UK Drum Show – September 21st, 2019 – Manchester

It was a bit of a palaver getting in to the venue. People had lined up promptly. I arrived there about 9.25am for the 9.30am start. The queue hardly moved in 30 mins. There was an appearance by Matt Garstka on the main stage due for 10am and many people who had paid to see it were still queued up outside at 9.55am. They were being filtered through by this point but they probably weren’t going to make it in. I hope Matt delayed things so people got in.

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I had booked to have a free drum lesson at the Trinity College booth for 10.15 and I just about made it in there. It was my first experience of an electronic kit. We were on Roland kits (can’t remember the model – lovely kit though) and had just a bit of basic tuition. We played along to Queen’s We Will Rock You and then to James Brown’s Hot Pants before going on to Blur’s Song 2 which did me in. Lol. It seems like it would be really straight forward, Song 2, but heck, there’s a whole lot of patting your head whilst rubbing your tummy stuff going on with that. Lol

I walked about a bit checking things out. Then I saw Emily Dolan-Davies and had a great chat with her and another man whose name I didn’t catch, but he was one of Nathan Shingler’s tutors. We had a good talk and he offered me some great pearls of wisdom in terms of how I get on with my own learning and stuff. I briefly met Nathan’s parents too.

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I went out for a bite to eat and then met up with fellow Minds fan Dave Kelly. We had a good chinwag and then went in to see Cherisse’s masterclass.

A fab masterclass it was too. We learned about Cherisse’s career. How she started out, who she’s drummed for professionally, as well as her performing demonstration medleys showcasing music from the acts she’s worked with.

Below are some vid from the masterclass of her talking about working with Mika and then talking about her time with Bryan Ferry and Paloma Faith and now her time with SM and showcasing a medley of Minds stuff (the observant amongst you will hear a little bit more of LITCoA ahead of its October 4th release).

She put on a great show and a really strong showcase of her immense talent. Jim’s tag of referring to her as “a little dynamo” is WHOLLY justified. For someone so petite, she has such power behind her! But also the subtlety when required.

 

She was doing a signing after the masterclass and I queued up just to say hi and to badger her for more lessons. Lol. Hopefully I’ll get to have a few in the weeks ahead.

As for kit that took my eye? Well, it needs to be about the sound and feel, but I was far too scared to test anything out. I have no real knowledge of what I want or need and a show like this isn’t really much of a buying experience for a complete beginner. Well, I don’t think anyway. So I was just looking at the aesthetics if kits. There was a beautiful looking Natal kit. The bass drums on the Natal’s are HUGE! I love the look of Rusty drums and there was a beautiful bass skin on display on their stall.

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But for looks and affordability, there was a lovely looking Gretsch there for £625. I know Dave Ruffy of Ruts DC plays on Gretsch kits and he always sounds awesome.

But Cherisse’s Tama kit looks and sounds amazing too. And I have been having most of my lessons on Pearl kits, so…how will I ever make my mind up?! Lol

After the brief chat with Cherisse and goodbyes with Dave, there was just time enough for another scoot about and a coffee over the road at the Costa before getting the coach back to London and onwards to home.

All in all, a fab day. I’d do it again.

Empires And Dance Appreciation – Constantinople Line

I originally wrote the following in January, 2016 as a “Why I Love…” piece for the blog. Little has changed in my feeling for this song. It’s bloody fab! I share the demo version of the song because it is the one stuck in my head today more than the album version. Enjoy!

***** It’s the rhythm of it to begin with. Very reminiscent of David Bowie’s Station To Station. It reminds me of it, but is far enough removed not to sound a pastiche.
A great bassline once again from “Big Dan”. And Charlie uses the guitar effects for a nice screeching sound. Maybe it’s just reverb. I can’t claim to understand what I hear, but I know I like it!

Absolutely one of the best set of lyrics Jim has ever written. They are very image laced. I see the pictures in my head when he sings them “I see a land, as we crawl by night /I see a face on the window in front” – I love those lines so much! And possibly my favourite lines from ANY SM song…ever “these stations are useful / these stations we love them” when it wasn’t very “de rigueur” to claim to “love” things like that. I’m assuming because of such, Jim is very much saying it tongue-in-cheek, which I love. (No pun intended!)

The demo version has different lyrics. He sounds like he’s ad libbing a bit. The song’s musical structure is there…and some of the final lyrics are there (including the “these stations” ones) but there are some lines that don’t gel. He did a wonderful job refining and trimming. The demos can make you appreciate the final cut so much more…
And, of course, the song ends with the sound of a train.

It just does a great job of letting you feel that train journey experience. Foreign lands…people behaving shifty…cloak and dagger…it’s like Strangers On A Train. Simple Minds do Hitchcock and borrow a *tiny* bit from Bowie and do a stellar job.
This song…I love it! 😜😊 *****

P.S. The artwork is a really early days one. An oldie but a goodie. Jim liked it. Halcyon days 😌

A Little Peace…

Recently I have been told by a few people that I write very well. One suggested I contact a music magazine and lodge an application to work for them. This person had written articles themselves for the magazine in question and they gave me the email address of the editor.

I didn’t do anything about it. I would fear pursuing it. It is one thing to write at one’s own leisure your own thoughts and feelings or to write your own musical reviews and share that content on a blog that you have sole say over. It’s quite a different thing to work for someone else and work to a deadline. I’m not sure I could do it.

Just today a person asked me if I write professionally. The answer is no I don’t. There is one minor thing I do in which I write small pieces of text, but I don’t work to a deadline and my “boss” for the most part gives me free rein over what is written.

But could I ever write like this?

That, I strongly doubt. Granted, I have not spent over 40 years of my life writing professionally. And for many years prior to that most likely being quite good at English, enjoying the language and writing stories. Jim did.

I never had the imagination to create imaginary places. Never felt I had “the gift” for that kind of thing. Compared to what I’d hear from others in class, my stories sucked. So as a consequence I guess I felt like writing was just “not my bag”.

Until I read Anne Frank’s diary. To read her diary is to find that, no matter how insular you feel. No matter how insignificant your world may feel to you, you are living a life and you have your own dramas, hopes, fears and dreams. And yes, ultimately her story was so much bigger than what was going on in that tiny annex…but the way she made the minutiae of that circumstance feel is just SSOOO compelling!

Could I have worded how I felt about her diary like that as a 13 year old reading it for the first time? NO WAY! But it was an impetus for me to keep a diary myself. And YES, my life was far, FAR more insignificant (in no way suggesting Frank’s was). BUT…I was writing. I was using language. Trying hard to teach myself a level of expression that was escaping me from not being at school. I just kept wanting to teach myself.

I read books. Not sweeping epics of prose, just regular novels. I tried with Shakespeare. Lord knows I tried. But I attached myself more to James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. I read the poetry of Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson and children’s books by May Gibbs and read the 87th Precinct detective novels of Ed McBain. I read “trash” too. Sidney Sheldon novels and Anne Rice vampire novels. I went from Anne Frank to Anne Rice.

I asked for a concise dictionary for my 15th birthday and read it like a novel.

At the library, I would look at the encyclopaedias and VOLUMES of dictionaries and wish to have them at home. You weren’t allowed to borrow reference books. I could never understand why.

To be asked in recent times whether I write for a living is amazing. To be told by others that I have some kind of “flair” or “way” is wonderful. And just maybe on the odd occasion I allow myself to accept such compliments and think I am worthy of them. But for the most part? No.

Beyond Jim’s beautiful way with words and expressing himself was this…

How could someone believe “an eye for an eye” is good? Because, isn’t that ultimately what war is? An eye for an eye? Fighting fire with fire? Two wrongs don’t make a right, do they?

Why is it such a childish thought to want peace? Not to have wars? And why do we never learn? Why are we destined to make the same mistakes over and over?

How is pacifism NOT the answer? How is love not the answer?

I want to end with this. Because it is just so beautiful in its simplicity. No big words. Just the basics and the question of “why”?

Say Who You Are!

The album that did it for me. The one that, during my exploration of the Simple Minds back catalogue, “sealed the deal”. Empires And Dance put me into a state of…I dunno…suspended animation. I quite literally could not believe what I was hearing…that the band responsible for Don’t You (Forget About Me ) – subsequently I learned how much involvement there was in that, obv. – Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, etc, had also made stuff LIKE THIS?! It just blew my tiny frigging mind. I’m not holding up the songs mentioned to belittle them or say they’re inferior in ANY WAY….it is just a fact that Simple Minds within a 5 year period became a very different band musically and that I had NO KNOWLEDGE of how they sounded in 1980.

So, again for me personally, in 2014 listening to Empires And Dance for the first time was like discovering an entirely new band. And with the anniversary of its release this week, I just wanted to talk about it a bit, share some of my art inspired from the tracks and just give it and its content some praise.

I wouldn’t be the mega diehard (but has she earned her stripes yet?) SM fan I am now without this album existing, I don’t think.

Today I share what is at this point possibly my very favourite live version of Thirty Frames A Second. Jim stalking around that stage like a freshly uncaged animal. Leaping about like a jack rabbit…never faulting vocally…but being raw and emotive and just….GGRRRRRRRR!!! I love it!

I’m Done – Prip Has Left The Building

I didn’t see the point of SMOG. I mean…the posting thing? I’m not concerned for myself. I don’t feel I have anything much to this group to contribute to be honest. I tend not to with any of the SM groups. Not posting to them myself anyway. Not very often. But I comment on posts and interact with others and get involved in discussions and the like.

Nothing about that on SMOG is much different to any other SM group at the moment. If anything, the official group could learn A LOT from the existing groups…where fans are free to post things and feel included.

Yes, the other SM groups are closed groups, for the most part. But the interactions and discussions fans have within those groups are great. And there is a SM group to suit everyone. And you don’t feel compelled to contribute, but you still feel part of something. There’s a spirit to them!

SMOG is a strange beast. A walled garden that people can peer into. We’ve all been given the tools to contribute, but only a selected few have been allowed to maintain the splendour of the garden. I am speaking in metaphor, yes.

Here is the stat. Today there has been a solitary post. Yesterday also just the one post. The first few days several posts were shared. There has been a total of 428 posts to the Simple Minds Official Group and just 14 post have been filtered through from the fans…the majority of those in the first 48 hours of the group being up and running. FOURTEEN in over FOUR HUNDRED posts submitted. Really?

I understand what they are trying to do. But, it just isn’t dynamic enough and fans are feeling quite…well, ignored, basically.

Either make it more apparent you want the “creme de la creme” of fan posts…or just be a little more easy with things and filter some more posts through, for heaven’s sake! This “creme de la creme” approach would make sense if all the posts so far were to…”a standard”…but they vary wildly. So…SHARE SOME MORE POSTS!

Make people feel included. And if or when that happens, I may feel like wanting to be part of it again. But for now? I’m oot.

Rant over.