Five Things: Wednesday 1st May

A Rainy Night In Bourges: Le Printemps De Bourges, Loire, France
The annual festival brings a platter of bands to almost every bar in town. Trying to decide where to go and who to see brings the following descriptions from the programme: Superhero Big Beat Surf/Pop Art Punk/Reggae Occitan/Black Death/House Celt Rock Experimental, and my favourite: Rock Noise Folk Blues. This poster in a nearby town would have had me putting money down for tickets, but it was in the past…

B1

Best music we saw was a cracking band called Minou, consisting of Pierre Simon & Sabine Quinet, plus a bald percussionist on electric pads. They play guitars and keyboards, both well, and their oeuvre is some unholy mixture of Kraftwerk, Nirvana and Talking Heads, put over with personality and pizazz and great timing. They were playing in a plastic garden tent, set up in the street, with a pop-up bar serving beer and lethal rum punch, and gave it their all – a welcome relief from the sub-Punk Rock being played in most bars, that the French seem, unaccountably, to be in love with.

Minou

Bob Gumpert Appalled By Ricin Suspect
Josh Marshall, TPM: “We had the first court appearance this morning for James Everett Dutschke. Unlike his predecessor, a flat claim of true innocence does not seem to be in the cards. More shocking, it’s now alleged Dutschke is a Wayne Newton impersonator.”

Bob says: “Perhaps only in Mississippi – the first guy arrested for poison letters was an Elvis impersonator. He was turned loose. The new person arrested is a Wayne Newton impersonator and that is just plain offensive.” To make it even worse for Bob, The Daily Mail reports that “the FBI searched his home, vehicles and former studio last week, after dropping charges against an Elvis impersonator who says he had feuded with Dutschke in the past.” Couldn’t make that up – feudin’ impersonators: Elvis vs Wayne…

The Thick Of It Writer Ian Martin’s 60 thoughts about turning 60, The Guardian
My favourites:
4. It was 1968. Early summer evening, a Saturday. My mate and I were hitching home in the Essex countryside. We got a lift from a happy couple in a boaty car that smelled of leather and engine oil. We were 15, they were proper old, 20-ish. Relaxed and so very much in love. They treated us as equals, laughed at our jokes, we smoked their cigarettes. “Walk Away Renee” by the Four Tops came on the radio. We all sang along to the chorus. I felt a blissful certainty that life as an adult might genuinely be a laugh. The entire encounter lasted no more than 10 minutes. I have thought about that couple every day since. Every day, for 45 years. Imagine that. A Belisha Beacon of kindness pulsing through the murk of a whole life.

58. “Nice snare sound.” Always say this to someone you like when they are playing you terrible music, especially if it’s their demo. This insincere but specific observation allows both parties to sidestep more general, and potentially cruel, discussion. If the person insists, they deserve everything they get, starting with “shit snare sound.”

Portrait Of The Artist, The Guardian: Madeleine Peyroux, Singer
What work of art would you most like to own? “I hate the idea of owning a work of art. But I do own a guitar that I consider a work of art. It’s a 1943 Martin 0-17. I took it on tour with me for 16 years, but I’ve just had to put it back in the closet. It was made in the United States during the second world war, when metal was rationed – there’s no metal in the neck, which means it’s constantly going out of tune.”

Edith Bowman’s 10 Best Songs Ever Written, Stylist Magazine
Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On: “To be honest, I don’t feel there’s a lot I can say about the song itself. Just listening to it says it all. It’s the perfect tonic. It brings out the sunshine. The horn section at the start of the song, coupled with the melodies, makes you want to groove from the first few bars. Instant smiles from the get-go.” Marvin would be pleased that his agonised plea for peace and understanding (opening lines Mother, mother, there’s too many of you crying/Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying…) soundtracks Edith’s braindead summer picnics. And she actually says, about Joni Mitchell’s “The River,” “she sings it in a way that makes her feel totally accessible, the fragility in her voice encouraging you to sing along. This is probably quite a ‘girl’s choice’ to be honest…” In what world is choosing a song by one of the greatest songwriters ever to have graced pop music girly? There’s not a lot of fragility in Joni. Bare, naked honesty, yes. Fragility? I don’t think so. This is a woman who got totally pissed off when she played acetates of Court & Spark at a party after Dylan had played the acetates of Planet Waves, and having no-one listen. And knowing that it was a better record. The woman who Dylan whispered to, after they shared a bill together in the early 2000s, “Joni, you make me sound like a hillbilly in comparison.” Oh, Edith. Behave.

Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 4th April

Acoustixx
Could you sound like the xx with just a cheap acoustic guitar and a cassette tape machine meant for accompanying karaoke? Willis Earl Beal can. Young, black, Southern, heartbroken, can draw, could soundtrack Juno. Evening Kiss is beautiful, insistent, mournful, touching. “This record was recorded on bad equipment. I like it that way.” Amen.

Churn, Churn, Churn
To everything there is a season… and it seems that right now it’s a fashion season, belonging to Flo and Lana. It used to be that it would take a good few years for pop or rock stars to get sucked into other orbits such as film or literature, but now the career path is Voguealicious. Is this diversification, to make the Fame Moment™ last longer? We’ve had Flo and Karl, sittin’ in a tree, yet Stylist’s cover story this week says that, “despite two number 1 albums and 18 awards Florence Welch is a reluctant star.” Really? Reluctant? It sure looks it, in the 327 full-page pictures they’ve run of her. To be fair, it’s a good interview that does paint her as someone who accepts all of this so that she can do the work she cares about… And Lana, first whispered about in September last year, now (already!) the recipient of the fashion equivalent of the Légion d’honneur, a Mulberry bag named after her, because of her—are you ready?—“retrospective look.” As for the bag, straight out of W. Eugene Smith’s Life Magazine story, “Country Doctor,” I’m failing to see much Del Rey.

Tommy, Can You Hear Me?
Tracklist for Tom Jones’ upcoming album, produced by Ethan Johns:
Tower Of Song (Leonard Cohen)
(I Want To) Come Home (Paul McCartney)
Hit Or Miss (Odetta)
Love And Blessings (Paul Simon)
Soul Of A Man (Blind Willie Johnson)
Bad As Me (Tom Waits)
Dimming Of The Day (Richard Thompson)
Travelling Shoes (Vera Hall Ward)
All Blues Hail Mary (Joe Henry)
Charlie Darwin (The Low Anthem)

Great song choices. Do I want to hear Tom Jones sing them?
Answer: Save Me, Jesus (Bobby Charles)

The Sound Of Dobell’s
“Every Jazz fan is born within the sound of Dobell’s!”
An email from Leon Parker, announcing the launch of his resource dedicated to Britain’s hugely influential Record Shops. Charlie Gillett introduced us because of Doug Dobell’s shops on Charing Cross Road (which my dad Bill built, and where I worked as a teenager). There are some nice reminiscences on the site (to which more will hopefully be added) and I particularly liked Rob Hall’s: “It was an ambition of mine to own all the albums featured on the bags they used.” Bill had selected the albums and had them photographed by an advertising photographer he knew in Soho, who shot it on lith film for better reproduction. Accidental design, it still looks good today. www.britishrecordshoparchive.org/dobells.html

Pic(k) Of The Week
“Sometimes, if I crave silence I turn to my Land 250. The experience of taking Polaroids connects me with the moment. They are souvenirs of a joyful solitude.” Patti Smith.
I thought that maybe I’d lost this, a sweet souvenir from an installation at Fondation Cartier in Paris that “reflected 40 years of her more personal visual art-making and creative expression,” but it turned up this week. And it will never be used in anger, of course.

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