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Friday, 30 December 2011

Embarrassing Bodies.

I'm that age
I went to see the doctor a few weeks ago.
Not something I do normally.
I'm of that breed of man that could sever an arm and sit around thinking should I call for help?
Is it really that serious?
I wouldn't want to bother anyone with something so minor.
You see, I'm macho as fuck me.
Honestly, ask anyone.
If I had a lump in my scrotum it would have to be verging on the size and shape of a third testicle before I'd go to the doctors.
Stupid, I know, but most men will know where I'm coming from.

Anyway my point is that I'm not one of those fabled men that claim they're dying when they have a head cold. (Funnily enough I've never actually met one either, but I've heard plenty of woman talking about them.)
So now that I've cleared that up, and you know what sort of fella I am I'll get back to what I was going to say about visiting the doctors.
So there I was in the doctors and he mentioned that as I was of a certain age, had I considered visiting the well man clinic?
I said that the thought had never really crossed my mind to be honest.
He then went on to promote the whole thing, with prevention and education being so important, and it was really only a chat and the checking of blood pressure…………and the like. (remember that, "and the like")

Five minutes later I found myself in a room with one other guy.
This was a bit of a surprise as I was expecting a room full.
I had this image in my head of a bunch of guys sitting in a circle getting told to cut down on red meat and alcohol.
So where the fuck were they all?
Probably eating steaks and washing them down with large steins of beer I suppose.
So the actual reality was one guy sitting across the room with his back to me, and not much else.
The room wasn't even that fancy. You could best describe it as an upgraded broom closet.
After a couple of seconds he turned and said "Well man".
I thought he was making conversation and I said "yeah", to which he replied. "Well If you would like to drop your trousers and underwear we'll get you examined then"
The first thing that crossed my mind was "we".
Who the fuck was "we". There was only him in the room excluding me, and I didn't reckon I was qualified in examining myself.
Was this the royal 'we'?
Obviously as amateur examinations go I've got a frequent flyer badge, but I wasn't sure if my idea of an examination counted as the real thing.
A quick fondle, even a stroke.
It's not really classed as a medical examination as far as I'm aware.
In fact I think it's more commonly known as a wank.
Funnily enough though, for some strange reason I didn't even question the guy. I just went onto automatic pilot.
Lets be honest here, if a doctor or nurse asked you to do something you just do it.
It's conditioned into you.
Five seconds after the request I was standing there with my jeans and boxers (Pierre Cardin size medium for those who are interested. That will make it easier to paint a picture in your head) around my ankles with this guy crouched in front of me.
Everyone makes the jokes about trying hard (sic) not to get an erection when being examined by a foxy nurse. It's a stereotype thing that gets laughed about to hide the actual fact that most people are shitting themselves, but here I was, with a guy I've never met before fondling my scrotum. (roughly I may add.)
He never even offered to buy me a drink. There was no danger of anything rising to the occasion under these circumstances.
I just stood there.
I was frozen to the spot feeling his hand on me, and to be honest my penis was shrivelling at the thought of what was next.
It must have looked like the last rolo in the packet.
And then the door opened and a female nurse walked in, took one look at us and said "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TWO DOING"
No. I'm kidding that didn't happen at all, but while he was rolling my testicles in his hand one at a time, the thought that I hadn't checked for ID or even ask who he was did cross my mind.
Next he felt down the length of my penis, pinching it between thumb and forefinger using both his hands.
Meantime I was staring at the furthest uppermost corner of the room and concentrating really hard on nothing at all.
I heard him mutter "Well everything looks and feels fine. You can put everything back on now". I'm still not sure if he meant in a medical sense or he was simply giving a compliment, but I wasn't going to ask him to clarify it.

I think I was in shock after that, because I can't really remember anything else that happened, or even leaving the surgery.
I'm thinking of getting some of that regression hypnotherapy to unlock what happened. I wasn't sore anywhere. So I'm hoping I wasn't abused.
Well abused anymore than what I remember.
The end result was everything was fine it would seem, but in hindsight I can't help feeling that all I did was go in a room and get my tackle prodded and stared at by a stranger.
He didn't even tell me to cut down on red meat and alcohol.
I've never been so embarrassed in my whole life.

I've got another appointment for next week though. Maybe he'll stick his finger up my bum this time.

Manly bands for manly men. Part one.

Some French guy playing an immortal Scotsman once said "there can be only one".
I reckon that if he was talking about rock bands it would have to have been AC/DC he was referring to.
(Bon Scott era obviously)
If anyone wants to hear what testosterone sounds like, then just slip on any AC/DC track with Bon howling over it, and that's the sound nailed.
If you gave cavemen guitars then this is what you would get.
A noise that harkens back to a period when men who were in touch with their feminine sides were called poofs*.
It's the aural equivalent of clubbing a prospective partner over the head and dragging her home to look at your cave paintings while you take her from behind.
It's sex with no empathy for a partners needs.
It's all about pleasing yourself and then hitting the road to hunt down another conquest.
Yeah it's most definitely an outdated attitude, and it's certainly selfish, but who cares. (Joke)
It's a damn sight more honest an attitude than hiding behind the empathy mask.
(yes, your needs are important to me darling)

If we are really honest you could deconstruct a metro sexual male, peel back his sensitive nature, drag his inner being to the surface, and what you will find is a beer monster that wants to corrupt every woman to the accompaniment of "If you want blood, you got it".
Guys might lie about it, but that's just denial.
A bastard is lurking deep within us all.
There are two types of men I suppose. The ones that know who they are and hide the fact, and the ones that are so pussy whipped that they think their dicks are for pissing out of and nothing else.
So this is where AC/DC come in.
The perfect band for all men.
You can put the needle on the vinyl and let the mask slip and get comfy, or you can get your pussy whipped buddy around and use it to regress him to a more natural state of existence.
If you've a mate that has been taken over by a cult, then just kidnap the sad sack and lock him in a room with AC/DC blasting at his ass 24/7.
No need for someone to sit there and slowly remind him that his family love him and everyone misses him day in day out.
Just let AC/DC rip, and after a couple of days he'll step out of the room, ask for a beer and grope the first women walking past.
Even if it's your mother.
Problem solved.
That's what AC/DC are all about.
It's all unapologetic balls to the wall stuff. A mans band. The living it large and to hell with the consequences attitude to the fore.
Masters of their own destiny and their destiny is to party hard. Fuck yeah.
Bloody attractive aint it? That's because they appeal to something deep in men.
They are the kings of cock rock.
I will not be ashamed. I will stand tall and proud and shout "AC/DC, HELL YEAH".
And they play bagpipes to.
*No disrespect to the gay community here. You can listen to AC/DC as well

Aquaman V the wrinkly prunes

I've been trawling through some stuff of old and I'm posting them here (again) before the vanish into the ether.
More might come in the next few days if anyone is interested.

I went swimming this morning. To be accurate I went and splashed about in some water, but it was in a swimming pool.
It wasn't a health kick, or anything like that.
The reason is that I took my kids yesterday, and while they were in I sat in the spectators enclosure watching them.
Turned out that I was the only guy amongst loads of mothers who were there to watch their kids having swimming lessons.
After a while I felt very uncomfortable.
Probably just paranoia, but I doubt many men would have felt at ease.
I waved at my kids more than normal, even got them to come to the barrier to speak to me occasionally as well.
There was no real reason for this except I was wanting to reinforce the fact that I was also a parent, and not some pervert hanging around to watch all their children swimming about.
This was the catalyst for me to consider brushing up on my rather poor swimming skills, and the next time I could be splashing around with my kids instead of skulking poolside.
That was the idea anyway.
So with this intent I trundled of this morning, shorts and towel in hand.
I reckoned that I could get there and be in the pool for 9am and no one else would be about.
I'm not big on public swimming to be honest.
I don't like people staring as I'm fairly heavily tattooed.
I usually wear long sleeved tops to hide them and consider that I got them all for myself, and I'm not some freak show for public consumption.
The other thing is that when I said I was a poor swimmer I was really downplaying it a bit.
It's actually a scientific fact that I have the buoyancy of a brick.
Even when I do manage to float and get some forward momentum, I am then the cause of tsunami size waves that may be rather disconcerting to others.
So between the tats and my thrashing around like an aquatic epileptic I don't normally entertain anyone requesting that I go swimming.
That was all going to change this morning though.
I was going to start going a couple of times a week and once I was fairly competent and comfortable I would join my kids in the pool.
Funny how you have it all planned out in your head, and then the reality doesn't come close.
First, the pool wasn't that empty.
There was about twenty old women there.
No men, just women.
Secondly, the majority were all gliding back and forth with minimum effort.
You now the sort.
Fuckin' show offs that wiggle their toes and one finger and that's all the need to propel themselves through the water at about bloody ten knots.
Bastards.
I had thought that I would start off by looking for the shortest route and swim from one side to the other and see how many I could do.
No chance of that though.
The few women that weren't shooting through the water were floating in little huddles talking to each other.
They were dotted about everywhere and left no straight routes to swim…..and I can't turn.
WTF.
After a little while of standing at the side, and trying to push the air out from my shorts that had ballooned around my waist, I noticed the lifeguard looking at me.
It sort of flashed across my mind that he would be wondering why I wasn't swimming and had my hands under the water playing around with my shorts.
He probably thought I was Wayne Rooney looking to score with one of the OAPs.
So I decided I better take the plunge and start swimming, or as others call it, drowning in style.
I thrashed my way across to the other side and I was fucked.
Simple as that.
The amount of effort it took was phenomenal. It's not that I'm that unfit, but I just need to exert an outrageous amount of energy just to manage a few feet afloat.
There must be a trick to it, but I don't know it.
So by the time I was across I was exhausted, and I'm not sure how much water I had swallowed either.
I did this about five times and that was it.
I threw in the towel.
I'm not sure what I was going to die with first.
Embarrassment, or drowning.
Guess what time it was?
Just leaving twenty past nine.
I scurried away with my tail between my legs.
The whole morning was a disaster.
Well, that is if you describe thirty minutes all in as the whole morning.
I've decided that the role of spectator is far more my style and I may invest in a t-shirt that says I am not a paedophile for future visits to the pool.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Banana Sessions playing Kilmarnock.

I recently had a conversation where I took the stance that quite a few people don't make much effort in life.
It was a general observation on something that I see daily.
People find themselves faced with an issue and the first thing they do is turn to someone else and expect them to solve the problem for them.
In doing this they are stagnating and losing the problem solving skills that we all need to have to get us from one day to the next.
When I was asked to elaborate I used myself as an example.
I'm not a journalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do write.
I'm not a graphic artist but I mess about with images.
I'm not a promoter, but I put on gigs.
No one shows me how to do these things.
I just decide that this is what I want to do and then suss out how to do it.
Of course it's all pretty much amateur crap, but who cares.
Here's the sort of thing that I'm talking about.

Today a mate asked me if I could make him a small poster for a gig he is putting on and I said yes.
Then from that I thought I would try my hand at some simple animation.
I mean, why not?
It took me about half an hour.
The reason that I'm upping this as a blog entry is twofold.
One is that I want to help spread the word about the gig, and the other is that I hope someone somewhere decides I can do better than that........and does.
So go for it.
Create something.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Reflections.

The period between Christmas day and new years day appears to neatly take on the mantle of the watershed.
An elongated stretch of time where one year, while not having literally ended, has done in the minds of most of us.
It's a time for reflection, and an opportunity for the twelve months that have virtually past to be considered in hindsight.
For some they will wave goodbye to 2011 with a smile and tuck it away into the nostalgia bank for future reference as one of the good years.
For others 2012 will shine like the light at the end of the tunnel and they will leave 2011 in the rear view mirror with nary a backward glance.
For myself 2011 feels like it has had more than its twelve months squeezed into it.
Every single week seems to have been packed to bursting with one thing or another.
Most of my gadding about has provided me with many undoubtedly positive experiences that have enriched my life.
I have met so many people who previously didn't exist in my little world that it sort of boggles my mind to an extent.
Now each of them are firmly ensconced in my monkey sphere, and all are welcome.
Friendship enriches our lives far more than monetary gain ever could, and you can take that to the bank.
Well you can't actually take it to the bank, but you know what I mean, and even if you could I suspect that you wouldn't get as much back from them as your initial investment was worth.
That's also something that sort of sums up 2011, but I digress and therefore let's back to the point at hand, which is my year.
I couldn't close it without me saying thank you to my kids, my partner Kelly and her daughter Sophie for the love and support they give me.
There is a unique warmth to being cared for, and in caring for others.
I am a lucky man in this respect.
Unfortunately the flip side of the many positives is that when I consider how busy I have been I also have to accept that much of what I have done has been to little, or no, benefit to anyone.
Wasted moments are something that we can see very clearly in hindsight, but with a little more contemplation I could have avoided most of them by simply saying no more often than I have previously been apt to.
So in the forthcoming year I am going to do something about that, and hopefully in doing so become more constructive with my time.
That's a vague resolution there I suppose.
What I really would hope for is that in 2012 the things that I do that bring me most pleasure will also open some doors to a change in my life.
Maybe provide me with a different path to walk down.
Fingers crossed, but if nothing much transpires then I'll live with it and keep plodding along doing what I do.
Lastly I suppose I should add that I am well aware that over the course of the year I have ruffled a few feathers.
I'd like to take this opportunity not to apologize and to advise those with the ruffled feathers not to hold their breath while waiting on a sorry.
For me to extend an apology would really be saying that I am sorry for exercising my right to have an opinion and that's not going to happen.
Here's to 2012.
I hope that it provides everyone with what they deserve.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Matt Scott

Matt Scott is playing King Tuts on the 11th Jan. £6 a ticket.
Message Matt at https://www.facebook.com/mattjamesscott for tickets.

2011

As the year creeps ever closer to relinquishing it's hold on us all I suppose this is the best time to reflect on it.
So in a small way I'd like to say thank you for the music and good times that the Ayrshire music scene has provided by compiling a little roll call of honour.
Prior to beginning though I would like to take the opportunity to point out that by praising one artist and excluding another doesn't mean that one is good and the other bad, but just that in my own personal opinion one may simply tick all the boxes a little harder than the other.
You got that?
Okay. Here goes.

Male artist - Ross Gilchrist.
I don't think many people would be surprised at my opting to give Ross the highest praise as I've been shouting his name from the rooftops since first seeing him play.
Forget trying to put what he does into a nice little box as a singular genre tag falls short of being able to hold him.
When people talk about genius I think of Ross.
In a year that has provided a multitude of great performances, fantastic releases and more surprises from local talent than I could have imagined possible it is Ross Gilchrist who is in my humble opinion standing on the shoulders of giants.

Female artist - Melissa Kelly.
While the mainstream falls over itself to shovel praise on auto tuned divas, or award technically gifted, but soulless sounding, women with plaudits it's a fact that the real talent is to be found in the performances that Melissa Kelly is known for.
It's earthy, it's raw, and when she opens her mouth to sing she conveys the real emotion that is required to make the hair stand up on the necks of an audience.
Modern rhythm and blues? Rock and roll? Call it what you want but this young lady is what people will call 'the real deal'.

Group – Rose Parade/Brown Bear and the Bandits/Fole.
It's not possible to praise one of these bands higher than the other.
If this was a race then then it's a photo finish that shows that none of them are edging ahead of the pack. All are equal winners to my ears.
There's a broad range of styles to get your teeth into and for those with eclectic tastes then they will find plenty to get excited about regardless of what one you choose to listen to first.

Under eighteen male artist - Sam Christison.
At fifteen years of age young Sam has just released his debut ep called '3 songs about you + 1 about me', and in doing so he has probably sent shivers down the spines of his more mature peers.
There are musicians in there twenties who have been playing for years who still haven't travelled as far down the road as Sam has.
I fully expect to hear a great deal more from him in the forthcoming years.

Under eighteen female artist - Anna Sweeney.
Tentatively stepping into the spotlight with performances that are grabbing attention Anna is quickly garnering a reputation as a precocious talent who is blooming into something rather special.
Early 2012 should see something being released that I'm sure will provide ample proof that she will deliver on all the current promise shown.

Best venues that supports local talent.
Jollys Sports Bar (Kilmarnock)/ Su Casa (Ayr)
Every month both of these Ayrshire establishments have been providing a platform for local talent to grow.
I've lost count of the artists that I have been introduced to while frequenting them.
It was in Jollys that I first seen Ross Gilchrist and Matt Scott. Su Casa were I met Jamie (Little Fire) McGeechan and seen Brown Bear for the first time.
I could go on and on.
Both deserve our support, as does any venue that ethically promotes local talent, so if I was to ask for one thing from local readers it would be that they support the evenings that they have as the time worn phrase 'use it, or lose it' comes to mind.

Album(s).
Ross Gilchrist – Feersum Enjinn/Roscoe Vacant and the Gantin' Screichs – Reckurdt
Both of these albums highlight just how strong the music scene in Ayrshire is.
Each of them in their own way are breathtakingly fearless and unapologetically pioneering in spirit.
While some bands and artists will tread a well worn path, Ross Gilchrist and Ross Morris choose instead to step away from being directly influenced and instead tear up the rule book and paste it back together to create something that while recognizable in places is still refreshingly original.
I doff my cap to both.

Record label.
There's no hesitation from me in naming Newtown Products as the label of the year.
This one man cottage industry embodies all that is good about the independent DIY scene.
The passion, the belief and the cojones to take the risk financially to bring original talent to the public is something that shouldn't be downplayed so I'm naming Andrew Meikle as my music scene hero of the year.

Honourable mentions for 2011 go to Jamie McGeechan for fighting the good fight to promote Ayrshire's many artists through booking them to play Su Casa, writing about them in the local press, name checking everyone as often as he can and doing all that while working tirelessly to further his own career as the the artist known as Little Fire.
He's the hardest working man in showbiz and if success was measured in respect then he is probably the most successful artist in Ayrshire.
I'm sure that my acknowledgement of his efforts and talent will be construed by some as sycophantic praise of someone who I now consider a friend, but I will not bite my tongue on the matter as everything said is true.
I sincerely hope that 2012 is the year where all his dreams become a reality.
Next is Matt Scott who I have had the pleasure of seeing live numerous times now.
From a friend initially introducing me to his live set - thanks Munro - earlier in the year, to the recent release of his debut ep I've been privileged to see him grow as a singer, songwriter and performer.
January the 11th of 2012 will see him start the year with his second performance at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut.
Get in there early for a ticket so that in years to come you can say you were there.
Last, but by no means least, is Masters of the Sea who probably played the most drunkenly shambolic acoustic gig I've witnessed this year - and that's saying something as I've seen the Girobabies - and still managed to sound better than most bands who turn up sober and intently try and entertain.
As is usual I am sure I've missed people out.
Oh well. It's a shame, but if you weren't mentioned feel free to pretend that it was an oversight rather than deliberate.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A coalition Christmas.

A rough and unedited draft, but I might not even come back to it. It is what it is.

From where I'm sitting I can see Billy touch the long radiator that runs the length of the wall.
At first he hovers his hands open palmed over it before he tentatively lets them settle against the surface.
If he's looking to feel some residual warmth emanating from the metal then he will be sorely disappointed.
There is none.
There rarely is.
Some of us who had previously kept up to date with government initiatives could have told him that under the new energy saving scheme introduced by the coalition the heating is turned off between the hours of nine am and five pm in all work experience facilities.
It's only on for an hour before we all commence with whatever they have arranged for us to do, and that hour falls far short of being long enough to fill the room with anything resembling warmth.
The political angle on this is that anyone putting in a solid days work wouldn't require to be housed in a continuously heated building as the effort of their labour would keep them warm.
Obviously none of those who supported the move had been north of Carlyle in December.
There's no point in mentioning any of this to Billy though.
All new arrivals need to find their own feet.
It's an unspoken rule.

He follows on his failed attempt at finding some heat from the radiator with a swift hand rubbing to conjure up some kinetic heat.
From experience I know that this offers little more than a moments respite from the cold.
Lastly he cups them to his face enveloping his nose and mouth and blows into them.
He looks like a fool.

During breakfast he had been quick to inform everyone who would listen that his six months referral to the facility was just what he needed to show future employers that he was just the type of man they should offer a contract to.
The silence that his comment drew from the men sitting at his table spoke volumes.
It hung in the air like an accusation of rank stupidity for what seemed to be an eternity.
The spell was only broken by a soft, but emphatically, uttered 'fud' that hung heavy in the air and was accompanied with some head shaking disbelief.
The mild force of it was enough to act as the catalyst for everyone to go back to eating their meagre portion of porridge.
A weak and watery facsimile of porridge that was the only option available.

Since then I had been watching him on and off all morning and calculating in my head how long it would take before the penny dropped and he realized the reality of his situation.
More than once I found myself thinking that he must the the only person alive who is unable to see the work experience facilities for what they are.
A modern day workhouse introduced by the government to provide free labour to their business partners from the pool of the unemployed under the pretence of providing training.
People seen it coming, but no one really did anything about it.
It was only something that would target the soap dodging scum.
Little did they know that as the economy contracted that they were just a year or so away from being the very same soap dodging scum they had previously looked down their noses at.
Six months claiming benefit uninterrupted automatically leading to six months in a work experience facility sounded fair when they were working.
Less so when they weren't.
Whose sorry now?
The only way to avoid the enforced period of labour was to opt out from the benefit system.
So no real option at all.

There were some riots in the sink estates when they started rounding up the long term unemployed, but with the introduction of the water cannons and rubber bullets they were quickly quelled.

With all this having happened Billy's lack of awareness of where he is seems to be rooted in real delusion.
He glances around and catches me looking at him and smiles.
I can sense that he is looking for a connection, a hint of camaraderie, but I don't have anything to give.

The clock above his head hangs like the sword of Damocles
The second hand sweeps downward and I glance across the room to where the charge hand stands and watches.
He's seen Billy to.
He's hard to miss him as apart from the guards he is the only man standing in the room.
Oblivious to the scrutiny of the charge hand Billy remains where he is and rubs his hands together again to generate some heat a second time.
He's smiling.
Part of me wants to stand up and say something, but gravity pushes down hard on me and my cheeks fill with shame as I know what the outcome is going to be.
There are only two reasons that you are allowed to leave your work station.
One is to go for a timed toilet break and the second to report yourself as ill.
Billy has done neither, and instead simply went for a wander.
In his mind I'm sure he is casually familiarizing himself with the workplace as no one else has volunteered to give him a tour.
It wont matter in a few minutes anyway.
I can hear some talk from a distance, the crackle of a message from a radio.
It's the cue for dark shapes to fill the periphery of my vision.
My focus is on Billy.
I'm locked into him.
Every single detail of him standing there is my world, my universe.
Dark shapes that quickly take the form of heavily armoured guards close in.
He turns to one and opens his mouth to say something.
Whatever it was is lost as the first blow from the lengthy baton connects with his face.
It's not like the films.
He doesn't roll with it.
He doesn't shrug it off and heroically retaliate.
He does nothing.
Instead his face bursts, his teeth shatter and his blood blossoms.
Before he can manage to make a sound another blow from another guard robs him of articulating the pain.
The only noise is the grunts of the guards and the sound of the abattoir.
The sound of the butchers block.
It's the sound of meat being struck.
A wet sound. A dull and lifeless sound.

The beating lasts seconds, maybe a minute at most, but it feels like it has lasted much longer.
No one has moved.
No one looks up.
Billy's unconscious body is dragged silently from the room and it is as if nothing has happened.
The tick of the clock sounds thunderous and is only equaled by the roaring of blood in my ears.
I can feel pressure on my thigh and look down to see a hand squeezing it.
I lose myself in the touch and close my eyes.
Concentrate on the heat and focus on the force of the pressure on my leg.
The hand remains there, pressing down, keeping me in my seat.
I breathe in and out, in and out, in and out.
When I open my eyes I keep looking ahead of me at the point below the clock where Billy had stood.
The hand lets go of my thigh.
The moment has past.
It's in the past and I'm in the present.

The hand quickly dips in and out of my pocket.
I reach in and find something hard and round and take it out.
It's a toffee.
I quickly pop it into my mouth and the taste fills my head.
Beside me I hear a voice whisper 'Merry Christmas'.
Before me the world loses its sharp focus as tears drop like bombs onto the work surface.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Chuggers

Dusted this off for x-mas for Jo Fraser.

Tis the season and all that.
The shops are full of people while retailers claim that it's the biggest downturn in business they have seen since last year.
So nothing much has really changed I guess.
Meanwhile everywhere you go the last minute shoppers are out in force buying anything that they can claim they took months to hunt down as they just knew it was the perfect gift for their nearest and dearest.
These desperados are only outnumbered by the Chuggers, or charity muggers to give them their full name.
The Chuggers are everywhere.
It can feel like you can't manage a straight ten yards in any high street without being accosted by one. Two or even three.
If there's a collective term for chuggers I reckon it would be 'cunts'.
Anyway, an aerial view of the high street would show shoppers navigating around them like shoals of fish.
You know that darting thing that you see them do on "The Blue Planet".
It's like that.
One minute everyone is striding along in the one direction.
Then the girl with the dreadlocks and a yellow bib turns her attention to the oncoming mass of shoppers and everyone, (bar the blind fella whose dog hasn't clocked the bibbed babe ahead) does the rapid right angle thing across to the other side of the street.
Just like those damn fish that I mentioned.
This attempt at evading them isn't really necessary though.
The truth is that the charities pick all these cool looking students to do the donkey work for them, and although they appear altruistic they're not.
The girl with the dreadlocks doesn't really give a toss about the planet, dogs, cats or abused children.
The guy with the smirk, goatee and lip ring is ambivalent about the homeless, cancer research and the learning disabled.
They all want one thing, and that's to hit on people of the opposite sex.
I'll accept that the female of the Chugger species is more subtle about it, but Jesus, she does love to bask in the attention of the males that she attracts into her honey trap.
It's all about preening and getting a reaction for her.
The outcome is less important. The attention is everything.
The guys on the other hand are just in it for the ladies phone numbers that they can procure.
These guys will hit on anything within a certain demographic.
Over fifteen, under thirty, female and fit seems to be the remit.
Nothing will deter them from their aim.
They will clamber over the girl in the wheelchair, shoulder charge the big issue seller into the gutter and kick the blind buskers hat full of change out of the way to get to the toned girl in the miniskirt and bare midriff (In December).
The ring in her bellybutton acts like a beacon that he has to home in on like a tractor beam from an episode of Star Trek.
Once in close proximity he will slip on a cheeky grin and attempt to get a date out of her with the opening line of "do you have a bank account?"
Not that the info given will matter, as for that split second he has forgotten what the charity is he's working for that week.
If pushed right at this point to say what one it is he may gasp 'Eh, it's for homeless dogs with cancer in a third world country'.
This is because the charity is secondary to getting that number.
It's all about the numbers babeeeee.
So do me a favour. Have a look in the mirror and be brutally honest with yourself.
Do you seriously think that you fit their criteria.
It's only at this time of year that they ease out of their comfort zone and consider asking us oldies and even then it's in a half arsed way.
I'm forty, stocky and look like a homeless bum most days of the week. I'm mainly invisible to the Chuggers, even at Christmas, yet for some reason I also do the body swerve across the street when I see them, but I'm going to try and stop.
From now on I want to just keep marching towards them.
If you are all with me, the too short, too tall, too old, too bald, too fat, basically everyone who is outside their narrow idea of what is attractive then we can really put the shits up them.
Imagine us all storming towards them, bearing down on them with our shopping bags and a determined look on our faces.
Let them cross the road for a change.
We have nothing to lose but our bank details........and a fiver a month to save the panda.
So whose with me?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Break the mould.

In amongst the deluge of crap that we all wade through on what seems to be a daily basis we can often lose sight of the more positive things that are going on around us.
One of those positives is that some people are wrestling control of their artistic endeavours from the parasitic scum who have been deluding people for years that they are the oil that is required to lubricate the machine that will provide said artists with success.
That's of course just spin, as any lubricating they are doing is around the artists ring piece so that the machine can then whore them out for an ass fucking.
More honourable men would just cut the bullshit out and call themselves pimps and be done with it.
Anyway one of the people who has apparently decided to put a closed for business sign up on their rear entrance is the American comedian Louis CK.
Instead of going through the normal channels of recording a show and then looking for a network to air it, and a distributor to get it out their on DVD, he has instead thrown his own money at getting it filmed and then put it up on his website to download for the bargain price of $5 (£3.22).
So far he's made over half a million dollars and I personally don't begrudge him one cent of that.
If he had stuck to the template and followed on from what has come before he would have gotten a fraction of that with what he lost out on going into the pockets of the three drink lunch bullshit brigade.
He wrote the material.
He delivered it to an audience.
He will have paid the camera men and women, the editors of the show and everyone else involved in creating it.
So in my eyes he made the an ethical investment and any cash he garners from it is deserved.
The only people losing out on this are those who had unnecessarily created an imaginary position to occupy in the process.
Forgive me if a don't shed any tears for them.
Go and find a real job fuckers.
Here's a link to Louis Cks website.
https://buy.louisck.net/
Someone else who I hope is looking for a new job is a Glasgow promoter who it would appear has been shown to be the greedy charlatan that they are.
I'll refrain from naming names as they might rear their ugly head in the new year to peddle their unethically immoral schtick under a different name, but at the moment the latest reports are that some of the venues that they have used have pulled the plug on them.
I sincerely hope that this is a sign of the tide turning.
A positive move would be that they are quickly replaced with individuals who will respect the work that the artists put in to entertain others and reward them for it.
The last, but by no means least, bit of good news I've had this week is that Johnny Navarro of Devilish Presley is branching out with a side project called Blacklistable.
Unlike Devilish Presley, Blacklistable will be a vehicle that will allow Johnny to vent his spleen on more political matters, but don't expect a Billy Bragg clone as I can assure you that this will not be what you will be getting.
Knowing Johnny's talent for spouting a vitriolic couplet or two I'm guessing that what we can look forward to is going to be more like a pissed of Woody Guthrie channelled through Bill Hicks.
Whatever it will be.....I can't wait.
www.facebook.com/Blacklistable
Oh yeah. Here's a joke.
What do you call someone who is paid to procures young men and women to entertain others?
A booker.
Boom boom.

UPDATE.
Though the comedian Louis C. K. may not seem like the kind of guy who derives much joy from the holiday season – let alone anything else – Santa Claus has brought him an early Christmas gift. In an interview on Wednesday’s broadcast of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” Louis C. K. said he had grossed more than $1 million from his online comedy special, “Louis C. K.: Live at the Beacon Theater,” after 10 days on sale, and would be donating part of that money to charity.

Having told Mr. Fallon that he’d never had $1 million all at once in his life, and then dismissing his electronically earned largess as “a $5 impulse that 220,000 people had,” Louis C. K. explained that he would use $250,000 to pay for the special (as he has said previously), spend another $250,000 in bonuses to people who work for him and give $280,000 to five charity organizations: Fistula Foundation, which works with women injured in childbirth; Green Chimneys which gives outdoor and animal therapies to children; charity: water, which provides clean drinking water; the Pablove Foundation, which sponsors pediatric cancer research; and Kiva, which provides small loans to people around the world. The remaining $220,000, Louis C. K. said, would go to himself, providing a colorful pantomime suggestion of the physical improvement he planned to purchase with the money.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

I've (not) got a ticket to ride.

I've been following the 'Big Man' story with some interest.
I'm not the only one here in Scotland to do so, and as the news has went global I presume that people from warmer climes like Iceland, Norway and Finland are also checking out our vigilante hero on youtube to.
Initially, and similar to the vast majority, I thought 'go'an yersel' big man. The wee toe rag deserves it', but then I stopped my knee jerking and thought about it a bit.
Yes of course the young man was in the wrong, and of course his reaction to the demand of the train fare was out of order.
I don't think anyone would dispute that, and there's nothing in what he did that I wish to defend, but was the reaction to his behaviour a bit over the top?
Could the situation have been dealt with differently?
I think it could have been.
I've read that all the ticket inspectors have had training in conflict resolution.
I didn't see any of it in practice so I'll presume that the ticket inspector missed that course.
His attitude was pretty poor and in no way helped to solve what was a minor problem.
In fact all he did was increase the tension and focus a great deal of negative ire on the young lad.
None of which is going to lead to a positive outcome for anyone.
It's easy to say that if he had just paid up then there would have been no need for what happened to be the outcome.
That's true.
It's also just as easy to say that the inspector could have called ahead and had the transport police waiting, and in doing this he would have avoided the delay, the assault, and the ensuing issues that may, or may not, lead to the 'big man' being charged with the assault.
That's also equally as true.
Out of the two options what one seems to be the best though?
I'm not going to tear into the inspector though.
It was a poor judgement call and I wouldn't want to do his job.
As someone who has used public transport a great deal through out my life I can assure you that there is nothing pleasant about getting the last train or bus home.
Seats are filled with those who are the worse for wear after their long night of hitting the bars and clubs, and very often the alcohol consumed is a catalyst for the worst of attitudes to be revealed.
I couldn't tell you how many times a ticket collector has walked down the aisle shouting 'tickets please' to everyone except the group of drunken middle aged men who are growling at anyone who casually glances in their direction.
This is equally the case for the lone brutish half wit who is singing the Sash to himself to.
These types seem to have a magical travel card that entitles them to a free journey, and in all honesty I'm not going to gripe about it as similarly I would think twice about approaching them.
I genuinely don't blame the guys on the coal face for choosing discretion over valour in those circumstances.
The thing is though..........if they can get off with it then why can't one lad on his own?
Was he the straw that broke the camels back, or just an easier target than those that I've mentioned?
I don't know the answer, but I do know that this is a fuck up and the events that unfurled aren't something to be celebrated.
I've been told that the difference between a return and a single fare is 10p.
If that's accurate then can anyone really say that they are honestly okay with how this was dealt with?
Even if someone had stepped forward and offered to pay for a full single journey for the lad it would still have come in as a less expensive outcome than the possible fine that the 'big guy' may get.
It would also be far cheaper than the court costs that you and I may have to collectively pay for.
That more positive intervention could also have provided the young man with an example of how a compassionate attitude is preferable to an aggressive foul mouthed one to.
So now in the cold light of day and without the need to bow to peer pressure can I ask if this is really the Scotland we want to promote to the world?
One that's full of people who are happy to make snap judgements and react on them?
I feel a bit sorry for the 'Big Man', the inspector and the lad who was a bit of an arse.
There's no winners here.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Aspire or die.

Thanks to Stu Who for highlighting this to me.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Debate is good.

Over the last few months I've been accused of not knowing what I'm talking about when I vent my spleen about what I consider to be the poor practices of some promoters and venues.
So as it could be entirely possible that I am a lone curmudgeon in my outlook I thought I would take the opportunity to ask a few questions so that I can ascertain if my stance is in fact a minority one.

The questions themselves are all rather basic and require a simple yes or no response, but please feel free to add comments and expand on your answers as you see fit.

1)Should bands be paid expenses - at the very least - for their performances?
2)Is it fair that venues expect band and artists to provide their labour for free while everyone else that works for them receives a wage?
3)Should promoters be able to block book venues without confirmed acts, and in doing so create a closed shop aspect whereas band and artists cannot secure gigs unless it is through them?
(Please exclude club nights from this.)
4)Should promoters and bookers publicly state ticket split deals?
5)Do you care as a music fan if the band/artist who has entertained you has been paid for their labour?

Face to Face and Rise Against – Split

What can go wrong when two of my favourite punks bands get together and cover each others songs?
Well plenty as I've have seen in the past.
It's not a sure fire way of scoring a winner and there's no guarantees that the end results will bring anything new to the table, but I'm pleased to say that Rise Against's cover of Face to Face's 'Blind' is as good as expected.
It's not a straight take on the original, and in adding a bit of their own style to it they've managed to create a great version of the song that doesn't eclipse the original, but instead compliments it.
The exact same thing could be said about the Face to Face cover of 'The Good Left Undone'.
If this release serves to highlight the talents of both bands to their own fan bases then I'm going to mark it down as a job well done.
Fans of both bands aren't going to be disappointed with this.

Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow

Kate Bush has now reached the point where she is classed as beyond criticism as a performing artist.
Attach her name to a project and it's considered a seal of excellence.
She could sample goats farting and play them as a backdrop to a woman laconically berating a male partner about their lack of understanding of menstrual cramps and the album would be considered as a work of genius as long as she added herself doing an impression of whales communicating in the quiet bits.
Critics would fall over themselves to proclaim it to be the must have album of the year, and sheeple would echo their sentiments after listening to it just the once before then leaving it to gather dust with PJ Harveys award winning effort.
(Another album that I consider to be a piece of self indulgent twaddle.)
Don't even dare to say that you don't get it, as others who don't get it either will be quick to look down their nose at you, and then make some snide comment about your lack of cultured tastes.
Fuck them though.
Fuck them and their disingenuous and snobbish attitudes that they cling to.
It's not a healthy position for an artist to occupy in the mind of the public in my opinion.
It doesn't lend itself to allowing an artists to reconsider their material from a different angle.
It's not conducive to an honest reappraisal.
Keep telling people that they are the greatest thing since the invention of sliced bread and a point will come when they will believe it to be so, and when that point is reached they release albums like '50 Words For Snow'.
Yes, the empire has a leader whose a naturist it would seem.....again.
Here's the blurb from Kate's own website.
'50 Words For Snow' will feature seven brand new tracks set against the background of falling snow.
What does that mean?
I'm thinking of releasing an album called '50 words for a Kate Bush album' in response.
Basically it will just be me doing an impression of someone with tourettes over a backing track of the last Saturdays album being played backwards.
I've persevered with Kate's album for over a week and every single time I hit play I can see the x-factor panel asking Kate who told her that this was any good as she tearfully looks into the wings and whispers 'all my fans and critics said it was great'.
Meanwhile in my minds eye the vast majority of the audience cruelly snigger as she runs from the stage and the camera man captures a close up of her wounded and confused eyes accompanied by a quivering snot covered upper lip.
Up until 'The Red Shoes' Kate never missed a step.
Each album was a pop masterpiece that acted as a gateway for people to explore musical paths that they may not have previously considered.
The word genius was deservedly levelled at her, but now..............well c'mon?
Where's the mojo gone?

Friday, 9 December 2011

Sixx AM - 7

Motley Crue are playing tonight in Glasgow alongside Def Leppard and Steel Panther.
It looks like it's a sell out, but I can't help thinking that while these shows will give the bank balance of Nikki Sixx a healthy boost it's with his own Sixx AM that the real talent lies.
Starting off as a band who were formed to do a soundtrack to accompany his Heroin Diaries the project has jumped forward and taken on a life of its own it seems, and now with two rather excellent albums tucked under their belts they have taken some songs from both and used them for their current seven track mini album imaginably called '7'.
While some may think that's a bit lazy the truth of the matter is that they have stripped the songs down and reconstructed them with some soft orchestration backing the material and the results are very, very impressive.
The material is light years ahead of anything he has done with Motley Crue.
Far more mature and classic rock sounding for one thing, and while Crue have apparently managed to carve some sort of survivors niche for themselves there's a good chance that in twenty or thirty years time it will be this material that he is remembered for.
The main attraction to this is the blatant lyrical honesty that creeps into everything.
While it sounds lush and the arrangements are beautiful there's a sense of the desperate throughout in the words.
This is a man who is laying the past out and shining a light on it and seeking answers about how he can push into the future.
He's fucked up more than once and knows it, but his salvation is the light at the end of the tunnel.
A tunnel that he is slowly but surely working his way through, and as long as he keeps chronicling his journey as eloquently as this then there will be no shortage of voyeuristic fans who will be more than happy to follow him on it.
Motley Crue is the past. This is the future.

Ginger Wildheart - Kiss Alive II

As usual Ginger has provided us with a nice little memento from his acoustic tour from earlier this year by releasing Kiss Alive II that documents the gigs.
There's mention of Birmingham, but I'm not sure if it's the full set from there, or instead that the songs have been recorded on different dates and then put together as if it's the one night.
It doesn't really matter though as it flows from start to finish.
It's exactly what I expect anyone who was at the shows would want, and it also provides those who didn't catch a gig on the tour with plenty of evidence that they missed out big time.
Jase Edwards (Wolfsbane) and Jon Poole are the perfect foils for Ginger on stage and the warmth of their performance can be felt in the recordings.
It has always been said about how difficult it is to capture a live performance and convey the feeling of it as if you were there, but in this case they've done it
Close your eyes and you're at the show.
When someone say that you really had to be there you can now say that you didn't because you bought the CD.
Apart from the songs that fans of Ginger and the Wildhearts know and love there's a great set of covers that include the Taxi theme, with a little segue into White Riot, to a cracking rendition of Surrender by Cheap Trick.
The Icicle Works song 'Understanding Jane' gets rolled out, but some could be forgiven for thinking that it's something to do with the Wildhearts as it appeared on Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before Vol 1.
Well they could be forgiven for thinking this if they didn't click onto that album being made up of covers, and yes I have met a couple of people who thought that.
As usual the banter between Ginger and the crowd is a highlight, as is the surreal segments when Jon Poole takes charge.
Anyway by the time that the closing track 'I wanna go where the people go' kicks in it's very clear that this is yet another album from Ginger that could be classed as a must have.
As we in Scotland would say 'It's a belter'.
The image is from the back of the CD and the title has been added)

Ginger and Friends - G2 (Glasgow) 8/12/11

Well my week of rock and roll debauchery is turning out to be a bit crap.
My intention was to do the Steve Conte gig, recover, Ginger Wildheart and Friends, recover and then finish the week off with the Urban Voodoo Machine just as my liver and eardrums were about to wave a white flag.
The reality has been that the Steve Conte gig was everything I thought it would be.
Ginger was a complete anticlimax and now due to changes in a work rota I'll be missing Urban Voodoo machine.
I'm not a happy bunny.
Back to Ginger though.
First the supports were nothing to write home about.
I'd listened to them prior to going to the gig and for the first time ever decided that I would try and arrive on time to miss them both.
It's not something I would normally do, and I've complained loudly enough about the sort of music fan who doesn't lend an ear to supports in the past, but in my defence after listening to them I really couldn't think of anything worse that cultivating back ache while standing watching bands that I have no affinity to.
Yet that's what ultimately happened.
There appeared to be some people into what both bands did, but not a great deal.
It seems to be a common problem with a Ginger Wildheart crowd.
They're there to see Ginger and that it.
It's not the sort of thing that allows the night to build in excitement.
Jackdaw 4 were virtually ignored on the last acoustic tour and if you give them a listen you would have to ask yourself why as there's not much wrong with Willie Dowlings band.
Anyway once they were finished Ginger and his friends arrived and by fuck was the sound shite down the front.
There's no point in talking about the set as one song bled into another with crunching guitars drowning out the vocals.
You could tell what they were playing and the crowd down the front were appreciative enough, but it seemed a bit dishonest to me.
Why should we give the impression that everything is fine and dandy when sound wise it's not?
We're not Pavlov's dogs.
Oh the band is on so now I must react as I am conditioned to regardless of the quality.
Between the songs Ginger spoke clearly enough, but once the music kicked in it was crap again.
It was maybe telling that there was some comments from Ginger about a curfew and the sound being asked to be lowered so I don't think that the man was too happy himself with how things had went, but who am I to say.
Pish. That's what it was. Complete and utter pish.
This may have been the last gig I attend in 2011 and if so then that's crap.
It really took the edge of a fantastic year and in all honesty a feel a bit cheated and depressed now.
A few friends have since commented that the sound up the back of the venue was crystal clear and they thought it was an excellent show.
Bastards.
Oh I suppose I should add that there was some real fuckin' cocks in the crowd.
There's nothing wrong with a bit of exuberant thrashing about, but if it's designed to force smaller women out of your way so that you can steal their prime spot against the barrier then you sir are simply a cunt of the highest order.
I guess it time now to post this and wait for the hate mail to come in from the Wildhearts fans who misconstrue what has been said as a dig at Ginger and his band.
Oh well. Who said life was fair anyway.
PS. Don't get me started on the Garage as a venue.
PPS. Jon Poole is the reason I hung about until the end. The man's a mentalist, an entertaining mentalist. 'mon The God Damn Whores.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Hurricane Bawbag update

Bit windy today with gusts being measures at over 150mph.
So we in Scotland have decided to dub the extreme weather as Hurricane Bawbag rather than use the official name of Friedhelm that someone somewhere who probably has letters after his or her name called it.
Everyone is currently waiting with baited breath to see it described as bawbag on a televised news item, but no luck so far.
However the term bawbag is now trending on twitter so if anyone from further climes asks what a bawbag is then you can reliably inform them that it's the colloquial term for a gentleman's scrotum,
It's also the name we use to describe a bawbags bawbag and doesn't necessarily have to be attached to a gentleman.
Some people are claiming it isn't as bad as others are describing it, but I just seen Dorothy fly past my window hanging onto Toto's scrotum for dear life. Toto didn't look too bothered, but it's difficult to tell if a dog is smiling or grimacing.
It's like a scene for the Wizard of Bawz.
There's aerial photographs of the storm and if you squint at it then I'm sure you would agree that it looks a bit like David Cameron and that's uncanny as he's a bawbag to.
Latest news is that the River Clyde that runs through Glasgow could burst its banks.
If that happens the government have stated that they will instigate another bail out.
No one has had the heart to tell them it's a different sort of bank and the only bailing out that will be happening will be in the lounges of those who can afford riverside apartments.
The Met Office has now issued a red warning.
Celtic football club has called into question the warning and asked if they are fuckin' blind.
Meanwhile Rangers football club has now accused the Met office of eating all the pies.
Fans of both teams have backed their clubs and stated that they will now boycott any weather reports until an apology has been made.
In other news a political storm is brewing after Nicola Sturgeon was told by Alex Salmond that she should stay indoors as the weather had played havoc with her hair to which Nicola replied 'I've been inside all day ya cheeky bastard.'

Matt Scott - A lot like a tape

When Robert Allen Zimmerman shucks his mortal coil his alter ego will live on.
Not just in the music he has written, but in bars and clubs all over the world as those who were in awe of his poetic turn of phrase will try with varying degrees of success to emulate his prose with their own.
Most will miss the point and reach the giddy heights of nasal karaoke, but some like Matt Scott will be able to take something of the spirit of Dylan and mould it into his own material without Dylan's Guthrie fixation overshadowing the story he is conveying.
He will doff his cap, acknowledge the influence and move on.
This is what we can hear on Well Again.
It's got the whole sixties vibe going on and you added in some crackling you could maybe think that it's a forgotten track from another place and another time, but it's not, it's instead a reflection of the present and that it mirrors the dustbowl of the 50's and the protest movement of the 60's is just a sad comment on how we haven't really progressed much in a sense of equality that we probably should have.
The rich are still rich, the poor are still poor and people like Matt Scott are still chronicling the times as they see fit.
The second of the three tracks on the ep is Jenny We All Know. A live favourite and in the studio the quiet, but shabby, grandeur of the track has been captured and pinned by its butterfly wings to the velvet for us all to marvel at.
It's an evocative tale with a cinematic quality to it that really does paint a picture in words.
For me it's the highlight of the three songs that have been laid down, but that's not to say that the other songs are weak.
Far from it.
The closing track 'Exile II' follows Jenny in its wordy splendour and highlights the fact that currently the mainstream really isn't providing music lover with much to get their teeth into.
This ep is on a pay what you want deal from here.
https://www.facebook.com/mattjamesscott

Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth - Soundhaus (Glasgow) 6/12/12

Prior to Steve Conte rolling into town with his Crazy Truth compadres there was a battle of the bands contest with the winner securing the opening slot of the gig.
I didn't attend, but Rank Berry were the band who impressed on that night and duly took the opportunity to grab a few new fans with their very credible take on some seventies rock with a modern twist.
In fact scratch the credible bit as they were better than just credible.
There's a great deal of Creedence and Faces influences being worn on their sleeves and the young front man has the voice and stage presence to carry it off.
I suppose the last time I seen this done so well was the first time that the Black Crowes hit these shores and supported the Dogs D'Amour in the Barrowlands.
So watch out for Rank Berry as they are one of the few young bands who can differentiate between rock and heavy metal and are capable of putting the groove back into something that has become increasingly stale in my opinion.
There is a downside though, and that's the bands image.
There's a couple of the guys in the band who need to look a bit more rock and roll, and yes, I've heard it all before about image not mattering, but that's bullshit.
Mick and Keef don't just sound cool.
They look it.
Same with Steve and Joe of Aerosmith, Rod and Ron etc etc.
A little rethink on how they look could be just the thing the band needs to push them forward as everything else is in place.
Next was Christie Connor-Vernal who plays the blues with a healthy punk attitude.
I've seen her kicking about at gigs and a few friends have spoken about her highly and all the praise they were dishing out is well deserved.
There's some rough edges that makes it all feel a bit more solid and authentic and I hope Christie avoids trying to polish these bits out as we have enough auto-tuned crap to contend with, and lets be honest here, we really need someone who actually knows who Big Mama Thornton and Johnny Thunders are to save us from it all.
The Mademoiselle who followed Christie completely bored the arse of me.
It's not that they're bad, just not my thing. If punk was the response to prog rock then we may need another wave of it to wash away the navel gazing indie rockers who would probably be more at home missing lectures and watching reruns of the wonders of the universe than creating what to my ears sounds like self indulgent twaddle.
The best bit about them was that they worked as an anticlimactic experience after Christie and set the stage for Homesick Aldo to bring it all back into the realms of rock and roll for us.
It's actually difficult to describe what Homesick Aldo does.
He doesn't have a set list and instead plays his harmonica from the gut.
In this way he is keeping a certain tradition alive and it would be fair to say that what this young man from Fife is doing is far closer to what his heroes did than so many of the modern day blues players do.
Take Eric Clapton for instance.
Please just take him.
His lifeless interpretation of the blues is so far removed from the real deal that he should be charged under some trade description act.
Aldo on the other hand breathes life into it, and similarly to Christie delivers it from a punk template and in doing so gives it the human touch.
It's not the sound of the studio that interests him, but the feeling of the juke joint, the New Orleans bar and the blood, sweat and tears that their floorboards have soaked up.
You really have to be there to get it so watch out for Homesick Aldo playing and prepare yourself to experience something that isn't packaged to death for the mainstream palette.
Steve was next and what can I say that I haven't said before?
I've ran out of superlative praise for him and while my tank of descriptive praise is virtually on empty he is still firing on all cylinders and delivering night after night.
It's not just Steve either. The Crazy Truth are exceptional to.
It's doesn't matter where he goes as they have his back.
Power it up and they are pushing it hard behind him, ease off on the pedal and they slide into a flawless groove to accompany him.
Tonight is a far meatier affair than the previous time that Steve and his Crazy Truth came to town.
It's a longer set for one thing with more of their debut album getting aired, and the covers are all hitting the spot.
There's some Velvet Underground with 'Waiting for the Man being squeezed in. The Ramones 'I don't wanna grow up, and from memory a bit of Fleetwood Macs Someone's going to get their head kicked in tonight, Cochran's Summertime Blues, some Little Richard, and more.
Oh and let's not forget Bo Diddley's/New York Dolls 'Pills' that seen Steve being joined by Christie and Aldo on backing vocals.
Throughout the show Steve shows himself to be far more than just a hired gun for other performers. Put his vocal performance and guitar work up next to anyone he has played with and he is on par with the best, and very often eclipses what they do with his own material.
It time people clicked onto this and started getting on board with the Crazy Truth album and then checked out what he has doe with his brother in The Contes and Crown Jewels.
Steve has provided me with some fantastic nights of entertainment and everyone who attends one of his shows leaves knowing that they have seen something special.
If you call yourself a music fan, and especially one who leans towards rock and roll played with fire and passion then do yourself a favour and don't miss the remaining dates on this tour and buy that fuckin' album.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Taylor Buntain - Cancer Support gig - Jollys - 2/12/11

Ayrshire was spoilt for choices tonight.
Up in Glasgow Brown Bear and the Bandit were doing their utmost to blow the roof off King Tuts and by all early reports coming in it looks like they did just that.
Meanwhile here in Kilmarnock I went straight from a 12 hour shift at the coal face to Taylor Buntains charity night in Jollys where some acts were playing to raise funds for cancer support.
This night wasn't without its stresses for Taylor as some acts had dropped out at short notice and there was limited options of finding replacements, but as they say 'the show must go on' and it most certainly did.
When I arrived Taylor himself was easing into the closing stretches of his set with a newly written blues number that featured some nice idiosyncratic twists that sounded spot on.
I've criticized Taylors performances in the past and since then we have become quite friendly, but I never let a personal relationship with anyone skew my view - or take the edge off of airing an opinion - so when I say that this is exactly what I was waiting on seeing from him then it's an honest appraisal.
All the hints of promise were delivered on.
If I was to simply claim that his vocal delivery had improved it would be a gross understatement.
There's a full transformation in how he is promoting his music to an audience, and full credit has to go to him as an artists who has to an extent dismantled what he has previously done and rebuilt it all from the bottom up.
That takes a great deal of honest self appraisal and a desire to improve that few could claim to have.
If I was wearing a hat I'd have to take it off to him.
I didn't previously consider that he had the ability to be a front man and thought that the musicianship he displayed vastly overshadowed his singing. So in short a great band member yes, but a front man no, yet here he was proving me wrong, very wrong, and I'm happy to admit it.
He closed his set with a cover of Britney Spears that I've previously seen him do.
The last time it left me cold as I didn't think it worked, but this time it's a different take on it and just by upping the quality of the vocals and concentrating on the delivery he nailed it.
I guess it's that balance thing again.
It's a joke doing it as a cover, but it's also a familiar song that people can judge the quality on so it has to be of a certain standard with an obvious tongue in cheek element so that people actually get the joke, and this time it was all of that and more.
I could write about how fantastic Matt Scott was as the nights closing act, but I've mentioned often enough that he is a real star and I would just be repeating myself and in doing so detract from the praise that I'm offering Taylor.
So I'm not going to do that.
Everyone in Kilmarnock knows that matt is the dogs bollocks and I don't need to keep belabouring the point.
So go'an yersel Taylor, as we are apt to say up here. Belter of a set ma man.
Oh and Ross Crawford who I missed was getting plenty of praise for what appears to have been a sublime set.
I guess I better get up to speed with him.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Jinx Lennon/The Girobabies/Roscoe Vacant & The Gantin Schreichs - JOllys Sports Bar - 11/11/11 (Kilmarnock)

When you book acts like Roscoe Vacant and the Gantin Screichs, The Girobabies and Jinx Lennon for a gig then the only thing that you can expect is the unexpected.
So it was no surprise that this is what we got.
By the time that Roscoe Vacant led his band into their set the Girobabies hadn't arrived due to missing a train from the city to Satan's skid mark, or Kilmarnock as we like to call it.
It was okay though as the contingency plan of getting Ross Gilchrist of the Gantin Screichs to do a solo set was dealt with minutes before he took to the stage with Roscoe.
Everything started off well, and then soon descended into chaos as Roscoe deviated from playing songs from their debut and his solo material and started into doing a few covers including a burst of Johnny Thunders and a blast of the Ramones.
This was fine with the audience, but Roscoe himself was very disappointed with his performance.
This is live music though and if people wanted to hear a straight run through of the album they could have stayed at home and played the CD.
I didn't personally feel let down and no one else told me that they were either.
So I'd just chalk this up as 'one of those gigs'.
Every band has them and it's not about how the trains wheels come of the tracks, but how you make sure it reaches the station, and taken like that then this was as far removed from the horrible debacle that he thought it was.
As they finished the Girobabies arrived, borrowed some instruments and fired into an acoustic set with fearless, and much drunken abandon.
Similar to the Gantin Screichs set there is no way that anyo0ne could say that this ran smoothly, but the Girobabies aren't about running things smoothly.
There's something of the disaster looming about them.
Every note and utterance could be the one that precedes everything falling apart, but so far I've never seen that actually happen.
Midway through their set Mark gets into a war of words with a heckler in the audience.
It gets heated and they rap comments back and forth with the tension escalating until it looks as if blows will be struck, but that's not what the night is about and just as I think that I might have to intervene it stops and the band fire straight into the next song.
I've spoken to Mark before and said that they are one of the few bands that are playing what I consider real punk music and he disagreed, but my take on punk is that it's all about freedom of expression without boundaries and in that sense I'm right and he's wrong.
He's just to come around to my way of thinking.
Next is the legend that's Jinx Lennon.
Similarly to the Girobabies I would describe him as a punk artists as that is the only singular word that can encapsulate the breadth of what he does.
Poetry, hip hop, ambient noise, acoustic guitar, looping noise and while none of it should make sense there's a primal understanding of it all.
Jinx wants to gouge a reaction from an audience. He wants to use words to dig in deep and pull hard at you. Push you to having to think and make the connections yourself.
It's not easy watching him and he polarizes audiences, sometimes winning over someone before losing them and winning them back all in the space of the one performance.
At one point he is standing there with dark glasses on sharpening a knife and staring straight ahead into a bemused and confused crowd.
Performance art. I mean what the fuck. This is my local seems to be the reaction.
Probably the best way to describe Jinx is in repeating some soundbites from those who had been there.
Scott Lyle - That is the strangest gig that has ever taken place in Jollys.
Mark Hickey - I went home and made myself a cup of tea............I don't drink tea.
Dave Box Miller - I bought two CDs, but I'm scared to listen to them.
Chris Mooney – That fried my brain

Jon Windle - Jollys Sports Bar - 25/11/11 (Kilmarnock)

Fashion trends are pretty crap aren't they?
Especially the trends in music.
Every few months bands are thrown into the public eye and garner some short lived plaudits before slipping back into obscurity to allow space for the next big thing to squeeze in for their fifteen minutes of fame.
None of it has much to do with talent really.
It's just more consumerist bollocks.
Create and sell, create and sell.
What's the difference between the next i-phone being foisted on the public and the next band?
No. That's not the intro to a joke. It's a rhetorical question.
The answer is nothing, but the real downside of this disposable aspect is that individuals with real talent get partially tossed aside.
They languish in the shadows that the spotlight doesn't reach regardless of their talents.
Jon Windle is a good example of that happening.
He had his moment in the sun with Little Man Tate and then after a couple of great albums that was that.
He didn't lose his touch, his voice or his sense of humour.
It was just that their moment was past and the NME and the like moved on.
It's at this point that bands could be forgiven for simply throwing in the towel as disillusionment took its toll.
Or in Jon's case you can take some time out and then come back with an album that is just as strong, if not stronger, than you have previously done and start from scratch.
It takes some balls to do that, and Jon isn't shy in displaying his as here he was in my local pub playing to those loyal fans who hadn't forgotten him, and what would be converts after the last note had rung out.
Along with Emily Ireland he runs through his blasts from the not too distant past bolstered by material from 'Step Out The Man' and even though this is an acoustic set everything rattles along at a fair clip.
The songs sound solid enough even without a full band backing him and the accompanying vocals from Emily work wonders in the small room.
It's all pretty magical and there's a great deal of love and respect emanating from the small, but loyal, group of fans who have turned up to see him play.
I personally never seen Little Man Tate when they first came around, but from watching Jon I've decided I was a bit of a mug to pass up on the chance.
He's still in fine voice and every inch the performer.
This is not a man from yesteryear on a downward slide, but instead a hungry artist rising from the ashes to take a very credible second bite at an ongoing career in music.
If this is the signs of new foundations being laid then the future is looking bright.
As the gig progresses the fans at the front keep passing Jon and Emily drinks and the lubrication loosens things up to the point that the proceedings become less a gig and more of a party amongst friends.
It's very obvious that the stage of easy familiarity has been reached when he hits some technical issues with his guitar losing sound completely only to find that the crowd are more than happy to carry the gig on with a rousing sing along that would have to be lodged away as one of those 'you had to be there' moments.
Once a borrowed guitar is found it's all systems go and for a few minutes I went and touted his new album about to some success.
You can tell when an artist has connected with a crowd when you don't have to twist their arm to put their hands in their pockets.
Once he finishes everyone wants to chat and get some stuff signed and Jon was more than happy to do that.
I got the impression that he had enjoyed himself just as much as we had, and that was confirmed when as he passed David Hanvey (the promoter) he immediately asked if he would have him back.
Of course we would, but I have a sneaky feeling that in a years time Jon wont be playing venues the size of Jollys any more, but maybe he would for old times sake as he seem to be that sort of guy.
Definitely one of the highlights of my year, and there has been some stiff competition.

Mad Sin in Oz

Psychobilly is, a relatively small and fragmented part of Australian Rock N' Roll culture (That's Culture with a C you Klown) There are pockets of fans in this Country that remember before the internet when it was mail orders and tapes from mates and not much else, playing them over and over til' the rubbers wear out, stoked if you got some vinyl somehow.

On the contrary, on any given weekend you can go and check out any number of Roots, Blues and Punk, Rockabilly gigs in this fair land and yes, be impressed, show off your new Shepler shirt and $400 levis, and.........hear the same formulaic and often, but not always, tired sound, just so you can say you went to a gig, and supported your 'scene' I'm not putting the music down, however but there's a difference between being a fan of a genre of music that moves your souls and courses through your veins and being a glam wanker and then looking down on Psychobilly as "fake" and "worthless" in no need of promotion and support (But we'll get back to that in a little while)

For 20+ fuckin' years, almost single handedly,in this country, Fireballs have carried the torch of insanity promoting REAL Psychotic music for REAL Psychotic people, driven by an unholy love for again, what is so lacking in this country PSYCHOBILLY!

I have always been in awe (And sometimes depressed by not being able to go check out a show, once a month, or even 3 times a year would be nice) of not just the music that has come from Europe, but also the calibre of the bands playing it. The fact we never get to see any of these acts has been at times, literally painful.

When Mad Sin were supposed to come a couple of years ago, I was in disbelief and when that fell through, shattered to the bone. So when we knew they were actually going to make it this time, it caused a mix of feelings of more disbelief and a mixture of anxiety and wonder, brought about by the knowledge that they would be largely unknown in this country, which in turn caused anger and frustration but fuck it, I'D BE SEEING THE SIN!

From all reports of the shows leading up to Sunday, they were small but Mad Sin rocked the fucking house and from a mate Shane's personal view of the Sydney show, "Blew the fucking tiles off the roof!!"

I briefly caught Matt at Sunday's show for about 2 minutes and introduced myself and asked about his experience of previous shows.
he told me that Brisbane was dead, the Gold Coast had few people but those there lost it and had a great fucking time and Sydney was cool. I do know this show was pretty packed at the Annandale. Sydney people know how to have a good time which is why I like to go catch bands there whenever I can...On ya ya bastards. Rock on and see ya next week! Nice to talk if only briefly, Matt!

Doing a show on a Sunday night in a town this size is bound to be smaller factoring in people at home, having spent the cash on Friday and Saturday nights, coupled with the lack of knowledge around Psychobilly in general, which following on from earlier, pisses me off. When there is such a big Rock and Roll/Rockabilly scene, how one could not come and support one of the most "rocked the fuck out" European Psychobilly bands of all time. (Fuck you too, Fenech!!!!!)

So to Newcastle's "Rockers" GO FUCK YOURSELF AND THANKS FOR NOTHING!!!!!!

Supports on the night were Rumjacks (Check them out. Flat out Rockin' irish punks who know how to play from the heart! Another great gig fellas, cheers!)
And Casino Rumblers, from my town....the less I say about these blokes the better. Just my opinion, same as just because you have an Upright, it doesn't make you Billy fuck all! They always seemed disconnected from the crowd to me in some way I can't explain. More Ska infused Billy ain't my cup of tea,
Having said that, at least they support the scene and Newcastle Rock N' Roll and give people an alternative, potentially opening them up to new bands and music...crowd dug them.
Cheers fellas!

As I walked in I saw Valle standing there watching The Rumjacks and chatting, hmmmmm, not a lot of people here, thinking pleeeeeease pick up, you don't know what you'll be missing, though, music like mostly everything, is subjective and so the lost didn't get to taste the delights of what Mad Sin actually bring to the table. The Fruits of fucking insanity!!!!

I grabbed a couple of beers, met friends and settled back as the Sin' came on stage.
Then it hit me! MAD SIN!!!! ON STAGE!!!!! Everything felt surreal. I couldn't believe they were in front of me with a crowd of no more than 35 people tops, in a two hundred plus venue! I stood just staring, drinking in everything I heard and the playing of the band...
The 4 of us who came together, took turns at looking after thousands of buxxx worth of camera equipment and tag-teamed going down to watch the band in from of stage.
When you talk Frontmen, Koefte is one insane hombre and he commanded the crowd expertly...I was gobsmacked at the relentless energy he exuded, tripping on how tight and energetic they all were and how much better than any fucking vinyl(Fuck CDs), they sounded.

At one stage Koefte said that he bet no one knew their first album, which got a big grinning FUCK YOU!! from where I was at that stage, minding the equipment. I was hoping to hear more stuff off the new album Burn And Rise, but was stoked at the well-rounded mix of stuff they did from their catalogue. Awesome to hear Speak No Evil and Communication Breakdown live among everything fucking else they did, sounded brutal.
Blood pressure rising...
After a brief break, they came back and did a few song encore and asked if anyone wanted to hear anything in particular. Standing there with a mate Scott, I was yelling Meat Train At Midnight and he was screaming Brand New Cadillac..Koefte dug this and so BNC it was, but not to my chagrin. What a fucking version!!! Next thing ya know, Valle's in the crowd totally mobbed slapping the fuck out of his bull fiddle,
Stein in the background casually rocking out on his gat and Matt on the other side, killing it!

Seemed to me like they wanted to keep playing yet, the venue guys were hurrying them up to get off stage (Thanks for that fuckers) the bouncer's started telling everyone to move to the front of the pub and then we were shut out, wondering where everyone was going to party, knowing, thanks to Sickboy Shane, we had a hotel overlooking the whole city, half a block away that would've accommodated that very well...Fuck it!!

Koefte, you're one of a kind mate, fucking powerhouse from hell on stage,
only regret is not being able to have a chat which goes for all of you!
Thanks so much for coming guys and I know, once you hit Melbourne with the Fireballs, you'll be doing bigger gigs and tearing people new headspaces!!!!!!! If you guys ever come back, I'm sure it will be a different story as far as attendance goes!!! I'll tirelessly poster the whole Cuntry for ya!!! Thanks so fuckin' much to Craig and Ruff N' Ready Records...ROCK!

A Psychotic Night!!!!!!!!

(Review by Alabama Man aka Hammerheart aka Big Al the gayest hairdresser in Oz)
(Live photo by Belinda Davey - Rights reserved)

Strike! While the iron is hot.

Yesterday was the day of a national strike as public sector workers walked out in protest at the governments plans to cut their pensions.
2 million people failed to turn up at their workplace and 18,342 schools, which is 67.5% of them, were closed while others ran with the help of community volunteers, hospital procedures were impacted upon and our border controls were weakened (although the government said they weren't) and more.
Yet David Cameron called the protest a damp squib.
I'm struggling with his definition.
Consider the 2 million on strike and then add on all those workers who support the strike, but felt unable to join their colleagues due to personal issues of poor finances, job security and such, then on top of that add on all the people who supported the strike but who are not public sector workers.
Depending on sources public support ranges from 35% to 65%.
That sounds quite a sizeable amount to me.
The arrogance of Cameron is nothing new, but c'mon when are people going to wake up.
There's little that he says that is rooted in fact.
Week after week he, and his coalition government – the one no one voted in – are shown up to be bare faced liars, supporters of the powerful, and master manipulators of the media.
Forget all the divisive spin and just for a second ask yourself why we allegedly can't afford to honour the pension agreements that were made.
Is it because the system in place has for many years been watching Rome burn as the ones at the top fiddled their taxes? Is it because the financial institutes of the world decided that trading on things we might have in the future rather than what we have in the present was a good idea? Is it maybe because the mortgage lenders in collusion with governments sold mortgages to those who were least able to afford them? Is it because multinational corporations pay less tax per annum than you or I?
Regardless of the multitude of reasons, and there is a multitude, it has nothing to do with the public sector workers who are expected to carry the financial can.
So why are people falling for the government line.
Two weeks ago nurses were self sacrificing angels who toil for the greater good and now they are enemies of the state.
How did that happen?
Fuck that bollocks.
In fact when Cameron and his parcel of rouges say we are all in this together what they mean is that it's you and me, the public and private sector workers, the unemployed and the disabled that are in this together, and not necessarily them.
Yet on social networking sites I keep seeing people pointing the fingers at the employed, the public sector workers, immigrants and if truth be told simply anyone who pisses them off rather than them having to sit and think about who the real enemy of the people are.
Inside my head I'm screaming for fucks sake wake up.
All the crap that is being pumped out is just a distraction.
The bigger picture is that they are wanting to create a system that a minority can benefit from.
They want a smaller workforce to work harder for less, and they want to create a ready pool of the hungry and desperate to pick from. If you're employed and grumble aloud then you know where the door will be. By kick starting this desperate cycle they will maximize their profits.
Take one of the things they keep saying.
There's no money.
It's a mantra.
There's no money, there no money, there's no money.
Say it often enough and people believe it, but George Osborne is on an eleven grand holiday just now. How did he manage that as there's no money?
Anyway there is money.
I didn't see any reports of mass shredding campaigns or bankers running into fields and burning pallets of cash.
Did you?
So the money must be somewhere and that somewhere is in the hands of that 1% and they aren't for letting any dribble back into our pockets.
That's where the money really is.
It really is a case of them and us.
So why do ordinary people continue to defend the status quo and decry their brothers and sisters who rail against those in power who are frankly ass raping us all?
Well it's ignorance isn't it.
Real ignorance.
The head in the sand sort.
Ignorance is a word that when used is considered to be an offensive slur on another persons intelligence.
It's not though.
I'm ignorant as to how to perform brain surgery.
I'm equally ignorant about how to fix the motherboard of my computer.
Being ignorant doesn't mean I'm stupid though, just that in certain areas I have no knowledge of the subject at hand.
Similarly people are ignorant of what is going on in the world. Not stupid, just ignorants as they either have nothing to base their opinions on, or they base them on media reports that are geared towards offering one side of a story.
So instead of continuing down that path that's leading us to fuck knows where can you do me a favour and make yourself a cup of tea and have a google and research the subject, or open a book and read about it.
Then after that maybe you could reconsider the comments that you may have made and with your new found knowledge consider that you might have been acting like a dickish tool of the state.
I'll not do the 'told you so dance'. Instead I'll welcome your awakening and hope that in some way you will spread a clearer word to others and in this way maybe we really can all be in this together and salvage something for future generations.
Meanwhile listen to this. Don't just tap your feet to it, but listen to the words.