Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Keltic Konnections

the Brummie night spits us outta town and our chariot hurtles through North wales towards Anglesey. There's nothing more miserable than having to be dragged out of your bed in the early morn to catch some boat or other to cross the seas to our next destination. Adults and baby wander like punch drunk boxers through the galley ways of this ol' boat. German driver officialdom doesn't give us any leeway to stay in our bunks for the duration of the journey.

We arrive in Dublin at midday, where the excesses of St. Patrick's Day (the day before) still lay scattered on the cobbled streets of Temple Bar. Broken glass lies everywhere like confetti thats been sprinkled at a wedding. Tourists stumble down the streets still drunk from the night before. The Irish do cliches very well, and St. Paddy's day is the perfect excuse to pull out all the patronising crap associated with that land. We land ourselves in a fine bar called Half 'a penny, which is pure ol' man's territory. I feel way more comfortable in these saloons / hostelries than in the chic get up'n'go joints frequented by them young 'uns. And a superb Guinness is poured expertly by the barman, whilst the ol' farts lie asleep in their chairs, dribbling sown their chins after endless pints all morning, or they sit to watch the horse racing on the box hoping their nag makes them a few euros.

Glasgow is a treat on Friday. We arrive early enough to allow me to saunter over to my favourite record shop "Monorail" and spend 3 hours listening to, and buying records. Steven pastel and Dep co-own this fine shop and their taste is impeccable.
And they stock tons of vinyl...which is the only format I will buy music on. The show is excellent, and made even better by opening act RM Hubbert who plays a stunning half hour set of music from his new album. Think Fahey mixed with jack Rose mixed with The Minutemen and you're getting close to where Hubby is coming from.

Saturday is a day off and made full use of. I do my jog through kelvin Park, which brings back floods of memories. In 1976 when my family moved from kenya to britain, we first moved to Glasgow. And we lived in a flat in Westbank Quadrant overlooking.....Kelvin park!!! As I ran around the park, I came past the flat I lived in and a mixture of emotions pass through me. This was the park I would come and play in with my brother, where we would play football and climb trees. Its great to be back home!

The afternoon offers another treat for me as I go to see Celtic play for the very first time. I hook up with Marty and Gerry and sink some pints before the game and they regale me with horror stories from Celtic - R*****s games, before walking down the Gallowgate to the game. A chance meeting with Stuart on the way leads to a nice lift to the ground. The ground is fantastic, but the atmosphere inside is shit! The team are playing like an under 11 team, with guile and imagination completely knocked out of their game. Awful stuff, but Marty's mum, whom I am sitting next to, is top entertainment with her many stories, and we finally see the Celts win 3-0. The walk home with gerry after the game is illuminating, as we spot the amazing drinking holes dedicated to the glory of Celtic Football Club.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra euro expedition spring 2010

all hands on deck....our ship has set course for foreign climes and will endure 6 weeks of punishment as governments rise and fall, and one crisis leads to another. But the music will save those who are willing to listen. On board we carry the future......his name is Ezra.
The gritty UK leg kicks off with a visit to the southwest, where Bristol reveals the opening acts of the spring's seasonal play....beautiful sunshine feted by a cold breeze.The city is steeped in history....John Cabot, Isamabard Kingdom Brunel's magnificent suspension bridge, the colonial past and a rich naval and trading history. The show is sold out, and an understandable anticipation hangs above the gathered listeners. First show is like being back at school after the summer holidays....familiar and yet unfamiliar surroundings, meeting old and new friends, engaging your mind and body to do things they kinda forgot to do over the last few weeks / years. A good start, but it'll get better.

Birmingham is a grim dark hole. People live in a time warp.....stuck in 1973. Old rockers who perpetually live forever on the guestlist, dressed in uniform black with bad hair day everyday, and their burdzzz who cackle and machine gun fire invectives like "luv" and "sweetheart" and "darlin'" at the end of every sentence. Photos of Ozzy, and other less great Brum rockers cover the walls, reminders of the Black Country's rock heritage. The streets are grim and dirty, and restaurant hunting takes on a journey of epic proportions. The worst curry ever was shat onto our plates in a fleapit restaurant where the bathrooms served up a sink pull of puke and the staff were so bored that they took to watching us like members of a long lost tribe who had just come out of the jungle. Much banter between audience and band between songs remind me of a "Sebadoh" show.......can this really be happening at a SMZ show? Oh yes!