Wednesday, December 23, 2015

And so-ul this is Christmas...

Nothing says Christmas like a soul and funk mix eh and in what has become something of a Christmas tradition I've trawled the internet to pluck one of the very best out for your delectation and delight. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Feel the Love...

Fed up with Christmas songs yet? Check out this great new track from The Assist (fresh from supporting Slade a few nights back) with the kind of instantly catchy laid back baggy groove that would give the Happy Mondays or the late lamented Flowered Up a run for their money. Love it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Rich pickings...

Look, it's tough enough for a lot of musicians to keep body and soul together so the last thing you need is some numbnuts nicking the tools of your trade. It seems to be happening far too often these days, obviously this stuff must be fairly easy to move on in exchange for a quick fix of something but come on...musicians are (generally) the good guys, they're the ones that make you feel better without having to shove a needle in your arm or snort the entire Bolivian cocaine crop up your hooter. Nick something else if you have to...or better still get a life.

Anyway, the latest unfortunate victim of instrument theft is Richard March, member of Bentley Rhythm Ace and numerous other bands including Rhino and the Ranters and The Peaky Blinders. Some scuzzball nicked his double bass (good grief...have you seen the size of those things? You can see him plucking the hell out of it on the vid above) the other night and it's no doubt leaning up against the wall of a pawn shop right now. There's a positive to this story though and the good people of Brum (and beyond) have started one of those Crowdfunding jobbies which has already raised £785 of the £850 needed to get Rich back up and running (well, playing) again. Hopefully if there's any money left they can buy a pair of concrete boots for the thief if he or she is ever caught. Grrrrrrrr...

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Baron's Lucky Dip # 2

Okay, singles this time and a neglected glam synth classic from Sheffield's Pink Grease, one of a squillion bands from the incredibly fertile mid noughties who sadly fell by the wayside (see also Rumble Strips...I'm still mystified about that one). They split in 2007 leaving behind a dozen or so singles, an album, some memorably messy gigs (anyone remember the one at the Bar Academy?) and an unreleased follow up from which this little beauty was plucked. One to dance in your pants to.

PS: Pink Grease's lead singer Rory was last spotted in goth glamsters White Witches. Here's the only offering I can find on t'You Tube.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Howard Marks - Live in Exeter this Wednesday!

Howard Marks may have become (in)famous for smuggling brain melting quantities of cannabis back in the 70s and 80s but he's spent much of the last 20 years or so touring his one man shows, writing hugely entertaining books and generally living up to his legendary nickname, Mr Nice. Yep, as drug smugglers go Howard's up there with the very best (and nicest) of 'em, an incredibly articulate and gentle man he's got an informed opinion on most things, all delivered with the kind of lush, laid back Welsh accented voice that could soothe the very hounds of hell.

It's fair to say that life hasn't exactly been a bowl of cherries for him over the years, getting caught for smuggling hundreds of tons of weed will tend to do that to a chap, but he's always accepted his attitude that's standing him in good stead right now as he's being mercilessly pursued by a certain Mr G. Reaper Esq. Whilst others might, quite naturally, retreat to their beds somewhat incredibly Howard's still touring, no doubt sharing words of wisdom that, given his impending ending, will be even more thought provoking and moving than his previous shows. And tomorrow night he's right here in Exeter at the Phoenix, tickets still available...something that very sadly he might not be for much longer. Frankly unmissable.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Baron’s Lucky Dip # 1

One of the twisted benefits of moving house after 20 odd years in the same place is the discovery of stuff you’d stashed away sometime in the 90s and kind of forgotten about. In my case that includes a bit of vinyl...okay a lot of vinyl...and CDs (oh so many CDs), all of which seemed to become a little obsolete once the internet became a viable way of listening to music. Moving forced me to confront this mountain of music and carry out some pretty brutal (to me at least...bearing in mind that I struggle to throw anything away) editing. I’m pretty sure I’ve given away some gems but it all went to charidee so hopefully someone did well out of it. The upside of course is that now I can see stuff and get to it (NB: after mulling over having bespoke shelves made or going down the Ikea route I plumped for some rugged industrial Big Dug jobbies to be doing the job).

Now I can get to it through I should listen to it all, right? Hence...drum roll...The Baron’s Lucky Dip, a semi regular feature in which I randomly select a record and share it with you for your delectation and delight. Of course this could do wonders for my street cred (stop sniggering) or, conversely, reveal my strange addition to Hi NRG tunes. Ready...ok...blindfold on...

Space – Money

Hmmm, don’t remember buying this (on 12 inch yellow vinyl no less) but do recall seeing them play a few times, notably at The Flapper (and Firkin as it was then) supporting another little known outfit called Catatonia. Space were a much more interesting proposition than history perhaps gives them credit for, what with lead singer Tommy Scott’s gloriously OTT vaudevillian delivery and the band's obsession with weirdos (see Mister Psycho and Neighbourhood) but c'est la vie. After splitting up in 2005 they reformed in 2011 and actually have a new album out in 2016 so happy endings and all that jazz. Here’s a taster:


Monday, December 07, 2015

Semi-Toned / Orchard Harmony @ St Mary’s Church, Whimple, Saturday December 4th 2015

There’s a fair chance that St Mary’s Church has witnessed some jolly fine voices over the generations but perhaps tonight was the first time that 15 of them performed the Macarena complete with the obligatory dance moves. The group in question, Exeter University’s a capella fellas Semi-Toned, are having one hell (or maybe heaven in this case) of a year having come second in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella competition before going on to win The Voice Festival UK, touring the US, playing the Edinburgh Festival and releasing a BuzzFeed bigged up video mash-up of If I Were a Rich man from Fiddler on the Roof and Rich Girl by Gwen Stefani. How’s that as an excuse for getting your dissertation in late eh?

Before all that the sell out audience...sorry...congregation witnessed a series of beautiful performances from Orchard Harmony (an all female a cappela group with its creative heart right here in Whimple) the absolute highlight being a candle lit Ava Maria sound-tracked procession through the church. Spines well and truly tingled. In fact, helmed by musical director Julia Green, the arrangements and staging of Orchard Harmony’s two sets were simply pitch perfect from start to finish.

Well and truly putting the fun in funky Semi-Toned practically blew the roof off the place with one of the liveliest and imaginative a capella sets this side of...well anywhere really.  

Boy these dudes can sing (they’re not bad little movers either) and their choice of material was every bit as impressive ranging from a fresh take on Fleetwood Mac’s epic The Chain through to a haunting rendition of Regina Spector’s Samson (which apparently also won the Outstanding Soloist award for the group’s Michael Luya in The Voice Festival’s Semi-Final) and on to the aforementioned Fiddler mash up. A sensationally seasonal Santa Baby, with Julia channelling her inner Eartha up in the pulpit on lead vocals and the combined might of the rest of Orchard Harmony and all of Semi-Toned providing the backing, was the metaphorical sixpence in the pudding of a truly wonderful Whimple evening. 

Friday, December 04, 2015

A tale of two cities (well, one City and one village)

Not for the first time in life I wish I could be in at least two places at once this Saturday. Whimple based peeps should head to the church to see the award winning all male a capella group Semi-Toned, well at least you should if you’ve already got a ticket ‘cos it’s Sold Out (wonder if some of any my ticket tout buddies from Brum will be outside doing their thing?). 

Brum based folk should head off to St Paul’s Church to see the bewitching double bill of Katherine Priddy and Michael King. Last minute tickets here!

PS: My gig going has been pitiful this year for various reasons and I’m still mulling over the dilemma of getting to and from Exeter after 11pm (which is when the trains all seemingly turn into pumpkins) – at the moment kipping on a park bench is the most attractive (for that read ‘cheapest’) option but maybe Winter isn’t the best time to try that one out eh? Anyway, whatever you’re up to enjoy!