Monthly Archives: July 2018

Gram Parsons

Definitely not a live review! When I first heard the opening note of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ in 1965 I was a Byrds fan…and have been a fan of pretty much all things Byrdsian since. I latched onto the Flying Burrito Brothers in the early seventies.

Trying to find decent or unusual T-shirts though is not easy. I came across the site http://www.cypresscowboy.com while looking at http://www.gene-clark.com. They have some really interesting GP t-shirts as well as Clarence White and other Byrds-related stuff. I bought 3 GP ‘tribute’ shirts. Photos below but they are not very good resolution.

And , yes, I am not a fan of tribute acts! These are from GP tribute nights, featuring different artists. Obviously postage is expensive but Peggy has some ‘oddities’ available. Have a look at the site, her e-mail address is there, as are better photos! She will respond really quickly, but remember the time difference. Happy shopping.
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Summertyne Americana Festival. The Sage, Gateshead. 21 July 2018

The festival has been going for a few years now. It is a three day event, mixing free stages with established (not free) artists in the two main halls. We chose the Saturday, as Steve Earle and the Dukes were on in Hall 1.

Outside, on a well-attended free stage, Tom Blackwell is first up.  Singer/guitarist from Liverpool with a touch of harmonica. An interesting version of ‘Little Red Rooster’ is the opener, followed by (I assume) original songs. Pretty good, we both thought. He got a good round of applause.                   The Rosellys and Rachel Haven. UK alt-country 5-piece outfit with a guest from Texas.  Two female lead vocalists, with pedal steel very much to the fore. In fact, he was a bit too loud, drowning out the fiddle playing sadly. But they have original songs, including a dash of cajun, and were pleasant and breezy.                         Arkansas Dave. Dave and his four buddies started out in a quite Skynyrdy mode ( three letter Ys in one word?!). At times, they had a touch of Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac too.  They covered Tom Waits’ ‘Chocolate Jesus’, and the description ‘Raw blend of rock, blues and punk’ must have had the audience puzzled if they were expecting a Sex Pistols cover. No hint of punk at all. The bass player got a chance to show his funk/reggae inclination and they finished with a later Tom Petty song. Again, a very good performance , similarly well-received.                    William the Conqueror. Three piece from Cornwall, but not really Americana. But they gave us some good self-penned numbers. Having said that, the opening half hour was a bit ‘samey’ and it took a while to move up a gear.   We left early to get into the main hall for the man we had paid to see.                           Curse of Lono. Opening act for the evening gig. The singer reckoned he had listened to Mr Earle eighteen years ago. I am sure he must have been listening to that well-known Geordie Mark Knopfler a hell of a lot though. (OK, he was actually born in Glasgow). Even the guitarist had a definite MK style. But they were pretty good, with own songs.                          The Mastersons. The duo have been multitasking with the Dukes for a while now, and usually do a slot on their own. Plugging their latest record ‘Transient Lullaby’ they are talented musicians and writers. A bit of occasional artificial percussion and Her Ladyship wasn’t the only one who reckoned they were good.                               Steve Earle and the Dukes. We have been watching Mr E since 1997 when he and the Dukes played at the Leeds Irish Centre. If ‘death’ and ‘taxes’ are the two certainties in life, then Steve Earle starting his gigs with a slab from his latest lp must be a third. Back then , he started with the epic ‘Christmas in Washington’ and tonight we get a very big slab of ‘So you wanna be an outlaw’ up front. (He has been occasionally putting in ‘CIW’ on this tour but, sadly, not tonight.)  When the oldies kick in , they do so big style with ‘My old friend the blues’, ‘Someday’, ‘Guitar Town’ and ‘I ain’t ever satisfied’ in quick succession. He and Eleanor resurrect ‘Still in love with you’ from his Del McCoury collaboration. ‘Jerusalem’ gets an extended workout. Two of my least favourite songs are ‘Taneytown’ and ‘Hard Core Troubadour’ and he gives me them both together!  ‘Johnny come lately’, ‘Galway girl’  and classic ‘Copperhead Road’ are always destined to get feet tapping and he has been often finishing with ‘Hey Joe’ lately (including a dig at Trump).  Encores are ‘Dixieland’, the very old ‘Ben McCulloch’ and an extended ‘Girl on the Mountain’.  A great two hour show from a great artist and friends.  We have never seen him be less than great. And never seen him so mobile!

An excellent day’s entertainment. The ‘free’ acts were a very good addition to the main stage. And hardly a cover song all day and night!  The MC outside was again brilliant. The event needs to continue to be well-attended , although not nesessarily by the bloke who had brought his spoons and was playing along to William the Conqueror!  If you thought that was bizarre, there was a young woman on the Metro back to Whitley Bay pushing a chihuaha that was sitting in a baby buggy.

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Rock and Bike Fest. South Normanton. 12-14 July 2018

Relatively short drive, about an hour. Got set up quickly and chatted with our camping neighbour Alan. A fellow Middlesbrough FC supporter, he too had come last year and reckoned it was well worth another shot.

Thursday. First up are Verbal Warning. No strangers to RABF, they are straight into the Ramones, Sham 69 and Motorhead. They have their own songs too, both older (‘State Control of Rock’) and newer (‘Smart Phone’). They are always well-received.                        Steve Naylor Band. We get the Metallicanthem early on and, of course, some AC/DC. It wasn’t long before the predictable double of ‘Wishing Well’ and ‘Can’t Get Enough’. Basically the same as any weekend pub covers outfit would be doing. Back drop said ‘Classic Rock Tribute’, I suppose ‘bog-standard pub covers’ didn’t seem so impressive.                         Van Halen UK. My knowledge of Van Halen is restricted to one song, like most people I suggest. Although I do have an unopened semi-bootleg cd from Poundland .  Not sure if singer was supposed to be Dave, Sammy or an amalgam, but plenty of people did ‘Jump’.                           Diary of a Madman. Her Ladyship is a long time Black Sabbath fan. Even she could have put on a long wig, dark glasses and sworn a lot like this ‘Ozzy’ did. ‘Crazy Train’ and ‘Bark at the Moon’  probably had all the correct words but sounded nothing like the original vocals. ‘Iron Man’ got a singalong and ‘Iron Man’ and ‘War Pigs’ had Her Ladyship up and grooving (forgetting she had gone a*se over tits a bit earlier).                      Floyd in the Flesh. Surprising opener…not ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond’! A chunk from DSOTM kicked off, followed by a couple from ‘The Division Bell’. The newer songs didn’t sound too bad, but ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ was the start of a down hill slide. I don’t recollect Roger Waters announcing the rest of the group as they did a solo?!  ‘On the Turning Away’ made me think that they should be renamed from Floyd in the Flesh (FITF) to F**k All Like Floyd (FALF).  Someone needs to search ‘How to tune drums’ on Youtube, it was bloody awful tonight.  Not our best ever opening festival experience. but my mind kept saying ‘Don’t moan, it was only £35 for the whole weekend!)

Friday.      Evyltyde . Metal quartet with a young girl braying ten bells of sh*t out of her kit. Female vocalist with much hair-swinging plus blokes on bass/vocals and lead.  Mainly own stuff, so deserving of an ear. Fest-friendly covers from Judas Priest and ‘Thin Lizzy’ (Bob Seger to be pedantic!).                    Joan oV Arc. Blonde smiley drummer plus frontline trio looking very hard. Again, own stuff but snappier than the previous lot.  Bass/vocals was Kat off Eastenders.  Some fest-friendly covers thrown in again, ‘Addicted to Love’, ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ and ‘Freebird’.                              Gallus Cooper. Initial observation was similar to the Ozzy copy group. Do you just put some black pudding round your eyes, learn all the words and that’s it? In fact, they spent a fair bit on costumes and props, but sounded nothing like Alice Cooper. All the hits, plus some lesser known songs.  Plenty in.                            Zodiac Mindwarp  . I can remember one of their 80s songs, and I reckon that might be one more than quite a few in there. And it came first…’High Priest of Love’.  Thereafter, no idea of the songs but at least they seemed original, as opposed to a copy or pub covers group.  But bloody Thin Lizzy as an encore!                        Evil Scarecrow  .     Sadly, a clash here as Lindisfarne were next door. But we had seen Rod and chums recently so were up for Evil Scarecrow.  How to describe them? Phew, where do I start?! If you thought the concept of A Box Of Frogs was daft, as Bachman Turner Overdrive said… ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’.  Best idea is to search ‘Crabulon’ on Youtube. Think ‘Metallica meets Norman Wisdom’ , it would be a starting point . Great stuff.                             Circus of Horrors Ringmaster talking over backing music, plus bizarre circus acts. We were overtired and retired.

Saturday.                               Earlier start, with Paris Alexander getting a short slot on vocals and guitar                           Warren Ireland. Young man, guitar and loops. Mainly own stuff, opened with ‘Folsom Prison’. His ‘Brick’ was far more interesting than FALF’s earlier version.                              Kelliannie . Woman plus guitar, with some familiar numbers and some not so.  Nancy Sinatra was one of the former.                                 Darwin’s Rejects.  Played songs by Headsticks , Levellers and Ferocious Dog.  No, not a Glam Rock outfit!                                 Pirates Rock. Her Ladyship predicted maybe another of these tedious Captain Pugwash groups. They weren’t. Started out with Thin Lizzy followed by…Thin Lizzy.  The latter featured what was to be the worst guitar solo of the weekend. They seemed to be a basic pub group who had added a loaded of mates and girfriends to end up with 13 on stage. And, for no apparent reason, get dressed as pirates and say ‘AAAR’ occasionally. (Her Ladyship did comment that the singer did actually look as though he had eaten Johnny Depp though.)  I can definitely say after watching 50 years of live music, they are in the top ten of the worst I have ever seen. (Her Ladyship too). But Castleford’s Nitrous Oxide remain supreme. Fortunately, she had gone for a pee so missed ‘Comfortably Numb’ but was back in time for ‘Smoke on the Water’.  I won’t go into details but the tirade of abuse that emanated from her throat would have made Chubby Brown blush.  Speechlessly sh*te.                                            And next, Surreal Panther. I won’t waste as many words, will give them a 4C grading. Crude, Crass, Coarse and Crap.                                    Neck had to call off, which necessitated some hectic phone calls and reshuffling. So we got a set of blokes filling in superbly at short notice. OK, it was ‘All Right Now’ etc but well done lads!  ‘Vulva’.                                        Women in Rock. A couple of women shouting at the audience and occasionally themselves.  Doesn’t exactly look promising when Her Ladyship and others preferred a Sweet tribute act. Predictable tunes from the likes of Eurythmics, Joplin, Benatar, Quatro, Jett, Tyler. Not sure how many recognised Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ though. Thankfully they didn’t do ‘White Rabbit’!  Still plenty singing along though.                                  Fleetwood Bac. A ‘Rumours’ era tribute act.  ‘Christine’ is spot on as Christine vocally and ‘Stevie’ is pretty good too. ‘Lindsey’ takes a bit of time to get to grips with Lindsey. They started out really well but got a bit ‘clubby’. Very much a ‘hits’ set with a couple of Stevie’s solo songs.  Loads in, singing their hearts out. To be fair, if you like this Mac line-up and don’t mind tribute acts and don’t want to pay about £75 to see the real deal (-ish) then go and pay £20 to see this lot. Or you can just stay at home and put on one of their many Greatest Hits discs.     And it was all over, well it was for us old-timers!

1.Value. Top value. We paid £35 each for our tickets, including free camping and free programme. There were Cambridge Rock Fest flyers about. I worked out that CRF would be about £135 a ticket.

2. Bar. Decent prices . £3.40 for bitter.  Good service. Still loads of people bringing in their own beer, bottles included.

3. Security. Like last year here, there was the same kid pinching pint pots , at a quid a go (complicit were his adults too, the bloke with the huge disabled contraption). Despicable low lifes, they comfortably paid for their entries at the expense of their victims. TW*TS!  You all saw the kid in the Suarez Liverpool shirt. So had security when I told them. So what had they done about it? Similar to Northern Kin Fest, a worrying side effect of a ‘refundable pound a pot policy’

4. T-shirts. Fest shirts good value at a tenner. Acka Dacka won the most seen shirt, with Stones close behind. Ramones, Motorhead and Floyd a bit furthur behind. My Lindisfarne/Gene Clark shirt was definitely in Lepers’ Corner!

5. Traders. Plenty of stalls to look round.

6. Music. Like a lot of fests aimed at bike riders, tribute acts and pub covers groups are the norm. But it keeps the gate price down! They usually have maybe 3 ‘known’ names here, this year it was Lindisfarne, Sham 69 and Big Country. I would think each of them would maybe charge £20 a ticket so furthur emphasises the value for money here.

7. Toilets. All Portaloos but kept clean. Her Ladyship only encountered a pile of bangers and mash once. on Sunday morning.

Hope it continues to be a success.

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