Friday, 7 June 2013

Gertie's Catching Up

Feeling slightly discombobulated suddenly going from a seemingly endless winter straight in to summer, one minute everything bare and the next everything is sprouting, the Agapanthus has moved outside and the gnu's been planting endless quantities of annuals, 200 Lobelia Crystal Palace and 60 Impatiens (Busy Lizzies) yesterday.(Update 16/06/2013-Spoke Too Soon: summer didn't last long and now autumn has returned)  I don't know if the gardeners out there have noticed that there aren't many Impatiens available this year, Vic's dad had to get his seeds from New Zealand, the weather did for ours over here.

On the 17th May we were heading north for the trip to Preston for the 3rd in the Sect's first quartet of gigs in 2013 to play at The New Continental and it was up there with the most enjoyable. The sun was shining for the first time in about a year and a comfy journey in Kev's vintage Volvo estate set the mood. The New Continental is an an extraordinary venue, very community centred, set on the banks of the River Ribble and covering events from all kinds of music to Glove Puppet Theatre to beer Festivals and all stops in between, a bar, restaurant, lovely garden and car park. They treated the group very,very well including a slap up meal, best meal ever had at a gig (mind you the Sect don't often get offered one, hint, hint).
 Dan and Joe's skills with the sound and lighting were much appreciated. Can't wait to visit Preston again- Many thanks to Robin for the invite.
Photograph by Helen Lonsdale Robinson

Top support from Super Fast Girlie Show and from Manchester The Bell Peppers.

Video of  'Nobody's Scared' (played at heart attack inducing speed) courtesy of Rod Podmore-

Had to pick a chain hotel in Preston so down to location/parking and general vibe, came down to a toss up between a Premier Inn or Holiday Inn, as both the same price fairly obviously opted for Holiday Inn.  It is a bit further away from The New Continental but still only about a mile and more parking options, if car park is full then you use the Bus Station car park literally opposite which is an interesting stand alone piece of architecture in it's own right . Large/clean rooms with endless choice of pillows to suit all and sundry and good breakfast (relying on Vic's opinion for that but he does know a thing or two about a good breakfast). Welcoming and helpful staff, particularly the night shift who went the extra mile to accommodate with nightcaps,tea and coffee and extra sugar,tea and milk for the rooms.....and a toothbrush for Myers. The hotel is situated between two roads but didn't get disturbed by any noise and both Gert and the gnu are very light sleepers. (We were on the 4th floor) Would recommend.     

The first quartet of Subway Sect gigs ended on another high with The F Club Presents at The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.
 Another almost  stress free journey North on my favourite road the A1(M) (being the smallest person the gnu got the middle seat in the back of the car, this time a hired Nissan Quashqai so knees bent up round chin for about 8 hours over two days), hardly any juggernauts and seemingly much more laid back drivers than on the M1. Stopped at Stibbington Services for lunch, top of my list of stop offs, it's a proper truck stop with food cooked to order. And I'm reliably informed that in the men's loo they have a machine dispensing not packets of condoms but Xylitol- 'Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth and also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay.' Progress or what!!!

Vic and the Sect have been very lucky this year with venues and supports, at The Brudenell it was The Expelaires and The Cyanide Pills and another friendly appreciative crowd made everyone feel very welcome, the 'sweet treat' mementos proved popular again,retro 70's theme for Preston and Yorkshire & sport related for Leeds.

The 'new' 4 piece Sect line up (Paul C had to pull out of the last two gigs due to injury but he will be back for the next 4 Subway Sect gigs at the end of the year, fingers crossed)  with Mark back on drums, Kevin, Myers and Vic back on guitar went down a storm with Vic and Myers getting well in to the banter, though not sure anyone got their references to Feltham, etc (except Dan) .  Also delighted that Tracey Holloway and Lee McFadden decided to brave the threat of the massing morons of the far right (comforting to know they could only muster about 60 bigots in what was meant to be the biggest bigot turn out of the weekend) and made the trip to Leeds, so we have videos.
This one of four is 'You Bring Out The Demon In Me' the B side to the Aed single 'Caught in Midstream' which has had a great reception.Marc Riley has given it 'loads of plays'-Big Up to him for the support (AND Vic and the Sect are back for another session with Marc on July 22nd.)A few copies mail order from Aed   (Update - Only about 20 left 15/06/2013)

AND you'll never guess who else turned up in Leeds- Sect alumnus Dan (Ashkenazy) and  Karen, delighted to see them again and catch up and coincidentally we were all staying at the same hotel in Headingley, a very chilled out attractive area with lots of places to eat and drink, probably because it is close to more than one Leeds Uni campus.  The Headingley Lodge Hotel is actually in the cricket ground

An unusual hotel concept but quite a clever idea to ensure maximum use of and return on the building. It is only open to the public as a hotel when there isn't any cricket on. During major cricket matches the hotel staff pack up and leave for the duration and the bedrooms become hospitality suites.Luckily for the Sect it re-opened as a hotel after the New Zealand-England test match that was on the week before we arrived.  All the rooms face the pitch so wonderful outlook but unfortunately you can't use the door on to the balcony/seating just outside for security/ health and safety reasons, only accessible when the rooms are in cricket hospitality mode. Large rooms, HUGE beds, very clean, showers not baths, would definitely stay again. Hot breakfasts are available from the ground's cafe Mon-Fri, at weekends a continental breakfast in the room is offered but didn't fancy that so went out for breakfast,  the very helpful day manager pointing the group in the direction of Arc for very good breakfast and a bargain at 2 for £10:
Myers charmed the night manager and flirted his way to a half price toothbrush-

''Money, who needs it
Just to live a life free and easy
Put a toothbrush in my hand
And let me be a traveling man
Cos I'm a roadrunner baby''

Jr Walker & The All Stars 'Roadrunner'
Other news- Vic's back in the studio next week for some more work on 1979 Now.( Update 16/06/2013 - backing tracks of 3 more songs recorded- 'Born To Be a Rebel', You Made Me and Nameitwhatyoulike- if it wasn't tempting fate I might say the end's in sight but I'm not going to do that just yet.) 

Then he and the gnu are looking forward to being back in Scotland at the end of June. First up Vic's guesting at The Jazzateers show at Stereo as part of the The Glasgow Jazz Festival on 27th, singing a selection of jazz classics and a few VU numbers with his own special guests - members of the Independent Group Andy Alston, Campbell Owens, Mick Slaven, Douglas MacIntyre and James Kirk.

Then it's on to Edinburgh on Friday 28th for Neu! Reekie! 35- 'Summer Storm' featuring a veritable feast of entertainment -  Momus, Vic with Douglas MacIntyre as well as a celebration of Sandie Craigie with readings by Kevin Cadwallender 
Jenny Lindsay and Colin McGuire

Tickets going fast -

Maybe Live and Rare Vol 3 in next few months and maybe a gnu inc 7" of new songs, lots of maybes!

Bit of a hiatus now gig wise for Subway Sect until the next four 'Specials' (concentrating on recording!!!) and the two dates in Hamburg towards the end of the year.
Poster designs by Andrew Shaw

8th/9th November Astra Stube Hamburg
With DJing by Martin Soulstew
Subway Sect Specials
29th November Star & Shadow Cinema Newcastle
30th November Hebden Bridge Trades Club
With Special Guests The hybrid Kill Pretty Hamsters
And The Andy Thorley Band

Festive Fiestas
13th December   Spinning Chilli Presents at
The Green Door Store Brighton
 With the legendary Asbo Derek joining Subway Sect once more to provide you with a cracking night of  festive disrespect and irreverence to kick start the 'Especially Commercial' season.
AND............... 'GNU'S GRAND PRIZE DRAW'
  Each ticket holder will get a raffle ticket and at the end of the gig the gnu (or invited guest) will be drawing the winning tickets with a positive cornucopia of Sect related prizes to be won. (In other words not sure exactly what yet but bound to be good) Also the chance to do some gift shopping at gnu's 'seasonal store'.
 14th December Symptomatic Presents @ The Water Rats London- Rounding off the Subway Sect Specials for 2013 with details to follow,expect some great supports and more of the above. Watch this space and  for details. 

Gert's Book Recommendation of the Blog-
The Mysteries by Robert McGill  Vintage UK -not your average thriller, set in the small Ontario town of Sunshine, where both the inhabitants and reader are drawn in to the claustrophobic mores of small town life and ignore the 'elephant in the room'.
 A sad loss to racing and humankind. One of, if not the most enjoyable day I had in 2012 was on a trip to York Races to see Frankel run in the Juddmonte International Stakes, the sun mostly shone,the atmosphere was electric and there was the friendliest vibe I've ever felt from such a large number of people in such close proximity to one another.The welcome Sir Henry and Frankel got from the huge,mostly 'local' crowd was uplifting, no other word for it. Wonderful memory I'll treasure.

Closing with Gert's musings on punk. What does being 'punk' mean? Gert and the gnu ruminating on this the other day, as you do and Gert came to the conclusion that the Clash have a lot to answer for. To me being 'punk' was about individuality, originality,imagination and putting two fingers up to the music business. Did Siouxsie and the Banshees sound like the Sex Pistols? Did X Ray Spex sound like Subway Sect? No they didn't and another thing occurs to me, there was no blokish element in punk, I mean you couldn't get anyone less blokish than Johnny Rotten and he was the standard bearer, but along came the Clash and maybe because they are easy to emulate, from then until now punk seems to mean 'if you sound and dress like the Clash', ie basically a guitar led, leather/denim clad blokish rock band. It is ironic that despite the downfall of the major record labels and the spread of 'do it yourself' and the opportunities for going it alone that have arisen due to the internet and new technology I rarely if ever come across the inspiring in music categorised as punk, it always seems to hark backwards and most often comes across as a version of the Clash, when surely punk is about being different and new and not caring about what anyone thinks and not about fitting yourself in to a narrow defined genre?  Should punk even be defined as a music genre when the originals were all so different and THAT was the point, the punk ethos was inclusive (and still elusive), open to all. When you look at the line ups for 'punk' gigs/festivals Gert's heart sinks, the same old, same old playing the same old, same old. Punk is dead. Long live Punk.
Ambition- Brudenell Social Leeds 01/06/2013 by Lee McFadden & Tracey Holloway

Forgot to mention that apart from a few copies gnu's taking to Scotland at the end of the month Live in Stereo Too is SOLD OUT.
And really interesting interview with Vic, not the usual run of the mill questions-  
Latest edition of Your Heart Out Out Now- "The forty-sixth issue of YHO is all about stopping to consider a particular sequence of Missy Elliott records and finding a lot to say about them."

Ok, that's all folks.