Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Davy Jones RIP

Davy Jones, Monkees’ Heartthrob, Dies at 66

Davy Jones, the pint-size singer for the Monkees perhaps best known for singing “Daydream Believer,” died of a heart attack on Wednesday in at his home in Indiantown, Fla., according to the local medical examiner’s officer there and a spokeswoman for the singer. He was 66 years old.

Mr. Jones, a former jockey and stage actor, was a key member of the first and arguably the best of the pop groups created for television to capitalize on the success of the Beatles. Though they were not taken seriously at first, the Monkees made some exceptionally good pop records, thanks in large part to the songwriting of professional songwriters like Neil Diamond and Tommy Boyce.

Mr. Jones was born on Dec. 20, 1945, in Manchester, England, the son of a railway fitter and a homemaker. He dropped out of school after his mother’s death from emphysema in 1960 and began a career as a jockey, but later quit to pursue acting, appearing in television shows like “Coronation Street” and “June Evening.” He landed a contract with Colpix Records after he appeared in the musical “Oliver!” and performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” He was 20 when his first album, “David Jones,” came out.

In 1965, he auditioned for the TV comedy series dreamed up by Columbia Pictures executives who were inspired by the Beatles film “A Hard Day’s Night” and landed the part, along with Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork. Though they didn’t play instruments at first, the group’s debut album the following year yielded three hit singles, among them “I’m a Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville” and “Steppin’ Stone.” The show was broadcast until 1968.

After the Monkees disbanded in the late 1960s, Mr. Jones pursued a solo career as a singer, recording the hit “Rainy Jane.” He also made a series of appearances on American television shows, among them “Love American Style.” He played himself in a widely popular Brady Bunch episode, which was shown in late 1971. In the episode, Marcia Brady, president of her school’s Davy Jones fan club, promises she could get him to sing at a school dance.

By the mid-1980s, Mr. Jones teamed up with Mr. Tork, Mr. Dolenz and the promoter David Fishof for a reunion tour. Their popularity prompted MTV to rebroadcast The Monkees series, introducing the group to a new audience. In 1987, three of the Monkees (excluding Michael Nesmith) recorded a new album, “Pool It.” Two years later, the group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the late 1990s, the group filmed a special called “Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees.” He is survived by his wife, Jessica.

Here's Davy taking the lead on a decent song - something usually left to Dolenz or Nesmith:

And another:

Professor Brian Shefton RIP

Brian Shefton obituary

Andrew Parkin
Wednesday 22 February 2012

My friend and colleague Brian Shefton, who has died aged 92, was a distinguished scholar of Greek and Etruscan archaeology. One of his most significant achievements was a collection of Greek and Etruscan artefacts which he established in 1956 when he was given a grant of £25 to purchase three Greek pots. The collection expanded to include nearly 1,000 objects, many of which can now be seen at the Great North Museum: Hancock, in Newcastle upon Tyne. Brian also built up an important collection of books on Greek and Etruscan archaeology, which make up the Shefton collection in the library at Newcastle University.

Brian was born in Cologne, the son of Isidor Scheftelowitz, professor of Sanskrit at Cologne University, and his wife, Frieda. In 1933 the family moved to Britain to escape Nazi oppression. Brian thrived in Britain and, after military service during which he changed his name to Shefton, he graduated from Oriel College, Oxford, in 1947. He then spent three years travelling in Greece before taking up a lectureship at Exeter University.

In 1955 he arrived at King's College in Durham (now Newcastle University) as a lecturer in Greek archaeology and ancient history. He remained there for the rest of his career, becoming professor of Greek art and archaeology in 1979. To Brian, the archaeology collection and library holdings at Newcastle were his greatest achievements.

His scholarship was truly international. He was an enthusiastic traveller with an extensive network of colleagues and friends. He attended international conferences frequently, and also received prestigious fellowships and honours, including an honorary doctorate from Cologne University and the British Academy's Kenyon medal.

His enthusiasm for his discipline stayed with him until the end. He spoke at a conference in Basle, Switzerland, on Etruscan archaeology in October 2011 and continued to work on research projects. He was an incredibly generous scholar who always had time for others. His irrepressible energy and curiosity were an inspiration to all those who knew him.

Brian is survived by his wife, Jutta, whom he married in 1960, and his daughter, Penny.

See David Whetstone's obit from The Journal at

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Tonight's set lists

At the Waggon & Horses, Lawrence Street, York: -

Set 1: -
Love Song

Set 2: -
Unknown Legend
Mind Your Own Business

New venue, new open mic night (for me anyway), but loads of familiar faces. The Batemans Dark Mild was absolute perfection. Must go again.

Bruce Surtees RIP

Bruce Surtees obituary
Oscar-nominated cinematographer who worked on Lenny, Dirty Harry and The Beguiled

Chris Wiegand
The Guardian, Tuesday 28 February 2012

The American cinematographer Bruce Surtees, who has died aged 74, became known as "the prince of darkness" for his muted and often lugubrious style of lighting. However, while Surtees was well-suited to the nocturnal street scenes of Dirty Harry (1971), the Rembrandt-esque arrangements of The Beguiled (1971) and the claustrophobic interiors of Escape from Alcatraz (1979), all directed by Don Siegel, he was also at home with the wide open spaces of the western Joe Kidd (1972) and the surfing movie Big Wednesday (1978).

His deceptively simple black-and-white scheme for Lenny (1974), Bob Fosse's semi-documentary biopic of the comedian Lenny Bruce, earned Surtees an Oscar nomination. The film's compelling stand-up sequences owe almost as much to the expert lighting of the nightclub as they do to Dustin Hoffman's performance. As Hoffman paces the stage, chased by his own shadow, the light captures wisps of cigarette smoke and almost carries the smell of bourbon.

Cinematography was the Surtees family trade. Bruce was born in Los Angeles, where his father, Robert, was starting out as a camera assistant and operator. Robert had worked regularly with the acclaimed cinematographer Hal Mohr, and chose Mohr for one of Bruce's middle names. When Bruce was a teenager, Robert hit his stride as a director of photography, winning his first Oscar for King Solomon's Mines (1950).

Bruce attended the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena, gained experience as a technician for Disney and assisted his father on films including The Hallelujah Trail (1965). He had proved to be a reliable camera operator – memorably capturing a motorcycle chase in Coogan's Bluff (1968) – and Siegel gave him the chance to graduate to the role of cinematographer on his US civil war film The Beguiled. In his autobiography, A Siegel Film, the director remembered Surtees's response to this offer: "Bruce's face became flushed, his breathing heavy … Tears appeared in his eyes and he spoke with great difficulty." Surtees rose to the technical challenges of The Beguiled, which starred Clint Eastwood as an injured soldier recuperating in a house full of women whom he seduces.

While many mainstream cinematographers employ three or more principal sources of light in a set-up, Surtees experimented with fewer and used them at lower levels. He achieved increased depth and contrast in the process, as well as creating stronger shadows. For one sequence in The Beguiled, he relied on a solitary bulb to replicate candlelight. Siegel was thrilled: "We didn't care that it was black, that it wouldn't show up on a television screen when the studio sold the picture to some network in a couple of years. Screw them. We liked it. It was exciting."

Surtees's drab palette complemented The Beguiled's gothic tone, Louisiana locations and the montage of sepia war photographs used in its title sequence. The film was a box-office disappointment but ensured his lengthy collaboration with Siegel and Eastwood. In Dirty Harry, a deserted sports stadium was eerily lit and shrouded in mist for the scene in which Eastwood's cop confronts the serial killer Scorpio. Eastwood's directorial debut, Play Misty for Me (1971), was shot around Carmel, California, where the star later became mayor and Surtees's own family also settled. His breezy location photography – including scenes at the Monterey jazz festival – matched the star's freewheeling role as Dave, a late-night DJ, but he introduced heavier shadows as Dave is threatened by his jilted lover. The film was made for a modest cost with a small crew and Surtees's efficiency was valued by Eastwood, who has always prided himself on bringing in films on time and under budget.

For Eastwood's High Plains Drifter (1973), influenced by the star's spaghetti westerns, Surtees favoured a wide aperture to ensure as much light as possible was captured in the Eastern Sierra setting of California. In the opening and closing sequences, he achieved a spectral light as Eastwood's mysterious stranger appears and disappears amid the shimmering desert haze. Eastwood's later westerns The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and Pale Rider (1985) were shot in autumn, with Surtees exploiting the softer light and low sun. On Escape from Alcatraz, his last film with Siegel, the minimal lighting matched the grey and blue prison uniforms. After Pale Rider, he was replaced as Eastwood's regular cinematographer by his former camera operator Jack Green.

Throughout the 70s and 80s, Surtees lit leading men such as Gene Hackman (in the noirish Night Moves), John Wayne (in his final role, in The Shootist) and Laurence Olivier (in the much-derided epic Inchon). Major actors were not always pleased with the prospect of languishing in Surtees's signature shadows, but the glossy, bright lighting he provided for Risky Business (co-photographed with Reynaldo Villalobos, 1983) and Beverly Hills Cop (1984) enhanced two of the decade's biggest box-office stars, Tom Cruise and Eddie Murphy. In his later years, Surtees could still be relied upon to give an extra polish to middling material such as The Crush (1993), Corrina, Corrina (1994) and the television film Dash and Lilly (1999), the last of which brought him an Emmy nomination.

Surtees is survived by his wife, Carol.

• Bruce Mohr Powell Surtees, cinematographer, born 23 July 1937; died 23 February 2012

Friday, 24 February 2012

Randy Newman at The Sage, Gateshead - review by Terry Kelly

Randy Newman
The Sage Gateshead

FOR many people, Randy Newman is simply the man who provided the scores for the highly popular Toy Story film series.

But for his appearance at The Sage, Newman touched most of the bases in his highly various songwriting career, from the 1960s to his movie soundtracks and most recent studio albums.

Seated at an imposing grand piano - Newman congratulating the venue for its sound - the 68-year-old son of Los Angeles delighted his Tyneside fans with a rich musical retrospective, stretching way back to his first studio outing in 1968, with songs like Living Without You and the peerless classic I Think It's Going to Rain Today.

There was a nod to Jarrow lad Alan Price, who Newman called "a hometown boy," before launching into Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear, a hit for the former Animal.

Early highlights included the haunting Bad News from Home and Jolly Coppers on Parade, but it was the second half which saw Newman banish some of his early tour nerves and really hit his stride.

Louisiana 1927 and Rednecks, both from his finest album, 1974's Good Old Boys, were brilliant, but I Miss You, a bitter-sweet love song to Newman's ex-wife, stole the show.

A soothing Feels Like Home was a well-earned encore to a night with a musical master.

Terry Kelly

Laura Veirs at the Sage, Gateshead - review by Paul Kelly

Published on Wednesday 15 February 2012 10:56

BESPECTACLED American singer-songwriter Laura Veirs transfixed an enthusiastic audience with her folk and country-tinged ditties.

Since her eponymous debut in 1999, Veirs has developed a cult following in the UK with her slightly surreal, minimalist but always melodic songs of love.

Live, she isn’t half as stern as her album covers and publicity shots would suggest, and there was plenty of knock-about banter with her excellent supporting players, electric guitarist Tim Young and violinist Alex Guy.

The 38-year-old’s music has a tremendously unforced quality, evident on songs from her 2010 album July Flame.

Make Something Good and Wide-eyed, Legless (no relation to the Andy Fairweather Low classic) are akin to parables in song.

She also included songs from her latest album, Tumble Bee, a collection of traditional children’s songs. A particular highlight was a rollicking version of The Fox.

Earlier in the day she’d played a parents and kiddies show, after which a Geordie woman approached to express her appreciation. “I could tell by her face movements she was a lovely lady – but I couldn’t understand a word!”, Veirs said.

We ended with an audience singalong and a soap bubble storm from an onstage machine – a suitably offbeat end to a lovely, quirky evening.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tom Kelly reads from The Time Office

Terry finds Shergar!

Frank Carson RIP

Aged 85.

Last night's set list

At The Habit, York: -

Is It Only The Moonlight?
I'm Just A Loser
Till There was You
On The Way Home
Roll Another Number (For The Road)
Unknown Legend

A very quiet night, quietest for many months, but enjoyable nonetheless. Made a complete mess of the words on Roll Another Number, but I don't think anyone noticed. That's the beauty of covering obsure songs.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Sunday, 19 February 2012

J. D. Salinger: The Man Who Came To Supper

J. D. Salinger's Last Supper
The annual roast-beef dinners in Hartland, Vermont, are famous--and not just because of their most celebrated diner.

by Jim Collins
January/February 2011

On any given Saturday night, just about anywhere in New England, volunteers put on a supper in a church hall or basement. It's a fundraising ritual almost as old as the country, started by women's auxiliary groups during the years after the Revolution, as towns and states gradually abandoned the practice of using levies to pay the local minister. Church suppers vary in size and type from place to place: chowder suppers on Cape Cod, ham suppers in Vermont, bean suppers everywhere.

Many church suppers today are truly down-home events, with no-frills fare made from prepackaged convenience foods and spaghetti sauce from a jar. In some places, though, monthly or annual church suppers are the real deal, not only locally famous but also attracting loyalists from distant towns--anticipated and planned for and well attended year after year.

Here in the Upper Connecticut River Valley, for example, the Congregational Church's annual "Wild Game Supper" in Bradford, Vermont, comes to mind. The out-of-town crowd at that hunting-season event grew so overwhelming--even at $25 a head--that the church recently set a serving limit of 900. The writer Calvin Trillin once called it "the Super Bowl of church suppers."

But another supper in this area, the "Famous Roast Beef Suppers" of Hartland, Vermont, takes the cake, to my taste. People drive an hour and a half or more to make the pilgrimage, and not just once a year or once a month, but some for nine straight Saturdays starting in January--every year. These dinners take place in the basement of "the Brick Church" in Hartland, and no matter the weather. A bad snowstorm or driving sleet might keep servings down to 200 or 250; a good night will feed some 400 people.

Most of them come, as my 7-year-old son and I did for the first supper last January, for the food: slabs of roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, pickles, rolls, homemade pie for dessert. The menu and the recipes haven't changed in decades. (The denomination is Congregational, but certain things are still sacred.)

The first hundred people are seated at 4:30 p.m.; the rest are admitted 10 at a time as the tables empty, till 7 p.m. or till the food's gone, whichever comes first. Folks start lining up before 3 o'clock, though, backing up the basement stairwell and crowding down the hall all the way to the piano room, and then circling back up the hallway past the stairs and out the door into the weather.

Some come early to be social, some to make sure they get the full choice of available pies, others to ease their hunger. At $12 for all you can eat, the first hundred or so people in line tend to be "real Vermonters," says Rev. Lucia Anne Jackson, pastor of the Brick Church, which has been putting on these suppers for the past 65 years. "For some folks, that might be their only meal of the day ..." After that, families and church members start filing in. By 6:30, there's often still a line waiting.

Technically, the meals are put on by the Men's Fellowship of First Congregational Church of Hartland, but the sheer volume of the enterprise requires a small army of parishioners and other townspeople, mostly women. Larry Frazer, head of the Men's Fellowship and a 25-year veteran of the suppers, helps organize three separate teams of volunteers, who sign up for blocks of three Saturdays each. In addition to 10 servers, three people clearing, and a dozen or so folks helping in the kitchen, some 25 to 30 people on each team volunteer to bake at least two pies apiece for each Saturday: That's about 60 pies each supper, available until they run out.

On opening night last winter, when Virgil and I sat down at 5:30, the chocolate cherry and lemon meringue pies were already gone, but 16 other varieties remained, including apple raisin, pumpkin chiffon, and Judy Howland's own customary to-die-for blackberry pie.

Teenagers and young kids served the meal family-style, with heaping platters of beef and big bowls of potatoes and green beans. The table was set with china and flatware, not paper and plastic. We found plenty of medium-rare meat to choose from, and both of us had seconds before moving on to pie.

Though I didn't know it at the time, our seat at a table close to the pies put us in the same location favored for many years by J. D. Salinger. He regularly made the drive across the river and north a bit from his home in Cornish, New Hampshire. Typically, he'd arrive an hour and a half ahead of the first seating--often to be first in line, recalls Larry Frazer. He'd sit quietly, writing in a spiral-bound notebook. Most people around him were unaware of who he was; the volunteers working the supper treated him like any other guest and protected his privacy.

Last year, though, Salinger's health had declined to the point where he couldn't make it to the first of the season's roast-beef suppers he loved so much, the night we were there; in fact, he would pass away just a few days later. His wife, Colleen, drove over to Hartland for him. The kitchen crew put a plate together to go, and she brought it home to Jerry.

Hartland's "Famous Roast Beef Suppers" will take place over nine consecutive Saturdays in 2011, starting January 22. For more information: 802-436-2792; For a selection of church supper recipes from our readers, go to:

Friday, 17 February 2012

Lucien Freud at the National Portrait Gallery

Lucian Freud Portraits – review
The National Portrait Gallery's tremendous show celebrates the unexpected moments that were ever present in the artist's work

Adrian Searle
Sunday 5 February 2012 19.30

Lucian Freud painted strange, uneasy, figures, from first to last. Maybe they were uneasy because he was painting them. There was as much violence as tenderness in his stare, and in the ways he devised to paint.

This tremendous show tracks Freud's inquisitiveness and inventiveness, his constant returns to the mystery of presence. Almost everything Freud did was a portrait of a situation or a confrontation as much as it was a body in a room, whether the body belonged to a lover, a daughter, the artist's mother, a baron, a bank robber or the Queen.

Freud was 18 in 1940 when he painted his art college tutor Cedric Morris , the earliest work in this large, though far from complete exhibition, planned in close co-operation with the artist himself during the last five years of his life.

Freud's final painting, of his pet dog and his studio assistant David Dawson, was left unfinished on the easel when Freud died last year at 88. Its incompleteness is extremely affecting.
The first of these two paintings is small, querulous and faux-naive (though it is hard to imagine Freud naive at any stage in his life), the last full of eccentric impetuosities: Dawson looks up; Freud's eye circles like a bird of prey, quartering its subject from above. The painting runs the gamut from sketchy indications of what might have been, to revised and much reworked detail. Dawson's head is an encrusted eruption of granular pustules of paint. I churn too, as I look at it.

In his very late works Freud seems to have got fixated on certain details. There is an enormous, disjunctive, variety in Ria, Naked Portrait 2006-7. Ria's head is a coarse impastoed lump, the bedcover a fastidious off-white rumpled plain, its pattern emerging and disappearing. The painting is marvellous and terrible at the same time, both exhilarating and awful. There's frailty and failure as well as richness and complexity there, which makes it all the better.

Through a sequence of larger and smaller rooms, Freud's portraiture is unpacked, in all its variety, from the thinly-painted acuteness of his 1950s work to his affecting, grand and vulnerable portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery, and the mountainous and magnificent Sue Tilley (Big Sue, the Benefits Supervisor). Each has a room devoted to them.

Elsewhere, however, earlier, smaller, works are hung too close together. In some rooms there are too many confrontations and painted intimacies to take in. It's going to be tough when the crowds arrive.
Neither a realist nor an expressionist – though there is as much reality as there is expression in his art – Freud depicted the psychological tensions between himself and his subjects. His paintings are full of life. There is always a palpable atmosphere, even if it is often conjured from dead time in the studio, his models' lassitude or alertness, a sense of someone waiting for those interminable sittings at their appointed hours to be over.

Freud almost always found something new, or a new way to describe, the experience of being in a room with someone else. It was usually the same room, with the same bits of furniture and piles of paint-soiled rags.

Details as much as whole paintings arrest me. So many details! The weave of a wicker chair, the paisley pattern on his mother's suit, the halo of light reflected behind a head on a leather seat, the Paddington skyline rippling in the windowpane, iridescent blue nail varnish flickering on a woman's toes.

Freud's paintings always have great and often unexpected moments, things the eye snags on. His was a process of describing sensation and presence, people and things and spaces and light, through the language of painting.
He was continually trying to find new ways to describe the familiar: clasped hands, a man's dangling cock, a cheekbone, a turn of the head. His touch is almost never dutiful or rote.

Freud would steer through a sitter's boredom, their disquiet or their flamboyance or their awkwardness, to find something new in their introspection, their nakedness. His art is wonderfully perverse, and perversity was the method by which it constantly reinvented itself.

Being Sigmund Freud's grandson did not give Lucian any particular insights into his sitters, and he disparaged familial comparisons, but like his grandfather his work was largely concerned with being alone in a room with another, delving into the silence that falls between them, analysing the ongoing situation. This exhibition is unmissable. Go more than once, if you can.
• Lucian Freud Portraits is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 9 February to 27 May

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Last night's set list

At The Habit, York: -

Love Song
I Don't Want To Talk About It

A busy night with possibly more players than punters. A young dude did a spirited cover of Old Man and the wonderful Dave Ward Maclean did the best version of Thrasher I've ever heard.

Also got to sample a whisky/cinnamon concoction which was somewhat innarestin'.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The eternal question: How Long Has This Been Going On?

Vanlose Stairway


Kingdom Hall

It's All In The Game

Philosopher's Stone

Beautiful Vision

Van and Bob


Celtic Ray

Tupelo Honey


Van and Tom

Van and Tom (with Jeff Beck)

Van having a ball...

Days Like This...

Van the Man blows everyone else away.

Van's the Man!

Van Morrison at The Sage Gateshead

THE artist variously known as Van the Man and the Belfast Cowboy played a blinder for a sold-out house at The Sage.

Backed by a superlative eight-piece band, Van Morrison trawled through his massive back catalogue in a highly focused performance, featuring several musical highlights.

Opening with his evergreen jukebox standard, Brown Eyed Girl, the king of Celtic soul delivered the goods throughout the evening.

Swapping between saxophone, harmonica and even keyboards for Haunts of Ancient Peace, Morrison kept his faultless band in check with a series of jerky hand signals, pointed fingers and bellowed stage instructions.

But while Morrison is not noted for his easy-going personality, there was little evidence of musical aggro.

Instead, he created spine-tingling magic with what, for me, was the concert highlight- namely, a brilliant All in the Game.

The old pop standard segued into a chant about "no plan B, no safety net," Morrison building up the phrase into a kind of religious mantra.

While he can be inconsistent, such moments prove why Morrison has retained a loyal following for more than 40 years.

A highly moving version of In the Garden was the other concert standout, Morrison's voice ranging from a blues shout to a whisper.

The gig ended in traditional style with the timeless classic Gloria -
"G-L-O-R-I-A" - the Belfast Cowboy leaving the stage to a deserved standing ovation.

Terry Kelly