I have the first details of my photo exhibition taking place in Leamington Spa this autumn and hope some of you will put it in your diary and there will be more details later.
Wednesday 17TH October
7pm until 10-30pm
VENUE (and big thanks to them for the use of the room)
The Upstairs Function Room
The Oak House Sports and Social Club
87 Upper Holly Walk
All proceeds will be spilt 50/50 between
Zoe's Place Baby Hospice - Who have a branch in Coventry.
The Cinnamon Trust - The National Charity for the elderly, the terminally ill and their pets.
My exhibition has been kindly sponsored by Leamington Spa company (and my work place) Presto Classical.
My exhibition which will be free entry will consist of prints covering my favourite images from my years of music photography along with a slide show of those that just missed the cut, and will be mostly local to this area (Leamington Spa) and many will be previously unpublished.
I will also have live acoustic music provided by a couple of my local musician friends - news to follow and there will be a bar in the room.
To raise money for the good causes all exhibited prints will be available for purchase on the night along with possibly a few more images with all proceeds to the charities and there will also be a raffle which will hopefully include signed items be some of the artists in the exhibition and other prizes - again more info to follow.
Hope some of you will come along and I am very much looking forward to celebrating my 10 plus years of gig photography and raising money for two great charities.
Another very proud moment for the team at "Alternative Sounds" who can now announce the tracklisting for Volume 2 of "Alternative Sounds": more of the cream of Coventry & Warwickshire music, past, present & future.
Wild Boys; "We're Only Monsters"
We Are A Communist "The Silent Bugler"
The Flys "Program"
Mysterious Monks "First Call At Dawn"
I "I Am I"
Digital Dinosaurs "The Sideways Man"
ENGRAM "Karl Marx"
Resurrection Men "Regular Parrot"
Tracey Skarzynska "She-Devil-She-Machine"
Johnny Wild and the City Centre Shakers "What Could I Do Now?"
Warriors of the Dystotheque "We're Taking Control" (featuring Pop Will Eat Itself)
Blush "Seven Years"
Stress "Elizabeth Selwyn"
Stavely Makepeace "I Want You Want Love"
Polly Bolton "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"
Rod Felton "Take Me Away"
King of the Alps "You Smile"
Keith Fabrique & the Missing Links "Inside Looking Out"
Courtiers of Fashion "Courtiers of Fashion"
Morocco Dave "You May Not Be the Coolest Person Here"
Pre-orders of the album are now being taken at
with a free download of the Wild Boys track at:
We are also proud to dedicate "Volume Two" to the memory of Rod Felton (24th August 1942 - 26th March 2014) and John Millar Thomson (14th January 1959 – 15th October 2013) ("Johnny Wild Boy")
As a taster to the extremely imminent release of "Alternative Sounds: Volume Two", the latest compilation showcasing "the cream of Coventry & Warwickshire music, past, present & future", the team are releasing a free taster download of one of the tracks, "We're Only Monsters" by the Wild Boys, written by Roddy "Radiation" Byers whose band it originally was before he joined the Specials. The lead singer on this track is the late Johnny "Wild Boy" Thomson, to whom "Volume Two" is co-dedicated.
You can download the track at:
In the words of "Alternative Sounds" creator & producer, Martin Bowes who mastered & compiled the album & its predecessors in his studio The Cage:
"The first time I ever sang on stage... if you can call it that... a while before ATTRITION was born... was at my 21st birthday party, at the old Hope n Anchor pub in Coventry in 1979... I had local punk band The Wild Boys play that night... their single at the time was "We're only Monsters" (written by The Specials' Roddy Radiation)... I got up on stage and sang "We're only Martin's"... I was very drunk... :)"
Years ago, I am not sure I could imagine myself reviewing a concept album. I guess the concept of a concept album has been around a long time (presumably "A Love Supreme" must be one) and of course when pop music evolved into rock then bands looking for the next step "forward" produced some great ones. It was the subsequent descent into pomposity & pretension that rather sullied the expression for many people though: myself included.
However in recent years, Coventry & Warwickshire can hold its head up high in terms of some excellent concept albums: even if that's not always the terms the artists themselves use: sets like "Millions of the Mouthless Dead" & "All Mine Enemy's Whispers" by ATTRITION, "12 Songs" by Two Giraffes & Kel Elliott & Her Three Man Orchestra's album of songs around Chedham's Yard in Wellesbourne are superb examples of suites of songs around a theme & I defy anyone to criticise them in my hearing.
The latest in this respect is Chalk Drawings' album "Grand Union": a narrative set of songs released just before Christmas, telling the story of two individuals & their relationship. The album title works on several levels: there is a title song but in the song "Exquisite Night", reference is made to a bar in Leamington of that name (which did in recent years actually exist, it was a good music venue too but no longer exists under that name: it's now Apehangers under Procaffeinate) which of course in turn takes its name from the famous canal, yet I imagine the main reference in the title is to that of the bond between central couple.
The band consists of Simon Dagger (vocals & guitar) Rob Lewis (bass) and Kev Stanley (drums) with associate keyboards player Russ Tovey and "Grand Union" was mixed by Nick Mew at Chicken Shed Records
In a tale wending its way from 1939 to 1975, the narrative arc encompasses war, love, ecstasy, separation, reunion, marriage, parenthood, loss & redemption in ten songs plus a partial reprise of the title song.
Obviously within this, the story ebbs & flows with finer detail which is impressive. It's a sort of musical version of Proust or "Dance to the Music of Time" I suppose, albeit on a more intimate scale: indeed like the latter, the imagery of a turning wheel (of life) is central.. That scale seems to determine the musical setting which is appropriate to such a narrative. The instrumental arrangement is tasteful, subdued & is more of a setting to the lyrics than overwhelming them (and overblown arrangements were part of what gave the "concept album" a bad name in the 1970s: that & pretentious lyrics, which these certainly aren't: instead they are elegiac & elegant with a sense of restraint: probably echoing the culture in which "Alfred" & "Millie" were supposed to have lived, when expressing emotions through the "less is more" approach). I can see why Chalk Drawings & Blind Faith enjoy working together as both seem to share a belief in avoiding over fussy arrangements & letting clarity prevail, with plenty of the space in songs which I prefer & which encourages dynamics to thrive. Since the quality of singing & playing is excellent on "Grand Union", there is no need for layering on extraneous embellishments & the material is all the better for this. Yes, the arrangements are discreet, but this firstly allows the variety of tone, which keeps the album interesting & engaging, to emerge simply through musicianship & not production & secondly is a better reflection of the story being told. In fact as the action shifts from fairground to POW camp, to dance hall to home to cemetery (with plenty of other stops along the way), the musical action shifts accordingly with folk, jazz, swing, soul, rock, blues & even music hall tinges.
At this point in a review, I expect normally to move into a look at standout tracks. However I find this quite difficult on this occasion: firstly because all the tracks sound equally good to me & secondly because I wonder if I should single individual tracks out from the wider context of a complete & unified set (I know Pink Floyd get upset about this sort of thing too). I am sure each one on "Grand Union" could stand on its own merits, but they do work well interacting as intended. That said, the band have produced a video for a single track, "Rag & Bone (you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nG1i6O0UgQ&feature=youtu.be). Also, I'm stuck with making some sort of a choice as Chalk Drawings have kindly allowed "Alternative Sounds" to use one of the tracks on a forthcoming volume of the cream of Coventry & Warwickshire music, past, present & future. Certainly "Rag & Bone" is a very catchy track: perhaps at the more upbeat end of the spectrum on the album, (along with "Ain't Nobody" in that respect) but then the title track is central to the album's whole being: in terms of narrative, imagery & also its emotional tone."Last Letter" and "Exquisite Night" offer the more heartrending end of the scale. But as I say: there is only one real way to get the most out of the record: play it all & play it in the right order. Then play it again as I did.
Read more articles in the magazine.
|The Magic Of Music Hall|
Find more gigs in the full gig guide.