Saturday, 25 February 2017

Women Street Photographers on Instagram...


Rome, Italy, by Valentina Matiradonna (@valenonvale)


The female street photographers of Instagram – in pictures
The art of street photography was long dominated by men and the ‘male gaze’, but new project Her Side of the Street celebrates women’s role in the practice

Francesca Perry
The Guardian
Thursday 19 January 2017

Throughout history, women have often been subject to observation and evaluation from men as they walk down city streets – whether ogled as objects of desire or judged for their appearance or even presence in certain spaces. In literary and social history, men have usually been the ones who watch, rather than be watched; the urban observer which 19th-century poet Baudelaire made famous as the “flâneur”.

In her recent book, Lauren Elkin wrote of the “flâneuse”, the woman who reclaimed power by walking through – and writing about – the city streets in defiance of convention, challenging the cultural assumption at the time that women on the street were either sex workers or homeless.

As in the literary tradition, so in the artistic one: the concept of the “male gaze” – depicting the world from a male perspective – historically dominated much of the visual arts. Most early street photographers were men – from Eugène Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson to Weegee. In time, however, there were exceptions to this rule, notably Vivian Maier and Diane Arbus who became some of the most celebrated street photographers of the 20th century.

Last year, American photographer Casey Meshbesher felt compelled to create a compendium of street photography by women after noticing that very little could be found about the practice online or in print. She founded the blogzine Her Side of the Street focusing on female street photographers, as well as setting up the growing Women Street Photographers community and trying to map female street photographers around the world. “Projects like these are all an important part of the fuel for the fire about women in the arts,” she says, “which in turn is part of a larger flame from a resurgent feminist movement.”

“Underrepresentation of women in the art world is a well-known issue,” she adds. “In street photography, the situation is more acute. Calling this 90% male visibility might be too generous. We have old inherited ideas about what street photography is, originating from a time when sexism really was more dominant. The goal of these projects has been nothing less than to change the game, and I believe it has already begun to do so.”

The Her Side of the Street account on Instagram (@womeninstreet) promotes the work of female street photographers from around the world. Here are some highlights:

Singapore, by Graciela Magnoni

São Paulo, Brazil by Mel Coelho (@melzicah)

Cape Town, South Africa, by Retha Ferguson (@rethaferguson)


Los Angeles, US, by Sonia Kissin (@soniakissin)

Delhi, India, by Graciela Magnoni (@graciela_magnoni)

London, UK, by Linda Wisdom (@lindawisdomphotography)

Shanghai, China, by Steffi Löffler

Toronto, Canada, by Anne Gibson (@annejgibson)

Vilnius, Lithuania, by Roza Vulf (@rozavulf)

Mexico City, Mexico, by Sonia Madrigal (@sonicarol)

The West Bank by Tina Bojlesen (@danish_streettog)

Santa Fe, US, by Adrianne Ryan (@fullgallop)

Geneva, Switzerland, by Alison McCauley (@alisonmccauley)

Tag your Instagram shots with #womeninstreet to contribute to the Her Side of the Street project and follow @guardiancities for more great urban photography from around the world.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Dead Poets Society #27



The Leopard by Lorenzo Thomas

The eyeballs on her behind are like fire
Leaping and annoying
The space they just passed
Just like fire would do

The ground have no mouth to complain
And the girl is not braver herself

She is beautiful in her spotted
Leopard ensemble. Heartless so

To keep her fashionalbe in New York
Leopards are dying

Crude comments flutter around her
At lunchtime. She sure look good
She remembers nine banishing speeches

More powerful than this is the seam
Of the leotard under her clothing

Her tail in the leotard is never still
The seam!
She feels it too familiar on her leg
As some crumb says something suggestive

The leopard embracing around her
Is too chic to leap and strike

Her thoughts fall back to last semester’s karate

Underneath, the leotard crouches up on her thigh
It is waiting for its terrible moment!


Thursday, 23 February 2017

Last night's set lists



At The Habit, York: -

Ron Elderly: -
Just My Imagination
Good Year For The Roses


Da Elderly: -
Out Of The Blue
In The Morning Light


The Elderly Brothers: -
Bye Bye Love
Walk Right Back
The Boxer
I Saw Her Standing There


Given the terrible weather and the imminent Storm Doris it was a pleasant surprise to find a rammed The Habit and a surfeit of players. These included several new duos: two boy/girl outfits wowed the audience with excellent harmonies and musicianship including "for our mums and dads" Queen's I Want To Break Free; probably my favourite was a bass/guitar duo who included Rodgers & Hammerstein's My Favourite Things and The Chordettes' Mr Sandman. Occasional regular and Beatles fan, Dave from Leeds put in a fine set with McCartney's Every Night and a spirited I Am The Walrus. The Elderly Brothers closed what had been a most enjoyable evening with the usual mixture of harmony-laden standards from the past.

Just to note that my recorded output, 2 Albums, an EP and a recent single are now available free gratis to listen to on Soundcloud. The 2 songs performed at the open mic Out Of The Blue and In The Morning Light are on the album Out Of The Blue at https://soundcloud.com/ian-ravenscroft-730965203/sets/out-of-the-blue


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Glen Campbell salutes The Lone Ranger... and Tonto!



There existed (maybe exists) somewhere, footage of Campbell playing this in front of what I recall was an audience of students in the UK in the 70s, complete with projected footage of The Lone Ranger and when Tonto appears, the audience go ape. Wish I could find it...

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Steely Dan: The Gaucho Story...

Who is the gaucho amigo?

Remembering The Tumultuous Perfection Of Steely Dan’s Chapter-Closing Album “Gaucho”

Gideon Plotnicki
Live for Live Music
21 November 2016

Steely Dan is one of the most important bands to come out of the 70’s. Their unique approach to pop music–a slick combination of jazz, off-center chord progressions, meticulous arrangements, and introspective lyrics–has left an indelible stamp on the world of music. The band essentially created their own genre; they didn’t allow outside influences to change their artistic output, and they maintained a stylistic integrity throughout their career, even apologizing for their own recordings that they felt were sub-par. Starting with 1972’s landmark debut album Can’t Buy A Thrill, Steely Dan released one record per year for the next five years, showing a prodigious work ethic that led to a bevy of classic soft rock albums, four out of five of them going Platinum in the process (1973’sCountdown To Ecstasy only reached Gold status). After releasing perhaps their best record, 1977’s landmark album Aja, the band would retreat into the studio for a lengthy recording process for what would turn out to be the final record of the pinnacle of their career, the wonderfully poppy and secretly dark 1980 album, Gaucho.

Gaucho found the band returning from the success of Aja and life in Los Angeles, but a number of issues bubbled to the surface during their long time in the studio. First and foremost, guitarist and band co-founder Walter Becker‘s girlfriend passed away from a drug overdose while in his home, and her family went on to sue him for $17 Million for introducing her to the drugs that killed her. Becker was eventually found innocent, though he settled with the family for an unknown sum of money. Shortly after this, he was involved in a car accident, shattering his leg and forcing him to use crutches for a long time, while also leading to several infections that left him trapped in the hospital in poor health. He and fellow co-founder Donald Fagen would continue their songwriting process over the phone during this time, slowing things down considerably.

The band would take their famous perfectionism to new levels during the Gaucho recording sessions, as they’d grown accustomed to the dedicated mercenary approach of the session musicians they worked with in Los Angeles on Aja. They returned to their home of New York City and found the musicians they worked with to be less professional, which was a major headache for Becker and Fagen. The band would often force their hired guns to do forty or more takes of the same song in search of the perfect snippet to use in the final recording. The result was a building-blocks approach that caused an inordinate amount of time to go into the recording process. For example, the band hired Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits to play lead guitar on “Time Out Of Mind”, having enjoyed his work on “Sultans of Swing” tremendously. He was brought into the studio for hours and hours of recording, and his final contribution to the record clocks in at only a few seconds.

Gaucho session Drummer Jeff Porcaro (who would go on to find fame and success with his band Toto) told Modern Drummermagazine a bit about the difficult recording process:

“From noon till six we’d play the tune over and over and over again, nailing each part. We’d go to dinner and come back and start recording. They made everybody play like their life depended on it. But they weren’t gonna keep anything anyone else played that night, no matter how tight it was. All they were going for was the drum track.”

Porcaro was replaced by Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and his famed “Purdie Shuffle” on “Babylon Sister”, and eventually a state-of-the-art drum machine nicknamed “Wendel” that was created by a sound engineer to Becker and Fagen’s specifications (Wendel famously received a plaque when Gaucho was certified Platinum). Imagine this as a microcosm for their entire recording process, working through each part on each track individually, performing take-after-take until getting it just right.

On top of their slow approach, when the album was finally ready to go, record label politics got in the way, as the band’s home label ofABC Records was purchased by MCA Records, forcing a delay in any new release from Steely Dan. Furthermore, Fagen and Becker were sued by jazz guitarist Keith Jarrett for copyright infringement, claiming that the album’s title track was too similar to his song “Long As You Know You’re Living Yours”. Fagen would eventually admit to being heavily influenced by the song, and Jarrett was given a co-writing credit on “Gaucho”, a major defeat for a band that was considered to be wholly original and creative in their approach to songwriting.

With all that pre-release drama, it’s amazing that Gaucho even made it to the finish line. Yet, when it was finally released on November 21st, 1980, the album was regarded as a stunning release by many. Rolling Stone gave it 4.5 stars, the New York Times named it the album of the year (over The Talking Heads’ Remain In Light), and the album would reach #9 on the Billboard charts, buoyed by the success of its bouncy lead single “Hey Nineteen”. The album contained a who’s who of famous session musicians, with Steve Gadd, Michael & Randy Brecker, and frequent Steely Dan cohorts Larry Carlton and Michael McDonald all making significant contributions to the record.

The album contains several Steely Dan classics, all of which center on a similar theme of disillusion with fame and success that they picked up in Los Angeles. “Hey Nineteen” captures their nostalgic spirit with perfection, detailing an aging hipster’s questionable pursuit of a nineteen-year-old woman. The album’s opening track, “Babylon Sisters”, is supposedly about a man going through a midlife crisis, picking up two young prostitutes to help him feel better before feeling inadequate in their presence. “Glamour Profession” is the ultimate testament to the perils of the L.A. lifestyle. “Time Out Of Mind” is a blatant tribute to recreational drug use, disguised by a sunny arrangement, bright horns, and awesome harmonies.

On the surface, it was standard Steely Dan, mixing the simple with the complicated, all while maintaining the band’s classic sound. However, the darkness that was driving the band seeped through into the lyrics on Gaucho, and, following Becker’s public dispute with his girlfriend’s grieving family, the band’s troubles were now there for all of their fans to see. Gaucho would be the last Steely Dan’s record for twenty years. Perhaps not a surprise, this time was used by the band to kick their drug habits, normalize their lives, and get back to basics. Their comeback record, Two Against Nature, would lead to an Album of the Year Grammy (controversially beating out Radiohead‘s Kid A and Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP), as well as an induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, cementing the legacy that they left behind with Gaucho all those years ago.

Looking back, Gaucho reflected the band’s faltering ego. The theme of disillusionment rang true with both band members, as they had stopped touring in 1974 and were considered musical hermits by the time 1980 rolled around. Trapped inside their own success and snobby attitudes, the band crumbled, but not before delivering one more perfect album. They wouldn’t have had it any other way.

http://liveforlivemusic.com/features/remembering-tumultuous-perfection-steely-dans-chapter-closing-album-gaucho/

And let's not forget the alternate Gaucho, available if you know someone in the know...

http://bbchron.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/steely-dan-lost-gaucho-and-outtakes.html

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Peter Skellern RIP

Image result for peter skellern
Peter Skellern dead: 'You're a Lady' singer dies, aged 69
'The love he brought to us will continue to be shared with everyone through his music. We will miss him with all our hearts,' says singer's family

Maya Oppenheim 
The Independent
17 February 2017

Musician and "You're a Lady" singer Peter Skellern has died, aged 69.

The singer and pianist, who rose to fame for the hit single in the 1970s, revealed he had an inoperable brain tumour last October.

His family announced his death in a statement, saying they would miss the singer with all their “hearts”.

"Peter's creativity in art, comedy and music stand as his legacy to love and laughter,” they said in a statement sent to The Independent.

"The love he brought to us will continue to be shared with everyone through his music.

"We will miss him with all our hearts."

The former pop star, who was born in Bury in Lancashire, was ordained as a priest and deacon by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the same day last October.

After playing organ in his local church and becoming the choirmaster, Skellern went on to study piano at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. It was his wildly popular hit single “You're a Lady", which reached number three in the UK Singles Chart in 1972, that brought him into the limelight.

Three years later, he again made it into the charts with the song "Hold On to Love" which reached number 14. Skellern was best known for his love songs and ballads which drew on old folk traditions.

He continued to make records on and off throughout the 1970s and 1980s but spent more energy honing his career as a stage writer and composing scores for musicals.

More recently, Skellern has been writing choral music, including "Waiting for the Word", which was written for the BBC's Songs of Praise programme, Six Simple Carols and The Nativity Cantatawritten for a Hemel Hempstead choir called the Aeolian Singers.

People have paid tribute to the singer on Twitter.

"A sad day today. My musical mentor and Dad's best friend Peter Skellern died this morning. The loveliest, most brilliant man," said Joe Stilgoe.

Skellern is survived by his wife Diana and his two children.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/peter-skellern-dead-youre-a-lady-singer-dies-musician-aged-69-a7585476.html

Friday, 17 February 2017

Ten Best Simon and Garfunkel...

Image result for simon and garfunkel
Simon and Garfunkel – 10 of the best
Their friendship hit troubled waters at the height of their fame, but from The Sound of Silence to Mrs Robinson they created some of the most memorable music in the pop canon

Alexandra Pollard
The Guardian
Wednesday 8 February 2017 

1. The Sound of Silence

Given that they had one of the most fractious relationships in music, it should come as no surprise to learn that Simon and Garfunkel almost didn’t make it beyond their time as a rock’n’roll duo named Tom and Jerry. They had one moderately successful single during high school, and three subsequent ones that sank without a trace, but Tom and Jerry fizzled out when the pair went off to college. Their death knell came when Paul Simon released a solo single, True Or False, the perceived betrayal of which Art Garfunkel carried with him for decades. “That solo record I made at the age of 15,” Simon told Playboy in 1984, “permanently coloured our relationship.” Still, they reconciled several years later in 1963, this time using their real names, and in the space of three recording sessions had produced an album – Wednesday Morning, 3am. To promote it, they performed a handful of terribly received shows. The Sound of Silence in particular was treated with derision. “[The song] actually became a running joke,” said folk singer Dave Van Ronk, who was at the shows. “It was only necessary to start singing ‘Hello darkness, my old friend …’ and everybody would crack up.” Discouraged and dispirited, and selling just 3,000 copies of their album, the pair split up once again, and Simon moved to London. That might easily have been the end of the duo, if it weren’t for the album’s producer, Tom Wilson, overdubbing electric guitars and a drumbeat to the melancholic, acoustic ballad and rereleasing it without their consent. That version reached No1 in the US Billboard Hot 100, and catapulted the pair to fame, though the haunting original has also come to be revered.

2. I Am a Rock

The duo – keen to capitalise on their sudden success and with Simon more than happy to come back from Europe, where he was failing to make waves as a solo artist – now hastily returned to the studio. The quickest way to create a second album was to repackage several songs Simon had released on his largely ignored solo album, The Paul Simon Songbook. One of those songs, I Am a Rock, served as the closing track to The Sounds of Silence (1966). The jangly electric guitar and driving drum beat of I Am a Rock followed the precedent Wilson had set with the repurposed title track, only this time they weren’t shoehorned into an existing recording. Given that it was written when Simon was convinced his career was failing, it’s perhaps understandable that the song’s lyrics are almost comically morose: “I have no need of friendship / Friendship causes pain / It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.”

3. Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound, whose every line aches with nostalgia, doesn’t exactly make for cheery listening either, but it serves as something of a balm for anyone who’s experienced homesickness. It first appeared on the UK release of The Sounds of Silence, but turned up again on the duo’s third album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966). Written during Simon’s time in England, when he was touring the country while pining after his new girlfriend Kathy Chitty, it speaks to a sense of solitude and longing. “And each town looks the same to me,” sings Simon, as Garfunkel’s falsetto harmony sweeps in. “The movies and the factories / And every stranger’s face I see / Reminds me that I long to be / Homeward bound.” Simon has since said: “It’s like … a photograph of a long time ago. I like that about it, but I don’t like the song that much. First of all, it’s not an original title. That’s one of the main problems with it. But there’s something naive and sweet-natured, and I must say I like that about it. … And that’s my memory of that time: it was just about idyllic.”

4. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her

After rushing through the process of recording their second album, Simon and Garfunkel were adamant that they would take their time with their third (though it came out just nine months after its predecessor). A handful of the songs from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, including Homeward Bound, were recycled from older releases, but the duo took great pains over its recording and production. Simon’s song For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her is a hazy, guitar-led love song. “And when you ran to me / Your cheeks flushed with the night / We walked on frosted fields / Of juniper and lamplight.” Introducing the song at a concert, Garfunkel told the crowd: “This is a song about a girl who is fictitious. Her name is Emily. Neither of us know her, but the song is written about her. I’m sure she will appear someday.” Later, Simon contradicted this interpretation, saying it was not about a girl at all, but a “belief”.

5. Bookends Theme – Reprise

At 26, Simon believed he had reached the upper echelon of rock’n’roll without compromising his integrity, according to biographer Marc Eliot, but the duo continued to be met with sniffiness from critics. Their fourth album, Bookends (1968), wasn’t universally panned, but it was hardly acclaimed, either. “The music is, for me, questionable,” wrote Rolling Stone’s Arthur Schmidt of the album. “But I’ve always found their music questionable … I admit to liking it, but it exudes a sense of process, and it is slick, and nothing too much happens.” The album has since, like their debut, been significantly reappraised. To dismiss the 32-second Bookends Theme, which opens the album, and its lengthened reprise, as slick is to do it a grave disservice. It’s achingly poignant, sheltering in the comfort of the past while lamenting its loss. “Preserve your memories,” concludes the reprise, which adds strings, and then words, to the crawling, minimalist guitar melody. “They’re all that’s left you.” The vagueness of those last five words – are the memories all that remains, or all that has now gone? – renders the song even more arresting.

6. Mrs Robinson

The film director Mike Nichols had become fascinated with the duo’s music and approached them about his next film project, The Graduate. Simon was initially reluctant, but after meeting Nichols and reading the script, agreed to write a couple of songs for the film. The two he came up with, Punky’s Dilemma and Overs, weren’t quite what Nichols had in mind. So they decided to show him an incomplete song they’d initially called Mrs Roosevelt, changing it to Mrs Robinson after the film’s seductive female lead. It wasn’t finished – they even had to fill in parts with “dee dee dee” because they’d not come up with lyrics yet – but Nichols loved it. He even insisted they keep the “dee dee dee” part.

7. America

Is there a lyric more heartbreakingly, beautifully restrained than this: “‘Kathy I’m lost,’ I said / Though I knew she was sleeping”? The song America – as musically sprawling as the journey it recalls – was inspired by a road trip Simon took with Kathy Chitty. As its narrator searches for a country that seems constantly beyond his grasp, the song flits in tone between youthful playfulness and a deep-rooted, intangible sadness. One minute they are “laughing on the bus” as the pair make up stories about their fellow passengers (“I said, ‘Be careful, his bow tie is really a camera’”), the next there is an “empty and aching, and I don’t know why”. The latter confession only emerges when the narrator knows no one is listening.

8. The Boxer

By the time Simon and Garfunkel limped towards their fifth album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, their relationship was irreparably damaged. Many of the tracks on what would turn out to be their final album together were littered with allusions to their relationship. But The Boxer is more insular than such interpersonal turmoil, speaking of of a private, inner struggle: “I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises.” For many years it was assumed to be a diatribe against Bob Dylan, the “lie-la-lie” in the song’s chorus a comment on Dylan’s artistic disingenuousness. That assumption was baseless; the “lie-la-lie” was simply a placeholder lyric that stuck. “I didn’t have any words!” said Simon. “But, it’s not a failure of songwriting, because people like that and they put enough meaning into it, and the rest of the song has enough power and emotion, I guess, to make it go, so it’s all right. But for me, every time I sing that part … I’m a little embarrassed.

9. The Only Living Boy in New York

If Simon and Garfunkel began with a perceived betrayal, they ended with one, too. The pair were cast in Mike Nichols’ 1970 film adaptation of Catch-22, which was due to be filmed in Mexico. At the last minute, realising he had too many characters, Nichols cut Simon’s role and Garfunkel flew to Mexico without his bandmate. Simon was left alone in New York for what turned out to be many months. “Tom, get your plane right on time,” the song opens, the smoothness of Simon’s voice veiling an edge of bitterness. (Tom was a reference to Garfunkel’s moniker during their Tom and Jerry days, “I know your part’ll go fine. Fly down to Mexico … and here I am / The only living boy in New York.” In 2013, Garfunkel credited the incident as one of the driving factors in the pair’s split: “I had Paul sort of waiting: ‘All right, I can take this for three months. I’ll write the songs, but what’s the fourth month? And why is Artie in Rome a fifth month? What’s Mike doing to Simon and Garfunkel?’”

10. Bridge Over Troubled Water


It often seems as if bands produce their most heart-stirring material at the height of their turbulence, and Bridge Over Troubled Water is surely a shining example of this. “When you’re weary / Feeling small,” sings Garfunkel, “When tears are in your eyes / I will dry them all / I’m on your side.” His wavering falsetto is almost a whisper at first; later it soars. Simon would come to regret insisting that Garfunkel provide the vocals: “Many times on a stage, when I’d be sitting off to the side and Artie would be singing Bridge, people would stomp and cheer when it was over, and I would think, ‘That’s my song, man.’” The pair split up months later, with Simon calling Columbia Records chairman Clive Davis to say: “I want you to know I’ve decided to split with Artie. I don’t think we’ll be recording together again.” He wasn’t quite correct, though most of their brief attempts to record new material in subsequent years were fairly fruitless. They have since performed a handful of reunion shows and tours, but after Garfunkel referred to Simon as a “monster” in a 2015 interview with the Daily Telegraph, it seems unlikely they’ll be touring again any time soon. Still, troubled though the waters may have been, what a team they once were.


Personally, I would replace either Bookends Theme – Reprise with My Little Town and possibly ditch I Am Rock for either Hazy Shade of Winter or Fakin' It...

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Wednesday night's set lists


At The Habit, York: -

Ron Elderly: -
Autumn Leaves
Happy Meal

Da Elderly: -
Love
Romancing Tonight


The Elderly Brothers: -
Love Hurts
When Will I Be Loved
Crying In The Rain


Da Elderly: -
I'm Just A Loser

After heavy early evening rain, the Wednesday open mic could have been a wash-out, but it was not to be! There was a sizeable and attentive audience and some fresh players. A young lass on ukulele strummed some Elvis and got everyone singing along. Another lass, short in stature, but tall in talent wielded a Gretch resonator guitar, and my could she play and sing; a powerful vocal and some of the best country blues you'd ever want to hear - awesome! Ron debuted his own song Happy Meal about the woes of taking the grand bairns to a certain fast food outlet, with a none too happy outcome - it went down well. The Elderly Brothers stuck firmly to Plan A, delivering 100% Phil and Don! There was even time for another song from those players still willing and able at the close. Our host was joined by York song-smith Sam Griffiths for the very last song of the night - a wonderful acoustic reading of Bob Dylan's Tomorrow Is A Long Time.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

John Burnside - Blues

Image result for john burnside poet


© 2000, John Burnside
From: The Asylum Dance
Publisher: Cape, London, 2000
ISBN: 0224059386


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Jazz Exiles in Scandinavia...

Image result for don cherry in scandinavia
Blue Notes, Cold Nights...

Thanks to films like "Round Midnight" we all know about black American musicians escaping racism and putting down roots in Paris. But the story of the African-American and African presence in Scandinavia has been one of Europe's best-kept secrets. 

Country blues singer-guitarist Eric Bibb, who learned his craft in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village but has spent much of his career in Sweden and Finland, explains how jazz and blues players such as trumpeter Don Cherry - step-father of R&B star Neneh Cherry - built new lives in exile. 

Dexter Gordon - the star of '"Round Midnight" was one of the pioneers, settling in Copenhagen in the early 1960s. 

Over the decades generous state support for musicians has helped the music scene in the region to flourish. But now that the host nations are facing their own immigration crisis, will musicians continue to find a welcome? And how easy is it to sustain creativity thousands of miles from your roots?


Listen now while you still have the chance: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0184rg8

Saturday, 11 February 2017

David Bowie Stamps...



The Royal Mail are to release a set of David Bowie postage stamps.

The set of 10 stamps will be on sale from March 14 from either local Post Offices or online by clicking here.

The stamps will feature the album artwork for Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane, “Heroes”,Let’s Dance, Earthling and ★ as well as four additional stamps of Bowie live from the 1973 Ziggy Stardust Tour, the 1978 Stage Tour, the 1983 Serious Moonlight Tour and 2004’s A Reality Tour.

The stamps will also be available as a range of limited edition sets, including a presentation pack, a First Day Cover set with the six David Bowie Special stamps and a First Day Cover set with the David Bowie live stamp sheet.

There will also be individual framed stamp and print sets, a Berlin Years souvenir cover and an Album Art fan sheet.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Dead Poets Society #26

Image result for john clare

I Am by John Clare

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best--
Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Alan Simpson RIP

Image result for alan simpson steptoe
Alan Simpson obituary
Co-writer of TV comedy classics such as Hancock’s Half Hour and Steptoe and Son

Dennis Barker
The Guardian
Wednesday 8 February 2017

Alan Simpson, who has died aged 87, was half of one of Britain’s most successful comedy writing partnerships. Simpson, it is always said, patiently banged away at a manual typewriter while his partner, Ray Galton, strode up and down the room declaiming ideas or dialogue. They made an odd couple, but it worked. Together they wrote the scripts for Tony Hancock’s radio and TV shows, and for many comedy plays, and they created Steptoe and Son, which ran for eight series between 1962 and 1974, with a peak audience of nearly 30 million. Simpson said he always wanted to write about working-class characters – mostly losers – whom he felt he understood.

He was born in Brixton, south London, the son of Francis and Lilian, and moved at a young age to Mitcham where his family lived in a two-up-two-down terrace house; his father, a milkman, died when Alan was 16. He attended Mitcham grammar school but left early and worked as a shipping clerk. Aged 17 he contracted tuberculosis and spent two years at the Surrey County Sanitorium in Milford, near Godalming. The only other young patient in his ward, feeling equally isolated and lonely, was Galton. The two youths became soul mates. And they made each other laugh.

They had another piece of luck: what amounted to an apprenticeship in radio comedy. Another patient, an engineer, got a radio from an old RAF Lancaster bomber working so that they were all able to listen to the American Forces Network from Munich. Their rations of British radio comedy from the BBC were augmented by American shows featuring Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Don Ameche, Phil Harris and Amos ’n’ Andy. The pair began to see the value and mechanism of situation comedy, which Simpson was later to define as: “Half an hour, with no funny voices or jokes as such, all comedy inspired by the characters, and a complete storyline, with no interruptions by a singer or instrumentalist.”

Using a broom cupboard as a studio, and recruiting a radio engineer and special effects man from other patients, the two of them wrote and presented on sanitorium radio their first show, Have You Ever Wondered? According to the 89th issue of the sanitorium’s Milford Bulletin, published on 9 May 1949, it was “slick, up-to-the-minute, with a dash of satire, a worthy effort indeed”.

Once they were discharged (thanks to the arrival of antibiotics), they produced sketches for a church concert party in Mitcham. Beryl Vertue, an old school friend and later collaborator, remembered Simpson at that time as being very tall and an elegant dancer.

But his horizons were broadening. He and Galton wrote to Frank Muir and Denis Norden, the most successful broadcasting comedy writers of the day, offering to work for them in the most menial capacities. This they were never obliged to do so. They sent in a script and were invited to the BBC’s Broadcasting House for a “chat”.
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Though Simpson gave up his job as a shipping clerk, his mother ruled that if he was not able to pay his 30 shillings a week contribution to the household budget within a month, he would have to return to it. With Galton, in 1951 he supplied the well-known comic Derek Roy with jokes at five shillings a go for his Happy Go Lucky radio programme, after which the duo were put on the show’s payroll at eight guineas a week. They ended up writing all the shows, an hour once a fortnight, for 20 guineas each.

They knew they had “arrived” when Hancock offered them 25 guineas. The comedian had made a name for himself in the BBC shows Educating Archie and Kaleidoscope and in 1954 he was given his own radio series, Hancock’s Half Hour, in which he played an exaggerated version of himself. Galton and Simpson wrote the scripts, establishing a form of comedy based on character and situation, rather than sketches and gags. They continued to script the show when it was adapted for television in 1956, altogether writing 160 radio and TV programmes for Hancock between 1954 and 1961.

The pair also joined forces with the funny men Eric Sykes, Spike Milligan, Frankie Howerd and Johnny Speight, who went on to create Till Death Us Do Part, to form their own co-operative writers’ agency, Associated London Scripts. Vertue started as a typist and ended up running the company, which merged with the Robert Stigwood Organisation in 1968.

Galton and Simpson wrote every word Hancock uttered in his show for seven years. Eventually, though, the comedian fell out with his writers and thought he could do better. The cinema film The Punch and Judy Man, in which Hancock played an ill-fated impresario, and for which Galton and Simpson were originally to write the script, turned out to be a sea of disagreements, and Hancock sacked his scriptwriters.

After their association with Hancock ended, the BBC commissioned Galton and Simpson to write 10 one-off short plays, which became the first series of the long-running strand Comedy Playhouse. Number four in the series, The Offer, featured two rag-and-bone men living in Shepherd’s Bush.
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When Tom Sloane, the head of BBC light entertainment, offered the writers their own series based on the characters, Steptoe and Son was the result, wringing uproarious comedy from the plight of the elderly Albert Steptoe, played by Wilfrid Brambell, and his would-be upwardly mobile son, Harold (Harry H Corbett), trying to earn a living out of collecting and selling junk. The show was an immediate success, with the BBC running a second series straight after the first. Altogether four series aired between 1962 and 1965, with another four between 1970 and 1974.

Further work for the pair included a seven-part series for ITV called Galton and Simpson Playhouse, in 1977, and some other stage and television plays. By now, Galton and Simpson worked from a Mayfair office, and Simpson lived in a large house in Sunbury-on-Thames. When his wife, Kathleen, died suddenly in 1978, he vacated their home for a smaller house built in its grounds, and more or less retired from writing.

Among the many awards he received, jointly with Galton, were the Guild of TV Producers and Directors’ Scriptwriters of the Year (1959), the Screenwriters’ Guild best comedy series for Steptoe and Son (1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965), the Screenwriters’ Guild best comedy screenplay in 1972, and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain lifetime achievement award (1997).

After the shock of his wife’s death, Simpson became a bon vivant and sports supporter – he had already been president of Hampton Football Club for many years – and made a career for himself as a professional after-dinner and business conference speaker. He also spent a lot of time driving in his Rolls-Royce around France, exploring restaurants and vineyards.

But he remained close friends with Galton, and they collaborated again in 1998 for the BBC’s Galton and Simpson Radio Playhouse series, celebrating 50 years of their writing partnership, in which they adapted four of their early TV scripts for radio: Clicquot et Fils, Nought for Thy Comfort, A Clerical Error and The Offer.

Both writers were appointed OBE in 2000.

• Alan Simpson, comedy writer, born 27 November 1929; died 8 February 2017