Friday, 30 April 2010

Don't You Wish You Were in Philly

Tonight's the night. I'll be at Tapestry in King's Cross

Monday, 26 April 2010

At The Crossroads: The State of the BoB Nation

I’ve been feeling for the last few days that this is a good point to set out the state of play of Bucketfull Of Brains; whatever exactly it now is. I’m heading towards May Day with an incredible amount of optimism and excitement about the future of this now hydra-headed enterprise. May Day 2008, I realised with something of a jolt, was probably the beginning of what has been the most eventful, emotional, and changed-packed two years of my recent life. And it is something of a pleasant surprise to find us where we now are, with the prospects we now have.

In May 2008 I didn’t believe Bucketfull Of Brains had any future as a print magazine. For much of the decade we’d been losing exporters and distributors on a regular basis; people went bust, people stopped handling magazines, people were taken over by larger concerns who weren’t interested in small magazines and in truth seemed actively opposed to them. Many advertisers voted with their feet, and you couldn’t blame them. And as ever in the music business payment of invoices was optional and invariably delayed. There are still a whole bunch of people who owe us money from back in the day but I can’t even remember who they are now.

May 2008 was almost exactly thirteen years after Joss Hutton told me he was considering taking over Bucketfull Of Brains and did I want to be involved. At that point the idea of having anything again to do with the music business was oceans away from my thinking but the writing itch remained strong and thus I jumped. I didn’t anticipate at that point that I’d end up the publisher and co-editor, or that Joss (and Joe Presedo) wouldn’t always be involved but what is life if not change and surprise. I’ll always be incredibly grateful to them for what they started me off on, and of course to Terry Hermon who remains the secret hero of Bucketfull Of Brains and without whom...

The mag then appeared gone. We’d produced an issue in September 2007 (#71 – The Only Ones) and used the last of the money we had left to pay for it. In the late autumn Piers Miller and Dave Jackson, then running Turning Worm together invited me to programme an afternoon and I got James Walbourne, Kelly’s Heels, and Semion to play. In consequence they then asked me to do a monthly afternoon which over the next year showcased people like Tony Thewlis, Jeremy Gluck, Chris Wilson, Darrell Bath, Gary Lammin, Mary Epworth, and more. It kept the name going, and at that point the fantasy that we would return.

But the world of gig promoting is not my natural habitat, plus there were external pressures taking up a lot of my time, often at very short notice, and also working an extremely negative effect on my health. So I stopped this at the end of 2008 and have only returned to that world once since, and that as an unintended consequence.

Thus 2009 I was casting around for something to do. I had a reviewing gig of sorts with Rock’n’Reel, I was doing an import reissue column for Pop Culture Press in Austin, and wondering what else to do. I had this blog, a Twitter account that I’d opened a year earlier and never done anything with, and a few ideas about doing things online. But still being at heart a Zigzag kid I couldn’t shake the idea of a print magazine. So Terry did the rounds of print companies and we got some amazing quotes. What was clear was the recession had hit printers as badly as everyone else and there were great deals to be had. So that was why we did #72 in Spring 2009 it was partly to test the water again, partly to get the Steve Wynn and Robert Fisher pieces out in the world, and partly out of sheer cussedness. Having Jesse on the cover was us saying we’re beholden to no-one and we’re doing it our way, for our people.

Reducing the price to £2 was inspired. Less than the cost of a pint, I soon discovered you could run round gigs and sell 20 copies in about 15 minutes. I don’t much care for the Socialist Worker model but I find it rather reassuring that a magazine that gets sent to subscribers in places as far away as Uruguay and Brazil can also be sold to folk in that way. We didn’t initially restart subscriptions and that was just as well as my health collapsed last summer and I was utterly unproductive for the best part of three months, and I shudder to think where I would be now without my brilliant GP.

So it was November before we could publish #73 (Lucky Soul cover). In the run-up to publication I relaunched subscriptions – three issues at £8.50 for the UK – and plugged them relentlessly online. Within a week we’d had enough coming in to pay for the printing of that issue, and set us up well for the next one. Although there hadn’t been many adverts, on sending out the issue we immediately had a number of people in touch asking to advertise in the next, and although the odd one didn’t come through in the end it was satisfactory. And it gave us the impetus to get #74 out fast, featuring the scoop that none of us wanted. In March I went to the USA for two weeks. I took a suitcase full of mags and sold them all. Made, or remade, great contacts. Talked on the radio about Bucketfull, Danny And The Champs, Ben Folke Thomas, Tapestry, Jesse Hector, and more. #74 has shifted so fast that we have to reprint; I can’t believe I’m saying that about Bucketfull Of Brains again! There are few of this print run left though some of those need to be held for the Camden Crawl.

So you can gather from this (if you’ve stayed this long) that things are looking good. #75 remains on schedule to publish during June. We’ll be announcing contents gradually over the next few weeks though you may get a clue from Mick Dillingham’s blog. And then there’s the record label...

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Rif Mountain Records special at Come Down And Meet The Folks

Alan Tyler presents an intriguing afternoon of artists from Rif Mountain Records at Come Down And Meet The Folks.

The Owl Service
Traditional song and a love of British films and
television of the 1960s and 70s

Nancy Wallace
Acclaimed folk singer highly recommended by CDAMTFs regulars

Ellen Mary McGee
Exotic multi-instrumental gothic folk

Jason Steel
Flat-capped finger pickin' folkster from Yorkshire

Straw Bear Band
Experimental folk conceptualists

Plus Rif Mountain DJs

The Stag's Head 55 Orsman Road, London N1 5RA
4pm to 9pm, last act on about 6.30 pm

The Owl Service

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Darrell Bath, Andy Weaver, Trent Miller and Ben Folke Thomas tomorrow at the 12 Bar


While we regret the loss of Marc Jeffrey and Jeremy Gluck from the line-up, due to the volcanic ash cloud which kept Marc in New York, we are pleased to still present a very superior line-up comprising:


Italian by birth but now residing in London, Trent Miller has been described as the Pete Doherty of the Americana movement. However, with his wistful acid-bite lyrics, mournful, chilling melodies and outlaw, renegade posture, a more suitable comparison might be to that of Gram Parsons or Gene Clark.
His original mix of gothic and avant-country have seen the singer-songwriter gain a growing cult following in the underground folk scene since he first brought his music to London in late 2006.
As a live performer, drink-fuelled, harmonica clad, with earrings that wouldn’t look out of place on Sitting Bull’s daughter and a voice pitched somewhere between Johnny Cash and Guy Kyser of the legendary Thin White Rope, you have never really seen anything like him. His acclaimed first album Cerberus came out in 2009 and he’s already busy working on a follow-up.


Of Chicken Legs Weaver, now doing solo thing, digging deeper into the roots of muddy rock music and trudging round with his beautiful burden and a shopping trolley full of primitive noise. A primitive rock n' roll thing with a guitar and foot stomp box. Recorded the Gravel Rd album in 2005 and now going out with a more stripped down, groovy voodoo type thing. Some is his own songs and some is reworkings of ancient blues and Gospel classics.


Quite possibly the finest guitarist in the UK today with spells in Dogs D’Amour,the Crybabys, the UK Subs, and the Ian Hunter Band. Accompanied the much-missed Nikki Sudden on many occasions and currently playing in Dave Kusworth and Micky Kemp’s bands. Splendid solo album Love And Hurt was produced by Dave Goodman and is just re-released on Angel Air.


Swedish-born, London-based Ben Folke Thomas often seems laid back but it's something of an act. He’s a driven singer-songwriter on a creative roll and a fine finger-picking guitarist to book. Whether fronting a five-piece band or just playing along with the lap steel and slide guitar or violin he’s mesmerising. He may comes over as a simulacra of the early 90s Bob Dylan (when he would have been about five) and lyrically he's not averse to quoting the Zim but he's an inventive lyricist with a impressive collection of solid songs. He’s about to release his first collection – a six-track EP to be released by Bucketfull Of Brains in May.

Running Order
(Subject to alteration)

Trent Miller 8.00

Andy Weaver 8.45

Darrell Bath 9.45

Ben Folke Thomas 10.45

Further additions and surprises a possibility

The 12 Bar Club
Denmark Street


This show carries the BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS imprimatur

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Lunatic is on the grass

The Duke And The King at the Union Chapel - Mon 19th April

As I remarked previously about The Duke And The King every show they do is not only better than the last, but also demonstrates significant advancements, improvements, and greater integration.

They’re now one of the closest bands I think I’ve ever seen. When there’s a solo performance, a little dash of virtuosity, or a sudden raising of the game, they’re all alert to it, acknowledging it with a recognition, a smile, a stare and whenever possible an embrace or a high-five. When not involved they’re watching from the side, often singing off-mike (which with The Reverend Loveday, of course, isn’t so different to being on).

There’s plainly been a lot of work put in since Simi and The Rev came on board. Both do more centrally for the performances; they are integral to songs that back in the autumn they were simply decorating.

The songs have grown again with new interpolations and different voices. Tonight there are such surprises; the first verse of ‘Nothing Compares To You’ as the intro to ‘Scarecrow’, an impassioned ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ from The Reverend, a new song ‘Shaky (Letters From Baghdad)’ on which they’re joined by Horace The Hornblower on sax, and then a last encore of ‘Brain Damage’ (from Dark Side Of The Moon).

That encore melds into a pretty manic square-dance just as the pre-encore ‘Helpless’ has ended with a mass twirl.

The whole evening is something of a Loose package with Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou, and then The Bluegrass Champs comprising Danny Wilson, Trevor and Hannah-Lou, in support. All three have voices that in this delightful venue absolutely shine. Particularly apparent is how well Dan and Trevor’s voices work together. The Champs set is little more than a vignette, but it’s a memorable one concluding with a segue of the first verse of ‘Wandle Swan’ into ‘Restless Feet’.

From what Simone was saying there’ll be a new Duke And The King album out in September, and as they don’t appear to be listed on any festival line-ups it must be a fair bet they’ll be back in the autumn to promote it. Meanwhile check out the Loose site for the rest of this tour’s dates. I certainly hope to be in Norwich on Saturday.

Dress Rehearsal Rag - Laughin' Len celebrated tonight

A night of music and poetry celebrating Leonard Cohen, with a short talk by music journalist Gavin Martin and fiction from Chris Teevan and Mak Rahmdel.

Poets and performers include Roddy Lumsden, Declan Ryan and Phil Hills (both from the Shingles), Jon Stone, Kirsten Irving, Joe Dunthorne, Jacqui Saphra, Chris Horton, Catherine Eden, Joe Duggan, Malene Engelund, Rich Trow (aka Mr Dupret Factory), Gareth Jones, Fiona Bevan and Greg McDonald.

Others tbc.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Big Sexy Noise & Phil Shoenfelt in Prague tomorrow

Were I in Prague tomorrow night this is where I would be. As I'm in London I'll go and see The Duke And The King instead.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

A Tribute to Songs For Beginners

Grass Roots Records.

Legendary singer-songwriter Graham Nash's emotionally-charged solo debut - Songs For Beginners - was first released in 1971 and came on the heels of a temporary split with his CSN band mates, David Crosby and Stephen Stills, and a permanent break with his then-love, Joni Mitchell. The album was a hit and introduced the now-classic songs 'Military Madness', 'Simple Man', 'Used To Be A King', and the Top 40 single 'Chicago'. Songs for Beginners has stood the test of time and its contents have been covered by a long list of music makers.

Now, flash forward to 2010, Nile Nash & Britt Govea of (((folkYEAH!))) have assembled an all-star line-up of celebrated contemporary artists such as Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Robin Pecknold (of Fleet Foxes), Brendan Benson, Vetiver, Alela Diane, Sleepy Sun, Mariee Sioux & Greg Weeks (from Espers), Port O Brien with The Papercuts and The Moore Brothers. All of these artists, and Nile Nash herself, have come together to honour and celebrate Songs For Beginners by covering the album track by track. The artists put a unique spin on each song, making it his or her own whilst also honouring the timeless nature of the original recordings. Each track is sure to delight and introduce these already epic and timeless songs to a new generation of music lovers.

Click here for a conversation between Sylvie Simmons, Nile Nash and Joel Bernstein about Be Yourself and Songs For Beginners and to hear snippets from the album…

Be Yourself” : A Tribute To Graham Nash’s Songs For Beginners is released 21st June on Grass Roots records…

(from the press release)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Jeremy Gluck and Marc Jeffrey - next week in London

A rare London appearance for JEREMY GLUCK of The Barracudas and an even rarer one for MARC JEFFREY of New York’s legendary Band Of Outsiders.

Together with sets from ANDY WEAVER of Chicken Legs Weaver, DARRELL BATH acclaimed sideman of Ian Hunter and Nikki Sudden and accomplished performer in his own right (2001 solo album Love And Hurt just reissued by Angel Air), and upcoming London songwriters BEN FOLKE THOMAS and TRENT MILLER.

This show carries the BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS imprimatur.

The show's at the 12 Bar Club in Denmark Street on THURS 22nd APRIL and it's £6 in.