Fav. Tracks: Wanderer – Joel Grainger

0L5C5121(pp_w1000_h666) Wanderer  – Another home.

We chanced upon this young man playing in the High Street in Winchester, attracted by a fairly large crowd and some interesting sounding music.  As he explained to his audience he samples his own sounds live and plays these back, through a pedal loop system, as an accompaniment, in the style that I first saw with KT Tunstall, except using a violin.  The sound, live, was exceptionally good and very entertaining, which led me to purchase one of his CDs.

The musical style is quite varied, sometimes melancholic (but maybe that is the violin), sometimes quite folky (especially on Cooleys Reel), even producing a faintly Indian theme on Gypsy Raag, but always well played and expressive.  He is a natural street performer, but this studio album is very good and shows off his talent very well.

I have chosen this track because it clearly shows how he uses the sampling loop station, but also provides a good illustration of his violin playing.  I like the slightly melancholic feel of the music as it seems to be telling a story in music.

Fav. Tracks: Quintessence (Their first album)

Quintessence_FrontQuintessence – Sea of Immortality.

I wonder if anyone guessed this album correctly!  This a band that I really took to when I first heard them live at Newcastle City Hall (many years ago).  The mix of Indian rhythms and rock music works really well for me.

This track begins with a chant, something that occurs a lot in Quintessence’s music, this quickly gives way to the main lyrics, which bring the full tune to the song.  The lyrics are quite religious, as is much of their music, but what makes this blend of music work for me is the way the guitar brings a rock interpretation to the main theme.  this gradually picks up pace and rises to a crescendo with feedback – almost heavy rock.  very interesting music and worth a listen.

And that ends albums beginning “Q”, so we move onto “R”, which I notice already is quite a long list – happy reading!


Another free music festival – Music in the City


The weekend of the 5th and 6th October saw another festival of music in Southampton, the weather was reasonable and so we went for a walk around a few of the events, a couple of pubs and a meal in the evening……

The music was due to start around 1 p.m. and there were a wide range of locations, mostly set in historical setting around the city.  We decided that the best idea would be to have lunch down at Town Quays and work our way from there to a couple of the sites where there was music playing – there were so many bands and locations it was always going to be impossible to see many sessions, but we saw this more as a trip around places we haven’t been to (mostly in the City Walls).  Platform-Tavern-Close-UpSo, the first stop was The Platform Tavern, where we have been several times and new that they did good pub food.  This pub is on the front at Town Quays so is ideally placed for visiting the bottom end of town.  The lunch menu is reasonably good and we had two meals for £10, which is not too bad – the food is cooked well and was tasty – I had a wrap filled with Cajun Chicken and their locally brewed beer, DNA, was excellent as always.  From there we made our way to The Weigh House in French Street.  Weigh_HouseThis is a grade 2 listed building that dates from the 13th century and is believed to have housed the King’s weigh beam and was an interesting setting for the music.  There were a whole string of bands listed, which meant this was probably the best place to hear different types of music, but what intrigued me was that some of the sessions were indoors and I was interested to find out what that meant (knowing that the building had no roof).  When we arrived we could see that the outside music was just inside the metal gate in the main room of the building, but no one was playing at that moment so we made our way through an exit at the back to find the indoor music.  Somewhat surprisingly this led into an underground cellar-like room with a stone arched ceiling.  Amongst The PigeonsThere were only a couple of people listening to the last few pieces by a one-man band called Amongst The Pigeons.  He was basically producing a synthetic music mix from keyboards and synthesiser, which reminded me a little of Tangerine Dream.  I had thought to ask him if he knew their music, but he had to get out of the way as the next band arrived.  I actually thought the music he produced was good; although, sometimes a little too repetitive, especially at the end of the tracks.  What it did show was how the stone walls were going to make a “wall of sound” effect on the music.  We had grabbed a couple of seats at the back, but the next band, The Flying Alexanders, was unexpectedly popular and we ended up with a lot of people standing in front of us.  The band consisted of a lead singer, who was a big lad who looked like he would have a strong voice, a drummer, The_Flying_Alexandersbass player and lead guitar, they produced a fast rock sound that illustrated the “wall of sound” effect and we were glad that our ears were sheltered a little by the crowd.  Still it was good to see that the music event was attracting a crowd and I think in any other setting I would have enjoyed the band.  We listened to a few tracks and then made our way out.

King_John's_PalaceThe next location was to be King John’s Palace, which was originally a 12th Century building, but was altered to become part of the City Wall’s defence in the 14th Century, but before we got there we stopped for a drink and comfort break at The Duke of Wellington pub in Bugle Street – always a popular spot, but this time we ran into a wedding party!  I hope they had a good day, but it is not every day you see a bride sat in the local pub.  Lucy Kitchen (2)The music that we heard at King John’s Palace was much more folk-orientated and the singer – Lucy Kitchen – played acoustic guitar and sang her own songs.  She is a very talented young lady, with a really good voice and a good repertoire of songs.  We sat through most of session, but I knew we had to move on to catch other bands and places!  So far we were enjoying this event and I was very impressed by the organisation that must have been put into it to ensure it ran smoothly.

The next location was to be The Castle Vault, which is just along the wall from John’s Palace and when we got there it was already quite full of people and a band called “Not Made in China” were playing.  The setting was something similar to the first underground cellar; although larger.  Not Made In China (2)The stone walls were again reflecting the sound, but it was not too bad from where we were stood at the entrance.  Once again I was glad to see that there was a good-sized audience and it was clear that this event was working and very popular.  The band had a very individual sound, which I thought was let down a little by the lead singer’s voice being a little flat (maybe she had a cold), but overall they sounded good and were popular.  I am not totally convinced by the “underground” style setting for amplified music, but that is just a personal view.  however, I think making more people aware of these places (and maybe the history surrounding them) is a good idea.

Doghouse Boat BoysAfter listening to a few tracks by Not Made in China we made our way back to the first venue (The Weigh House) for the final outdoor acoustic band – The Doghouse Boat Boys – we have seen this band before at The Platform Tavern, but they were very much an amplified band, so I was interested to see how they would do unplugged.  The band had already started when we got there and there was good crowd in The Weigh house courtyard area.  The band has a good following and we recognised people we had seen before at their gig.  The upbeat, almost bluegrass sound, always gets people dancing and there was a good deal of that happening already.  Their music is a cheerful stomp and a little afternoon alcohol had certainly warmed the occasion.  They were just as good unplugged and I was surprised how clear I could hear them despite only just being inside the gate.

KutisBrasserie_6So, overall a good day out and another success for Southampton Councils entertainment people – these concerts must boost local economy – I think they are a good idea and will maybe get more people listening to local bands.  We moved onto Oxford Street area and found ourselves at Kuti’s Indian restaurant for a meal.  I can really recommend this restaurant – the service was excellent (we got a seat easily without booking) and the food was an amazingly wide choice across a wide range of flavours.  We really enjoyed the meal and the whole day.

Fav. Tracks: Quintessence – In Blissful Company

4b4fb2cf9fe4ad44b3bb4dc87fc2fIn Blissful Company – Gange Mai.

Back to the 1970s again and a band that my ex-wife introduced me to.  They produced an interesting mixture of rock and Indian music, which works really well.  I went to see them at The City Hall, Newcastle and was almost deafened by close proximity to two of the moist enormous trumpet bass speakers I have ever seen.

Probably Notting Hill Gate would be recognised as the more famous track on this album, but I prefer this track, which provides the best illustration of the fusion of rock and Indian styles.  A lot of people shy away from this combination, but I have always enjoyed the sound and miss the band.

Curried seafood on noodles

I was discussing this recipe at yesterday’s TOFC meeting, so I thought I should post it (a picture will follow when I next cook it).  There are similarities in style to the recipe below and, once again, I tend to use frozen seafood for convenience.  I guess you could serve this with boiled rice instead of noodles, but I like the noodles.  I know this is not Thai curry, but it has that sort of flavour without using coconut, which I am not keen on.

For one serving:
Half a pack of Sainbury’s frozen seafood (I defrost in a microwave using a plastic sieve over a plastic bowl).
Half a portion of Sharwood’s medium noodles.
Two teaspoons of Sharwoods sweet chilli sauce.
Half a teaspoon of ground cumin.
One teaspoon of Garam Masala.
One segment of fresh garlic (crushed).
One teaspoon of ground ginger (you can use fresh stem ginger if you want).
Half a red onion (not too large).
Soy sauce as required.

Cover the base of the wok with a layer of vegetable oil and heat until quite hot.  Add the onion and quickly stir fry until just browning at edges.  Add the drained, thawed seafood and quickly stir, then add all of the ingredients and stir fry for about five minutes.  Put this into a bowl in a microwave until the noodles are ready and while frying the noodles, heat the meal with a burst (<1 min) of microwaves.

Boil the noodles as instructed on packet, drain and wash with hot water.  Heat virgin oil in the wok and add the noodles and quickly toss them in the hot oil with a sprinkle of soy sauce.  Add the seafood and stir for one minute, serve on a hot plate.

England’s winter tour – final thoughts.

Cricket_India_Crest_svgWell, that is the end of watching cricket exclusively on Sky (for a while at least) as England finish their winter tour to india and New Zealand, and what a finish!  There are several points that can be drawn from both series, but I guess the real take home message is that New Zealand will be interesting opponents this summer!

But first points from the Indian tour:

  1. Beating the Indians, on their home territory, was a major achievement, made even more significant by the recent 4-0 whitewash for Australia.
  2. There is no doubt that a combination of Panesar and Swann, on a spinning wicket, is a formidable pairing – maybe we should think about spinning wickets in the UK (and NOT fine grounds for producing such wickets that produce interesting matches).
  3. DRS should be forced on the Indian board and players as it not only solves problems during matches, but also improves umpiring and resolves mistakes made by umpires.
  4. ODI cricket still needs some tinkering to solve the problem of the boring middle overs.
  5. The powerplay system in ODI cricket is not working and needs to change.
  6. The mind-set of players touring the subcontinent is critical for a winning performance and senior players must play at their best.New-Zealand-Cricket

Which, neatly brings me to points from the tour of New Zealand (bearing in mind that England were expected to trounce New Zealand):

  1. The loss of senior players can wreak havoc on the batting line up.
  2. Players need to get match practice even when they are touring, so that we do not have to introduce players into a tense situation, who have not played for several weeks.
  3. Small boundaries make for exciting games in limited over cricket (fairly obvious, but shouldn’t be forgotten).
  4. Spin remains important in t20 cricket.
  5. DRS is a must for correcting poor umpiring decisions.
  6. Concentration, when batting, is the most important aspect of playing the game and there should not be criticism of Trott just because his method of doing this is so well-defined (remember how reliable he has been and look at his average and strike rate together).
  7. The middle order needs strength and experience to avoid sudden collapses.

But, what a final day that was in the Final Test, I have seen everything in cricket, but not all in one day – it all happened, but the magic moment was Prior being hit on the head, the ball then hitting the stumps, but the bails not being dislodged!  It can only happen in cricket.

Now I await the first game at The Rose Bowl (10th April) against Leicestershire.  I will not be surprised to see snow and cricket together!

Fav. Tracks: George Harrison – The Concert for Bangla Desh

George HarrisonThe Concert for Bangla Desh – Bangla Dhun.

Ah yes, did I also mention that I quite like Indian music?  Of course, this album is something special and one of the first concerts for a charitable cause.  However, there also wonderful moments to mention even before we get to the music – the audience clapping after the tuning being one example – but perhaps it is Ravi’s request for no smoking, which seems so odd now.  Then, there is an amazing coincidence that Norah Jones (who I just blogged about) is Ravi Shankar’s daughter – I didn’t know that until I finished the blog and started to write this one – very odd!

And so to the music, this album is something very special and I am glad to have the vinyl version in very good condition, but what makes the concert is the introduction by George Harrison, followed by this music by Ravi Shankar.  I think this track is one of the easiest pieces of Indian music to listen to, it has a very strong rhythm (as has most Indian music), but in this case it is the way the instruments play against each other that works well – almost a competition.  I hope you like the link, it gives a chance to see d hear this.