I’m late this month. Mainly because I have watched almost every game of Euro 2020, supporting England and Wales (Welsh Grandfather – I could have played for them… if I’d been any good).
Whilst I spent last night shouting in celebration of finally getting past Germany in a tournament I do wonder why live events are still not allowed to return. Over 40,000 were in Wembley Stadium and yes I know it is outside, but TV footage of 100’s crammed in to pubs hugging each other in celebration is no different to a bouncing gig.
I miss gigs more than I ever thought I could. Let’s hope freedom day is coming soon.
Stay Safe everyone.
~ THE GUITAR SHOW MEMORIES ~
A few years ago one of the big boys told me that my venue wasn’t prestigious enough for their brand and therefore they wouldn’t be doing the show. After I had calmed down (I was quite sweary for a while) it got me thinking, where do they think the vast majority of their guitars are used? Now I’m sure that we would all love to be playing at the Royal Albert Hall with all of its history and plush surroundings. But I don’t know about you, I’ve played in every sh*thole in the Midlands over the years. I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it.
Are my all time favourite gigs in Symphony Hall with its comfy seats and perfect sound or are they in dark, skinky clubs with sweat dripping off the ceiling? I know where I’d rather be.
I spent a couple of days getting to know Photoshop (sweary again) and made 30 fake posters, just like the ones that cover all of my favourite venues, Gareth and Mark (the Horn Bros) stuck them up outside with wallpaper paste and some were actually pealed off and nicked, I couldn’t have been happier.
Yes, Bingley Hall may not be prestigious enough for some, but I feel far more at home there and more in touch with what my gigging life was actually like rather than a marketing dept’s idea of where their guitars should be played.
~ BOOK ~
TO HELL AND BACK MY LIFE IN JOHNNY THUNDERS’ HEARTBREAKERS, IN THE WORDS OF THE LAST MAN STANDING Walter Lure
I’ve been a massive New York Dolls / Johnny Thunders fan since is was a teenager, I know what people say about the “mock rock”, the sneers, the “can’t play” etc. I don’t care. The Heartbreakers’ L.A.M.F. is and will always be in my top ten albums of all time. I think its genius is in it’s raw, viceral and chaotic sound. I like the sound of a band on the edge of disintegration. Sadly all the Heartbreakers are now gone, Lure finished this book just before he died last year.
There have been many books written about Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, but only by people who weren’t there. Walter Lure was–from the band’s chaotic beginnings on New York’s Lower East Side, through a now-legendary UK tour with the Sex Pistols and the Clash, and on to a yearlong stay in London–eyewitness and midwife to the birth of UK punk. Now, he tells his story in To Hell and Back, a thrilling ride through the clubs and dives of two continents, in the company of one of the most notorious junkies in rock ‘n’ roll history. Drawing from his own contemporary journals, Lure paints a vivid portrait of life in both cities, during perhaps the most crucial musical uprising of the past forty years…the music, the characters, the clothes, the fights, the drugs, the orgies, the lot. Lure lays bare his own battle with drugs, and reflects upon his life after the band’s split–rising to become a Wall Street fixture yet still finding time to make music.
I’ve met Norm a few times in his store, a jolly host he is too. He understands that he is not just a shop owner, thanks to social media he is now a destination and a personality. If the YouTube channel wasn’t enough, now there is the podcast.
Located in Los Angeles, Norman’s Rare Guitars is a retail store that offers a wide and often changing variety of new, used, and vintage guitars. It is a household name among top musicians and players worldwide. The allure of the store may start with the guitars, but to quote Norman’s “nephew” Joe Bonamassa, “you don’t buy a guitar, you buy a story.” Join Norman and all of his buddies — some of the world’s best professional musicians and industry greats — as they stop by to talk with Norm and share their stories, intimate details of their lives, and a whole lot of music history.
My tenuous claim to fame is being in a band with Andy Wickett, the man that wrote Rio and Girls on Film before he was replaced by Simon Le Bon. The demo we did in the late 80’s actually doesn’t sound too dissimilar, it just has no keyboards. I had dismissed Duran Duran for a long time, they were the enforced soundtrack to my teenage years. All the girls at school loved them, I loved KISS.
I put this on out of idle curiosity one Sunday when I was ironing school uniforms (rock n roll eh!). It is really good and has led me to re-appraise DD, they were/are much much better than I had given them credit for. Those bass lines are amazing, and I thought they were just a tarted up boyband – sorry!
I think one of the magazines said James didn’t run a guitar shop, James was a curator. This is probably the best description I can think of. An online store of the very best, James must spend half his life looking for products, because just like Oscar Wilde, he has the simplest of tastes, only the best will do.
Add to that the fact that he can clearly use a DSLR and has good social media game, make JHOT a must follow on Instagram.
To this day I can’t remember where I found Northcote, one day I had never heard of them/him*, the next the CD was in my car for months.
Northcote sit in that genre that is Springsteen inspired Americana, alongside Brian Fallon/Gaslight Anthem, Jesse Malin, Chuck Ragan and Dave Hause. Song story telling at it’s finest. Coming in at just over 30 mins long, Hope is Made of Steel is just about perfect.
*Northcote is really just Canadian songwriter Matt Goud.
I continue to monitor the UK’s Roadmap, my thoughts go up and down with it, today I found out my friends that run the awesome 2000Trees Festival have had to pull it again. July was always going to be a tough ask, so close to the magical June 21st, but maybe with not enough breathing room if things get delayed even by a couple of weeks.
Whilst the live music and events industry is worth billions to the UK economy it doesn’t seem to get the required support that other smaller, but more politically expedient industries get.
In good news though, so far approx 2/3 of exhibitors have said that subject to everything being ok they will be back for The Guitar Show 2022.
Stay Safe everyone.
~ THE GUITAR SHOW MEMORIES ~
A Run Down of Dan Hawkins’ Rig
You can’t call it a Rig Run Down, that belongs to Premier Guitar, but I do love watching them and what else would you call them?
Marshall came up trumps for me in 2018, I asked if they had got anyone I could do the Run Down with and they offered Dan Hawkins of The Darkness. I sent Dan an email explaining that he had done one of my shows before when he and the Stone Gods had played at Music Live, so credentials were checked and we were good to go.
I got a call on the morning of the show, Dan is outside the venue, can someone please go get him and usher him in and hide him away in a green room. I went out, said hello and walked him in, he took one look at the hall, dumped his bags and was off shopping, the next time I saw him, he had a pint in his hand and a pedal he had bought from Fredric Effects.
Dan filled the marquee and those Marshall amps were amazing (and amazingly loud too). On the Saturday night we went for a curry, because there are so many of us I have to order in advance, I was surprised Dan had gone for such a hot balti, but not as surprised as Dan and his tech were when it was delivered, blimey its a bit warmer than Brick Lane they kept saying.
Dan was great and I hope to have him back to The Guitar Show in the future.
~ BOOK ~
This is sat waiting for me to finish Louis Theroux’s autobiography, which suprisingly I am finding quite hard going.
The blurb says
“It was the age when heavy-footed, humorless dinosaurs roamed the hard-rock landscape. But that all changed when into these dazed and confused mid-’70s strut-ted four flamboyant bands that reveled in revved-up anthems and flaunted a novel theatricality. In They Just Seem a Little Weird, veteran entertainment journalist Doug Brod offers an eye- and ear-opening look at a crucial moment in music history, when rock became fun again and a gig became a show.
This is the story of friends and frenemies who rose, fell, and soared once more, often sharing stages, studios, producers, engineers, managers, agents, roadies, and fans-and who are still collaborating more than forty years on.”
Being a rockstar is a lot of hard work but it’s got nothing on being a dad; just ask Jaret Reddick + Gary Wiseman. You might know them from Bowling For Soup but behind the pop punk singalongs, they’re just two guys trying to get through bullies, vasectomies, and everything else that comes with being “Dad”.
Every week Jaret + Gary will invite other rockstar dads on air to talk about the highs and lows of parenting between band practice. Whether you’re a dad, you have a dad, or you just like dad jokes, The Rockstar Dad Podcast is about to make Monday so much better.
You may not like Oasis but Noel Gallagher along with Graham Coxon practically saved the UK’s guitar market on their own in the mid-’90s.
Kurt Cobain had gone and guitar music was in a massive slump, the effect of Britpop on the guitar sales was a shot in the arm, all of a sudden it was ok to like loud guitars again, it was ok to be a rock star again and ok to have a laugh again, plus Stock, Aitken & Waterman were finally banished from the charts (at last).
Supersonic charts the band’s successes and many arguments along the way, but the footage of them headlining Knebworth in front of an estimated 250,000, shows just how important they were. It is no wonder that one of the common themes when discussing the health of the guitar market today is “Where is the next Oasis…?”
This page – Vintage Guitar Posts has some of the most beautifullly shot and curated vintage guitars on instgram.
There isn’t much of an explanation, I don’t know if the page owner actually has any of these guitars, if they do, they are very very lucky, from Fender to Gibson to Gretsch to Martin, all are absolutely stunning
The past is a nice place to visit, but not a good place to stay
Sometimes a trip down memory lane is the right thing to do, I don’t dwell too much on the records I loved as a teenager, well, because I’m not that person anymore and I’ve bought (and continue to buy) records by new artists all the time.
When ‘A Graveyard of Empty Bottles” came out I bunked off school, the only time I ever did, my justification was that it was a limited edition 10″ Mini Album and I couldn’t wait for Saturday to roll around and potentially miss it. I have number 3910.
Mentioning the Dogs D’Amour last month, sent me on that trip down memory lane, I have all of their albums and most of Tyla’s post Dogs output, but this one will always be special to me, released in the late 80’s, it was so different to what every other rock band was doing at the time, it is a predominantly acoustic album, just beating MTV’s unplugged sessions.
“So Once was I” also has one of my favourite lyrics ever, only years later did I realise it was taken from a latin translation of a monks grave, not exactly typical 80’s fair and certainly not from the Glam/Hair Metal genre that Dogs were lumped in with.