City on the Edge of the World

Singing the Blues

I’ve been too three excellent gigs at the Harp over the past few weeks. The first was the Wabash Jazz Quartet (not too be confused with the Wabash Jazzmen) which was a very good Dixieland/Swingband. I was a little late arriving as I had to do my washing for the week and give the dog a good walk. I walked in just as the band started playing a 1930’s number called “Your Lips Say No No (But Your Eyes Say Yes Yes)” which I believe was used in the courtroom sequences in Dennis Potter’s Pennies From Heaven. This was followed by a favourite of mine, the Tin Roof Blues, which while not as good as the Stan Tracy/Acker Bilk version was very good. I was, or rather caused, a new centre of attention as due to visiting Nan and living at work I had bought the dog with me so all the regulars were making a big fuss of her and giving her lots of dog treats. I swear that dog has put on two stone staying at the Kyn! I ordered a nice pint of Milk Stout while the band went through their banter and found a comfy pew to sit on as they rolled out the next number whose title is a phrase I’ve often used on young ladies… to no avail, “Can I Have Your Telephone Number?” I then went to purchase a cobb and buy my raffle ticket, dog in tow, as the band set up for a blues number which the band leader announced was called “The Vicious Dog Blues”. Who says dogs don’t understand humans, the look she gave the band was worth a million. The blues was in fact called “Walking Blues”, something I have been having due my knee issues. The set closed off with the Jelly Roll Morton classic “Wolverine Blues” and I popped out to buy a Chinese. Unusually the band had chosen to split the gig into three sets with two 15 minute interludes as opposed to two sets and on half-hour break, this was good as it meant I got to see more of the band before getting back to the Kyn. Set Two opened with “The Guys Go Crazy About the Way I Jive”, A cleaned up version of a dirty blues originally entitled “The Whores Go Crazy About the Way I Love”, this was followed by more sentimental territory with that well know song for lovelorn Sheep, “It Had to Be You”. The tempo was raised with a jolly number called “It Ain’t No Sin to Jump Out Your Skin and Dance Around in Your Bones”, I’d love to see an old 78″ label with that title on it! My final two numbers for the evening were a lovely laid back version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia on my Mind”, which was also the signature song for Nat Gonella’s Georgians, and the Charlie Chaplin composed “Smile”. It was said I couldn’t stay until the end but oh well, at least I saw some of the gig.
The next gig I attended at the Harp was the Baby Jools’ Allstars, I’ve talked about Baby Jools in previous posts so I’ll leave the mini-bio out for this entry. It was a good solid set which opened with “Big Butter and Egg Man” which is essentially a song about a pimp and this was followed by a Louis Armstrong tune called “Dippermouth Blues”, Dippermouth being one his nicknames (Gatemouth and Satchelmouth or Satchmo being other nicknames). Again this was a gig in which I bought the dog with me and it was a lot busier so there was a lot of moving around the avoid people tripping over Lady’s lead or her being stepped on. The set continued with three tunes, two of which are well worn standards: “Hotter then That” and the Hoagy Carmichael song “New Orleans”, the definitive version of which was performed as a duet by Hoagy a female singer by the name of Ella Login, the third is not a well known one to me and was called “When You and I were Young Maggie”, which was a fairly laid back ballad piece. There was one other tune in the set but I didn’t catch its name as I used that gap between numbers to syphon my liquid waste storage unit. The second set kicked open with track which is apparently “forever being played all by Dixieland bands across the UK” and yet I’ve only heard it three times in 12 years; “Over in the Gloryland”. This was followed by slow piece called “One Sweet Letter from You” and the well worn spiritual “Lonesome Road”, there was a slight at this point for the raffle and the football card (I haven’t won the football card for nearly 9 years now). The band resumed with the Fats Waller number “Blue Turning Grey Over You” and my last number of the evening was “the Original Dixieland One-Step”, again I had to leave because I wanted/needed to be back at the pub for close down. The week after was an excellent gig by Ruth Frith with John Everett’s Red Dragon Jazzmen which was excellent as always, but the closing number “St. James Infirmary” was marred for me somewhat as I’d learnt over the weekend that a fellow student from my primary school had been killed in a car crash in Germany.

Come Along Please
While Tom has been away helping out at one of our sister pubs I have been living in at the Kyn which has been something a mixed experience. On the plus side, it has been a saver in petrol money as I haven’t had to do so much driving and the Kyn is conveniently close to the Mytton so it is not too far to pop across and see my Mytton pals. Then there is the whole I don’t have to drive so I can have that second pint after work scenario or I can leisurely go through close down as I am not keeping anyone one up. The flip side is that even on my days off I’m still working in a sense as I have to do the office and sign in food and beer deliveries which can arrive pretty much anytime from 8am, so lie ins are a thing of the past (except on Sunday’s when there are no deliveries). There has been one slight unfortunate incident one morning, after a later then usual night due to the weekly line clean I wasn’t quite 100% awake and I’d slept in slightly, so to help wake myself up I drew the curtains back to get some sunlight. So after a minute or two lying in the sunlight I went for my morning shower and as I returned to placed the towel on the radiator to dry. Now here I followed my usual procedure of getting my work clothes off the curtain rail (no wardrobe to hand my shirts in) completely oblivious that the curtains were open and that the window drops quite low, so as I retrieve my uniform I notice that there are three girls waiting for the bus to college opposite the pub and a few birds in the trees grab my attention for a second, I’m thinking the bus must be late as they were checking their watches and it was at this moment that one of the girls glanced up for a second, did a double take and tapped her friends who then both looked up and gave me a trio of thumbs up gesture gestures and a watch looked like a shake of a phone, puzzled for a second I then realised the window ledge was below waist height and they’d just had a clear view of my morning glory! Best I could I made a quick getaway out of sight… note to self always leave the curtain drawn of a morning.
Well, semi-living in Leighton does have its other side in that due to its location it is a mini-focal point for people meeting up from Shrewsbury, Telford and Bridgnorth as it is sort of in the middle and it also means I have a good option for cinema trips as there is some slight variation between Telford’s and Shrewsbury’s Cineworlds screening and timing habits… it really is like I’m living on in the city of the edge of the world.

Total Film
I’ve made a couple of tricks to the cinema and saw two very different films: The Riot Club and The Maze Runner.
From the trailer, it was clear that the Riot Club was going to be about a toffee-nosed frat group but the trailer promised so much more. The set up and the trailer made it look like it was going to be a variation on the film Rope (in which two not-at-all-gay students murder a fellow student to prove their intellectual superiority), with this exclusive posh boys club eventually committing a murder because they are “sick of poor people” and to prove their rich superiority and get taken down a peg or two. Nope, it isn’t even a parable on class backgrounds (well it touches a little on that), essentially it is the Hangover with spoilt rich kids and ends with a landlord getting beaten up as he proves money can’t buy everything. Don’t bother with it, watch Rope instead.

The Maze Runner on the other hand was much better (if a little predictable), with boys being donated to a mystery forest living in fear of the creatures that stalk the monolith structure of the Maze. Like all good mazed based sci-fi thrillers the maze resets itself over and anyone who is trapped in it over night comes to sticky end. One of the more interesting aspects of the film is that it does have a whole Lord of the Flies vibe about it. The boys living outside the maze have built up an society in which they can survive and a few rogue elements changing everything. Some it happens to quick to really hold credibility such as the last boy to be added to the society starting the revolution and the ending and true purpose of the maze are pretty much telegraphed half way through, without too many spoilers think an experiment in Eugenics.

In other news I have updated my film collection with a number of boxsets from a variety of directors: Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and the Coen Brothers plus the collector’s edition of the complete series of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s peculiar slice of Americana, Twin Peaks. I’ve only watched a few episodes so far and yup it s as weird as I recall it being, though it is interesting to see how it puts a lot of darkly comic spins on traditions of the American dream. Another thing to notice is that it clearly influenced the conspiracy starts at closing time style programs which were to bloom in the mid-1990’s, the X Files being a prime example, in fact Kyle McLaughlin’s FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is very much a prototype agent Mulder, only nice and approachable.

That’s pretty much it for now… normal service should be resumed soon.

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