Blog Archives

Vampire Weekend acoustic White Sky

Nice acoustic version of Vampire Weekend’s classic track White Sky here.

The BBC must not close 6music

The BBC mustnt close 6Music, if the report in the 10p Tory Times this morning is true, then they are considering it as a cost cutting measure. How about getting rid of 5live instead?
6Music and its roster of formidable DJs is one of the best things the BBC has done for a long time.
Save 6Music!!!

baka beyond come to town

Grimsby does sometimes get called the back of beyond, so it seems somehow fitting that the now veteran (well, they have been around for about 20 years now) world music artists ‘baka beyond‘ are coming to town next week.

In an unusual turn, it seems that the town is hosting a mini world music festival, with gigs and workshops featuring talent from near and far.

Without doubt the highlight will be the baka beyond gig, which is going to be hosted by Saint James Church, a magnificent cathedral like space, which although it seems a little  incongruous will surely be a great venue for this exciting and exotic band.

Baka beyond have been around for yonks, and have pioneered their own form of African Celtic fusion, which remains really fresh and joyful.

I did moan to the festival organiser that I should realy have been given a DJ slot somewhere in the festival, somehow they have overlooked my prodigious talents for those of other somewhat better qualified people – ho hum.

Supporting baka beyond are The Zagros Band, who I am looking forward to hearing, got to admit, I’m not currently familiar with their output, but I’m hoping there’s going to be some stomping Balkan tunes in there somewhere.

Other artists appearing over the weekend are The Hut People and ever popular local band Merlin’s Keep, should all be good.

And in the meantime I’m still dreaming of the day when the Grimsby world music festival announces joint headliners Rachid Taha and Manu Chao – now that would be some gig…

My Christmas in words and numbers

We’re still in the grips of the winter freeze here, I’m personally wearing four layers of tops, which for someone who famously ‘doesnt feel the cold’ is a bit of a shock. The empty shop below us seems to have impacted the overall temperature of the flat, which is a shame. Never mind,  the empty cafe next door to us has been leased and will open as a coffee shop in February so we’re told – woo hoo.

Anyway, I’ve read a few blogs recently where people much cleverer than I are giving their predictions for the year ahead, and highlights of the year gone by, well I wont try and do that, just not cool enough for that really. All I can say is that 2009 wasnt a bad year for us all in all, it had good points and low points, and in general its a year I’ll look back on as pretty good. I hope that 2010 will turn out the same or better – my one prediction is that there will be a general election, and the Lib Dems will play a more important part in it than ever before. I still think its too close to call the winner at the moment.

Oh and my other prediction is that my book, New Monasticism UK, will be published this year – woo hoo.

Anyway – for fact fans out there, here is my Christmas in some words and numbers:

Nut loaves consumed: 1 (Mushroom and cashew nut actually.)

Glasses of whisky and ginger ale consumed by Kelly: 2 (traditional present wrapping drink)

Non Christmas parties attended: 3 (winter solstice, birthday, birthday)

Indiana Jones Movies watched: 4

Times I guiltily peaked at email on my phone: 5

Lie ins: 6 (thanks Kel!)

Average weekly mince pie consumption: 7 (tut tut.)

Approximate number of times I thought ‘I wish I sent Christmas cards’: 8

Times I’ve worn my new (2nd hand) army boots: 9

Toes remaining despite arctic weather: 10 (same with fingers!)

Time I went to bed on Christmas eve: 11 (yeah I know.)

Days of Christmas: 12

Actual days off for Christmas: 13

Amount of letters in the band name Vampire Weekend: 14.

And that is about all you need to know. Happy new year.

Vampire Weekend – Horchata

Vampire weekend are a band that I really rate, they mix a wide selection of musical styles and quirky lyrics, and make fantastic tunes.

The first song I heard of theirs which really made me prick up my ears was Cape Cod Kwasa Kwasa, which is a really great tune. More recently though I’ve been thrilled to hear Horchata, which is just a superb tune. Its on the forthcoming album ‘Contra’ which is released in January 2010, but you dont have to wait (or pay) to get the song, it’s free to download right here.

Brilliant band, great tune, well worth a listen. Also check out their myspace, which has other great tracks, including Cape Cod Kwasa Kwasa.

Greenbelt 2009

We were at Greenbelt for the weekend, it was a fascinating experience, especially when comparing it with my memories from about 16 years ago. It is now much bigger than it was then, and a lot slicker, not that these are necessarily bad things.

The good points:

Fantastic music and just vast amounts of talks and seminars to choose from, my favourites were:

Alastair McIntosh… such a good speaker, love hearing what he has to say.

His talk on ‘The violence of our times’ was a good one, and it reminded me of the real need for us to address our theology of attonement, the redemptive violence thing is very problematic.

The Apples… better live than on record which are already a very high standard, they really are a great band.

Ikon… I went to see their ‘pyro theology’ which was great, I really liked it.

Pete Rollins… I also went to hear Pete speak, he was very good indeed.

Meeting up with friends was just a huge part of the weekend for me, and meeting people who I dont know so well too, including the good mr Mark Berry, who was camped a mere few meters from us. Should have made more of an effort to have a good chat really, my bad. Andrew Jones was good to meet, again not much of a chance for a chat, but good to say hi. Bex Tomlinson is a top person, brilliant to see her again, the friends we went with were of course on brilliant form – you know who you are.

Lots of missed opportunities mainly due to family commitments, many things I would have liked to have seen or done which werent possible.

That brings me on to the downsides of the festival:

Childrens work: I perhaps have rather high expectations of kids work at events of this kind, but I thought the kids work was a bit too ad hoc, not as well organised as I would have liked, and lacked some substance. More annoyingly, my children didnt really like it. I’m sure this is institutional rather than down to the kids workers themselves, all the guys I met were great.

But the problems do go hand in hand with my other main greenbelt gripe:

Queues. Flippin everywhere, for everything, all the time, miles long. Ahhhhh! Did my head in in a serious way, the only thing for which there was no queue was the mainstage which is open on two sides, thank heavens for that.

I personally think the festival is a bit on the large side, I prefer the smaller and more intimate feeling of a less enormous event. I estimate about 20,000 people were there over the weekend, which is quite a lot whichever way you look at it.

The overall feeling of the event is an interesting one, it certainly has a very liberal feel, and there is no overt God bothering kind of point to it, which is both good and bad. I like the fact that people from all kinds of backgrounds can contribute on an equal platform, from the Gay Bishop Gene Robinson, to the Quaker Universalist Alastair McIntosh, there wasnt much by way of conservative representation there I thought, not that I’m bothered by that as such, but I think all groups have their strengths, and one thing the conservatives bring is a focus on the God of the Bible without the existentialist lens of some more ‘out there’ theologians. Possibly the class politics of the festival have something to do with all this, there was a definite upper middle class vibe in my opinion.

However, this is not a complaint, more of an observation. I have rarely been somewhere where there were talks I actually wanted to hear, that is a real novelty. I enjoyed it immensely, despite the wretched queueing.




No, not the place, the group, or at least the output of the prodigiously talented Zach Condon and his super cool group.

If you like your music full of quirky wistfulness, with a mellow vibe but backed up with stonking Balkan style brass, then you need to listen to some Beirut.

Legend has it that the Beirut sound was formed after young Zach turned up, tuned in and dropped out  on a hazy journey through Europe (he’s from New Mexico pop fans) where he learned at the feet of the Balkan gypsy musicians and gained a passion for the music of the continental europeans.

If you check out Beirut, you’ll hear hints of Parisian chancon a la LNV, as well as the kind of brass that the Balkans do so well, all underscored or perhaps over written by his mournful yet melodic voice, which manages to be at once sweet and sad, while somehow giving a strange sense of uplift.

Well worth a listen, particularly for fans of indie, downbeat, balkan, french and gypsy music.

El Guincho

I’ve been introduced to the music of El Guincho via, he’s playing an unusual combination of dub, tropical and psychadelia – quite intoxicating.

el guincho

Somehow a simultaneously old and new sound to his music, which seems to take in a Carribean sound, while also sounding quite Mediteranean, check him out on myspace, I recommend the track Kalise, although has a brilliant version of Antillas, which is what put me on to him in the first place.

el guincho 2

If you like something a bit different, this is well worth a go, perfect for summer listening.


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