Chris Who? Fave Things Recordings
Links The Blyth Power Ashes 2010 Gigs
Reviews Wasted UK 2006
'Keep Smiling Despite It All' Lyrics & Notes
Welcome… The decisions I make artistically don't always make the most sound business sense and I don't always take the easy option... (For example, I’ve turned down a recording contract, turned down the selling of some of my songs, turned down a chance to play a small stage at Glastonbury Festival - and was told "You wont get asked again!", opened my set at a punk rock festival with an accapella folk song and wore a smart suit to perform and then on another occasion I played a more 'folk' concert in a Conflict T shirt, turned down the chance to play a high profile concert in London with the likes of Goldie Looking Chain, Lemar, Billy Bragg and Tony Benn as I’d already been asked to play a non-paid gig with my friends Blyth Power...and there's lots more...) and I wouldn't have done any of it any different...
last blog, I have been able to keep up with my intention to record, upload and
post an unreleased song to my Facebook website (www.facebook.com/chrisbutlermusic)
for each month of 2013. By getting a couple of songs/videos recorded (with the
help of friend Phil Doleman) in Belper, Derbyshire on 01/03/2013 and again on
16/04/2013, it gave me songs to post up until July!…In April I decided to start
my own video channel on the Youtube website also and so you can now access the
videos from my Youtube channel at
The story so far:
January - Two Shit Sundays - A cover of a Steven Cooper & The Charlies song
February - Drink Up (We’ll Have The Same Again)
March - Fitzwilliam - A cover of a Chumbawamba song
April - The Seagull And The Skinhead
May - Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher
In March (07/03/2013 to be precise) I was lucky enough and honoured to have my entire Keep Smiling Despite It All CD played on the Insurgence radio show on WHYS Radio (96.3FM in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA and online at www.whysradio.org) Thanks to Bob (DJ Sean Murphy) for such wonderful support and inclusion.
The first gig to tell you about in this blog happened on 15/03/2013 and was at one of my favourite venues in The Queen’s Head, Belper. It really does feel like home playing there these days! It was my 7th gig playing with the wonderfully inspiring Robb Johnson (one of which was with his full electric band The Irregulars). The talk of the pub was that one of the three ghosts that reputedly live at the pub had made an appearance the night before the gig but sadly didn’t make an appearance at the gig. It was a great evening though and despite having been full of cold during the week of the gig, I enjoyed my ½ hour or so on stage immensely. Of course, I was very much playing second fiddle (or rather acoustic guitar) to Robb and it was a complete pleasure. Robb is a master of storytelling, song writing and performing and I really don’t know how he manages to do so but he seems to get better on every occasion I’ve seen him play live (which is a fair few times now since I first saw Robb play which was as a duo with Pip Collings in Leicester, February 1992!) Robb even had 2 new CD’s to promote and perform from since I’d last gigged with him and that was only in October last year and less than 6 months ago! His prolific song writing does not mean for any less quality either and he played a few songs in Belper from the 2 new releases including Bring Down The Moon, On The Road From Babylon, Welcome To Mugsborough, The Rotweiler Man, Alice Annie Wheeldon (which Robb wrote especially for our Derby gig in October 2012), Franz Has Got A Plan, Different For Al and Downhearted from Bring Down The Moon CD and West Pier Serenade and Cauliflower Curry from West Pier Serenade CD as well as some Robb favourites such as Magdeburg These Days, When Tottenham Burned, Stand Clear, Rupert Says, Goodnight Jerusalem and The Cream Of The Nation during his two 45 minute sets. For my own set, I included one of my newer songs again in The Seagull And The Skinhead and my full set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, The Biggest Party Of Our Lives, Fitzwilliam, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Underground Overbite, The Uncollected and Celebrity Bus Crash (which featured new passengers in ex Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne and his ex-wife who had each been sentenced to a short prison term that week over an earlier incident of lying about a speeding ticket some ten years ago. Huhne had repeatedly claimed he was innocent and that his wife was driving the car at the time though he wasn’t innocent and hopefully the British public will not give him the time of day ever again never mind have him representing them in parliament and so was a popular choice for the bus!). It was nice to start the evening off with some lovely news and mentions before launching into a set of anti Tory ranting (!) by congratulating the pub’s landlord Simon and Diane on the new arrival of their baby girl who arrived just a couple of days earlier (and so I was told, was the reason for the ghostly sighting as apparently the ghost doesn’t like change: And a new baby at the pub is a major change. Me? I thought it was an excuse used so as not to do any decorating in the pub!) and also wish my good friend Gary (who was at the gig) a happy birthday on the night. Thanks to all who turned out (32 of you) on a cold and wet evening to make up a lovely audience, thanks to Robb for a great night shared, to Mike for great organisation, Simon for great PA and lighting duties, Dick - the owner of The Queen’s Head, all those who took an interest and bought CD’s and to Mat, Gary, Keith & Chrissie, Ben & Ruth and Gareth amongst others for fabulous support and encouragement.
I had a night off to see how professional musicians do it properly on 23/03/2013! After a very long shift in my day job (27½ hours!), I made the effort in deep snow and bad weather to see Stiff Little Fingers, The Men They Couldn’t Hang and Ed Tudor Pole. Well, you would with such a good line-up. It was at Nottingham’s Rock City venue which I had been to many times over the years but not often in more recent times. Ed played first and was excellent. His usual entertaining and humorous antics in between some great songs and coupled together with a brilliant performance and him a great showman. Three Bells In A Row, Who Killed Bambi, Swords Of A Thousand Men and He’s Got A Moustache were some of the songs Ed played to the welcoming audience. It was only the second time I’d seen Ed (after my support slot with him in June 2012 in Derby) and I’d shared a billing with him on the Bizarre Bazaar stage at the Rebellion Festival, Blackpool in 2008 too. The Men They Couldn’t Hang were up next and were simply superb. I’d only seen them once previously also and that was at the same venue but back in December 1993! They were playing with their off-shoot band Liberty Cage as support as I recall. They’re responsible for one of my favourite ever songs (Shirt Of Blue) so why on earth I haven’t seen them live more often I really don’t know. They played a fine set of songs starting with The Ghosts Of Cable Street and went on to perform Going Back To Coventry, Ironmasters, Green Fields Of France, Rosettes and of course Shirt Of Blue amongst others. Headlining the excellent triple bill was Stiff Little Fingers whom I’d seen just twice previously. At the same venue in March 1995 and later at Nottingham’s Wollaton Park (the festival was called City In The Park) in July 1998 along with the Saw Doctors, Squeeze, Nick Harper, The Popes and Mary Black… They were very enjoyable too with a set which again featured many songs I remember well such as Suspect Device, Wasted Life, Alternative Ulster, Straw Dogs, At The Edge, Tin Soldiers, Doesn’t Make It Alright, Strummerville and a cover of The Ruts’ Staring At The Rude Boys. It was an excellent night featuring three acts who can certainly show some younger acts a thing or two still…
evening was spent at The Queen's Head, Belper and again watching rather than
performing when on 13/04/2013 I had chance to see the wonderful folk singer Pete
Morton live at the venue. I hadn't seen Pete live since an appearance in Derby
in January 1995! And had only seen him once prior to that gig playing support to
Dick Gaughan in Worksop in June 1994! Pete doesn't seem to have aged at all and
he was just as good as I remembered him with some wonderful songs played
including Another Train, The Journeyman, When We Sing Together and Sock On The
Line. Also playing was local singer Ruth Bellamy who ably supported Pete at this
The next gig I went to as an audience member was to see Richard Digance in the Darwin Suite of Derby’s Assembly Rooms on 27/04/2013. I’d seen him live once before as part of the Skegness Butlins Great British Folk Festival in 2011 and so enjoyable was he on that occasion that we made an effort to see him when he played his own gig more local to us. Again, he was very entertaining with a lovely balance between great songs and good humour. Friends Are Forever, What’s The Use, Sod’s Law and Shirley were songs featured amongst many anecdotes, stories, poems and gags as well as the great humorous song I’ve Won The Lottery about telling your boss where to stick his job once your numbers have come up (not that they ever will of course). A really enjoyable night despite the fact I was feeling quite ill at the time. I’d bashed my head a few days earlier and was still suffering from headaches and nausea! The morning after the concert I did end up visiting a local hospital and getting checked out more fully after 3½ days of feeling that way…
I was treated to a master class in performing on 11/05/2013 when I saw the excellent Bob Fox at Derby's Guildhall Theatre. It was just the third time I've seen Bob live and his reputation and status has had something of a well deserved revival in the last year or so due to his acclaimed role in the London West End's theatre production of Warhorse. But it was back to singing and playing his guitar on this occasion and he'd lost none of his folk singing and performing skills in the intimate surrounds of Derby's lovely little theatre. Supported by a young and nervous Chesterfield based teenager called Abbie Rechert who performed 4 songs to welcome the audience, the young singer showed signs of a great voice for folk singing in the future once her repertoire and stage presence develops. More singing in local pubs and clubs should do that I would expect and so then it was onto Bob who during his two sets played many songs from his vast repertoire. More often than not, the songs were requests from the audience as Bob entertained with his own renditions of such songs as Greek Lightning, Big River, Champion At Keeping Them Rolling, The Whitby Tailor, Sally Wheatley, The Song Of The Iron Road, Water Of Tyne, The Rambling Rover, The Galway Shawl, Taking On Men, The Shores Of Old Blighty and From Clare To Here. A really wonderful night with an exceptional singer.
Going back to my own performances, on 29/03/2013 which just happened to be the Easter weekend/Bank Holiday it was my own next gig. For my 59th performance in Derby and my 2nd at The Hairy Dog venue on a very cold night (both inside and outside the venue!), I plied my songs of love, revolution, of being a Grandpa, celebrities in bus crashes and of seagulls attacking skinheads (the usual subjects then) amongst other things before Pog and Blyth Power playing acoustically showed me how sleek performances should be done. With a sound system that wouldn't be out of place on the main stage at Glastonbury, I’m sure the whole of Beckett Street heard my concerns that Lady Thatcher may just live for ever... It was sadly a small crowd of 15 on the night (Good Friday, really cold weather and Derby County playing an evening game at home all didn’t help) but it was a very good night… And after watching Blyth Power live for well over 20 years and having first supported them in 1992, they made an old folk singer very happy by letting me play guitar for them on their song Endgame (which happens to be one of my faves). It's no wonder they declared it a Good Friday! My full set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, The Seagull And The Skinhead, The Biggest Party Of Our Lives, The Uncollected, Fitzwilliam, Underground Overbite and Celebrity Bus Crash. Pog followed and were very entertaining with songs from their latest CD before Blyth Power played acoustically as a duo of Joseph (on acoustic guitar and vocals) and Annie (on keyboards and vocals) performing songs both old and new including After The Horse Has Bolted and Bacchus On The Wagon amongst others - including some unreleased! It was my 16th time of appearing with Blyth Power as well as the 11 gigs with Joseph Porter solo (and some 6 times when he was playing as a duo with Steven Cooper as Red Wedding and 1 with the Mad Dogs And Englishmen trio!) And I’ve performed at 10 of their 11 Blyth Power Ashes weekend festivals! It was my 5th time of sharing a bill with Pog after playing the same day on 4 occasions previously at those Blyth Power Ashes weekends too. Thank you to all involved and not least Anthony, Phil, Jay on the PA, Paul of The Hairy Dog, Mat, Mike, Jerry & Gunseli, Sam, Ed, Pog, Aston, Belper News and of course Blyth Power - for everything...
At the end of March, I'd been a driver for 11 years and this last year saw my most mileage driven in any one year of 9,394 miles (though I will have driven more actually as I use a work vehicle in my day job sometimes too!) It means little to anyone and not that much to me really but it's something I do find interesting as I'm not that big a fan of driving. It's purely for convenience and a quicker way of getting from A to B, of getting things done and of me getting out and about to places I might not otherwise get to such as this last year I visited Mundesley, Cromer and Sheringham in Norfolk for the first time, Fleetwood in Lancashire while playing at the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool in 2011 and Farcet Fen near Peterborough when playing The Blyth Power Ashes festival...
On 08/04/2013, Margaret Thatcher died aged 87. The ex-Conservative Prime Minister had served three terms in office between 1979 and 1990 and so despite her last 23 years being of little importance or relevance to us, she provoked much response by those who remember what she did or by those who have taken an interest in history or politics since… and so there were celebrations! It's not so much that some of us celebrated the death of an old and senile lady but more that we raised a glass to all of us who had fought against her government and its policies. I hoped all those who still suffer in poverty, those communities destroyed over the last 30 years and those we consider to be the most vulnerable in our society who are without adequate care and support had a smile also on the night she died. So many of my songs in the past had spoken out against her and her government. I’d sang about the day she would die often as a metaphor for her policies and the effects she had on working class people and so that put some of my songs to bed. One or two re-written also but I actually found it quite liberating to leave some of my songs behind. After all, there are so many targets and so little time…
I had the honour
of having my song The Biggest Party Of Our Lives played on Manchester based
ALLFM Radio’s Under The Pavement show as part of their ‘Thatcher Special’
programme on 11/04/2013. Many thanks to them for the inclusion. I trust the
programme was a fitting ‘tribute’…
The next gig by myself was again at The Queen’s Head, Belper on 20/04/2013. It was my 59th performance in the town (including a lot of recording work) and I've lost count of how many appearances I’ve made at The Queen’s Head venue (only joking, I haven't really lost count of course, I’m a geek - it's 35!) and it was a lovely evening sharing some acoustic music with a nice audience along with Phil Doleman & Ian Emmerson. While it was my first appearance alongside the duo of Phil and Ian, it was actually my 10th as they previously went out as a ukulele covers duo called The Re-entrants. I’d also notched up 20 performances with Phil Doleman solo both by playing gigs and recording with him. It had been a while since our paths had crossed though with our last gigs together being at the same venue back in April 2011. It was an enjoyable evening and a chance to play some of my newer songs and include a very new song written just a few days earlier (and already recorded for Facebook/Youtube that week despite not actually knowing the words yet) called Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher. I also tried my hand at using a prop (of a hat) for my song The World According To Bono. Phil and Ian then followed my set by showing an audience what else you can do with acoustic instruments given more time, effort and ability! Many thanks to Simon for the lovely sound, Mike for the organisation, Phil, Ian, Dick of The Queen’s Head, Jonathan and Marilyn, Gaz, Ukulele Kris and his Dad/family/friends and anyone else (an audience of 28 I believe) who turned out, took an interest and for the lovely support. Thanks also to Ed for the lovely review which featured in the Belper News. My full set was Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Fitzwilliam, The Uncollected, The World According To Bono and Celebrity Bus Crash.
Now, you maybe wouldn't expect much of a response from me on hearing about the death of thrash metal band Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman at the beginning of May. After all, I grew up listening to politically aware punk music and later became a folk singer whilst still embracing punk ideals... So, while I’m no expert on the band or their music, the guitarist and the band themselves did remind me of a couple of things from many years ago. Firstly, I have seen Slayer live. I've seen many bands you perhaps wouldn't associate with the music I play and plenty more just as far removed (if not more so) than the thrash metal genre. Music festivals are a great place to see genres, styles and acts you wouldn't normally and Slayer were no exception when in 1995 I was lured by some good friends with the promise of outdoor music and beer. The Monsters Of Rock all day concert at Castle Donington was easy to get to from where I lived, was an enjoyable day out with friends and where I saw Slayer (as well as Metallica, Therapy?, Skid Row, Slash's Snakepit, Warrior Soul, White Zombie, Machine Head and Corrosion Of Conformity). It was one of those rare occasions when I could go into work on the following Monday, tell them who I’d been to see a couple of days earlier and not get the response "Who? Never heard of 'em!" due to Slash from Guns 'n' Roses being a well known name. Metallica were still very much a huge band to Kerrang readers (it was just a magazine then, not a radio station) rather than popular music fans and were not at this point being blasted out by the US government to torture terrorist suspects! All the acts though were big in heavy metal and rock circuits and there was a distinct punk crossover with such acts as Therapy?, Machine Head and Corrosion Of Conformity etc... Attending the event didn't turn me into an out and out metal head though as the next few bands I went to see after the Monsters Of Rock festival that year were Afterhours (Irish traditional folk), Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick, Dick Gaughan and Robb Johnson... My other recollection of Slayer goes back even further to 1987 when as part of my school music exams, I had to record various pieces of music on the guitar. On an old tape to tape recorder, I recorded compositions asked of me including The Beatles, my own compositions, classical music pieces and some chosen by myself (Crass and Conflict!) Also, as part of playing a varied section of styles, I played songs by both Metallica and Slayer from their very early albums. The diversity of styles played got me my music exam qualifications and then I forgot all that to become a folk singer!... To sum up, I think there are a lot of heavy metal fans out there whose lives will be a bit less noisy without Slayer...
My last performance to tell you about in this blog was on 17/05/2013 as part of a two day event in South Wingfield, Derbyshire at the South Wingfield Social Club. So I can now declare the festival season open with this, my first of the summer. It was my first visit to South Wingfield and called Austerity Fest 2013 and I played during the early evening on the opening night on the Friday. The event was organised by space rock band Dr Hasbeen and their singer/guitarist Martyn and I was delighted to have been asked and to have been involved in the event - It was very different to most things I am asked to be part of (this was a more rock sounding event, not so much acoustic or folk music related and the emphasis was on space rock at that) and the headliners of the weekend was The Psychedelic Warlords, a band featuring ex Hawkwind bass player Alan Davey whose current live set was performing Hawkwind’s legendary live double album from 1972, Space Ritual. Released in 1973, it marks the album’s 40th anniversary this year and The Psychedelic Warlords have been performing it with precise effort to adhere to all the original sounds, effects and noises…. It sounded like something worth a look to me…. I’d had quite a stressful day on the Friday with a tuning peg on my guitar breaking and an initial panic of what I was going to do without my partner in crime… After much messing about and no real success, I had Phil Doleman to thank for helping fix my guitar and making it possible for me to play Austerity Fest 2013. So, a big thank you to Phil - who was also gigging himself that night in Derbyshire with his duo Phil Doleman & Ian Emmerson at the Bearded Theory Festival so it‘s particularly nice that he found time to help. With my guitar sorted, I made my way to the lovely venue in South Wingfield and met some of the people involved. I was the first act on the Friday evening and after such stress and rushing about, I was now able to relax a bit and play my set. If truth be known, I probably didn’t really relax until later in the evening as I’d got into a real panic during the early afternoon with the thought of not having a guitar to perform with. I’ve got a couple of spare guitars in some form or other but nothing that was of performance standard. And anyway, you can’t beat your own regular instrument which you’ve become accustomed to and which feels just right to play. So, there I was kicking off Austerity Fest 2013 and it was a really lovely experience. The audience (all through the weekend) were friendly, gave me a great reception and made me feel really welcome. It was a pleasure and a honour to be a small part of their weekend. After my set was Crucified Twins, Chris D & The Broken Machine, Whimwise and rounding off the night - Earthling Society. I played Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher for just the second time to an audience and played Steven Cooper’s Two Shit Sundays for the first time to an audience since recording it as part of my monthly video postings. My full set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Fitzwilliam, The World According To Bono, Underground Overbite, Phone In Well, The Uncollected, Celebrity Bus Crash and Two Shit Sundays… I was back at the festival on the Saturday to enjoy some of the music again and caught most of the bands: Deviant Amps, Spirits Of The Earth (with a great 5 string bass player and singer), One Eyed God (whose space rock also mixed together reggae, dub, ska and even jazz at times), Dr Hasbeen (a highlight of the weekend for me; space rock in the style of Hawkwind with some catchy songs and some visual touches such as masks) and headliners Psychedelic Warlords. They were excellent. I first saw bass player Alan Davey in 1986 when playing for Hawkwind and wouldn‘t have dreamt back then as a 16 year old that I‘d be one day sharing a festival billing with him! I eventually saw Hawkwind 7 times during the 1980’s and early 1990’s and he was the bass player on every occasion. It was a great time to see Hawkwind - They were a great live band, had a good line-up and it was a time when they were playing a lot with some of the punk bands/underground bands of the free festival circuit. I saw them in Derby and Sheffield in 1986 (with The Babysitters), In Leicester and Nottingham in 1988 (with Tubilah Dog and Radical Dance Faction respectively), In Nottingham in 1989 (with 2000 DS), In Nottingham in 1990 (with Hippy Slags) and the last time in Leicester in 1992 (with Krel). Alan Davey had also played on some of my favourite Hawkwind output such as The Chronicle Of The Black Sword, Live Chronicles and Xenon Codex albums. I was captivated to see the man at such close proximity playing his famous Rickenbacker bass and he (like the rest of the band) was brilliant. He even broke a string at one point and re-strung for more great bass work to be done. My one regret of the whole weekend was that I was still in awe of him enough that I didn’t feel able to walk up and say hello to him despite sharing the same festival billing! The Psychedelic Warlords did play the Space Ritual live album and it sounded great, complete with burlesque dancer and psychedelic lightshow - it could have been 1972 again (not that I remember Hawkwind from that time!)… If you like Hawkwind, space rock or rock music, look out for them playing this show in a town near you. Many thanks to Martyn of Dr Hasbeen for taking a chance in having me along at this diverse and lovely weekend. Thanks also to Snake and Dave for excellent PA sound and stage management. They both gave great help, guidance and encouragement. Thanks to another Dave for the videoing and to Kosmik Ken too. Also thanks to all who took an interest, the new friends I made and to some local newspapers such as Matlock Mercury. Turn on, tune in and drop… in!
Britain (and more precisely, Woolwich in South London) saw a brutal murder of a soldier near to a military barracks by apparently a couple of Muslim extremists. The media latched on to the terrorist angle, Prime Minister David Cameron flew back to Britain for an emergency meeting and social networking websites and local mosques were subject to vile abuse and misinformation courtesy of such clowns as the BNP, EDL and their supporters. ‘I’m not racist but…’ started a lot of comments on Facebook website before launching into a racist comment!… It was awful to think of such a brutal murder on our streets in broad daylight and our thoughts immediately turned to our own situations, day to day activities and those we’d wish to keep from harm but it is as important as ever that we do not let those who would hijack this murder to spout their own racist and fascist views. “This is our country” they spout but they are wrong. It’s the rich that own this country and most of us have more to fear from David Cameron and his Tory toffs than we ever do from any Muslim cleric…
Enjoy the Summer and see you sometime somewhere,
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Blyth Power Ashes 2010
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