Friday, December 1st

Five or so people from the last couple of weeks…


5-bradncarrieFor their introduction to the 2017 CMA’s. We have to acknowledge a Dixie Chicks level of bravery here, in the heart of the heartland. “Right now, he’s prob’ly in his PJs, watching cable news, reachin’ for his cellphone…”

For this piece of beautiful and honest writing, in the Oxford American’s Kentucky Issue. An excerpt: “Into the five blue spot lights, into the thin Midwestern crowd and a smattering of cabaret tables, I take the stage alone. The neck of the guitar settles its weight into my hands. I move the tuning pegs with the ease I move parts of my own body. Maybe this is my last Shank Hall. Maybe the night before was my last Chicago headline. Whatever my failures, the music comes easily on that little stage. The sound carries itself, my voice on its back. For a long time, I thought I’d one day get a bus, eat right on the road, show up rested to a good crowd with a hot band. Now, as usual, I am on the road tired and sweaty. My mind wanders, but the rhythm keeps itself constant in my body as I play. I recognize myself in the dimly lit eyes of the audience – trying to align myself with beauty, mid-prayer for meaning. I give what I have to give without expectation that it will come to anything but the good feeling of giving. I do not promise myself that with one more record, one more tour, everything will make sense at last.”

For his piano playing behind Gregory Porter on the Graham Norton Show. Where did that come from? Maybe I dreamt it. Porter could sing the song acapella for all the backing he needs, but that seems to be what gives Jeff G permission to play with the minimalism that he does…


For sneaking a smokin’ blues (“Rock Me Baby”) into the Top Forty – if you look beyond the slightly gauche lead vocal, there’s much to enjoy as Larry Carlton and Dean Parks have fun doubling up and duelling.

5-dellaFor her inspiration. Marc Myers, JazzWax: “Born in Detroit, Reese was a role model to many of Motown’s female singers, who were being groomed to become supper-club soul vocalists. When I interviewed Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas, she told me that Reese held a special place in her heart: “While I sang “Dancing in the Street”, I thought about Riopelle St., where I grew up on Detroit’s East Side. We had street-dance parties there all the time. I loved the East Side. When I came up with the Vandellas’ name, it combined Van – for Van Dyke St., the East Side’s main boulevard – and the first name of singer Della Reese, whose voice I admired.”

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Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 30th May

Best Eurovision Moment
After Albania’s rather terrifying sub-Bjork performance, Graham Norton waited a beat, then said: “I’m pretty sure that, if they get her medication right, that need never happen again…”

Pete Doherty Interview by Geoffrey Macnab, The Guardian
Ah, poor Pete, treated badly by everybody as he makes his film debut in Confession of a Child of the Century. Take Charlotte Gainsbourg. She wasn’t “all that happy” about the production, which, he says he knows because he snuck into her room and looked at her journal [!]. She came in “as someone everyone knew but a complete stranger in the immediate environment… you couldn’t be a star.” It was freezing cold on location. Between takes, assistants would “leap on her with loads of blankets and hot-water bottles and I was stood there in 19th-century cotton with lots of holes in it.” And in prison: “It’s horrible, horrible. There are lots of aggressive, money-oriented, very masculine people, but at the same time, there is really nasty homoerotic violence. It’s not the place to be if you are a freethinking man.” And now there’s the film critics! The reviews have been overwhelmingly negative, with Doherty’s own performance deemed “catastrophic” and “calamitous.”

For what it’s worth, I have no great opinion on Doherty’s songwriting talent and I wasn’t impressed by The Libertines, but I saw him play a song at Hal Willner’s Disney night, The Forest of No Return, part of Jarvis Cocker’s Meltdown at the Festival Hall in 2007. With a line-up of luminaries ranging from Nick Cave to Grace Jones (brilliantly terrifying on The Jungle Book’s Trust In Me) Pete took the stage to sing Chim Chim Cheree. We were sitting just behind Kate Moss, Pete’s then-inamorata, who was busy snapping photos. One of the few performers to have memorised the words, strumming a battered acoustic, he totally inhabited the song, and—singing beautifully—essayed a perfect and tender version, rescuing it forever from the clutches of Dick Van Dyke. And that’s no mean feat.

Reissue of the Week
Walked into a guitar shop to discover that Fender have reissued the Kingman, the acoustic played by Elvis, with its classic Fender headstock…

My prized Fender 1968 catalogue

A Night At The Opera
Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. English National Opera. Anthony Minghella’s production. Visually stunning in places. Rousing and expressive music. Awful story, that seems horribly outdated and verging on distasteful. Terrible clunky language which is hard to sing (Pinkerton: “I bought this house for nine hundred and ninety nine years, but with the option, at ev’ry month, to cancel the contract! I must say, in this country, the houses and the contracts are elastic!”). And then sung with seeming disregard for the melodies of the music floating underneath! Interview this week with Emma Rice, director of theatre group Kneehigh: Is there an artform you don’t relate to? “Opera. It’s a dreadful sound. It just doesn’t sound like the human voice.”

Image Of The Week: !Bobama!


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