Thursday 30 May 2013

Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary to Dave and Linda!

From all the Friday Boys!

Last night's setlist

At The Habit, York (The Elderly Brothers): -
There’ll Never Be Anyone Else But You
Green Door
Wake Up Little Susie
Crying In The Rain
Bye Bye Love

A packed house from the off with a very appreciative crowd. It felt good when everyone clapped along to Bye Bye Love, as in the S&G live rendition on Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Highlights of the night included a lass who seemed capable of singing just about anything – scat singing included (a first for The Habit maybe), the evergreen Completely Bananas and an excellent cover of Goin’ Back (first track on Neil’s 1978 Comes A Time).

George Jones - Wild Irish Rose

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Bowie on the BBC: Five Years

David Bowie - Five Years
An intimate portrait of five key years in David Bowie's career. Featuring a wealth of previously unseen archive this film looks at how Bowie continually evolved, from Ziggy Stardust, to the Soul Star of Young Americans, to the 'Thin White Duke'. It explores his regeneration in Berlin with the critically acclaimed album Heroes, his triumph with Scary Monsters and his global success with Let's Dance. With interviews with all his closest collaborators, this film investigates how Bowie has become an 'icon of our times'.

On BBC iPlayer until 1 June:
David Bowie - Five Years: A desire for more
An interview with Francis Whately, director and producer of David Bowie - Five Years

By Tessa Delauney-Martin
Friday 24 May 2013, 16:19

How did the documentary come about?
I’ve always been a fan and having made a short film with Bowie in the late 90s, I was always keen to make something more substantial about the music.

So when the V&A approached me and said that they were doing an exhibition, I was very excited. I wanted to do something that was complementary to their show, but that was new and very different.

The first thing was to explore what was out there. One of the things that I really wanted to do was take away what the industry calls the voice-of-God commentary and instead let the people who were there do the talking, including Bowie himself.

So we employed a team of people who went through hours and hours of Bowie material and transcripts from radio, TV, journalist interviews, promotional material from the record labels, rushes and outtakes.

I then used the synch highlights from this trawl as a backbone to construct a narrative.
David Bowie on Ziggy Stardust: 'I found my character, one man against the world'

I chose Five Years because I believe there are five key years in the 70s and early 80s where he’s changing direction pretty radically.

I fully expect and welcome absolutely everyone who watches this programme to tell me that they would have chosen other years. This is a healthy debate to have and as a fan I understand it completely!

There are loads of tracks, I would have loved to have done: Aladdin Sane, Drive-In Saturday, We Are The Dead, the list is endless. But with such a wealth of material I had to sadly be selective.

Where did the unseen footage come from?
The unseen footage comes from private collectors, archives around the world and even the BBC vaults where some of the best material had been forgotten!

Do you know why it hadn’t been seen before?
It’s difficult to know why David Bowie hadn’t been tackled as a subject, really comprehensively before.

We’ve had documentaries on Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Bob Marley, on so many major artists, and yet for some reason Bowie had been rather left out. I don’t understand why.

There have obviously been documentaries, Cracked Actor, the Alan Yentob film in 1975 for example, which was utterly brilliant but there hadn’t been anything that was a longer portrait.

And because of his absence for 10 years I think there was an appetite that’s been, extraordinarily, only partly sated by the V&A exhibition and the new album. I think there’s still a desire for more.
'I have a song that feels like it's a hit': Bowie teamed up with Nile Rodgers to produce Let's Dance

Was there a goose-pimple moment for you during filming?
Yes it’s the best part of my job! I was sitting opposite people whose names I’d read on the back of albums when I was a teenager, so there was Carlos Alomar, and Earl Slick and Warren Peace.

People who were legends to me, and suddenly I was interviewing them and they were playing the music that I loved sitting opposite me and that is a huge, huge privilege.

And what was so nice is that everyone I asked to be interviewed said yes, without exception, and that’s rare.

That’s a testament to their loyalty to Bowie, actually, and the fact that he is able to time and time again surround himself by the very best people in the industry.
'There was no point doing a straightforward take on American soul… I wanted to put a spin on it'

Were there any moments in the footage where you felt you got a real insight into Bowie’s character?
When you see him in the Young Americans tour rehearsal footage in black and white interacting with Luther Vandross and Robin Clark and Ava Cherry and the rest of them, you realise what a perfectionist he is, the respect he’s held in, how much work he puts in.

Although it was what he called the plastic soul album it wasn’t him pretending, it was him celebrating that genre of music. And I think in that footage you really see him working with a group of musicians who totally respect him.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Bill Pertwee RIP

Bill Pertwee obituary
Actor best known for playing the officious ARP warden William Hodges in Dad's Army

Dennis Barker
Monday 27 May 2013

In his early days as a cabaret artist, the actor Bill Pertwee, who has died aged 86, did a manic cricket revue sketch at a fashionable club in central London. A haughty and inebriated diner kicked over his stumps and shouted: "How's that?" Pertwee punched him in the stomach and was escorted out by the head waiter, who informed him that the customer was always right. "As far as I'm concerned, he isn't!" retorted Pertwee.

This bubbling belligerence was successfully incorporated into the bossy character that made Pertwee famous: ARP Warden William Hodges in the celebrated BBC television series Dad's Army (1968-77), written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. As Hodges, he perpetually clashed with Captain George Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe) of the Home Guard.

The inspiration for the way Pertwee played the warden came from his boyhood during the second world war, when an air-raid warden habitually ran down his family's street shouting: "Get down the shelter, there's a raid on." His mother would shout back: "We're already in the shelter." The reply was usually: "Don't argue! Get down the shelter."

The series nearly did not get made. The BBC top brass, including the otherwise perceptive Bill Cotton – son of the bandleader Billy Cotton, with whose band Pertwee had toured – doubted that any programmes made about the Home Guard could hold the public's attention. Pertwee, when offered the part of Hodges, believed he was on to a winner. Sure enough, he was soon unable to get on a bus or a train without someone shouting his character's catchphrase: "Put that light out!"

It was altogether appropriate that Pertwee, a cousin of the more clownish comic actor Jon Pertwee (star of Doctor Who and Worzel Gummidge), should have made his reputation playing an officious functionary from the past. He belonged in spirit to a different era and later made public his discontent with modern-day Britain. "Things began to disintegrate in the later 1950s," he said. "It was when we stopped communicating with each other. The wealth rollercoaster of the 1980s made it worse. It's a great country, but we've lost our way a bit."

Pertwee was more sensitive than his imposing eyebrows, sloping eyes and boxer's nose suggested. He was taken to see the pantomime Cinderella as a child but asked to be taken home after 10 minutes because he didn't like the ugly sisters. Pertwee was born in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, the youngest of three sons of a Brazilian mother and an English father with French ancestry.

The family seldom lived in one place for long, relocating after Pertwee's father was made redundant and again after he died. On one occasion, the bailiffs arrived to take away their furniture because they were in arrears on the hire purchase payments. He was evacuated to Sussex during the second world war; one of his older brothers died while serving in the RAF.

Pertwee worked for a farmer until he drove a tractor into a brick wall and was sacked. Various other short-lived jobs followed. As a a salesman for Burberry, he found himself serving a raincoat to the famous comedian Sid Field, who gave him tickets for his show at the Prince of Wales theatre, London.

In 1954 Pertwee met the actor Beryl Reid, and wrote her some material for a show at the Watergate theatre. He appeared in Reid's revue for two months, and events were moving him steadily towards full-time acting. His cousin Jon was in a radio show, Waterlogged Spa, and Bill was offered a part in the programme's double or quits cash quiz.

Pertwee credited the scriptwriter Eric Merriman, whose hits included the series Beyond Our Ken, with changing the course of his career. "In the late 1950s I had a short solo spot on the radio show Variety Playhouse, compered by Kenneth Horne, and it was then that I met [Merriman]. From this programme came Beyond Our Ken. I joined the cast after the first series." He also appeared on Round the Horne, with Horne and Kenneth Williams.

Pertwee had also developed his skills as a variety artist, appearing in Jon's touring shows and others. In 1955 he appeared at a show in Gorleston, Norfolk, with the performer Marion McLeod; they married later that year.

During the Dad's Army years, he appeared in the films Carry on Loving (1970) and Carry on Girls (1973) and series such as Love Thy Neighbour (1972-76). He later joined Jon in Worzel Gummidge (1979-80). He also had parts in It Ain't Half Hot Mum (1981) and Hi-de-Hi! (1986) and a regular role as PC Wilson in You Rang, M'Lord? (1988-93) – all three series were written by Croft and Perry.

On stage Pertwee appeared in a number of highly successful Ray Cooney farces and there were also various pantomimes, including Babes in the Wood at Chichester in 1984, directed by the comedy actor Dennis Ramsden. His one-man show, performed at festivals, was entitled A Funny Thing Happened. His autobiography, A Funny Way to Make a Living, was published in 1996 and Pertwee was the subject of This Is Your Life three years later. He was made an MBE in 2007.

His great passions were cricket and writing. He wrote books about seaside entertainment (Promenades and Pierrots, 1979; Beside the Seaside, 1999), the history of Royal Command performances (By Royal Command, 1981); military entertainers (Stars in Battledress, 1992); and an account of the making of the series which made him, Dad's Army, published in several successful editions.

Marion died in 2005. Pertwee is survived by their son, Jonathan, and his grandchildren, Jake and Michaela.

• William Desmond Anthony Pertwee, actor, born 21 July 1926; died 27 May 2013

Monday 27 May 2013

A Walk Across the Rooftops...

Members of the public take a rare opportunity to scale the steel-panelled roof of the Sage Gateshead arts centre - climbing to 40 metres for stunning views across the Tyne
Click on the image for a larger view...

And a few more photos courtesy of

Sunday 26 May 2013

J. D. Salinger - screening at Cannes...

JD Salinger documentary gets first screening at Cannes
Part of Shane Salerno's film about The Catcher in the Rye author is screened at Cannes after nine years in production

Charlotte Higgins in Cannes
Saturday 18 May 2013

It has been veiled in mystery and speculation, and has been nine years in the making. But now a few minutes of the highly anticipated documentary about JD Salinger by Shane Salerno – chiefly known as a writer of action films including Savages and Alien vs Predator – has been shown at the Cannes film festival.

Through a bafflingly fast-paced montage of clips, showing fragments of interviews with figures such as Tom Wolfe, EL Doctorow and the late Gore Vidal, the preview hinted at, rather than delivered, revelations about the writer's existence after he withdrew from public life in 1965, living in seclusion and no longer publishing though, it is speculated, writing feverishly until his death in 2010.

Asked whether the film, which is due for release in the autumn, contained any hard revelations about The Catcher in the Rye author's reclusive life, Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Company is handling the movie, said, "It depends how you define a great revelation. I hope the audience will keep the secret of the film, and won't tell their neighbours, just like they did for The Crying Game. If I told you what it was they'd kill me. Shane Salerno directed Savages, so I am definitely not going to tell you."

The preview contained enigmatic references to the "huge bunker" in which Salinger apparently wrote; "the biggest secret of his lifetime"; "two thick manuscripts" and an interviewee tearfully referring to "the saddest thing I have ever read".

There were also hints about the mental aftermath of his serving in the war and the psychological effect of his most famous work having been adduced as an influence on a number of high-profile murderers, most famously Mark David Chapman, who shot John Lennon, and who was found with a copy of the novel inscribed with the words "This is my statement".

On a personal note, Weinstein revealed that he had repeatedly written to Salinger ("one letter, then another letter, then about 50 letters") asking for permission to make The Catcher in the Rye into a film. Through the documentary, he learned that he was "about 9,000th in line" with Elia Kazan "at number one" and "Mike Nicholls also in high consideration". Salinger authorised no film adaptations of his stories after an unsatisfactory version of his Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, transformed into My Foolish Heart (1949) by director Mark Robson.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Last night's set list

At The Habit, York: -

Out On The Weekend
Love Song
Heart Of Gold

Another fun-packed evening of open mic music making including some great country fiddle, a Geordie chap managing to get some very tuneful sounds from The Habit's notoriously out of tune piano, covers galore and some excellent original stuff.

Oh and a few pints of Leeds Pale to lubricate proceedings.

The Odd Couple: The Curious Friendship between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin - review

Soul Brothers - review
Richard Bradford: The Odd Couple - The Curious Friendship between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin (Robson Press, 2012), 373pp. ISBN 978-1-84954-375-0

Richard Bradford is not a man for critical half-measures. Laying his cards firmly on the table in the opening line of his introduction to The Odd Couple, he declares: 'During a thirty-year period between the 1950s and the 1980s, Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin produced, respectively, the finest fiction and poetry of the era.' While the second half of this statement would doubtless find ready assent among readers of About Larkin, the first half is surely more problematic. Bradford's critical certitude is again in evidence when he takes up the cudgels against those in the literary establishment who turned against Larkin following the publication of firstly the Selected Letters (1992) and later Andrew Motion's Philip Larkin - A Writer's Life (1993). Resolutely anti-modernist in his approach, Bradford feels Amis's comic writing is wrongly downgraded by academics in favour of what he calls the 'surreal speculation on the absurdities of the intellect that finds its way into the work of Joyce, Beckett, Pinter and their successors', adding defiantly: 'His work is serious because it is funny.' Similarly, with Larkin, Bradford's broadsides in defence of the poet can sound shrill: 'Academics and other members of the literary establishment dislike writing that is self-evidently beautiful but which does not, like modernism, demand their services as explicators.' Arguing in defence of what he calls 'formal conservatism', Bradford plays the literary reactionary, echoing Amis at his most curdmudgeonly: 'Moreover, they show that the successful command of traditional techniques requires far more skill and intellectual investment than the tired and predictable practices of experiment... In the latter half of the twentieth century they were the torch bearers for writing that tested the intellect and sensibility of its readers without resorting to the self-obsessed preoccupations of modernism.'

This kind of broad stroke critical approach is a feature of The Odd Couple, which drew criticism from Christopher Tayler, in the London Review of Books (Vol. 34, No. 24, 20 December 2012): 'Even some of Bradford's esoteric interpretations could have been made to look more plausible by a less clumsy writer, and the book is hard to fault on detail. The main problem is one of emphasis: Bradford isn't good with humour, and his narrative requirements make him put too much on the idea of Larkin as the surly underdog... If Amis took more from Larkin than Larkin did from him, maybe Larkin had more to give.' Although reviewers have generally been kind to The Odd Couple, commending the book for its detailed analysis of the Amis-Larkin friendship, eagle-eyed satirist Craig Brown excoriated the book for blatant self-plagiarism in The Mail on Sunday, in the kind of withering review which would force most authors into hiding. Calling the book 'a triumph of cut and paste,' Brown accuses Bradford of taking both reader and his publishers 'for a ride', by reproducing verbatim chunks from his previous books on Amis and Larkin. Slamming The Odd Couple as 'a shameless exercise in marketing old rope', Brown demonstrates how often only the linking passages between previously published text are new, cheekily speculating if 'self-plagiarism is an offence in academia?' And Bradford's wholesale recycling can have other, unintended consequences, when previous unforced errors are not picked up. Reviewing Bradford's First Boredom, Then Fear - The Life of Philip Larkin in About Larkin 20 (Autumn 2005), this writer noted that the earlier book had the poet being interviewed – posthumously – by Melvyn Bragg in 1986. Unfortunately, the selfsame error appears in The Odd Couple, surrounded by the same recycled prose Craig Brown enjoyed lampooning.

But for all its cutting and pasting, The Odd Couple does present a very detailed picture of the Amis-Larkin relationship, from its beginnings at St John's College, Oxford, in May, 1941, to its sad and muted conclusion, with Larkin's death in 1985. Bradford reasonably observes that the largely epistolary friendship of Amis and Larkin 'energised, sometimes even shaped, much of their finest writing.' But he cannot resist drawing apparently definitive aesthetic conclusions from literary evidence. So we are told that 'Lucky Jim, the novel that launched Amis's career, could not have been written without Larkin', and that while Amis apparently 'exploited their intimacy for his writing, Larkin's mature poetry was largely a reaction against it.' But Bradford does avoid some of the self-plagiarism charges by featuring unpublished material from the archives, including previously unseen documents from the Hull History Centre and the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

From the moment Larkin spotted Amis faking a gunshot wound and collapsing on some laundry bags outside St John's College, their lives were drawn together. The friendship blossomed in the beery context of 'The Seven,' a kind of disrespectful, debunking literary gang. Both agnostics, Amis and Larkin came from similar social and educational backgrounds. They shared a scabrous, casually obscene sense of humour, a passion for traditional jazz, drink and sex – or, in Larkin's case, fantasizing about sex. And they also shared a secret, coded language in an almost hermetically sealed private world. In terms of literary nous, Amis considered Larkin 'the senior partner', with the latter encouraging his friend to read Auden, Flann O'Brien and Henry Green. The pair peppered their private world with scurrilous, parodic and obscene verses. The Amis-Larkin relationship presented a stiff index finger to academic or literary propriety. Bradford notes: 'It was as though both were in private able to enjoy breaking down the institutionalised borders between comic irreverance and high culture, while in their attempts to produce proper literature they deferred to the humourless conventions of the latter.' But although the bond between the two friends was strong, their literary tastes often diverged. Amis, for example, never shared Larkin's admiration for D.H.Lawrence or his attachment to the psychological theories of John Layard.

Though their friendship endured for more than 40 years, the Amis-Larkin relationship was largely based on letters. Larkin was never keen for Amis to visit Hull, perhaps anxious to conceal the mundanity of his working life or his intimate relationships. Their correspondence was sparked when Amis was conscripted into the Army, while poor eyesight exempted Larkin. Bradford pinpoints this as a turning point in their friendship, calling their letters 'unique in the history of literature,' adding: 'Their correspondence provides an index not only to the progress of their relationship but also to each of them as individual writers.' Bradford draws parallels between certain Larkin poems and specific passages in the voluminous, often sexually graphic correspondence. So he considers a letter by Larkin, dating from February 1947, about his crumbling relationship with Ruth Bowman, a 'prose version' of Wild Oats. But some readers may demur at some of Bradford's parallels. For instance, he suggests The Old Fools is simply 'Larkin's response' to the bleak fictional landscape of Amis's novel, Ending Up. The poem has far more complex roots than this. And apart from such simplistic literary intepretations, Bradford can also be accused of overstepping the limits of biography. After quoting a famous Larkin letter to Maeve Brennan in December 1975 – 'I am very close to Monica and very fond of her... But it's you I love; you're the one I want ' – he states unequivocally: 'He was lying. Within three years their relationship would be over, forever.' Bradford fails to acknowledge the inconsistencies and complexities of the human heart, Moreover the reader may reasonably ask, 'How does Bradford know Larkin was lying?'

Arguably the central chapter of The Odd Couple is that concerned with the development of the classic Amis novel, Lucky Jim. Bradford explores Larkin's influence on and inspiration for the book, and Amis's apparently lifelong antipathy to Monica Jones. According to Bradford's reading of the novel's gestation, Amis was 'scrupulously harvesting key aspects of his friendship with Larkin for the novel.' He believes Larkin was complicit in the creation of the character of Margaret Peel, which is widely considered to be based on Monica, his novelist friend making 'disparaging comments' about the woman who was apparently his soul-mate, while allowing Amis to believe the relationship was far more casual. For Bradford, Monica was 'a threat... to the... unique and confidential partnership' between Amis and Larkin. But even as Lucky Jim was taking shape, Monica was actually displacing Amis as Larkin's 'most trusted adviser on his poems-in-progress'. But after a rejected first book, The Legacy, Amis seemed to find his way again with the novel form via Larkin's letters, which he found much funnier than his own.

Bradford considers the Amis-Larkin correspondence a rich literary storehouse, providing many of the comic set pieces in the novel. Amis called his poet-friend his 'inner audience' and drew inspiration from their private, epistolary style, which remained mostly inaccessible to the outside world. In effect, Amis found a way back into fiction by transforming his private correspondence with Larkin into public literary currency. Echoing Pound editing Eliot's original manuscript He Do The Police In Different Voices into The Waste Land, Larkin cast a cold critical eye over 150,000 words of the nascent Lucky Jim and helped shape the book. But Bradford believes Larkin came to regret his part in its creation, accusing his old friend of plagiarism: 'Sometimes he disclosed his feelings to others but never to Amis, even much later when their friendship appeared to be mutating into quiet antagonism.'

Given his teasing out of the many links sparked by the famous literary friendship, it's surprising that Bradford fails to acknowledge a perhaps veiled or submerged Amis caricature in Larkin's satirical poem, The Life with a Hole in it. Yet for all its recycling and often unsubtle readings, The Odd Couple still provides a wealth of detail about the interlinked lives of two highly complex, hugely talented literary figures. What is also clear is that real love underpinned the Amis-Larkin relationship. As Martin Amis commented in his introduction to his selected Larkin, Poems (2011): 'It was always clear to everyone that Kingsley loved Philip with a near-physical passion.' But Amis fils also recalled his father's comment on his return from Larkin's funeral, after finally getting to visit his old friend in Hull: 'It sounds odd, but I sometimes wonder if I ever really knew him.' Just before he died, Larkin was forced to dictate his final letter to Amis on to a tape recorder, which meant dispensing with their traditional, slightly rude but still affectionate and wholly typical valediction of 'bum'.

Terry Kelly 
About Larkin April 2013

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Trevor Bolder RIP

Trevor Bolder, bass player for David Bowie's 70s backing band, dies aged 62
Member of Spiders from Mars, who subsequently played with Uriah Heep for more than 30 years, was suffering from cancer

Press Association
Tuesday 21 May 2013

Trevor Bolder, the bass player for Uriah Heep and David Bowie's Spiders from Mars, has died aged 62 after suffering from cancer.

Bolder joined Bowie's backing band in 1971, appearing on classic albums including Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane.

He went on to join Uriah Heep five years later and only stopped playing with the band a few months ago after his health worsened.

Tributes were paid to him on Tuesday night as a "world-class" rock musician.

A statement from Uriah Heep said: "It is with great sadness that Uriah Heep announce the passing of our friend the amazing Trevor Bolder, who has passed away after his long fight with cancer.

"Trevor was an all-time great, one of the outstanding musicians of his generation, and one of the finest and most influential bass players that Britain ever produced.

"His long time membership of Uriah Heep brought the band's music, and Trevor's virtuosity and enthusiasm, to hundreds of thousands of fans across the world.

"He joined the band in 1976 and, barring one short break, was a fixture until his ill health forced him to take a step back early this year.

"Prior to joining Heep he was a founder and ever-present member of David Bowie's legendary Spiders from Mars band, performing on all of their key albums and at countless shows. He also performed with Wishbone Ash, Cybernauts and the Rats."

Lead guitarist Mick Box said: "Trevor was a world-class bass player, singer and songwriter, and more importantly a world-class friend.

"He will be sadly missed by family, friends and rock fans all over the world. We are all numb to the core."

Monday 20 May 2013

J. D. Salinger Documentary - more news...

JD Salinger's secret life exposed in new documentary
Film promising revelations about reclusive Catcher in the Rye author has been snapped up by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein

Paul Harris
The Observer
Saturday 18 May 2013 

J. D Salinger, the elusive author of The Catcher in the Rye, was one of America's most famous recluses and guarded his private life with fanatical dedication. Yet even he might have been impressed by the immense efforts being undertaken to keep details secret of a new documentary that has been made about his life and works.

Called simply Salinger, the film is the brainchild of Shane Salerno, who has spent nine years writing, producing and directing the project, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money. The move is a major shift in career for Salerno, best known as a writer of mainstream blockbusters such as Alien vs Predator: Requiem and Armageddon.

But the promise of lifting the lid on the life of one of America's most revered writers has proven a massive lure to Hollywood. Salinger has been bought up by independent film mogul Harvey Weinstein after he reportedly saw a private screening of it at 7.30 on the morning of the Oscars. Even though the screening did not apparently include all of the film's most confidential revelations, he snapped it up immediately.

In fact, so impressed have its backers been with what Salerno and his team have uncovered they are also releasing a TV show based on the documentary and have struck a deal with publisher Simon and Schuster to bring out a book called The Private War of JD Salinger.

With Salerno not giving press interviews, there has been feverish speculation about details of new love affairs and rumours of unpublished manuscripts. One of the few hints is a statement Salerno made announcing the book deal. "The myth that people have read about and believed for 60 years about JD Salinger is one of someone too pure to publish, too sensitive to be touched. We replace the myth of Salinger with an extraordinarily complex, deeply contradictory human being. Our book offers a complete revaluation and reinterpretation of the work and the life," he said.

That is a bold claim to make about one of the world's most elusive figures, who died at the age of 91 in 2010. Though the publication of The Catcher in the Rye in 1951 made him rich and famous, Salinger fled the spotlight. In 1953 he left New York to live in a secluded rural compound in Cornish, New Hampshire. His published literary output dwindled and he eschewed virtually all media interviews. His last published work came out in 1965, and his last interview – which Salinger appeared to have been tricked into giving – was in 1980.

Ironically, many believe Salinger's quest for privacy actually stoked far more fascination. "In keeping himself isolated, it excited people," said Tom Paine, a Salinger fan and the author of a collection of short stories and the novel The Pearl of Kuwait.

Indeed, few authors can claim to have inspired so many people with such a small body of work. His stories seem to have captured the angst of youth and modern life. "He was a writer who was more of a spiritual seeker than just a storyteller. He was trying to use fiction not only to tell a story, but to parallel his own spiritual development," said Paine.

But some have not reacted well to Salerno's project. Though he claims to have interviewed as many as 200 people, Salinger's son, Matthew Salinger, told the New York Times recently that his father's inner circle of friends numbered just a few and none had co-operated with the project. "There were barely enough people to form a circle in the last 30 or 40 years," he told the newspaper.

That comment has drawn a swift rebuttal. In a statement, the Weinstein company said Salerno had gained "unprecedented access" to people around Salinger. "With due respect to Matt Salinger, he has not seen the film. We've seen the film, and unfortunately Matt Salinger does not have accurate information," it said.

Either way, speculation about the film will stoke massive interest in its subject: something that many fans see as a double-edged sword. Certainly, not all intend to watch it, out of a belief that Salinger himself would have been horrified by the idea. "I am very much in two minds about the documentary. It seems deeply wrong, carnivorous and hurtful, even though I am perhaps hungry to know what is in it," said Paine.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Keith Crombie: The Jazz Man

Newcastle Jazz Legend Keith Crombie To Be Featured in Forthcoming Doc

Newcastle legend Keith Crombie is to be the focus of a new documentary, The Jazz Man, from North East producer/director Abi Lewis of Agogo Films. Crombie, who ran Pink Lane’s Jazz Cafe for over 20 years, died aged 73 in December last year after a short illness; the club was open until shortly before his death.

Lewis has just released a teaser for The Jazz Man, and is developing the project with funding from Northern Film & Media. She said of her decision to embark on the projected 60 min film: “like Keith himself, the Jazz Cafe was becoming old and worn and my gut feeling told me it was time someone documented Keith and the history of the venue before it was too late. I wanted to capture the venue for posterity and all that it means to all the people who regularly go there.” With footage shot over a two year period, the film will draw not only on contributions from the club’s regulars but on Lewis’ deep knowledge of her subject (Crombie was also also her Godfather).

Lewis has worked in the television industry for nearly a decade on television dram and online content, largely for 21st Century Media. The Jazz Man will be her debut film.

To watch the official teaser click here. You can follow Abi’s progress on Twitter @TheJazzManDoc or on the film’s Facebook page.