Dear Leonard

Dear Leonard,

Whilst sitting in Manchester Apollo last Thursday night waiting for Paul Simon to take the stage, my wife and I spoke of how lucky we were to be there to witness one of the songwriting greats performing.  He did not disappoint, more vital and enthused than we had ever seen him, holding the audience in his thrall with his mighty gift of words and melody.  We ended up talking about other great concerts and fondly remembered the time we able to see you perform live at Liverpool Arena in 2009 where you made the cavernous cold venue feel like a cosy intimate jazz club pulling the crowd into your world of wordplay, musical subtlety and wisdom.  As we recalled these happy memories little did we know the news that was to break the next morning – you had left us behind to disappear into the place unknown.

After performing the song ‘America’ Paul Simon quietly mentioned that we were all looking harder for America after the news of recent days, alluding to the dire presidential result in the USA; no need to mention the devil by name… Your passing Leonard, as darkness falls, seems to me to mean that beauty will be even less easy to find as the world adjusts to its uncertain future.  “It’s coming to America first, the cradle of the best and of the worst” (‘Democracy’ from The Future 1992).

I discovered you rather late in the day, but feel enriched that I did find you.  With the obligatory greatest hits bought years ago, I used to lead a sing along version of ‘Suzanne’ at a day centre for adults with learning difficulties… “And she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China” (‘Suzanne’ from Songs of Leonard Cohen 1967).  I can still see and hear the enthusiasm of the raucously percussive version the Lewisham gathering produced on those afternoons together.

The first LP proper for me came in 2004, with ‘Dear Heather’ followed by the late flourish of ‘Old Ideas’ 2012, ‘Popular Problems’ 2014 and ‘You Want It Darker’ – just released and only just torn from its cellophane as I write – it has been on repeat since opening and it-is-stunning.  Older LPs have been bought and dipped into over the intervening years.  A collection of LPs that shines a light in the darkness, addressing love and longing, touching both the existential and sensual, with a sly sense of humour never far away… Well, my friends are gone and my hair is grey, I ache in the places where I used to play” (‘Tower of Song’ from I’m Your Man 1988).

I loved the way you decided to embark upon a career in music as a way of paying your bills when poetry and novels had failed to provide a decent enough living, both perilous professions with no guarantees, but the land you inhabited in your world of words described a life full of questions and uncertainty, so maybe you were just taking the only path you could to be true to yourself.  I’m thankful that you did find a wider reach through music otherwise I may never have found you.  Through your songs, along with those by Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, I have learnt to fully appreciate the idea of a particular kind of poetry in music, of words rich with imagery and humanity entwined with melody.

Your life as a wandering minstrel is itself the stuff of novels, taking you from Montreal to the Greek island of Hydra, to Mount Baldy near Los Angeles where you spent time as a Zen Buddhist monk – a life’s quest drilling down to the nub of existence, all poured out in your finely honed lyrics.

Behind the sometimes simplistic beauty of your work I have read that, on occasion, you spent years whittling and refining your words til you deemed them worthy for the world.  Such dedication and craft to creating beauty can only be admired.  It is mind blowing to think Hallelujah was trimmed down from eighty verses…!  “There’s a blaze of light in every word, it doesn’t matter which you heard, the holy or the broken Hallelujah”, (‘Hallelujah’, from Various Positions 1984).

You suffered from bouts of depression and, seen in that light your work also helps to shed some understanding towards, and some solace for, those who also suffer.  I have read that your early years of touring were cripplingly difficult but, despite the forced reintroduction to the live arena in 2008 due to impropriety by a former business manager leaving your short of currency, you were able to find real enjoyment on stage in this late wandering of the globe.  It certainly seemed as though you were in your element when we were in the audience in Liverpool, joking with the crowd and almost skipping on and off the stage.

Marianne Ihlen was your former muse from your sun kissed days in Greece and who you immortalised in song on such early classics as ‘So Long, Marianne’.  Just recently when you heard that she was gravely ill, you wrote her the most touching letter which itself reads like a poem.  In it you seem at peace with your next journey:

“Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road”. 

There is no doubt your memory will live on; the songs you have left behind will resound for generations, some maybe forever.  Your son Adam, a singer in his own right forges his own path while championing your work and your daughter Lorca has a daughter with the singer Rufus Wainwright.  Long may fresh water be drawn from the Cohen well…

Thank you Leonard

Rest in peace

JB

17th November 2016

Share Button

#moreincommon

Today should have been Jo Cox’s 42nd birthday.  In remembrance we can help causes close to her heart:  Jo Cox

Below are the three causes the fund will be supporting:

The Royal Voluntary Service, to support volunteers helping combat loneliness in Jo’s constituency, Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire.

HOPE not hate, who seek to challenge and defeat the politics of hate and extremism within local communities across Britain.

The White Helmets: volunteer search and rescue workers in Syria. Unarmed and neutral, these heroes have saved more than 51,000 lives from under the rubble and bring hope to the region.

*******************************************************************

In a world that sometimes seems hostile and hopeless, so full of cynicism and bile, surely it is better to reach out to each other across nations to build a better place for us all, based on respect, dignity and co-operation? We will be voting REMAIN tomorrow.

Share Button

Hens’ Teeth & The Lancastrian Pedaller Frog

  • Hens’ teeth
  • Rocking horse poo
  • Affordable housing in London
  • Trevor Brooking heading the winning goal in a FA Cup final
  • The Tories actually caring about the most vulnerable in our society
  • Piers Morgan turning out to be a decent human being
  • Time slowing down as you get older
  • Peace, love and understanding across the globe
  • Ordering a meal in an Indian restaurant and refusing the poppadoms and pickle tray
  • The Janskys playing a gig

Unlikely things indeed….

…. wait a second, no no sorry the Tories really don’t care. But hang on a minute – a couple of those items on the above list may actually be possible…..

It has been pointed out that West Ham did in fact beat Arsenal 1-0 in the 1980 FA Cup Final with (Sir) Trevor Brooking indeed scoring the winning goal with an extremely uncharacteristic header! Happy days, hazy memories of youth.  Evidence your honour: westhamsweetvictory

Mmmm, so what’s the other possibility from the list….  WTF – The Janskys are playing a gig!

The lost chord

The lost chord

Pat and Damian have collected their guitars from Miss Havisham’s house and dusted them down, and, after buying a copy of Bert Weedon’s ‘Play in a Day‘ they are pretty sure they both now know two of the three chords that most of their own tunes contain.  Whether it’s the same two chords we’ll have to wait and see.

Getting back on stage is surely like getting back on your bike, although the mental and physical scars from Damian’s childhood crash off his Noddy-car coloured bicycle still give him nightmares.

wheels of terror

wheels of terror

However, these scars are not as bad as the night tremors he has suffered since casting eyes upon Pat in full lurid green cycling lycra looking like some lesser spotted Lancastrian pedaller frog.

Anyway, the lads are happy to announce that they will be doing a wee slot at Wagon Wheel Media’s Tramlines event on Sunday 26th July 2015 at Shakespeares.  The Janskys will be onstage at about 3.30pm for a rare 30 minute performance.  A full listing for the event can be found here: Wagonwheelmediatramlines2015 .  This Tramlines fringe event is free and will feature a whole host of great acts across two stages.

Hope to see you there.

JB, July 2015

Share Button

Warrilow: There comes a time…..

Rhys Bethell is a musician who performs his music under the name Warrilow.  Formerly based in Sheffield, in 2013 he relocated to Newcastle.  He is preparing to release his first EP of studio recordings.  It will be called Chief and it’s been a long time coming….

There are three things to know about Rhys Bethell – he has a captivating voice; his dexterity on a guitar is mesmerising; and he deserves recognition.  He’s moving to Newcastle, which makes me sad because Sheffield is losing a true talent”.
Toast, Issue 40

Rhys Bethell, the artist now known as Warrilow (photo: Gerard F Morgan)

I first got to know Rhys in 2008 when we worked together in Sheffield.  Despite him being nearly young enough to be my son, we soon struck up a friendship and would chat about all sorts including a shared love of music.  He revealed that he was a singer and guitarist but seemed somewhat reticent to share his muse with the wider world, satisfied to sit at home tinkering in his bedroom studio.  After some sustained encouragement from family, friends and work colleagues he eventually ventured into the live arena.

Occasionally performing on the same bill, I saw hints of the performer he would become.  His guitar playing style was already fully formed, his dexterous spider-like fingers adventurously exploring the fretboard bringing to mind the playing of Nick Drake and Jose Gonzalez.  His voice in those early days gave away the nerves within.  This was somewhat surprising because when you meet him he exudes such an easy going nature.  If only he could channel that into his music and performance….

Well it seemed all that was needed was some more of that stuff called life and experience.  Leaving our shared workplace Rhys set off on his travels finding inspiration in the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand returning with a tattoo and an awakened verve.  He studied for a Creative Writing degree at the University of Sheffield and joined a band for a while, slowly finding his own creative voice.

By the time he opened for The Janskys, when we launched our LP in July 2013, the transformation was long complete.  His voice had a maturity and the melodies of his newer songs matched the guitar virtuosity.  He was also at ease with the crowd.

“As expected the evening got off to a wonderful start with a spellbinding set by Rhys Bethell accompanying himself on the Spanish guitar made for him by his partner’s father.  A beautiful instrument beautifully played.  The crowd were held captive to this young man’s unassuming delivery of incredibly intricate vocal and guitar melodies”.
Sawayaka Sheffield July 2013

Warrilow, the artist formerly known as Rhys Bethell (photo: Gerard F Morgan)

Warrilow, the artist formerly known as Rhys Bethell (photo: Gerard F Morgan)

He describes his music as ghost-folk: inspired by traditional folk, story-telling and poetry, building songs around atmosphere based upon melodic playing and metrical lyrics.

You can hear some examples on his Soundcloud page.

Since moving to Newcastle Rhys/Warrilow has become more focused on his music, posting regularly on YouTube – including a brave and enchanting version of John Lennon’s Imagine.

 

 

One eye on the Green Man Festival

One eye on the Green Man Festival

He has featured on BBC Radio Newcastle, has ambitions to play the Green Man Festival and is now set to release his EP ‘Chief‘ recorded at Loft Music studios in Newcastle with producer Liam Gaughan.  In his own words….  “These tunes took every ounce to write, and I’d love to see them realised fully: as a beautiful CD that I can put into your hands.  This music is very important to me, it would mean worlds to me to send them out as more than just wavelengths and pixels”.

So, Warrilow has launched a ‘Kickstarter’ campaign for fans and patrons to help fund the pressing of the CD.  It’s an innovative way of getting your music out there, engaging your followers and making them part of the music making process.  Donations for pre-orders can be made between £3 and £23 and there is a deadline of 30 days for the campaign to reach the initial target of £1400.  This will ensure the project is funded.

Artwork for the 'Chief' EP

Artwork for the ‘Chief’ EP

 

The great news is that the money pledged has already passed the target after only three days since the launch; indeed, as things stand, Warrilow could well exceed the modest amount he had hoped to raise.

 

 

It’s easy to sign up, which you can do here: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1380708546/chief-a-studio-ep-by-warrilow

By donating to the project we can help Warrilow release the Chief EP and possibly give him the scope to plan beyond this recording – to the next step along his creative path.

C’mon…. Let’s spread the joy!

DS
April 2015

 

Some further information/contacts for Warrilow:

Twitter: @Warrilowmusic

Facebook: facebook.com/warrilowmusic

Tumblr: warrilowmusic.tumblr.com

Share Button

The War on (Apathy won by) Drugs

Despite having been to hundreds of gigs in my lifetime, if you were to draw a graph, there could be seen a slow and steady decline in my gig attendance in the last 10 years.  Not such a surprise really when I’m slowly mining deeper into the seam of middle age.

Back in the day, all of my twenties were spent living in London, and while gigging regularly with my band The Violet Years I was also out and about watching bands all over the Big Smoke taking in venues such as The Kilburn National, The Astoria (Charing Cross Road), The Forum (aka Town & Country Club – Kentish Town), Hammersmith Odeon, The Venue (New Cross) and Brixton Academy.  All could be reached with a 4 zone travel card from whichever postcode of South London I was currently residing in.  Journey times were of no consequence and varied enormously with night buses and unlicensed taxi drivers sometimes featuring in the journey home.  Up for work the next morning, no bother* (*occasional exceptions aside).

Fast forward a decade or two where I’m well settled in Sheffield, bang in the centre of the country, with a thriving music scene and the northern music mecca of Manchester and the favoured stop off for bands visiting Yorkshire – Leeds, less than an hour away.  But nowadays it seems it takes more and more to raise my interest enough to warrant the effort of leaving my sofa to seek out the thrills of live musical performance and even more so to venture beyond Sheffield.  I imagine this partly comes from having heard so much music that it takes something quite special to really connect and encourage live exploration.

This eventually leads to a cold Sunday night in Nottingham…

It was only towards the end of last year that The War On Drugs started to appear on my musical radar with their LP ‘Lost in the Dream‘ –

The War On Drugs 'Lost In The Dream' 2014

The War On Drugs ‘Lost In The Dream’ 2014

a wonderful mix conjuring Dylan and Springsteen via a kaleidoscope of instrumental segues.  I found this combination fascinating.  When I read a little more about them I discovered the band was based in Philadelphia and built around singer, main songwriter and guitarist Adam Granduciel.  The latest LP was their third so if I actually made the effort to go and see them they would have quite a selection of material to draw from in a live setting.  The band’s UK tour was selling out as it went, but I noticed that their Nottingham date had been moved from a Wednesday to the Sunday of the same week so they could attend the Brit Awards – they’d been nominated for a gong for ‘Best International Group’.  They eventually lost out to the nicest man in rock and roll, Dave Grohl & his Foo Fighters.  By the way, Mr Grohl’s recent series ‘Sonic Highways’ is a fascinating look into the workings of bands, producers and studios alongside a musical history of eight American cities… but I digress.  The War On Drugs‘ loss at the Brits was a gain for myself and my good pals F and PB, as we were able to swoop in and purloin three returned tickets from unfortunate folk who either could not make the rescheduled date or could not face the thought of heading out on a Sunday night before a week’s nose to the grind.  Must admit I had to fight that feeling too.

Going out on a cold Sunday night... What was I thinking?

Going out on a cold Sunday night… What was I thinking?

F and PB who would help lift me from my Sunday sofa position.  It was actually their fault that I had a rather enjoyable time at the Green Man Festival a couple of years ago… {Green Man 2013 Diary & Review}… If you’re interested.

Anyway, it was arranged that I would meet PB in Sheffield at the rather wonderful Red Deer Pub to enjoy a swift pint while F would sit at home watching his beloved Spurs lose to current UKIP favourites, Chelsea, in The [insert company name here] Cup final.  F would then pick us up and drive us to Nottingham, Rock City… I mean Nottingham’s ‘Rock City’.

As PB and I enjoyed our pint we were accosted by a chap who started talking all things football but mainly about the travelling hooligans or ‘Firms’ as they are known in footie parlance.  We did our best to pretend we knew about the beautiful game, failing miserably – the conversation in the snug around the corner about being murdered in Tenerife, or dying in a plane crash on your way over to Tenerife, somehow seemed more appealing.

As arranged F picked us up from the pub and an hour later we were off the M1 and snaking towards Nottingham on the A610.  Compared to arriving in Leeds or Manchester this approach could almost be done blindfolded.  Ok, it does help that the venue is on the right side of town.

Rock City is a great all standing venue – a wide room rather than a long one with a good raised area all the around the edge of the room and a balcony too.  Really good sight lines from every angle.  Even with a sold out crowd it felt quite easy when moving around the space unlike in some venues where it really is ‘sardines’.  We were able to get centrally positioned, halfway between the mixing desk and stage – a perfect position for sound and to see the whites of Mr Granduciel’s eyes (if only he wasn’t back lit for most of the gig, which he would be, tsk!).

The War On Drugs Nottingham Rock City Sunday 1st March 2015

The War On Drugs Nottingham Rock City Sunday 1st March 2015

Live, The War On Drugs are a six piece band – they took to the stage with no fuss and just got on with creating wonderful music.  Many of the songs emerged from Adam Granduciel’s weaving layered guitar intros, with him hunched over the guitar, stamping on different effects pedals carefully placed around his territorial Persian rug*

warondrugsrugnpedals

warondrugsrugnpedals

(*I’ve seen such ruggage under Tom Petty and each of Crosby, Stills & Nash – I’d imagine The Grateful Dead and Robert Plant have partaken too.  It could be said evidence of such rug behaviour exists at the homely studio of The Janskys, the band I’m in now, but on closer inspection disparate off cuts of carpet take the place of luxuriantly exotic woven panels).

Back at the gig the sound is spot on and there is no rock pretension just sonic craftsmanship.  At times it felt like watching Bob Dylan in full flight fronting the E Street Band featuring John Squires, Neil Young, J Mascis, and Kevin Shields taking turns on the six string.  Classic rock songwriting melding with the motorik 4/4 beat of Neu! and careering into the epic wash of Mike Scott’s early Waterboys.  In quieter moments mellow Byrdsian psychedelia could be heard before layers of crisp glacial keyboards would drive a tune towards a layered climax with bowel shaking baritone sax drones underpinning proceedings.  Later, the essence of Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine would give way to Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois noodling quietly in the corner.  The War On Drugs’ occasional dips towards AOR and eighties mainstream were forgiven easily and actually worked if I’m honest – not a guilty pleasure, just pleasure.

The War On Drugs 'Slave Ambient' 2011

The War On Drugs ‘Slave Ambient’ 2011

It was a recipe that on paper shouldn’t work but in reality tasted delicious.  A whole section of my favourite kinds of music had been thrown into a mixing pot, distilled and served up – the results leaving me with a broad grin of satisfaction.  With the band’s previous LP ‘Slave Ambient‘ purchased from the merchandise stall, I am looking forward to devouring more of their fare.

All that was left was the journey home to Sheffield, no teleportation tonight (RIP Mr Nimoy #LLAP) just F’s reliable Mazda.  It was at this point I confessed to both him and PB that I’d booked Monday morning off work… Rock and Roll.

DS, March 2015

Share Button

Elegance and Stillness – ‘To The Bone’ by Jones – LP Review

So let’s raise a glass to our younger selves, remembering how it used to be” (Phil ‘The Hat’, from To The Bone)

To The Bone’ is the latest release by Trevor Jones aka ‘Jones’.  I stumbled upon Trevor Jones’ work a few years back reading a review of his 2009 LP ‘Hopeland’ in The Guardian.  Having never heard of Trevor or his band Miracle Mile, I was intrigued by the review describing the beautiful music within and I cut out the article thinking ‘I must get that album sometime’.  I put it on a Christmas list and, upon receiving it as a gift, it became a favourite of both my wife and I.

hopeland 1

‘HOPELAND’ by Jones

A couple of years later I happened upon a review of Miracle Mile’s ‘In Cassidy’s Care’ in R2 magazine (which I’d bought as I’d heard they were due to be publishing a review of the forthcoming LP by The Janskys).  Again the words in the review encouraged me to add the LP to a must have list – I was lucky enough to receive this LP as a present also.  It was only recently when playing ‘In Cassidy’s Care’ again, while being pulled into the gently sonically textured lyrical world of Trevor Jones and musical partner Marcus Cliffe, that I thought I should actively seek out more music by these gentle weavers.

In-Cassidy-sCare 1

‘IN CASSIDY’S CARE’ by Miracle Mile

So, with the wonders of the Interweb I managed to find Miracle Mile’s website, www.miraclemile.co.uk , and discovered a whole host of other releases including the latest Jones offering, ‘To The Bone’.  Actually parting with my own cash this time, I ordered a copy.

Looking across the sleeves to all three LPs the line up of writers, producers and musicians is very similar.  And to be honest, why would you mess with a blend that works so well?  It seems that the difference between a Jones release and a Miracle Mile release is a subtle one.  On a Jones release Trevor Jones is credited as songwriter with Marcus and Trevor on production duties, whereas on a Miracle Mile release they are both listed as writers and producers.  It feels like I’m reviewing three LPs here, but context and continuation seem to me like a theme in Trevor Jones’ work.

To The Bone 1

‘TO THE BONE’ by Jones

The new LP ‘To The Bone’ is the most stripped back of the three I’ve heard.  Based around gentle piano and acoustic guitar with occasional waves of pedal steel, the LP works beautifully as a whole and moves effortlessly between each song’s core, subtle instrumental sections and on ‘Cabin Fever’, spoken word.  The effect of this, and with Trevor’s voice to the fore, means you are drawn into the stories, while the delicate musical arrangements direct you even more so to the words.

There is a gentle elegance and stillness about the work that brings about a kind of happy melancholy and sometimes almost a meditative wistfulness.  Themes of love, loss, longing and friendship crop up, and the detail in the everyday is made beautiful and important.

What started out as a letter always ends up in a song” (Pardon Me, from To The Bone)

There is no drama, just a subtle intensity that glows and grows with every listen.

I would urge you to spend some time in the musical world that Trevor Jones and Marcus Cliffe have created, you really won’t want to leave.

DS (Jan 2015)

Share Button

With 2014 nearly over silence finally speaks…..

Apologies for the lack of communication but 2014 has been a rather quiet year in the land of The Janskys…..

As reality has bitten, work commitments have meant the guys have rarely been in the same postcode to get together and work on new material – even finding time to rehearse for gigs has proved difficult.  So, in terms of a public presence, for now, The Janskys are currently hibernating….

But, rather than just leaving Sawayaka Sheffield sitting there silent as The Janskys slumber, we may occasionally post some random ramblings on music and other things we find inspiring and of interest.

trees

It just leaves us to wish you and yours a relaxing Christmas and all the best for 2015.

 

Sawayaka Sheffield
December 2014

Share Button

The Janskys go to University…

Press Conference? Huh? by The Janskys?

It was Friday 13th December 2013 when The Janskys found themselves about to start their first ever press conference sitting in a room at the University of Huddersfield facing a group of Music Journalism students….  Tick, tick, tick, gulp, trickle of sweat.

Wind back a good six months to the manic days of trying to promote The Janskys new LP ‘When Silence Speaks’ to press, radio & online.  Pat and Damian were regularly hunched and huddled around Pat’s kitchen table launching emails into the ether and stuffing CDs into envelopes.  One such targeted journalist was Dave Simpson of The Guardian.  Regularly reading Dave’s articles in The Guardian’s Friday Film and Music section and having met him the previous year at a music conference in Leeds, Damian thought that he may be interested in the band’s new offering.  Sending the CD to The Guardian’s main address for Dave’s attention was always a gamble.  Nothing was heard back.  Ah well.

Close to the LP’s release a track off the album was played by Shed Seven’s Rick Witter on York’s Minster FM and, while listening in, the band heard that Dave Simpson was to be a guest on Rick’s show the following week.  Damian asked Rick to mention to Dave that the band were trying to contact him…..  If you don’t ask you don’t get….

Result!  Rick was able to get Dave’s non work email off him and passed it on.  So, the band blurbed an email over to Dave and waited.

Well, when Dave did get in touch the band’s integrity flew out the window and fantastical dreams of guitar shaped swimming pools began to formulate while anticipating the ensuing Guardian feature on The Janskys and LP review.  A reality check soon occurred when reading down Dave’s email…..  He could not write about the band in The Guardian…  Hopes dashed then, better throw away the letter of resignation to their day jobs.  It did transpire though, that, as well as writing for The Guardian, Dave Simpson was also a lecturer at the University of Huddersfield and as such was happy to offer to have the band in to be interviewed by some of his Music Journalism students.  Sounds like a bit of fun… ok….  He’d be in touch in the autumn term to arrange.

Pat, Damian and producer Colin Bradley were by now fast forwarding to hibernation mode, after the frenzied activity around the launch of the LP, when Dave contacted Sawayaka Sheffield in the late autumn to pin down a date for the ‘Press Conference…’  Huh? Press Conference?  Thought it was going to be an interview with a few students not a public inquisition?  Colin and Damian were seen packing bags to run to the hills, talking in public was never their strong point – Colin always peering from behind his laptop and mixing desk in the seclusion of the studio and Damian always seen lurking at Pat’s side at gigs only engaging with the microphone during song.  Knocking Colin and Damian’s heads together Pat said the bruises represented positive thoughts and they should use them as symbols of self belief.  A sales manager by day, public speaking is like….. erm, speaking for Pat, and he believed it would be fun and a new experience.  Right-o, let’s do it then.

The date was fixed for Friday 13th (Dec), uh oh this could be ominous, and the trio met up with Dave at the Uni before being fed to the lions.  Dave explained he would lead the Q&A and step in if the students’ questions dried up.  He also dropped the bombshell that the event would be recorded, but purely as an aide memoire for the students who were to write up an article based on the forthcoming grilling.

Over the next 45 minutes Dave steered the group of students through the Q&A.  Rather like the members of the band, some of the students were more confident than others. They threw a range of questions from ‘influences’, ‘the process of recording’, ‘collaborations’ and ‘the music scene in Sheffield’.  Pat gamely held court, with Colin somehow getting a Stockhausen reference into proceedings and Damian just about managing to control his beetroot head blushing.  The students did seem to engage with the scenario and Dave added depth by qualifying certain references that the band mentioned.  The lucky student who asked the best question was given a copy of ‘When Silence Speaks’ .

Looking back it can be said it was a fun, different and slightly surreal experience and we at Sawayaka Sheffield wait with interest to read any of the students outcomes should they be made public.  We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Dave and his students for being gentle with the band.

 

Other news in brief:

  • The lads had a great time playing at The Greystones on Fri 24th January with an audience who were amazingly quiet during performance and showed a great appreciation of the show.  The night was a real highlight in Pat and Damian’s live work together.
  • Finally, Pat and Damian have been demoing some new material (some of which has been road tested live in various ways).  They are hoping to record again with Colin their producer later in the spring.

Happy New Year BTW (just snuck in on the last day of January so still vaguely relevant!)

Share Button

Some wandering thoughts on Lou Reed

As we hurtle towards the end of the year with no way of applying the brakes, life again shows its cruel hand by taking another artistic great.  I’m still taking in the grim news of Lou Reed’s passing at the end of October, but able to reflect on the legacy of the man and the mighty body of incredible recorded work he has left us.  Through albums ranging from The Velvet Underground & Nico to Transformer and onto later career classic, New York, he explored every facet of the urban human experience – melodies that stay with you and lyrics with humour, pathos and the darkest literary noir.

The many sides of Lou Reed - cover of the 1989 LP 'New York'

The many sides of Lou Reed – cover of the 1989 LP ‘New York’

I was lucky enough to catch him live twice at Glastonbury in the early nineties, once solo and once with the reformed Velvets.  This later reformation was criticised by many but I enjoyed their take on the classic line up.  I remember at the solo gig almost missing the start of his set as I wandered slowly from the tent area.  Luckily, being young and vaguely fit in those days, I was able to break into a sprint upon hearing the opening chords of Sweet Jane strike up from the Pyramid main stage.  The set was a mix of classics and cuts from New York and Magic and Loss and I bought a bootleg from the nearby stall which in those days (1992) was knocking out CASSETTES within the hour for fans to take away and relive their Glastonbury experience upon returning home.

Lou live at Glastonbury 1992 - Bootleg cassette cover

Lou live at Glastonbury 1992 – Bootleg cassette cover

A couple of years earlier in my final year at University in London somehow I was allowed to write about indie music, the Mad-chester scene and youth culture for my dissertation.  In the second chapter I wrote enthusiastically, if rather badly, about the ongoing influence and importance of The Velvet Underground in the development of the UK indie music scene of the eighties, reflected in the music, style and attitudes of bands such as The Jesus & Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen and The House of Love.  On the strength of this hastily thrown together tome I was offered the chance to give a lecture the following year but ran away scared.  At that time I was using my degree to full advantage as a courier and pretended my van had broken down in Brighton the night before and was thus stranded there.  What a coward.  How different would my life be now if I’d taken the brave step to share my knowledge and appreciation of Lou et al.  Maybe I could have blossomed into the role of a Uni lecturer with my beard and cardigan elbow patches earning a legitimate position in the workplace. Somewhere in a parallel universe I’m leaning on my finger steeple discussing Lou’s Berlin song cycle with over keen wide eyed under grads.

Enthusiasm trumps quality. Anyone recognise the silhouette?

Lou Reed helped paint a picture of New York for me along with the likes of Woody Allen and Paul Simon.  The picture these very different artists painted still holds a huge cultural hold over me and I can’t help but lap up the tales of their city.

Lou made music to lose yourself in, to challenge you, to laugh with and to be moved by.  We will always need these attributes in our art and our lives and for these reasons his work will live on.

DS, Sheffield, December 2013

Share Button

Sawayaka Sheffield News

Live News

Continuing gigging as a duo, with occasional guests, The Janskys are happy to announce a few new dates for the forthcoming months.

First up is a slot next Thursday, 5th December, at the Pocket Music night at Sheffield’s Red Deer.  Music starts at about 8.30pm and the lads will be performing at about 9.30pm.  Free Entry.

The Janskys (photo by Gerard F Morgan)

Friday 24th January 2014 sees the band return to The Greystones in Sheffield with a show supporting local singer songwriter Julian Jones appearing with his full band.  Julian and his band produce a lush mixture of pop, indie and country.  This gig is the first time The Janskys have played at The Greystones since early 2012 when they supported Pete Williams of Dexys.

After that the next gig currently booked is on Thursday 27th March and sees the band head to pastures new playing their first ever Manchester show with a slot at the Fallow Cafe promoted by Sideways Saloon.  The lads are very much looking forward to this jaunt across the hills.

We are also currently in discussions to try and secure dates for the band in Leeds and Derby.

More details can be found here:  www.sawayakasheffield.org.uk/live-shows

 

Other News

As well as receiving a great critical response to When Silence Speaks, (examples of press quotes can be found here:  www.sawayakasheffield.org.uk), we have also being getting great feedback regarding the artwork of the LP – pictured below for any of you who haven’t seen it yet ;-).

The Janskys’ LP ‘When Silence Speaks’ – Artwork by Mark Conway

As a result we are looking into ways of helping to curate a new exhibition of work by the artist Mark Conway.  Discussions are at a very early stage but we are hopefully looking at late spring/early summer next year.  Watch this (art)space…

Share Button