I’ve got a challenge for all those misguided people who say that this country is “overcrowded” and “full up.” Take a journey from Villa Park to Halesworth, Suffolk, as I did after the Seagulls threw away the Championship title in Birmingham last Sunday week. We got over that disappointment very quickly, though, and held a massive promotion party a week later.
For the latter part of the trip I was driving through an endless, beautiful void: a green, winding lower intestine of tiny roads leading inexorably to the arse end of nowhere. And when I got there I was greeted by an intrepid few, gathered at the Cut Theatre in Halesworth for Spoken Word And Music Day.
Short lesson for all would-be promoters. When organising an event it helps if the headline on the poster contains the names of the performers, because then people are likely to come. Calling a gig Spoken Word And Music Day is akin to calling it “A Nice Afternoon Knitting And Chatting With Local Radio Playing In The Background.” It doesn’t sound very interesting and it doesn’t inspire them to read further down the page to see what is happening!
Which was a shame, because apart from yours truly, what was happening was the John Ward Trio from Lowestoft and they did the best trad folk music set I have ever seen. Literally.
I’m a lifelong punk rocker and old-school acoustic twanging often makes me cringe, but John and Lynne Ward’s songs of East Coast life and the community devastation when the shipbuilding and fishing industries shut down touched the soul of this West Sussex port town dweller in a very special way.
I know that many Star readers are huge fans of this type of music and I think you will love John Ward’s stuff — especially the album East of the Sunrise, if you have a connection with the sea.
Check it out at www.johnward.org.uk. And I’m doing another gig with him and his band tonight at the Ansell Centre in Hadleigh, Suffolk.
Last Saturday I did a fundraiser for this very newspaper in the packed cellar of the Constitution pub in Camden — one of the few boozers in that neck of the woods which hasn’t been turned into a hipster-infested overpriced dump. Great company, great beer and a lovely set from sharp, intelligent comedian Simon Munnery.
And then, last Tuesday at the Lexington in Camden, a gig I had waited 40 years for — the return of proto-punk cult heroes Doctors Of Madness. An inspirational and unique band, formed just before punk and ultimately destroyed by it.
Beautiful, manic, light-and-shade melodies and fantastic words by Richard Strange, joined on stage by original sidekick Urban Blitz, the most original electric violinist I’ve ever heard, with a Japanese glam-metal duo as the rhythm section, replacing original members Colin Stoner and Peter Di Lemma.
Very difficult to describe their sound — Velvet Underground colliding with Bowie at an MC5 gig might be a start. Check them out at www.facebook.com/TheDoctorsOfMadness/ — they’re doing a nationwide tour and as part of that I’m putting them on at the Prince Albert in Brighton on Sunday, June 4. The support acts are well worth seeing too, especially young political songwriter Lily Bud, who spits fire at austerity, poverty and injustice in an astoundingly beautiful and powerful voice.
Next Friday I’m opening Strummercamp Festival at Manchester Rugby Club (7pm) and, on Saturday, compering the Derby Silk Mill Rally. This event commemorates the first great union-inspired strike in British history following the formation of the Grand National Consolidated Trades Union (GNCTU), the first trade union congress, in 1834.
And the week after that I’m co-organising our annual beer and music festival, Glastonwick, here in West Sussex. Tickets selling fast….