Amongst my many feathers on my bow, or fingers in many pies, or whichever mixed metaphors you prefer… doing some freelance mastering is a new one. I’ve been obsessed by mastering (as well as mixing) for some years now, and I’m now at the point where I feel happy doing it professionally. All part of the adaptive and many-threaded career of the modern musician. Continue reading →
The first of two recommendations from last week’s Folk Weekend: Oxford festival (which the keen of memory might remember I’ve been running the local stages for). There were lots of festival highlights, but the Welsh trio Elfen was the surprise hit that everyone was talking about. This band was actually booked by the other artistic director, Jenny, so I wasn’t really aware of them until I happened to see them perform. Continue reading →
We all have stories that we can come back to again and again and never be tired of. I have watched the film Jaws at least 100 times, but could happily sit down to watch it right now. I could read M.R. James’s short stories. I could read John Le Carré’s Tinker Sailor Soldier Spy. And the latest addition to this canon of so-good-I-never-get-sick-of-it is a 2011 book that became a huge Hollywood movie hit with critics and the box office alike: The Martian by Andy Weir.
All of these stories have one thing in common: aside from great characters or great writing or great insight, they are also good old-fashioned ‘cracking yarns’. They have a simple story that pulls you in and sweeps you along. The premise of The Martian can be summed up in a couple of sentences: astronauts on a Mars mission, fleeing a storm, have to abort and leave the planet, but they leave one behind. Botanist and mechanical engineer Mark Watney, finding that (as the movie tagline puts it) “help is only 140 million miles away”, has to survive long enough for NASA to rescue him, if they even can. Continue reading →
I discovered the band I Said Yes when I was booking bands for Folk Weekend: Oxford (for more on the adventures of which, read this month’s newsletter), and Count Drachma, who were initially going to play, had to drop out and kindly lined up their own replacement. So I had heard I Said Yes online, but that’s a different thing to seeing in person. Here’s what their press says:
A versatile and energetic five-piece who combine arresting harmonies with styles ranging from traditionally inspired folk to rousing indie disco. Their live shows have a reputation for ‘stormy warmth’ and they’ve supported artists such as Florence and the Machine, Lucy Rose, Johnny Flynn, Stornoway and Turin Brakes.
This month I have been mostly marvelling at colourised historical photographs. Hardly a new phenomenon, particularly on the internet. But it recently struck me just how much of a difference it made to the photos adding that one ingredient: colour. Because we all know that grainy black and white photographs happened in The Past. In the ‘Before’ of ‘Before and After’. ‘BC’, somehow. But colour photographs could have happened now. It’s that much easier to imagine you’re looking at the thing happening in front of you.
I fell down a fine sequence of rabbit holes, but am only adding a fraction here, because I wanted to show the b/w next to the colour as much as possible, and give credit to the photographers, and get a selection from all around the world and not just the UK and the US… but, you know, life is short. You get the idea.
My monthly recommendations tend to be music, films, books or YouTube channels. And probably in that order. But in the name of trying not to keep repeating myself, this month is different.
I use a lot of photos from free stock libraries, and ‘Annie Spratt’ is a photographer’s name that comes up again and again in the libraries I use. In fact, I have used her photographs again and again — the last time being last month’s featured track, The Sheep Stealer. Continue reading →