Just a quick list

OK, quick list time – please comment on the contents….

Top 5 Films watched over Christmas:

Megamind – actually a fun animated flick, better than I thought it was going to be.

Tangled – OK, but I preferred Megamind.

Uncle Buck – who could ever get tired of this one? John Candy at his finest.

FAQ About Time Travel – I do love this quirky little science fiction thing.

Ooh You Are Awful – early 70s vehicle for the late great Dick Emery, allowing him to scour the country for tattoos on girls bums. Well, why not?

 

Top 5 TV Shows Watched Over Christmas:

I’m gonna preface this list with the comment that i still haven’t seen Doctor Who yet – but I will rectify that over the weekend. And I know that’ll take up a space on my list, so you only get 4….. Anyway:

Still Open All Hours – I was a little dubious about this, but I really enjoyed it, and reckon it could make a decent sitcom series.

PQ17 – this was on last night (so technically NOT Christmas) but was such an interesting documentary about the most disastrous convoy mission of WW2.

The IT Crowd – Love this show, and finally got to see the last episode (The Internet Is Coming) which was fab.

Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special – yeah, i know. But this had everything you want from a Christmas TV show, including the Andre Previn sketch. Never gets old.

 

Top 5 Christmas Gifts:

Dangerous to separate these out, because everything I got was great, so this one is more a subset of a much larger cool list of stuff…

Theatre Tickets – yeah, thanks to David and Heather, we’re gonna soak up some culture in 2014 over at Windsor.

Shaver – sounds dull, but it’s what I wanted, and my old one was very much past it. This one’s lovely and shiny-bright…

Christmas Jumper – well, not so much a Christmas jumper, more a winter one, so whilst it’s lovely and warm, it has no reindeer, holly, Santa or Christmas puds on it, which makes it acceptable for me!

Lynx – loads of Lynx stuff. Apparently, ‘Attract’ smells best, according to my girls….

Top Gear – Ambitious But Rubbish – the book that tells the background to all those well-intentioned yet spectacular failures, and shows that not all of the show is scripted.

 

Five Books I am reading:

Currently I have five books on the go, so it makes sense to add these to the post…

The Bible (natch)

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett (surprisingly hard going compares to his usual fare)

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Stephen Biskoff (the novelisation of one of my favourite movies)

Doughnut by Tom Holt (brilliant fantasy farce)

Top Gear – Ambitious But Rubbish (see above)

 

Finally, let’s do 5 things I want to do in 2014:

More gigging and drumming with my great mates in Riser.

Visit Ben and Julia in the South of France, hopefully fulfilling an ambition to drive over the Millau Bridge.

Write more – stories, blogs, songs, whatever, I really want to put more out there this year.

Go deeper – sounds strange, but with all the things I treasure – relationships, experiences, honesty, faith and self-awareness – there’s another level to take them to.

Enjoy life – 2013 was a bit of a struggle for much of the year, and has ended so well, I want this to continue throughout the year.

OK, there you go. Five lists of Five items. Let’s see where we go from there……

 

Big announcement!

OK, a couple of big announcements….

Firstly of all, anybody who is in the vicinity of Binfield on Friday night, come down to The Victoria Arms, where my band RISER are playing. Have a beer or three and listen to some great rock music. Oh, and then come say hello.

Secondly, and clearly of more momentous importance, I am about to formally embark on the road to digital literary publication! 

Yes, dear readers and…. yes, I feel I must say it… friends: I have decided that 2013 is the year I am going to write and publish my Grand Opus. There are a few little details to work out, such as title, topic, characters and the words, but I’m posting this notice as a marker, and so that you can hold me to it. It’ll be pushed out onto an unsuspecting world for minimal fiscal outlay via whatever Kindle markets I can access, and so this is also (sneak, sneak) an advance request for your pennies! 

OK, off now, but remember – pub on friday, book next year!

These are not the greatest band names in the world…

 … They are just Tribute Bands.

It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And it’s true that the real art of the Tribute Band goes far beyond mere copying.

The best tribute bands take on a cult following of their own, and can easily recharge the public interest in the original band and the source material.

However, I’m not going to write about the skill and dedication required when delivering someone else’s songs with the accuracy, feeling and heart needed to be successful as a tribute band.

No – I’m going straight for the most difficult task any tribute band needs to address: the adoption of a humorous yet familiar name.

Some play on the fact that they are NOT the original artists, such as Noasis, The Bootleg Beatles, or my friend’s band, The Small Fakers.

Others throw in some wordplay, such as The Velvet Underpants, or sometimes adopt a hybrid name if they cover two bands. Tangerine Queen, or Elvis Presley And The Attractions may be two possible names I doubt we’ll ever see.

This wordplay has led to the single best Tribute Band name I’ve ever seen, which combines clarity of thought with the band name, so you know what you’ll get and what you need to do: Earth Wind and For Hire.

Of course, one simple way to get the name is to merge the band name with where you are, although this can be a little restrictive if you’re unfortunate in where you live.

So here are a few suggestions – feel free to let me know if you want to use them….

  • The Boston Stranglers
  • Durham Duran
  • Devon 17
  • Alton Images
  • Terence Trent Derby
  • The Human Leeds
  • Cutting Crewe
  • Men At Warwick

 Living in Maidenhead, I really thought that the ‘geographical name’ was something I’d struggle with, but then inspiration struck. I didn’t think I was going to get any better than the frankly disappointing Frankie Goes to Holyport, but last night, whilst thinking about this, I realised that there were a couple of names I’d not considered.

So look out in the next few months for more information about The Psychedelic Furze Platt, and the frankly unforgettable T’Plow…..

 

Riser go back…. Back to The 80s!!

There are some phrases that you rarely hear uttered.

Some will never be heard, such as an American President telling the packed Senate “Actually, yes – I DID have sexual relations with that woman.”

Others, however, could happen, but you’d disbelieve your ears. Sir Alex Ferguson admitting that his team deserved to lose. A used car salesman suggesting that the mileage of the fifteen year old Ford on his forecourt might not be exactly correct. You know the sort of thing.

I heard a statement just like this at the weekend. And I’d like to repeat it here, so that it gets committed to text and doesn’t get forgotten:

“Okay, guess I’ll have to take back some of what I said about the 80s musical art form. It certainly got people moving though – probably the easiest gig ever as far as getting people to shake booty.”

This quote came courtesy of our bass player – a really nice guy and excellent bassist, but somewhat of a self-confessed ‘connoisseur’ when it comes to his tastes in beer and music. To hear him discuss 80s music in such glowing terms is on a par with him asking for a gassy weak lager in a pub – something we would never expect to see in our lifetimes.

Why did this revelation come about? Well, I’ll tell you.

Last Saturday, we had the pleasure of playing at an 80s themed gig, and our entire set list had to come from ‘the decade that fashion and music forgot’. And given that Riser’s normal line up does not include a keyboard player, we tend to steer clear of 80s tunes. Well, it’s probably a combination of a) lack of keyboards and b) a veiled threat to murder us all with a guitar pick if we ever suggest any such thought.

The prep work for the gig was extreme. Of a set list of 36 tracks, we had probably played four or five before, so there was a lot to learn. We also decided that for this gig, we needed a keyboard player, and whilst we had played with Andy before, integrating him into the set-up brought its own challenges, with PA changes, patches, working out which bits of the song we needed him to work on and which bits we’d cover with guitars etc.

Suffice to say we all headed for the gig with a few twitchy sphincters, I guess.

We need not have worried.

Riser - With an 80s Flava!

From the opening number (U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name) through to the ending (Wham’s uber-cheesyg Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go) followed by another U2 anthem, Pride) the dance floor was packed. Our sad attempt at costumes (we looked like a third-rate Village People tribute act) were overshadowed by the audience, who came as Adam Ant, Rubik’s Cubes, Rude Boys, Miami Vice, Michael J Fox, many, many Madonna clones, and even characters from Brookside, complete with curly wig and moustaches! It’s fair to say that the leg-warmer shop hasn’t done so well for ages!

The feedback from the audience and organisers has been superb, we’ve already had several enquiries for further bookings, and incredulity has been expressed as to how we managed to pull this gig off.

However, the things that I’ll always remember are the statements from the band. The admission from one that “this Wham song is really fun to play!”; the opinion from our guitarist that “we should ignore what we think and keep playing Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round, because people love it”; the expression (admittedly from me) that we nailed the Simple Minds track, Don’t You Forget About Me”; and above all, the comment above, from our bass-playing music-lover, that “the 80s aren’t all that bad…”

Rugger, Mods vs Rockers, snowfalls, and silence – my weekend review….

As weekends go, mine was a good one.

It started on Saturday with the promise of Six Nations Rugby. I always love this time of year, when fans of Premiership and Celtic League clubs set aside their rivalry to cheer on their country against a common foe, and when comrades at arms become bitter enemies for eighty minutes.

The games went pretty much according to plan – France were nervy but comfortable winners against the Italians, England and Scotland produced the usual closely fought, attritional Calcutta Cup game settled by a single try(thankfully in England’s favour) and Wales pipped Ireland in a great game that swung between the two teams more than once.

Then it was off to Cookham for the evening’s gig: a ‘mods and rockers’ night. Due to the theme, we’d had to learn something like 70% of the songs just for this gig. We gave the mods some Kinks (You Really Got Me, Lola), some Small Faces (Ichycoo Park, Lazy Sunday Afternoon) some Who (Pinball Wizard, Substitute) some Beatles (Eight Days A Week, Back In The USSR). For the Rockers, we threw out Quo’s Down Down, Eddie Cochran’s C’Mon Everybody, Oh Boy by Buddy Holly, Stray Cat Strut, Summer of ’69, and loads of others. We mixed in some new stuff alongside the 50s/60s material, added some Monkees tracks to the mix, and generally had a great time. When we finished, we realised that during the gig, around four inches of snow had fallen outside, so the drive home at 1am was a little interesting……

The next day, all was peaceful in our house. The kids were off playing at a friends house, and so we had the luxury of a quiet, and yes, a ‘Lazy Sunday Afternoon’, in front of the telly.

I finally got round to watching Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, and thought it was pretty good – a fairly typical Tim Burton exercise with Messrs Depp and Bonham-Carter voicing the main roles, but the animation was well done with a sharp contrast between the drab, monochrome world ‘upstairs’ and the colourful, vibrant Land of the Dead.

That and the afore-mentioned Ireland Wales match saw us through to 4:30, at which point out peace stopped and normal, noisy life resumed with the girl’s return.

All in all, a good weekend, over too soon…..