Thursday 18 February 2010


Things are now starting to move again now that we are half way through February.

Is it just my imagination, or does it take longer each year to get past Christmas and New Year?

Time was when by about 5th January (this is my sisters birthday, incidentally, if you would like to remember to send her a card), everything would be totally back to normal. It is creeping further and further into the year. Now it seems to be just before Valentines Day that Britain wakes up to the fact that everyone with a job is back and functioning. Not sure why this is. It may be a product of global warming as the newspapers always tell us that winter and spring seem to be moving. This may be because they are trying to keep up with that other moveable feast - Easter.
I say this because, as you may have noticed, there has not been a lot of live music in my life over the last few weeks. Something which was nagging at me. Then a deluge. The BBC Club (Note to tabloid editors here - which is funded entirely by voluntary subscription and not from the licence fee) was the venue for a showcase. These happen fairly regularly and they give producers and DJ's (the ones that like music, that is) a chance to see some new and emerging acts perform in an intimate venue.

I was treated to a total feast with not one but four different acts. A duo who, unfortunately, I found rather bland and forgettable; expect them to be one of the year’s biggest sellers when their first album comes out shortly (I was never good at picking "hits"; my track record over 33 years has been "Da DaDa" by Trio and "Boxerbeat" by the JoBoxers).

They were followed by a short set from the wonderful Jon Allen. "..........." (she is still shy) was very keen to see him as she had been on his website to try and download his new single, "When the Morning Comes", which wasn't released until last Monday. She had received a personal reply which had tickled her and he sought us out at the gig for a quick chat which was nice of him.

He was followed by Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam, a guitar-shredding 22 year-old bluesman from the Isle of Man who played a blistering set. Mama's Gun followed and did a whole soul thing which was a total delight.

Not unsurprising with music of this quality they have all made it onto the Radio 2 playlist. Having said that some things do end up on the playlist that I can't abide, however, we would all be very dull if we liked exactly the same things. This is why I find it rather sad sometimes that people write off music, musicians, radio, TV shows as "rubbish", and they "demand" changes via message boards and letters to the newspapers just because they don't personally like it.

It always amuses me when I receive an email in the electronic equivalent of green crayon which claims "I and all my friends think........" Since when did you and your "friends" speak for the whole nation, green crayon emailer?

The music was coming fast now. "............." and I went off to see an unplugged set by Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt; a masterclass in veteran singer-songwriters who had honed their craft over many years, at ease and enjoying each others company. Two guys, two guitars, two chairs and two tables, with bottles of water and plectra on.

They would chat between numbers about the songs and their lives until, after the second song, someone yelled "get on with it". They duly launched into another tune. After it was done, John Hiatt introduced the next one and, as he played the opening chords, he asked, "that brief enough for ya, the guy up the back? Perhaps he has a train to catch". This produced a roar or laughter and applause from the audience.

Is it me? Maybe I am getting old but heckling has its place in places like comedy clubs or at politicians. Not when it is just plain rude and pointless. ".........." thought I was being a little extreme when I pointed out that if I was a benign (or perhaps not so benign) Dictator I would institute the death penalty for rotten hecklers. I think perhaps as a child the guy didn't have many toys. Either that or he had a tiny penis, so he was desperate for some attention. It was a totally unnecessary interruption to a great concert.

They played for two and half hours to a near capacity crowd and for the last 30 minutes were joined by fellow songsmith, Joe Ely.

I am given to understand that BBC 4 recorded a similar gig the night before so check the listings. It will be worth it.

We are settling into the new routine with the change of hours. I know it is not ideal. Many of you have pointed out that you are not enjoying the early finish. Hopefully, though, this is not for ever.

Ss AKA Dr Strangelove, my producer, is finding the hours tough. He is a health nut who watches everything he eats and drinks. Is a constant presence in the gym and changes his hair like others change their underpants. However, over the last fortnight he has had a terrible cold which has now retreated, leaving the legacy of a comedy huge red spot where his nose used to be. We instigated a "Ss spot remedy" section on the shoe and all that you did was laugh at him!
Sympathy came there none. I thought it was hilarious. Dr Strangelove wasn't so sure so tried to camouflage it by dabbing fake tan on it.
End result: he looked like a bloke with a training WAG on his face.

As someone who does try (and often fails) to find the silver lining there has been an unexpected bonus to starting and finishing later. TRAYNS!!

I head up to the Midlands every week to see my Dad and, when they are available, my sister and brother in law. When the programme finished at 6, the earliest affordable train was at 6.50 and took more than two hours. Now I can scuttle off to the station and catch the 6.03 which takes under an hour-and-a-half. Then I can get the two hour version back in the afternoon. Total cost of return journey booked in advance on the internet - £17.50

The other week I had to make a last minute peak-time trip and for a "standard" return I had to fork out £140!! I cried all the way there, whilst I was there and all the way back again.


Holland said...

Still shy Alex, we will be expecting more details and a photo soon!
For that price on a train I would still be crying!!!
Still missing you with the change of the schedule!

GrrrNasher said...

Thanks Alex for the laughs. I'm still laughing at my spelling mistake you found ... much to your delight / childish humour!

Mmmmmm "-------" is still shy hey, how about an identity ... oh what fun us listeners could have thinking of one! Do it quick before we do - wink.

GrrrNasher said...

Hey up Alex, is there really hope of us having you back again at the later slot? We can only dream. It would be so nice to listen to the radio again whilst going to work. Us halflings are really missing you.
Love the plimsolls (gym shoes)

Annie said...

I know that tickled feeling! it happened to me last week when I got a personal reply from a website - and Jon Allen was mentioned too! I saw him last week and he is very gifted (and attractive and charming too!)thanks for including the photo!

What motivates the hecklers to go to concerts in the first place? why don't they just stay at home and play the CD? They just don't seem to get the point about live performance; it can really spoil the mood for everyone else.

I sincerely hope there is a schedule change for the shoe in the future, in the meantime I will do my best to keep up via the iplayer.

moggy said...

MOGGY SAYS THE SHOE RETURNING TO THE OLD TIME was on facebook i tryed to drum up folks to sign a thingy to send to the boss of bbc! folks just were not interested sorry there was over 2000 members on it as well
as for this blog sorry no food BOO HOO

Maid of Kent said...

"------" is entitled to her anonymity and I can understand her being shy. The thought of the followers of the shoe must be daunting. I am sure that all will become clear in good time and in the meantime, patience is a virtue :-), or so Im told. I enjoy the new hours of the show as I have not slept well for years and now I seem to have longer to enjoy the daftness.

boatslip said...

I agree whole heartedly with comments about time changes WHY change something that is not broke!

Stil it's still the best shoe on the beeb