Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"I keep getting the nagging feeling I've slept somewhere before..."*

I had the great pleasure of attending the palatial country pile of Tony James Shevlin (pictured right, performing at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville) this week for the purpose of brushing up on a few licks in advance of our return to active duty in Kelvedon next month. As well as conquering the expanding markets of the Suffolk borders Shev has designs on several territories far west of the Posh North Essex demographic and was pleased to be able to confide that he was fairly confident of securing an engagement in Athens, Georgia this Summer - this being the home of Pylon, Matthew Sweet, The B-52s and (probably most notably) REM. He mused that this would be a splendid opportunity to perform a number close to both the hearts of his potential audience and to himself - not his regular function band staple Love Shack, but the self-penned and Troggs-tastic Deja Vu, recorded by none other than Reg Presley himself with one-time jobbing backing band Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry. The only problem was that he couldn't comprehensively remember exactly how the two decades-old song actually went.
"What did you do?" asked concerned co-vocalist and percussionista Jules. "Find an old demo, hook up the record deck, search through your old lyric folder..?"
"Looked the video up on YouTube for the chords and found the words through Google" he confirmed happily. "Isn't technology wonderful?"

*The phenomenon known as Duvet Ja (Thanks to Harry Harris). 

Monday, January 05, 2015

"That's me in the corner..."

 Called upon once again with regard to my exemplary stage vacuuming skillset and uncanny ability to spot a snapped top E Dean Markley Custom Light at ten paces I spent Saturday night poised cat-like stage left at The Manor Ballroom in Ipswich*, curating The Featherz, Still Life in Action and Panorama in Black as they came together in a celebration of thirty years of post-punk and to raise money for the purpose of putting on an exhibition of the art and poetry of the late David Martin, a friend of many of the musicians and members of the audience (there is an online petition calling for an official inquest into the nature of his passing here). 

 My role in the whole affair was pretty peripheral - three broken strings (a pretty quiet set when considered in terms of The Goat Roper Rodeo Band, although they have the good grace not to employ an eighties vintage Ibanez with locking nut, floating bridge and a tremelo, capoed at the first fret because of a key-specific encore - but I digress) however this did give me the opportunity to take in the overall ambience** of the whole event and that was principally one of fraternity (and/or sorority). It's fairly common memetic shorthand (and lordy knows I've indulged often enough myself) to refer to The Punk Wars, but this was watching a veterans reunion first hand. Folk had flown in from The States, come in from their parents' houses to see what the rumours and legends of the old days were all about and, in one instance, come back to see what the band his seven year-old self used to listen to rehearsing in the basement next door sounded like without a wall, but with thirty years between them. 

 The over-riding emotion in the room, underneath all the intensity*** onstage and hail fellow well-metness off, was care. The first thought most of these people had when they heard of Dave's passing was what can we do? It was humbling. They raised over a thousand pounds on the night, through donations and sales of t-shirts, CDs and singles. It looks like the exhibition is going to go ahead.
 Anyway, here's Panorama in Black channeling The Stooges. Watch out for the seamless guitar change over at the end...  

*A punk reunion gig was only ever going to take place here. Principally, it must be said, because all the other venues from way back then have been torn down and turned into car parks.

**Not 'ambulance' as my spell-checker insists upon. Although one of those did turn up later. "It's not a punk gig until the emergency services have been called" quipped one veteran.

***Still Life in Action delivered a magnificent display of Joy Division-style disapproachment and didn't, I believe, utter a single word to the audience throughout.