May 18 2008

Maggie Reilly Struer Festival: A Field Report

Hello folks
Just got back from playing a festival in Struer with Maggie Reilly. Struer is a city in Region Midtjylland on the Jutland peninsula in Western Denmark (I nicked that little snippet from Wikipedia… to be perfectly honest I have no idea where most of these places are in reality… I just get get off the plane and play my bass. I also found out that Struer has a population of 11,364.. so there you have it). Anyway, it’s a very pretty little place by the sea.
Because of it’s location (particularly relative to Copenhagen), there really aren’t that many flights in or out at useful times of a weekend. Hence we’ve been away for three days to do the one show! And, let me tell you, three days in Struer is plenty. We soon discovered that there was really only the one place to be (day or night) and that was a little bar/restaurant called The Happy Penguin (translated into Danish of course). We managed to visit said establishment a grand total of five times in the time we spent there. Everything else seemed to shut as soon as they saw us coming.
The show was a big outdoor affair with just over two thousand people in the audience. There were five bands on that day with us being the only non-Danish act on the bill. We were preceded by a Danish band (the name has gone I’m afraid) who were apparently big in the 80’s and have just made a comeback. I really didn’t get the point of the band that went .. us. They were a tribute band for a start. The word on the street was that they were a very convincing copy of Denmark’s biggest ever band (again, the name escapes me I’m afraid) who were massive in the late seventies. It was that kind of generic bluesy rock that regularly graces the stages of many a sweaty pub up and down the country. But the audience went berserk. They were singing along to all the tunes. The locals were raving about how authentic the band sounded and looked. Didn’t get it I’m afraid. I could never imagine a tribute band playing on the same stage as proper bands at any festival in the UK. Needless to say, we made a swift exit about five tunes into their set.
We had a really great show (particularly since we hadn’t played together for six weeks!). The sound was one of the best I’ve ever had on a festival and what began as a really cold blustery day suddenly turned into a beautiful Summer afternoon the exact moment we stepped onto the stage. We got a fantastic response from the audience and everybody at the festival really looked after us. They put on a big show like this every year for the locals and this was the first time they’d had a foreign band so hopefully we’ll get to play there again another time.
The Danes have a great music scene. It seems a lot of the small town put on shows like this every year and a lot of them are state funded. They really support their local artists far more than we do in the UK and on a much grander scale. Danish folk music and jazz also has a massive following. They are very proud of their own music. I think we could learn a lot from that attitude.
After the show we retired once more to the Happy Penguin for some food and drinks. As the only decent place in town it soon filled up with merry festival goers and we had a great time chatting with the natives!
Our next show isn’t until July in Poland with Chris Norman from Smokie. Maggie’s been checking out the venue and she says it looks beautiful. It’s somewhere near Gdansk… that’s all I know. We’re all looking forward to that one. I’ve never been to Poland…
On another note, if anybody’s knocking about town on Tuesday, this month’s “Wall To Wall” show with Lea Delaria features Julian Seagal on sax and we’ll be playing the music of Stevie Wonder. Should be a corker!

Apr 29 2008

Facebook… Friend or Foe?

Hello folks,
Well as some of you may know, I signed up for Facebook during the week. And it’s been a very interesting experience let me tell you…
The only reason I originally signed up was because there was a link on he Warr guitars website for their Facebook page. Unlike MySpace, you cannot view anyone’s profile unless you are a member, and more often than not, accepted as their friend. Okay… So I signed up. Next thing I knew I was up until 6.30 in the morning hunting down all my old school mates, people from college and all my muso friends.
Judging by the number of people I found that are using it already, I’m a bit behind the times… but I’m now thoroughly obsessed with Facebook. It’s like a drug. I find myself booting up the laptop far more often than normal, mainly to see whether it’s my go on Scrabulous. I’m thinking this cannot be a good thing. Can’t be healthy…
Facebook has been great for finding long lost friends. I’ve finally managed to find my best friend from primary school, after years of searching myspace etc. And a bunch of people I’d completely lost contact with have come out of the woodwork and sent me little messages. Hopefully I’ll go forth and actually meet up with them in the real world rather than over the internet… We’ll see.
I always thought of Facebook as a poor-man’s MySpace, mainly aimed at bored office-workers. And to a degree, I still think that’s probably the case. But having immersed myself for a few days, I can see the attraction. I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook can be a great tool for keeping in contact with your friends and colleagues. Kind of like a free version of Friends Reunited, coupled with an elaborate messaging service.
I can’t see me getting any more gigs off the back of Facebook. Unlike MySpace, which serves as a virtual shop window for musicians, Facebook seems more personal. But I don’t think thats a bad thing. I’m notoriously crap at keeping in contact with my friends and I’m hoping that Facebook will somehow help to readdress this situation. I find myself chatting with people I haven’t spoken to for years, simply because they’re online at the same time as me.
Until next time…
Si x

Jan 3 2008

Happy New Year!

Hello folks.
Happy new year to you all (well, the ones who read this blog anyway…)!
After a fairly quiet Christmas period it’s time once again to spring into action and get stuck in to what may well prove to be a busy spell (my god…!).
I’m gonna be out and about with Beth doing a few one offs and starting out at her new residency at Cherry Jam on Porchester Road ( Clare is soon to commence her busy touring schedule for 2008 and Maggie has got a bunch of shows lined up for the Spring in Germany and Scandinavia, I’ll post them when they’re all confirmed.
One little bit of exciting news (for me anyway), after much to-ing and fro-ing, Paul Eldridge and I have managed to revive our residency at PJ’s in Covent Garden (Wellington St, opposite The Lion King). We did this gig for years every Thursday night at 10.30, but it folded when the management changed. After a few odd gigs there over the last year, we have persuaded them to take us back on every week. So if you’re knocking about town in the wee small hours of a Thursday night, do drop in and say hello.

PJ's, Covent Garden

Also just got through a promo copy of Chris Difford’s new album ‘The Last Temptation of Chris” (great title!) which we recorded last year. Sounds bloody marvelous so keep your eyes peeled for that one: should be out some time in April. I’ll tell you nearer the time ‘cos you’re bound to forget…
Happy days.
See you soon.