Tuesday, 25 February 2020

A Life In Music: John Mostyn

Birmingham's Music renaissance man



Photo: Graham Young, Birmingham Live
With some fifty years in the business across a dizzying range of bands and activities, John Mostyn is endlessly interesting. He's done the mega-deals, battled with the music industry at the very top levels, and he's worked just as hard on small local projects which simply deserved some help. 

And he has some incredible stories.

There's a lot to be gleaned from listening to John's experiences. Not that John minds; he's always been happy to share and lend a hand. And there are always, always, new projects, which you might never have considered in a month of Sundays.

This is a companion blog piece to the John Mostyyn Lives in Music Podcast, which you can listen to here. Or just scroll down to the bottom of this page and listen to the embedded file.

Links


Carpe Aqua If you don't know about this, you're missing out.
The Beat (led by the late Ranking Roger)
The English Beat (led by Dave Wakelin)
Fine Young Cannibals wikipedia page

Ocean Colour Scene



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. But they all have stories.



The intro and outro music in this series comes from the great bass player Mike Hatton, who you can hear interviewed in series 1, here. 'Everything Changes' is included in his excellent 2019 album 'Bassic Salvation'. 

Published to date in Series 2


1 - Brian Travers of UB40
2 - Ricky Cool
3 - Mark 'Foxy' Robinson of the CBSO
4 - Roy Adams
5 - Gavin Monaghan of Magic Garden studios 
6 - John Mostyn

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If you would prefer email updates each time a podcast episode (or blog post) is published, you can subscribe to the mailing list. Head here and scroll down to the signup form.


Saturday, 22 February 2020

A Life In Music: Gavin Monaghan a legendary producer

The Wizard in his garden


Gavin Monaghan is a producer who commands massive respect worldwide, but who is just at home working with local bands that he has an affinity with. He loves his work. The people who work with him love his work as well. 

Gavin operates from an unassuming but brilliant studio complex, the third premises that he's named Magic Garden. Music of all shapes and descriptions flows from there out to the world. When I dropped by, Gavin was very calmly allowing his clients to work out and freely deliver something exceptional. It's a brilliant skill. Not all producers have it. 

Among his better-known local clients, you'll find Ocean Colour Scene, Carina Round, Paul Murphy, Editors, Scott Matthews, Robert PlantNizlopi and The Twang. That's one terrific range of talent. Among his newer clients, you'll find Pagans (Shepherds Of Humanity), Paper Buoys, Methods, Cherry LotusThe BlindersH√úDS, and more. 

Above all Gavin focuses on results - it's fascinating to hear how he gets those results, how he got started, and how technology has changed the creative music landscape. Craft skills, hard won and invaluable. 

That patient approach, and the love and nurturing of for new talent from a veteran's perspective chimes with what I want to cover in the Lives in Music series. To listen, you can jump to the podcast site to download and/or stream, or if you like, scroll down to the bottom of this page and stream from the embedded player. 

The story starts, as with many in this series, with a dedicated teacher, when Gavin was very, very young.

Links

Magic Garden facebook page

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. But they all have stories.

Published to date in Series 2

1 - Brian Travers of UB40
2 - Ricky Cool
3 - Mark 'Foxy' Robinson of the CBSO
4 - Roy Adams
5 - Gavin Monaghan of Magic Garden studios 
6 - John Mostyn



The Podcast



The intro and outro music in this series comes from the great bass player Mike Hatton, who you can hear interviewed in series 1, here. 'Everything Changes' is included in his excellent 2019 album 'Bassic Salvation'.


Subscribe!

Subscribe to the Podcast through your chosen podcast directory to automatically download each episode to your chosen device. These will then land with you first, before everyone else hears about it.

If you would prefer email updates each time a podcast episode (or blog post) is published, you can subscribe to the mailing list. Head here and scroll down to the signup form.


Friday, 14 February 2020

A Life in Music: Roy Adams

Exactly HOW many bands?


In this edition of Lives in Music, I'm talking with Roy Adams, who is a beast of a drummer - with excellent taste - across a wide variety of styles. 

It's tricky to list all the bands Roy currently plays with. He simply loves to play. You'll find him playing, with a huge smile on his face, in a bar with 50 people watching... or at a mega venue in front an audience of thousands in one of his two major gigs. He's held down the drum chair at Climax Blues Band for 35 years, and he's a fixture on the Roy Wood Christmas yearly extravaganza. For the rest, listen on: you'll know the names of some, if not all. 

For me, it was the combination of two of his 'do it for love' bands, that piqued my attention: The Quiet Men (they are not) and C-Jam, both of whom you will catch in small boozers with hip clientele. Those gigs are done for pure pleasure, for the joy of grooving with fellow musicians who can seriously play. In a way, those bands, and those tiny venues, are the very essence of what I'm aiming to cover in the Lives in Music series.

You can jump to the Podcast site to download and/or stream, or if you like, scroll down to the bottom of this page and stream from the embedded player. 



Links

Climax Blues Band: full Wikipedia history An extensive history at that.
...or catch Roy, this time looking dead serious, in this video clip. Veterans one and all, (apart from the string section)


Roy Wood


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. But they all have stories.




The intro and outro music in this series comes from the great bass player Mike Hatton, who you can hear interviewed in series 1, here. 'Everything Changes' is included in his excellent 2019 album 'Bassic Salvation'. Follow the album link for more :-)


Now published in Series 2

1 - Brian Travers of UB40
2 - Ricky Cool
3 - Mark 'Foxy' Robinson of the CBSO
4 - Roy Adams
5 - Gavin Monaghan of Magic Garden studios 
6 - John Mostyn




Subscribe!

Subscribe to the Podcast through your podcast app to automatically download each episode to your chosen device. These will then land with you first, before everyone else hears about it.

If you subscribe to the Radio To Go/Lives in Music mailing listyou'll get email updates each time a blog post or podcast episode is published.


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Friday, 7 February 2020

A Life In Music: Mark Robinson. 40 years at the CBSO

40 Years at the CBSO, the Fiddle in 'Fiddle and Bone', dangerous flirtations with rock ...


I owe a debt of gratitude to a great Birmingham muso, R. John Webb (aka Ryan Webb, late of Rhino and the Ranters), who, when learning that I wanted to find a Classical muso for this series, suggested I talk to Foxy... a pal of his from Moseley, the proudly boho bit of Brum.  

'Foxy who?' I ask.

'Oh, I don't know his real name. But he's Classical' says Ryan.

'That can cover a lot of things. Which orchestra?' say I.

'Oh, the Rattle one' came the reply.

That started my pursuit. In due course we met up in one of Moseley's nicer coffee joints, and talked for hours. Clearly I was being sized up. But in due course, Foxy - Mark Robinson - who will absolutely not tell me why he has that nickname, agreed to be interviewed. 



So now, a detailed and fascinating conversation...


And the result is this podcast episode. You can jump to my podcast host to stream or download here, or you can head down to the bottom of this post to listen now.  

Very precise detail is what Mark goes for.  We covered an enormous range of topics. But as always in this series, if you put forty or fifty years into your craft, then you have the stories and experience.


The conversation gave me a chance to look at the life of a musician in a BIG outfit. Orchestras can run to 90 or more, so touring a band like that is a bit more than assembling a road crew. The logistics must be a nightmare.


The Prince of Wales


The Prince of Wales in Moseley, Birmingham has played a considerable part in this podcast episode. The Prince is a Moseley musicians' watering hole, with a long history of live music, and in whose snug we captured most of the conversation. 


Mark made mention of a benefit which took place in 2005. This was for the legendary Steve Ajao, whose podcast episode is here. I am indebted to Reed Alan, who filmed the benefit performance, and who has kindly allowed me to embed this video clip here.



Lives in Music

The Lives in Music podcasts 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. But they all have stories. Listen here:




The intro and outro music in this series comes from the great bass player Mike Hatton, who you can hear interviewed in series 1, here. 'Everything Changes' is included in his excellent 2019 album 'Bassic Salvation'. Follow the album link for more :-)


Published to date in Series 2


1 - Brian Travers of UB40
2 - Ricky Cool
3 - Mark 'Foxy' Robinson of the CBSO
4 - Roy Adams
5 - Gavin Monaghan of Magic Garden studios 
6 - John Mostyn




Subscribe!

Subscribe to the Podcast through your podcast app to automatically download each episode to your chosen device. These will then land with you first, before everyone else hears about it.
If you subscribe to the Radio To Go/Lives in Music mailing listyou'll get email updates each time a blog post or podcast episode is published.


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Friday, 31 January 2020

A Life in Music: Ricky Cool

Fifty years with a buzzcut


Ricky Cool is a music veteran... who adores vintage music. He's a walking encyclopedia of US roots music, and he's no slouch about the UK music scene over the past 50 years. 

In this episode, l get schooled about harmonica playing, and we get a fascinating look at what it meant to be in bands struggling to get ahead through the 70s, 80s, 90s, and on into this century. Things are - different - now. 

The latest incarnation of Ricky's band, Ricky Cool and The In Crowd, is a very slick and entertaining operation, which harks back over 50 years to the mid-60s days of ska and organ groove.  Be warned: there's one teeny little bit of louche behaviour described. A swear word. But it's not sweary.  

Links

Ricky Cool's website for history and gig updates



UK Folk (and associated) links

Lives in Music Podcast


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. 

But they all have stories. 

The intro and outro music in this series comes from the great bass player Mike Hatton, who you can hear interviewed in series 1, here. 'Everything Changes' is included in his excellent 2019 album 'Bassic Salvation'. Follow the album link for more :-)

Stream Ricky's podcast here 


Published to date in Series 2

1 - Brian Travers of UB40


Previously published in Series 1

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
10 - Jim Simpson



________________________________________________________________________

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Friday, 24 January 2020

A Life In Music: Brian Travers of UB40

Travers undaunted. That sums it up...


Some 40 plus years back, at the old BRMB, when I was the rock DJ, I booked a session with UB40. It was a custom advance mix of six of the tracks that later saw the light of day on UB40's first album, Signing Off.

It was by far the most successful session I'd ever set up. It was the only session that generated calls from listeners before I'd even played a track.

Coming up to the present date, in the past year, UB40 Sax man and chief Brummie about town, Brian Travers has had to step back from the band for health reasons. These are are covered in the podcast. It's not pretty. However, Brian did reappear on stage with the band at the end of 2019 at their hometown concert. It was a very emotional moment. 


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


But during his period of enforced convalescence, he's thrown himself headfirst into a fresh set of activities. Brian Travers Arts was already established as a second activity. with painting, sculpture and glasswork. At one of his first shows (with Havill and Travis), his glass dildo with Clarice Cliff-inspired embellishments was a standout. I just wish I hadn't been holding it when Brian snapped me...

But there's a lot more. Brian's devoted a ridiculous amount of energy to raise funds for the doctors, medical staff and the medical facilities which pulled him though. The next step might be his own foundation.

When something as drastic as Brian's condition steps up and slaps you across the face, you realise, possibly for the first time, that there's a limited time left for you to do things. Brian has taken this as a personal cue to work on a massive range of projects, while awaiting clearance to get back with the band on a more regular basis. You'll hear about some of this.

But you'll also hear a stream of stories. And Brian is nothing if not a master story-teller. It was a joy to sit down with him and swap anecdotes, talk music... and life. 



Links


UB40
Signing Off
(Spotify)
King Saxophones
Brian Travers Arts
 


See also this UB40 Radio To Go post from 2013 

The Lives in Music podcasts celebrate 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. But they all have stories.

The intro and outro music in this series comes from the great bass player Mike Hatton, who you can hear interviewed in series 1, here. 'Everything Changes' is included in his excellent 2019 album 'Bassic Salvation'. Follow the album link for more :-)

Don't forget to subscribe!


Stream Brian's podcast here





Published to date in Series 2

Also published in Series 1

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
10 - Jim Simpson


________________________________________________________________________

Subscribe!

Subscribe to the Podcast through your podcast app to automatically download each episode to your chosen device. These will then land with you first, before everyone else hears about it.
If you subscribe to the Radio To Go/Lives in Music mailing listyou'll get email updates each time a blog post or podcast episode is published.


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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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Subscribe to the mailing list!


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