I think I’m getting too old for this shit

photo

So, there I was in the car park at some soulless sports center just outside of Bath.

I was a 2 hour drive away from home, a bit knackered and sweaty and feeling my age – about the only time I ever do – as I struggled loading a flightcase of electronic shite into the van.

Yes, it was another gig.

I’ve been playing in bands ever since I was about 14 and that was over 40 years ago and I think I’m coming to the end of my gigging life.

Last Saturday was typical – get picked up from home at 3.30pm, drive to Pete’s house, load the PA and other gear into the van, drive to gig – typically a one and a half to two hour journey – unload, set up gear, soundcheck, try and grab food and drink, play gig, take down gear, load van, drive home, unload at Pete’s, get lift back home, get in about 2.30am.

That’s 11 hours from start to finish and although the money’s good, work it out at an hourly rate and it’s far less than I earn the rest of the week.

I’ve been doing this for over 40 years now and I still don’t really understand why. Yes, it’s paid employment, but there are easier ways to help make a living and after all these years, it’s not an ego-driven thing but I always try and play well, and if someone thinks they can do better then they’re welcome to form a band and fucking try. I’m always well-prepared musically and gear-wise. I know my shit and I always give my best.

In the band I’m currently with – a ceilidh band – we’re an integral part of the evening – it’s not like we’re background wallpaper music. If we play well – and the caller’s good – then we can really lift an evening. Especially if the dancers are enthusiastic and/or experienced.

It’s not like some crappy pub gig where you’re largely ignored even though you might be playing really well.

So…there are a few gigs between now and Christmas and after that I may well not be in this locality as Shark Towers goes on the market next week.

That rather puts the tin lid on things then.

Regrets? Of course – it’s been a major part of my life since I was very much younger. I’ve been all over the UK and even abroad – only last year we played in Belgium. I’ve had some fantastic times with the people I’ve played with on both a personal and musical level. It’s been lucrative and it’s even put food on the table in the lean times…

The upside is that I’ll no longer have commitments at the weekend and I won’t have to lug bloody great flightcases across car parks at unsociable hours.

I’ll miss it though – it’s been fabulous.

Electric Eddy Shaver

Billy Joe Shaver.

Not a household name, perhaps, but together with his son Eddy as the band Shaver he’s responsible for one of my favourite country rock albums.

Sure, as a born-again Christian, Billy Joe’s a bit too religious for my taste but before he was ‘born again’ he seems to have lived a hell of a life and every so often his alcoholism resurfaces and gets him into all sorts of trouble.

A troubled and complex character.

It probably comes as no surprise that it’s the guitar playing of his son Eddy that mainly attracted me to the band Shaver.

Eddy had (yes, had) a great touch – a nice mellow overdriven Strat tone and a definite talent for combining rock and country playing in any proportion you can think of.

Unfortunately, however, Eddy’s no longer plugging in and wailing as he became yet another smackhead rock casualty in 2001.

Equally unfortunate is the fact that there’s not that much of Eddy is to be found on film, but there is this that I found on Youtube and shows him pretty much at his peak.

Enjoy.

Another day on Airstrip One…

Or

Cuts, bans, legislation, taxes, guitars and football.

This blog entry’s a bit of a pot-pourri but a lot has happened – albeit in a very random way.

I’ve had a day being gently buffeted like a falling autumnal leaf* by the wind of news – so, a touch of the streams of (semi)consciousnesses…

Jeremy Vine drops one

I was driving home early from work – a series of fortunate circumstances had enabled me to leave at midday and still be able to bill for the afternoon – and Jeremy Vine was on the radio.

I can’t stand the blokes’s voice. He sounds like Mystic Meg with a cock and balls with the way he stretches his words out. He also tries to sound sincere but just comes over sounding like a total cunt trumpet.

Anyway, he was waffling on about what was in the news and said that Gordon Brown planned to ‘drop one Trident missile’.

As you can imagine, my ears pricked up at this and I was thinking what the likely target might be.

The Afghan poppy fields?

The LibDem Conference?

Neither of these, however – Vine corrected himself and moved on – Brown wasn’t actually going to drop a missile.

Ha ha.

(Could he do any more fucking damage if he did?)

Just a shame that Vine didn’t correct himself properly – Brown’s going to drop a whole fucking Trident submarine. One of four that we have.

We have a spare one apparently – presumably in case things get really bad here and then Brown can escape to Brazil.

He hasn’t thought this through very well, has he?

James Brown Lady Scotland (Take it to the bridge! – Ed)

Where do you start with this story?

Lady Scotland is to keep her job as attorney general despite likening her £5,000 fine for employing an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper to a civil penalty similar to a congestion charge fine.

Gordon Brown, who believes Scotland made a “foolish mistake”, told the attorney general her job was safe after the cabinet secretary ruled she had made a minor administrative error that did not breach the ministerial code.

This isn’t some minor legal minion or even an alcoholic drink-driving judge.

This is the chief legal advisor to the government and the individual who actually introduced the law that she fucking broke.

She didn’t even get fined the full £10 000 she could have been.

She paid half.

Indeed, as Jackart points out, the illegal that Lady S employed should perhaps have a few sympathetic thoughts wafted her way:

She wanted to work, and indeed pay tax. Which makes Loloahi Tapui a more valuable citizen than 15% of the native-born population who sit on their fat arses watching Jeremy Kyle and reading the Sun (those who can actually read), and who don’t get their doors kicked in by uniformed thugs in the pay of the state, which instead subsidises their idleness through a complex smorgasbord of 51 different benefits which ensure that no-one born in the UK has to work if they don’t want to, and indeed get punished with marginal withdrawal rates of 90% should they even try.

Lady Scotland – another useless trougher – £170 000 better off thanks to your generosity…and now a major fuck up.

And still fucking troughing.

What the blistering FUCK do you have to do to get Brown to sack you?

Even worse than the BSOD

I blogged about this a while ago.

And now – as sure as shit is smelly brown stuff – we’re all going to be forced to pay 50p a month to ensure that everyone here has broadband internet access.

OK, 50p isn’t much, but it means that I’m now compelled to pay £6 a year towards giving other people internet access.

And it’s my £6.

I already pay tax on what I earn, tax on my own internet access and now I’m going to be helping to pay for millions of other people to get it.

Schools? – fine…hospitals? – go on, help yourselves!…the Police?…have another rummage in my wallet…

Broadband? – fuck all the way off. It’s a luxury.

End of.

Keep this stupid shit in Usania where it belongs

Bans.

Usually a bad thing, but I’m not too upset about this one.

Of course, if you’re stupid enough to believe in this cockwaffle, then maybe you deserve to die after preferring some sort of quack religious remedy to conventional medicine but, on balance, if it’s a minor who’s going to be placed in danger, after being anointed with ‘holy’ snake oil, then perhaps the fewer people who know about it the better.

File under – ‘It isn’t just Muslims who do stupid shit in the name of religion’.

Janie Hendrix – she’d sell Jimi’s grave dirt if she thought there was a buck in it for her

It’s not usually very socially acceptable to piss on someone’s grave.

But when it’s your own family who do it then it’s always going to be a major gaffe…

The adopted step daughter of the late Jimi Hendrix’s late father, Janie Hendrix, has launched a new guitar in association with Gibson that claims to be part of Experience Hendrix’ ongoing efforts to keep

Jimi’s legacy alive and intact and bring it to you in the most authentic form.

Which is a great big steaming pile of horse shit.

Here’s Jimi in action:

The guitar he’s using and the one that he’s most associated with is a Fender Stratocaster.

Fender.

F E N D E R

This is what Janie Hendrix (fucking spit) has decided is ‘authentic’.

Yes, it’s ‘authentic’ because it looks exactly like a cunting Strat!

Of course it’s all about money. Janie Hendrix sold poor dead Jimi’s memory out years ago, but now she really is taking the piss with this one and I hope Fender sue her right into the fucking poor house where she belongs along with Gibson, who seem to like a bit of litigation – but only when they’re dishing it out.

Come on, you mercenary she-vulture, you’ve made your money out of the recordings – fair enough – and out of shit like this:

Leave the poor dead fucker alone and make a few less million by not fucking about with his legacy – especially when it concerns the one thing that really typifies the guy.

His guitar.

If you want to buy something that keeps his legacy alive then buy a Fender Strat or even a Squier Strat – Janie won’t get a fucking penny from that and it’ll be far more authentic than that abortion Gibson and Janie have cooked up.

You’d be fucking smiling if you were him.

I’m not a football fan.

It bores me right off my fucking tits.

Sometimes it really fucking annoys me – especially when I read stuff like this.

“Sol regrettably suffered a reality check when he played for Notts County, and there has always been a concern about his fragile psychological state.”

I’d have thought that the £40 000 cheque he got for doing fuck all every week was real enough.

My heart fucking bleeds for him.

After all that, I have to select the recipient of today’s Two Minute Hate.

It has to be Janie Hendrix…

Of course, other people may differ but it’s my fucking blog.

Pip Pip!

*See, I do have a sensitive side.

B&D, baggy trousers, bad behaviour, Keef and assault with a deadly Telecaster

Drat those pesky Boatang and Demetriou kids!

JD in ‘investigative mode’

They have the market in big-bollocked blogging cornered so well that they now have to go round wearing voluminous trousers!

Please B&D, don’t hurt ’em!

Not only that, but the testicularly over-endowed pair are psychic, too!

MrB: ‘Look into my eyes, you cunt.’

There I am reading some entertainment news when I’m struck by how wimpish and wholesome rock music is getting and then I read this

The prescient bastards!

Oh well, I’m going to blog about it anyway…

I was reading about how Elbow frontman Guy Garvey had spent his Mercury Music Awards  prize money on some state-of-the-art bincoculars so that he could better pursue his hobby of birdwatching.

Old news maybe – but new to me.

Now, having suckled on the teat of rock through the late 60s onwards I was struck by how rare it is to hear of rock star bad behaviour nowadays.

No-one drives Rollers into swimming pools, throws TVs out of hotel bedroom windows or employs fish for ‘recreational’ purposes any more it seems and even if they still do, the Press seems to prefer writing stories about losers like Amy Winehouse or Pete Docherty sticking chemicals up their noses.

Druggies are boring – unless they do interesting things – and the two I’ve mentioned above just seem to take drugs and indulge in ASBOesque behaviour.

Meh…

And although fighting still goes on in bands, the great days of a band member getting twatted with a cymbal and then needing hospitalisation – as in the Kinks – and other notable masters of the band ruck, such as the Stones and the Who, seem to be over.

A bit hard to throw a well-aimed but coke-fuelled punch when you’re ‘brown bread’ admittedly, as in the case of some members of the Who, but where’s the motherfucking spirit gone, eh?

Go on, Corpse Boy! Hit him!

No, as B&D point out, you have to look back through the anals (sic) of history to find rock’s real bad boys.

I still think this chap takes some beating:

Yes, it’s Keef – Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

Once dubbed ‘the World’s Most Elegantly-Wasted Human Being’, he’s defied everything to survive to play today.

What he hasn’t ingested in the name of getting totally fucking ripped off his tits isn’t worth mentioning…

It’s alleged that he once took a contract out on the people who stole some of his guitars – although he’s been known to pack a gun himself…

He’s destroyed countless hotel bedrooms and their contents…

He’s had a fistfight with Chuck Berry – who used to be a bit handy himself…

He’s managed to stay out of gaol many times for various offences involving gun possession and drugs…

He’s packed more into his life than most fucking countries do in a whole cunting century…

This guy should not be alive.

But he fucking is!

Someone – I think it was Bill Hicks – once said that if we ever have total global nuclear Armageddon then the only animal life left alive to enjoy the aftermath will be cockroaches and Keef.

OK, so some people think he’s a bit of a dinosaur and a joke and maybe a tad past his sell-by date.

So fucking what?

He’s had cracking on for 50 years making a fortune out of what he loves to do, travelled the world several times over, taken all manner of drugs and enjoyed the experience and survived, made the acquaintance of some of the finest minds of the 20th and 21st centuries and is still alive and making music.

When you ask people who Keef is, most people will tell you he’s ‘the guitarist in the Rolling Stones’ and that’s it.

Well, there’s a bit more to the guy than that.

He’s co-composer with Mick Jagger of many of the finest rock and pop songs ever written and he’s also a very fine singer and guitarist.

Admittedly he’s a bit ragged live onstage in both those departments but I have a few ‘unofficial’ recordings that reveal he has a fine voice – especially suited to ‘alt.country’ type material – and exceptional skill and flair as a guitarist – particularly when it comes to the blues.

He’s one of the very few players to really nail the seminal and virtuoso style of Robert Johnson and although it’s not easy to find examples of Keef playing in this style this exists:

As a guitarist myself I can categorically state that playing this shit is not at all easy.

The lick at about 19 seconds in is sheer perfection.

Keef can also use a guitar – as you can see, a Tele does very nicely for this – to clear the stage of unwanted cunts:

Rock stars today?

Bunch of precious, pantywaist, poncey, prancing prats.

Give us some real fucking rock heroes!

A new toy

My trusty Zoom 707 multi-effects unit gave up the ghost at the last gig I played – after nearly 10 years of sterling service. It’s knackered – it’s been kicked around stages all over the UK, had beer spilt all over it, been thrown into the back of vans and cars and been generally abused. Bought secondhand in 2000 it’s now gone to the great guitar graveyard in the sky…

So, I splurged on another multi-effects unit. I tried out a Behrenger X V-Amp which was terrible – a nasty lag between patch, a horrid plastic case that would have lasted all of about 3 months of abuse and it was very, very noisy so that went back to the excellent emporium that is Dolphin Music.

Then I tried this:

It’s the Digitech RP255 and it’s all the things the Behrenger wasn’t – it’s very quiet, it’s built like a fucking tank with a diecast metal case and it’s got instant patch switching.

It’s also loaded with some great presets which are surprisingly subtle, as well as being fully editable so I can create my own custom presets.

What makes this a joy to use is the included X-Edit software which means you can edit the unit from the PC via USB:

The RP255 also comes with a version of Cubase for recording the guitar straight into the PC when multitracking.

Excellent bit of kit!

Quote du jour – Gordon Brown

Our Gordon got a chance to grab some pity from the MSM today in the Guardian’s totally unbiased interview with him.

Amongst other things which brought a tear to my eye – apart from the hypocrisy, sycophancy and syrupy insights into his family life –  he came out with this:

“To be honest, you could walk away from all of this tomorrow.” (He often says “you” to distance himself from the intended “I”.)

I could comment, but I’ll leave that to the rather nifty Pantera:

Incidentally, one of my favourite METUHL tracks ever – and the late, great Dimebag plays a very fine solo indeed.

Tonight, Matthew, I will be mostly Jimi Hendrix

Latest guitar video for your delectation is me playing Jimi Hendrix’ ‘Little Wing” at the Mabs Hotel (now demolished) in Wigan, 2003.

Guitar used was my Fender Strat Plus and the amp was, if my memory serves me well, an Ashdown combo which was bleedin’ loud.

Remembering Eddie Hazel

Some people never get the recognition they deserve, and when they die before their time in reduced circumstances then it’s doubly sad.

The late Eddie Hazel was one such individual.

Guitarist for Funkadelic, Parliament and innumerable George Clinton-inspired side projects, Eddie truly was Jimi Hendrix’s heir.

No-one’s come close since Jimi went to whatever freaked-out dimension he ended up in.

Forget people like Ernie Isley, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robin Trower – who are all fine players – Eddie had a signature sound with wah cocked open onto the sweet spot and distortion pedal on the ‘melt your muthafuckin’ face off’ setting. Not only that, he had a freewheeling style on the uptempo funk stuff and a searing intensity on his more introspective pieces like the sublime ‘Maggot Brain’, which anyone with the slightest interest in the guitar, good music and/or true soul must hear.

Perhaps apocryphally, Clinton told Hazel during the recording session to “play like your momma just died”.

Here’s a YouTube video of him playing the piece with some great guitar work from fellow player Michael Hampton:

In the end, Eddie died of pneumonia after a long battle with booze and drugs – his capacity for all sorts of bad medicine was legendarily high – and left us mourning another good one gone.

Ron Asheton RIP

Sad news indeed.

The Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ has to have one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time and Ron was a very influential player – no Ron…no Pistols…

Here’s Ron in 1970 with the Stooges:

RIP Davey Graham

I was deeply saddened today to hear of the death of Davey Graham.

I’m not ashamed to say that I cried and that’s something Davey only shares with Alex Harvey and Jimi.

I first heard him when I was about 16. I was heavily into Cream and Hendrix by then and already gigging and playing guitar too loudly.

A friend of mine turned me on to Davey by lending me a copy of his seminal album Folk Blues & Beyond.

It totally blew me away – I mean I was into acoustic stuff, mainly Dylan’s earlier recordings, but I didn’t realise anyone could play acoustic guitar with such balls and excitement.

That set me off looking for the people who followed on from Davey – Jansch, Renbourn, etc – but somehow I always went back to him.

No-one ever played such a vast range of material, blurred the genres or ‘dug in’ quite like Davey – and no-one’s ever come close since.

I wrote the piece below for a newsgroup tribute post – any typos, etc can just bloody stay in it – and describes how I once met him and supported him – LITERALLY! – some 36 or so years ago…

I used to run a folk club at college and several of us were well into people like Jansch, Renbourn and the guy who really started that whole
school of British solo acoustic guitar- DG.

Anyway, we booked Davey for a college folk night.

We went and met him off the London train and he was, quite frankly, out of it. He was narcotically compromised by something and I don’t
think it was booze.

Anyway, we walked him up to the college – about 10 minutes from the station usually although I recall the walk as much longer… – got him
to one of the bedrooms, plied him with strong black coffee, and thought we’d straightened him out enough for his gig that night.

Anyway, after the usual supporting artists – including the duo I was in – so, YES, I actually supported Davey Graham once! – he went on.

I’d like to say he rose above whatever chemical he’d ingested but he didn’t – he was absolutely fucking terrible…

He played about three numbers very, very badly – I can’t be more precise and recall what they were because I was stoned myself – and
then he just basically lost all power of movement and sat there like a frightened rabbit in the headlights.

Anyway, we hauled him off, took him back to the bedroom, plied him with more coffee and then took another extended walk – this time
*back* to the station.

We put him on the next Euston train and didn’t give him his fee.

At the time we were all more than a tad pissed off but looking back it’s very amusing.

At his peak and in his prime he was a peerless player – basically the mid to late 1960s.

If you never hear anything else by him there are two albums anyone with the smallest bit of interest in modern acoustic guitar should
hear – After Hours, an amateur recording made in a student bedroom after a gig with Davey just playing because he *loved* to play, and
Folk Blues & Beyond, a virtuouso album that trancends several genres and takes my breath away even today.

RIP Davey.

Looking back, it all seems like some sort of hallucination. There we were, all fans of the man, all in our early 20s, excited, slightly stoned on some shitty dope that the resident ‘source’ had got hold of for the night, going down to the station to meet Davey Graham and then finding him totally out of his skull…I can vividly remember my best mate Paul – soon to become the usher at my wedding and now sadly, like Davey, no longer with us, saying in a low voice, ‘Oh shit, Steve’ as we tried to stop the guy tottering into the road as we walked him up to college. Then the sheer, blind, sphincter-tightening panic as we tried to ready him to play. Paul even had to tune his guitar for him as he was totally incapable.

And then, in that crappy UV-lit little student bedroom, just before he staggered through the doorway out into the corridor he just played a few licks and, just very briefly, we heard the magic and thought everything was going to be OK.

It wasn’t, but that’s history and for what we have received, am I ever fucking grateful…

Thank you, Davey.

Davey’s site is here.