Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It was a massive honour to return to Madrid last weekend to attend the wedding of my dear friends Francisco and Ruth. Nobody here will be unaware of how much I thrive on visiting that place or my tireless evangelism in trying to get people to go there, to experience the experience for themselves. So I hit the city running and pretty much never let up. A nonstop whirl with great, great people. Basking in the company of “weel ken’t” amigos and others I was just meeting for the first time.

The shindig took place at Templo Del Gato“A California Music Bar” where the primo couple met. Calling the TDG that is to hide its light under the proverbial bushel. The scope of music is wide and deep but it’s all good. Cracking joint. After a sumptuous meal at Cuidad De Tui, a reconnaissance squad headed over there to check it out and stayed until chucking out time.
The night wasn’t quite over though and after considerable arm twisting (not) I cajoled mi amigo and Hi-Riser, Todd Bradley of Rochester NY to join me at the one and only Wurlitzer Ballroom. We left there pretty late but it marked my return to the city that truly never sleeps except for a wee afternoon siesta here and there.
Up bright(ish) and early for breakfast and out into the air. The weather had taken a turn for how it is at home so there was some shower-dodging. Took the day pretty easy and by the time it was time to head toward the wedding all the cobwebs had been dispatched. Ms Laura introduced me to a cracking wee local haunt for an aperitif or 3. There had been a big football game the night before and some excitable fans added colour to our experience. They were taking photos of the scenes on TV. !?  Bless.
We arrived at the party hq, met up with everybody and proceeded to have a damn fine time until closing. Once again, all roads – for 4 of us at least, led to Wurlitzer and we left that hallowed portal around 6.30am. My plan of getting a slice of pizza on the way back to the hotel was thwarted by a pincer movement of hookers on what Brother J calls Calle De Cho Cho (Right BB?). The only proposition I was really interested in was topped with pepperoni at that juncture. Anyway, it was a fine night with much quaffing and dancing and good natured rowdiness.
And the band wasn’t just any old combo... I always liked the Hi-Risers records but the live experience is so much more. Belonging to the lineage of your NRBQ/Skeletons timeless American music axis, their grasp on finite pop that is more dna than roots. That US twist on anglophilia that boots it back overseas with a damn sight less starch or chin-stroking. This ain’t a formula, it’s a heart and soul with kitchen sink mission. The addition of Jose (El Niño) Bruno from Spain invigorates the sound yet further and this was his first “show”. It was a gas being able to spend time with Greg and Todd, talking about how their first band had their first show opening for New Math and how the Rt Hon. Duane Sherwood was the Technician at their school.
So anyways, Sunday was a little hazy but I had to be compos mentis to meet up with Sir Marco Padin of that fine imprint known as Ghost Highway Recordings. He specialises in high quality gear and has to date put out 63 releases in a very short space of time. Check out his wares here. Another cool wee hostelry was found to hang in and that’s exactly what we did. Was supposed to maybe go see Spectrum at El Sol but ended up having dinner at a place recommended by the lady on reception at the hotel. It looked swanky and it was but it wasn’t expensive.
And then we were back in the Wurli. It was quiet and Inigo and Pedro Temboury, a man that was familiar with my output over the years and a friend showed up. That was pretty crazy but big fun. Pedro is a film-maker and I just watched a short piece called Psycho-Lettes that is not for the faint of heart. I'll post the link here after I have a look at some more of his screen antics.
Which left the last day to meet Ms Marcela, head over to Munster, see Helena, Alvaro and Benito in a non-W environment and then hang with La Hembra Alfa for a bit. She took me to La Buena Vida, a great bookshop with a wee bar that serves Pacharán then off for some old school tapas in the form of Spanish omelette and callos at a "bar de viejo". The texture of the latter wasn’t doing it for me though but I dug the Jay Z’s (wee tumblers of beer). They’re actually called “cana’s” but that’s close to Kanye, right? And voila you got some distant urban connection slang. At least on my telly. And they're very easy to "caw" back.
My Rochester friends and I retired to the place we’d made our local and had two or three for the road. And then it was nearly time to leave the magic city but not before meeting Ulla for our customary morning coffee. Soon it was time to head for the hangar and thusly back into the jaws of reality. Absolutely cream-crackered, I bid Mad-Town adios for the time being but I shall return. And soon but I don’t want to be wearing out my welcome...
And after a stint at the day prison, the following evening found me in Auld Reekie – some considerable distance from my preferred “Kansas”. No “Carry On My Wayward Son” jokes please...
It wasn’t Chrysta Bell’s fault that I was suffering from Mad-lag and I should have given into the voices from the sofa but in the tradition of not wanting to miss anything I soldiered through. If it had been a little more concise, the show may have made more of an impression but as it was all based on that familiar bump and grind of Lynch soundtracks. The starter was a ringer for “Pink Room” and the lord knows there’s nowt intrinsically wrong with that. This operatic blues with a burlesque tick works pretty well. The location was perfect and so was the sound for the most part.
She plays out her part very well and of course, this lady would be a far more sound role model for youngsters that that caterwauling Florence bisom. Being that she sounds like a bunch of owls that are not what they seem. The music undulates like it should but the songs just don’t really rise to the atmosphere.  I was surprised that the show wasn’t totally sold out but really couldn’t hack the guy who opened with his laptop making soundscape type approximations. According to Mr D’uff, the encore was the crowning glory but I’d already left for the train. Thinking this was really more Wild palms that Twin Peaks but maybe her LA configuration is the cause of that.
Mr Lynch considers Ms Bell a songbird and at this point I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I’d like to hear more substance shine through the inherent style though.
Here’s a clip, see for yourself...

Francisco + Ruth / Greg + Todd shots – from the Ruth López-Diéguez collection
Mahou shot by Laura García-Cuerva

Ready for the road this summer?  Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. is the accessory you need to start the season right!

538 East 14th Street (just west of Avenue B) in Manhattan / Returning for our monthly dose! /
8:00 sharp 'til 10:00 / No cover /

And, next stop...

375 Third Avenue (at the corner of 27th Street) in Manhattan / A trifecta of sets, from 9:00 sharp 'til midnight / No cover! /

Always yours, Michael
Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co.
"Ballads, Boogies & Blues"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ross Nelson @ Dig It Up II – Enmore Theatre & surrounds,
Sydney, Sunday 21st April 2013

More kicks! The Hoodoo Gurus and Feel Presents bestowed upon us another day of rock ‘n’ roll thrills for which all who attended will be eternally grateful. Last year’s knees-up was such a hoot that the excitement and anticipation preceding Round 2 was undeniable.

And so to roll call…

The Enmore hosted the main stage and to open proceedings we got Tumbleweed. Australia’s genuine stoner-rock heroes of the 90’s and Waterfront Records stars are back in action. A good choice to open the show, with a solid mix of new tunes and hits, they cleared the eardrums nicely.

I’d wanted to see Peter Case for many years. The former Nerve, Plimsouls leader and long-term folk/roots rock troubadour has a clutch of wonderful songs to his credit so we got a suitably mixed set. Soaring heights were scaled by “How Long Will it Take” and “A Million Miles Away”.

Many of the thrills were away from the main arena… A personal highlight was the Frowning Clouds set in the Sly Fox Hotel. No longer the purist r’n’b/ Stones/ garage hybrid of a couple of years back, they now seem to have embraced a much broader and wilder palette of sounds and influences while maintaining the essence of what made them great in the first place. A wonderful 45 minutes.

At the same venue, Bloods, a three-piece with two girls up front on guitar and bass and a guy holding down the backbeat, have an exuberant presence and deliver a really fun, primal rockin’ set. They have the chops, the songs and the delivery and were a surprise highlight.

Kim Salmon and Leanne Cowie were incredible. Kim is the scuzz-king of rock and delivered a performance for the ages. Damn loud and absolutely wild, they delivered material from across the Scientists catalogue, including ”Frantic Romantic”, “Swampland” and loads more first-rate stuff.

The Laurels created some beautiful sonic landscapes with an over-driven guitar sound, washes of feedback and effects to colour their music. Another winner.
Meanwhile, back in the Enmore Theatre, The Lime Spiders delivered a solid set of covers and originals though it was all a tad hard rock and not enough wild fuzzy abandon for me.

Having seen only the mid-80’s version of the Groovies back in ’86 I was super excited to have the opportunity of seeing them again, 27 years later, but this time with the nucleus of the classic 70’s line-up – Chris Wilson joining mainstays Cyril Jordan and George Alexander. They didn’t really get groovy until the opening notes of “You Tore Me Down” more than halfway through their set but that was glorious and between this and the much anticipated and duly delivered closer, “Shake Some Action”, we got moments to treasure.

Amongst a few other acts playing away from the main stage that I regrettably missed, I also somehow didn’t get to see any of Blue Oyster Cult's show. Reports indicated it was a mixed bag of sonic, rockist splendour and some Toto-esque moments.

And so to our hosts, the Gurus. Last year, despite playing all of “Stoneage Romeos”, I thought their set was lacking something in delivery and sound. This time we got “Mars Needs Guitars” followed by a selection of their super hits and they hit all the sweet spots. Brad Shepherd was the guitar hero and his riffs and solos were spiky and note-perfect. And Dave, Mark and Rick delivered with gusto. It was a great performance and the perfect finale. An encore of “Teenage Head” with Cyril and Chris was a nice way to send us home.

Another huge day of big fun. Bring on Dig It Up 3.

Flamin Groovies – Annandale Hotel, Tue 23 April 2013

The Groovies side-show on the Tuesday following Dig It Up was ace!

A bit messy at times, but with more than enough stellar highs to compensate for the minor shortcomings, and an amazing set-list.  Cyril, Chris, George, and Victor Penalosa on drums, delivered the set we were all waiting for. It started with Cyril breaking a string during the opening “She Said Yeah” and having to leave the stage to change it. Chris stepped up and filled the void with a beautiful solo Chimes of Freedom. There was a camaraderie between Cyril and Chris that wasn’t evident at Dig It Up – it was genuinely heart-warming to see them joking and exchanging banter. “You Tore Me Down” was perfect, their “Feel A Whole Better” same again. “Yes I Am”, “I Can’t Hide”, “I Want You Bad”, “Don’t You Lie to Me”, “Between the Lines”, “Let It Rock”, “Slow Death”, “Married Woman”, “Tallahassie Lassie", a sublime “First Plane Home” and ultimately, “Shake Some Action”. It was all too much. All going to plan they’ll be playing shows in the UK and Europe mid-year with new songs to be rolled out. 

Them Flamin Groovies are back in action! Don’t miss ‘em!

Thanks to Ross for the report and the photos

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Really peeved I can't make this but maybe you can?

The Yum Yums have ventured far from “Whatever Rhymes With Baby”. Don’t let the title, “The Yum Yums play Good Music” fool you. This is almost a punk pop opera concept. It may also be the most upbeat breakup album of all time.
My first encounter with “Rhymes” as the Quattromobile hit them Madrid city limits is as crystal clear now as it was then. It set me on a certain course that when combined actually seeing them at El Sol was a revelation. Ha ha, the first time I met Vibeke, she thought I was Tim Cross...  but anyway.
Let’s get with the matters in hand. In addition to the lyrical letting loose, the old bubblepunk bombast is intact and that bounces the whole thing away from melancholy with good natured bile if there can be such a thing. The closer of “Bye Bye Baby” however kind of sticks it in and twists. Like a season finale cliff hanger as the long fade out suggests an AM radio classic rock vibe that feels almost mature.
A recent event with regard to the fabric of the band makes me sad but there is a plus, as a young lady in Spain recently pointed out is now that there are two bands. Whilst I understand that positivism, the selfish part of me rankles at the thought of not being able to repeat that life-changing event of October 22nd 2009 but you know how it is.
CD available on House of Rock/Limited vinyl available from Screaming Apple.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monday, May 06, 2013

Gimme Söder!
My first gallivant of 2013 took place last week in the fine, fine city of Stockholm. The first time since 2009 thanks to a committee of dear friends that “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse”. It was a rip-roaring reprise that reminded me exactly why I feel I could actually live there. I heard tell of one or two things that seem to be eroding the “system” but it has a long way to fall afore it hits the heady lows of this country. That’s the UK, god knows what’ll happen when the Brigadoon Theme Park opens.
So in terms of social it was a ball. With excellent company straight from the airport arrival gates right the way through to the station platform for the train out.
Hanging out with dear (old as in long time not ancient) friends was largely the order of the day. Eating, a few sherbets, a Mr Ulf record-playing session and some more sherbets was pretty much the short of it. I even did a "tourist thing" with Qina by going to City Hall and had a fine pre-bonfire mutant meatball dinner.
The Nomads show at Södra Teatern with Staffan Hellstrand was pretty amazing. They made an album together called “Pascha Jim’s Dagbook” back in 1996 and this was a live revisitation in a stunning setting. I’d never heard it but this was an ideal introduction. The Stockholm Strings, Fredrick Blank and Idde Schultz completed the line up. It was very Swedish but it really didn’t matter that I couldn’t understand the lyrics. Like Säkert!, the music provides a heart and soul that renders mere words pointless. Very anthemic and almost too big for the room.
I posted a clip the other day so if you scroll down to below this and you can find that and wish you’d been there. Hopefully they'll do it all again in spite of the lukewarm turnout. The people who were there left the theatre buzzing.
The night before I came home, we saw Impo and the Tents with Crusaders of Love in The Cavern in the fine Southside Pub venue. I’d liked the Impo things that Ferdi posted on facebook and while the noise they make is agreeable, the guitar players hat and wife beater (that’s what they call a simmet in rock circles) combo wasn’t happening. They need a stylist.
Them Crusaders however, from Lille in France, flew straight out of the traps. The first 5 songs were as good a debut as I’ve seen in recent memory. Imagine a glammed up Real Kids, these kids looked the part before they even took to the stage. If they swing past anywhere near you then I heartily recommend you dig in. The show was promoted by Thomas Savage’s “Push My Buttons” outfit. A man that’s been doing it for the kids for a while now.

Walking to the subway, we ran into the great Jens Lagergren so that was a very agreeable way to top of the evening. I tottered up and over past Södra Teatern and back to base camp. It had been an intensive few days but cleansing to some degree. And very humbling.
When I’m whining about the day to day bullshit I should perhaps count to 5 and contemplate situations like this. Of course, I’ll still whine but I appreciate it way more than I could ever explain.
And like the troopers they are, my tour management met up for the farewell at Central Station. Possibly to make sure I got on the Arlanda Express and wasn’t still wandering around town, ha ha.
My deep thanks to everyone that pitched in on this project. It means a helluva lot and I hope to repay this amazing gesture down the road apiece.
And to finish a bit of video that the Stockholm Tourist Board should employ and a cracking wee song in the bargain.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013