Watch the mercury rise with Mr Dave!

After my mammoth 100 favourite albums blogfest last year, here’s another act that fell through the net.

Of course, my top 100 has changed, so this guy could well have been in the running when I drew up the list, but no matter – he’s worth a considered listen if you enjoy American roots music with a twist.


David Lindley is what you might call a musician’s musician. He’s the session player and sidesman of choice for many famous acts.

His incredible discography is here and it reads like a bible of quality rock recordings. His live work is no less an exercise in namedropping.

Multi-instrumentalist David Lindley performs music that redefines the word "eclectic." Lindley, well known for his many years as the featured accompanist with Jackson Browne, and leader of his own band El Rayo-X, has long championed the concept of world music. The David Lindley electro-acoustic performance effortlessly combines American folk, blues, and bluegrass traditions with elements from African, Arabic, Asian, Celtic, Malagasy, and Turkish musical sources. Lindley incorporates an incredible array of stringed instruments including but not limited to Kona and Weissenborn Hawaiian lap steel guitar, Turkish saz and chumbus, Middle Eastern oud, and Irish bouzouki. The eye-poppingly clad "Mr. Dave’s" uncanny vocal mimicry and demented sense of humor make his onstage banter a highlight of the show. His web site has a nice description of his eclectic approach to music:

Here’s ‘Mr Dave’ blasting away on lap steel with a version of ‘Mercury Blues’:


There are a few versions of Lindley playing this available on YouTube, and all worth a look.

One of my favourite collaborations involving Lindley is his live work with another US great, Ry Cooder.

Here’s the pair on ‘Mercury Blues’ (again!) – crap video but there’s not much available:



And here’s Lindley with Jackson Browne on ‘Mercury Blues’ once again:


Not that Mr Dave can’t play anything else.

How about some classic Warren Zevon ska stylee?


Or some reggae?


Cajun anyone?


And that’s just some of what Mr Dave can do.

Ah, and he’s probably Mrs Shark’s favourite musician and she has excellent taste.

Happiness is a hoopoe!

After a week of weather here that would put many a summer’s to shame, it finally broke last night.

We woke up to a rather damp day and the sun is struggling to shine so it’s not too bad now, although I’m sure the farmers here would have liked a bit more rain. It’s been very dry for months now.

About half an hour ago we were sitting in the dining room having lunch and looking out at the day when all of a sudden Mrs Shark asked, ‘What’s that bird?’, in a very excited voice.

I looked where she was pointing and saw something I’d only seen once before.

It was one of these:


Yes, a hoopoe!

It was digging about in the verge by the side of the communal road here – probably because the rain had made using that long beak beak to skewer insects or worms in the damp ground a bit easier.

OK, they might be commonplace here – although I think they’re more often found in the south of the country – but we were totally gobsmacked.

The only other time we’ve seen one was when we were on holiday much further south in the Herault departement. We were renting a house on a terraced slope in a village and saw one flying through the trees down below us, although we heard its distinctive cry a lot more often.

Anyway, we’re feeling dead chuffed and looking forward to another sighting.


French pop music?

Frankly, much of it’s shit.

Johnny Halliday?

Well, with a 50 year career he must have something, but I’m fucked if I can see what it is…

Listening to the local pop radio here, Radio Alouette, it seems that UK and US pop are still a long way ahead of French pop, which tends to sound a bit ‘Eurovision’, if you see what I mean.

However, look beyond the charts and playlists and the French do have some great contemporary pop music.

What I particularly like is the fact that some of it borrows from earlier musical forms like chanson and manouche (gypsy swing).

One of my favourite artists is a guy called Sanseverino – web site with video and audio here.

Stephane Sanseverino is a fabulous guitarist heavily influenced by Django Reinhardt who performs mostly original material which is often comical – although I confess that I don’t always get the humour in his songs as there seems to be quite a lot of slang in his lyrics.


However, he’s no one trick pony with some album tracks featuring electric guitar and more modern jazz-based stylings.

Worth checking out if you’re into gypsy jazz with a pop slant.

You and you


As I’ve blogged previously, attempting to speak good French is one of our major concerns here.

I tend to look on every interaction conducted in French as a lesson.

For a sustained and wide-ranging boot up the learning curve, however, nothing seems to beat talking to our neighbours.

Just to the side of us is a house which is the second house/summer home of a couple from Laval about 10 years older than us, but they’re both fit and lively and very friendly, whilst just down the road from us at the end of the hamlet live another couple, Bretons, about the same age as us and they’re very friendly too.

One of the big differences between English and French is that whilst we have one word for the second person singular, the French have two – ‘tu’ and ‘vous’, from which other pronouns are derived, such as possessives,

It would have seemed very strange and over-familiar if we’d started off addressing our neighbours as ‘tu’ when speaking to them. The rule is pretty much that until you know someone and you’ve accepted them as your peer then you stick to ‘vous’.

In fact, the French even have verbs to deal with this two yous’ situation – ‘tutoyer’ meaning to use ‘tu’ and vouvoyers to use ‘vous’.

Sure enough, we started off using ‘vous’ all the time here. However, we’re now on ‘tu’ terms with both couples and use it when speaking to them because we picked up that our neighbours were using it to talk to us.

I find it very gratifying and a sign that we’ve been accepted somehow, in spite of being English and inherently ‘different’ in some respects.

Berrying bad news

Brambles – les ronces to the French here – are utter bastards.

I’ve just spent a useful but bloody hour armed with a pair of loppers and some welding gloves cutting some out of the trees along our boundary.

I pulled some out that were easily 30 feet long with vicious fucking thorns on them.

A quick look at the Wikipedia entry on them has been mildly interesting.

I already knew that you could get blackberries from them and that there were various cultivars developed from the bramble, like loganberries and tayberries, but I never knew about some of the others:




This has a pedigree that has more twists and turns than the Windsor family tree:



Well, all very interesting, I suppose, but it doesn’t help to staunch the flow of blood from the lacerations on my arms.

Note to self – even though it’s a hot sunny day, wearing a t-shirt to cut back brambles isn’t the smartest thing to do……

Ritchie before the fairies got him

OK, he’s as mad as a fucking carrot and seems to have permanently forsaken rock music – preferring to be away with the fairies – but Ritchie Blackmore can play like an absolute god when he puts his mind to it.

Here he is from 1970, playing the red Gibson and showboating outrageously with Purple on ‘Wring that Neck’:


davidb scores again!

A mere 65 minutes after his first correct answer – one I hadn’t even considered – davidb solves the lizard riddle I set.

The YouTube video of Mott the Hoople was there because the preceding Escher picture was used for their first album cover:


Hats off to davidb!

Harvey does Hitler

It’s no secret that I’m a massive Alex Harvey fan and I’ve blogged about him here before.

Anyroadup, here’s a real treat for all fellow fans that I found on this excellent music blog – it’s a live version of ‘Framed’ and – even better – it’s the legendary Adolf Hitler version.

How I miss Alex…

PS – here’s Alex performing the Jesus Christ version of ‘Framed’:


As far as I know, no live recording of this version of ‘Framed’ exists but feel free to differ and please send me a link.


A mere 6 minutes after my ‘lizard’ post davidb comes up with a correct answer to the little teaser I set:

Oh, she’s a lounge lizard
Coming on strong
Who you fooling
It’s me you’re with
Lounge lizard

‘Lounge Lizard’ was, if I’m not mistaken, one of the last songs Mott ever recorded and dates from when the fabulous late Mick Ronson was with the band.

What’s more, davidb’s provided a correct answer that I hadn’t even thought of!
So, there’s actually another chance for someone to have their 15 nanoseconds of fame here.

Meanwhile, kudos to daveb!

Leapin’ lizards!

It’s a gorgeous day here and so the lizards which live in the walls of our house are taking the opportunity to catch some rays:


At one point I counted 12 of them basking on or near the piece of wood.

It put me in mind of this:

And then this:


So, how did I get to Mott the Hoople?

Answers on a postcard, etc, etc. etc

First correct answer gets instant fame by being mentioned on this blog.