It strikes me that though I've shared tunes from a couple of the many Kungens Män offshoots in recent months, I've neglected to feature anything from the band themselves for some time. Their latest release, 'Kungens Ljud & Bild' (The King's Sound and Image), was released digitally in May, though the vinyl only arrived fairly recently. The opener 'När Piskan Viner' (When the Whip Wins) blasts out of the gates in spectacular style. Check out and/or purchase the whole album on their Bandcamp page here.
Monday 29 August 2022
Friday 26 August 2022
My mate and I have been going to FolkEast for several years now and, creatures of habit that we are, we always pitch our tents next to each other in the same location, backed right up against a wire fence, facing out across the sea of canvas and campervans. It's a good spot to be in, on the very edge of the site a decent walk from the hustle and bustle of the arena, within reasonable staggering distance of a block of toilets and showers, but far enough away from them that we aren't affected by the inevitable occasional queues and smells. When we arrived on site last Thursday afternoon, on a whim I suggested that we pitch in the usual place, but facing the other way for a change. I don't quite know why it's taken all these years for one of us to make what in retrospect seems such a glaringly obvious suggestion, but the glorious view that greeted us as we crawled, bleary-eyed, from our respective tents on Friday morning ensured that we'll never pitch facing into the camping site again.
Wednesday 17 August 2022
You find me momentarily pausing in my attempts to chuck every permutation of clothing into a bag while simultaneously rummaging through cupboards in search of my inflatable mattress. Tomorrow morning I'm off to FolkEast, my annual brief concession to what Evan Dando memorably described as being the outdoor type. I'll be sleeping under the stars (well, under canvas under the stars to be precise, but you get my drift) for three nights and catching as many bands as possible at my one festival of the year. Somewhere near the top of my 'to see' list is a rare set by The Imagined Village, the ever-evolving, genre-bending supergroup featuring Martin & Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Simon Emmerson of Afro-Celt Sound System, sitar player Sheema Mujherjee, tabla percussionist Johnny Kalsi and drummer Andy Gangadeen. Also in the line-up (I hope) will be Jackie Oates, someone who I've wanted to see in concert for a very long time. True, on this occasion she'll just be part of the band, but I hope she gets to step forward for at least one or two numbers. Jackie is about to release her eighth solo album and she's made others in tandem with fellow artists such as Megan Henwood and John Spiers. They're all recommended and many of them are available to sample on her Bandcamp page (here).
For the purposes of this feature (the first new instalment since January 2021!) here are a couple of absolutely breathtaking covers by Jackie. The Cure's 'Untitled' was recorded for 'Life's What You Make It', a compilation of various folkies tackling 1980s hits, while 'On and On' will appear on that new solo album I mentioned, 'Gracious Wings'. Steel yourself for these.
Monday 15 August 2022
My flying visit to London last weekend was a real treat. The way things transpired I had just one full day with the whole family, but we made the most of it in spite of absolutely sweltering conditions. By midday on Tuesday I was on the motorway heading home and back to work. My aunt loved catching up with her grandchildren for the first time in five years, even if she found their accents a little difficult to decipher with her failing hearing. They all got together several more times throughout the week before the American contingent flew back to New York on Saturday afternoon.
Today apparently marks the end of this current heatwave, with cooler conditions due as the week progresses. I'm relieved to hear it, as from Thursday I'll be spending my annual three nights sleeping under canvas at a local folk festival.
On April 30th 1976, exactly a year to the day after my family relocated from London to Ipswich, I paid the princely sum of £1.75 to see The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in action at the local Gaumont Theatre. The band's 1974 LP 'The Impossible Dream' was a key record in my youth and they performed the whole of 'The Hot City Symphony' from it that night. After the show me and my gig-buddy hung around at the stage door and met Alex...and what a diamond geezer he was. Alex seemed quite old to us kids, though in actual fact he was only 41 at the time, but tragically had less than six years left to live.
Friday 5 August 2022
It's April 1967, that's me on the right, sporting a pudding basin haircut and a Batman badge on my tie. In the middle is my cousin, she was three years younger than me then...and still is. On the left is her mum, the aunt I often mention on these pages. My aunt turned 93 two days ago and still lives alone in East London, as she's done since my cousin moved to New York in 1988. This weekend though, the family flies in for a belated birthday celebration and tomorrow evening I'll be driving down to reunite with my cousin, her husband and their three kids, all of whom have grown up considerably since we last saw them in 2017. In fact in the interim, the eldest two have graduated from college, while the youngest starts college herself later this month. Their trip was a relatively last minute affair and though they'll be staying in London for the whole week, I only have a couple of precious days with them all before I have to head back for work. It's going to be emotional.
Wednesday 3 August 2022
California's Bedroom Walls traded between 2001-2007, releasing an EP and two albums, only the first of which, 2003's 'I Saw You Coming Back to Me', sits in my collection. It's another of the many CDs that we acquired around that time from stacks of cardboard boxes buried at the back of grimy, dimly lit and now sadly long gone New York record shops. What fun we had, venturing forth from my cousin's apartment in the morning carrying empty backpacks and arriving home many hours later with filthy hands from scrabbling around in the dust, backpacks bursting at the seams with CDs, all purchased for a few cents each. Admittedly we picked up a fair amount of old tosh on the way that didn't even make it back across the pond after a quick listen on my cousin's stereo, but conversely there were other discoveries that ultimately became popular favourites in our house.
Bedroom Walls described their music as 'romanticore' - it's wistful, melancholy pop, but with occasional sprinklings of humour, as evidenced in song titles like 'I've Been Thinking A Lot About The Dots On The Wall', 'Do The Buildings And Cops Make You Smile?' and 'Landlord! Watch! Coffin! Angels!'.
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