Sunday, 8 December 2019

A Life in Music: Jim Simpson. 1066, Black Sabbath, veteran bluesmen and all that

Tales of rock, muso photography, jazz and blues. And launching a little band called Black Sabbath along the way. 


Jim Simpson has done an awful lot in his time. He's the man who shot a ton of 60s and 70s rock stars. You can see his shots online and often in exhibitions around town. Little Richard never looked lovelier.

Jim was key to the Birmingham music scene in the 60s, creating Henry's Blueshouse, the venue where
Black Sabbath first came to prominence, and going on to be their first manager. Students of Rock history and muso management take note. Jim is a tactful man, but there is much to be learned here. 

The podcast has now been published: go here to listen, subscribe and/or download... or go to the player at the bottom of this post. 

After all the Sabbath palaver? There were a number of other bands, taking in some of the finest musicians, many still playing around town. A record label, Big Bear, emerged, specialising in original blues; 35 years of Jazz Festivals; and a lot more. Jim's written a lovely book; there is a comprehensive reissue programme going on with Big Bear records. And Henry's Blueshouse rides again in Birmingham. 


Links

The label: Big Bear Music and some history  
The book: Don't worry 'bout the Bear

Henry's Blueshouse facebook page
A very useful 'early days' section is on Black Sabbath's wikipedia page 
The Birmingham, Sandwell and Westside Jazz Festival website

Lives in Music 

Lives in Music celebrates people who have spent a lifetime in music. They may be famous; they may be people who have simply spent their lives working at their craft for the love of it. They all have stories. Lives in Music is a Radio To Go production.


Listen to the Podcast


Also published in Lives In Music 


1 - Ruby Turner 
2 -  
Steve Ajao
3 -
The Men Who Make Mellotrons

4 - Mike Hatton
5 - Horace Panter
6 - Jasper Carott   

7 - Sam Slater
8 - John Patrick
9 - Gordon Giltrap


The theme music for this series is by local band Big Q Fish. 'Boksburg Jive Toon' was written by Brian Neil, and recorded at the Jam House, Birmingham, in 2017.

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Monday, 2 December 2019

A Life In Music: Gordon Giltrap

One of our finest craftsman. A fine guitarist and a really nice guy.



Imagine sitting right down in front of a terrific guitarist while he plays for you. It's an amazing privilege.

One of the things I try to do in the Lives In Music podcast series is to persuade my guests to include a little bit of live music as part of the conversation. That's tricky with, say, drummers, of course, so it doesn't always happen. 
But it happened here. Gordon was generous to a fault with his time.

Gordon Giltrap may be best known for his 'Heart Song' classic, but there is so much more to the man that that. Here, Gordon deconstructs some classic songs, plays some of his own material, and tells tales of his days as a wide-eyed teenager watching Paul Simon demo 'Bookends' to a folk club audience. 

This is a companion post to Lives in Music Podcast 9, featuring Gordon.
You can download it here, or scroll down to stream it from the bottom of this  page.

Gordon was playing as a scrap of a teenager in a scene that defined the best of UK 60s and 70s folk. He's still playing today, with boundless enthusiasm.



Links


Gordon Giltrap's website and facebook page carry details of his custom guitars, gigs, a freshly published biography and lots more.

There's a ton of iffy facebook clips, shot mostly on wobbly hand-held phones, of Gordon playing live. Some are good; most are bad and don't do you or Gordon any favours. For some 70s vintage, here's Gordon on Top of the Pops in 1977

And if you love the sound of Gordon's guitars, here's the Fylde Guitars website.



Lives in Music


The Lives in Music series celebrates people who have spent a lifetime in music. They may be famous; they may be people who have spent their lives working in the background for the love of it. They all have stories.

The theme music for this series is by Big Q Fish. 'Boksburg Jive Toon' was written by Brian Neil, and recorded at the Jam House, Birmingham, in 2017.

Don't forget to subscribe!


Also published in Lives In Music  


all with show notes and music links 

1 - Ruby Turner 
2 -  
Steve Ajao
3 - 
The Men Who Make Mellotrons
4 - Mike Hatton
5 - Horace Panter
6 - Jasper Carott   

7 - Sam Slater
8 - John Patrick
10 - Jim Simpson



The Podcast




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Sunday, 24 November 2019

A Life In Music: John Patrick


'And then, Bill Haley and the Comets arrived with Rock Around the Clock' and that was the end for Big Bands...'



Older (and not so old) UK readers of these notes will remember the TV show Bullseye, which was made first by ATV and then by Central TV. 

My latest Lives in Music episode features the man who dashed off the theme for that show. Twenty five years on, he still gets royalties for Bullseye - and his other TV theme compositions. The show survives on repeat on one of Sky's remoter TV channels. So repeat fees still land in John Patrick's account.



Broadcast Days


I first met John when I started work in the 70s at the first commercial radio station in Birmingham, BRMB. John was on the board. At that time, he was also the music director at ATV/Central. And he wrote the very first BRMB jingle package - The Sound Way To Spend Your Day, which you can hear in full on this launchday audio clip.  


But that's really not more than a footnote in John's career. He is now well into his ninth decade; he still plays. He's had a long career as musician, composer, Musicians Union official, broadcast exec and more. But his particular perspective is very interesting - he was making music professionally before rock and roll arrived to upset the apple cart. And his entire career has been framed by the adjustments that tastes and new technology have brought to the life of a working musician. Ironically, that led to him hanging with Frank Sinatra in Vegas. Not at all bad for a local boy. 


Lives in Music


The Lives in Music series celebrates people who have spent a lifetime in music. They may be famous; they may be people who have spent their lives working in the background for the love of it. They all have stories.

The theme music for this series is by Big Q Fish. 'Boksburg Jive Toon' was written by Brian Neil, and recorded at the Jam House, Birmingham, in 2017.

Don't forget to subscribe!


The Podcast





Also published in Lives In Music  

all with show notes and music links 

1 - Ruby Turner 
2 -  
Steve Ajao
3 - 
The Men Who Make Mellotrons
4 - Mike Hatton
5 - Horace Panter
6 - Jasper Carott  

7 - Sam Slater
9 - Gordon Giltrap
10 Jim Simpson



________________________________________________________________________


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Sunday, 17 November 2019

A Life In Music: Sam Slater

Old head, young shoulders...


I set myself a rule when working up ideas for the Lives in Music podcast series. Nobody under 50, please, otherwise the experiences and perspectives I hoped to glean might not be juicy enough.

Then, I promptly broke my rule for Sam Slater.

Sam is the youngest person featured in this series of Lives in Music, but he's packed an awful lot into his (relatively) tender years. I've known him for ages, since he first emerged in a lovely guitar trio, Trio Gitano, one of whose members, Sophia Johnson, is now earning rave reviews playing country and bluegrass in Austin Texas.

Sam moved on into Jazz and World music to great effect. A dab hand on guitar and other stringed instruments like the Oud, Sam has a bewildering range of activities, not counting his Jazz Label Stoney Lane, which documents some of the finest players in the West Midlands region of the UK. 


John broke out both guitar and oud to illustrate a couple of points. It was a sheer delight to listen. The podcast is here, to download or stream, or you can simply head to the player at the bottom of this page. 


Links

Stoney Lane Records
TG Collective
Paco De Lucia
The Oud



Lives in Music


The Lives in Music series celebrates people who have spent a lifetime in music. They may be famous; they may be people who have spent their lives working in the background for the love of it. They all have stories.

The theme music for this series is by Big Q Fish. 'Boksburg Jive Toon' was written by Brian Neil, and recorded at the Jam House, Birmingham, in 2017.


Don't forget to subscribe!



The Podcast





Also published in Lives In Music  

all with show notes and music links 

1 - Ruby Turner 
2 -  
Steve Ajao
3 - 
The Men Who Make Mellotrons
4 - Mike Hatton
5 - Horace Panter
6 - Jasper Carott 
8 - John Patrick
9 - Gordon Giltrap
10 Jim Simpson

________________________________________________________________________


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Sunday, 10 November 2019

A Life in Music: Jasper Carrott - a funny man never far away from musos


He used to walk on stage with a guitar....


If you think that all Jasper Carrott had to do with music was to wander on stage with a guitar before bringing an act on stage, think again. 

Jasper has been deeply involved in music all his life, and has some interesting views on the music business, artists' fees, the record industry, performance and audience reaction, gained from deep experience at his gigs and venues. 

I've talked several times with Jasper about his career. We do go back a bit, which is actually part of the point of the Lives in Music series. I was in radio at the old BRMB when Jasper had his hit. I wound up playing (rather badly) in charity football matches with him back in the day. But he seems to have had a very interesting ride. Music and musicians have been key, much more than you might think. He's even sharing a vocalist with Robert Plant's current band - there's a pub quiz question for you.

You can stream or download the podcast here, or if you can't wait, scroll down to the end of this post for the podcast player.


Links - music clips and artist websites


Music clips are mostly from the late 70s, John Martyn excepted.

Jasper Carrott - Magic Roundabout
Jasper Carrott - Funky Moped  (a vintage TOTP clip)
Simon and Garfunkel - The Sun Is Burning (Ian Campbell composition)
Al Stewart - Old Compton Street Blues
Johnny Coppin
Decameron - Journey's End
Harvey Andrews 
Mike Silver
Jake Thackray
Joe Brown
John Martin - Small Hours with some background details. I may have embroidered the story...



Links - present day and ancient history 


Jasper Carott's website
Jasper Carrott on wikipedia
The Boggery Folk Club
Ian Campbell on Birmingham Music Archive



The Podcast




Lives in Music


The Lives in Music series celebrates people who have spent a lifetime in music. They may be famous; they may be people who have spent their lives working in the background for the love of it. They all have stories.

The theme music for this series is by Big Q Fish. 'Boksburg Jive Toon' was written by Brian Neil, and recorded at the Jam House, Birmingham, in 2017.

Don't forget to subscribe!


Other podcasts in Lives In Music  

all with show notes and music links 

1 - Ruby Turner 
2 -  
Steve Ajao
3 - 
The Men Who Make Mellotrons
4 - Mike Hatton
5 - Horace Panter 

7 - 
Sam Slater 
8 - John Patrick
9 - Gordon Giltrap
10 Jim Simpson

________________________________________________________________________


Subscribe to the mailing list!


* required field


Email Format








Sunday, 3 November 2019

A Life in Music: Horace Panter

Horace Panter and music. Where do you stop?



I really can't remember first chatting with Horace Panter, but it might well have been in 1978, when the Specials played at Birmingham University. 

They were at that fantastic phase in a new band's career, when the band has gelled, strings of gigs have knocked them into shape, and the whole point of the exercise seems to be coming together in an exciting way. I asked them if they would do a session for the old BRMB Radio that night.

If not then, it would have been at the now long-gone Outlaw Studios, when the band squeezed six songs out of that three hour session for BRMB. I went on air with those songs the next day. That probably makes me the first DJ to have played the Specials on radio, by the way. Jerry Dammers left the session in a grump once his vocals were down, but Horace was the soul of patience and courtesy. And it's been that way ever since.

Talking music with Horace is completely engrossing and serious fun. It was really, really enjoyable. And, d'oh, I learned something about basslines for Time is Tight and Rescue Me. Marvellous for my age, me. We veered off my initial Lives In Music track, and wound up gossiping about all sorts of things, as you'll hear. You can get the podcast hereor go to your favourite podcast supplier to grab it. Or skip down to the bottom of this page to stream from this blog page. 


Music Links


Lives in Music 


The Lives in Music series celebrates people who have spent a lifetime in music. They may be famous; they may be people who have spent their lives working in the background for the love of it. They all have stories. Lives in Music is a Radio To Go production.

Don't forget to subscribe!




The Podcast

 

Also published in Lives In Music  


1 - Ruby Turner 
2 -  
Steve Ajao
3 - 
The Men Who Make Mellotrons
4 - Mike Hatton 

6 - Jasper Carott   

7 - 
Sam Slater 
8 - John Patrick
9 - Gordon Giltrap

10 Jim Simpson


The theme music for this series is by Big Q Fish. 'Boksburg Jive Toon' was written by Brian Neil, and recorded at the Jam House, Birmingham, in 2017.

________________________________________________________________________


Subscribe to the mailing list!


* required field


Email Format







Sunday, 27 October 2019

A Life in Music: Mike Hatton's bass motives

Bassic Fundamentals: get your Jazz chops right, and the groove will follow.


Mike Hatton, like many musicians, plays in more than one band - he can be found delivering smooth Jazz grooves, or a solid bedrock for powerhouse blues, or even harking back to 60s power rock. 

One of those bands - Steve Ajao's Blues Giants - has been going for well over 30 years, giving enormous pleasure to Midlands audiences and beyond. And all three members are very much eligible to take place in the Lives in Music series of podcasts. Two of them are in this series; I'm still chasing Washboard Pete

Mike fits right into this series because he is one hell of a dedicated craftsman, as you will hear on the podcast. Head to the podcast page, or to your favourite podcast supplier, to grab it. Or skip down to the bottom of this page to stream from this blog page. 

Mike Hatton crafts very considered and delicate works for solo bass. And he's being doing this for generations. Along with Mike's own music, a few of the many types of music and musicians that Mike references in this chat are gathered together in this post - see the Music Links section below.



The Album


We talked in early autumn, when Mike was putting the finishing touches to his new album. Bassic Salvation is out this week. It's just him on all the basses, plus drums, it's full of splendid music, and it reeks of craft and serious thought. You can hear excerpts in the podcast. Or, if you're in Birmingham on Friday 1st November... 



Go to the Album Launch Gig


Fletchers Bar is in King's Heath, Birmingham's muso central. The place will be wall to wall with fellow musicians, and that's when Mike is holding the launch gig. That's Friday 1st November


Music Links


Paperback Writer - The Beatles
Silvershine - Andy Hamilton
Start Everywhere - Steve Lawson
 



The podcast





Lives in Music


The Lives in Music podcast series celebrates people who have spent a lifetime in music. They may be famous; they may be people who have spent their lives working in the background for the love of it. They all have stories.

Other podcasts in Lives In Music 

All with show notes and music links

1 - Ruby Turner 
2 -  
Steve Ajao
3 - 
The Men Who Make Mellotrons
5 - 
Horace Panter
6 - Jasper Carott  
7 - 
Sam Slater
8 - John Patrick
9 - Gordon Giltrap
10 Jim Simpson

  


The theme music for this series is by Mike's other local band, Big Q Fish. 'Boksburg Jive Toon' was written by Brian Neil, and recorded at the Jam House, Birmingham, in 2017.

________________________________________________________________________


Subscribe to the mailing list!


* required field


Email Format







Sunday, 20 October 2019

A Life In Music: The Men Who Make Mellotrons

In a workshop not too far away from you, magic is being made (and recreated). 



John Bradley and Martin Smith have been involved with Mellotrons all their lives. 

What is a Mellotron? Well, please read on, and listen to the companion podcast. 

John is the pragmatic engineer who can look at a piece of kit and know exactly what to do. Martin was and is a superfan of 60s, 70s and 80s music with a decided taste for Progressive Rock. The Mellotron simply reeled him in. John's dad ran the original Streetly Electronics, based in a small building just to the north of Birmingham. They made Mellotrons. Musicians beat paths to their door. It was John and Martin who revived the current business. And now the musicians are calling on them. 

The Mellotron was key to 60s and 70s pop. Then it sort of fell out of fashion. But the sounds on countless Beatles, Genesis, Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest tracks, and tons more are still in demand. So much so that John and Martin's order book is full for the next two years. And as for their stellar client list...

Be warned: there's one teeny little swear word; it's so funny, I couldn't bring myself to cut it out. I travelled to the workshop for the Lives in Music interview. Copious amounts of tea were consumed. Followed by copious amounts of editing. 

The podcast has now been published: go here to listen, subscribe and/or download... or go to the player at the bottom of this post. 


Background


If you are still not entirely sure what a Mellotron is, read the exhaustive details on Wikipedia here...


Some samples


Here's a YouTube link for Strawberry Fields Forever...
This is a Link to one of the earliest recorded uses of the Mellotron ...
or how about this Moody Blues cut?


Other Links


Streetly Electronics website
Streetly Electronics on Facebook


Listen to the podcast




Lives in Music 

Lives in Music celebrates people who have spent a lifetime in music. They may be famous; they may be people who have simply spent their lives working at their craft for the love of it. They all have stories. Lives in Music is a Radio To Go production.


Also published in Lives In Music 

all with show notes and music links

1 - Ruby Turner 
2 -  
Steve Ajao
4 - 
Mike Hatton 
5 - Horace Panter
6 - Jasper Carrott

7 - 
Sam Slater
8 - John Patrick
9 - Gordon Giltrap
10 Jim Simpson


The theme music for this series is by local band Big Q Fish. 'Boksburg Jive Toon' was written by Brian Neil, and recorded at the Jam House, Birmingham, in 2017.

________________________________________________________________________


Subscribe to the mailing list!


* required field


Email Format