As I write this by-election voting is under way, Storm Doris is causing havoc and the Met Office has issued a yellow snow warning for those parts of Stoke where Ukip are campaigning. Yes, I’m taking the piss — shame that canvasser didn’t take his somewhere more appropriate. I was due to be doing a Stand Up to Ukip gig last Saturday night there, but it was cancelled at one day’s notice. The local consensus seemed to be that Ukip hadn’t so much shot itself in the foot as fired an intercontinental ballistic missile at its own face.
I really hope they’re right. I know a few Stokies and have been to the Stanley Matthews Way many times: they don’t seem like the kind of people who would vote for someone who lied about being at Hillsborough. Even if, to give him credit, he did personally weave the Turin Shroud out of unicorn pubes and score a one-minute hat-trick for Bermuda Triangle FC against Narnia.
The cancelled gig meant that I had not just one, but two nights out in one of my favourite towns, or tarns, to use the local vernacular. Cheers to Tony and The Hurriers, Ian Horton, Barnsley Sime and co for giving me a reet good time, to the Old Number Seven for too much fantastic beer and to the Barnsley defence for generously allowing Sam Baldock to stick a couple away to keep the Seagulls’ promotion push on track. I hope their no-nonsense local manager gives them a reet talking to so they are far less generous against our title rivals Huddersfield today. URedsss!
And there was a very happy coincidence last Saturday night. Fantastic, fiery punk singer-songwriter Louise Distras, who hails from nearby Wakefield, was performing round the corner from our chosen pub in Barnsley and of course we trooped along to see her.
I knew she had a new band and they were absolutely fantastic — an all-women three piece sounding somewhere between Hole and Rancid, great tunes and dynamite on stage. I am looking forward to their appearance at our Glastonwick festival in June even more now.
Album review time. Steve Drewett, leader of seminal Harlow socialist punk band Newtown Neurotics (Kick Out The Tories) has just sent me a new release of his. I say new — the material is nearly three decades old, but it is the first time it has seen the light of day and it should be of massive interest to Neurotics and world music fans because it is brilliant, pioneering stuff.
In 1990, after the break-up of the Neurotics, long before “fusion music” became fashionable and inspired by the African music which John Peel was playing a lot of at the time, Steve formed The Indestructible Beat — with the aim of combining African rhythms and punk rock. The band was quite short-lived but the music is extraordinary, unique and wonderful. It is, quite literally, Afro-punk. If you like both these genres of music I think you’ll love it.
The album Disgraceland features not just great music, but Steve’s fine, conscious lyrics too and alongside original songs like I Can Rise and Something Kinda Critical you can hear a thorough reworking of The Clash’s Capital Radio and the old Neurotics classic When The Oil Runs Out. Only February, but definitely a candidate for album of the year. Sample tracks and CD sales online only from mstar.link/drewett.
For those who are interested – young film-maker Farouq Suleiman has just released a 16-minute mini-documentary celebrating the remarkable fact that I have earned my living as a poet for the last 35 years! It features loads of archive material and is a great piece of work. You can watch it at mstar.link/attila-doc.
Next week I’m off to Holland and Germany with my band Barnstormer, sticking it to Wilders and the AFD. You’ll hear about it.
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