Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Croft, the Beach and lots of Wet Feet...Martyrs on Tour! (well, kind of)

Lone Ranger at the back
Ace weekend in the Martyr's camp! Friday night's gig almost didn't happen. Our convoy of 2 vans were as tight as anything at the petrol station inside the Oxford ring road, but the closer we got to The Croft, Bristol, the more disparate our happy caravan. I arrived in van one (call name: "big black mamma" - yes, we did have radio contact) as the night began and checked out the two music rooms, taking in a little thrash girl-punk metal, nioce. The boys, however, (call name: "lone rangers") failed to hit the M4 and a steely battle of attrition against time and Bristol's dreaded one-way system ensued. Just as we were billed to come off the stage, I began a solo set thinking all hope was lost, when the boys burst onto the stage, 3/4 inch jacks and cymbals in hand, and set up like Tasmanian devils behind me. The crowd were buzzing by this point and ready for something loud so we gave them LOUD. We played a frenzied set of 6 songs before my A string gave up the ghost midway through the last song, Payday Slag. It was definitely one of our most fun and frantic sets. The late start meant Humphrey missed his train home so he was forced to saddle up once more alongside "lone ranger one" and ride down to Devon for a weekend of surfing and campfires. "Welcome to Dennis," he muttered scratchily over the short-wave talkie as we entered Devon on the M5. After some heavily sardonic dreams he awoke on Saturday afternoon a broken man, so we bundled him in a  boxcar at Tiverton Parkway, heading North, and set a course for Putsborough Sands and some 6 foot, onshore slush.

We arrived via Pheasent Country and the winds were racing. We traded in our drums and guitars for wetsuits and surfboards and "hit the surf!". It was all getting a bit spiritual before Tommy almost knocked himself out with his surfboard, during a rad freestyle move called "biting the board without opening your mouth." He rose from the brine, dreads akimbo, with blood gushing from his toothy grin. Luckily he  had only managed to bite a chunk out of his lip and his pearly tombstones were all pretty much present and correct. We packed up and flew the windy beach in search of food and shelter.

In the evening we revisited a favourite haunt of ours in Mortehoe and set the world straight again with beer, fish and chips and whisky chasers. Come bedtime the wind roared and rocked our vans as the rain like nails hammered down. No one slept a wink and I almost froze to death. Who's idea was this?
The next day we decided to visit the old Victorian seaside town of Lynton, twinned with Lynmouth and famed for its cliff railway and valley of the rocks. The brochure read: "fun in any weather" - Tommy would probably agree. This is bullshit. We bid farewell to Tommy, as if for the last time, who strolled on into Lynmouth Gorge like a ghost from 1958.

Can't wait 'til the next Martyr's weekend tour!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Arty Farty and Farewell to Ute

Well, what a weekend it was! Inspiring, fun and not a little emotional. First, Friday Night saw me singing solo at the 'Artists "not working" night in The Project Room,' Jericho, Oxford. Toni Le Busque, our favourite badge-making, Dunt-based artiste, was showing off a load of her massive black and white drawings.
It was a great opportunity to see the variety of her work. My favourite was the piece called called 'There Are Stars in the Dirt, There Are Stars in Your Hair, There Are Bits of Stars Everywhere'. After much shmoozing and sucking on stubs of beer d'Alsace I played a few songs, including some newbies from my new solo EP (ready for release any day now).Here's a sneaky peek of the front cover by Toni Le Busque, of course!
EP front cover
The Project Room was a great space to play in and the audience were friendly, attentive and very much captive (since it's a particularly 'intimate' space). I met some lovely and talented people including an enthusiastic cello-playing Dr of Physics and the artist Jeremy Darge (who inspired the band name: The Inventions of Jerry Darge).  A big thanks for Emma Titcombe for putting the night on and for Toni for asking me to play. Dear artists, please put on more nights like this!

Ute's final Oxford gig
"Why emotional?" I hear you cry. Well, Saturday night was the night of the mighty Ute's last Oxford gig at Blessing's Force's take over of Modern Art Oxford. This is the first time I've been to one of these nights and I was pleased to see Oxfork supplying some yummy food to go with the mix of art and music. Ute played an outstanding final gig and the atmosphere on and off the stage was intense. Especially during 'The Innocent Taylor' when they crowd joined in screaming "WHY," which seemed to be the question on everyone's lips. Read their announcement here. I've seen Ollie play in various bands throughout our school days, one of my favorites was Tinderbox. I remember the first time I saw Ute play - it was mesmerizing.. Their sound has changed and evolved so much since then but watching them perform has always been inspiring. You also couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch of guys. I wish them luck in whatever 'incarnation' they take next. RIP One of Oxford's finest bands.

We're off to Bristol on Friday. Come and say hello if you're down that way.