Chris Who? Fave Things Recordings
Links The Blyth Power Ashes 2010 Gigs
Reviews Wasted UK 2006
'Keep Smiling Despite It All' Lyrics & Notes
Welcome to a new blog and the last one of 2013...
Since the last communication, I have been able to keep up with my intention to
record, upload and post an unreleased song to my Facebook website
and Youtube channel
for each month of 2013. By getting more songs/videos recorded whenever the
chance has arisen, it has given me more recordings to keep the idea on track and
the full year‘s worth shaped up like this…
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
June - The Worst Teeth In Showbiz!
July - Hey Ellie!
August - Lots Of Love, Chris
September - Goodnight And Good Luck
October - Let’s Misbehave!
November - Apathy
December - Song On The Present Times
September saw 3 gigs in a week for me (and one the following week too!) which I have to admit is almost bordering on ‘touring’ as far as I’m concerned! I can’t say that I’ve always gone for quality rather than quantity but it’s true to say that I’m not out playing gigs every night. And this is for many reasons ranging from the practical (I have other things to do! A day job and other commitments which don’t involve playing a guitar!), reasons such as me wanting to keep things interesting both for myself and any audiences that see me live (most gigs feature new songs and topical/social comment lyricist that I sometimes am, I’m constantly writing and working on new material) to the very simple knowledge I have that me playing a few songs wont in itself create a better world. It helps, somehow, hopefully (sharing ideas? creating debate? voicing opinions? raising money for important causes? raising awareness about important issues? rallying the troops? helping change opinions? and hopefully entertaining even?) but I’m under no illusions that playing my songs every night of the week will not create a better world! So, as an activist, when I’m not playing the guitar - Rest assured I am indeed in my own way still trying to create a more peaceful and equal world…Anyway, all that was to explain how my first gig of doing 3 gigs in a week happened to be my 200th performance (including recording work) and it’s taken a while considering that my first performance was in 1990!… All three appearances were in Derbyshire and the first came on 11/09/2013 in Derby at The Hairy Dog venue. The line-up featured Patrik Fitzgerald, myself, Dwane Reads and Paul Warning. It was a small audience (a wet Wednesday night (though not as wet as the gents toilet floor!) or a night of acoustic music in a usually rock/punk/metal venue possibly didn‘t help?) but still an enjoyable night due to the fellow performers appearing. Paul performed first to get the evening off to a start with his acoustic guitar and for him it was somewhat of a departure due to his usual stage act being bass player of punk band Verbal Warning. Paul played a mixture of Verbal Warning songs and songs by a diverse range of artists such as The Levellers, The Clash, Billy Bragg and The Adverts. This worked well for a nice and varied set. Dwane was up next. He seems to have developed into a very confident and competent performance poet in a relatively short space of time. His enthusiasm and energy is lovely to see and be a part of. My 30 minute set followed and was enjoyable to play as ever. I find 30 minutes just isn’t enough for me sometimes these days! Purely down to my chat between songs and explanations of songs which can lead me to ramble for a few minutes. I know I have a tendency to hurry my songs when playing shorter sets in order to play more songs and this makes it all sound a little rushed (in my opinion). It was still great fun though and whether I get 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I use that time to share my songs and always enjoy doing so. Thanks to those that did turn out and support the night (around 10 paying audience members), to John and Pam for great support, to Paul, Phil and Anthony at The Hairy Dog and to Jay and colleagues for the lovely PA sound also. My full set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Fitzwilliam, Lucky Escapes, The Uncollected and The World According To Bono. The wonderful Patrik Fitzgerald was up next and rounded off the evening with a fine set. Patrik has achieved ‘legendary’ status in recent years after acquiring the ‘original acoustic punk’ tag to his name and I found him to be a lovely guy to meet and chat with. In the late 1970’s, Patrik could be found playing alongside The Jam and The Clash amongst many others and at such events as Anti Nazi League festivals with just his acoustic guitar. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy as a solo and acoustic act to perform before some of those audiences at that time. In more recent years I believe Patrik spent some time living in New Zealand before retuning to the UK where he is playing regular again. I’d seen him live just once previously in 2006 at the Wasted Festival, Blackpool so it was a treat for me to see him live again. The first part of his set featured some of his more recent work from his latest CD and was sung to a musical backing provided by his laptop computer. Patrik then picked up the acoustic guitar and treated the audience to an acoustic set featuring brand new songs amongst older songs like All My Friends Are Dead, Dance Music Late Night, Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart and Gifts And Telegrams. If you have an opportunity to see Patrik live, then I do recommend you do so.
Next up was just two days later at my regular haunt of The Queen’s Head in Belper on 13/09/2013 and on this occasion I was playing support to Robb Johnson which is always a pleasure and an inspiration. With heavy rain on the night, it could have been a contributory factor to it not being a capacity crowd but hey, let’s not make excuses. It was a better sized crowd than The Hairy Dog gig a couple of nights earlier (an audience of around 17) and at the end of the day, any crowd is better than no crowd. We made a lovely night of it as we always do at this fabulous venue and I played first to the friendly audience and my set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Fitzwilliam, Lucky Escapes and Celebrity Bus Crash. Many thanks to all who had a listen to my songs, to Gaz, to Ben and to Mike, Dick and Simon at the venue for their hard work and organisation - not to mention Simon’s faultless PA duties and what must have been a record time for the setting up and sound checking of PA and lighting equipment! Robb Johnson followed my set with a fabulous set of songs of his own. As we’ve come to expect from Robb, he was on top form and left the audience wanting more.
The following day found me linking up with Robb Johnson again as part of the day long event ‘Festival For Peace And Justice’ being held at The Guildhall Theatre, Derby on 14/09/2013. The Guildhall Theatre is a lovely venue in the city and although I was only playing in the foyer! (and my first time of playing the venue). It was a honour to play as the festival was taking over the whole building during the day and I’ve visited the venue many times in the past and have seen a wealth of acoustic and folk acts there including Dick Gaughan, John Renbourn, Roy Bailey, Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick, Davey Arthur and Co, Issac Guillory, John Kirkpatrick and earlier this year, Bob Fox. This 3rd gig of the week by me was by far the most enjoyable performance of the week and for a variety of reasons. The main reason being the amount of inspiration, support, enthusiasm and connection made with like minded souls. It was a truly inspiring day with exhibitions, speakers, stalls and literature regarding all things related to the peace movement and anti war activity - especially during World War 1. This tied in with a key theme to the event being the story of Alice Wheeldon. Alice was a woman from Derby, born in 1866 and being a very principled lady she was an anti war campaigner and believed in the right to vote for ALL women. Alice and her family were also members of the Women’s Peace Army and the No Conscription Fellowship. Having helped conscientious objectors, Alice and her family became known to MI5 (so called intelligence) who were increasingly worried about anti war activity. With agents fabricating a story that the Wheeldon family were plotting to kill the then Prime Minister (Lloyd George), The Wheeldon and Mason families were convicted in 1917 of conspiracy to murder and were tried at the Old Bailey crown court in London. They were found guilty. This had a devastating effect on Alice and her family. One that with the ill health suffered while in prison, she died an early death in 1919 and at the time her own doctor refused to visit her (ostracised due to the violent crime she’d been charged with) and she had to be buried without a gravestone for fear of attacks from vandals… In recent times, some of her family have been campaigning for an official review of the case as a miscarriage of justice and Derby Civic Society this year put a Blue Plaque of honour at the house and shop where she had lived in Derby to celebrate possibly the city‘s most important woman in history. Me? I think we should remember Alice because this working class woman was such an inspiration as an anti war activist, socialist, suffragette and helper of conscientious objectors. And more importantly, how terrible it was that this great woman and her family had gone unnoticed, airbrushed from history because she hadn’t towed the line and because the state had dealt with her in a criminal way to quieten her and put a stop to what the state disagreed with. More info about Alice, her family and the campaigning being done by her family can be found at www.alicewheeldon.org and www.derbypeopleshistory.co.uk … Oh, and there was music at the event too! With folk music legend (as well as being brother of US folk singer Pete Seeger and husband of the late Ewan McColl) Peggy Seeger topping the bill during an evening concert, choir Rosa’s Lovely Daughters in support and earlier in the day music from Robb Johnson, myself and Karl Marx And The Marx Brothers. I arrived at The Guildhall Theatre opposite the city’s Assembly Rooms where Derby punk band Anti Pasti were due to play later that evening and said hello to their singer Martin Roper and hoped his gig would also go well later. I had a look around the stalls and met a few people before watching Karl Marx And The Marx Brothers entertain with a fine set of melodic acoustic songs before I performed my set which was really enjoyable to play. With some great encouragement and feedback afterwards my full set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Fitzwilliam, The Uncollected and Lucky Escapes. Thanks to everyone involved, to all the organisers, especially to Keith and Chrissy, to Eleanor for great sound/PA assistance and to everyone who came up to chat afterwards and/or came into The Guildhall Theatre to listen including some good friends Mike, Jonathan and Marilyn. It was also a honour to meet some of Alice Wheeldon’s relatives and I wish them well with their campaign. Robb Johnson then followed my set (for the 11th time of sharing a gig with him including a performance with his full band the Irregulars and his part of The Bandana Collective) and was just brilliant. The highlight being his song Alice Annie Wheeldon which in that setting was quite an emotional moment for everyone present. An impromptu version of Robb’s song Rosa’s Lovely Daughters performed by the choir of the same name followed Robb’s set with some additional backing vocals from Robb gave a taster of what the choir would bring to the event later though after a few goodbyes and well wishes I left the event to head home.
After three gigs in one week, I next played two gigs in one night which all adds to my most prolific year of performing. I’ve played more gigs in a week, a month and a year during 2013 than any week, month or year previously. On 20/09/2013 I performed twice in Derby and the first of the evening was a return for me to The Hairy Dog (for my 4th time) with a great line-up which started with solo acoustic singer Lauren before a couple of poems by the performance poet whose become a good friend, Dwane Reads. Then I performed my first set of the evening which was enjoyable but I could slowly hear my guitar drifting out of tune during my set of just under 30 minutes. The room warming up as the audience arrived and my guitar coming straight out of its case to perform with was the most likely reason with the change in temperature affecting the strings. Thanks to those who did have a listen and to those who turned out. Special thanks to Phil, Paul, Anthony and Jay at The Hairy Dog and to Mike and Neil amongst others for some kind support. After my set was Addictive Philosophy who I only saw briefly because I had to head off to my next performance! Addictive Philosophy were sounding good though and it’s a real shame that I couldn’t stay to watch them, The Astronauts who were following them and Zounds who were headlining the night. It was great to see Addictive Philosophy people again too as I’ve shared a bill with them on 3 occasions and found them to be really nice people when chatting with some of them and they‘re a very hard working band also. They’d actually won a competition with a magazine and their prize was 500 pounds behind the bar at one of their gigs and this was the gig they’d chosen. It was just my luck - a free bar and me driving! Oh, well… It was nice to catch up with Mark and Joe from The Astronauts too. It was my 3rd gig playing with them (as well as 4 performances with Mark Astronaut appearing as duos or trios when he didn’t have a regular full band line-up together). It was also my 2nd gig with Zounds as well as 2 appearances sharing a bill with Steve Lake playing solo or with some acoustic musical backing. But I digress. My full set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, The Seagull And The Skinhead and Lucky Escapes. Lucky Escapes being played as a request for someone who’d seen me play at The Hairy Dog the previous week and had kindly requested the song…. My next performance was over at the Derby City Council House! Playing outside on Corporation Street without amplification or advertising (of my appearance), it was part of a protest against the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’ and a homelessness protest. People were spending the night from 7pm until 9am the following morning in sleeping bags and cardboard boxes on the steps of the city’s Council House building and when I was asked about a possible appearance, I jumped at the chance to stop by, play a few songs and lend some support. It was a pleasure to do so and felt more in tune with what I feel I should be doing with my songs sometimes. I also roped in Dwane Reads who gladly gave his time to come over and on a Friday evening to perform his poetry in support of the protest. Also, our creativity inspired a young man present called Sam (who said he performed under the name MC Somatic) to read a couple of his raps out aloud also. The Bedroom Tax where people are to lose some of their housing benefit if they have a ‘spare’ bedroom in their property which isn’t occupied has led to people becoming in arrears with their rent and ultimately either forcing people to move (to where? Somewhere they don’t want to move to most likely) or become homeless. It was a pleasure to play a small role in their night on the streets and much as I’d like to have seen the rest of the gig at The Hairy Dog, I’d have felt guilty had I not made an effort to support them when I was in Derby myself anyway. Thanks to Dwane and Sam for sharing our performance. I played 3 songs for them: Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, Fitzwilliam and for the first time ever to an audience; Goodnight And Good Luck. Thanks to Keith (one of the organisers of the Festival For Peace And Justice at Derby The Guildhall Theatre the week previously) who asked me if I could spare some time to attend the protest and everyone who was taking part and made us so welcome which included Abbe, Mike and Labour MP Chris Williamson. Who says us anarchists can‘t be flexible who we work along side of?! He seems an ok guy and especially with being very prominent with anti hunting campaigns, he’s an ex hunt saboteur and pretty high-up in the League Against Cruel Sports still today I believe…
The next couple of days saw a hectic weekend of me returning to Derby on the Saturday to enjoy a pub crawl around some of the city’s real ale pubs as part of a friend’s 50th birthday celebrations and the following day was my own birthday and I celebrated with my wife and grand daughter at the Derbyshire based Peak Rail preserved railway. Not only seeing steam trains and diesels (such as Class 37, class 50 and a wealth of shunters) but some providing haulages too. Class 03, 06 and 09 shunters providing brake-van rides up to the preserved shunter sheds in order for us to venture around the sheds and Class 31, Class 44 and steam train ‘Lord Phil’ running passenger services between the stations Rowsley and Matlock. It was a great day out with such hot weather for the time of year. My wife and I took a few days from our day jobs to enjoy some time together also and so amongst the obligatory decorating and fixing things at home while having the time, we were out venturing to some of the lovely areas of Derbyshire not far from where we live including Crich war memorial with it’s lovely views of Derbyshire (and other counties!) from the top of the monument, Carsington Water and Monsal Head. We walked the Monsal trail following the old railway lines and walking through the tunnels where the old steam trains had ran until the 1960’s…Another day out walking in Derbyshire (on 15/10/2013) saw some wonderful sights and reminded me of both the beautiful world that we live in and the treasures on our doorstep as well as why this world and what’s in it is worth fighting for. Birds such as Mistle Thrushes, Grey Heron, Robins, Magpies and Starlings. Common Blue Damselflies, Scarlet Darter Dragonfly and Speckled Wood Butterfly flew in the warm (for the time of year) October sunshine. I picked up a Toad and a Grasshopper, found a Walnut Tree, Horse Chestnut (Conker) Trees and ate Damsons straight from the tree. We also walked through fields with Horses, Cows, a Pony, a Goat and Sheep and saw Pigs in an enclosure. Not to mention some fabulous views of Derbyshire from the hills. What a variation of such beauty and nature we saw!… and the week culminated on the Sunday (29/09/2013) with me going to watch a few bands live at The Hairy Dog, Derby. There’d been some bands playing earlier in the day but I was able to catch the last three in Captain Hotknives, Wonk Unit and headlining was Dirty Revolution. It was the first time I’d seen both Wonk Unit (though had played a gig with the band’s singer Alex Johnson when he performed under the name The Mighty Cougar and as part of a band called Five Shitty Fingers with Duncan Redmonds from Snuff) and Dirty Revolution and both we’re entertaining in their own way!… Another gig I attended was on 11/10/2013 at Derby’s The Victoria Inn to see the always excellent Mark Chadwick of The Levellers. And Mark didn’t disappoint with a fantastic set including the back catalogue of The Levellers mixed with his solo album and even some newer unreleased songs and included Maid Of The River, Carry Me, One Way, Fifteen Years, The Boatman, Just The One, Julie, Dog Train, Beautiful Day, and Truth Is amongst others. In a sold out venue (capacity audience of 150), we had a great night in the hot and packed back room of The Victoria Inn… Another great night and great gig came in the form of me going to see Billy Bragg at the Derby Assembly Rooms on 19/11/2013. I’d only seen Billy play 3 times previously but over a considerable period of time starting in 1988 at the same venue with Michelle Shocked and The Beatnigs in support. I then saw him at Nottingham’s Rock City in 1991 with Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians in support and then a few years after that at the 1998 Fleadh Festival in London’s Finsbury Park. And so a few years later again, I get to see the man (with a young 4 piece band accompanying him on some songs) perform live and this time with a young Australian guy called Kim Churchill in support. And Billy was still great as I’d expected. With a wealth of fantastic songs to perform from his back catalogue and some more recent works since I last saw him play live, his Americana sound was really entertaining and despite Billy being full of cold, his songs and stories flowed during his set which lasted over 2 hours including the latest Tooth & Nail CD: No One Knows Nothing Anymore, Handyman Blues, I Aint Got No Home, Goodbye Goodbye, There Will Be A Reckoning, Chasing Rainbows and Tomorrow's Going To Be A Better Day as well as older songs and he started his set with Ideology before including other songs such as A New England, Levi Stubb's Tears, There Is Power In A Union, She's Got A New Spell, You Woke Up My Neighbourhood, Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards, All You Fascists Bound To Lose, Between The Wars, Sexuality and Tank Park Salute. An excellent night’s entertainment.
The next gig for me performing was a little bit different from the usual. It was a different venue for starters in The Dog And Partridge and a different town (or in this case village!) in Marchington, Staffordshire and rather than it being a gig where I support one or more bands and play a few songs to warm up the audience - on this occasion it was just me. On me own. With no support act. Which far from being daunting and scary was fantastic! The chance for me to play longer (and in this case I played 2 x 45 minute sets) is really lovely and means I can play lots of songs ranging from early CD release songs to songs that I rarely play due to them not always fitting into the live set to playing brand new songs that have been elbowing their way into more recent live performances this year. It also makes me less rushed and able to chat about the songs more rather than knowing I've got say, 30 minutes to play and trying to play as many songs in the time slot allowed. So, on 06/10/2013 I made my debut in the lovely village of Marchington as part of The Dog And Partridge's Sunday music club. It was an early evening performance with my first set starting at 5.30pm and so after people had eaten their Sunday lunches, enjoyed a relaxed afternoon in this charming pub or called in purely to listen to the music on a Sunday, I gave the audience a crash course in what I do... Fair play to the audience for the warm welcome and for giving me a fair hearing considering some of the subjects and songs featured! I hope that the humour sometimes in my songs balances some of the politically charged subjects in some way and makes it easier for the audience to listen should they not be politically motivated or agree with some of the sentiments expressed. The audience certainly made me feel very welcome and despite a smaller turn out expected than usual (due to a trip out from the pub, the landlord said), it was still very enjoyable. Many thanks to John Atkin of the music club, landlord Paul Needham (of whom I'd played one of his earlier venues in the 1990's in The Wherehouse, Derby!) and Mark, Uttoxeter Advertiser, those who set the room and PA up in advance of my arrival, my mate Allan, the pub regulars and those who turned out to have a listen for making one of my longest performances really fun to do. My set did indeed feature some songs that haven't managed to get an airing for a while including Lots Of Love Chris (which was the first song I ever performed live over 20 years ago and only made a reappearance this year when I decided to use the song as one of the songs uploaded onto my Facebook page and YouTube channel as part of my plan to post a new and/or unreleased song each month of 2013), An Evening With Michael Portillo (which was a song that came about after seeing this advertised as an actual event and I was reminded of the song more recently when seeing the even more bizarre event advertised of 'An evening with Nigel Fararge'! There's surely got to be another song written about that!), Dreaming is the first song I ever remember writing and has after many years been something that I sometimes play at home so it was nice to play it to an audience on a very rare occasion. And the song Don't Vote BNP. Again, it's a song that has drifted out of the set as newer songs have more priority but playing to an audience who had largely never seen me before, it was a good chance to play such songs, even if I didn't remember all the verses to that particular song! In complete contrast, some of my recent songs such as Hey Ellie!, Let's Misbehave!, Drink Up and Goodnight And Good Luck which haven't always made the set regularly were featured also. My full set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Drink Up (We’ll Have The Same Again), Underground Overbite, The Uncollected, The Worst Teeth In Showbiz!, Lots Of Love Chris, Breaking News, Let’s Misbehave!, Hey Ellie!, Lucky Escapes, Fitzwilliam, The World According To Bono, Celebrity Bus Crash, Goodnight And Good Luck, One Night As I Lay On My Bed, An Evening With Michael Portillo, Don’t Vote BNP, Phone In Well, Strike!, Dreaming and Two Shit Sundays.
RIP to Philip Chevron of The Pogues who sadly passed away to cancer at the age of 56 in October 2013. I saw The Pogues on 3 occasions (both with and without Shane MacGowan) and the most recent time was probably the best in Manchester in 2004 with The Saw Doctors in support. A great band both in their recorded output and live.
My next gig was a lovely return to Lancaster on 09/11/2013. It's always a pleasure to visit and play the city and for various reasons. Not least, the warm welcome and wonderful support that I always receive. It was my 4th time of playing in Lancaster and my 3rd time at The Yorkshire House venue. The gig was organised and promoted by Nick and his Red & Black collective and that in itself made the gig a pleasure to be involved with. I set off on my 140 mile trek and arrived after 2 and a half hours which was quite good considering some of the delays en route. I left Derbyshire in glorious autumnal sunshine but reached the Manchester area and hit torrential rain along with accidents and hazards on the M6 to slow things down a little. So, after a catch-up with Nick, Blanche, their dogs Errol and Eddie and their great hospitality and food on my arrival, it was off to The Yorkshire House to see if anyone fancied hearing a few songs. And they did. It was a very enjoyable night with a nice and supportive audience. Stan One Shoe opened the evening with some poems and some improvised bass guitar accompaniment. Stan is sometimes the guitar player in Andy T's band and his poetry went down well the crowd. I performed next, playing for around 40 minutes or so and enjoyed my time on stage very much. I enjoyed the sound of my guitar courtesy of Kev who does a brilliant job of PA and lighting duties and it is a real shame to hear that Kev and Alison who currently run the great venue of The Yorkshire House are leaving early next year for pastures new. I hope the venue that means a lot to the rock, punk and non mainstream music scenes of Lancaster continues to be the great meeting place for those that use it with its next owners/landlord... My full set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Fitzwilliam, Underground Overbite, Lucky Escapes, Goodnight And Good Luck, Celebrity Bus Crash and The World According To Bono. After my set was The Karma Party, a young Blackpool based 4 piece band playing a mix of punk, rock, rap and samples. I enjoyed their energetic sound and it got the audience in the mood for some loud punk rock music to finish the evening courtesy of the night's headline act; Eastfield. By my reckoning, it was my 23rd gig with them (as well as sharing billing with singer/guitarist Jessi Adams playing solo on 14 occasions) and it's always a pleasure to see them as they have become very dear friends. It had been a while since I've been able to catch-up with them and their set of mainly new songs from their forthcoming next album was great to hear. With some older/more familiar Eastfield songs, an appearance by Nick (from the Red & Black Collective) on bass for one song and yours truly joining the band on stage to sing and dance to their Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit cover, it was a really enjoyable and fun set with the band seemingly enjoying it as much as the audience. Thanks to Nick and Blanche for everything - the gig, the hospitality, the friendship and the support. Thanks to Kev of The Yorkshire House for making my guitar sound brilliant (to me anyway). Thanks to Jessi, Trina, Bambi and Pete of Eastfield for the lovely support and enthusiasm as always. Thanks to all those who turned out to the gig, had a listen to my songs and took an interest or bought CD's etc. Without wishing to leave anyone out, a few folks I met or was able to see again and who were very supportive were James, Spanner, Marie, Adam, Alan and Patsy. A big thank you also to Vicky and Mark - Again, their support and kind welcome to Lancaster was just lovely with a nice wind down after the gig with their very generous hospitality. Thanks to both of you for such kindness and inviting me into your home. It did make for just a couple of hours sleep before being back on the road of course but with an early start and a relatively clear M6 on the Sunday morning, I was soon back home and kept awake with a grand daughter that has better things to do than sleep! Being met at the door by Ellie and my wife on arrival home was a great welcome indeed!
I was able to record 2 more songs in Belper on 14/11/2013 to make sure I’m able to post a new and/or unreleased song each month during 2013 on my Facebook website and YouTube channel so thanks to Phil for helping with this project and making sure I kept it on track. The day after (15/11/2013) was my next gig and my 64th performance in Derby and my 26th appearance at the city’s The Victoria Inn venue. It was my first time of sharing a bill with TV Smith, singer guitarist and lyricist with legendary 1970’s punks The Adverts and now playing solo though I had seen him play live before. It was a lovely and diverse evening of acoustic entertainment and styles which included Dwane Reads (who’s now become a good friend since our paths have crossed occasionally) kicking off the evening and performing his poetry in-between each act. The next act after Dwane was The Standby Setting and then after a couple more poems by Dwane, I played my own set. It was lovely to play as always though for me personally, a little rushed. The previous band had started 15 minutes late but still played their half hour set and so for me to give Dwane 5 minutes (at least) to recite a few more poems before TV Smith could take to the stage, I probably played for around 25 minutes at maximum. But as I say, it’s still always a pleasure to perform and I’m always thankful for every opportunity. With a nice and receptive audience and a great sound courtesy of Kev on PA duties, my full set was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, Parliament Pays Tribute To Baroness Thatcher, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Fitzwilliam and Goodnight And Good Luck. TV Smith followed with an excellent set lasting a hour and three quarters and played with more enthusiasm and energy than many other performers do. His set included solo songs, classics from The Adverts and brand new songs and was just brilliant (No Time To Be 21, Pushed Again, Only One Flavour, Not In My Name, My String Will Snap, The Future Used To Be Better, Generation Y, Expensive Being Poor, Atlantic Tunnel, Lion And The Lamb, Bored Teenagers, One Chord Wonders and Gary Gilmore‘s Eyes all included). Thanks to all those who took an interest in my set, Micky at The Victoria Inn, Kev on PA/sound, Dwane and Tim for being fabulous to work with and to Johnny, John and Pam. And Ian also who asked me for an interview but didn’t seem to write anything down or record anything! I wont hold my breath waiting to see that one in print!…
The following night I had another gig and it was a fabulous night - One of my favourites of all that I’ve been involved with at The Queen’s Head, Belper in fact. So, on 16/11/2013 I played my 67th performance in Belper (including all those recordings I’ve made!) and was an unbelievable 40th time for me at the Derbyshire venue! It was also the second time I’ve been involved with a sell out evening at the venue this year though I’m not sure I can take any credit for such a great attendance! On this occasion I was playing support to two greats on the folk scene in Anthony John Clarke and Dave Pegg. I’ve seen both of these performers live and have become a big fan of both over the years. AJ is a fabulous songwriter and performer in his own right and the chance to play on the same bill as him was too good an opportunity to miss. I always learn so much playing alongside and watching great performers and musicians and this evening was no exception. Dave Pegg doesn’t really need any introduction, he’s a member of legendary folk rock pioneers Fairport Convention and also a long time member of Jethro Tull and so it was a rare opportunity for an audience to see him in the more intimate setting of an upstairs room in a pub. Playing together as a duo with a set that in the main was based around AJ’s own wonderful songs, the audience were treated to a master class on acoustic performance, live performance and song writing as the duo entertained for nearly two hours. The Only Life Gloria Knows, Dave Dee…, Tuesday Night Is Always Karaoke, Afternoon In August, Spray A Little Perfume, The Broken Years, That’s Life and many others (including a fabulous encore of George Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun) were performed with so much humour and anecdotes thrown in for good measure. If the audience weren’t in roars of laughter, they were joining in a fabulous chorus or they were silently listening to a story told in song by AJ with fine accompaniment by ’Peggy’ on acoustic bass, electric guitar or mandolin. And they were just so approachable and accommodating towards everyone that they made a lot of friends with their easy going approach and friendliness. It all made for a real pleasure for me to warm up the venue and the audience on a cold November night before they took to the stage and show me how to do it… better! Thanks to all those who turned out to make the night a success and some good friends of my own who were in attendance (Loz, Mat Gaz, Mike & Marilyn and Ed to name a few), everyone who took an interest in my songs and to those at the venue who all help make it happen; Mike, Simon (for great sound and lighting), Dick and Phil. Thanks to AJ, Dave, Neil, Helen and Anne also. My own set of songs for the evening was Grandpa Still Hates The Tories, The Seagull And The Skinhead, Goodnight And Good Luck, Fitzwilliam, The Uncollected and Hey Ellie!…
On 21/11/2013 I paid a visit to Manchester based ALLFM Radio for the Under The Pavement show. It was my 8th time of performing in the city and my 5th time of visiting the show. I also once previously supplied a ‘session’ for them recording songs exclusively for the show. It’s always a pleasure to visit in person though and this time I’d asked my friend and poet Dwane Reads to accompany and perform some poetry also (for the 7th time we’ve shared some performance time and space) and my friend Allan came along to enjoy the experience too. So, off we went from Derbyshire courtesy of Dwane at the wheel on this occasion and arrived at the show in good time to say hello and catch up with presenters David and Richard before going on air. We spent the first hour of the 2 hour show on air chatting and with a couple of my songs (Goodnight And Good Luck & The Times They Are A-Short-Changin’) and some of Dwane’s poems before heading back home to our various parts of Derbyshire. (Well, Dwane had a very early start the following morning - and I’m not sure it was worth him going to bed to be honest). Many thanks to Richard and David for having us along on their show and to Dwane and Allan for the shared experience. And of course, thanks to anyone who listened in to the show. You can catch the show again by listening via www.underthepavement.org
The end of November and beginning of December saw us (me and Mrs Butler) in the unlikely surroundings (for that time of year) of Skegness. Though our reason for visiting the East Coast was quite understandable as it was to attend the Butlins resort for The Great British Folk Festival. It was freezing cold and bracing on the coast but that didn’t matter as we were indoors for the music and staying in a lovely warm chalet rather than a tent. It was our 2nd time for the folk festival and we had also been to the Rock & Blues festival at Butlins also. On arrival, we also found we’d been upgraded (at no extra cost!) from our one room chalet to a 2 bedroom apartment so that was a lovely way to start the weekend! It’s worth mentioning that our breakfasts and evening meals were included and so we certainly ate well and had the strange experience of the risk of putting on weight while attending a music festival! So after checking-in and unpacking, we were in the dining area where after salad, bread rolls, veggie chilli and rice, cake, ice cream, tea and orange juice, I was ready to hear some music! The music was as diverse as anything that you could put under the heading as 'folk music' and covered all aspects of traditional, contemporary and popular music and not necessarily always acoustic. This helped with diversity and for the overall interest throughout the weekend and on the Friday evening we saw the young trad. folk of Jim Moray who included two great songs (though not necessarily the best renditions I've heard of them for me) in Billy Don't Weep and Poverty Knock followed by Barbara Dickson whose career has included playing folk clubs and being an accomplished actress. Her own set whilst suffering from some sound problems was actually very good with the combination of her professional experience and some good choice of songs including MacRimmon's Lament, The Lowlands Of Holland, Who Knows Where The Time Goes and Don't Think Twice It's Alright... Saturday saw us take a drive into Skegness to have a look around the town before heading back to the Butlins site for more music which included another varied selection such as Judie Tzuke, Cara Dillon, Edward 2nd, Strawbs and my favourite of the day - Ed Tudor Pole... Sunday was the best day musically for me though with some outstanding performances but before all that we enjoyed a lovely walk on the beach. In December! Tir Na Nog and Richard Digance were both very enjoyable - though it must be said that Digance was way off the mark with his rant about political correctness. Whilst I agree on such matters within reason, his gripe about left wing councils or non Christians 'trying to ban Christmas' was a bit lazy. There is no proof of this ever happening anywhere and so when the Daily Mail dust off this make believe story each December (which may have had some original truth to it? A council discussing funding towards a nativity play during cost cutting times during a council meeting for example? Meeting minutes then published for all to see?) and well, each year, some people still run with it. Unfortunately, in this case the person running with it was standing at a microphone!... A young band called Common Tongues were quite refreshing with their sound and enthusiasm and my favourite acts of the day were Billy Mitchell & Bob Fox (who played a lovely set including songs The Devil's Ground, Rambling Rover, The Gateshead Lass, Dance To Your Daddy and Galway Shawl), Fairport Convention (who played two sets, one we didn't see a lot of due to watching Billy & Bob and one we caught the whole of and they were brilliant. Some great songs were included in both their sets and it was a joy to hear again such songs as Who Knows Where The Time Goes, Farewell Farewell, Doctor Of Physick and Matty Groves, and my favourite act of all was the excellent Anthony John Clarke & Dave Pegg playing their fabulous set of songs and jokes. The mix of fantastic playing, AJ's voice, some laugh-out-loud jokes and AJ's fabulous songs were just the pinnacle of the festival for me. Again, the sound quality let them down slightly from where we were positioned but their quality shone through any lack of PA capabilities. Having been lucky enough to support them at their Belper gig recently, I knew what to expect but was still amazed at how they were able to transform their act onto such a big stage (compared to the small upstairs room in a pub previously) and still make the performance as intimate and as embracing and engaging for the audience. Such is their professional experience to be able to do that. I admit that I learn so much when watching such performers.
That’s it for 2013 then. Some sort of look back on the year will feature next time no doubt but for now - Take care, have a happy and peaceful 2014.
See you next time.
Click here for the Chris Butler Facebook page
Click here to visit the Chris Butler MySpace site
Blyth Power Ashes 2010
(c) Chris Butler 2013
visitors since March 2004