David Baron & Lettie
How many times I have tried to write a blog post and I just couldn’t. I started in March. Now it is August….
Here is the new single “Waiting”. Click Here to Buy the Track.
I will write more very soon
David Baron & Lettie
How many times I have tried to write a blog post and I just couldn’t. I started in March. Now it is August….
Here is the new single “Waiting”. Click Here to Buy the Track.
I will write more very soon
On December 20 I will be releasing a new song ‘Bright Lights’ on the label Hear & Now Recordings who are putting out the next series of songs to make up an album next year. I’m so grateful for David Baron and John Cunningham who owns the label for what I hope might be a new chapter. As I am still very largely in the dark about the Spotify revolution and the way music is consumed it’s helping me enormously to see finally that music can be created on a song by song basis and released in this way. Like many others, most artists have either other projects or a day job so it’s very difficult to be able to release things in the old fashioned way. I hope anyone who has found my music will see that it’s really a continuation on from the work I have done with David Baron which began in 2005. I owe him everything.
I will be celebrating this new release at The Roughler Club upstairs at The Italian Job, 45 All Saints Road, London W11 1HE on Friday 13 December 8pm onwards. And rather than playing a long set I will do 10 minutes along with number of other exciting performers as well as the compere extraordinaire Ray Roughler Jones. Entry is only £5 and it’s nights like these that remind me of the old days in London when I used to gig at such places like the Kashmir Club long since gone (where Rolan Bolan gratefully lent his tambourine skills to my set). I will not attempt to play the keyboard with my big toe this time (thankfully Gina from The Raincoats admired my attempt) but I will play the tambourine with my foot since I’m sure Rolan is otherwise engaged.
I have been doing less of my blog lately probably because it’s so time consuming and possibly expensive (!) because I spend far too much time trying to find original material to scan! But I am really becoming a regular at the Ephemera Fairs in London and love talking to the dealers about rare books and other such things. I guess because I studied history I am interested.
Anyway, it’s my Birthday tomorrow and it’s getting late but I just wanted to say my new found love is the circus and whenever it’s in town I’m there!
It was before I started listening to Eartha Kitt’s The Day That the Circus Left Town but there’s something so Fellini and dreamlike about it; a microcosm and universal. I went to a wonderful one in Parsons Green barely anyone there except Bertram Mills Grandson! It was fantastic and I got this poster framed. It was Zippo’s Circus and what a treat it was too! Earlier in the year I went to the Clown Church to celebrate the yearly service there they hold for Grimaldi.
One of my favourite acts at Zippo’s was the budgie act performed by Norman Barrett. They were so well trained! It was quite hard to see but their pale blue, pick and yellow colours of their wings were beautiful. They slid down a slide individually then flew perfectly coordinated and in file back to their perch. Extraordinary! Animals have largely been banned from all circuses which is quite right and I am therefore refraining from posting from my ephemera collection any of these black panther acts, Artic Polar Bears and even cricketing elephants as it says on the poster ‘trying to win back the ashes’ which is enough to make you cry.
My highlight of Circus Fantasia were the two Italian clowns. They also doubled up as the orchestra but all the acts were amazing. We also enjoyed the man being shot out of a canon not quite as big as the one below!
So here are my favourites from the tiny programmes of Bertram Mills Circus Grand Hall Olympia December 17 1948- February 3 1949 (that I have scanned at a high resolution). That’s a long run which goes to show how popular they were once.
And this one from January 28 (no year) the Gigantic Continental Circus at Aston Hippodrome Birmingham long since gone.
And this from Chipperfields Circus 1970……
December is the feeling of what is to come and anticipation. As my boss says Advent is about Metanoia.
These are just a few things I found last weekend… December issues of the Picturegoer that I haven’t seen before because I love Hollywood vintage glamour and adore films.
And some postcards….
So wishing you a very Happy Cbristmas, New Year and New Decade…..
It’s been a while since I wrote. Too long perhaps. This is my memory after all and my recording down of my encounters, experience and findings; a musical puzzle, an unsolvable maze (did you know if you put your right hand and continue to brush it along the inside hedge of Hampton Court Maze you will reach the middle) made up of intricate and sensitive electrodes that create a language that has been the journey of a life time to try to comprehend. The fact I have not been successful does not prevent me from trying.
In May I released a song I wrote with David Baron for his forthcoming album called People of No Concern featuring my 11 year old niece. Thank you to Hear & Now Recordings for putting it out. It’s on Spotify and made the playlist.
So much has happened since I moved in the spring. I said goodbye to a flat that was a place of mourning for me. I tried my best with it. I didn’t even leave a forwarding address. I really look back on it as a bridge or intermission. I planted the terrace. I worked well in it. I had very few people round but an incident involving the police and a violent domestic row upstairs resulted in my finally giving in my notice. Whatever dramas were playing out upstairs I wasn’t going to stay for the ring side seat. So I ran. It is still empty. I went to visit it last weekend and took a bamboo plant that was still alive away in the car. The little terrace is half dead. I feel so sad about that.
I found a new flat not far with a large garden and bought all my stuff from the local Red Cross Shop or the gumtree since it was unfurnished. I spend most of my time when I’m here sitting outside waiting for my beautiful sunflowers over 8ft high now and planted from seed (£1 for 10 seeds from Poundland) to come out. I also walk to work. I can’t believe the difference. It feels the closest thing to home I have had in years.
My gig supporting Sniff n the Tears showcased some new material which went down very well but it seems out of all the music I have written there’s only six ready to go. So I must try and finish this album for Hear & Now Recordings before the year is out and in order to do that I’m looking into a slightly different approach. So I went on the search last Friday for a new instrument- something acoustic; something unique and lo and behold I found a very rare Italian guitar which is the most beautiful thing I have ever owned (apart from the microphone of course that David has so kindly given me now). I found it on the Gumtree. It’s so rare I can’t find anything about it much at all except it is a Masetti 1960.
So perhaps this will inspire me. In the meantime I have actually been writing quite a bit of library music. This still is my only stream of music income so I’m very keen to do more. Some of the works I wrote with Anthony Phillips have been used by Danish Films, Sky One, Norwegian Films, ITV, Belgian Films. I got 1p for 58 seconds on Spring Kitchen with Tom Kerridge on BBC! Something even got played on Love Island in Norway. I always said all I wanted was a song on a film. I guess I have got what I wished for!
My trip to New Orleans was impossible to write about. I saw and heard so many wonderful musicians, tasted so many new tastes, was overwhelmed by the spirit of the place, the humidity in the air, the appreciation for live music, lapping it up, the love for it which I had forgotten about, really loosing oneself in it with every kind playing on every corner. I learnt much about New Orleans extraordinary history: Creole history, the Haitians, the French, Spanish Louisiana, indigenous American Indians, the free black slaves a melting pot of different cultural influences. Then there’s the post hurricane Katrina New Orleans still over 20 years later a feeling .. I just can’t seem to put into words.
I kept wishing I had made notes and chronicled the days but then again I wouldn’t have enjoyed the moment. My friend who lives there showed me secrets. It was like a mysterious tour one which I didn’t want to reveal. Some places are like that. I had the best 6 days and nights I have ever had.
The New Orleans Jazz Festival is one of a kind. It puts so much new music in the shade particularly because as I have mentioned before the omnipresence of backing tracks with so many major acts at big festivals have but destroyed for me the feeling of what live music is supposed to be. The gospel choirs in the tent, Mavis Staples and her band, Trombone Shorty and also the Second Line band we saw at Preservation Hall I think from the 7th. It was some of the more underground things we went to- the folk tunes of the tribes and their ‘dance’ that remain with me like a blues harmonica being played down a reverb in my ear so long and deep it’s like being in some kind of David Lynch movie or in an Alan Lomax dreamland.
I still listen to tapes and Studs Terkel’s 15 minute interviews are so wonderful and from these interviews is one with Wole Soyinka which mentions that the Second Line may have come from Ghana. I ate gumbo with a local legend on the gumbo scene, hung out at Kermit (Ruffins) place, went on a tour of the 9th district saw Fat’s house, heard and learnt about Zydeco in Lafayette, ate Crayfish in Crayfish Town, had the best meat ball sandwich at a butcher, had my tea leaves read which warned me of imminent change again, saw alligators and was told to dial up the magic of this world anytime.
The only place I didn’t dig was the Country Club which wasn’t my friend’s recommendation but on hearing it had a pool I was game. I was imaging a Club like out of a 1950s Douglas Sirk film or on the other hand like the poolside postcards of Palm Springs, or Burt Lancaster style pool party as in ‘The Swimmer’.
It was once a naturist kind of bar/ restaurant with a pool. It became obligatory to wear something after there was an incident. There were a lot of complaints about this covering up policy. I was relieved. I went for a swim (no one else was swimming) everyone was drinking and perched on the side of the pool. I went deep down to the bottom of the pool and could not believe the number of pubic hairs in the filter. I also couldn’t believe that the only person I had hitherto spoken to in New Orleans in some café found me covered up in the shade hiding. I wasn’t in the mood for talking as I rarely am when I’m feeling fairly undressed. But he found me and it illustrated to me New Orleans seemed to be a smaller place than I thought! I certainly wasn’t going in the Jacuzzi which seemed to be full of about 10 people and let’s just say judging by the pound of flesh it was certainly cozy in that hot tub. I know I don’t have poolside etiquette and I’m a freak.
Without a doubt the food was Um um…I found this great recipe book which I will not reproduce from a great local bookshop- De Simonin Publications. Copyright De Simonin Publications. I hope they don’t mind me scanning the cover.
ANOTHER TIME ANOTHER PLACE I TOOK OFF FOR BELGIUM HOME TO…
My second visit this year was Ghent ‘Europe’s Best Kept Secret’. I was intrigued because Jonathan Meads had done a fascinating documentary on Belgium, it’s medieval history (Ghent and Bruges were originally Flanders), it’s gothic churches and extraordinary works of art (The Ghent Altarpiece by Van Eyke the most famous in Ghent) in a sort of contrast to the overt classic Renaissance style and exuberant Rocco artwork found in Italy, it’s Mediterranean light, it’s Roman foundation and Catholic dominated patronage.
I fell in love with the place (which has a distinctively different character from the rest of Belgium perhaps not so much from Bruges which I have not visited) because the people of Ghent were rebels and the city was the largest city in Flanders and in Medieval Europe one of the richest most powerful cities in Europe. One thing I took away with me was the incredible mustard! I also found some old postcards. What an intriguing and I hear musical city it is (mainly because musicians can afford to live centrally). Although I didn’t see any gigs I know that I once played there so soon as I arrived because I found the umbrella shop. I remembered I had been in 2009 with Peter Murphy. How strange and odd to go back and not really realise I had been there before. Apart from an incident involving Dolly falling into some locked up garden, the trip was full of small adventures. Re-treading old steps; this time actually seeing it afresh. The food (beef, mussels, chips), the people and the ambience was perfect. It was a great place to people watch. I even had this whole story in my mind about the various dogs. The strangest sight of all though was a father and his two young teenage sons on hoverboards. At the most unexpected place and time they would silently all three of them appear and then disappear like strange outer world creatures of the future.
London feels quiet. I am thinking about the moon landings.
I’m thinking about God. I’m thinking about the news and I’m thinking about tomorrow. I’m thinking that I’ve typed approximately 4 million words in my job that I took five years ago, I’m thinking about the weather, dreamhouse in Spain, a man called El Cid in Italy and a dog called Maria I once knew. I’m thinking about John Cooper Clarke’s desert island and Elvis. I’m thinking about Rutger, Dr John, the Aaron Neville and others we’ve lost. I’m thinking about my Dad it’s been so long. I’m drifting, procrastinating, worrying and shaking in my skin, wondering and wandering on earth. I’m going to get in my car with Bob Dylan bursting out of my speakers and just drive far away until I can’t hear about anything bad anymore.
Till we meet again…
As Christmas approaches I am in a contemplative mood as well as a festive one. I never really stop working but I have had some time away from music since everything grinds to a halt this time of year and I have run out of steam but I always find things that excite me visually.
I will be bringing out some music next year. I found some fantastic footage from Germany which I have transferred which should make a good video for a song I wrote called ‘Bright Lights’ but again it will have to wait till next year.
I will always love music and I am particularly interested in music and memory. I know that Miles Davis’s Lift to the Scaffold will be my soundtrack to the last days at my aunt’s house and was hitherto a discovery as a result of Robert Le Page highlight of my theatrical life Needles and Opium and the film itself with Jean Moreau. I must have played it hundreds of times. The moaning trumpet more blues than jazz.
Ry Cooder’s Paris Texas my soundtrack to the summer I went to Seville to work as an au pair I must have played that thousands of times. That time was so lonely in Seville until I met Ian Murray “one of the finest brass band players of his generation” and his wife Janet, their daughter and various members of the Seville Orchestra. Ian who died when he was only 35 “was celebrated simply as a creator of happiness.” His funeral was the largest ever to have happened in Aracena.
Perhaps that’s why I do this blog to remember.
I went with quite a few friends on my Birthday to see Peter Murphy and David J celebrating 40 years of Bauhaus at Brixton Academy.
It was nearly 10 years ago that I went round Europe with Peter and saw for myself the back streets of many European towns. I spoke to so many people and I had the time of my life but the aftermath was hard for me and the life after the road is fraught with danger. All the adrenalin disappears and it’s a hard crash landing. Anyway, it was extraordinary. I couldn’t stay and say hello but I saw the lovely Kirsten Morrison to pass on my best regards. Peter has about a week and a bit off before he embarks on his American tour that carries on until April of next year. I don’t know how he does it.
So I went to the last Ephemera Fair of the year. It is, I have decided, oddly wonderful. I feel like I’m encroaching on a secret convention. I wish I knew more about it all as people come from all over Europe with specialist interests. One man said to his wife ‘get on it with and stop talking’ as they riffled through hundreds of old tourist brochures, ship menus, theatrical posters and programmes!
My main other preoccupation is my fear of driving and I did make it solo from Suffolk to London and back again one weekend but just as I got confident I got a message on my car in felt tip pen saying:
Then I tried to drive to the local DIY shop 1 mile away and got stuck – twice. It was a Sunday and my local team were playing at home. I was so close to a car I was sweating. I couldn’t go back I couldn’t go forward. I pulled my window down and said ‘I’m really just trying to get past this car’ and a guy in an enormous 4 wheel drive said ‘No worries but just to warn you you are really really really close to that car. Just keep your wheel straight and you’ll be ok’. I was ‘just’ but I didn’t get to the shop. I went round the block and I haven’t been in the car since.
So my theme this month is Christmas and for all its secular manifestations one should always remember what it really is about and with that I always like to remember absent friends.
This Christmas I will be remembering two dear friends Michael Seymour who won a Bafta and was nominated for an Oscar as Best Art Direction on Alien (famous for the John Hurt scene which Michael did) and was a man of many talents. As an Art Director he was hugely in demand in the 80s not only in the film industry but in advertising when the advertising industry was at the height of its powers and money was abundant. He once showed me his itinerary for one year and it was all flights! He was also an exceptional photographer, writer and painter. He always kept his mind active and I’ll miss him so much. He photographed my album cover for Good Fortune, Bad Weather.
And Bill. Dear Billy from Buffalo who never stopped smiling. More than my boss, he was my friend and I miss him madly.
Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for New Year!
Au revoir…until we meet again don’t know where don’t know when…
Here is Hedy Lamarr in November’s issue of Picturegoer in 1950.
Hugh Cornwell writes a great song about her in The Most Beautiful Girl in Hollywood if not the the brainiest in his excellent new album Monster. Another great album out this month is The Wanderer by Cat Power.
Here she is with George Sanders who incidentally wrote in his suicide note:
“Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.”
I saw George Sanders recently in the classic 1960s B Movie Village of the Dammed. He was a one off with a unique turn of phrase.
Luck found me up at the Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury on Sunday where I found a great assortment of quirky postcards and ephemera.
I went round the Ephemera Fair and found very few postcards of Halloween. I feel I am starting to get to know quite a few of the dealers now. Halloween was never a big thing in this country and it was certainly not so commercial. In fact the postcards are always American so here’s one I found which I quite like.
One of the nice dealers said he couldn’t stop staring at my eyes when I mentioned I couldn’t stop staring at his postcards! I was very touched! Am I detecting some kind of frisson at this fair! It was a pulp and paperback day so I found some great covers:
Having not been out to any gigs lately I went to three last week: The mysterious, beautiful and ethereal Erin Lang of Foundling, the extraordinarily underrated and brilliant Sniff ‘n’ Tears with Richard Moore who plays violin with me and the adorable Caitlin Roberts on accordion (check out their band The Lost Revellers too) and the hypnotic and the traversing BCUC which didn’t hit the floor at Camden’s Jazz Café till 1am. I felt I was in Soweto. I am continuing my musical escapades to see House of Love in November and Peter Murphy and David J celebrating 40 years of Bauhaus on my Birthday in December in Brixton.
Istanbul is a city so extraordinary I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I studied Byzantine History as a student at Glasgow and went to try and discover the Byzantine landmarks such as the obvious ones like Hagia Sophia (above) or even fragments of this history hidden in the most obscure places with my friend who is a doctor in the subject and quite a few others. Photographs could not do justice to what I saw.
A highlight was visiting the Holy Byzantine shrine (one of only three remaining in Istanbul) underneath a carpet shop that was featured on the BBC’s Ancient Invisible Cities which is still available here on the iPlayer. The carpet shop Kirkit had moved so the building was shut but we found owner Ahmet Diler at his new premises in Mimar Mehmet. I bought a couple of beautiful carpets from 19th century and 1930 probably my most valued items I have ever bought and he gave us a tour because he still was in possession of a key and so we went underground. Here is the Virgin Mary – a beautiful mosaic survived hundreds of years – you can just make out her eye (circa 7th century).
Even the Grand Hotel de Londres was quite something. I adored the two parrots one of which was in the habit of wolf whistling! You would put your hand through the bars of the cage and he would tuck his head into it impressing on you to stroke his head. The other one photographed here liked to somersault on his trapeze to show off. It had to be the noisiest hotel in Istanbul but also the most interesting. Here are some photographs of Dolly having a look around…
So lucky I am to see this Holy well and visit Istanbul. Orhan Pamuk describes it so well in his Istanbul Memories of a City. I managed to visit his museum The Museum of Innocence. It’s hard to describe but it benefits from having read the book but having not read that particular book I followed this story that begins in the 70s and spent hours in this museum looking at the beautiful displays set up specifically to tell the story:
Orhan talks about huzun all the time in the book. It’s a trait that’s unique to the city and really I see it visually as a melancholic cloud hanging over the city. It is a place of saudade. It is a place of grandeur and tragedy. It is East and West. It was Christian and Muslim. It was Greek, Roman, a part of it, where we stayed Genoese, Ottoman, and now a place of anxiety from what I hear from our Turkish companion who was travelling with us.
I will never forget our trip up the Bosporus in a boat looking at one side Asia and other side Europe, the perched Yali houses, the boats further up heading towards the Black Sea, the grey lead sky that reflected deep into that disturbing river.
In another Turkish city Smyrna now Izmir I found this picture:
My next album is coming out next year which is exciting and I have done a huge amount of writing lately not always good but I have had a productive year.
I will have more news in December I am hoping I may even see David Baron soon to finish off my next album …xxx
It’s been a while since I updated on my news. It does take rather a long time sourcing interesting images and having the time cause this does take time. Probably too much time but these are all sourced and scanned by myself. I hope many of these images are unique. And that’s London Life for you, tiring. But I’m not tired of life yet Samuel Johnson. I’m thrilled to have discovered another gem from the past.
I wanted to say how grateful I was to everyone who came to the release of If? It was a magical night I shall never forget. I have CDs for sale now for £5. I will try and put a link on my website. If anyone has bought digitally I will send hardcopy for free.
Even my boss came and proceeded to tell me the next day the Parable of the Talents from the Bible which I took on board!
I have uploaded a couple of films of the night on Youtube. A special thanks to Richard Moore (on violin), Mark Vernon (on Baritone) with whom I recorded the album, James Ussher for his video and beautiful photos, Brian Kavanagh for his stunning photographs and Sam Lowsley-Williams for his photographs and films too. They all turned up with cameras and videos which I hadn’t really thought about. I am grateful because I don’t often perform live and it was a one off performance just of the album If? In its entirety. Also to BJ Cole to Louis Vause and Dave Barbarossa – amazing musicians who were so encouraging and of course the fabulous John Crampton who played one of my favourite Leadbelly songs ‘Pick a bale of cotton’… Oh Lordy pick a bale of cotton, O Lordy pick a bale of hay, Oh Lordy pick a bale of cotton, Oh Lord pick a bale of day…”
It’s on a very small scale I’m performing at but all in a grain of sand.
I have struggled lately with some big acts. I walked out on David Byrne and felt terrible.
I also wanted to walk out on Public Service Broadcast and their annoying music put to films about the Welsh Miners (?) but I couldn’t cause I was in Bournemouth although I couldn’t wait to get back to our gorgeous hotel The Norfolk Royale!
My problem is that I don’t like heavy use of backing tracks but according to David Byrne there were none used. Anyway, whether it’s being really played or not wirelessly through bluetooth it left me cold. I realise how good Nick Cave was and The Eels are – it is precisely because of this. They use backing sparingly and there’s feedback and nuance and sounds of amps and things. I personally need this. I don’t want slick when I see live. I hate digital as it is anyway!
Anyway, I don’t want to be one of those moaners because nobody else minds and really who am I to say anything at all. My only reason I do is I feel like it is affecting my experience of live music and will impact what I want to see in the future. I think it’s interesting to talk about the future of music in these very uncertain times.
The dichotomy of this I believe is the future and the future as I see it are these concerts featuring Roy Orbison or David Bowie as a hologram.
The difference however is that you have the live orchestra with a ghost! So the other way round in effect!! And people will LOVE it!
I went to the Ephemera Fair and could not believe what I found some of it above and below. My highlight was a charming man in his 80s Julian Dunn who had came up from Surrey (avoiding that nightmare cycle race that put London at a standstill!) who isn’t on the internet. We chatted at great length about everything (including his love life!) He said I was a rare breed to this game as nobody young is interested. I’m pretty sure though I spotted Lawrence of Belgravia (singer of Felt) looking at some old Melody Makers and the guy from Sonic Youth but I could be wrong. Anyway I thought I should share some with you. I don’t post these on Facebook because these images are so unique. As a typist I rather love this one:
Here’s a beautiful postcard made out of real stamps below….!!
In regards to music I have recorded about about eleven new tracks with David Baron whose career goes from strength to strength from commercial work to composing scores for an extraordinary NY based artist of international acclaim. Some of this work will be going on Hear & Now Recordings (he has already released one extraordinary instrumental album called Cycles). I am also working on some music with Tom Ingleby which includes a song about the year 1932 following my visit to the Picasso exhibition Love Fame and Tragedy at the Tate Modern three times! If you can go I highly recommend it. It closes on 9 September.
Every morning I wake up the optimistic. I never give up. I tend to my terrace and my flowers.
I even finished the Sean Hughes song (the lyrics are his poem The beautiful girl stops dancing) which you can hear here: and also on my news page. His agent loved it so I’m really happy. I’m always looking for the turn after the sign post.
However it’s impossible to create without time and the dog days of August are perfect.
Anyway, I hope something will come of something will come of something will come of something will come of something will come of something will come of something will come of something will come of something….because something at least usually does!
From sunny England until the next one x x x
I’m very excited to be performing after nearly four years the album If? in it’s entirety on Thursday 31 May 2018 doors are at 7.30pm at the Finborough Arms, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED (nearest tubes West Brompton 5 minutes / Earls Court – 7 minutes).
Mark with whom I co-wrote the album and is performing has had a long career in the music business as a manager and managed some of the finest artist I have known including John Cale and the wonderful BJ Cole. Richard an exceptionally talented and versatile violinist and future star in his own right has performed with Nigel Kennedy and does extensive work at Abbey Road along with his own excellent band The Lost Revellers.
This is a one off performance of the album If? The album tells a story and it covers a period of my life which is now over. It’s my most personal album and it’s only 30 minutes long. Amazingly and finally I have some copies of the album for sale! If anyone has bought one and wants one posted for free please let me know.
I asked John Crampton to headline the night. Without a doubt he is perhaps the most underrated guitarist performing in the UK right now as well as a terrific blues proponent. I was looking for Ry Cooder and Davey Graham and I got a little bit of them both in John Crampton.
The night is a night of the blues seeping into indigo it will be a little unusual.
I think it’s going to be busy so get there early. In the meantime I have some postcards of Earls Court when it hosted The Naval, Shipping and Fisheries Exhibition in Earls Court in 1905 with the Hiram Maxim Captive Flying Machine and The Imperial Austrian Exhibition in 1906. It’s amazing to think Earls Court where this gig is being held was host to such marvels xxx
Music is the journey a part of a path I walk down. It’s the more exciting part of my life and I hope to continue to do it in whatever way I can. Last year was a difficult year. It was like dominos but I’m an optimistic and I will always look forward. But I was rather numbed and so I couldn’t do much music.
So I don’t want to talk about the frustrations of rehearsing since October 2017 for the gigs that never happened in February (because Peter Murphy who I was supporting never got his visa) but rather speak of the amazing sights and smells and delights of the West Coast of America where I was travelling to anyway. I told Peter I was not going to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge just yet!
For me San Francisco has to be one of the most extraordinary cities I have ever had the pleasure of getting lost in. My legs actually hurt. I have never had pain from walking so far and for so long and over so many hills!
In addition to aimless walking I met the owner of Lettie.com, Lettie Maguire, who gave me the most amazing tour and background to the city. I also met 86 year old Stan Shaff and his son. Stan’s Audium piece is performed on every Friday and Saturday and consists of one sitting in the dark and listening to 176 speakers playing out of this world music and every day sounds.
I then travelled to Palm Springs early at the weekend. I suffered extreme culture shock or ‘car’ shock because without one you are stranded but thank god for my friends. In fact, I was told it was even dangerous to walk. The Tour de Palm Springs (which consisted of about 40 bicycles that I could see!) had started that week and unfortunately someone had run a pedestrian over. The community is quite old and apparently despite the wide roads are at times not the safest drivers. Here are some old postcards:
Here is an article I found about Palm Springs and how it sprung up out of the desert not too far from Hollywood:
I discovered more about it. People would go there to get healthy and to cure TB. The dry air being so good for the health. Charlie Farrell and his wife Virginia Valli’s star’s of the silent era were no longer working so they decided to spend winters away from Hollywood and established The Raquet Club. Later Lucille Ball settled there (along with other weekenders such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Red Skelton etc) with her Cuban husband Desi Arnaz who won a plot of land in a poker game. To this day every other plot of land belongs to the American Indians who set up among other things casinos. It means that the area is divided up and some plots are left empty. It is fascinating to see this kind of urban development. Also there is one swimming pool to every six people so I was very happy. Apparently it uses up so much water from the Colorado river there are concerns for the future. Palm Springs uses up more water than any other state in America.
I won’t bore you with all my tales suffice to say James ‘Gypsy’ Haake deserves a mention because at 86 years old he is the oldest cabaret artist in the world (was talent spotted by Mel Brooks in his fifties and when he’s in town always visits Oscar’s) and his show of impersonators was brilliant, funny and at times poignant. I mean the guy who was Liza Minnelli was also Judy Garland and the performance was enough to make you cry!
Other strange things and wonderful things. Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideway (which is for sale sadly)…
…and discovering what a Bear Convergence is but truthfully it was the company of friends who live in Palm Desert that made it the most memorable trip of recent years.
When I got home I watched a slew of Douglas Sirk films. It couldn’t have been more appropriate and now I can’t stop dreaming about Rock Hudson.
It was David Baron‘s birthday in February (born on a leap year actually but celebrated on the 28th) so he released a song we found from the archives called ‘Save You‘. You can buy it here.
I leave you with this video for ‘Save You’. It was very emotional for me to create this film because it involved opening up old folders of photographs which was at times very upsetting.
I have travelled the world with Dolly inspired by Zena Dare’s The Lonely Doll. It may sound juvenile and childlike but it gave for me a more interesting angle to thousands of photographs of just landscapes and things. This is in date order and encapsulates over 6 years. These photographs are so precious to me and end up in Pioneertown, a place where Peter Murphy when he’s in town, plays. As you can see she’s been slightly damaged along the way but there’s nothing I can do about that. She’s getting older just like me.
Over and out.
This is just to wish you a Happy Christmas and Best wishes for 2018. I ran out of time this year but what a year it has been. I can’t wait to turn my back on 2017.
I have written a lot of new material with my writing partner the supremely talented David Baron who is based in America in the last few months or so. Even reworking some old songs. I am also in the middle of recording the song for Sean Hughes (based on one of his poems) with Jude Rawlins doing vocals. I’m very happy that I have been able to record so much in such a short space of time and it is true that in the run up to Christmas I burnt every candle at every end.
I hope that my album If? gets a proper launch next year. BBC Introducing Cambridgeshire played ‘Walking’ today which is wonderful news.
I will continue to love the artists that have moved me and this year Nick Cave was one. I went all the way to Rome to see him.
Can’t wait till February when I’m supporting Peter Murphy again!
From Suffolk with love …over and out xxx
My album is finally out. It’s only 30 minutes long. You can find my home made lo-fi films to all the songs on Youtube.
The first single from it is Walking…I was walking through Worlds End one day and saw this dance class taking place outside the Chelsea Theatre. It was a beautiful day and it fitted along with a more up to date version of a day in my life as a secretary!
To buy the album CLICK HERE
I hope to have a proper launch sometime in February 2018 when I will perform with Richard Moore, a brilliant violinist and future star, if there’s any justice in this world, who plays on the album.
We are on the cusp of November, and before that Halloween so here are some interesting things I have found. I went to the Bloomsbury Ephemera Fair this Sunday. Halloween postcards are extremely rare and therefore expensive and largely American but I did find a couple. The one below is German.
At the end of October is Thanksgiving which is one of the biggest holidays in America.
One of my recent highlights was seeing the Moscow State Circus. What a fantastic show. It was truly authentic with Russian dolls and Faberge eggs on sale. The girls could have been stripping in some Las Vegas night club. One of these performers did the most unbelievable umbrella act I have ever seen! It was magnificent as well as kitsch. A far, far cry from Cirque de Soleil. It was so much better!
In regards to the rocky ride I’ve been on since last October, the only other thing I wanted to mention was how my grief for Sean Hughes passing away went beyond what most people would consider normal for someone who was just a fan.
I never knew Sean Hughes but it set off like a trigger, a train of memories and emotions that stretched far back to Glasgow and my university days when I went with my then boyfriend to try and interview him with a huge ghetto blaster so I could record it. He was not keen. But it did get in the student paper the non-interview. I continued to see him perform numerous times over the years taking my friends.
It was strange that it came two weeks after I had seen Phil Kay performing in London a fantastic show centred around his journey to Australia which had me in pieces especially the panting husky dog trying to cope with the climate of an Australian summer. My friend and I accidentally found ourselves accompanying Phil to Kings Cross where he was getting the train.
It was a long time since I had seen him and he started out kind of at the same time as Sean Hughes. I used to live next door to him as a student in Glasgow. He had a show called Phil Kay Feels which was hilarious a bit like Sean’s Show. It was the 90s and everything was all a bit darker, less slick then before comedy became comfortable and sold out arenas. Sometimes I feel like it reflects what’s happened to music.
Anyway, I have decided to turn one of Sean’s poems into a song which nobody will want to listen to except me. It’s called The beautiful girl stops dancing from his book of poems ‘My Struggle to be decent and Poems of Sadness and Light’. He signed the book:
Lots of Love
From Sean Hughes
It was …dedicated to all i walk among …that’s why I felt I could turn his words to a song.
It didn’t matter he got my name wrong.
I am dreading the winter. I am so dreading it that I have booked a ticket to Rome for two nights only to see Nick Cave on the credit card. I can’t wait.
As a footnote, I have to be a bit more resourceful with my ephemera collecting. it genuinely cheers me up no end when I discover not only a photograph like this one not on the internet but also discover something about someone who I have seen in films such as Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) and The Spiral Staircase (1946) but knew so little about. This remarkable actress and singer Rhonda Fleming is 94 and still lives in California. Aside from her film career she does a huge amount of charity work . And she never gave up on marriage marrying six times! She is known as the ‘Queen of Technicolor’. This really reminds me of the colours of this time of year. Hail to this wonderful Queen and philanthropist.
So Happy Halloween….
Happy Guy Fawkes Night…
And the fashion predictions for this season are…
Here’s Ladder from If?