming to an end now when Help Me began and during Gloria I was heading for the exit to avoid the crush but I did listen from the back. The crowd loved it and I think Van made quite a few new fans. There was no transcendental songs like In The Garden etc but I knew that wouldn't happen. It it was a most enjoyable evening in beautiful weather in a nice atmosphere and when I met up with Dail and Evonne we all agreed it had been a great day at Cambridge Folk Festival and the highlight had been seeing Van the Man.

The End.

Review: Cambridge Folk Festival 2014. Part 1

It had rained heavily on Saturday at Cambridge Folk Festival but on Sunday morning when Dail, her friend Evonne and I set off from Dail's house in the pretty town of Stamford it was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky so I was relieved I didn't have to pack my emergency poncho. It only took about an hour to get to the festival site in Cherry Hinton on the outskirts of Cambridge. This was the 50th annual festival and I had never been before but this year I thought I would make the effort especially as Van Morrison was on. When we entered the arena where all the stages were I noticed  how crowded it was compared to the Village Pump Festival the week before. The arena was hardly any bigger than at the Village Pump but there was about ten times the amount of people which meant that it was packed. What made it worse was that everybody seemed to have brought fold up chairs.It said in the programme not to bring chairs unless you were elderly,disabled or injured but people had ignored that and placed chairs to claim their spot. It was just a sea of chairs. At the Village Pump there was room to breathe but not here.

                                                                  Anyway, that was the only thing I didn't like about this festival. Everything else was great. We took a walk up to the front and  watched a bit of Sarah Jarosz who is a young American singer-songwriter who was accompanied by a fiddle player and a cellist. She was quite good I thought. Then we went to the Club Tent where they showcase new young musicians and there was a really good young English singer-guitarist on. I think his name was Luke Jackson . Dail wanted to secure her position right at the front so we went back to the main stage and got a place right on the barrier and Dail and Evonne took turns keeping this place for the next eight hours. Evonne and I went for a stroll and got a drink and we listened to The High King's.
They are a traditional Irish folk band and their set was mainly well known Irish songs but performed brilliantly. This is just the sort of lively music festival audiences love on a sunny day and they went down a storm. After that we got some food and rejoined Dail. Jason Isbell was on next. I hadn't heard him before but I had heard great reports of him and I must say I thought he was great. Some of the songs were really sad and touched a nerve but it was a great performance. He was accompanied on vocals and violin by his wife Amanda Shires who I think you will agree is gorgeous (See photo).The Oysterband were on after Jason and Dail and Evonne were blown away by them and afterwards couldn't stop talking about them but I didn't see them. I had gone for a walk.
   Strolling past Stage 2 I heard a fair maiden singing a plaintive ballad. "I know that voice", I thought to myself and had a look. Just as I thought it was the one and only Kate Rusby making a surprise appearance. I think Kate is wonderful and I'm going to see her in Bath in December so I stopped and listened to the rest of her set. She brought on Sarah Jarosz as her guest and it was really nice.

 After Kate's surprise appearance I walked on and I met Someone I recognised. It was none other than Chris White who is one of Van Morrison's horn players. I shook hands with him and told him that we had met before. It was in the pub after a Van concert at the Albert Hall. He said that he remembered me but he might have just been polite. I said I was looking forward to seeing Van later. He was friendly. I think all of Van's band are really nice people. I should have asked for a photo but I didn't think. Never-mind. Then strolling through the market area I found a tattoo parlour doing Henna tattoo's which last about 14 days. "I know, I'll get a Van tattoo", I thought. " Can I have a tattoo saying Van The Man in Celtic lettering please?", I said to the girl. "We don't do Celtic lettering", she replied, "This is your choices". "Ok, do what you think is best".I felt obliged to have one once I had sat down. Anyway, it turned out rubbish and a waste of money. I took a photo of it but I'm not showing you it. It will be gone in two weeks and good riddence.
                                                               After that waste of time I saw The Rails on stage 2. I had seen them in Bath less than two weeks ago. In Bath they were a two piece acoustic act but at Cambridge they were a five piece electric outfit and were great. I must get The Rails album because I really like them. Kami looked really cool in her shades and I filmed Bonnie Portmore which is my favourite of their songs (See video below) . Back at the main stage I tried to rejoin Dail and Evonne but it had become impossible so I listened to Julie Fowlis from a distance. Julie is a traditional singer from the Outer Hebrides. An internet friend Jez has often mentioned her so I had a good listen.She has an exquisite voice singing in the Gaelic. Very nice indeed.

 I needed another drink and a cigarette and sat at a table outside the main bar. Who should I meet but Brendan from Dublin who I last met up with in Brighton back in February. It was great to see another die-hard Van fan. We watched Ladysmith Black Mambazo from a distance. I don't think Brendan liked them much and I wasn't all that bothered. I got a passer by to take our photo and we passed the time chatting about Van. Eventually Ladysmith ended and as thousands of people moved out we knew it was time to make our move. It was time for the legend they call Van The Man.

To be continued in Part 2, Van Morrison At Cambridge 2014.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Richard Thompson & The Rails At Bath Forum, 23/7/2014

It was a week ago today that we went to see the great Richard Thompson in Bath but I have been so busy since I haven't had the chance to write a review until today. This is what happened.                                                       We caught the train to Bath at 2.10 because Jacky & Bill hadn't been to Bath for years so I thought it would be nice to show them around. We walked up Milsom Street and past the abbey and had a look at the river. Then we had a quiet drink under the shade of the trees at The Boater pub. After that we walked along the river as far as the cricket club. It was so hot that we sat down in a shady spot and watched a ladies cricket match for quite a while. It was really pleasant and quite appropriate because Richard Thompson is a big cricket fan. Later on we had some food at a pub near the venue and then it was showtime.

 I bought a Richard Thompson Acoustic Classics shirt at the merchandise stall and joined Jacky & Bill in our seats quite near the front of the nice art-deco style venue. The opening act were The Rails who are Richard's daughter Kami and her husband James Walbourne. They began with the brilliant Bonnie Portmore which I discovered via their appearance at Glastonbury and really like. ( See video below) They have an album out called Fair Warning and most of the songs from their 40 minute set came from that. I'm not sure of the titles of all the songs but I really liked William Taylor, Send Her To Holloway and a song called Lonely from a forthcoming Thompson family album featuring Richard,Teddy, Kami,James and Kami's mother Linda so that should be good. I thought The Rails were great and during the interval I had a quick little chat with them and they signed a flyer for me. They are on at Cambridge Folk Festival this weekend so I may get the chance to see them again. Also during the interval I asked a man at the door if there was any chance that I could have the huge poster from the foyer and he said he would find out.
   Then it was time for the main man. This is the second time I have seen Richard at this venue and he never ceases to amaze me with his skill on the guitar and his ability to sing brilliantly at the same time.This is the setlist. I hope I have the song titles correct.
Bathsheba Smiles
Saving The Good Stuff For You
God Loves A Drunk
Johnny On The Sea
Fergus Lang
Vincent Black Lightning 1952
Sunset Song
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Genesis Hall
Good Things Happen To Bad People
The New Me
I Read About Love
Three short pieces about World War 1
Wall Of Death
Dimming Of The Day
I Feel So Good
Gossamer Wind
One Door Opens
That's Enough ( With The Rails)
                                                   I think you will agree that is a very impressive list of songs. I really enjoyed God Loves A Drunk which I first got to know on a Norma Waterson album. The three short pieces about World War 1 were letters from soldiers verbatim which Richard has set to music for a project coming out in 2016 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle Of The Somme. It was great to hear the Fairport Convention song Genesis Hall as well because I am a big fan of Fairport. The last song when he was joined by The Rails is also from the forthcoming family album and was brilliant. In fact the whole concert was brilliant.

                                                       As we left, the man on the door was waiting with my huge Richard Thompson poster. It will cost a fortune to frame it but I'll get it done in due course. We caught the train at about 10.45 and got home in time for a last drink in the Ludlow and a chat with my friend Jacquie the landlady.What a perfect day it had been.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Baka Beyond At The Crown, Bathford 10/7/2014.

 I had a wonderful evening at The Crown in Bathford last night. This is what happened. It was one of my internet friends Brian who told me about the gig. He is friends with Baka Beyond. I had heard the name but never heard the music. However i have always liked the Afro Celt style of music so I really wanted to go. I told my friend Jacquie about it and she said she would drive. As soon as Jacquie finished work we set off. It was a nice warm evening and as we drove through Sally In The Woods towards Bath the countryside looked really lush and green. How lucky we are to live in such a nice area. Soon we arrived at The Crown. I have passed this pub countless times but never been in. The staff were charming and our waitress had dressed up for the occasion. We both opted for the stuffed mushroom tartlettes and salad which was delicious. I think the pub gave some of the proceeds from the evening to Baka Beyond's charity which is good of them. After eating we chilled out for a while in the bucolic surroundings of the garden until the music began. Eventually we could hear the band starting up so we went inside. The bar was crowded by now with the cream of Bath's bohemian intelligentsia some of whom had cycled out from Bath which isn't far away. I'll just tell you a little bit about Baka Beyond. The band were formed after the singer Su Hart and guitarist Martin Cradick visited the Baka people in Cameroon in 1992. They founded a charity called The Global Music Exchange and the royalties from the music are used for projects to support the Baka culture and way of life.(Click on  picture at the base of the page for more details).

I think there were six musicians in the band tonight of various nationalities. Su on vocals, also drums, bass, guitar, violin and a cool dude on bongos and other drums.There were other instruments as well but I don't know what they are called. The music was great, really happy and infectious. As well as being a great singer Su is a great little dancer as well and encouraged the audience to join in. The place was jumping. Some of the songs were in French which is the official language of Cameroon.I really liked the African style guitar sound which reminded me of a band I used to like years ago called the Bhundu Boys from Zimbabwe.I can't tell you the names of the songs because this was the first time I had ever heard this group but I hope it won't be the last.I did film one song but sadly it came out a bit dark and didn't really do the group justice but the sound is good and you can see it below.
 During the interval I introduced myself to Su and said hello from Brian and she immediately knew who I was talking about.She said to say hi to Brian and tell him about the Canadian tour in August. She was really nice and I asked her for a photo and she obliged.I bought a CD from her called 'After The Tempest' which I am playing at this very moment and really enjoying. Highly recommended. Jacquie and I left before the end of the performance because it was getting late and I thought Jacquie deserved a well earned drink back in her pub The Ludlow Arms in Westbury after a long day and being kind enough to take me to Bathford. So thank you very much indeed to Baka Beyond, The Crown at Bathford, Brian for telling me about it and Jacquie for a most enjoyable evening.Lets do it all again soon.