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Monday, 25 May 2015

Hello Creepy Spider, San Fran (Minus the Sisco’s) & Damien Johansson The Vale bar, Glasgow 15th May 2015

Another night, another review to add to my list.
This time I had the privilege to meet and review four lovely gentlemen with a passion for music and a love for friendly banter on and off the stage.

The setting: The Vale Bar.
An intimate venue situated in Glasgow that can accommodate up to 60 people.

In all honesty even with the limited capacity the turn out for the gig was on the poor side, but this was no reflection on those performing and everything to do with Glasgow being over loaded with venues and acts playing every single night of the week.

I can say that while I was disappointed in the turn out for the bands I have to add that along with the rest of the small audience we were were not disappointed by the performances.

To open the show we had the musical talents of San Fran, who normally has his Siscos with him doing a solo outing.

What a set he played. He has mastered the art of bringing personal experiences to his writing style that will evoke feelings we are all familiar with (some more than others). He brings the grittiness of his hometown to the fore front of his music and his style is complimented by a smooth, soulful voice which makes his music an easy listening experience that still carries and artistic punch.

If you haven’t had a chance to catch either San Fran solo or with his band backing him at a gig I suggest you do so as you will not be disappointed.

Next on the bill was the equally good musical styling of Damien Johansson with the lovely Chrissy on Bass.
Playing some new tracks entice the crowd. The response was lacking enthusiasm, which was disappointing.

Although Damien’s music is not to my liking, he is still a talented musician and his songs are written with passion ads emotion making for some entertaining music.

As for the finale, Hello Creepy Spider. I was really looking forward to seeing the band after listening to their album.
They have a fast paced, rough and ready punk style with a simple song structure which is refreshing to watch and will have you rocking out all night.
Playing a mix of their own songs and some classics like ‘Staying Alive’ and ‘Paranoid’ you can see the passion and energy they breathe into every note/chord they play.

I definitely recommend seeing the guys in action, they will blow you away. Find out more about the bands on facebook @: 

You can also purchase the San Fran & the Siscos AND Hello Creepy Spider @: and click on shop now or visit the New Hellfire Club at 1103 Hidden Lane, Argyle street, Glasgow.

By Lisa Naylor

Photos by Alan Fergusson

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Eden Festival 2015

I’ve made no secret of how there was a time when I fell out of love with festivals.

There was a singular moment a few years ago when I was returning from one and I was tired and dirty - and facing an early shift the next day - when I had a road to Damascus insight.

That insight was that I hadn’t really enjoyed myself.
In fact I had found it shockingly stressful in many ways.
And then I had to admit that I personally didn’t have much fun the previous year either, or the one before that.

The rot hadn’t set in overnight, but instead crept up on me incrementally over a period of years.
I had to accept that my ongoing attendance was really rooted in habit and the expectation of peers to just go along with the flow rather than any personal urge to participate.

It wasn’t that I was getting too old for sleeping under the stars, or that I had changed that much, but rather that festivals across the UK had changed in so many ways, and in the main most were becoming little more than al fresco gigs with all the eccentricities that I had come to love about them relegated to being memories from the past.

Maybe it was akin to how travelling carnivals started to become increasingly sanitized and lost the freak shows and the hoochie coochie girls only to be replaced by fruit machines and arcade games.

Heaven for some I suppose, but hell for others, and I’m certainly with the latter as I’m more a freak show hoochie coochie sort of guy.
For me a big part of any festival experiences was never about the standing centre stage and watching a band, but rather all the wandering around meeting characters, the coming across talented outsiders entertaining people in quiet corners, and basically immersing myself in a world that only had a tenuous link to the stereotypical daily grind that we all live in.

Once that weekend of anarchic respite started to be usurped by main stage acts booked to attract the widest mainstream audience possible I was partially left behind and on that trip home the reality of all that came crashing in and I hung up my festival boots.

That is until on a whim, and all very last minute, I ended up attending the Eden festival a few years ago and rediscovered the magic.

As I arrived I instantly knew that in a sense I was home.

Here was exactly the thing that I didn’t know I was still looking for.

Here were my brethren that I had become lost from.
The people I would refer to as the backbone of any real festival.
The misshaped pegs that refused to be hammered into a constricting hole, the dreamers and the modern day beat poets, the counter culture warriors and more.

I was home and it was quite an emotional moment.

Once the last tent peg was hammered in I was off looking to become lost in what Eden has to offer and I discovered that it was a real smorgasbord of delights.

Everywhere I turned I was the magpie with another shiny shiny catching my attention. From the stalls to the stages, from those attending to the ales on offer I was swamped as my senses grabbed onto it all and drank it in like a man lost in the dessert who has suddenly found himself waist deep an oasis of fresh sparkling water.

I was in love again.

The best thing about it was that this was not just an initially overwhelming rush, but an experience that was maintained all weekend long.

Even better was that those feelings were recaptured the next year and now I am feeling the buzz building for Eden as I have no doubt at all that it will be more of the same again.

Basically what I am saying is that if you are old school when it comes to festivals then Eden will deliver 100%.

Way before festivals were being called bespoke and bijou Eden apparently had it nailed and it was there right under my nose and I hadn’t even known.
Even though many friends had attended it and raved about how much they enjoyed it I had been setting their praise aside and considering it in my ignorance as just another festival.

I was wrong.
So very wrong and once experienced I came to realize that it has everything I want and more.

So Vive le Eden Festival and bring it on.

If you see me there then please do say hello and watch out for the post Eden review on New Hellfire Club and ItsaXXXXthing blog


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Giuda – Broadcast – 13/05/15 (Glasgow)

I'm a seventies kid.
I was born in the second half of the sixties and cut my teeth on the glam rock of Slade, T-Rex and Sweet.
And unlike the eighties when the term was usurped by our blow dried, kohl eyed, hog driving cousins from across the pond our glam rock was a whole different beast.

It has some muscle, some street smarts and it was all backed up by the stomp of the terraces.
While the bands strutted about in their glitter finery their fan base were the shaven headed denim clad and monkey booted lads whose Saturdays were made up of football in the afternoon, a pint in the early evening, and the dancing* at night where they would roam in packs and dance in as manly a fashion as they could to the sounds of the latest chart hits from their heroes.

There was certainly something in the air and while I was only of an age to participate in listening to the music rather than getting right in about it at the dancing it was still heady stuff to be part of.

Hell. I think my first moment of a sexual awakening was when watching leather clad Suzi Quatro straddle a hefty motorcycle on Top Of The Pops, but that’s another story.

As it is the whole scene is now looked back on with nostalgic wonder, and in some ways relegated to being less artistically inspiring than it really was, but at the time it was those bands that led to Bowie, Roxy Music and the like to bridge the gap, and joined at the hip with the pub rock scene, give birth to punk rock.
So with that being the case – although others are welcome to disagree – maybe we should be considering seventies glam in a more positively critical light in the present.

Especially as we now have Italian rockers Giuda flying the flag for the sound in the here and now.

Sans the glitter and stack soled boots they walked onto the stage in Glasgow’s Broadcast dressed like they had fallen out of the door from an away supporters bus in 1973 and then they proceeded to take the roof off.
With fists pumping the air and a few dance moves last seen being thrown out there by MUD they had no intentions of talking any prisoners and Ramones like ran through a set with barely a break, or breath, between songs.

There’s no fat attached to what they do.
It’s all lean and meaty rock and roll fired from the hip.

Much of the set is reminiscent of the working class blue collar rock of AC/DC circa ’75 with an additional nod to a melting pot of the best of the best of the era to.

It’s difficult to actually convey how good they are, but if I was to invent a time machine, or discover a wormhole in the fabric of the universe, and magically return these guys intact back to the mid seventies then they would have given the giants of the time a solid run for their money.
And I doubt they would break a sweat doing it.
In fact that is exactly how good they are.
Not a mere facsimile of the bands of the past, but equally as wonderful.
It could be said that they are up there with the greats, and just separated by a few decades.

Right now they are mainly attracting a punk following and playing on punk bills, but a support to a legendary band such as AC/DC as mentioned could conceivably jettison them onto the big stages of the world.

It’s not that they don’t fit with the audience they are attracting, but rather that the cross over appeal is immense.

This is no idle comment either.

Five minutes in a sweaty club is all anyone would need to understand that they are a step away from grabbing a glittering crown, but only if people near and far get on board with a glam, or rock, revival.
That may sound a bit unrealistic, but right now I am increasingly hearing more people express some dissatisfaction with the current crop of major label pushed artists and the time seems ripe for change.
So why not?

Best to check this band out no matter what happens.
File them as your latest favourite act.

*The dancing - Events held in youth clubs, social clubs, working mens clubs. 



Sunday, 19 April 2015

Record Store Day 2015 - Breaking News.

This morning a group of specially trained accountants employed by an amalgamation of music industry parties emerged blinking and bleary eyed in the morning light from an office in Los Angeles and announced that Record Store Day 2015 had been an outstanding financial success.

Once the news broke the head of a major label was happy to confirm from a moet filled jacuzzi bath in his Hollywood home that this year they had sold more vinyl releases to people who don’t have a turntable than any year previously.
Jacqui Kissalot, pr to the mogul, who was in attendance wearing a shiny sequinned g-string coquettishly left untied on one hip, added that ‘since the news came in he just keeps screaming let’s party like it’s nineteen eighty four, but I don’t know what that was like as I was born in nineteen ninety nine, oh I mean six, ninety six.’

Over in the UK record store owners were equally ecstatic with one who would rather remain nameless going on record as saying that he had never seen so many people who didn't really like music that much visiting his shop.
The only downside in his opinion was the moral struggle he faced as he was in a quandary about whether he should do a runner with the cash made or use it to pay his staff and remain open for another month or two.

Meanwhile it wasn't all positive news as keen vinyl hoarder Thomas Bjork of Oslo admitted that he had failed to get the 180gram reissue of the reissue of the reissue of the reissue of Judas Priests ‘British Steel.
With tears in his eyes he complained bitterly that having the original on vinyl and all the subsequent reissues, plus the CDs and expanded legacy packs and the cassette from Cassette Store Day just wasn't enough, and there was a part of him that died when he was told that his local store only had one copy of the latest reissue and they were selling that on Ebay with a thousand percent mark up.

Similarly handle bar moustache model Stanley Even of Glasgow claimed that he didn't know how he could face the week ahead as he was unable to secure a copy of the remastered James Last ‘East meets West’ in Kremlin red and Washington Blue vinyl, or Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass classic ‘Sounds Tijuana’ with the scratch and sniff cover that when scratched and then sniffed evocatively revisited the smell of a charity shop circa 1990 with an extra limited run of twenty being specific to Red Cross charity outlets.
He admitted that he was currently considering legal action as he could factual prove that not being able to purchase these items had left his standing in community of movers and shakers who reside in the west end of Glasgow damaged beyond repair.

Less unhappy than the music lovers that had failed in securing their favourite acts releases were Ebay whose market shares rose by 12% as they cornered the market on Record Store Day releases.
In the early hours of this morning a financial advisor to the company mistakenly tweeted a private message that confirmed that in 2016 Ebay will be hosting a Post Record Store Day that starts on midnight of the official Record Store Day which caused a storm of protest and resulted in an official denial from the company as apparently the name of the event has not been decided on just yet.

Also in a jubilant mood was John Campbell of Edinburgh who was seen dancing in the streets after securing four albums by artists he didn't really know but had read could command a hefty profit when resold.
When asked if he thought that this was rather exploitative and not in the spirit of Record Store Day he laughed loudly and when he finally caught his breath said he couldn't give a shit.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

In conversation with Rank Berry - Guest interviewer Why Von Rusty

So are you guys the real deal?

Brian - Ha, well that depends on what the real deal is.

Born on the wrong side of the tracks, hard living, working class rock and rollers?

Grant - Well we're certainly not hanging off the teat of inherited money and no one would argue if we said where we come from is most definitely economically deprived with people aspiring to be working never mind working class.
Jamie - And I suppose we do like a party if that's what you mean by hard living?
So yeah if that means we’re ‘the real deal’ then I suppose we might be the unreconstructed romantic notions of what a dirty ol' rock and roll band should be.

Is that sort of redundant and semi cartoon-ish now though?

Jamie - It probably is if it's a selling point, a label or management created pretence, but we're just four guys doing pretty much what everyone we know does in their spare time. Maybe this is the era of everyone living like a debauched rock star on the weekend and just coincidently we are in a band rather than working in a garage so I suppose we fit into the perception better than say that mechanic.
Marc - I think people can tell the difference between faux debauchery and just people partying anyway.

How so?

Grant - It's like the difference between an a-lister falling out of a club at 3am with the paparazzi waiting and Marc slumped naked in an empty car park communing with the spirits you find in a bottle.

And you are the latter?

Brian - Well that's true about Marc so yeah. No one will say it's big or clever but we are what we are. We do like a drink.
Jamie - Unapologetic arseholes is probably a better description of us than the real deal.
Brian - That was the original name of the band. Maybe it will be a side project in the future.

How does it feel like to be mentioned in the same breath as iconic rockers from the Rolling Stones to Guns and Roses?

Jamie - That's a strange one. We are obviously influenced by those acts and would be comfortable with people pointing out that they hear them in what we do, but to be compared to them, and others, as if they are peers makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. We only have the one ep out and another about to be released so it all seems a bit presumptuous to throw us in the ring with the greats.
Marc - It's certainly not something we feel deserving of.
In general we get our heads down and write and practice and then go out and play live and that's it.
Then we lift our heads up and take stock and find that people are saying very nice things about us.
Brian - I like it. Not as an ego massage, but in how it makes me strive to push things harder If someone says you are as good as Creedence then while I don't necessarily agree it makes me want to live up to the praise. It's good in that sense.

So your feet are on the ground then?

Grant - They have to be. Our reality wouldn't allow for anything else. Financially we scrape by from one week to the next like everyone else.
Marc - That's the perception thing kicking in. People see you on a stage, see a release, read an interview and think there's something more going on. That your life is better than theirs in some way, but we work jobs and do what we need to keep this going. The only difference between me and the next guy is that at night and the weekends I play in a band and maybe he plays darts.
It's relative. We are both skint.
Jamie - The greats you mention are from another time and place anyway.
Even if we did go on to write and record a classic rock album, and that's a solid if, then we still wouldn't be jetting about like the Stones in the seventies. Those days are gone. The very loose plan is to make shit hot music, have a laugh and be able to support ourselves doing that. There's no pot of gold waiting so not having your feet on the ground and thinking you were better than anyone else would be delusional to the extreme.

So fame and fortune aren't the driving forces for you?

Marc – Ha. No. If anyone forms a band to chase either then they are missing the point about making music.
Jamie- The music has to come first. Anything else is a welcome bonus.

As we are speaking about the music what is it you want from it?

Brian - For it to matter. From love songs to party songs it all has to matter to someone. They all need to connect with people or what is the point?
Grant - It's like if someone uses a song you wrote to soundtrack a moment in their life. Now that's as cool as fuck. That they link what we have done to a moment and it is always connected to it for them.

You don't sound like debauched rockers when you say that.

Grant - Why? Not that I think of myself as a debauched rocker, but I don't think that caring about the music and liking a party are mutually exclusive either.
Jamie - Yeah, when you consider some of the people touted as the greats then they may be known for their lives as legendary party animals but they delivered the goods and that's why they are the greats. It's not because their livers and septum were made by the gods to be indestructible.
Marc- Not that they were truly indestructible either.
Brian - True. Too many casualties and it's not something I'm attracted to. The live fast and leave a good looking corpse attitude is just bullshit. Our lifestyles and fondness for a tipple isn't something we want people to focus on either. While we don't mind admitting to walking on the wild side at times it's our songs and performances that should be what comes first. For us and those who like us.
Jamie - It’s something I don't want overshadowing what we do. I can start recounting dodgy stories of nights on the lash, but what people remember about good bands is their songs and while the stories are entertaining they should never be the primary attraction.
One good song is worth a million nights out that end in the gutter.
Grant - That lying in the gutter looking at the stars nonsense doesn't resonate with me either. The gutters in Scotland are not as attractive as some would have you believe. Maybe LA has better gutters, and never mind that, when the fuck do we see the stars? It's always raining here.

Is there a classic rock album sitting waiting in the wings then?

Jamie- It's away off. Even if it was something we could do it’s not on the horizon just now. Right now we have the new ep to keep our eye on. One thing at a time.
Once that's bedded in we have some ideas for an acoustic release. Then there are the ballads we have written.
Marc - We had a whole ep ready to go and then a burst of song writing flooded out and we went with some of them for the new release and will go back to the ballads at some point. We want to show people the shading in what we can do. So something softer could be the next move.
Jamie - Is the world looking for a classic rock album anymore? Financially it's restrictive and a great deal of time and effort would go into one and then what if it falls between the cracks? We wonder about the relevance. The idea is attractive. Who wouldn't want to do the next great rock and roll album, but maybe we are out of time and place to be that band.
Brian - Bite size ep's seem to be what is wanted currently. All killer and no filler releases. Maybe limited runs and then a compilation release bringing them all together is something we have kicked about as a direction to go in, but who knows.

How has the recording of the new material been?

Jamie - Very good. Our manager wanted to go for something different and hooked us up with Andy Miller at Gargleblast Studio who has previously worked with Mogwai, Delgados, Sons and Daughters and the like and it's been a positive experience. We learnt a lot from him. He went way past just engineering the material. A very real Godsend for us in the studio.

It's an impressive cv of bands he has worked with, but light in traditional rock bands. Was that a concern?

Marc - Not at all. When Mainy, our manager, first spoke about it he drew our attention to the Chris Devotion and the Expectations 'Amalgamation and Capital' album and we all thought it was the dogs bollocks. So we had no concerns at all.
Grant - Andy exceeded expectations. We didn't go into it worried that he couldn't capture the essence of who we were, but equally we didn't really take on board how much he would bring to the table. I think we have found our engineer.
Jamie - It's now a case of not fixing something that isn't broken.
Brian - Our only problem was time. Four tracks in two days were what we budgeted for and that doesn't give any wiggle room.
We finished the recording of the tracks on the line, but there will have to be another day for mixing, but that’s okay.
Grant – If we didn't go in for one more day to let Andy pull it all together then we would be selling ourselves short.

Is that something that needs to be taken into consideration for future recordings?

Marc – It is, but it's a luxury we don't have just now. It's all swings and roundabouts though. We could scratch up the cash and go for another day, or we could do three tracks instead of four. It's something we have to look at.
Jamie- Money is the root of all evil. In an ideal world we would look to do a track a day and deliver on it, but that's the ideal world that we don't live in.
Brian – We know the score now though. The next four track release will be done in three days. Two for recording and one set aside for the mixing.

What is the ep called?

Grant – We have no idea just now. Seriously!
Up until the day before recording one tracks was called ‘the new song’.
Brian - Song titles and names for an ep isn't something we are strong on.
Marc – We leave that to Jamie.

When will it see the light of day?

Grant - We were looking to have it ready for May when we are playing Glasgow with Eureka Machines, but if not then it will be literally days or a week after that. May the second is the date.

You have played with them before haven't you?

Jamie - We have. Firm fans of them, good guys and they are so good they make us up our game just to save ourselves from any embarrassment.
Brian - Eureka Machines are the band no one wants to follow. They deserve to be playing stadiums.
Marc - When I grow up I want to be a Eureka Machine.
Jamie- That takes us back to the success thing. In every respect artistically Eureka Machines are a success a long as success isn't measured in financial gain.

Scaramanga Six and Crooked Little Sons are on the bill to.

Marc - Best line up in the city that night. Take us out of it and I would still say the same.
Brian - I've been looking forward to it for months. If we can get the ep out for it then that's the icing on the cake.

What's after that on the live front?
Grant - Joe Bone and the Dark Vibes, Wildfire festival, a gig with Rob Duncan (previously of Eddie and the T-Bolts) and then we have two quality support slots we can't mention just yet.

Are they unconfirmed?

Jamie - No. All confirmed. The tours have still to be announced officially and until then we can't say more than that.

So you are pretty busy then?

Jamie - They can't hit you if you keep moving. It's good just now though. It feels like something is happening. We are being offered gigs rather than our manager chasing them, interest is building at a grassroots level, we sold ep's to people in the States and mainland Europe. All positives.
Brian – I don’t think we have ever been as focussed as we are just now. There was a time when all the ideas were there and we just needed to get them in some sort of order. Outside the actual making of music we were punching in the dark on some levels. Now we have a plan.
Grant – I would agree with that. We are very proud of the last release.
It drew attention to us and gave us a nudge forward and now it’s down to us to keep raising the bar and I think we have done that.
Brian – There’s a bit of me that is starting to think I am in a real band. It’s difficult to really express what I mean. I don’t mean that anything I had done before wasn't a real band, but now I see that we are selling t-shirts and CDs abroad and…..right I've got it. I looked at other bands that had the whole package going. Releases and merch, quality gigs, their names in magazines, and I thought that one day I wanted that and now that is us. We are that band.
Jamie – I get that. In some ways we are just starting out, but in other ways it has been a long journey. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for past members to. Any time anyone left the band it was never acrimoniously. People moved away, people didn't have the time to commit. All solid reasons and genuinely no excuses. 
If I was wearing a hat I’d tip it in their direction.

How is the line up now?

Marc – Everyone has known each other for years outside the band so we are mates first and band members second. That gives us an edge in some ways. We rip each other apart, but we can because it’s family. It’s allowed.
Grant – I get what Brian was saying because we have all been moving towards this for a long time and it feels right.
Brian – Tight. It’s not just us either. Rank Berry is becoming more than just the four of us. We went for a drink last night. Our manager and the four of us. Everyone ended up emptying their pockets of change to get a round in. In some way that’s showing how we are all in this together.
Jamie – Then there are the people at the New Hellfire Club in Glasgow who have been supportive. The record shop is our home from home.
Marc – The Soul Remover guys. They have the same angle on things as us. Like a brother band.
Brian – Then there’s our partners. Like Marc said it’s like family. Everyone is pulling together in the same direction.

Is it you against the world then?

Jamie –When you look at the mainstream charts it can maybe feel like that, but we are dipping our toes into a different pool. Instead of fighting to get noticed we will probably just keep enjoying ourselves and maybe some people will want to come to our party.

Rank Berry 

Physical copies of the d├ębut CD are now sold out. Downloads only. 

Why Von Rusty. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Publisher - Empty Hands ep (NHC Music/itsaxxxxthing review)

From the moment play is pressed you can hear that Publisher aka Arno Blok is happy to freely share his influences.
There’s the tremulous vocal of Neil Young, some Bends era Radiohead and hints of MUSE lurking within the songs.
And maybe a bit of Jeff Buckley is in there to, but then when the trumpet arrives on ‘Empty Hands it is clear that he understands how to use what has come before as something that can be a foundation to grow from, and not solely to emulate.
It’s something that many artists are unable to do.
Each song written becomes little more that a faded facsimile of a work by their musical muse.
So it’s refreshing to hear something that is so clearly a bridge from the past into the future.
Influences should be the building blocks that artists can stand on to reach for the stars, and reaching for the stars could have been the title of this ep as Publisher isn't looking to pull any punches.
This is the real deal.
He wants it all, but on his terms.
Here is the talent he possesses fully laid out for all to experience.
As the ep progresses there’s a great deal of intimacy attached, a degree of honesty in the lyrics that is magnetically attractive to the listener.
You can float on the songs, drift along with them and feel them reaching out to be embraced.
It’s organically emotional and very very human.
In a wider sense there is a also something rather cinematic about the over all sound, and if we close our eyes we can immerse ourselves in the flow and be the supporting cast to the stories that Publisher is looking to tell.
In many ways this is a release that can be held up to others as an example of how to stay true to their artistic self and create powerful music that doesn't require a tip of the hat from the mainstream to give it any validity.
If Publisher was to indulge in sharing his talents with a television talent show then there is little doubt that he could make the judges and audience swoon, but that he doesn't feel it necessary to sell his art short to do that is our gain and their loss.
Time will tell where the path he is on will lead him, but to take this back full circle and mention artists like Radiohead and Muse consider this.
In hindsight would you love to own one of their very early releases?
Would you have wanted to have seen the nascent talent on display and invested in it?
If the answer is yes to both then sadly that ship has sailed, but there’s time to board Publishers.

Link to NHC online CD and merch sales for this item forthcoming.  

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A Hard Rain at Sunshine Corner - Jon Zip featuring Mescaleros Pablo and Smiley.

The future is certainly unwritten.
Jon Zip can attest to that as I doubt in 2002 when the word came in of Strummers demise that he would have considered that all these years later he would be releasing an ep with the support of a couple of Mescaleros.
Or that in many ways he would be carrying the torch for those who gravitated towards the Guthrie-esque ‘this guitar kills fascists’ angle that uncle Joe was so fond of.
And yet here he is doing both, and with suitable agit-folk aplomb.

In hindsight some may claim they could have second guessed that this was on the cards after the Zips collaborated with the Strummerville charity to release the critically acclaimed ‘Road to Strummerville’ but hindsight claims are often easy to drop into the present with the ring of faux veracity applied.
So I call bullshit on them, but thankfully that’s the only hint of bullshit that is lurking around the arrival of this release.

With ‘Left Of Your Rights’ Jon, with Pablo and Smiley, starts of strong with a soft busking delivery of a song with a strong message.
In many ways it is a timely reminder that the establishment never sleeps when it comes to the erosion of civil liberties and we shouldn't just be vigilant, but proactive in protecting them.
Just when people in some quarters were considering that there is nothing musical out there with a message attached to it, and the protest singer was riding off into the sunset, Jon Zip softly slaps this one about your face in the nicest way possible.
He appears to instinctively understand that sometimes the voice of protest doesn't have to be a roar, and that a thought provoking lyric can do the job just as well as a rousing call to arms.

‘Kill Your Darlings’ is the quintessential mature punks response to the lacklustre nothing to say tired old template that modern pop music has become.
The autotuned era of vacuous and repetitive drivel that the mainstream has been pushing must die.
It’s been shovelled at us for so long now that it has become nothing more than an indistinguishable background of aural wallpaper that we barely register hearing.
A sound that has a sell by date that is long expired and no one got the memo.
We can’t kill our idols any more as the current crop of stars fall short of being able to carry the weight of being one, but turning our backs on the media darlings is probably a good call.

With ‘Wrong Door Raid’ the ghost of Bo Diddley is given a nudge as the guys have a bit of a laugh with mistaken identity issues.
It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to see this as a future live favourite with a bit of rollicking audience accompaniment added.
The piece de resistance is however left to last with the inclusion of ‘1919 (Battle of George Square).
I wouldn't be surprised if the song draws some misguided criticism as some may want to claim it to be rooted in some sort of nationalistic fervour.
A hangover from the Scottish referendum perhaps?
More fool them as this is no more and no less an anti war song and its power cannot be denied.
Here were men returning from the trenches to abject poverty rather than a welcome fit for heroes.
No jobs, rents artificially inflated, and then as a response to the Red Clydesiders strikes Churchill puts the tanks on the streets and machine gun posts on the roofs.
This was their reward.
The payment for daring to survive what must have felt like Armageddon.
A betrayal, and one that is rarely mentioned in the history books.
We will fight them on the beaches and our own people on George Square if it comes to that.
It is simply in my opinion the best song that Jon Zip has penned and he should be rightly proud of how it is constructed, the message that it carries and the eloquence of its intent.

The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

A hard Rain At Sunshine Corner is available from NHC Music.
Jon Zip will be playing an instore set at the New Hellfire Club on the 3rd of May at 5pm.
The Zips on Facebook.

For the love of Katie.

Once again the news feeds of social media are ablaze with righteous indignation at the latest tweets from Katie Hopkins.
Excuse me while I yawn.
What’s that Mr Barnum?
There’s a sucker born every minute?

I mean all that hate, all that scorn.
Not from Ms Hopkins, but rather the deluge of bile laden regurgitated responses from the masses.

Pavlov is spinning in his grave with glee at this.

I wonder if those who pay Hopkins for her television appearances and newspaper columns are rubbing their hands together in ecstasy at all this promotion that they are getting.
Well of course they are.
The kinetic energy they are building up would provide all the energy needs for a small town like.....London.

It’s been oft promoted that people should just ignore her, and while that’s an option we have to be honest and accept that as she disappeared over the horizon another hate figure would appear.
The name doesn't really matter.
Neither does the gender.

I will admit that she used to annoy me, but then I decided that life was too short to indulge in being so very obviously manipulated.
So I excused myself from the party and just let her nonsensical click bait comments wash over me.

Then I read a rather frank interview with Hopkins and my semi loathing disappeared entirely as I began to pity her.

She wouldn't want my pity - and I would guess that she would rage at the merest hint of it - but when we become aware of her background of being punted to a public school early, of how there was apparently little parental contact never mind love, and how she joined the army only to fail on medical grounds just short of beginning a career path that she desperately wanted, and then as if that wasn't enough how she was betrayed horribly by her husband who thought marital vows were optional then it is difficult not to feel pity begin to flower.

And then there is her epilepsy that apparently has had her in hospital frequently as during her seizures she can dislocate both arms.

It’s all a bit dark isn't it?

If it was a Disney film this would be when the knight in shining armour would arrive, but no one swept her off her feet and provided a light to banish the darkness of her former existence.
Instead what happened was that she did a stint on the apprentice and displayed her abrasive and over confident easy to loathe self to the world, and then someone somewhere had a light bulb spark into life above their head and thought ‘hold on a minute. There’s money in this’ and low and behold the troll queen was created.

So who is to blame really?

As would be usual it is not one single person.
She herself has to shoulder some responsibility as instead of seeking some support she dived right in and took the cash for being the current panto villain for the nation.
Then there are those who profit from her.
The very obviously ugly and manipulative parasitical individuals who collude in exploiting her failings to make a buck.
If we were to apportion blame then how much should they be handed?

And then finally we have to consider our own role in her existence.
We love a villain don’t we?
So how much blame should we embrace?

Maybe we should just stop jumping through the hoops and give Katie a hug and refuse any further participation in a game that does nothing more than raise the blood pressure.

There just seems to be so many others things that we could get our knickers in a twist over.
Legitimate issues that impact on us all.

Or possibly we should just keep our focus on Katie like good little hate filled citizens.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. (George Orwell)

Monday, 30 March 2015

The night before the morning after. Sunday night gigs.

Sunday night gigs are the underdog on the weekend fight card.
Barely anyone would lay a wager that they will succeed in delivering an entertaining knockout blow to the gig heavy week that they hang onto the tail of.

Handicapped by the working week beginning the next morning the night is already up against the odds.
And then there are the poor public transport options to consider.
Oh dear. The last train was when?
All in it is probably only winning if the competition is for an award for worst night of the week to play on.

And yet people do.

God bless them.

They get all their gear ready and march off to venues in the city and take to the stage to entertain the two or three people who are either ultra dedicated to the cause, shift workers, or simply those who are unaware that the party ended the night before.

Normally the gig will either be a venue arranged night for solo acoustic troubadours to play a showcase gig (sic) where their talents can be picked up on, or a pay to play promoters night for solo acoustic troubadours to play a showcase gig (sic) where their talents can be picked up on.

Spot the glaringly obvious problem here.

Anyway, the effort put in to promoting them is often minimal, the equipment required to accommodate the six acts booked equally minimal, and if there is going to be a night doomed to failure then a Sunday night is always up to the challenge.

That’s not to say that there is a problem with the entertainment being provided.
Very often there are diamonds to be found on any night, and on any stage, in Glasgow.
It’s just that on a Sunday barely anyone is engaging with the talent.

So there can only be one thing that is even more disheartening than playing on the night, and that’s if the night itself falls to pieces around the heads of the performers.

Sunday is the night that the sound engineer fails to turn up.
Sunday is the night when the venue decides due to a lack of custom to shut at five, but not tell the performers who are due to start arriving at six.
And Sunday is the night when the chances that the independent promoter decides that a rep isn’t required becomes the bookies favourite.

The last one is pertinent as it allegedly happened last night to six acts that were playing in the 13th Note in Glasgow. (Not that this was anything to do with the venue itself as the 13th Note run a tight ship and provided support to the artists in their hour of need)

With show time hanging like the sword of Damocles above the performers heads the people who had arranged and booked the event were nowhere to be seen.

Of course there may be solid reasons for that, but a plan B didn’t materialize, nor a plan C.

It’s possible that someone somewhere was just simply taking the Lords suggestion that Sunday is a day of rest too literally.

So those participating in the night took control and made it a free entry gig, and if there were any costs needing met then they would bite the bullet and cover whatever was required.

This in practical terms means that they had to liaise with the venue and the sound engineer, sort out set times, stage manage the event and arrange to get the word out about the change of circumstances as well as actually performing.  

Of course the show must go on is an admirable position to take on this, and full support should be given to those who performed for adhering to that age old adage, but it’s not very fair that they had to jump into the deep end like this.

Maybe reasons, valid ones, will be forthcoming as to why they were left carrying the can in this situation, but regardless of that it would be nice if people could show some support for the artists who managed to salvage the night.

Taking some time out to listen to them and clicking on ‘like’ on their facebook/Soundcloud page isn't much to ask for from the music loving community to do.
A few words of encouragement would be nice, and even better would be the offer of gigs to them as they have all shown themselves to be professional enough in how they conduct themselves. Below are some links. Go on. Do the right thing by them.

Joy Kerr. Simeon Wilkie. Rory Cowan and Chris Day. Edward R Cane, Caitlin McKenna and Emma Kelly who hopefully a link will be forthcoming. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Coming out of the closet.

I am ahead of the curve.
For what feels like the first time ever I am way ahead of the curve.
Everyone else is playing catch up.

What am I talking about?

I am talking about colouring in.

I've always done it. I've always found it relaxing.
And now it is the latest thing.

There has of course been colouring books for adults for quite some time.
I've seen novelty ones featuring rock stars and iconic horror movies, but they have never really interested me.
I am more a pattern girl.
The intrinsically complicated patterns laid out in black and white ready to blossom into colour.
That’s my thing.

While I was shading away over the years the practice was predominately seen as something for kids, but here it is kicking at the door and asking to be let in to the adult party and I think that’s great.

I have always been able to sit for hours looking at the patterns and thinking about what colours are best suited to go where.
I never really thought of it as anything more than that, but it’s really a bit Zen, meditative I suppose.
A down time for the brain to just idle for a while, and who doesn't need that?
It’s something I did in the comfort of my own home, on a night-shift, or as I got more comfortable I did it at my partners.
I wouldn't shout about it publicly and in some ways maybe deep down I thought it was an immature activity as that’s how it has always been portrayed, but no longer is this my little secret as recently there have been a few articles starting to surface in the mainstream media with a push on promoting it as an adult interest.

In fact a quick google highlights that colouring in books are have even appeared in the top ten selling items on Amazon.
I am no longer alone in my love for the colouring in book.

Elsewhere Tracey Emin - she of the unmade bed - has jumped on the bandwagon and you can buy a book and colour in her little drawings.
Most recently is the release of a magazine called ‘Art Therapy’ that is coming at it all from a broader angle.
It’s a sort of cross between a craft magazine and a self help one with it looking to promote, creativity, positivity and relaxation.

At 99p for the first issue it’s cheaper than a massage or a colonic irrigation treatment and probably as beneficial. (It jumps to £2.99 from issue 2 though.)

Obviously this rise in popularity of colouring-in is being embraced by the big businesses as they see some money in it.
The same thing has happened with every underground activity.

This time I'm not that bothered about it.
They can go to town on releasing colouring-in books.
The more who join in on this pastime the better in my opinion.

It’s not necessarily a solo activity either.
Years ago I used to sit with my daughter and we would take a page each and that was nice.
It was a positive bonding experience.
For the life of me I can see no downside to colouring in.

My name is Kelly and I colour in.

I can now say it loud and proud.

You should join me.

Kelly Conway.