Monthly Archives: February 2018

Moores People Update 5

February 22, 2018

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated the Moores page, I know. I need some new things to post! Don’t be shy in passing photos or information to me.

At a public meeting held by our local MP (about our not having Superfast broadband) then Bob Redwood (Export Sales Manager) appeared! As you can see he’s looking well and a lot younger than he actually is. (I won’t name his age and spoil our new found friendship). Still residing locally he is enjoying retirement and is the Honorary Secretary of the Acomb & District Conservative Club, which if I remember the story correctly doesn’t automatically pay anything into the Tory coffers! He’s knocking about on Facebook and so look him up.

I still meet up with Mark Sutcliffe (Financial Accountant) and Jim Brady (Sales Administration, PS Sales & Installation) and we’ve been to see some Canadian Americana and Colorado Bluegrass. The latter in the banjo capital of Western Europe – Selby. Mark knows everything about vinyl records and probably more. If there’s something that you want to replace or get hold of then he is the man, I can put you in touch. Steve Jessney (Group Design Manager) invited me to his radio station (Vixen 101) in Market Weighton where I got a request played and I saw inside the workings of a studio.

Continue reading Moores People Update 5

Record Of The Week # 39

February 22, 2018

Champion Jack Dupree – I Had A Dream

I was reading a book I bought in Canada called The Chitlin’ Circuit And The Road To Rock ‘N’ Roll by Preston Lauterbach. For those who know little about the circuit then it was a selection of venues in the American South. The circuit was initially popular for large bands that played to dance goers in small and often lethal venues. The story is not only about the locations, African American culture and music but also the promoters. Predictably the promoters were less than lovely: prostitution, illegal gambling and money laundering came in tow. The venues were often dangerous. They had no fire safety and there is a horrific story about the loss of 244 lives in Natchez, Mississippi when one such venue caught fire. I cycled past the plaque in 2015 on my way to New Orleans. In this instance the event organisers had sought to keep out gate crashers by nailing the windows and doors shut.

Chitterlings were pig’s intestines and associated with an African American diet. The history says that their taste for such offal arose from what was left after their white employers took the choice cuts. So the venues were for African Americans and it was here that some of the most remarkable and legendary acts started their careers. When recorded music became popular the folk wanted to hear them play live. This co-incided with rising costs of putting large acts on the road. So the venues turned to recording artists who often performed alone but maybe backed by a pick up band. This worked perfectly with Blues and early Rock n’ Roll.

So anyway as I’m reading this book about this phenomena I came across Champion Jack Dupree as a ‘bouncer’ at the Naptown Nitery in Indianapolis in the 1940’s. He was already a barrelhouse pianist in demand after having playing live for many years and having recorded several sides for Okeh Records. The club in question was owned by Denver Ferguson the pre-eminent promoter on the Chitlin’ Circuit.

At this point I remembered my father’s record collection.

My father loved jazz. He played a four string rhythm acoustic guitar in the Royal Air Force (as well as repairing Halifax bombers) and collected records (which were passed to me). These were mainly Dixieland and his heroes were Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Kid Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Frankie Trumbauer, Wing Manone, Muggsy Spanier and other bands of the late 1920’s and 1930’s. When he passed I looked through my vinyl inheritance and there was this album, it seemed very out of place. It was like someone discovering a Kanye West record in my collection. (In case you’re interested then no I haven’t).

He liked the Blues if it was played on a cornet and had a funeral paced trombone pouring emotion behind. Granted, he had the obligatory Bessie Smith records but why Champion Jack Dupree? I’d love to have asked him.

In some idle emails with Steve Jessney of Nothin’ But The Blues radio fame on Vixen 101 William Thomas ‘Champion Jack’ Dupree came up and Steve forwarded some of his recording for me to absorb. This I did and I then reached for my Dad’s vinyl. Dupree is described as a barrelhouse piano-player and Blues singer. There is beauty and emotion in his soulful voice that is complemented by his rolling piano that fills the gaps or keeps the rhythm. In fact the sound is complete and the need for other instruments is often not necessary. This is early 20th Century Blues in the late 20th Century, which could only be played by a man of his heritage and background.

If I had to write about a fictional Blues musician I could never have dreamt up Champion Jack. My attempt would include some prodigious talent, a lot of racial prejudice, New Orleans as a birthplace, possible being orphaned and then some addictions before legendary status and reverence.

I would not included a father from the Belgian Congo and a half African American and Cherokee mother who were killed in their house by a fire started by the Klu Klux Klan. Credibility would be stretched by a career that involved 107 boxing bouts and the winning of the amateur title of ‘Golden Gloves (affording our hero the prefix of ‘Champion’). Now venturing into nonsense the pugilist would make ends meet by being a cook (mainly of New Orleans cuisine, of course). These were skills he’d use in the US Navy during the Second World War where he’d end up in a Japanese POW camp after his ship went down.

Subsequently he’d decide after a music career in the deeply prejudiced Deep South to move to Europe. He’d calculate that he was welcome and the competition for well paid gigs was less. Here he’d live in England, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany before dying in the early 1990’s. Along the way he’d be cited by white Blues megastars as an influence and also play with them.

Oh, yes and I wouldn’t have thrown in the three wives or the eleven kids.

Dupree spent his brief marriage to Shirley, a white waitress he met at a London club, in Ovenden. This is about 45 miles from my house in West Yorkshire. Ovenden’s entry in Wikipedia tells you that it boasts a population of just over 12,000. Its main claim to fame is being a former home of Dupree!

In fact the town is close to Halifax, a much larger town. Halifax is typical of many towns that have declined and or reinvented themselves after Britain’s industrial decline. The Calder Valley on which it sits historically was a centre of wool, carpet, confectionary and machine tool production. Today it’s best known for a bank that includes its name in its title.

Not all the locations that I have visited in the USA match the romance of the names. Without seeking to tarnish them then Muscle Shoals, Clarksdale, New Orleans, Highway 61 and the rest are important but not easy on the eye. I have to say that Ovenden wouldn’t have been in my improbable fictional Blues musician’s life. He must have loved her!

As regards the album then in 1982 Dupree was living in Hanover; this is his third album with guitarist Kenn Lending. Lending is Danish and he recorded and played with Dupree for the remainder of his life accumulating around 12 albums and over 1,000 concerts. The age difference was 45 years; it is unimaginable what Lending learned. Dupree was probably glad to have a younger and fitter companion for all the touring that they did to make a living!

The album still sounds contemporary with several songs that touch the edges of rock n’ roll with their boogie woogie rhythms. Lending plays a key roll often behind the piano in the mix but usually getting a turn at the melody as the young Dane picks on his Gibson delicately around the more robust stride piano of Dupree. Ten tracks are simply played and produced but it is a full sound.

When not singing he can regale us with a chat about Ray Charles’ in “Baby Please Don’t Go” or the evils of LSD in “You Better Kick The Habit”. “Rockin’ The Boogie’ is contemporary as it sounds and the telepathic electric guitar relationship comes to the fore. All bar one are self compositions. Roosevelt Sykes’ “I Hate To Be Alone” is the exception. Unusually this involves some unison vocals with Lending.

Lyrically throughout we get the full nine yards – women problems, humour, drugs, loneliness and a little bit of Christianity on the spiritual “Good Lord Born On Christmas.

Always in command and never straining you know he’s completely in control and probably only unleashing a small amount of this talent. The piano playing on “You Better Kick The Habit’ gives glimpses of the sophisticated jazzy patterns he could weave.

In between the vocal interjections redolent of old Bluesmen comes the humour. On the title track “I Had A Dream” he tells us about his mother in law. “She was crazy. I knew she was crazy… but not about me!”

I shall be rummaging through some jazz vinyl racks to see if I can lay my hands on more Dupree/Lending gems. If there is anything to remember from this ramble then don’t dispose of your Dad’s records as I came back to this 28 years after he’d gone.

Gender Neutral, One Last Request & Saving The Planet – Week 6 : 2018

February 12, 2018

Breaking down stereotypes is important. As a bloke of numerous years then my daughters will confirm that I have ‘baggage’. Step forward Lieutenant Colonel Lucy Giles. She is the first female college commander (?) at Sandhurst. In a week when we were celebrating British women getting the vote then the BBC were talking to prominent women who have broken through ‘glass ceilings’. All good.

She came across as very personable and has seen service around various conflict zones. Through talent and a re-calibration of the way the Armed Forces respects and nurtures female talent then she has ended up in this senior role. The interview on The One Show went according to plan and eventually the presenter called an end to it and thanked her. She graciously responded but asked one favour. Of course? Can I just say hello to my two children who are watching the programme…

Talking of TV then I am not a great watcher of ‘who dunnits’. So when Anna watches the next murder frenzy being poured over by energetic yet dysfunctional detectives, often driving classic old British cars, I glaze over. I see other things in the episode.

Endeavour had the young detective attending a scene in heavy rain. The rain was falling like stair rods from a powerful hosepipe. It wasn’t British rain and the light was wrong – the sky darkens with rain. Not here: I was expecting someone to appear in sunglasses behind the collected plod under umbrellas looking at a prostrate form with a bolt protruding from his ear.

Added to this was the problem with the 1960’s classic cars. ‘Working’ cars are often dirty and, especially with busy policemen, neglected. These particular cars had small rivulets of water standing on their gleaming paintwork. The rivulets arise from the fact that the owners spend most of their waking hours rubbing Autoglym polish into the paintwork. Anyway, surprisingly, my first wife did not appreciate my informed commentary and I was invited to leave the room.

Going bald means more trips to the hairdresser. This is because what you have left doesn’t sit well on your head and you start to look like an elderly Geography teacher unless you keep it trimmed. As a man who has a ‘lot off’ then talking to Clare, my hairdresser, is not difficult but I tend to ask questions that interest me! We got onto who owns the Salon and the how the owners treat her. I heard of unpaid leave for a funeral, crumbling infrastructure, excess hours and the like.

All these things were batted away by the owners who by all accounts were professionals who had other responsible jobs and worked in large well resourced organisations. Regrettably Clare’s only ever raised these issues when they were passing through and she was brandishing scissors over a mane. So we discussed how she should properly corner them and discuss these issues in a heartfelt, list structured, practised but non-threatening way. I think it was a useful consultation but the haircut price remained the same!

Got to admit Elon Musk is an impressive nutter. Lord knows it is spectacular amount of dosh to burn on a trip up around the planet. It helps to be worth $21 billion but I was impressed with the sports car image. Sadly it wasn’t a Morgan.

The weekend saw me out of my depth. I attended a University of York Lifelong Learning course called “A Writer’s Workout: Part Two”. I think I can put pen to paper but compared to the other course members I felt like I was not in their league. Regular writing exercises punctuated the day. The lecturer picked on people to read out their work. One involved writing a postcard to your mother or father (and there is an issue at home). There were no other instructions or advice.

I composed something brief, uninspired and poor and it was handed to another course member to write back. Their postcard, handed to me, read:

“Dear Arthur, The police were around again today. Keep your head below the parapet, son. If anyone asks why you aren’t in the army, tell them you’ve got a bad heart – it doesn’t show. This lot will be over by Christmas and then it won’t matter. All the best, son – Dad”

How brilliant and creative. Another exercise was where we threw a dice with pictures on them and from here you constructed a character. My die were a parachute, a smiley face and a bee. I wrote some rubbish about a conman on the run. One lady took her die and pictures then wrote about a Santa Claus in a Garden Centre! Again, remember she had 60 seconds to think up this situation.

At 4pm I crept out of the classroom feeling wiser but feeling that I’d got away, by a hair’s breadth, from being humiliated.

(The doing away with ‘Men’ and ‘Female’ specific toilets in the University to gender neutral was a surprising development. My Favourite Eldest corrected my exasperated recidivist tendencies and confirmed that this is a good thing).

I’m sure you’ll share my disappointment at failing to procure Britney Spears tickets for her gig in Scarborough. I could have bought some but at £137 each I was not tempted. We saw her Piece Of Me show in Las Vegas in 2016. It’s fabulous and I hope the weather behaves for the Yorkshire fans who’ll turn up.

Recycling is a very good idea. City of York Council’s advice is that only plastic bottles can be recycled and placed in your recycling containers. The rest can be taken to various recycling locations around the city. The following guide is for York. Of interest is the triangle and number stamped on the bottom of most plastic containers – this secret unlocks the mystery of what you can do with your waste:

No, please don’t thank me…

The Railsplitters – Selby Town Hall – February 9th 2018

February 11, 2018

You could forgive Lauren Stovall for saying how nice it was to be in the ‘village’ of Selby. She was a little wide of the mark: it has a population of over 15,000 (plus a McDonalds for heaven’s sake!) There again in the USA what we’d describe as a village they call a city.

The Railsplitters were approaching the last week of their UK tour after having been on the road since early January. They started in Australia and this was their third visit to our shores. They describe themselves as Bluegrass. However, a quote I stole, places them as more ‘Crosby, Stills & Grass’. I think in part that works fine.

As a local resident then how the delightful Selby Town Hall got a Colorado string acoustic quintet to play is still something of a surprise to me. Being sold out must be a joy for any visitors to discover. Judging by the audience’s lack of familiarity with any of the catalogue then I have to disclose that I expect most concert goers had bought tickets for a season of music, which included Boulder’s finest.

The band was slow to warm up, it wasn’t until their third song that they hit their stride and we got to hear Stovall’s fabulous and pure voice on “Lessons I’ve Learned” from their excellent third album, Jump In. The small, elderly and very wooden clad venue necessitated a minimum of amplification and the sound was very close to the albums. For the most part you could hear a pin drop as the 150 or so sat enrapt.

The accomplishment of the musicians and the seemingly democratic approach to how the band works was evident. The bass of Jean-Luc Davis held it together whilst the mandolin (Pete Sharpe), banjo (Dusty Rider) and violin (Joe D’Esposito) took various leads. Three of the 18 songs were instrumentals. The band covered all their three albums and threw in a couple of covers. On the latter Stovall asked “How many Dillard fans are in tonight?” As the tumbleweed rolled across the stage she gulped, recovered and said “oh well, there’s 5 on the stage!”

It was her voice and, on occasion, three part harmonies with Rider and Sharpe that enthralled. My particular highlight was “Everyone She Meets”. However, “Planted On The Ground”, “You” and “Where You Are” were memorable. The song structures are very melodic with the strings picking up the tune whilst Stovall’s guitar strummed rhythm. The interplay between banjo and mandolin was sensational and the amplified mandolin often mimicked an electric lead guitar.

Humour and bonhomie abounded on stage. It was pointed out that Jean-Luc had no French or Canadian connection and so why was he called this? The band volunteered ‘false’ facts between songs. The person who could identify which one it was could claim a free CD. I’m not sure which one it was but Joe D’Esposito claiming to be a Swansea City fan seemed as improbable as Pete Sharpe having been struck by lightning.

So after a couple of joyous sets they did the obligatory North American touring band put down of Donald Trump and launched into the traditional Bluegrass “Fly Around My Pretty Miss”. After this encore they were gone into the cold dark night and some other small town in the UK awaited.

(I have to be fair! Stovall, later in the second set, did work out that as they were playing at Selby Town Hall she’d been wrong about the ‘village’ and was gracious to concede and volunteer ‘Hey, I’m American!’ The audience loved her for that).

Colter Wall – The Wardrobe, Leeds – February 2nd 2018

February 3, 2018

Colter Wall received a warm Yorkshire welcome as he strolled onto the stage at The Wardrobe in the centre of Leeds. If Colter wasn’t surprised, then I was, that well over 300 people turned up at this intimate venue to see this young Canadian strut his stuff. He’s currently doing a few UK gigs and has already been in Continental Europe.

With an amplified acoustic guitar Wall worked his way through his 2017 eponymous album and much of his 2015 Imaginary Appalachia EP. The crowd were familiar with his work and sang along in places. The bearded troubadour briefly introduced songs from beneath his Stetson and let his wry and panoramic lyrics speak for themselves as his distinctive slow paced baritone phrasing often engrossed. He sings of Canadian prairies, motorcycles, Highway 61, railroads and projects that he glimpses life, in North America, as a drifter.

The seventeen song set included a few covers (‘Wabash Cannonball’ and ‘Railroad Bill’). I really appreciated this nod to the past as it clearly illustrates that he’s steeped in American Roots music. All these songs fitted seamlessly into his catalogue. There were a few new songs and amongst the selection was ‘John Beyers’ – an excellent song that recounts friends firing bullets into their respective ’69 Chevrolet Camaro’s! However, it was the songs from the last release that brought the biggest reaction. ‘Kate McCannon’ went down a storm. I expect many had viewed the surprising YouTube low budget video, shot under grey skies. It depicts lives going nowhere, the expectations and necessary graft to create a life together and the treachery that eventually results in her fatal demise.

In fact it was on this song that the gift of Dave Cobb surfaced tonight. The album created the same intimacy that Rick Rubin captured with Johnny Cash on his America Recordings. On the record, in a classically stripped down setting, the voice commands with every inflexion, pause and deliberation. The timbre, depth and unique sound of Wall’s voice brought out the audience tonight. However, sometimes with the usual venue amplification and the wretched, unforgivable, babble from the bar crowd then some of that intimacy and impact was lost.

‘Codeine Dreams’, ‘Me and Big Dave’, ‘Motorcycle’ and the hilarious ‘Thirteen Silver Dollars’ were especially memorable. He opened the set with the latter and explained that this was a “true story about falling asleep in a snow bank” – we can all sympathise with such a predicament as who hasn’t at one time or another had this mishap!

I came away wondering if Wall will be an artist enjoying the same following on the next album? Cobb’s collaboration is the difference between interesting music and the propulsion to fame. He has the song writing talent and voice. I hope he gets the setting to produce more compelling releases. For all this then the crowd left happy and I for one hope that other visiting young and upcoming Americana entertainers can get them out in such numbers regularly.

(It was a pleasure to attend the concert with Mark Sutcliffe, who it’s be fair to say will recognise some of his observations in the above! Supporting Colter Wall was Ian Noe, a Kentucky folk singer).

Mussolini, New Amsterdam & Open Reach – Week 5 : 2018

February 2, 2018

I’ve sat in a lot of meetings at work where you’ve felt like a prisoner, that is, unable to escape. This is where somebody is probably covering worthy stuff but it is long winded, bureaucratic and bluntly of no interest. When it was over there was a great sense of relief and I may have inadvertently broken into a skip on the way out of the room.

Today I felt that type of emotion at the end of Pilates. Lou, the instructor uttered the magic words “just find a position that you can be comfortable in” and then she switched off the light. We all wearily came to a prostrate halt, flat on our backs on the mat. We knew the ‘one sided planks’, abdominal exercises, contortions to unlock your hip flexors or very unnatural movements to strengthen your gluteus maximus muscles had finished. Lying in the dark for two minutes we could reflect on the fact that probably Wednesday at 1.30pm would come around again quickly. However, for now, it was over. (Funnily enough a wet bike ride in 5°C over 50 miles appeals more than Pilates).

On the theme of pain then it seems appropriate to talk about the proposed Leeds United logo. It lasted six hours before the Managing Director, on the local BBC radio station, abandoned it and offered consultation over a new one. I still tend to think that large corporate decisions are usually reached intelligently. I know this naivety is akin to implicitly trusting policemen and thinking that banks are honourable. What happened with this sub 1930’s Italian Fascist aberration will be the subject of endless brand marketing courses for decades. It was simply inept and complacent. However it did bring all the fans together!

For those of your who peruse “Tony’s View Of The World’ you’ll see that I have been writing to Welsh luminaries about their brutal and short sighted parking regime. I’m not expecting any sympathy. However on another injustice then I had the opportunity to vent, in a calm yet destructive way, with Open Reach about our non availability of Superfast broadband last week.

This opportunity came about through our local MP, Julian Sturdy. He initially held a public meeting and then a supplementary meeting with Open Reach. A selection of local village representatives were invited to attend. We’re making progress on installation but they are a year behind schedule. Personally trying to cope with, at best, an internet speed of 1mb is difficult.

Open Reach turned up hoping to only ‘look forward’. They were a little taken aback at having to review the process and it’s apparent historic challenges. ‘The past informs the present’ I always find. However, we all finished up friends and we meet again in March.

For those who are detached from the political process then when your MP gets involved in the nitty gritty of your personal frustrations then they can seem very relevant and useful.

Talking about York then I learned that New York is not named with any direct connection to my fine city. It was in fact named after the Duke of York. This new name was in his honour when the British took over New Amsterdam in 1664. Don’t pretend that you never learn anything here.