Tel: +44 01743 246577
Last updayed: January 2012
Influences (or "without whom")
A lot to do and say on this page but here's a few to be going on with:
When I was about twelve I discovered The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in my mother's record collection. I loved everything about this album - the intimacy of the front cover, the detailed liner notes (which I still read every time I play it) and of course the songs. A fabulous combination from the opening Blowin' in the Wind
, the epic Hard Rain
, the iconic Don't Think Twice
, the rather scary yet very funny Talkin' World War III Blues
and the wonderfully witty I Shall Be Free
. Thus started my life-long (so far) musical love affair with Bob Dylan. I played the album to my mate Pete,who played me...
...The History of Fairport Convention
, an album of amazing beauty and variety leading to another life-long love affair with the music of these artists, particularly Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick. My first ever live gig was Fairport Convention's Rising for the Moon tour at Birmingham Town Hall. As for Traffic, John Barleycorn Must Die
is an awesome album, from opening bars of Glad
to the ancestral voices of John Barleycorn
and the fabulous mix of organ, blistering guitar and Steve Winwood's voice on Every Mothers Son
. I used to chill out to this album before I took my final exams at college. I mean look at it this way, if I'd failed at least my time would not all have been wasted.
From left to right, Who Knows Where The Time Goes from Fairport Convention's Unhalfbricking the first song Sandy Denny wrote. Next, the Full House line-up with the Richard Thompson/ Dave Swarbrick song Now Be Thankful, followed by Richard Thompson with One Door Opens.
Steve Winwood lived in the same area where I grew up in Birmingham, close to Junction 7 of the M6 - probably inspiring the name Traffic! These are 2 two great live performances in Santa Monica in 1972 from John Barleycorn Must Die album - Freedom Rider and John Barleycorn plus a montage for Empty Pages
Long before "aid" concerts had become international opportunities for marketing executives and the the term "world music" had been coined, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar organised an event to bring the plight of a country and its people centre stage in world news. The Concert for Bangladesh
took place on August 1, 1971 at Madison Square Garden and immediately raised $250.000, a huge amount at that time, and the revenue from the film of the concert added to that for another decade. For me musically and personally, it was a watershed, discovering the music of Ravi Shankar, the sitar, sarod, tabla & tamboura and seeing Bob Dylan return to the stage singing songs that most thought he would never do again. For millions of others it was much more significant, both at the time and into the future. During the crisis in Bangladesh aid workers discovered ORT (oral rehydration therapy), a simple packet of salts and sugars with a bit of potassium added that has turned out to be a low-cost and very effective life-saver for millions of people. The Concert for Bangladesh
is the only album I have ever owned in all its forms ~ vinyl, cassette, CD and now DVD. The new DVD is fab and I've put some clips below which can be found on YouTube but really you should buy the DVD. Ravi's section is stunning and the rest, well it really is an all-star cast and Billy Preston's dancing on That's The Way God Planned It has to be seen to be believed.
Left to right, Bangla Dhun with Ravi Shankar (sitar), Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (sarod), Ustad Alla Rakha (tabla) and Kamala Chakravarty (tamboura). A sublime performance and a love the close-up of Kamala's hand (at about 2'30s). Then "the quiet one" George Harrison with Bangla Desh, and Bob Dylan (a total suprise to the audience) with Blowin' in the Wind.
Fabulous performances - all the funds from the concert continue to go to The George Harrison Fund for UNICEF - so no excuses, buy the DVD or the CD
I was lucky to grow up in the heyday of British television comedy, of which Dad's Army is an enduring favourite. John Laurie, who played Private Frazer, was my father's uncle by marriage, being married to Florence Saunders, leading lady at the Old Vic. Florence was born in Valparaiso, Chile and considered a great beauty. Sadly she died very young so I never met her but I did have several conversations with John. He was a great Shakespearean actor and a champion of the "dreadful" Scottish poet William McGonagall. Living out his on-screen reputation, he would often bring my father a bunch of bananas on his way back from the studio but alas would have eaten them all by the time he arrived. John was in his mid-seventies by the time he started Dad's Army. As he said, "i played all the classic parts but became a household name doing this rubbish" But it's very funny rubbish!
All together now - "We're doomed, all doomed"
More to come, including:
" A people's entertainer... the best I've seen."
" His hurdy gurdy rocks"
BBC Radio 4
" Thanks for being there - your music added so much to the day at Mottey Meadows"
"Wonderful music, spell-binding humour... the most talented medieval perfomer in the country"
Don Holton, Heuristics
"What a great night ... we were still aching from laughing the following day."
AONB National Conference