Sunday, February 26, 2006

This weeks gigs were great, Wednesday evenings visit to Cardiff to see a very nervous looking Isobel Campbell was well worth the petrol money. The Point is a nice venue, perfect for the intimate music provided by Isobel and her friends. Eugene Kelly did well in the Mark Lanegan role; one of the highlights was a great version of “Love hurts”

Friday was just fantastic; I met up with Orynthia in Pieminister on Stokes Croft, could any evening have a better start? We then took the short walk to Francois’s, he had kindly invited us round for some pre gig entertainment, it wasn’t just us though, the first 10 ticket buyers were also there, along with most of the band and Traceyanne from Glasgow’s Camera Obscura, plus the splendid Tom (aka Freeze Puppy). So quite a houseful!

Francois played some songs on the piano, and then Freeze Puppy played several spellbinding numbers accompanied by his acoustic guitar. It was all rather magical, to heighten our sense of bemused wonder, we were then asked to take some home made apple tart round to The Cube. How strange to be walking through the so-called mean streets around Stokes Croft, worried that we may be mugged for fruit based dessert! Luckily we made the journey without any unwelcome interventions, successfully delivering the tart to staff at The Cube.

The gig itself was a triumph. Entertaining support came from Sleeping States (who were great) and Corey O’s (very enthusiastic and entertaining set).

Francois and Atlas Mountains started the gig with the now traditional walkabout, before settling onto to the stage and playing a gorgeous set, mainly focused on the new album “The people to forget”. It does seem as though Francois is incapable of writing a song without a simple yet captivating melody, the swoonsome arrangements for the 10-piece band are just superb. There was a brilliantly conceived video link up with masses of associated musicians and friends as Francois played along from the stage. It was clever, funny and touching the best use of video at gig I’ve seen since seeing Cornelius at The Thekla many, many years ago.

Quite simply a night with this lot is just the best fun in town at the moment. They have a self-effacing musical beauty which so refreshing, affecting without being precious, they provide a rare musical treat in these days of over stylised chart wannabe’s. Bristol is lucky to have them.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Isobel Campbell and Eugene Kelly in Cardiff last night.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Forgot to mention that we had a great meal at Junipers last week. I had a fantastic starter of Pheasant with Figs, sounds odd but was delicious. The rest was all fantastic, it really is a lovely place to eat. Better still we had 25% of the final bill thanks to our wonderful "Big fund raiser" discount book. If you live in Bristol and eat out more than, say twice a yeah, you really should get one of these books. The discount we received at Junipers means that our book has paid for it's self already,

Finished reading Saturday by Ian McEwan, an interesting and at time gripping account of one not so ordinary Saturday for one man.

Over recent weeks I've been enjoying lot's of interesting new albums, including work from Belle & Sebastian, Arctic Monkeys, Isobel Campbell, Elected President, Howie Beck, Paris Motel, Jens lekman, Mazarin. Also been enjoying a splendid bootleg mash up single which brings together ODB and The Specials to fine effect..

Unusually for us Bryan Munich were involved in a slightly contentious game of football this weekend. We were playing Redland Ramblers and went a goal down fairly early in the match. Not long afterwards one of our strikers saw his shot pushed onto the crossbar by the hand of a Rambler defender. The ref missed it, which was a shame, the defender refused to acknowledge what had taken place, which considering the nature of our "casual" league is unacceptable. It caused a level of bad feeling, which lead to several bookings and a few unpleasant moments. It's the first time that it's happened in one of our games and left a bit of a nasty taste. if people want to win at all costs that's fine, but they should go to a different league to do it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

We spent Saturday at the splendid wedding of one of Orynthia’s workmates. Once again the wedding DJ entertainment was provided by a couple of our friends, Steve and Ian of Fuzz Against Junk played a section of top tunes whilst placed on the half landing of a very grand staircase, most unusual. The layout of Kings Weston House meant that the dancing was rather more restrained than some recent weddings we have been to, but we managed a bit of flutter around the floor.

Plenty to look forward to this week, tomorrow we are off to Cardiff for the night. Isobel Campbell will be in town, promoting her excellent “Ballad of the Broken Seas” album for this tour she is being joined by Eugene Kelly so it should be a good night.

Then on Friday we will be at The Cube for the launch of the long awaited album by Francois and the Atlas Mountains, we are both so excited about this album (and evening). Some of the best gigs we have seen in the last 6 months have been by this marvellous band. Exuberant, melodious, touching, and fun are a few of the words that spring to mind when I think of their gigs. Tracyanne from Camera Obscura will be spinning some tunes as well as performance from a couple of bands which are new to me – Sleeping States and Corey O’s. Fantastic.

Talking of music, talk is spreading of some sort of C86 twenty years on type event in Bristol. Not sure what form the evening will take yet, but it could be time to squeeze into those skinny black jeans and get the national health glasses on once more!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Where does the time go? A week on and the chaos is gradually receding, most of the records are back on the shelves. Somehow the books appear to have been reproducing, will they all fit? I’m not so sure. Anyway the new carpet is in place, so that’s a room that we don’t need to play around for a good few years.

As mentioned in the last update Sunday saw us embarking of another Grumpy Man evening, and I think that it was the best one that I have been involved in. Only four of us behind the mixer the mixer, playing for nearly 6 hours , meant that I had time to play everything I planned to (and more besides), so we had tunes from the following:
Tom Waits
Rufus Wainwright
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Lou Reed
The Coral
Clap Your Hands Say yeah
The Shins
New Order
Joe Volk
Martina Topley-Bird
Au Revoir Simone
Charlie Parr
Camera Obscura
Shout Out Louds
Richard Hawley
The Smiths
Clem Snide….and many more. We do it all again on Sunday March 12th at the same place. Then on Thursday March 16th I’ll be playing some tunes at Bar Unlimited as part of the “Lost in the Woods” evening arranged by Aspen Woods. My good friend Ian Green will be performing so you can expect the unexpected!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Books and records all over the place at the moment, after fighting off the thought for many years we have finally decided to replace the carpet in our back bedroom. The room is actually used as more of an upstairs sitting room, as that is where the Mac's and aforementioned goods live.

The carpet has been on poor side of threadbare for a number of years, but the judicious placement of various rugs has helped us to delay the inevitable. We started moving things out on Sunday and it went rather well, the only problem being the break up of all those years of placing records in a careful alphabetical order. What fun awaits us, when it comes to restacking the shelves, do we change the system? For years albums and 12" singles have been kept firmly segregated, but why? CD singles and albums happily co-exist so why not 12" slabs of vinyl? What long forgotten gems will re-emerge after years in the wilderness, then again I'm sure that masses of very embarrassing '80's nonsense will leap out at me.

Talking of music, this Sunday will once again find me masquerading as a DJ at the latest Grumpy Man bash, once again it's at Mr Wolfs noodle bar, everyone is welcome.

Over the weekend we watched the fantastically stylish and wonderfully loopy French film 8 women. It was perfect viewing for a cold grey Saturday afternoon. The perfect snow bound country house murder mystery, populated by the most impossibly well dressed women and the occasional crazy musical interlude it made for great viewing.

After that we watched a very different, and very moving programme as Stephen Fry traced his family roots through the heart of one of the blackest periods of European history. On a couple of occasions it made for very painful yet also strangely hopeful viewing. The bleakness of his family story contrasted wonderfully with the amazing optimism of one of the people he came across, the one remaining Jewish person in a place in which he had previously been part of a thriving community. How splendid to be uncontaminated by all the hatred thrown at you, refusing to live your life in bitterness and spite. Truly inspirational!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Phew rock ‘n’ roll frenzy, well not really but we have had an interesting couple of nights this week.

As mentioned previously Wednesday saw the long awaited Bristol debut of Belle & Sebastian. Stuart Murdoch told an interesting little story regarding a trip around the UK, which a few of them undertook about 8 years ago in an attempt to find interesting venues to play. Sadly when they reached Bristol it was a Sunday evening and apparently they struggled to find anywhere which was open, let alone interesting, so that’s why it’s taken them this long to make it here.

The gig itself was great, a nice mix of old and new. It’s amazing how many of the new songs sound like pop classics. That’s pop as old-fashioned hit singles of no particular genre, just good pop songs. Some spellbinding moments with a few of the old songs, notably “Fox in the Snow” and “Judy and the dream of horses”

Memories of that wonderful night when we saw them at the Union Chapel in London in 1997 came flooding back. The confusion as people would jump up from the seats for the fast bits, before quickly sitting down again as the songs slowed. Making for a strange slow motion pogo effect. No such confusion this time around, everyone knows what those songs are about and can pace themselves accordingly.

Last night we went along to latest acoustic night to be organised by those nice people from Aspen Woods, they take place at Bar Unlimited and go under the header “Lost in The Woods”. So on a freezing cold night we took the short walk to Gloucester Road to be entertained by the excellent Katy Tucker and the interesting and unconventional Bij. The cosy environment was perfect for the intimate performances. The unconfirmed line up for the March event looks good as well, worth check out if you are free on March 16th.