Saturday, 7 August 2010

Been away?

Yes - I went up to my mother's 90th birthday.

Braved the warning of my parents ("be careful, I wouldnt like to come back from there after the pubs have closed") to go to a nice open mike. There were abut fifty people.

But what do you sing at a strange open mike when you only have one song?

That's a great question. There was a bluesman who ddid Skip James. Some kids who attempted Django.

Answer: "All shall be well".

Why? An original ssong
A story Song
A character song
A song with a big finish

Saturday, 31 July 2010

What, back already?

Yes, it's like this.

I set off early and started singing in Abergavenny. I must admit, I was euphoric after about two songs because money was showering in. One lady said, "Didn't I hear you on the radio?" Saw some people from Abertillery. So, I'd made probably about thirty-five pounds in a ccouple of hours. Saw a few people from Abertillery, so that was great.

Then, I decided to go to Brecon. Had to pay to park for a start. Only a pound but, still. Plus you had to put in the last three "digits" from your registration number. What they meant was "letters", I reckon. Very irritating.

There were quite a few people around but it was quite hard to tell where there was any concentration of people to speak of. Had two falsish starts - about four songs for a ccouplle of pounds. Then, I asked a local for advice and she directed me to the entrance to the indoor market.

The acoustics were really great in there - a wooden roof - but that didn't really translate into anything much. Had a great chat with a bloke who'd been to the Abertillery Blues Festival. Sand for about an hour for about five pounds.

Then, I decided to have lunch and that was £1.80 out of the five pounds kitty in Brecon. Then it started to rain really hard with more forecast. So, I was a bit discouraged and decided to come home at that point. Petrol money to be considered as well.

Is this viable, I asked myself? Made fifty pounds in Raglan this morning with lots of good chat with the locals and not much sense of the same people giving over and over again. Decided to start singing "Don't think twice, it's all right" and the sublime "last thing on my mind" by Tom Paxton.

I think I will have another go later in the summer.

Went to the Monmouth Festival in the evening. Got some brownie points with the kids by pointing out the lead singer of the Automatic in the crowd milling around. They were pretty good, I thought but they're not the same without Pennie - obviously. First became aware of them on the Adam Walton show long before Monster came out. Began to sing it at youth club and promised the kids they'd soon be familiar with that chorus!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Setting off soon?

I thought I'd have a go tomorrow.

Actually, I was all set to start off this morning but remembered a piano lesson. Plus, I hadn't packed or anything.

Incidentally, both the pupils I put in for exams got distinctions this time. Can't be bad.

On other fronts, it's a sad day for music.

We find out that Plastic Bertrand didn't sing on "Ca Plane pour Moi". Ah, but did he sing on "Sentimental moi?" We'll have to ask his producer, Lou Deprijck.

Also, the death of Ben Keith, Neil Young's steel guitar player. Great moment, this:
"Lookout Joe" from "Tonight's the Night", Chorus finishes, Neil says, "Take it, Ben." A tramshackle solo ensues. What an album that is.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Are you watching "Rev"?

Yes, I am, and I'm enjoying it.

And if I didn't know the meaning of the word "trope", I sure do now.

As I understand it, the word trope refers to a chunk of material that is just plonked down in a setting.

Tropes in "Rev" include:
* innocent vicar overwhelmed by the inner city
* vicar has a sidekick who is a homeless man and has interesting take on spiritual life
* needy parishioners predatory in their need
* vicar has all-powerful superior whom he has to manage as best he can
* vicar has to deal with more successful colleagues
* vicar has to remain true to himself
* vicar undercuts "vicar"

How could it be otherwise?

Interestingly (?) some time ago, I wrote a novel called "Playing at the Roxy" about a church meeting in a converted cinema in Bordeaux. Surprise, surprise, it contains all of these tropes.

It's available at Amazon if anyone is interested in reading a load of old tropes.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

And the latest?

Well, I didn't get onto the Music in Hospitals thing. As I suspected, they didn't like me talking to the imaginary inmates during my songs and thought I should have dressed in evening dress to play Dylan covers. Funny old world.

On the other hand, the busking continues to go well. Fifty pounds last Saturday morning, talking the total to about £500.

Also did an open mike with Rachel last week in the Ship in Raglan. Her usual guitarist wasn't about so I learned half a dozen of her songs and played them. Had a good time. There's another one tonight. Don't know if I can face another one so soon, though. Not when television has reached such a highly developed level of entertainment.

Reminds me: I Said to Charles Fountain after the Ship, "These open mikes are conclusive proof of evolution. At the age of fifty everyone has developed a distinctive style and repertoire and is now fossilised in that."

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Did you busk at the Royal Welsh Show?

Unfortunately not.

I made a strategic error.

When I was in Paris, I used to conduct a little choir and we wanted to sing outside a metro station. I suggested we contact the town hall or the police and ask permission but was told if we asked we'd be refused so just carry on anyway. You spend a lot of your time in France being ignored by the authorities so it's good to return the compliment. I remember writing assiduously month after month to the Mayor of Villejuif asking for a community hall to show a film and I never got a reply.

Anyway, I wrote to the organisers of the show talking about the parable of the talents project and the busking part of it and they somehow got the impression in spite of my lucid exposition of my request to busk around the site that I was offering to come and entertain the crowds. I think if I'd just slipped in with my guitar and sign everything would have been fine.

Had a nice day at Builth, as usual. Came back with a free energy saving device for the telly, a badge saying "I heart wind power" and the autograph of the actor who plays Hywel Llewelyn in Pobol y Cwm dedicated to the family. I shall prop it up by the TV each time the show comes on.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

How did the audition for Music in Hospitals go?

I really enjoyed it but I don't think I really fit in so I'm not expecting too much.

I arrived in Bristol with a couple of hours to spare and I was fortunate enough to find a parking space just round the corrner from the Victoria Halls where the audition was. Wandered up and down Park Street for a while.

A lady called Diane showed me into the warm up room and I had a chat with a lady harpist who was going on after me. Very nice Bosendorfer grand to warm up on.

What a nice surprise when I went in! "This is Bill", "Nice to meet you, Bill." "This is Lisa." "Nice to meet you."

"And this is Heather."
"Not Heather Jones?!"
"The singer?!"

At the end of the audition I said I was unfeignedly thrilled to have met her. After all, she was absolutely central to the early success of Meic Stephens (qv). She was very positive throughout the audition, too. She even said she'd heard of the busking tour when I talked about it. She also said she sings the kind of things I did when she goes into care homes but they tend to want things like, "Pack up your troubles."

They pointed out to me that they were expecting rather more forrmal dress than I had on collarless shirt, black linen trousers with my piano belt. I don't think they really liked my efforts to chat with them during the songs either and they thought I could have spoken up more. Still, there were only four of them, and they were only pretendding to be a hospital/care home audience.

Played the Entertainer. Piano was a bit dead, I thought. Then I sang Blowin in the Wind and You've got a friend.

I should hear about it in a couple of days but as I said, I don't really think I'm what they are looking for.

Still, I'm off to the Royal Welsh Show tomorrow to be on the Roy Noble show so I'll be able to recount my meeting with Heather Jones and explain that she quite fancies busking!