Saturday, 27 February 2010

alessis ark

alessis ark has signed to Bella Union. our fave gal from Hammersmith and has put together a fabulous ep, which goes by the name of Soul Proprietor which will be released in APRIL 2010...

you can check some info out here too

alessis ark will be touring to support the release, with Laura Marling and her own dates.

6th March
Lancaster Library
with the Ark
9th April
Limelight, Belfast
with the Ark & Laura Marling
10th April
Academy, Dublin
with the Ark & Laura Marling
12th April
Lowry, Salford
with the Ark & Laura Marling
13th April
Fruitmarket, Glasgow
with the Ark & Laura Marling
14th April
Queens Hall, Edinburgh
with the Ark & Laura Marling
16th April
Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
with the Ark & Laura Marling
17th April
Corn Exchange, Cambridge
with the Ark & Laura Marling
20th April
Opera House, York
with the Ark & Laura Marling
21st April
Colston Hall, Bristol
with the Ark & Laura Marling
22nd April
Tyne Theatre, Newcastle
with the Ark & Laura Marling
23rd April
Guildhall, Southampton
with the Ark & Laura Marling
25th April
Palladium, London
with the Ark & Laura Marling

Friday, 26 February 2010

Save 6Music

We cannot let 6music go without a damn good fight. Seriously.
As a board member of AIM< the assoc of independent music blah blah>, i am sure this will be immediately put on the urgent agenda and i hope some high level discussions can take place asap. there is no doubt in my mind that this will cripple an already ailing sector of our music industry. radio 1 in the 80s and 90s was partially, through peel able to cater for those with tastes outside the mainstream but since 2000, the AMOUNT of new music that is released, available, every day is staggering, and 6Music does an absolutely brilliant job of catering for the vast number of people who listen and enjoy it.

If one had a gripe about 6music it would simply be that the BBC have NOT invested enough thought in promoting the station heavily enough. A six month blast of 6music ads on BBC1 television peak time and through the evening, would soon redress that, and i cannot work out why they wouldnt do that/havent done that. My bands like fleet foxes, midlake etc, would NOT have reached the ears of the radio 1 and radio 2 producers without the early championing by the likes of marc riley, tom robinson, steve lamacq, lauren laverne etc...we are so lucky in the UK to have 6 music and believe me, as many of my bands are American, i know that with 6Music, we are the envy of them. The US radio system, NPR besides, is atrocious, and to hear the news today/last night, should it be confirmed, is staggering. I really didnt sleep so well last night. 6Music is not something that would EVER work in the commercial radio sector, so that excuse really is hogwash. The only stations most of us seem to listen to on our DABs are 5live and 6music, (radio 4, 2 and 7 to a degree) and for all those people that dont want to hear wall to wall pop music and dance music on radio 1, to scrap this unique station is simply ludicrous. Apart from the obvious glaring anomalies like george lamb's show, the programming is brilliant and the dj's are a delight, collins, jarvis, garvey, maconie, nemone, shaun keveney, gideon coe and the others mentioned and more. I, for one, fear greatly for our culture if 6music goes. It suggests that the powers that be, do support the dumbing down of our media output. It suggests that the BBC is no longer a voice of intergrity, diversity and no longer truly reflects all corners of the society it purports to represents.
Sky tv had very low audience for several years in the early days and now most households have a sky box or equivalent service. you have to commit to something for the long haul, not just rip it up and pretend it doesnt matter. If the BBC needs to become leaner, reduce the amount of people who had to go to vancouver to cover the winter olympics. we all want to see it but i dont think we needed to have live coverage every night from 12am-7am did we? 6Music supporting music is the BBC investing in the ailing music industry. To abandon it right now, would be treason.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A magical thing happened....

A magical thing happened to me tonight and I am still in a state of shock.

At 5pm tonight on my way home the following email arrived on my phone with the subject 'fender precision 57 bass'.

The letter read thus:

Hello Simon, I have been asked to contact you regarding a 57 Precision Bass that I believe may have belonged to you back in the 1990's.
Please can you contact John O'Connell (my other half!)

My heart was pumping so fast as I finished reading that I had to sit down.

You need to know this before I continue the story: In my previous life before bella union, I played bass in Cocteau Twins and during our 14 years together, I did accumulate some beautiful guitars and basses. From approx 1991 to 2001 we had the lease of Pete Townsend's Eel Pie studios and made our last few albums there, and ran the place as our own commercial recording facility, recording beth orton, hope sandoval, nick cave, dirty three, mark hollis, etc etc, as well as our own band broadcasting the world's first ever live-to-internet gig (which no one actually saw cos the technology wasn't up to it!)
With the constant turnover of artists and visitors at the studio during its heyday perhaps it was inevitable that some things would go missing. Yes you guessed it. As the break up of the band and the subsequent demise of our beautiful riverside recording studio swamped us over that period, and we lost nearly 15 years worth of recording studio gear, we at least salvaged all our guitars etc and yet when stuff got moved to a lock up I noticed that the flight case for the 57 fender precison was very light. Slowly I opened the case and the realisation began to kick in.

I searched high and low, at home, in garages, in studios, and I called friends in bands, managers etc and continued to do that for at least a year or two. Having used the guitar on tour, in the studio on many of our recordings, to be without it, did, laugh if you like, feel like being sparky without his magic piano. I never reported it stolen because I never had a clue WHEN it had gone missing or WHERE from, or even if it had just been borrowed. I do lend stuff out as most of my bands on bella union know well, but i knew I'd have never loaned THAT guitar out!

So fast forward to today some 8 or so years since I may last have seen it.

After reading Jan's mail, I call her husband John who it turns out runs a guitar shop in Edgware called rock around the clock.
A feller had gone into his shop with a couple of filthy, mouldy guitars that had been in a garage for years after a spell in a Crouch End Studio... They really were in a state. John had a quick look and told him that in this condition they weren't worth much at all. The chap mentioned that he'd been told that they may have belonged to the Cocteau Twins. John hadn't heard of the band so it didn't mean much to him. One was a Squier and one was a Precision. He paid a nominal fee to the feller for the pair and some old pedals. In the condition they were in John initially assumed the Fender was a Japanese reissue, and it was only a few days later when he was cleaning it up that he started to realise that it was a genuine '57 fender. He did a search on Google and after a few minutes came across a photo of me from 1988 playing that very guitar. It's very distinctive and John immediately realised that this may not be a simple re-sale. Further internet digging lead him to consider that this bass in his hands may indeed be stolen and so his endeavour to find me began. John is no fool and knows that the guitar, regardless of its rather sad condition, is a rare piece and highly valuable. He could easily have said nothing, sold it for several thousand pounds profit, and no one would ever be the wiser for it.
But John is not that man. He is that rare breed of human being who instinctively felt something wasn't quite right, and on discovering that, made the decision of karma over kash! As he said to me on the phone he "wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing it was stolen and that someone was still missing it"
That someone would dedicate all that time to trace the guitar back, (he even found the guitar shop where I had it repaired once) and to track down the owner, is a beautiful testament to the honour of musicians. A vintage Fender isn't a guitar to me, it's a piece of history, and a part of MY story. I will be re-united with the guitar next week and once I have it back home, I will lock it away!
Please take your custom to Rock Around The Clock in Edgware, and think of my story. I am making a 'donation' to the shop for their rescue and recovery operation which is the very least I can do to show my appreciation to John and the owners of the shop.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

mountain man yours truly

there's a lot of music filming going on out there. pitchfork tv, rockfeedbacktv, black cab sessions, i could go on...but rarely has there been anything quite as beautiful pop up on my screen and into my brain as the work of Yours Truly.

the truly amazing Mountain Man played three songs for them in session and you can watch it here...

i would embed it, but it looks more beautiful in wide screen and there so many other cool articles and blogs on here i would rather you spent some time over there before coming back over here...; )