Thursday, June 13, 2024

Remembering Gitte

Ten years ago today, Gitte Christensen passed. A wonderful writer, a quiet achiever, all round lovely person, and a good friend.
You are never forgotten, Gitte.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Echobelly, Ocean Colour Scene and Other Assorted Blasts from the Past

Back in the 90s, while living in Japan, I started listening to Echobelly. Their first two albums were wonderful but like so much of the music I listened to in those days, I figured there was minimal opportunity for me to see them live.

A few weeks ago, that dream came true. Echobelly came to Lincoln, and I was not disappointed. They sounded fabulous, looked great, and had a fantastic stage presence. The audience was a little small, and a little quiet, but from where I was standing it appeared everyone was into the music and grooving along in their own way.

Being a small city and with one of the main venues always in financial trouble, Lincoln hasn't really attracted much in the way of music in the past 5 or 6 years - at least, not music that interests me.  Tribute bands have their place, but they're generally not really my thing. They are, however, a cheap and safe option for a cash-strapped venue.  Fortunately the venue was taken over last year by one of the local colleges, and what a change!  It's only May, and I've already seen more acts than I have in each of the past five years. And I have bought tickets for a few more in the next six months or so. Again, many are musicians I was listening to in the 80s and 90s and figured I would never get to see.

I posted recently about wanting to see more live music, and since then I have been, and also exploring the local folk scene. It hasn't disappointed. There truly are some hidden gems here in Lincolnshire.

Next up?  Ocean Colour Scene.  A long time favourite, and although I've seen Oscar and Simon as an acoustic duo, this will be my first time to see the whole band.  And I can't wait.

I see double up ahead 
Where the riverboat swayed beneath the sun 
Is where the river runs red 
Like a King who stalks the wings and shoots a dove 
And frees an eagle instead 
It's more or less the same as the things that you said

Friday, May 10, 2024

Rock the Casbah.

Spring has finally arrived, much later than usual, and it feels great.  The sky is blue and clear, the air is fresh, and the garden is coming alive again.  We spent much of last weekend replanting, weeding and generally tidying up. Hard work, but well worth it when it's so enjoyable sitting out there.

We managed to get away for a few days at the end of the month. First time I'd been overseas on holiday for several years, and it was fabulous. I even enjoyed the flights. But how can you not love three full days of wandering around Marrakesh. 

Not out first time there.  We spent a few days there on our honeymoon, and fell in love with the city then. The smells, sounds and the sights. Once again we wandered through amazing gardens, enjoying the calm away from the hectic city outside, and sipping on cool mocktails in the heat of the day. The food was fabulous, whether from small cafes or proper restaurants. And the vibe of the Medina, walking the streets, surviving the souks, and getting lost in the tiny, winding lanes. I even rocked the Casbah. What a fabulous city.

I returned home almost reluctantly. Work here is busy, but the memory of Marrakesh continues to refresh.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Why Are Fans So Awful?

It doesn't matter the fandom, so many fans are overly-critical, negative, and generally awful. If something isn't exactly how fans want it, then it is torn to shreds.

Late last year, The Beatles released Now and Then.  Many of us fans loved it, but you should have seen the discussions and comments which were simply negative - many of them before it had even been released.  Last week, the Beatles announced they were finally going to release the Let It Be film. This has been rumoured for release for many years now, and fans have been calling for it. And yet, once it was announced, fans started writing about how terrible this release would be, how it won't be this or that, won't have extras and so on. "we'd rather have a copy of the Shea Stadium show", they said. Never mind the fact as Beatles fans we have more outtakes and more unreleased material than virtually any other fandom, barring Bob Dylan.

But no, this release is going to be awful.

And talking of Dylan, the negativity towards the biopic is astounding. Timothee  Chalamet is a couple of inches too tall, the back pack he is wearing in the photos is not exactly the same as Dylan's. I even saw one comment today that said he didn't want to see this film because it will be terrible.  "My daughter hated Dune 2", he declared.  Yep, I have been wondering what his daughter thought of Dune 2, as that is how I base all my film reviews.

And then in Australian Rules football. My team, Essendon, played the biggest game of this year against last years Premiers. And it ended in a draw. Both teams played well, and my team, who has vastly underperformed for many years, were fabulous. Never gave up, chased and maintained the pressure right through the match, and were hard. Last year these fans were saying they just wanted effort.  Today, despite the pundits saying that no Essendon fan would be disappointed with the result, these fans were screaming because we didn't win.

And I'm not going to even look at the crybabies who announce often and loudly how much they hate any Star Wars film after the mid 1980s.  Sigh.

For the record, I loved Now and Then, look forward to Let It Be, think Chalamet will be a fabulous Dylan, and was thrilled with the efforts and result from today's match.

I don't care whether you (or your daughter) didn't like it.  I'll be over here making up my own mind.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

More Music.

Much of my music collection has been in storage for quite a few years. Recently I've been able to access my music, and I've been able to commence sorting, organising, and completing the cataloguing I commenced way back in Australia.

It has also been really lovely to rediscover old favourites and listen to albums and tracks I'd forgotten about, or not had easy access to.  (I don't stream, for a number of reasons - and anyway, from what I've seen, some of my favourites simply aren't on those services.)

Last night I listened to an album I initially bought in 1989 or so, and haven't heard for around ten years. I was amazed at how fresh it sounded, and also how I knew the words and music so well.  It was wonderful to listen to. And I'm sure other aural delights await me as I explore my collection.

In a way, this re-access to my music, as well as going to a couple of live shows, has re-energised my love for music. I've bought tickets to a couple of other shows coming to Lincoln, and even explored the Folk Music scene in this county. And I was surprised to see that it's actually quite healthy and active.

I've known of the Folk Club in Lincoln for around a year or so, but their regular sessions clashed with another regular commitment I had.  I no longer have that, and so tonight I'm heading off to, hopefully, meet like minded people with similar tastes in music.

It can be uncomfortable joining a new group of people, but I've already had some online contact with a couple of them, and they seem really friendly and welcoming. I'm not nervous at all, and really looking forward to going.  And, as one would expect from a folk club, they meet in a pub.  Bonus!

In the next few months I have tickets to a few shows, Folk Club and Live Sessions pencilled into my calendar, and an unusual opportunity to explore new music.

Music still stirs my soul and speaks to my heart. And very often inspires my own creativity.

I'll let you know.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

A Changed World

Four years ago today, the Prime Minister announced that we would commence lockdowns here in England. That was Monday evening, and by Thursday we were working from home.

I recall the Tuesday morning, where we met in the office and made plans for relocating. We had known this would likely be coming so much preparation had been done in advance, but now we were organising equipment, stationery and other needs.  It all had a sense of gravity, of seriousness and urgency. 

For some reason, we were under the impression this would be around six weeks, that it was quite temporary, and before long we'd be back in the office. Certainly, at that time, we didn't realise it would be at least 18 months, and that would not be full time in the office. In fact, in our case, we would never return full time to the workplace. 

Not only working practices have changed since those days.  The world has changed too - noticeably in many cases, much more subtly in others. People have changed, our behaviours have changed, relationships have changed. And I think the full effects of all this will not be recognised for many, many years.

I know I've changed - perhaps for the better in some ways. Certainly these lockdowns and changed work practices have affected me and those around me.

There were, of course, some lovely aspects to these lockdowns. It was a beautiful clear spring, with no traffic, little noise, clear skies and lots of insects and birds. Would that spring have been beautiful anyway, or was it the result of less pollution from cars and industry?

Not that I would want it to happen again, but I did quite enjoy the peace, the walks each day during set times, and the sense of "all in this together" and "doing it for the community".

I've recently read, over in tin-foil hat land, that there could be an event in March or April which could cause something similar to happen again. I don't think I place much credence in these wild theories, but just in case it happens and you aren't of a conspiracy mind, you read it here first! 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Live Music. Again.

It has been a long while since I went to see some live music. I think the last concert I attended was in London, about a year ago. I regularly check to see who is coming to Lincoln, just in case, but for the past couple of years, pickings have been slim.

Partly this is due to the size of Lincoln. We are a small city, with a small population, well off the beaten path. The venues we have in town are also small. The main one was in financial trouble, and was having problems attracting artists. as such, it promoted a lot of comedy nights and the like. The other, probably understanding what sells, seemed to focus on tribute act - something I've never been too fond of.

But there has been a turn around, The main one was taken over, remodelled, and has started attracting performers of note - or at least artists I'm interested in seeing. 

Recently, in a matter of days, I went to see live music at both these venues.  And I loved every second of it.

First up was Something About George, a tribute to George Harrison.  I hesitated for the longest time, but then read some reviews. It wasn't a tribute act, but a band paying tribute. The frontman talked between (and sometimes during) songs, telling George's life story, and the relevance of the songs being played. And it was good fun. Really good fun.

The second was Fairport Convention.  Someone I know told me they'd seen them in the early 70s, and figured none of those originals would be there. Of the five he saw in those days, three were still part of the band. And they were wonderful.  I have seen this lineup before, but Dave Mattacks didn't play with them last year, so it was great to see him back on drums.  And, being the lovely chap he is, he signed a couple of XTC and George Harrison albums for me.  Bonus!

Oh, and a huge shout out to Plumhall.  This wife and husband pairing were the support act, and they were fabulous. I became an instant fan.

And so I am going to go and see more live music. I've been exploring British folk music since I was a teenager, and I am aware there is a healthy live folk music scene here in Lincoln. I have thought about attending some of these events for some time, but they generally clashed with other regular activities I undertook. That has all changed, and so from this month I plan to see more live music.

And that's the way it should be!