Friday Music


Last weekend I went to check out a new venue; it has been a long time since I have been to a gig that I have not organised. Try as you might, it is hard to relax into the music when you are promoting.

I went to see the fabulously quirky, yet brilliant ‘Head of Light Entertainment’ whom I increasingly love, but also the main act ‘The Nevile Staples Band’. Nevile Staples was and sometimes is part of The Specials (and was part of The Fun Boy Three).

If I’m honest, I preferred the former to the latter, but ska bought powerful memories of growing up in The Midlands in the 70s and black/white tension that this music began to combat. At first it was strange watching the Rude Boys and Girls of the 70s in the audience dancing now as much older people, but then it became compelling and heartwarming to see people uninhibitedly keeping the flame alive.

There was something about the way they reacted to the music and Neville Staples’ magnetism and showmanship that drew me in in the end.

Plus; singing along to Ghost Town on a seafront hotel in Saltburn; well- life doesn’t get any better, does it?

Friday Music


I helped to host another gig last week: two really good local bands who are getting national radioplay (Radio 6). It is something I both love and loathe: I get to listen to music, set up a venue, talk to the musicians…and at the same time agonise whether the tickets will sell, just how many times can people take random texts from me and …are people really enjoying this as much as I am?

I’d bumped into 2 members of the above band 2 or 3 years ago who were helping their friend out with some fundraising. I heard them and was taken aback: they were so good, so strange and so much better than anything I had ever heard in an open mic- I wanted to see them again with a full line up.

Have you ever had that moment, when you were suprised and taken out of your comfort zone by music that was so different to what you were expecting?

The first band was really good: tight, bittersweet and tuneful and then ‘Head of Light Entertainment’ played. A good proportion of people there were wide eyed: how could music this different and this brilliant & played so well come to a small village? A smaller proportion could not cope or appreciate with what they saw and heard and left.

I sat there almost open mouthed: what am I seeing? This is beyond amazing.

I learned something -or relearned something -that night.

It is ok to be different, to be so captivated by an alternative vision and pursue it because it lights up your and others’ lives. But also, when you do that, you have to do it as this band did, with integrity (you really do believe in what you are doing: it isn’t just for the sake of being different), openness (‘Hey- we are doing this and isn’t it different: you may get it and you may not’) and without being in any way defensive about what you are doing and why.

Would I see them again? Yes. Would I recommend others to see them? Yes; if they are ‘open’, not closed and own nothing with the title ‘greatest hits’ in. Would I book them again? If I have learned anything about being 50 it would be to take more risks and not worry too much about the consequences…. (I think I will give naked hang gliding off the Tees Bridge a bit longer though).

I am sure there is a sermon in what they did and how they did it. But hey: you do the math….

Friday Music


A week ago I was in my local pub at an acoustic night. As usual the acts were brilliant. Two weeks ago, the organiser asked if I would take my guitar. Having heard the acts, if I did I would be like a small child with a football playing football with Messi.

Two people from this band stepped up to the mike. Quite, quite incredible: to come to a packed pub & play your own distinct, quirky and different music and deliver it with confidence and joy. All the acts were good and ‘real’- but this just stood apart.

So I went home, followed them and googled them and found out they had been on Radio 6, had released CDs & was even more impressed. So much so that I managed to get one.

I can’t categorise what they do, except that live they are eye openingly brilliant.

Thing  is, they are playing in Middlesbrough tonight….. but I have to look after my kids for at least part of the night & most of my friends are scared of straying more than 10 yards from ‘The Bay Horse’.

soon, soon….

Full set from Stockton: [youtube]lOx7L5b_C4A[/youtube]