Bright Lights, Big City

Ian Clayton and Friends perform a medley of Jimmy Reed songs on the occasion of Ian’s fiftieth birthday party. Ian’s band includes two blues men, a club turn on bass, a rock star on lead guitar, a soap star on drums and his son Eddie on the keyboard. Ian sings Baby What You Want Me To Do and Bright Lights, Big City while downing a pint of ale.

There is a new Facebook page for Bringing It All Back Home, a Facebook page to bring together a community connected Ian’s book, a love of good music, good stories and good books. Click here and then ‘Like’ to stay in touch.

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Mourning Charlie Gillett

Former Route DJ and music writer Pedro ‘DJ Mestizo’ González mourns the passing of Charlie Gillett, a great populariser of the music of the world across Anglo-Saxon dominated airwaves.

World music broacaster and writer Charlie Gillett died yesterday. In his sixty eight year, he never lost his excitement for pop music, he just extended the territory of where to find it.

He was also a great connoisseur of the origins of the music that went to revolutionize the world. His essential book for anyone with a keen interest in rock music, The Sound of the City: the Rise of Rock and Roll was an informative book of how this music was formed, the protagonists and how the music industry worked in those early years.  He went on to become manager of the Kilburn & the High Roads (the former band of Ian Dury), and created his own record label, Oval.

For me, it was as radio broadcaster where his role was outstanding; he was a catalyst of a music scene and a pivotal figure in the promotion of popular music around the world. He is frequently mentioned as the man who gave the world the Dire Straits, which by now is, maybe, not something to be proud of. His music programming on Radio London under the name Honky Tonk included the airing of demos by new artists. One of them was ‘Sultans of Swing’ and the rest is history. Honky Tonk was one of the music programmes which united many musicians and served as a revulsive for a music scene against the pretentiousness of the progressive music of the time. Then he went to discover African music and with that a new horizon of music without frontiers started to reach his audience.

I was a keen listener to his BBC World series. Sometimes the music was far beyond my taste, but wasn’t indifferent. Never compare two great men but, if you let me pass this, I think Charlie was for world music what John Peel was for the indie scene. I remember when Ojos de Brujo came to tour in London for the first time, he brought DJ Panko to the studio to play some of the music that this band was influenced by. As I listened I objected to some comments made by Panko about the gypsy connection to the flamenco being the only one with real significance. My thoughts were that this music was not a question of race and, afterwards, I sent an email to Charlie, lecturing him about flamenco origins. He replied to me shortly and precisely quoting the origins of American popular music. Yes, he was right.

You can see that many times in music – as in other arts expressions – the underdogs are sometimes the people who open new forms of expression and, in this case, stretch the music wider. I will miss his programmes.

Train of Ice and Fire Review

A Review of The Train of Ice and Fire features in Candela, the newly launched magazine for Latin and Spanish lifestyle in the UK. candelalive.co.uk

‘Classic train journeys evoke certain romanticism.The Orient Express is associated with luxury and refinement, the Trans Siberian joins Europe with Asia and the Pacific Ocean, and the Palace on Wheels recreates a glorious past through Rajasthan in India.  The Train of Ice and Fire evokes none of these.

Of all the places where a great train journey can be done, Manu Chao chose a country where there are no running trains and the rail network is in ruins: Colombia. This eccentric adventure takes Manu Chao, his band Mano Negra, acrobats, tattooists, various other entertainers, Manu’s father – the chronicler – and Roberto, a fire breathing Dragon, through the heartlands of Colombia in a bric-a-brac train named La Consentida.

The sole purpose of the journey: to stop at abandoned stations and entertain for free the disenfranchised people who live close by. Descending from the Altiplano – 2,500 metres above sea level – to the Northern Coast of Colombia, passing through Aracataca the hometown of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the adventure took this group of artists through some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery in the world.

Ramón’s description of the various sights, the vegetation, mountains, valleys and so on, transmits a sense of wonder, almost a feeling of disbelief in front of such well hidden beauty. However, it was the people who they encountered that amazed them most. The journey turned into a splendid rendezvous of cultures and people; a bunch of French entertainers and the simplest of people in Colombia, but also the warmest and probably the more intrigued at seeing this bunch of French gypsies in their small towns. Ramón illustrates this beautifully by noting how a terrified Colombian girl asked him how French men make love…’

Click here for the full review on Candela magazine.

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Psychicbread – The City is a Drunk

Mark Gwynne Jones’ city rattles to the undertones of a diesel engine and sings like ‘a sparrow of fog and fumes and the time when he was cock of the world. Yes the city is a drunk. Harbouring hurt.’

Performed as encore at the Kings Arms in Salford.

The Psychicbread play Manchester University on 21 September. Click here for details