Thursday, 30 April 2015

Kaya Street

Navigating to Kaya Street

This is a band to definitely check out, beginning here perhaps on its latest website where you can get background information as well as listen to some of their infectious music.

On their Facebook page you can hear their latest, Wild Child, a superb reggae infused song that exemplifies the excellence of the songwriting and the performance.

This is a band that has survived and evolved in a tough world of mass music and where the mediocre but lucky sometimes get the breaks and those with talent keep working hard for the same. Founding member, guitarist and main songwriter Harry Birch continues to impress with the quality of his and the band's work.

Dog Music

Really. It's true.

I don't feel compelled to explain, but have a slight internal nudge. I do enjoy the planned search for themed album covers, in spare moments [this will cease soon with the exam season imminent], but I also like the surprises - and there are weirdly many - like these that barked at me from sudden places.

I even get the punning verbs in. Oh the whole process.

I have retained the opening cover with a human in attendance as the title seemed apt.

Sam Lee and Friends - The Phoenix, Exeter, 28th April, 2015

Privileged Paradox

This was an exquisite gig, Sam Lee and Friends playing a solo set [no support] in two wonderful segments. There were songs from Lee’s first album Ground of its Own, reviewed here, and from his recent second, The Fade in Time, reviewed here.

This is folk music at its most traditional and modern, nothing paradoxical in the re-presenting of songs Lee searches out and learns from the gypsy/traveling community largely across the British Isles and then translates through contemporary arrangements to continue their transmission beyond the oral/sung tradition that would otherwise diminish over time. Even if that tradition could survive, Lee and Friends are introducing this to a new and wider audience, and we are privileged to receive.

The contemporary arrangements I mention are themselves rooted in tradition and modernity – courting contradiction again – but this is embraced by the instruments used and the interpretations played. Sam Lee himself on shruti box, when playing it, provides an amplified resonance of sound as it pulses beneath melodies; Jon Witten on Mongolian dulcimer taps out delicate soundscapes, provides plaintive to upbeat backdrops on electric piano, and plucks and strums on ukulele; acclaimed violinist Flora Curzon provides beautiful defined melodic lines as well as deeply atmospheric strokes, and percussionist Josh Green delivers both touch and considerable energy through his various rhythms, including the range of a tabla tone to a booming on his bass gourd.

I stress the above to celebrate this dynamic band but also because on record with, for example, the addition of jazzy trumpet and other, the arrangements are expansive and full of depth when complementing the traditional songs. It was natural to wonder how this would be matched in a live set with a smaller collective, but the performance was as refined to powerful as on record. For example, Jonny O’ The Brine which opens Lee’s latest album is on record full of trumpet and effects; live at the Phoenix it was as fulsome in the energy and volume produced on stage – Green’s driving beat contributing considerably here.

Sam Lee’s vocal is majestic: sonorous clarity perhaps best describing, though it quite simply has to be heard. There is an excellent article on Sam here which provides huge detail about his life growing up and the passion now for seeking out and archiving on record and in performance the songs he sings. Sam himself informs us of elements of this at the gig, for example, when explaining the personal significance of a song like Jews Garden that is played, and the background story to the beautiful ballad The Moon Shone on My Bed Last Night, also played. Other gems performed often with background stories – well, every single song shone – were The Ballad of George Collins, Bonny Bunch o’ Roses, Moorlough Maggie, Phoenix Island, Airdog, and the sweet Lovely Molly which was sung a cappella, sans microphones, as an encore.

If you can catch Sam Lee and friends on tour, you absolutely must. It goes without saying you must also buy his/their records.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Just Signs Music

Chicken Shack - OK Ken? [1969]

Coup Nostalgia

I've just read a scathing allmusic review of this 2nd album by British blues band Chicken Shack, having listened to it earlier this evening. It is a fairly ordinary rather than exceptional blues offering, and Stan Webb's attempts at comedy between the songs is hardly fall-over funny, but it was one of the first albums I owned, I thought the comic voices/personas were amusing then, and every song triggers memories now because I knew them so well in '69 [or whenever I actually first had], so fuck allmusic who are usually and otherwise very reliable.

Clearly, there is no accounting for the puissance of nostalgia.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Signs, Motels and Diners Music 1

Coalition - Birth

It does look increasingly likely there will be a coalition government here in the UK some time after the 7th May, and after the negotiations: let's hope the birth of this new alliance will indeed be more progressive and purposeful then the withering one we have suffered over the last five years, especially led by the two Cs.

And do you see what I did?

Hardly complex, I know.

Wrecked Music 1

Monday, 27 April 2015

Shock and Awe

Gunshots echo from the ridge, repetitions so fast
it could be the automatic fire of multiple killings;
at the same time, jets reverberate in the sky to
attack other hushed places of a Sunday morning.
Where I sit is safe, listening to this as intangibles
of what seems the gist from farmers and friends
slaughtering rabbits beyond the rim of East Hill.

When the roar of aircraft fades and guns lull too
there is time to adjust to quieting clues:
one plane joins other vapour streaks across the sky,
a distant sound of tourists heading home - or off
on holidays abroad where foreigners are tolerable.

But when silent on the Hill there’s little surprise
by what I hear in the taunting from further beyond.

Nebraska 35: Omaha Steaks

Famous triple-trimmed [I know, seems anathema...] filet mignon
Not a Misspelling for Streak

Having posted yesterday on Omaha Streak I was immediately reminded [though had forgotten up until now for this running 'Nebraska' theme] the famous Omaha Steaks from the town of my birth. I will have eaten steak there as a young boy, though I don't know if this will have been named, and I have sent Omaha Steaks to my dad as birthday presents on and off over the years [via Amazon, who else....]. With the world's second largest cattle stockyard [I think still] it isn't surprising that beef is such an intrinsic part of the city.

Chateaubriand - a proper gluttony of meat which I have only had once [shared with a friend] in Manchester!

Sable Music 10

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Nebraska 34: 311 and Omaha Streak

Not Misspelling for Steak

Don't know the band but this thread has often been about discovery: 311 got their name after band member Jim Watson was caught for streaking [or skinny dipping by another source] in Omaha and was arrested under the local police code 311 for indecent exposure. The band members are from Omaha, so it was an indigenous revelation.

No picture of incident, so band will have to do [sans Jim who left in '91, not presumably for that alfresco infraction].

Sable Music 9