Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Here's Jonny!

Saturday 17 October

Having lost some weight and buffed up a bit I found that the two pairs of jeans I took to Crieff were hanging off me. We were in Asda (or Asdaz, if you’re a local) and could I find a pair of jeans in my waist and leg length? Could I hell. Everyone in Dunfermline must be built like a Rubik Cube.

Sunday 18 October

There was a bizarre moment during my radio show. I was playing John Holt’s “Ali Baba” and I was trying to find out some information about the song because I knew there was a story behind it. I found a website but as the record was finishing and I ejected the CD I could still here the intro of the song going round the studio in a loop. It turned out that, unlike my normal studio, if you visited a website that had background music it would come through the desk. This studio didn’t have an appropriate fader and for five minutes I was clueless as to where the sound was coming from. I eventually worked out it was coming from the PC and gave a huge sigh of relief. Every single week something goes wrong! But I console myself with the fact that it happens to professionals too.

I’m not a big Formula 1 fan but I watch the “big” races and well done to Jensen Button for a great drive in Brazil. No doubt he’ll be ensconced as favourite for Sports Personality of the Year. I felt sorry for Beth Tweddle who had also won a World Championship gold medal (on the floor, not her more favoured uneven bars – when did they stop calling them asymmetric?) but the BBC news was dominated by Jensen’s accomplishment. In fact it was lead story. Well done, Beth.

I get home from the radio station to find that Flick has spent the afternoon cutting out pictures from the Early Learning Centre catalogue to give to Santa. Bless.

Monday 19 October

In-car entertainment: Sergeant – Sergeant

We’re really enjoying the latest comedy import from the U S of A, Modern Family.

Tuesday 20 October

In-car entertainment to/from work: Sergeant – Sergeant (Shy Recordings 2009)

I spent the evening finishing off the questions, audio rounds and picture rounds for next week’s quiz night. I host it, with the Goody Lady Wife taking on the role of my glamorous assistant, Quizelda. She can’t take part because the quiz is organised by her employer’s social committee and it wouldn’t look right if her team won. Technically it’s a “corporate” and I get paid for it. I’ve done small quizzes for nothing previously but I do put a lot of effort into this one every year so I don’t feel bad about taking money for it. I print off all the answer sheets and score sheets too and give them to the teams in a wee pack. We give each team a bag of sweeties too. I start preparing it a few months in advance and many questions are written and jettisoned along the way. Being an attentive audience, who are only really there for the quiz, it tends to go at a fair pace so this year I’ve added more questions and an extra audio round. Buy one quiz, get 20% extra free!

I always get nervous about it until it gets under way and then I settle into it. I don’t really write a script as such as I feel it can come across as a bit lame if I “try and be funny”, especially when it’s not natural for me. Okay, I can be funny but I prefer to bounce off someone else and be more spontaneous.

Wednesday 21 October

“Music Like A Vitamin”

The doors were opening at 6.30 with, we had heard, things kicking off at 7. It wasn’t a lot of time to get to my “outlaws”, get fed and watered, change and get back into town, via public transport, through the multiple road works littering the capital.

A mid-afternoon e-mail to the HMV Picturehouse Box Office got a quick response (Dunfermline Alhambra take note) and I was surprised and rather glad to hear that Attic Lights would kick-off proceedings at 7.30 pm, followed by “Jonny” (Norman Blake, Euros Childs, Dave McGowan and Stuart Kidd), Idlewild’s Rod Jones and headliners Frightened Rabbit.

The two acts I really wanted to see were on first and I wasn’t sure we’d stay for the others but we stayed and were glad we did. Mrs Cat hadn’t heard much by Attic Lights and was suitably impressed by their harmonic rock. Having seen them several times in the last 18 months I already knew how brilliant (and sadly underrated) they are.

Attic Lights: Never Get Sick of the Sea, Dirty Thirst, Bad Day, God, ? (new song),
Stay Before You Leave, Late Night Sunshine, Man On Fire, Bring You Down

I’d seen Norman Blake and Euros Childs play together at Celtic Connections at the start of the year (on the same bill as Attic Lights) and I was amazed by their modern take on baroque folk pop. This time round Dave McGowan joined them on bass (a regular go-to guy for Teenage Fanclub, a Fifth Fanny if you like) and drummer Stuart Kidd. The quartet has completed an album, under the pseudonym Jonny, and it’s due out next year. On the basis of the tracks we heard it should be an essential purchase. The cartoon “Do The Cave Dance” took on an almost Spinal Tap-esque quality (all it needed was Stonehenge) as the expanded band gave the track went off on a psychedelic path. In introducing the track Norman suggested rather playfully that it had been specially written for Showaddywaddy until they realised they’d split up.

Jonny: Waiting Around For You, Candyfloss,? (new song), Which Is Which, Baby Lee, English Lady, Do The Cave Dance, Back To The Country

Being Rod Jones’ first gig neither he nor the crowd knew what to expect. He needn’t have worried as he went down well. My companions and I were, however, somewhat distracted by the female vocalist who accompanied him She seemed to be either, (a) dressed for backing Matt Bianco, (b) enjoying a game of pocket billiards, (c) bored by it all and (d) all of the above. Rod finished with a cover of John Martyn’s “Over The Hill”.

Maybe I’m just getting old and not as in touch with what “the kids” are listening to as I should be but I’d only heard one or two tracks by Frightened Rabbit previously and didn’t really know what to expect. We retired to the cushioned benches of the balcony (a nice change from rigid seats) to watch them strut their stuff. My initial impressions were of an early Cure, featuring the Joy Division drumming of Stephen Morris, but they grew on me and it’ll be interesting to see how their sound evolves. The kids in the stalls were certainly going wild for them.

Frightened Rabbit returned for an encore of “I Feel Better” before being joined on stage, Live Aid-style, by assorted members of Attic Lights and some of the event staff for rousing, if somewhat shambolic, covers of “Proud Mary”, “Teenage Kicks” and “Lust for Life”. I half expected Phil Collins and Bono to join them.

The bands had given their time and services for free and the £5 admission price was possibly the bargain of the century. The two pints of lager for £7.20 was most certainly not a bargain but that was the only complaint of a wonderful evening for a wonderful cause. I have to say I also liked the venue, with its unobtrusive security staff, comfy balcony benches and no booking fee policy for personal callers.

Thursday 22 October

Staying at my in-laws means I can take a short-ish bracing walk to work. Despite only having three pints last night (normally I drive to gigs on my own with only full fat Coke for sustenance), I’m rather tired today. The daily gym routine doesn’t help and any thoughts of attending the Jackie Leven gig in Kirkcaldy are soon forgotten.

I had hoped to nip to Kirkcaldy after the Good Lady Wife returns form her knitting group (no, seriously) but I just didn’t have the energy. He’s playing Glasgow on Saturday (hate the M8), Kilbarchan on Tuesday (where?), Inverness (too far on a school night), Comrie on Friday (hosting a quiz night) and Stirling next Saturday. The latter is a possibility. Since I learned to drive (two years ago now) I’ve been to gigs in Dundee, Perth and Darvel but never Stirling. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Stirling apart from witnessing a football match. To say, “witness” is a bit of an exaggeration as we were stood behind the goals and such was the blanket of fog on Stirling Albion’s ground that we couldn’t see past the halfway line! Luckily Jackie is one of those artists who doesn’t so much tour as constantly gig and even if I miss the Stirling gig he’ll back soon enough.

Friday 23 October

In-car entertainment to/from work: John Barry – Themeology

I’m still tired this morning but it’s Friday so I can console myself with a lie-in tomorrow. Okay, that’s maybe wishful thinking but hope springs eternal. With the Flickster back at school on Monday I hope I can get back into some semblance of a routine before Christmas and get back to my book.

Having written 25,000 words (albeit as extended notes), I’m desperate to find the time to get back to it. Lord knows where I’ll find it. Maybe I should just console myself with 45 minutes here, an hour there and just get on with it, albeit bit by tiny bit. Why is it that as soon as I stop taking CDs to the gym it gets quieter? Some days when I took my own music it was like Piccadilly Circus. Today I was on my Jack Jones with only Forth One’s Grant Stott for company. I don’t mind Grant but it would’ve been nice to blast a bit of Sergeant or even John Barry! I’m nothing if not eclectic. I think gym music should be about pleasure and not beats per minute.

Saturday 24 October

I drove to my mate Dave’s. We drank coffee, watched the football scores coming in, listened to the radio, played some Wii and quizzed each other from the Guinness Book of Hit Singles. It made for an enjoyable, relaxing few hours. I love “The Thick of It”! I was pleased to see it promoted to BBC2 rather than hidden away on BBC4 although the 10.10pm showing illustrates the strength of the “industrial” language used. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Sunday 25 October

Today’s radio show was my Hallowe’en special. I figure it was better doing it six days early rather than 1 day late. It was an enjoyable show - a virtual repeat of last year’s - although once again I made another small cock-up. One of these days I’ll do a seamless show. Just you wait and see.

Monday 26 October

Wrote a small review of Sergeant’s debut album for the Jocknroll blog. It’ll certainly be one of my albums of the year come the time people start making lists of their albums/records/TV shows of the year, which is any time now.

Things have calmed down on the drive to and from work and while I’m still swearing like a trooper in the car at some of the imbeciles who’ve been allowed to grace out roads I’m less inclined to ‘out’ them on Twitter under the #baddriver tag. Had the gym to myself today. I’ve upped the Shoulder Press by 1 weight (4 to 5) and I’ve replaced “the plank” with some sit-ups for a few weeks just to see what difference they make.

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