Reptile Ranch

April 25, 2017 § Leave a comment

One of the strange things to happen in the past decade has been the rediscovery of the records me and the people I knew made in the post-punk DIY years. First the Messthetics series brought them back blinking into the light and I began to have the faintest inkling of what it must have been like for those Mississippi bluesmen in the sixties when record collectors started seeking them out- that same sense of ‘what the hell do you want with that old shit?’ The difference being obv that many of the Mississippi bluesmen were utterly brilliant, while absolutely none of us were.

Some were better than others though and it’s nice to see a vinyl reissue of the collective works of fellow Cardiffians Reptile Ranch getting some attention. So I dug out my old fanzine. in which me and my mate Charles interviewed them. and here. for your delectation. is the most hilariously over-serious conversation between 1970s teenagers you could wish to read.

The Music of Epirus

September 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

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The village square in Vitsa, Epirus.

 

During 2015, following a recent loss, I became fascinated by the music of Epirus in Northwestern Greece, and in particular with the ancient funeral laments, known as mirologis. I discovered that in summer the villages of Epirus would all hold festivals during which the musicians would play all night in the village square, starting and finishing with a mirologi. The rest of the time, however, they would play dance tunes and the whole village would dance around the band in a circle. In the summer of 2015 I travelled there for the first time to find out more – and discovered an extraordinary living folk tradition. I returned in 2016 in the company of a film crew, led by the excellent Irish director, Paul Duane. Together we are working on a feature length documentary celebrating this music and exploring its roots in Greek antiquity and its capacity to speak to our understanding of the mystery of death.

This is the piece of music that ignited my fascination.

 

Al O’Donnell

May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s taken me a long while to catch up with Al O’Donnell. An Irish singer who made his name in England in the sixties, he went on to make two albums for Bill Leader, then seemed to vanish from the folk scene thereafter, his two albums lost in the Leader copyright debacle. So a great pleasure to find this on youtube – And don’t worry – the wee leprechaun at the beginning is only introducing the song.

In Chapters at the Green Man

August 7, 2011 § Leave a comment


The next In Chapters is at the Green Man Festival on Sunday August 21 at 1pm. The theme will be Ghosts and the guest artistes will include Joe Dunthorne, Laura J. Martin, Rachel Trezise, Katell Keineg, David Oprava, Charlotte Greig and Jemma Roper. Richard James will be back in his role as Musical Director after last month’s layoff

Bellwether

August 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Now and again I realise that a record I’ve played a lot over a period of years is more or less invisible to the world in general and I guess if there’s any purpose in a blog it’s to point stuff like that out. So let me commend Bellwether to you. They were from Minneapolis and they made five (I think) albums. The first two were in thrall to their influences, REM and similar US college rock stuff. But the third one, Home Late, is an absolute killer, absolutely what alt-country should have been but mostly wasn’t quite. The fact the lead track off it only has, at time of writing, 36 views on youtube is pure injustice. Here it is and if you like it, well the rest of it is all just as good

The two later albums are also pretty good, the lead singer Eric Luoma has a new band I believe. I tried to book them to play in Cardiff once but they cancelled the tour due to lack of interest. Same old story.

Guardian Review

July 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Nice review of the paperback of Miss SB in the Guardian this week. In some contrast to the idiotic one the hardback received.

In Chapters 9: Carnival

June 12, 2011 § Leave a comment