Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hey, we're off to a festival!

It's not for a while and we won't be camping, but one again we are dipping our toes in the muddy world of the music festival. In August we are heading to Leicester for the Summer Sundae festival, we've decided that we are too old/lazy/snobby to camp, so have booked ourselves into a local hotel for a few nights.

The line up was just to good for us to resist: Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Richard Hawley, Calexico, Isobel Campbell, Absentee and loads more there are even indoor toilets - bliss. I'm not sure what the capacity of the site is, but I don't think it's too enormous, so it should be a pleasant weekend. It's worked quite well as Bristol City are playing away that weekend, so I won't even need to miss a game.

Talking of football briefly, I'm really looking forward to the games this Friday and Saturday. With the exception of Ukraine I think that any of the teams left in the competition can win it, so it should lead to some very exciting games. This is where my 4 day working week really comes into it's own. The idea of being stuck in work as Germany and Argentina are playing each other is a miserable one, so pleased that I'll be able to watch it all.

I've actually had 6 months of a 4 day working week and it's great. It's easy to take care of a bit of household stuff during the day which leaves more time for us do what we want to do on the weekend. Of course I earn a little less, but I've always thought that time is more important than money.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Day The Music died….Again.

Yesterday I paid a final visit to Disc N’ Tape, yet another independent that is about to close. It was never quite in the league of some of shops like Revolver and Imperial but something else made yesterdays visit rather poignant for me.

Back in the late 1970’s my record buying kicked in with avengence, fortunately this coincided with me starting work and having some money to spend. Every Saturday morning, I would venture into central Bristol to make the rounds of the record shops.

Revolver Records up at the top of Park Street would be my first port of call, small chaotic and cramped it was the first place where I heard dub reggae blasting out alongside the quirkiest indie gems of the day, leaving there I would wander back down the hill pausing in a couple more record shops and Forever People (for fanzines and badges) on Park Street, before doing the rounds of the bigger chain stores in Broadmead. HMV was in odd little unit across the road from The Odeon and then it would be onto Virgin Records.

Now in those days, Virgin somehow managed to have the feel of bigger version of an indie store unlike the shop that it has become today. One of the main reasons for this was the guy who became known to me as “Chris from Virgin”. Chris was obviously a true music enthusiast; keen to pass on his knowledge to all and sundry despite often looked harassed to the point of distraction.

Of course around that time I started going to gigs inevitably Chris would be there, often playing some tunes between the bands. Virgin eventually became a hellish place to visit as all the new punks decided that they wanted to hang about outside the store on a Saturday, leading to lots of unpleasant behaviour. Chris just soldiered on, in the same way. Briefly I recall him being a DJ in the early days of GWR (I think), bringing a rare slice of eclectic music to the local airwaves.

Years later I would see him shops as became a rep for the Virgin record label, still the same smile on his face as he passed the news of new releases on to the expectant shop staff. Then he seemed to disappear for a few years, before turning up in Disc N’ Tape (you can imagine kids these days asking what Tape is!). The shop is having a closing down sale and I know from my time at Imperial how hard that can be, so I rather shamefully picked up a few things at rock bottom prices and took them up to Chris at the counter. I asked him what his plans he had once the shop closes, sadly he told me that after spending his whole working life in music, he had finally had to give up on it and get an ordinary office job.

I know that directly or indirectly he has been involved in selling music to me for the best part of 30 years. Never again will we see that lovely grin as he pops a CD into a bag and says “great album that one, have you heard…….?”

Monday, June 26, 2006

It was 20 years ago today…..that Orynthia and I had our first date. The location was The Tropic just off Stokes Croft in the middle of Bristol. Now back in the glory days of the C86 era The Tropic was the venue of choice for the up and coming indie bands. The general routine was: NME article one week, Tropic gig the next, Peel session the week after that, then a single on The Creation label, wrapped in a lovely polythene bag.

That particular evening The Loft were playing so we all had a chance to laugh at the leather trousers, which Peter Astor was wearing (another given for the time was that in every Creation band at least one person had to wear leather trousers). The sequence of events was a little different for this gig, as The Loft had already released a couple of brilliant singles.

It was a good gig, but the 20 year encore has been fantastic.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Still caught up in World Cup frenzy at the moment, however I had found time to write a couple of album reviews for Global Café. You can find my reviews for the latest albums from Charlie Parr and Camera Obscura on their site.

Did manage to see new Bristol band The Chimes on Monday, very good they were too. Reminded me a little of Microdisney if anyone out there remembers them.

That’s it for now; I’m off to watch Germany V. Sweden.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Had a rare night away from the world cup and what a great night it was. A few friends came to our place to catch the end of the England match (not great, but we did enough), so that we could make the shot trip to Cardiff for the exciting prospect of a Camera Obscura gig with Francois & the Atlas Mountains supporting. The journey was made all the more enjoyable, as we were listening to a great CD from a chap who records under the moniker Little Name. Go to his lovely website to discover more about this very talented chap.

We weren’t disappointed! A slightly truncated version of the Atlas Mountain joined Francois for a wonderful 45 minute set, which featured a few new songs. As ever their infectious ear for a melody coupled with an exuberant sense of fun and energy quickly won over the crowd. It’s great that they are getting some wider exposure by doing this tour, I’m sure that they will pick up many new friends along the way.

Camera Obscura were on fine form, with 3 albums of songs to choose from they now have a set list, which is full of shining gems. The band themselves seem to be aware of the fact that they are playing at the top of their game at the moment and appear to be really enjoying themselves. They are off to the USA soon, well worth catching them if you can.

Talking about being on top of their game, I’ve just watched a fantastic Argentina side win 6-0. Wonderful football, head and shoulders above anything else we have seen so far.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A bit of a lack of updates round here caused by the World Cup. After a belting start we’ve had a couple of slightly duff games today, still a bit of settling in going on for some of the teams. Loads more good stuff to come I’m sure.

We are off to Cardiff on Thursday to see Camera Obscura, it’s the only gig on the horizon for us at the moment. Looks like it’s going to be another year for us to give the Ashton Court “community” festival a miss. Back in the days before Orange got involved, the festival was a great weekend for the music loving people of Bristol, the perfect chance to catch all those local bands that you had heard about, but had not actually heard. Chuck a couple of quid in the bucket, have a wander round for a few hours bumping into mates old and new – perfect.

What do we have now? £9 per day to get in and Simple Minds – Yes, Simple Minds headlining, what is the point? As a friend was saying to me on Sunday, Ashton Court used to be a community festival because everyone in the community could go to it. Kids with no money, parents with no money and a couple of kids to amuse, OAPS having a curious stroll around, in short anyone.

Now we have to have huge fences and masses of security staff to keep the people out, not really my idea of community. It also used to have a brilliant Jazz tent, featuring the cream of local talent, over the years that changed into the Hip Hop and breaks area, and then it just became a generic dance area. All very sad, but I’m sure that the people who run it will all end up getting lovely jobs in the media or the exciting world of corporate promotions.