How’s the week been for the Sandman?
It has been ok I guess, Sian is being well… Sian.
For the most part I just went out with various pals for a bit of manliness and merriment in various local hostelries and amazingly didn’t have a hangover in the mornings after.
My actual birthday I made my way to Albrighton’s Sports and Social club for the Jazz which was Mike Owen’s Scarlette’s Serenaders with Sarah Spencer. I’ve seen Mike Owen before in various gigs at the Harp and at Upton and he was the one who the grumpy landlord who over saw the exchange from Wink to the new guys was giving dirty looks for because he bought his family with him. The band also had ‘Baby Jools’ on the drums and there was also a bass player and a guitar and banjo player but I didn’t catch what there names were. It was also pleasant to catch up with Mike whom I haven’t seen since about summer last year and seems in the early stages of trying to get a big band together, I wish him well on that front especially in these difficult times. The gig went fairly well and the first number was a number which evidently named after how often Sian goes into a strop a day: “Four or Five Times.” This was followed by a bluesy number called “Four Day Rider” and a couple of numbers whose names I missed. The first set closed with a Laurel and Hardy associated number called “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” which British readers may recall being used on an advert for Match.com, and a more rhythmic number called “Take Me to Jamaica”.
During the interval the raffle and the football card were drawn and one of my lucky stars was smiling one me as I won a prize in the raffle (three bottles of Marston’s Pedigree), but sadly not the £20 on the football card. One day I am sure I will do the double and both the raffle AND the football card. The second set opened with a monologue from Mike Owen over the loss of Jazz Clubs over the country and how it is sad that many know will not get the joy of being able to hang around the old joints, after he had finished the band kicked of in true Dixieland style with a number called “Shake That Thing” and followed it up with a Sunday spiritual called “Take My Hand Precious Lord”. Next was a trip into the Jazz Age when all things Egyptian were the in-thing for all the flappers and a series of vaguely Egyptian themed songs were written to capitalise on the craze, one of which was named “You Can Tell the Irish Built the Pyramids Because Only They Would Drag the Bricks Upwards”, oh dear. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) the number they played wasn’t that one but a number called “Love Songs Across the Nile” and was a slow ballad with Spencer attempted to play in the style of a young Stan Getz. Next up was a more Dixieland style piece which I believe was called Bogalosa Strutt which I have never heard of before which is something I cannot say about the number which followed with was “Iko Iko”, a number I am familiar with thanks to it being the opening track on Dr John’s album Gumbo and also being the opening number many moons ago at the Harp when they had a band called the Night Trippers who dressed in true New Orleans Mardi-Gras style. The set closed with another new number to me called “Down in Honkey Tonk Town” and a number, appropriate for a final number, called “We’ll Meet Again” which to my surprise was a totally different song to the Vera Lynn wartime song.
Over all not a bad gig in my view.
In the evening I did family celebrations and gave myself a nice early night ready for the grindstone in the morning as being half term it could potentially be busy and in fairness it was reasonably.
I have yet to make my way through any of the Blu-Rays and DVDs I acquired last week but never the less I am sure I will. In other music purchases I have got the Gil Evans Orchestra with Jaco Pastorius Live Under the Sky Concert in Japan which was partially televised and has now been released unedited on CD, now this was in 1984 and Jaco’s mental health issues were becoming more and more prominent (and exaggerated by substance abuse) and you can tell just by watching a clip from the televised part of the concert.
But hopefully his playing is not too badly effected and of course Gil Evans could always deliver on the band front so even if he isn’t overly great there will still be plenty to enjoy. I also got the Errol Garner Complete Concert by the Sea (which surprisingly doesn’t have him play his famous composition Misty) and Miles Davis: Bitches Brew 40th Anniversary Edition which has the complete album, six bonus tracks, a previously unreleased concert disc and a Live DVD, not bad for 11.99.
Looking at the band listing for Upton this year it seems that they have down scaled the amount of bands which may or may not be a good thing but I have the feeling the Upton Jazz Festival will not survive for much longer, this may be a pessimistic tone but I don’t think the spirit has been the same since “Sir” Alan was removed following the quagmire of 2012. However I’m still going this year and we’ll see what happens next year.