Saturday, 31 March 2012

Bruthers Of Different Muthers

I looked on twitter this morning to see that Jesse Green had been posting about his band, Bruthers Of Different Muthers (BODM) and came across this song, 'Bows and Arrows', sort of heavy metal powwow. Give it a listen.

The good news is that the band has been nominated for a Juno Award in the Aboriginal Album of the year category. Not bad for a band that hasn't been around very long and just released their first album in September last year. They've all been around for a while as musicians of course, just not together. I've just downloaded their album, 'Speakers of Tomorrow' and am looking forward to playing it loud.

If you've looked at this blog before then you've probably seen them in photos and videos since, if you remove one member, they're also Buffy Sainte-Marie's band. They've been on tour with Buffy over the last three years and there's a lovely interview with Jesse Green in which he talks about the band, about Buffy and about their success so far.

It might seem odd for Buffy to have a hard, driving rock band behind her but not when you see them in action playing 'Cho Cho Fire', they fit right in. And, let's face it, Buffy is perfectly safe and sound surrounded by those men - fearsome looking until they smile. And they're righteously loud!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

They Don't Make Telly Like This Anymore

I felt an urgent need to share this video of an old Michael Aspell show in which he explores punk rock while he wears oversized denims. It features Glen Matlock arguing with Jonathan King, Sir Noddy Holder sitting behind Glen, Rat Scabies and a lovely shot of Poly Styrene at about 5:50 minutes. The Damned end the show by playing 'Smash It Up' and the lovely Rat sets fire to his drumkit.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Geo Wyeth - 'Little Bone Of Pain'

Geo Wyeth (who sometimes goes by the name of Novice Theory) has finally shown signs of releasing a new record by publishing a video for a new song on Vimeo - 'Little Bone Of Pain' from the new album, 'Alien Tapes'.

I first came across young Geo when he was part of Justin Bond's 'Lustre' show at the Soho Theatre a few years ago, along with Our Lady J (Mx Bond can certainly pick 'em). As a result of that Geo got a slot on 'Later... with Jools Holland' and then promptly vanished back to New York, releasing a couple of EPs, one as Novice Theory and one with Jive Grave. Now it looks like we're going to get some real Geo and, from the looks and sound of the video, it's going to be an interesting ride. I hope there are some live shows to help promote the record when it's released.

Geo Wyeth - Little Bone of Pain - Directed by - Elizabeth Orr from Elizabeth Orr on Vimeo.

Friday, 16 March 2012

It's All Purple 'n' Pink!

You know I'm a London Ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - it's not going to happen again in my lifetime so I wanted to be part of it, do something that says quite categorically, I was there. There are 8,000 of us working across London and at the various London airports meeting and greeting guests to London and helpling them to enjoy the city to the fullest extent. I intent to take this role very seriously and have maximum fun myself at the same time. I didn't manage to get any tickets to the Olympics so it's a good job I'm an Ambassador.

I've already had the first day of training for my volunteer role and the second training day is in late April, out in Stratford at or near the Olympic park. I'm looking forward to it.

Today our uniform was unveiled at Wimbledon of all places. I saw the design on my first training day but to see people actually wearing it makes it even more real - and even more garish! Purple and pink with black trousers and everything co-ordinated - polo shirt, fleece, rain jacket, trilby, backpack, water bottle, Oyster card holder... the works! You certainly won't be able to miss us!

Here's a photo of Mayor Boris and some of my fellow Ambassadors showing off the uniform this morning a few miles from my house - it was a bit chilly this morning so they were brave to just wear the polo shirt! I'm looking forward to getting my trilby - I will wear it forever!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Kate Humble - 'Orbit - Earth's Amazing Journey'

Have you seen the new programme presented by Kate Humble? It's on BBC2 on Sunday nights and it's a fascinating watch. Kate has presented farming and nature programmes for years but, last year, spread her wings to travel the world to tell us the history of spices. This year she is more ambitious and is explaining the impact of orbiting the sun on the planet and on our lives. The blurb says:

‘ORBIT’ explores the extraordinary relationship between the Earth’s annual journey and our climate. Kate explores some of the most remote and fascinating corners of the earth to reveal the effects of our earth’s orbit on our lives, and on the natural world. Filmed all over the world – from Greenland to the Atacama desert of Chile – this is a beautiful and intriguing series that will let you see our planet’s journey round the sun in a whole new light!

It really is quite fascinating seeing some of the amazing natural spectacles and getting caught up in Kate's enthusiasm and descriptions, like saying that sailing near to a glacier is like being in a giant gin and tonic with all the ice floating in the sea. I like that. I also liked her excitement at throwing a cup of hot coffee into the air and seeing it freeze. Her excitement is infectious. Did you know that 19 January each year is, on average, the coldest day of the year?

Much of the science comes from Kate's new pal and co-presenter, Dr Helen Czerski. In the programme last Sunday I really liked Helen explaining the nature of snow and snowstorms on the edge of Lake Ontario (I've been to Lake Ontario). There was some truly spectacular footage. To warm her up she then goes swimming in the sea off Belize to see stalactites in a blue hole in the sea to demonstrate changes in sea levels since stalactites only grow in the air.

It's a fascinating series, made all the more interesting by Kate and Helen's human-level explanations of complex theories and demonstrating a natural delight in what they're seeing and experiencing. Watch it if you can.

Blood Red Shoes - 'Cold'

Here's the video for the new single from Blood Red Shoes, filmed in what looks like a rather chilly Paris. Laura-Mary is definitely developing as a singer and a presence.

The single is out next week and the new album, 'In Time To Voices', is out on 26 March. I shall definitely be enjoying some bang-thump that evening.

Friday, 9 March 2012


Buffy Sainte-Marie's blog today included a recent interview with The Calgary Herald in which she says she's recorded eight songs with Randy Bachman (yes, from Bachman-Turner Overdrive). She says,

We just really like each other's music, and Randy and I both have a lot of songs that we love that have been overshadowed by our hits. There are a lot of songs that are-oh god, they're all different. Big rockers, some are like bossa nova. All kinds of stuff. We're doing it for ourselves, we don't know if anybody else is going to like it. But we're going to see what we're going to get. We recorded eight songs and we're very happy with them. We don't know what to do next.

This sounds so intriguing and so unexpected. Buffy is still touring 'Running For The Drum' (she was in Oz a few weeks back) so it'll be great to have another album so soon , if indeed there is another album. Buffy records all the time as songs occur to her, it's just that we don't get to hear them. But here's hoping!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

A Present from Viv Albertine

I received a present from Viv Albertine today. I wasn't expecting it so that made it all the nicer to receive it.

I got a 'Confessions of a MILF' tee shirt, a signed copy of her 'Flesh' EP, an orange post-it note with a short message and a 'MILF' badge stuck through it. I also got an original "doodle"! I'm putting doodle in " " because this is far from a doodle, it's an original, one-off piece of art signed by Viv. And it's all mine. It's a little bit rude. I'm going to get it framed properly and will proudly display it on my living room wall. I shall also wear the MILF badge with pride.

I've said it before (and I'll probably say it again) but she's a very nice person.

Thank you Viv!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Julian Ovenden - 'If You Stay'

Last night I was reminded of Julian Ovenden in the marvellous 'Grand Hotel' (see below) and said he should sing more and this morning I go browsing and find he has a record out in a few weeks time. I think the gods of music are telling me something.

Julian's first album, 'If You Stay', will be released on Decca on 9 April. I haven't seen a tracklisting yet but there are two videos on YouTube that give at a hint at the style of music - a full video for 'If You Go Away' and a short teaser video for 'You Make Me So Very Happy' (written by the lovely Holloway sisters). That suggests we're looking at standards.

Even stranger, it seems that Julian performed at the Jazz Cafe on 5 February this year. There are two videos of him on YouTube showing him singing on that small stage surrounded by a band. I didn't know anything about that but assume that was the start of building him up as a singer. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for any more live shows.

Anyway, here is the video for 'If You Go Away' filmed in an autumnal London. Enjoy.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Grand Hotel at The Donmar Warehouse, 2004

I watched 'The Story of the Musical' this evening and out of the ashes of it's predictability flew the marvellous 'Grand Hotel'. It wasn't featured in the programme but all the glitz and special effects on display reminded that I saw a very simple musical, 'Grand Hotel' twice at The Donmar, in 2004 and the memory has stayed with me. It's the musical that taught me it was ok to shed a few tears and I did.

'Grand Hotel' is based on the 1932 film with Greta Garbo and the original book of a cast of disparate characters meeting in a Berlin hotel over a a weekend. Businessmen, a dying middle aged man, a typist with ambitions for Hollywood, a fading ballerina and her dresser and a young baron down on his luck. The Donmar production featured Daniel Evans as the dying Mr Kringelein, Mary Elizabeth Mastranatonio as the ballerina and Julian Ovenden as the Baron. The ballerina and the Baron fall in love when the Baron tries to steal her jewels. No, they don't fall in love, they find the love in each other they've waited their whole lives for. It's a quick and clean love, and all encompassing over one night and, at last, they're together. And then the Baron is killed while trying to rob the room of a businessman and all is lost.

Of course, that's not the end, it can't be. The Baron had promised to meet his beloved at the train station the next morning to see her off on her farewell tour and there he is. His love is so strong that his spirit is there, waiting at the station with roses for his beloved and she, of course, doesn't know he has been shot and thinks his was a false love like so many she's endured before. He can't speak and she can't see and they miss each other...

The Baron has two show-stopper songs, 'Love Can't Happen' which he sings when he realises he's in love with his ballerina heroine, and 'Roses At The Station' when he is dead. He sings,

I'm here Elizaveta at the station
//Here with the roses at the station//I'm here Elizaveta at the station//Here with the roses at the station

All my life I have wanted to be here//All my life I have waited to appear//At the station//With these roses...

He tells us that he survived the First World War with bullets flying past him, he's had everything he's wanted in life only to finally find love and to lose it so quickly and so suddenly. So beautiful and so sad and a great platform for Julian Ovenden's great voice. He has a powerful voice and should do more singing. I saw him in the one-off concert version of 'Merrily We Roll Along' in 2010 and his voice is, if anything, getting better.

I was delighted to find the Broadway cast recording in a shop in Toronto in 2005 and it features Brent Barrett as the Baron and Jane Krakowski (from 'Ally McBeal') as the typist with ambitions. It's a great recording but I'd love to have my cast on the record.

I'd love to see this show again.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Carter USM in November 2012

Those jolly lads from Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine are coming back to educate and entertain us in November 2012 and tickets are already on sale for the two gigs in Brixton and Leeds.

I saw them play live just a few months ago at Brixton and loved it - it was a great gig and it won the Plastic Bag Award for best gig in 2011. Guess where I'll be on 10 November 2012?

Thursday, 1 March 2012

'Hay Fever' at the Noel Coward Theatre

I went to see 'Hay Fever' by Noel Coward the other night, appropriately at the Noel Coward Theatre on St Martin's Lane. It doesn't seem to be doing terribly well at the box office since, when I arrived, I had my ticket bumped up from the Grand Circle to the Stalls. That's only happened to me twice before, ever. It was quite handy though, and avoided the need to hobble up several flights of stairs so who am I to complain?

The play tells the tale of a dysfunctional and knowingly bohemian family of four who have all, unknown to the others, invited someone to stay in their country house one weekend. The main character is Judith Bliss played by Lindsay Duncan, an ageing actress married to successful writer David Bliss (Kevin R McNally) and with two children in their late teens/early 20s. All long for love and freedom and the typical Coward banter falls from their lips in a never-ending stream... except for the periodical silences designed to make everyone feel uncomfortable except for the family who seemed not to notice.

Lindsay Duncan is in fine form shifting effortlessly from mother to lover to stage actress playing her favourite role in 'real life' to the chagrin of their weekend guests. Hers is the largest role and she does it full justice. I also liked Jenny Galloway as the dresser turned housekeeper (she turns up in lots of plays I've seen) and Olivia Colman as the teasing flapper looking for an adventurous affair with David Bliss. They were both on top form, as were most of the cast.

Some things I was less keen on were the two children who over-acted terribly (or was it the direction?), were plain irritating and acted like 5 year olds jumping on the furniture at every opportunity and arguing most screechily. The set was a bit dull and was the same for the whole play - I think I've been spoiled by the sets in plays like 'Playboy of the Western World', 'Matilda' and 'The Ladykillers'.

Oh, and Lindsay doesn't wear the red hat or a shoulder-less dress as in the poster, that's just a bit or artistic license. Or something.

Alex Polizzi - The Fixer

Alex Polizzi's new show, 'Alex Polizzi - The Fixer' is on BBC2 on Tuesdays at 8:00pm. I didn't catch this weeks episode since I was out at the theatre for the first time in ages but I watched it on the iPlayer last night and loved it.

Alex is skillful in agreeing to do shows that play to her strengths - 'The Hotel Inspector' plays to her hotel background and 'The Fixer' uses her experience in working in a family business to the full. Alex has a lovely no-nonsense approach to helping the businesses she works with improve and, hopefully, thrive. Sometimes it's hand in velvet glove and other times it's fist in a boxing glove. And every now and then we see a heart of gold.

I like it when Alex swears. She has a gob like a trooper when she wants but she seems to be holding herself in check in the new series, or maybe it's just the editing? She has to have the patience of a saint sometimes.

This week Alex descends on Props & Frocks, a family run fancy dress dress shop near Basildon in Essex. The first glimpse of the shop makes it look huge and over-stuffed with merchandise. At one point a couple of the family say there's just too much variety for them to be able to choose the best selling stuff. If even they have problems, what about the poor punters? So Alex helps them streamline, helps them market the shop, brings in an expert to help re-model the place and hey presto, we have Props & Frocks version 2 ready to take off. And I hope it does.

The family seemed lovely, all willing to throw themselves into whatever scheme Alex dreamed up and not a cross word from any of them (and that's a big change considering the poor family relations in some of the other programmes). They came across as genuine, decent and hard-working people and that's part of what makes this show and makes us want to see them succeed. Nice people should win.

They've been given a flying start with Alex's free consultancy, a newly modelled shop and a prime time telly slot. They just need to build on it - and they are. I tweeted about the programme last night and today I've had two tweets back from Adele, the owner of the shop. That's great customer service - respond to people - and only increases my initial view that these are nice people that deserve to succeed.

So, if you want fancy dress or accessories, pop into Props & Frocks or buy online at . Go on, you know it makes sense.

Oh, and do you want to know my favourite bit of the programme? Seeing Alex change into a green, glittery, glamrock costume and put on a wig to sell stuff to students. Nothing is too much trouble for Saint Alex!