Sunday, November 11, 2018
My report is a wee bit late this year for a number of reasons but here goes...
The Penelope logo
The celebrations nudged into November this year and coincided with the resort’s end of season surge. The sight of beered-up Brits is a lot scarier than anything the most fevered Funtasticos could dream up. Heading into town, the bus was three quarters full of these fuckwits but in annual fashion I made a new friend that made the journey bearable. I’d noticed that Clara was wearing a Dead Moon badge and discovered this was her first time. We had a beer and who should daunder past but Rafa and Patri so it turned into a wee session. The hotel was pretty good, Flamingo Beach Resort. It was named after a Flamin Groovies album and alluded to John Waters and I managed to steer clear of the ‘full-boarders’ for the duration of my stay.
The Count - More than vindicated!
(Photo by Jeroen Vedder)
The Sinciders kicked things off and then came The Cyanide Pills. This meant I was able to hang out with the man who made Sesentafest happen, Jonathan (BB Quattro) Vidal. Peter Zaremba & Las Munjitas del Fuzz set the bar bloody high... drawing on a set from the dawn of The Fleshtones, I felt the spirits of both Marty Thau and Alan Vega in the room. Red Star records was well represented that weekend as the undoubted main attraction and I became friends four decades ago when she worked for that very imprint. At one point – during 'BYOB' – it seemed as though the Z-man channelled Vega. I was right up front for that whole stramash and it was a flat out hoot complete with the one and the only Jimmy Garcia.
(Photo by Jeroen Vedder)
I was too busy blethering to watch much of The Red Aunts or The Sinister Six but they went down great and I really like the Red Aunt bass players cook book. The new venue wasn’t altogether easy to navigate in order to find people. Breaking in a new place and increasing the number of bodies posed a few challenges. Of course we loved the KU-FO but there were practical reasons for shifting and largely the event really rose to the occasion. The stage crew kept things on schedule and Mike – the guy who headed that aspect up – really delivered. The Penelope is an iconic construction further up the road. The logo of the girl in the hat was ubiquitous in the 70s. It’s a BIG place with so many nooks and crannies so not real easy to navigate. Rome wasn’t built in a day though, it takes time for any new environment to be broken in. Was peeved that Motorgirl were on by the time I got there but what I saw was just the ticket. Look forward to seeing a whole show sometime in my future.
Sam Elwitt, Miriam, Matt Fiveash, Bruce Bennett, Matt Clarke.
(Dave Lindsay and Ira Kaplan not visible) - (Photo by Jeroen Vedder)
Miriam and Nobody’s Babies played what was perhaps the most intense show I ever attended in my life. I’ve known this gal for 40 years and she and Billy are a large part of the reason I stuck with this stuff. The Norton religion is non-denomin-inter-national. Blessed are the faithful and many present were in tears during the performance that seemed to go by in a blip. I’m feeling a little choked here writing about it. The band was outstanding and I was fanboy-thrilled to finally meet Sam Elwitt, the guy who really made it all possible alongside Billy's A+R brilliance.
Mir’s Joey Ramone via Lulu vocals bathed the audience in light which would be hands down the best set of the weekend. Check the setlist. To call that 45 minutes emotional would be a heavy understatement. After that, a stiff G + T was in order. I don’t think it even touched the sides. This weekend saw the lassie claim the crown of ‘Everybody’s Baby’ with good reason. The amount of love in that room when she played was palpable. She announced that this was her last show but I never heard it. Maybe I just shut it out because I sure hope it isn't.
Radio Birdman delivered a full on onslaught and to hear 1000 people yelling ‘Yeah Hup’ is pretty reassuring in these fucked up times. I watched most of the set from the DJ station to the left of the stage and the sound was perfectly crisp and loud there.
(Photo by Jeroen Vedder)
There was more chin-wagging to be done at that point and I didn’t catch anyone else. Got to meet Travis Ramin and also Alana Motorgirl, that was a hoot. The social aspect of this gathering is unsurpassed. The Wild Weekend Go-Go Lounge was a popular attraction and at some points was so-packed that it was impossible to squeeze in. I experienced great DJ sets by Ben Olins, Count Zaremba and Matt Clarke in there and it seems to augur well for the reactivating Wild Weekend out in Mallorca in April 2019. Right after Br*xit. Much as I would like to have caught Nancy – it weren’t to be but anything that can make Francisco entuse like he has since he saw them must be doing something right.
The Mighty Mai-Tones
I exited around 5am but was back outside Penelope a couple of hours later to snap this picture with my new group, The Mighty Mai-Tones. Maybe we’ll play next year. I’m their ‘Bez’ and that’s just fine with me.
Had a schlep around town and various hostelries in the run up to Saturday’s proceedings, I was determined to be at Penelope for The Oddballs and I’m glad I was. Just as Crackhouse blew me away last year, these guys did so likewise. Just really good with a set that maintained the brevity I like. Imagine Lord Rochester as a ‘big band’, replete with washboard player.
Much as I would like to have watched more than one Gears song, I had to go and rest up a wee bit. This night I didn’t watch the bands so much and I just couldn’t get a good vantage point to watch Derv Gordon properly. Jeroen was front and centre and dug it so much that he went again in Amsterdam.
He tells me that Trevor White played 'Crazy Kids' with So What at the London show. It was sure great to hear that very song get a blast in Benidorm. The DJs there are selected as well as the acts are.
(Photo by Jeroen Vedder)
The music played into the night and as the sun was coming up, Snr Varo blitzed the remainers with hit after hit. The one woman confetti-machine that is Paloma covered everyone in the stuff and we’ll be finding fragments for months to come. So that was the 13th edition done and dusted. I think that there’ll be a moratorium before mulling over how to make this venue work like KU did. It’s not so live band friendly really because it was purpose built as a discotheque. As ‘Keep A- Knockin’ blasted the crowd afore it spilled out into the sunlight, we were reminded of the healing powers of rock n’ roll. I spotted one girl across the dancefloor capturing the titles via Shazam. I like to think she wanted to recreate that final volley when she went home. Them wacky youngsters...
I’m proud to have scored a new record in getting back to the hotel at 9.30am. My previous personal best was 8am. How Paloma and Varo keep pulling off the greatest rock n’ roll party of the year time after time is evidently a military secret. It must be getting difficult to assemble a bill like this but they just keep them coming. And I can’t even begin to imagine the stress levels involved.
There were obviously some challenging conditions with this new spot but these were overcome and then some. I hear the after party on Sunday was a blast too but there was a wee conflict of a sesenta y uno gathering down on the boardwalk. It’s not really a boardwalk but its right next to the beach. There had been Sesentafesters there all week but the Madrid locals mostly had to return to the city to start work not exactly bright but early on the Monday morning.
Hero of the event was my old mucker Matthias from Berlin who drove Miriam and Matt to Barajas to catch a plane after they missed the original flight through no fault of their own. Staying for a couple extra days assisted the decompression for sure. I had about 8 hours sleep in 72 but some of my crew had less (Monica - I'm talking to you!). I salute those hardy souls and look forward to rolling in the Funtastic thunder another time in 2019.
Br*xit or no fucking Br*xit.
Very happy to have images here by Captain Jeroen Vedder, the man, without whose assistance, NBT may never have become a blog.
Saturday, October 06, 2018
It was great to be reacquainted with Barbara from Get Hip through the ‘small world’ universe that seems to connect a bunch of us. El Pez Gordo was the scene before scooting up to WEIRDO! with Maitane.
I was convinced that I’d miss The Dustaphonics but
they were only a couple of songs into their set when I arrived at Wurli. The
Cramps have a lot to answer for and it’s wild how mainstream this type of thing
is right around now. Not sales wise – but just in terms of seepage into the
general culture and I understand why people like them.
This time I didn’t hit town running. It was a more measured affair only really hampered by thinking that my favourite pizza joint had gone out of business.
On Friday, I took the train to visit Sara, Ramon and Duero out in Alpedetre. Once I got a beat on the map for the station it was plain sailing and I have to say that the double decker choo choo was muy clean and comfortable. I’m told they’re not always reliable but this one was right on time both ways. It’s nice and quiet out there but very close to town with a lovely old station. We had Sara’s mom’s meatball recipe and ate so much that we all felt like taking a wee siesta. It's a very sedate part of the world so close to MadToon.
Last night at La Alegria
Met up with Ulla and Lagarto at lunchtime on Saturday where we took in a great new regular happening at Madklyn. Grand to hang with them and to see many familiar faces. It seemed like I wouldn’t see Marcela who recently left El Sol but she was right there. It was like having Templo Del Gato open during the day and hearing the music that you would have heard there during the wee hours. I hadn’t been in Madklyn since the close of Sesentafest last November 5th. A little later I had a couple of canas with Jorge from Munster and then it was nearly time for what - for me - was the big event in addition to seeing a whole raft of friends.
LUCY and the RATS
There was one problem that loomed over the night. This being that I had to leave town at 07.30. It meant that I followed the Jorge system of hydration over the course and doing so lessened the chance of having a sorry heid. The only real worry was resisting the temptation to grab a few zzzzz’s.
Duncan Reid and the Big Heads
Next September (2019), Wurlitzer will become a teenager. Long may this delinquent hostelry reign and if I'm spared then I'll be there.
Construction and Demolition
time on San Jeronimo
In closing. I had to leave the party but I didn’t fall asleep and got to the airport in good time. Only to find out that the flight was delayed. It could have been way worse though and that manifested itself with my first experience of the new Border Control area at Edinburgh Airport, a necessary evil perhaps but plumbing new depths in inefficiency.
I've had no response to my feedback on the subject.
I've had no response to my feedback on the subject.
Thursday, September 06, 2018
Thursday, August 23, 2018
You better LISTEN NOW!
The world you thought you knew getting you down? There’s nothing like stellar pop music to galvanise the soul and a collaboration between two of the greatest forces for rock n’ roll good on this sorry orb is surely a reason to bring cheer for at least the 16 minute duration of the event.
The Nomads and The Dahlmanns? Together?? Used to be that would be referred to as a supergroup. There’s a flavour of the loud folk direction that they were taking on “The Last Time” and comprising six songs, “American Heartbeat” (not a Survivor cover) is a wee bit of a departure from the sound you might be used to hearing from a Dahlmanns record but it’s still distinctly them.
Line’s vocal will always take care of that and she just gets better and better. If you reckon you’ve heard anything better than “I Know You Want Me Back” in recent living memory then I need to hear it. Like a high end Roxette hit, this one deserves to be all over everywhere that quality tunes can be heard.
Where it all began in... Oslo
“Tomorrow Came Today” resonates like it might have followed one of those Brickfield nights and well, if you ever wondered what Tony James might have sounded like if he’s started off in Mud instead of Gen X then you need to be getting a load of “Get It Right”.
This mini album runs at 45rpm so it’s going to be loud and it’ll be out on August 31st, a co-release between the Ghost Highway and Beluga imprints. The first 100 on white vinyl with silver and black patch combo are reportedly all gone. You can get your mitts on the trad black version (and let’s face it – that’s the only colour a record needs to be - in my opinion) though but you’d be wise to score a safety copy because I don’t reckon this will stay in print for too long once the word is out. All over town and further afield.
This practice will also help to offset the dreaded postage sting.
The content will be available digitally too if you only do the ‘device’ thing. The only way it’ll be available on cassette for now is if you put the gear on one of those things yourself. However this might get to the ears, my hope is that this one will infiltrate outside of the power pop stockade and put them Dahlmann kids on the radar of a broader church that could really do with having something to believe in. Like the lady says on the title song “you better listen now”.
A CD version will be available from Pop Detective in the US, mid-September.
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Monday, August 13, 2018
Thursday, August 09, 2018
The Solbakken Fuzzfestival is a bi-yearly event that takes place out on the South East coast of Norway. Set in an enclave of Arendal called Moltemyr, it’s a garden party set in a very well-appointed garden between two houses. An invite to this was an offer that I was not about to refuse and getting to that part of the world isn’t exactly a cakewalk but like the song conveys, have love, will travel.
It took a smidge over 12 hours door to door. Exactly a week ago from right about now I took a bus ride through picture postcard beautiful vistas that look like a cross between 'wir ain' highlands and the Pacific Northwest. The shimmer of the sun on the lakes as it went down just added to the twilight zone-ness. All you really need to know is that it is spectacular.
The crowd gather...
Having dropped by Risør a couple of years ago, Arendal further reminded me of the similarity between that region and the East Neuk of Fife. They don’t have a chip shop like they do in Anstruther but maybe I could go out there and open one?
Within a half hour of being there I was out on the town with Fuzzmistress Hilde. After some Indian food we hit up the hostelry she works in called Barrique. A very nice old wood varnished bar with at least one member of staff that will point blank refuse to serve you a mojito. I never take for granted the opportunity to take such jaunts and this was the only evening it would be possible to make that particular scene. And for Hilde to take time out of her busy schedule like this was above and beyond because she is the epicentre.
Revesound revving up
As straight talking a wee bisom that ever walked, this one can get stuff done. All the others that are involved with this are equally driven, It’s an abject case for labours of love always trouncing something that is entered for gain. Their gain was to see everyone have a great time as a result of their selfless planning. Getting a wee preview of the site the day before was a trip and just hanging out sampling Magne’s epic brews and the Solbakken hospitality really hit the spot.
The freak weather has been causing ructions out there too and there’s a BBQ ban in Norway right now. That wasn’t to deter them though and a number of broilers were installed to take up the slack. These folks had thought of everything and maybe even a little more.
Snok - Forward into 1971!
Saturday rolled around quick and it was time for the garden party. As the revellers arrived it was clear that a great community not just from the immediate locale had grown around the event. With a family element that never reduced it to the level of the fete. I met and talked to a ton of people that I wish I could remember their names. It's an age thing that's getting worse by the day.
It all kicked off with a kind of folky review by Revesound. I’d just watched A Mighty Wind a few days beforehand and the similarity wasn’t lost on me. It became apparent even then that the space had become a natural amphitheatre and in the main, the sound was excellent for an outdoor concert experience. At some points during the evening, a mighty wind would indeed attempt to blow the cover off the stage on several occasions. It was expertly tethered though.
A period of broiling and hanging out followed that before the remainder of the music was rolled out. Snok set a pretty high bar for a bunch of actual real life teenagers. Led by Hilde’s son Lars they managed to conjure up shades of Sabbath in 1971 when even their parents weren’t around. Decidedly not-lumpy doom rock, they just made their first recordings that I’m very much looking forward to hearing. Their set was all the more amazing because they had to get a substitute drummer that knew the ropes at stupidly short notice. That guy did good.
Gimme an H, Gimme a C, Gimme a G,
Gimme an L, Gimme an I!
What's that spell? REINE LAKEN!
As I mentioned in Vulcher zine lately, little in my existence gives me greater pleasure than watching and being around Reine Laken. This time out they’d enlisted a new member and it was Camilla’s public debut. It went great and by the time they got to their version of Bikini Kill’s "Rebel Girl", the gathering went under the thunder. "Blitzkrieg Bop" into "Dancing With Joey Ramone" was a very nice touch. All the anxiety that goes into these performances is very much appreciated by their fans. I was thinking about how all the Madrid folks would have loved this.
Wirkola workin' it!
Wirkola Hellraisers are a solid combo that underlines the hard rock seam that ran through the day’s line up. I'm really digging the fact that Nazareth were (are?) so big out there and the ‘raisers deliver a tasty “Kentucky Fried Blues”. I think that Dan McCafferty would approve. At the other end of the spectrum, their take on the Sweet ignites around a three guitar attack, one of whom is Erland Ottem who was in Clawfinger. Their "Ballad of The Lower East Side" wasn’t slouching none either.
DeMidlertidige (sp?) played at the grungier end of the spectrum and during their set I was blethering. Someone told me that they were playing an Alice In Chains song at one point and I have to say that they rendered it listenable. Something I can’t say has ever happened with that actual band. This Stina girl can sing. I even heard a little Nico in there and of course Grace Slick on a faithful run through "White Rabbit".
Rangers raised the stakes for Dunfermline’s finest by including "Close Enough for Rock’n’Roll" and they also fired out trusty takes on "Cold Gin", "Godzilla" and "The American Ruse" during their set indicating a certain level of taste for those of us that recognise the fine line that runs through the vein of heavier music.
Camilla and Ingri rippin it up to the strains of Rangers!
The band's were all done and dusted by curfew time but the party went on a good deal longer. heading back there in the daytime, the festival elves had been out and cleaned up. It was all looking as though almost nothing had happened. Service above and beyond self all the way.
Anyhoo... Solbakken FuzzFestival is something the world could do with a little more of right about now. The best small but perfectly formed festival action I’ve had since the legendary House of Rock that went down in Moss in that fateful June of 2011. People talk about game changers but that was a life changer.
My sincere thanks to all those folks that made this happen and for them having me there. There might not have been any morild this time but there was some magic here and there so that’ll suffice for now but I’ll need another RL fix before too long so I hope they have something in the works.
The adventure came to a close with a few hours in Moss Rock City and pretty much before I knew it, I was back on the bus heading for where it seemed like I had just started out. To add to that injury, I tried to use some currency at the duty free shop that had expired. I’m not sure why the Scandinavians change their notes so often but it’s a pain in the arse. Just as well that everything I had left wasn’t hooky and the liquorice score could be made.