JAMMiN' THE BLUES (1944) Now In HD

I'm not a fan of X-Factor but...



There is some good in everything... a heart warming clip from the Australian show. All things work together? Especially the responses from Ronan Keating on and off camera plus love the excerpt of 30 Seconds To Mars playing in the background as the judges' votes are lodged.

P h/t The Wedlocks

Amen Dunes - Live at Shea Stadium


In what seems to be a recurring theme on this site, brooklyn venue Shea Stadium has again offered up some recordings from Amen Dunes set at a previous Last Nights curated event. This time MV & EE, Amen Dunes, & Eleven Twenty-Nine all took the stage. It was a great night filled with truly awesome tunes. Eleven Twenty-Nine provided a twin guitar & drums assault of great technical dexterity, while MV & EE were on point in their own universe of sonic bliss. Amen Dunes had a particular scorcher of a set & his tune s Lower Mind, Baba Yaga, & Diane above really drive this point home, showing Amen Dunes at their best.


Be sure to check out Amen Dunes newest LP Through Donkey Jaw on Sacred Bones, out now.


Why does my heart feel so bad?

 
Blackie - from birth circa 1995 to 27th September 2011

Dear Lord, thank you for Your creation and for our Blackie.

Thank you for bringing her into our lives and the joy that she gave us.

Thank you for the home, comfort and security we were able to share with Blackie.

Now as we say goodbye help us to remember the joy and warmth we feel for her as we wipe away our tears.

Earth to earth, dust to dust...

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Listening and watching the moment Lexie says goodbye in Monarch of the Glen...

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Wooden Shjips "Lazy Bones" video


On a general level Wooden Shjips rock. Period. Their take on a well trodden brand of blues-inflected psych-rock retains the hallmarks of luminaries such as Spacemen 3 and more generally Nuggets-era garage rock. The band's newest album West continues on this path, though with some added fidelity and sheen, partially due to the involvement of former spaceman Sonic Boom.

The video for album cut "Lazy Bones" Wooden Shjips have turned to Black Dice whose distinct visual aesthetic is practically dripping out of the screen. The collaboration at first glance seems strange at best but when examining the recent trajectory of BD (and the solo work of Eric Copeland) it may not be all that surprising. After all Copeland's latest single "Whorehouse Blues" makes explicit reference to some of the blues & boogie tinged work Shjips are known for. So enjoy the video while you're mind's eye begins to take out it's dancing shoes & begins to melt.

West is out now and available from Thrill Jockey records.

THiS MAY BE MY LAST TiME SiNGiNG - Raw African-American Gospel on 45 - 1957-1982

Tompkins Square Records @ Facebook // Twitter // OnLine // 

Willie Cotton - Stop Now ~ mp3

Elder Robert McMurray - Walk With Me ~ mp3

Prophet G Lusk - The Devil's Trying To Steal My Joy ~ mp3

With this straight up golden era,  hard,  raw,  local gospel collection ( all tracks collected from 45s ) Tompkins Square cements their footing as one of the coolest labels in the country ( yeah, there are still some record labels around that matter. ) 

 Just when you think it's all been mined, that America has given up the last Holy Ghost of gospel groups and testifying Deacons, along comes THiS MAY BE MY LAST TiME SiNGiNG - Raw African-American Gospel on 45 - 1957-1982It's a thrilling three-disc  collection that will knock out and rock out the hardcore fan, just as deeply as it will the virgin Gospel newcomer. 

It's exciting to me as a total music geek that we still have some record labels that you can trust to put out a quality product.  Tompkins Square Records is as well known  known for their gorgeous packaging design as they are for their release of Frank Fairfield albums,  a Polk Miller collection ( which I need! ), some acclaimed Charlie Louvin albums, and the amazing collection People Take Warning: Murder Ballads and Songs of Disaster 1913-1938, plus a bunch of other cool, eclectic stuff. 

This beautiful set includes an incredibly broad variety of  gospel styles within 72 tracks, a 23 page booklet that includes information about how the set was compiled, photos, and track by track annotation. What else could you want?

Do you find yourself sometimes needing
the healing power of serious gospel ? 

Go HERE and get some! 
Say Amen somebody. 



















SEASiCK STEVE - TREASURES

Aircrew training 10th Jan 1941 - Books


Dad's bookcase and some original books in my music room
Entry number four from my father's wartime journal covering his thoughts on Bomber Command aircrew training during 1941. Dad was both very well read and a collector of books. Am pleased to say I am now custodian of the wonderful gems he discovered. Earlier posts from his journal:
Entry 4 - January 10th

The day has drawn, once more, to a close. No flying today. We managed to get to get the evening off in Didcot and arrived back rather late when we adjourned to the mess, which made us even later. I received an extremely good letter from Beryl (his younger sister) and another from Mrs Peach who is still worrying over Jack (Jack Lavers enlisted with dad and, after the war, became the family solicitor).

This evening my thoughts, prompted from some unknown source, made me think of my collection of books at home. The main theme was actually concentrated on what should become of them in the event of my death. It seems such a pity that so many volumes collected with unwonted pains and energy should now be of no use to anyone.

With books I have spent so much of my time that my soul is held between their musty leaves. To me, perhaps, in some frustrated way they have been the outlet for unbounded love on my part. I lived with them and now the mere sight of them fills me with pleasant memories of more happier times when I was free to browse, at my leisure, on the intellectual fare provided.

I have heard Robespierre proclaim his fiery, wonderful exposition of liberty, equality and fraternity in the French Revolution. Seen his proscriptions and the tumbrils full of condemned men and women the next day. I have been at the side of Napoleon in his campaign in Northern Italy and marched with Wellington in the Peninsula. Macaulay, Allison, Adam Smith Gibson, Shakespeare have all provided me with their philosophy and works and added to works of countless modern authors have given me spiritual meat and drink for the past five years. What will happen to them when they no longer have one beside them who cherishes them as though they were his betrothed? Perhaps my people will realise what they have meant to me and say of those faded and stained books,'there lies his soul, his mind, all of him that was best and that which we counted most dear'.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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The History Of Rock & Roll

I'm taking a college course called The History Of Rock & Roll.  
It's a lot tougher class than you'd think.  But also a treat. I'll be reading seven books over the semester. The first down was Robert Palmer's Deep Blues

It's the only one of the bunch I'd read before, but it had been at least ten years since I last read it. I discovered I should read it more often.  Some of my fellow students had complaints about the book, but they were all history majors, I believe.  
Anyway, I had to write a review about the book. 

I got a C+. Which i'm actually quite happy with.
But it's been drawn to my attention that historical writing is not Creative Writing and I need to tighten up. As my Professor said (approximately), 'writing papers for history classe should be seen as writing with your Sunday best on'.   
So I need to tone down the whateverthehellwordsalads and such.  
If you are interested in reading my semi-occasionally-akward sentences and blah-de-blah 
about the book Deep Blues you can take the jump to your pal April Fecca's blog,  
Now This Sound Is Brave.

You can get the movie HERE   
You can get the book HERE.









JERRY LEE LEWiS & SAM PHiLLiPS DiSCUSS RELiGiON


Thanks to Dr. Michael Butler for the tip!

mp3

The source of this recording is allegedly the October 6, 1957 session for Great Balls Of Fire. 















MERRY CHRiSTMAS from BROKE & HUNGRY RECORDS!

Coming soon on 7" Red Vinyl!









HOWLiN' WOLF on SHiNDiG!

"This is where the soul of man never dies." - Sam Phillips

"In 1965, The Rolling Stones, fresh from England, appeared on the ABC TV show Shindig. They had one condition: Their idol, Howlin' Wolf, had to be there, too. Sure enough, he was. A hulking black eminence, he stood at the microphone in a dark suit, his huge head sweating as he stabbed the air with his finger, shaking his hips salaciously before a bevy of white go-go dancers. 
It's surely one of the most incongruous moments in American pop music. Music journalist Peter Guralnick, who says he reveres Howlin' Wolf, goes even further. He calls it one of the greatest cultural moments of the 20th century.

"What was so great about seeing Wolf on Shindig was it was in a sense reality imposing itself on this totally artificial setting," Guralnick says. "While I was a big fan of the Stones, it was altogether appropriate that they would be sitting at Wolf's feet. And that's what it represented. His music was not simply the foundation or the cornerstone; it was the most vital thing you could ever imagine."



Pigeons - "Tournoi" video & "Dead Echo"



Pigeons have been at it for a some now. They have quietly released a handful of albums & singles over the years on labels such as Black Dirt, Olde English Spelling Bee, & Soft Abuse to name a few. With each release the duo (now quartet), featuring members of No Neck Blues Band, has evolved their song craft to new heights, adding bits of pop shimmer, foreign tongues, & dashes of psychedelic weirdness.

The band is getting set to release their newest full-length They Sweartheartstammers. In anticipation of the LP the track "Tournoi" has received some video treatment courtesy of Amy Ruhl. The track features some classy fuzz guitar lines that lead straight into one of Pigeons most sulty vocal deliveries yet. You can get a further peak into the album with the track "Dead Echo", which features a slightly more experimental bent with tumbling/jerking rhythm and tons of fuzz dark ambiance pervading the mix. They Sweatheartstammers is available Oct. 18th on Soft Abuse.

Pigeons "Dead Echo" by Soft Abuse

BOYD and RUTH MAY RiVERS - Fire In My Bones via Lomax Archives

mp3


DOODLE THROWER and FRiENDS - Swing Low Sweet Chariot via Lomax Archives


SEASiCK STEVE - IT's A LONG LONG WAY


OLDS SLEEPER is more than Plainspoken.

 @ BandCamp // Facebook // MySpace // Blog // SoundCloud

Olds Sleeper, Yr man of unknownness and mysteries known, has a new collection of songs available via Cracker Swamp (home to Husky Burnette who plays slide on Lost Highway). Elements of Nebraska, Sparklehorse, and Jim White coalesce towards the distant light to form songs familiar, intriguing, challenging, lovely and strong.






BUD SPiRES - EASY RiDiN' BUGGY

Stages of Faith...

Things you see on a church bookstall that make you ever so grateful your mobile has a built-in camera...

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SIlent Barn Benefit Compilation





Obsolete Units has made a 2cdr / download compilation available in support of the Brooklyn DIY space Silent Barn. The space (which has hosted shows by Last Nights and have always been the nicest dudes around) was established in 2004 and has become one of NYC's premier venues for experimental / avant-garde musics, many up & coming indie bands, along with being the HQ of Babycastles & Showpaper. Unfortunately due to some unfortunate circumstances the people behind Silent Barn have been forced to vacate their former home & are currently seeking a new permanent space from which they can continue serving the local & national music community by putting on affordable shows running the spectrum of the current state of underground & alternative musics. Obsolete Units has gathered together a large group of artist in support of Silent Barn for this release, with all the proceeds going directly towards funding the Barn in establishing a permanent home.

The artists represented on the compilation, aptly titled The Noise From Ridgewood, features exclusive tracks by some of Brooklyn's (& beyond) talented musicians who have passed through or been involved in the space. The album boasts music by the likes of C. Spencer Yeh, Excepter, MV Carbon, Tomutonttu, Aaron Dillaway, & The Tenses among many others, running the gamut of harsh noise grain, surrealist audio collage, & electronic bleaps & burps. A listen definitely worth your attention & for a good cause at that.

FARiS & TERAKAFT


T-MODEL FORD at Nelsonville Music Festival

Nice to see T-Model rockin' that GravelRoad T-Shirt!




BONUS:



Dog Daze Tapes


Dog Daze Tapes, of Portland, OR,has been popping up on my radar recently. The label only a handful of releases to it's name, each available in cassette and mp3 formats. What's more is that each displays a keen sense of taste and curatorial prowess that can sometimes be lacking in the cassette label scene. This includes releases by Excepter, Marnie Stern, and Blues Control's alter-ego Watersports. When looking beyond the curatorial choices made by Parrish, the label distinguishes itself by keeping each title in-print as often as possible. A move which is in contrast with most other labels around these days.


Watersports Natural History is so far the most satisfying cassette from Dog Daze yet. This double tape release is a compilation of the duo's out-of-print cassette and CDR releases over the past couple years. This is a needed look into the alter-ego of Lea & Russ as their other project Blues Control has seemingly become M.O. of these two. The releases brings light to the duo's noisy new age compositions. These sparse, often aquatic themed, tracks showcase a juxtaposition of grainy noise/drone & plenty of insect samples along with the previously mentioned new age vibes.



Dog Daze's first release Excepter's Maze of Death was recorded in a "within the ad-hoc labyrinth, Excepter performed obscured to the audience and alienated from each other, starting early and playing late. Shares title with a Philip K. Dick novel in which an isolated group of space colonists consider the absolute as their mutual hallucination crumbles around them" according to the cassette's press release. For those familiar with Excepter then this translates to pretty much what they do best, extended synth and drum machine jammers that follow a logic all their own. This release is a special version of the performance edited by Robert Giradin and was recorded at one of Last Nights favorite brooklyn DIY spaces Death By Audio.


I'll admit that I wasn't too familiar with Marnie Stern's work outside of seeing her name name coming up here & there. Each of time she was mentioned the word "shred" always tagged along. Dog Daze's release of Stern's initial home recorded demos really showcase why. Even more so though a great deal of credit must be equally given to the overall compositions & song craft that appears even as early as these demos.

Dog Daze has some exciting stuff lined up for it's future releases including music by Twins & Occasional Detroit. Also be sure to check out the label's mixtape offshoot Foggy Notion Tapes which has Mitch Hedberg (note from editor: love that dude) mix on the way.

the ALABAMA SHAKES!

the Alabama Shakes are the best thing to come out of Alabama since Mike Cooley.
@ Facebook // @ BandCamp





Making the Last Night special...


On 15th September 2001 American conductor Leonard Slatkin led the BBC Orchestra in a dramatic rendition of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings at the BBC Proms. This was a change to the usual program of exclusively jingoistic ditties that is the regular fare at the Last Night of The Proms. Some questions readily arise:

  • Was it the proximity to the tragedy of 9/11 that made it so spine tingling?
  • Does the music carry such gravitas in itself that has made it one of the most popular classical pieces?
  • Was it because the Proms broke with traditions held since inception to invite an American to conduct the Last Night?
  • Was it the interpretation that Leonard Slatkin brought to the piece being an American and therefore relating more strongly to 9/11?

Furthermore, are we prepared to embrace the deeper notion that Barber, when composing his Op.11, sensed that this moment would arrive, when, one day, his piece would become a majestic incarnation, even though he would have clearly been unaware of the detail and extent it would be able to provide such succour to body, soul and spirit years later?

It is safe to assume that being present in the Royal Albert Hall at the time with the additional ambience and audio dynamics was definitely preferable to the somewhat diluted intensity of viewing on TV. Regardless, many, including myself, watched transfixed, sharing this special moment simultaneously, yet our experience was both tempered by production decisions and would have been spoiled by a disturbance such as a telephone call.

Watching on video now does not have the same sense, it certainly triggers recall but it is not of the moment. However, sometimes the corollary may apply as we consider whether some performances take on greater significance after the actual event as time passes as the cache builds from word of mouth. A reflection of the earlier oral traditions, perhaps?

P

Ten Years After...



Yesterday (Sunday 11th Sept 2011) I was privileged to musically assist my buddy Rob Halligan at one of the events happening on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Because of the extra security in Grosvenor Square for the BBC live transmission of the afternoon memorial ceremony meant I landed up having to be between the inner 'secure' area and the great outside. So I was only able to watch, from a distance, over the hedge or through the door of one of the BBC outside broadcast trucks whilst being unable to traverse either security cordon. Ironically this restriction then enabled a wider perspective on what was happening all around the square, both being able to witness the various protests and 'unrest' along with hobnobbing with the police and media personnel. At times there were some unusual juxtapositions, for example there was one period when what protestors were shouting through a megaphone blended with very audible music from the Radio 2 Hyde Park concert whilst the Thoresby Colliery Welfare Band brass band deftly played Sir Edward Elgar's sublime 'Nimrod' as the guests were gathering.

Prior to the service Rob was on the media interview 'treadmill', his responses encompassing the virtues of grace, forgiveness, hope and redemption giving the broadcasters an opportunity to explore a sea change in thinking partly fueled by a sense of 9/11 'replay' fatigue. And all this under the shadow of the massive eagle atop the foreboding American embassy to the West. Even the programmes presenter, David Dimbleby, felt some optimism replacing the usual entrenched views when chairing an intriguing Questiontime on 9/11 the preceding week.

Another of the concerns expressed by various commentators is that the repeated showing of films of from that day would inflict pain on grieving relatives all over again. However, whilst sharing one of those precious cuppa moments with Rob yesterday he said that it isn't the footage that gets to him, it is often music that's the trigger to bereavement symptoms. Some songs, some bands and even music that is not Rob's taste all have a powerful effect. Nowadays when there is such a close correlation of news footage and a typical Hollywood blockbuster perhaps we actually become inured to reality once it is repeated so many times?

P

THE BLUES and GOSPEL TRAiN - Chorlton Railway Station - 1963









Psychic Ills - Mind Daze

Psychic Ills - Mind Daze

Psychic Ills are getting set to release their latest LP Hazed Dream, on one of Brooklyn's finest contemporary labels Sacred Bones records. The album comes after a string of limited vinyl & cassette EP's that focused on the group's more ambient & experimental practices. As such it comes as a little bit of a surprise to hear the track Mind Daze (above) from the new album as it showcases the most direct & traditional songwriting & structuring that the Ills have ever shown in their recorded output. The tune is straight up slow burning psych-rock at it's best, that is sure to engage fans of their previous work as well as attracting a few new ones at that. Hazed Dream comes out Oct 18th & is definitely an album to look out for this fall & check out the album preview below.


---> MR. SCOTT H. BiRAM - NEW RECORD---> Bad Ingredients <---October 11th!


Your man Scott Biram has himself a pretty wicked blues album coming out on OCTOBER 11th.
You may go HERE for a free mp3 of Don'tcha Lie To Me. 

Here's the seemingly immortal Scott's tour schedule. I feel sorry for those who havn't seen him live and I'm envious of those who are about to. I'd drive a couple of hours to see Scott play. A great entertainer, outstanding musician, he's one of our best:


Scott H. Biram Tour Dates

Sep 8—Nashville, TN @ The End
Sep 9—Huntington, WV @ V Club
Sep 10—Pittsburgh, PA@ The Smiling Moose
Sep 11—Erie, PA @ The Crooked i
Sep 12—Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
Sep 14—Rochester NY @ Bug Jar
Sep 15—Winooski, VT @ The Monkey House
Sep 16—Dover, NH @ Dover Brickhouse
Sep 17—Newport, RI @ Jimmy’s Saloon
Sep 18—Cambridge, MA @ TT The Bear's Place
Sep 19—New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
Sep 20—Brooklyn, NY @ The Rock Shop
Sep 21—Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes
Sep 22—Washington, DC @ Black Cat Backstage
Sep 23—Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live Upstairs
Sep 24—Richmond, VA @ The Camel
Sep 25—Durham, NC @ Casbah
Sep 27—Charleston, SC @ The Charleston Pourhouse
Sep 28—Savannah, GA @ The Jinx
Sep 29—Atlanta, GA @ Star Bar
Sep 30—Birmingham, AL @ The Bottletree


Oct 1—Jackson, MS @ Duling Hall
Oct 2 – New Orleans, LA @ Chickie Wah Wah
Oct 3—Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
Oct 5—Lafayette, LA @ Blue Moon Saloon
Oct 6—Houston, TX @ The Continental Club
Oct 7—Dallas, TX @ AllGood Café
Oct 8 —Austin, TX @ Continental Club +
Oct 14— Hunter, TX @ Riley’s Tavern +
Oct 27 —San Antonio, TX @ Sam’s Burger Joint +
Oct 28 —San Marcos, TX @ Triple Crown +
Oct 29—Austin, TX @ Scoot Inn +


Nov 5—Oklahoma City, OK @ VZD’s +
Nov 7—Denver, CO @ Bender’s Tavern +
Nov 8—Aspen, CO @ Belly Up Aspen +
Nov 10—Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge +
Nov 11—Alta, WY @ Trap Bar At Grand Targhee Resort +
Nov 12—Missoula, MT @ The Palace +
Nov 15—Vancouver, BC @ Media Club +
Nov 16—Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern +
Nov 17—Portland, OR @ Dante’s +
Nov 18—Arcata, CA @ Humboldt Brews +
Nov 19—San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill +
Nov 20—Los Angeles, CA @ The Satellite Club +
Nov 22—San Diego, CA @ Casbah +
Nov 23—Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room +
Nov 26—Austin, TX @ The Mohawk +

+ Record Release shows 

Hiram sez:

My SEPTEMBER EASTERN USA TOUR STARTS TOMORROW in Nashville, TN!!
(Part of this Eastern tour takes me across the South so keep an eye out for those dates on
www.scottbiram.com). Also after the East coast, and after a short down-time back in TX in
October, I'll be headed out on my 

NOVEMBER WESTERN USA TOUR
Joining me as support for the entire Western tour will be my old friend Joe Buck Yourself, and new friend Molly Gene One Whoaman Band... Please keep an eye on www.scottbiram.com as we add the November dates to the schedule...I'll have the new record with me on my West Coast tour. Sorry East coast, it's just not out yet, BUT I'll have LIMITED EDITION 7" VINYL SINGLES ON BOTH TOURS!! This includes one of the songs from the new record, "Hang Your Head & Cry" along with it's B-side studio outtake (not included on full length record), "Growing Old."  Get 'em while we still have them.


The Hendrix of The Sahara :: BOMBiNO! BOMBiNO! BOMBiNO!

@ Facebook // MySpace // Bandcamp // Cumbancha Records // iTunes // Amazon mp3 // CD // Vinyl


Omara "Bombino" Moctar belongs to the Tuareg people   ( known to themselves as Kel Tamasheq ),  a semi-nomadic people from the Sahel region of Africa, a desert swath that stretches across the whole of North Africa from the Atlantic to the Red Sea.  Bombino was raised in the city of Agadez, an important stop on the ancient trans-Sahara trade route.  During the regions Tuareg rebellions, rebel news was carried through the region via song so guitars were banned by the goverment.  Young Bombino traveled with his guitar to Algeria and Libya to escape the violence. While living there with family and friends he absorbed the videos of artists like Jimi Hendrix and Dire Straits. 


Sometime later his Group Bombino was recorded by Seattle-based found and field recordings label Sublime Frequencies, for it's Guitars From Agadez series.  Bombino disavows these recordings, but I find them to be thrilling and just as satisfying as his new studio recording AgadezThe Group Bombino recording is raw, with the sound of a good quality field recording, which is what it is.  The performances, however, carry the crisp immediate edge of a Sahel desert-style post-punk clash with the late night soul of North Mississippi's juke deep grooves. 


One can imagine Bombino, head and face wapped in a Tamasheq scarf, a young Tuareg blasting away the dark nights bright stars with arid Jimi'd guitar shards as his band and friends rock and groove the Saharan sky away to dawn.

 

The performances on Bombino's new recording Agadez are, to the contrary, smooth, refined, and often laid-back, but certainly no less powerful, rocking, and groove-a-licious.   The recording quality is gorgeous, and Bombino and his band bring a variety of song styles to the sessions, from plaintive guitar and singer pieces with simple clapping and backup vocals for accompaniment, to trance-like polyrhythmic jams, no doubt influenced by local/regional artists like Ali Farke Toure and his son Vieux Farke Toure, and of course Tinariwen, and others. But Bombino brings his own vibe deeply filtered by the desert sand and ancient city streets of Agadez.


( You should know there is one other Bombino album out there called Agamgam that makes a nice bridge between the two. )

Listen, if you've been wanting to try out some of the New Desert Blues, the new Africa sound, but don't know where to start: Bombino's Agadez is the album to get. It's tasteful, hot, daring, smooth, tight and deep, and it's one of the top audio highlights of the year.


There's a wealth of cool North African stuff out these days that you should be checking out: Tinariwen, Toumast, Tamikrest, Group Doueh, Tartit, Mariem Hassan, Group Inerane,Terakaft, Staff Benda Bilili, and several others. Not to mention the guys working a hybrid, like Marcus James and Justin Adams. Click the names for a taste.

  

If you want a much deeper roll in the Sahel, pick up Bombino's Agadez, and The Rough Guide To Desert Blues (various artists). With tracks from four to nine minutes, put 'em on loud and random, let your western ears acclimate, and get your booty leg shakin'.



MOLLY GENE One Whoaman Band - Stick Shift!

Isle of Wight - seeking sanctuary World War Two


The next episode from my father's wartime journal covering his thoughts on Bomber Command aircrew training during 1941. This day he reminisces about his home, the Isle of Wight, with vivid, literary images of vantage points that I can readily place as I, too, explored the same places of my birthplace just over a decade later. Previous posts from the journal:

Entry 3 - January 9th

At the moment I am about to go up on my first night flight. Today has been very fine, for January, and the night augurs well for the trip as the moon is already up delineated against the clear, cloudless, frosty sky. We went up this morning, as well, for a 3 hour cross country so today I shall feel I'm a real airman.

The long sojourns in the crew room today were broken up by thinking of the Isle of Wight. The saying that 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' is all too true as far as I am concerned with the Island. For too long I had been abusing it, disdaining it, now, at last, the memory of the home town recurs to me like a vision of paradise (Dad lived in Lake, a village between Sandown and Shanklin).

So vivid are these impressions, culled from the all too short periods of leave, that by now I can smell the tang of the salt laden, sea-weedy air that impinges on the back of the nostrils and permeates the system like a draught of nectar. I can feel the ridges on my arm as I lean over the guard wires on the cliff and stare happily at the slight, oily swell and the tumbling frothy tide breaking spasmodically on the brown sands below.

Away on the left is the symmetrical curved hump of Culver Cliffs, its regularity broken only by the outline of the fort and the wireless station with its aerial and obelisk. It sweeps up and over and ends in the sheer white cliffs which tumble into the sea. The white cliffs end suddenly and emerge as another strata of red sandstone which throws the whole setting into a remarkable relief. Just below us stands the pier with its pathetic broken back, the remnants of which are revealed by the ebbing tide. The whole scene is remarkable by its throbbing quiet broken only by the screech of a seagull or the shuffling gait of an aged couple taking a constitution which has become a ritual to them.

Yet again, superimposed on that vision, I find myself spirited away to the opposite end of the Bay where, sitting on the handrails of the steps on the cliff, I pause to stare at the wrinkled face of Dunnose Head. This old, red-brown cliff has its upper face worn and lined with the marks of denudation its lower part is worn smooth by the erosion of the sea. It stands impassively, brooding, looking out at the ocean, the changeless, yet changing, face of nature. Tufts of grass and clumps of gorse have precariously established themselves, where possible, on the cliff and give a personality unique to itself. A sea breeze ruffles the foliage of the trees beyond it and as I feel its chilling effect I shiver and learn how puny man is when faced with nature. How the grandeur of nature makes man's foolish plans and schemes pall into appalling insignificance?

The scene is changed once again, the air persistent in its claim for recognition has been subtly infusing with its salty tang the soft, sweet fragrance of the country meadows of hay, clover, gorse and trees. The sound of the quiet has changed from the rhythmic lap-lap of the gentle waves to the whistle of the wind in the trees and the passing of a breeze over a full stocked field. I'm looking from the road over the countryside. From the road the terrain rushes precipitously away to the bottom of a valley where a small stream meanders slowly to its ultimate end. A small copse covers the stream's retreat, a bastard offspring of a large wood, distant and barely seen. Beyond, the valley undulates gently up to a height slightly less than my vantage point, diversified by little nooks and rills characterised by the rambling hedges.

The more I contemplated, the more vivid the constantly changing vista becomes. How little I realised, for two years, the true value of those things I then considered commonplace and mundane. Once again that marvellous wonder of nature, the mind, rescues us and restores that beautiful environment.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

P