Wednesday, December 13, 2017
The Danny Fields Section
So it turned out that all those years of hoarding weren’t in vain. I’d posted something about the Madrid exhibition before I took off there but hadn’t seen anything other than some snaps of the way it was coming together.
Walking down those steps to the space, I could never have envisioned the way that it would look. Certainly not the stuff that I’d included. The photos and the art are one thing but to breathe life into material that’s spent the best part of four decades in boxes is something that never crossed my mind, I felt like I was definitely the weak end of it all.
Turns out some of that stuff looks pretty good and what a joy it was to be able to discuss the joys of paste up with a good few like-minded patrons that dropped by. For all of this to go down in my adopted city, it’s all a bit squiffy to contemplate. It was great working with Ruth and Francisco to put it together. Now that all the projects are pretty much done and dusted it’s maybe time to just not plan anything for a while other than maybe a jaunt here or there. I get real sick of me during periods like this.
The time between now and this proposed Brexit shit shouldn’t be wasted. Perhaps common sense will prevail and it won’t happen but I wouldn’t be holding my breath in expectation of that. I count 14 and a bit months to go as bonkers as possible and if we get beyond that then let’s just take it as it comes. We can’t be unscrambling those eggs but there will undoubtedly be breakages along the way. There was an outbreak of that common sense I referred to earlier in America yesterday, let’s hope it’ll catch on. Meanwhile, it feels like the shortest day has been going on for a week. It's hardly gotten light in recent times.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
I just realised that I hadn't posted anything in December. I've been busy and I should really tell you why but for now, the best Seasonal music since them Pantone kids put out "Cancion de Navidad" broke cover earlier today.
Yes, there's a virtual SCREECHING WEASEL celebration of the stupid season in all their trademark glory. Many attempts to ape the way Ben picked up The Ramones baton but few have even come close to coming close. These two gems will take you from "Christmas Eve" to "New Year's Eve", what you get up to on either end has sod all to do with me.
This is the Sp*tify link, it is however available from all vendors of the file format. Perhaps this time next year there'll be a groovy wee seven inch version?
As a response to some cockamamie Rolling Stone list, here's Ben's 27 contenders from the Pop Punk Pantheon!
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
|Frankie Teardrop by Roberto Majan|
It’s been a crazy few months and 2017 closes out with the advent of an exhibition in Madrid to mark the 40 calendar years since PUNK, the commodity began to take hold. It’s also a little over that since this malarkey set sail so we’ve all grown older somewhat disgracefully over the years.
We can debate the whys and wherefores down the road but I’m beyond thrilled to be involved with mi amigas and amigos at LA FIAMBRERA where the show will run from Friday December 1st until February 4th 2018.
Alongside a collection of print artefacts, there’s an interpretive strand where artists associated with the gallery have created a piece to reflect what this four letter word means to them. The results are very impressive and I imagine that those graphically closest to NBT hearts will be Shag’s "Smash It Up" and Roberto Majan‘s interpretation of an audience at a Suicide show entitled “Frankie Teardrop”. There’s also a photographic aspect that collects work from some of the most prolific names of the time including Ramones images by Danny Fields and also Ian Dickson, Bob Gruen, Sheila Rock and Ray Stevenson. Limited run signed prints of these will be available to buy at the gallery during the run of the show.
Smash It Up by Shag
If you find yourself in Madrid then please drop in and have a look. If you’re looking for an excuse to visit a great city and you’ve been umming and ah-ing about where to go then let me tell you that you need look no further.
Stay tuned for news on an important event that’s being planned for the close of the show because you might want to tie that in with your travel plans.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
The prospect of trying to shepherd a bill as rammed as this seemed like a heady prospect. It’s usually bad enough with two or three acts but there were a lot of bodies to get on and off stage.
What we maybe didn’t factor in to that concept was that they were doing it for Stewart. And somehow it took on the form of flying by the seat of your breeks. Just like the man himself might have assembled it.
Hadn’t been to the venue before but it’s a great place. Like a bijou St Andrews on the Square perhaps. By the time we got in, David Scott, Jamie Gash, Duglas T Stewart and Chloe Phillips were already on stage. I’m sure there was somebody else too but I was a little distracted by familiar faces in the crowd. The Thanes were next doing a short set of Poets material with original member Fraser Watson on stage with them. I believe they hope to do it all again at some point.
THE THANES do THE POETS
Was it Rab Noakes and Roddy Hart next? I think so. It was all getting to be a bit overwhelming as folks that I hadn’t seen since at least the funeral were appearing all over.
I think Emma Pollock appeared with Rab too, then Kim Edgar and Karine Polwart with Emma. Karine performed a Cruickshank favourite. Joan Osborne’s “One of Us”. Not the song with the gabba gabba refrain. This was the thing about Stewart, if he liked something he would tirelessly bang on about it. I was subjected to why this was brilliant on many occasions and became convinced that indeed it is.
Did Sandy Semeonoff perform “Grizzly Bear” next? I think he might have. He was incredible, like a one person Daddy Long Legs. Then he introduced The Pastels the way Calvin Johnson did. They did three songs including a version of ‘Different Drum’ that really hit the spot. The overwhelmingness has given way to flat out disorientation at that point. I’m not sure of the running order from here but The Primevals raised the roof and then Iain Shaw followed them with a rendition of “Dinosaur Egg”. Justin Currie and Stuart Nisbet were next up (I think), Stuart sung a song 'wot he wrote' that I could imagine Amy Allison singing. Brian Hogg and Brian Young did a couple of songs and then it was time for Mowgli and the Donuts. John Cavanagh introduced them by suggesting that there had maybe been a pact between Wilf and Stewart that the band wouldn’t play live again until Robert Mugabe had been deposed. Something you couldn’t rule out.
The stories and the flashing images above the stage just added to the happening like nature of the night. The Crunchies closed the proceedings in rapturous style. Versions of “The Letter” and The Velvets “Rock n’ Roll” were transcendental enough but it was The Hooters “I’m Alive” that really hit the message home that he actually is. Not in terms of taking 2 hours to doddle down the Byres Road but there was a distinct presence.
THE CRUNCHIES do THE HOOTERS
Richard and Helena and Lorraine and Sushil and everybody really managed to put something together that went beyond justice in celebrating the good Captain. The perceived chaos never occurred and there’s no way that the attendees didn’t get the fact that such a thing could likely never be repeated. Of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t try.
But let’s coast on the outright triumph of this one. Muchas gracias to everyone that took part to create something that I don’t think even Krunch would be inclined to mump about.
A seriously great time was had by all. In case it's of interest, the outcome of the Lou Reed adventure ended up in Stewart becoming a firm friend of the legendary grouch. And Lou picking up the studio tab. All was well that ended well. Just like Friday night.
Terrible phone pics by me.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
I’m not sure how much sense it’ll make because both my Cabeza and my Corazon are still holed up out in Madrid someplace. They don’t have much use for their physical host right now but hey, I’m getting ahead of myself here so let me try and explain. When I set out with SESENTAFEST, I guess I never thought about it too much. The whole premise turned out to be somewhat ambitious for someone with less than no conventional ambition.
I turned six decades old and figured it would be a gas to organise an extended shindig to mark that occasion. The closest thing I ever did like this was to get married back in 1979. I don’t recall much about that. The honeymoon was in London and during the time there, an opportunity came up via my pal Howard to go and see Motörhead in the studio. That was vetoed for some reason but we did see The Psychedelic Furs at The Moonlight Club in West Hampstead.
A friend and I put Dave Alvin and The Guilty Men on at The Grand Old Opry in Glasgow a while back. Despite only selling 13 tickets in advance, we got 260 walk up and it worked out with us making 20 quid each on the night so that was really my extent in terms of putting on a show. When I say putting on, I mean coming up with it and bringing in the professionals. This was punishment for Jonathan Vidal who was instrumental in my discovering I had an extended family that I didn’t know about. All I can say is that playing “All Pop, No Star” by The Slingbacks that fateful night at the Wurlitzer Ballroom in October 2008 opened up a whole alternate dimension to me. Throwing a stramash that would last from the closing hours of Thursday November 2nd until the wee hours of the 5th seemed like the way to go. I have no dependants other than those I've adopted and if I get hit by a bus tomorrow then at least everyone will remember the occasion as a true rock n’ roll experience in the city that only ever sleeps during siesta time. As I type this, I realise that next October is my 10th Wurliversary...!?
The DJ tag team of Los Sangria-Las got things moving. This was my pal Sara and I playing records in the wonderful WEIRDO! BAR, my other home away from home where the throng got in about the Cafe de Licor and other treats. It really was fun to trade tuneage with my wee Spanish sister and I hope we can do it again. She has such great taste and sense of exactly what to do in a room. We rolled from there and down to Wurlitzer for a wee small hours nightcap though it was closer to morning than it was to night.
Friday the triple action of Wreckless Eric, Amy Rigby and Amy Allison took the stage. As entertainers, songwriters and just plain old great folks go, this was a dream come true. None of them should need any introduction but if they do then I envy you. We jumped around like crazy folk to the musical selections presented by Diego El Sotano and Head and Banger. Everything went swimmingly.
Those gathered to play all had some connection to these recent years and to the history of NBT. Saturday was my actual birthday and we kicked off with Reine Laken playing their hearts out on two songs, a huge thing because they’d never been out of Risør. Their gift to me was “I Want Your Love” and “Hate To Say I Told you so”. The fact that they nailed it is one thing but they had my love from the day and minute I met them. Suzy and Los Quatto were next. Completely instrumental in this taking place and recalling the "1-2 Tutti Frutti" battle cry.
This could not have taken place anywhere else but Wurlitzer. The epicentre of what has become an important source of transfusion to me gave the whole thing a gravitas that having at home in Scotland would not have provided. The location and the setting and the people elevated everything. Sure, I threw it but those that attended booted the whole stramash into the stratosphere.
Photo by Tom Erik Kristoffersen
I met Andre and Line Dahlmann in Madrid too and that was a massive moment. They’re the kids I never had and what do you know, they have a kickass popular music group. Not only that but they covered and made a record of them doing “Fireball”. The first record I ever bought at age 6. They were in cahoots with those Nomads. Who in addition to agreeing to come to this malarkey, they only went and recorded a brand new song for the occasion and the commemorative 45. I was moved to tears let me tell you and I’m a hard-faced old sod. Young Marco Padin of Ghost Highway Recordings had these chestnuts struck into vinyl and there’s a beautiful little 45 doing the rounds. I don’t believe it either but I have physical proof.
Anyway it was a heck of a turnout, an international gathering of the punk rock clans with Ross Nelson breezing in from Australia even. I think we were nudging 80 out of towners in the end, many of whom hadn’t visited the fabled city before. NBT has been for me what playing the pipes was for my father, it has allowed me to meet and get to know like-minded crazies across the world.
It wasn’t just my birthday, Rocket To Russia turned 40 on November 4th too. And it was Nancy’s but sadly she couldn’t be there other than in spirit. Ulla, Kaisa and Aku did though.
When it comes to Madrid, I’m always wary of having talked it up too much. What if all these people didn’t take to it the way I did? There was no need to worry, since the mass invasion I’ve had about a dozen revellers check in to enquire if there’s a Samaritans group that might assist with their transition back into reality. This was an experience that they’re keen to play on repeat just as soon as it’s humanly necessary. I’m always buoyed up to discover that it’s not just me that gets it.
Attendees were urged not to bring gifts but many gave that the rubber ear. The idea was to have a charity box with proceeds going toward permeating Madrid's R n' R supremacy for future generations of the unique metropolis. MENUDOFEST provides a musical grounding for kids by putting on daytime events in the city’s clubs. Venues open (often not long after they’ve cleared out the big kids) to welcome the prospective stars of tomorrow with parents and family members. Artists and bands pitch in to provide their services to assist aspiring youngsters to make as big a racket as possible. Some of the really young ones give the ‘avant jazz’ types a run for their money. I think we raised around 500 euros around the time of writing and that might increase a wee bit before I settle at the end of the month.
All that remains to be said is that the world outside the hallowed walls ceased to exist for a bit. Mi amigo Jo Espen said that Wurlitzer is our Bang Bang Bar/Roadhouse. Anything can happen in there and it absolutely did. If you’re familiar with “It’s A Wonderful Life” then you’ll know the “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends” credo.
I sure felt like George Bailey over that weekend.
This is just a hobby for me, nuthin’ y’hear... a HOBBY?? My arse. It ceased being that a long time ago. Who could ever have believed it’d become a vocation. My granny used to tell a story about how some minister or someone told her that I’d come to represent some form of religion, he evidently neglected to mention that it was rock n’ roll.
SESENTAFEST definitely happened but I’m fine with anyone considering that something so damn groovy could never have happened. I have the bruises to confirm that it did. Massive thanks to everyone that contributed by playing and coming and going crazy to what really turned out to be beyond all reasonable expectations of a bloody high old time.
Here is Amy's report. I get something in my eye every time I look at it.
I'm currently working on photos so maybe there'll be a pictorial to accompany this at some point. Then again... meanwhile you can get a wee idea of what went down here. Photo album by Mona Di Pontty.