Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Billboards: Video

Check out this video of yours truly singing 'Billboards' which will be on the new album.

Tamara Parsons-Baker from Henry Stead on Vimeo.


Friday, 10 December 2010

The Common Room Review

Check out this neat review of The Common Room music weekend by Tom Jowett.  Huck and the Handsome Fee played on the Sunday and enjoyed a great weekend of live music at the Jericho Tavern. 

The Fee have also just had some rather exciting news about a gig we're playing in February. More news to follow in the New Year.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The hardest thing about being in a band is naming it.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat... and, with two practices under our belts, the new band is burning to start gigging. The way things are going I think we will be ready by March. 2010 has been a year bursting with music and definitely the best fun so far. Joining Huck and the Handsome Fee and hopping over the pond for our US road-trip tour was an experience I'll never forget. I recorded my solo EP with Humphrey in Martin's Studio 101, and then finally formed my own band. Sounds pretty busy already and I've not even got onto all the great gigs like: supporting Simon Armitage (article here), and Borderville at the Jericho Tavern - Caroline Bird, Yo Zushi and Ute at the Isis - and Ulysses Storm at the Cellar; The Fee headlining London Poetry Systems' April show at the Jam Factory with Laura Dockrill and Luke Kennard; and our fearsome US launch show with Undersmile. Oh, and Glynn Maxwell at The Vaults. So many great bands, poets and artists - racking up the memories! The EP, including artwork by the darkly brilliant Elisa Muliere, will be ready for the start of 2011 to kick-off what I hope will be another year of hard work, exciting times, and plenty of plenty of music.

Gigs this month:
16th Dec: SOLO GIG: I'll be playing at the Brickworks. They are featuring architecture work by Christine Murphy and Christine Murphy, Iris Michailou, Widget, Adrian Buckle and more.

17th DecHuck and the Handsome Fee will be supporting Undersmile's album launch at the Bully with Desert Storm and Komrad.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me thus far and have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
T x

Monday, 29 November 2010

The First Rehearsal

So, the new band had its first rehearsal on Friday and it couldn't have gone better, especially considering I hadn't even heard two of the members play before.  I was in a few bands at school and I love being in the Fee, but I've never had my own band playing my songs. For some reason I'd always seen myself as an acoustic solo artist and, despite secretly craving a band, I always ended up joining other people's rather than starting my own. Friday felt like the beginning of something special. I feel really lucky because not only are the band all grimly talented, but we're also having loads of fun with the songs.  'Real Bad Lover' is one of those songs in which you can really let yourself go and explore the building chaos of a pretty warped story, bringing in some slightly sinister cabaret sounds into the mix.  It contrasts dramatically with 'Hang My Picture', which is soft for the most part, but then gently builds to a huge sweeping sound that snaps back down in an instant.  Each member has a real style of their own - but what's great is that we all seem to be able to mould these together without steering the song away from the story I'm telling. Such a sensitive bunch of mercenaries! We've got another rehearsal next week and I can't wait, I have such a good feeling about this.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

New Song: Hany My Picture

Just a quick note to let you know that 'Hang My Picture' from my new album of the same name has just been uploaded to myspace.  The album is due to be finished ready for release in the new year. Enjoy!

Listen here.

Friday, 5 November 2010

New EP and more...

Things are steadily coming together for my new solo ep and new band.  Elisa Muliere has been working hard on the artwork for the ep which will be entitled 'Hang My Picture'. Once the artwork is finishedthe disc will go into production, and an album launch will follow. I can't wait!

The members of my new band have been chosen and the first practice booked, now all I need is a band name. Tamara and the Hurricane has been suggested after the famous NOLA cocktail and, just as powerful but less popular, meteorological hiccup, but I think I'm back to the drawing board on this one. Suggestions welcome and greatly appreciated! Answers on a postcard..

Huck and the Handsome Fee  have finally rediscovered their feet after the America trip. We played our first gig back in Oxford last week at the Cellar for Halloween. Undersmile (link) played a juggernaut of a set and we are very pleased to announce that we will be supporting their new album launch on 17th December. The Fee will shortly be expanding its sway over Manchester and London, so watch this space!

Oh, and here is a nice blog by the southbank centre with a review of my song 'Lover' which I played at The Jericho Tavern in support of Simon Armitage.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


New Orleans.  Oh how we miss you with your stormy cocktails, haunted houses and howling horns. After watching ZZ Top and Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers in Dallas we drove all night (9 hours) to reach NOLA.
Hell, we can sleep in the day and, by golly! "we've got a gig in 12 hours?"  Tommy, Bat and Henry took shots of powerful hyper-caffeine juice, and Huck and I rolled in and out of consciousness making sure everything was in order. "Yerp! Argghh." We crossed the Eads Bridge as the sun rose. I rubbed the half sleep from my shrew eyes, looked out and saw that we'd finally made it to "The Big Easy". 

Central New Orleans feels massive when you first arrive.  We trudged to our first gig at Checkpoint Charlie's (at least the beer was cheap) I felt I'd never find my way around this place.  But little did I know, it was yet another grid city, and I do love my grids. After a day it was a pleasure to be able to walk everywhere instead of drive for ages just to have breakfast.  We were nicely settled for 5 days in NOLA and there was gumbo to be munched and beer to be drank.  It was like a vacation on vacation. 

Shouts of "Who Dat!" bounced around the french quarter. "Who is that?" We pondered... It wasn't long before a busty, blonde bar maid explained that it was the chant for The Saints, the local football team, who had a game that weekend. The response? "Ain't Nobody!" of course, and we joined in all the way to the next bar. Well, when in Rome...

The Hurricane's flowed and we found ourselves squished into The Spotted Cat for a bit of swing-time. Little did we know but we were in for a treat. I  asked a fellow punter for a light. By a stroke of luck it was Mr Mike Menke - and he informed me that the band about to come on was Davis Rogan (of "Treme" fame) and his amazing band.  It was a "totally awesome show, man WHO DAT?" Well, it would be after a night full of Hurricanes. The evening rolled into the morning and all I remember is ending up in some rock bar playing pool whilst Henry and Tommy snuck pickled gherkins into Bat and Huck's beers. "Cheers!"

The Circle Bar was a fantastic place, situated on the only round-a-bout I saw in America. The atmosphere was warm, friendly and quite rowdy.  There was a smattering of fine bands and it was shaping up to be a great gig, our final one in NOLA. The crowd seemed to like us and even danced to Christine. I didn't know it was possible. We were followed by one of the best bands I've seen for ages, Agent Ribbons. Our new pal Mike came along to see us, and recorded the whole thing too - so be prepared for The Fee's US sessions coming soon to a Woolworth's near you.

So how does one top of all that before flying to New York? Well, an afternoon in a swamp feeding marshmallows to alligators and an evening listening to traditional jazz in Preservation Hall seemed like a good idea. "Argh, big lizards playing trumpets!"

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Austin TX

Austin knows how to treat a lady. Fine flat beers by the pitcher at smoky Lovejoys, spirit-spilling lakes, rivers and preserves (all for diving, dipping and dunking). And, would you believe it, a tasty veggie option can be found every now and then. 4 days in Austin took us to one of the best open mics, one of the most fun gigs, swimming in the beautiful surrounds of the Hamilton Pool Preserve and a glimpse of the biggest carp in San Antonio (and I'm not talking about Huck in his Speedos). We glimpsed some of the most beautiful sights God's country has to offer from the budget and totally forgettable base camp of an astoundingly well placed Super 8 (5 minutes walk from the iniquitous 6th St.)

We've all fallen for Austin and a lot of that is thanks to Grant Ewing from the Triple Crown in San Marco. This bar is how I imagined bars should look like in America (scuttling roaches included). It's dark with neon lights flashing behind the bar. Shelves stacked with gloopy liquors and a local and friendly vibe. The talent of the musicians here is the highest we've seen yet with Grant opening the night with some of the most powerful vocals I've heard. You also need to check out the beautiful Ashleigh Stone. "I used to live in London and loved it so I'm gonna play this song for all y'all English folks - it's called London Towne."

Steve from 'Steve 'n' Steve' who resembles a hybrid of Herbert Hunke and William Burroughs crawked to Huck: "You went to California? We call it granola, it's full of flakes, fruits and nuts."  Huck chuckles in agreement: "it sure was like that for us." The pressure is on. There is a lot of interest in our small group so we better do the night justice. There is nothing to worry about here though as the folks are so encouraging and in the mood for dancing.

The gig goes well and I think it could be the best response yet. As the night winds down Dame Ella is suddenly projected onto the screen behind the bar and sings her heart out to a happy and swaying Fee.  We've found our bar.

So, how do you cap off a night like that? Well, hitting a stray wheel down the freeway at 70 mph is not recommended, but we did it all the same. 'Longette' went down screeching into the central reservation next to a very fast fast line. We had to change the tyre in the pitch black at 3 am while Texans tried to pick us off one by one with their oversize pickups. Perhaps we'd had too much fun and needed a good dose of Karma. Either way, there ain't nothing like a tremendous thump to the car to sober you up.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Albuquerque Blues

Sitting on the plane from New York to Albuquerque I'm reminded how much I love flying and how much I hate small children. One little pug-faced kid sits in the seat in front of me and spends the whole flight staring at me sipping his complimentary beverage through the space between the seats.

I  vaguely recall a Bill Hicks sketch where a child on the plane starts tapping him repeatedly on the back of the head. "They're so cute when they're that small," dotes the child's mother. The child then decides to take his seat belt off and skip around the plane.  When he gets to the plane door he stops and fiddles with the handle. Bill whispers to the child's parent, "Wait, lets just see what he does?" and the child opens the door and gets sucked out into the clouds. "You're right," chirps Bill: "The smaller he gets, the cuter he is. Hey, Stewardess! seeing as we have a breeze in here, mind if I smoke?" If only...

 The boys greet us at Albuquerque airport and we hug. They take us straight to Diner 66 for a slap up meal, and I learn that chips are crisps - not fries. I love Albuquerque. We spend the next day driving around  in the blasting heat. The wind is blowing, but that just makes the air feel like one big hairdryer. We trawl through pawn shop after pawn shop, and finally find my guitar in Grandma's Music and Sound. It's a beautiful new Fender with all the trimmings. I christen him 'Alby'.

Cowboys at the State Fair
We arrive at The Brickyard on Route 66 with all our kit and growling bellies.  A pint and a slice for $4.25? Hell yeah! There is an interesting crowd gathering, of all ages, and we wonder how our set will go down. There is a heavy blues vibe here and our friendly host, Chris Dracup, is a superb player. This guy is blues on tap. We open with Passion Man and the crowd seems to really like it.  Even the dug-up gal in the corner whoops with delight. We're applauded with two encores and sell a fair few Cd's. "We're travelling across your fine country, which ain't cheap. So, wish us luck and give us money," croons Huck.

We chat to most of the crowd. They are all very enthusiastic about our trip and have a million suggestions of what to see and where to play. Our circle grows and Chris buys us a round of tequilas, which nearly sees the end of me. He asks if we want to jam. Tommy and Bat get up for a 12 minute electrifying blues round. After a few too many beers I play a solo set joined by Jeff "Cajones" who plays the cajon beautifully. Tommy decides he should really get in on the cajon action, and joins Huck for a wonderful rendition of Stolen Car. It feels good to be back with the boys and to have a great gig under our belts - after what seems like an age apart.

Next stop Austin via Roswell.  Bring on the UFOs...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

NYC Baby

There's no denying it, New York is huge, unrelenting and very very American. After finally getting through border control (passport check, finger prints, eye scan and a whole bunch of questions), h and I booked a room at the JFK Inn (don't go there!) and tried to sleep through a night broken by intermittent death screams and police sirens. After what seemed like the longest day in history, we'd made it, we'd finally made it - but what was this 'it' that we had fallen into?

The next morning we headed to Willamsburg on the L train and met out trusty pal, Cal, who shoved us into the nearest diner and proceeded to deface our map with things to see and do. Back at her studio/warehouse/squat she took us out to the roof to admire the Manhatten skyline and started pointing out a few neat things like the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge.

Manhattan Skyline

Now, don't get me wrong, it's an impressive skyline. So why am I so underwhelmed by New York? Admittedly I have only been here 2 days and so perhaps I should say I am underwhelmed so far. I haven't even scratched the surface - but walking around I'm left with the confusing desire to feel amazed, but the true feeling is: 'what's all the fuss about?'. Perhaps I'm in shock. Has the jet lag killed all my senses, and turned me into a roaming zombie? Or is it all a little too familiar?

New York reminds me of London. A louder, smellier and substantially larger London perhaps, but still just another big city. Maybe it's because it's an English Speaking country. I didn't warm to Tai Pei much, a few years ago, but still I was fascinated by the people and city enough to enjoy the visit. Perhaps I'm more impressed by things I cannot understand, things that are removed from my culture. I feel like I've sat through this movie before. That's not to say that being here is easy, or a walk in the (Central) park. The best thing to do, I reckon, is to let it swallow you up a little.

It's impressive though how a city which at first seems so incomprehensibly big, quite quickly appears totally manageble. I like how New York works. The grids of streets and avenues. After a day here I feel confident enough to skip out of the grid knowing that it will catch up with me again in it's sensible and exhaustive style.


New York is like a group of small villages but, instead of being seperated by trees, they are seperated by looming skyscrapers. The most striking thing about New York for me though is how friendly the people here are. One Manhattan hotel porter looked up from his desk and greeted Henry and I flamboyantly: "Hello ladies!" He was one of the most helpful, friendly and just downright chipper New Yorkers we met. He was also the most embarrassed for a while when he realised his mistake: "I'm really sorry, a big mistake on my part. It's the hair, I think, oh I'm so sorry." People are just so goddamn nice. New York sure has one up on London in that respect.

Next step Alburquerque and The Fee reunited.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Tonight at the Isis Tavern

T-Bone and Huck support some of Oxford's finest
bands tonight at the Isis Tavern. The marvellous
Mr George Chopping shall be hosting the event with
UTE to headline. We're on at 7.30pm so get there
nice and early.

New Huck and the Handsome Fee Website

Look, we have a shiny new website here:

Huck and the Handsome Fee

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Oxford Bands.com Review Myspace Tracks

The folks at Oxford Bands have reviewed our myspace tracks. Read more here.
We also have a new face book group so you can keep updated with all the latest America news including our launch gig.

This is how our journey looks so far, I better get some driving lessons...

Friday, 25 June 2010

Morning Glory

I would just like to thank everyone who came to our gig last night. Huck and the Handsome Fee had their best show yet and deserve a cold shower after all the sweat dripping from The Cellar's walls. Bright Spark Destroyer were thunderous and Above Us the Waves warmed up the stage beautifully. Huck and the Handsome Fee are looking forward to playing Cornbury Festival on Sunday 4th July at 3.30pm. We are then bombing back to Oxford to play The Rabbit Foot Street Party with The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band. This will be at The Bear pub from about 7pm.

I'm off to Munich to swagger about in a dirndl for a few days. In the meantime get your peepers around this bit of genius.

Yours ever,

Short but Sweet

The boys at OxfordBands.co.uk have reviewed charlbury festival.
Read more (or less) here

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Secret Gig at the Chester Arms, Oxford 7th June 2010

Here is some footage taken from last night's secret show at George's Jamboree Open Mic in the Chester Arms, Oxford.

Huck and the Handsome Fee from Henry Stead on Vimeo.

Vimeo: Huck and the Handsome Fee

Friday, 4 June 2010

Negative Huckability

One of the things I love about singing with Huck is that I never know quite what he's going to do next.
For example, he might decide just to scream down the mic, instead of going for that nice harmony we worked on the week before. He could curl his lip at any moment, and with a wink of an eye, beckon me over to slur together into one mic. Or he might even just stop singing altogether and let me take the reigns.

But this 'improv' style can also irk me a little. It is nice to know where you're going, what notes you are aiming for, and it feels good when you meet in the middle and create the sound you wanted. But it's safe. Not boring, as such.. but who wants to see the same thing over and over again? Isn't that what CDs and films are for? I think one of the points of live performance is to give the audience and yourselves something new, something different to the recording, something more. Not so different that when people listen to the CD they think it is something else, but the realms of performance need to keep on being pushed. Otherwise we lose something - something we might not find again. So when I see that little glimmer in Huck's eye, I know that whatever happens next, I just have to suck it up and not be afraid of not knowing.

Come see it all happen tomorrow night at the Wheatsheaf. We're supporting the Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

What is the Cheese Like in America?

So, it is about time I properly updated the Huckiad and informed you of The Fee's, and my solo, plans for the next coming months. We had our first 'band meeting' last week after a 4 hour rehearsal. We managed to pound out "Christine" for the duration. We discussed our tour/trip to America. A big thanks to the wine and Wooky hole cheese that facilitated this meeting, without which I'm sure we wouldn't have made it this far. America is shaping up to be quite the trip of the year, with the boys planning to get a nice little van and drive from Seattle, down the West Coast via San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, through Death Valley onto Phoenix, Arizona and Denver. I'll be joining them in Texas if they've managed to survive that long without me, where the second leg of our journey begins. I shall keep you updated from here on in.

In other news, The Fee will be making a music video with Big Face Art, based in London, and I'll be mixing my solo stuff next month. I still haven't decided on a cover design, but I have a few artists in mind. Perhaps I'll create a shortlist and ask you to vote for your favorite.

See more at BigFaceArt and BigFaceJam.

Check out this video of Henry Stead performing Attis. This was taken from the LPS night we performed at in the Jam Factory, Oxford.

HENRY STEAD - Attis from Big Face Art on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Love and Affection

I saw Joan Armatrading live at the beginning of the month and she performed this song. Truly one of the most outstanding female guitarists I've seen. Enjoy.

To read more click here

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Fly review Red Stripe Music Award @ The Cellar, Oxford

'With his studded jacket removed to expose what looks like a filthy string vest, the drummer from Sextodecimo, a face that screws through slightly terrifying expressions even during the calm opening to his set, and two more old-school glamorous members, Huck is nothing if not visually arresting. And the music soon catches up with the image; ‘Passion Man’ rolling along like Os Mutantes swapped their Rolling Stones records for the Pixies. But his set never really recovers from the hitch of breaking all the strings on his guitar. It feels like there's unfinished business here.' (Chris Bennett)
For more go here.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Oxonian Review of Huck and the Fee

Check out this review by the Oxonian Review of the London Poetry Systems gig on the 10th April 2010:
'The evening finished with a performance from local Oxford band Huck and the Handsome Fee, which continued the theme of incorporating poetry and performance. Many of the numbers in Fee’s repertoire began as written works. Reworking these pieces into songs allows richer and more immediate access to their emotional depth and enlivens the interpersonal drama of their narratives. This is particularly true in virtue of the Fee’s co-vocalists, Humphrey Astley and Tamara Parsons-Baker. Between Astley’s tortured, thespianic vocalisations and Parsons-Baker’s impassioned and gracefully sombre style, these two expertly share the often weighty burden of their material’s characters and themes.'
By John Maloney

To read the full review more click here
To see a glimpse of the event...

Monday, 3 May 2010

Me and The Fee

Tamara Parsons-Baker

I suppose it’s unhealthy prejudice, but forgive us for thinking that Tamara Parsons-Baker was going to be chortling jodhpurred lass singing nasal, plummy songs about palomino geldings. Imagine our surprise in being confronted with a beautifully clear voice that trickles through the air like a limpid stream above some subtle guitar.
By David Murphy
Oxford Bands

Humphrey 'Huck' Astley is a veteran of the Oxford music scene, having played bass with notorious extreme metallers Sextodecimo since their inception a decade ago. Although a lover of rock as well as the avant-garde, his heart was often in the traditional genres of blues, country and folk, and it was only a matter of time before he gave them their dues. In the summer of '09 he transplanted Sextodecimo's powerhouse drummer Tommy Longfellow from one stool to the other and recruited bassist Matt Halliday (who makes time between full-on duty in Borderville and occasional moonlighting with Stornoway and Richard Walters) to fill out the Fee sound. 
Tamara Parsons-Baker, a singer-songwriter in her own right and perhaps Oxford's finest female vocalist, cut her teeth at the city's myriad open mics, where she and Astley would often duet; her joining the band was the natural course of action. The result is a combo that plays hard and soft and fun and fierce, in a style they like to call 'the New Butch'. With the Tom Waits songbook in one pocket and some lipstick in the other, Huck and the Handsome Fee are poised for 2010.