Ted Russell Kamp’s latest release is a joy. This was recorded mainly in his ‘Den’ in LA. The album set off to have a soul feel; in general it’s mission accomplished if you grant him a licence for adding a heavenly slug of rock. To lift the vernacular of the accompanying PR, his day job is “holding down the bottom end for bands as diverse as Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, Whitey Morgan, and others”. However, it’s clear he’s a lot more talented than a bass player for hire; this is his 12th solo release. Throughout the songs are interesting, varied and provide a platform for his virtuosity: bass, acoustic guitar, dobro, keys, trombone, trumpet and banjo.
The arrangements and voice have a soulful sway with a rhythm that’ll move your feet. He’s invited friends to share duets including Shooter Jennings on the opener “Home Sweet Hollywood” and Kirsten Profitt on “Take My Song With You”. John Schreffler’s electric guitar lights up many of the tracks. “Word For Word” and “Saint Severin” are memorable for some fluid solos. “Waste A Little Time” heads further south than Tennessee with a Shinyribs’ vibe. A honky tonk piano and horns ignite this nicely; even the words display a certain NOLA insouciance. “Hobo Nickel” stays in Louisiana with some delightful Dixieland trumpet and trombone from Dave Richards.
The full band tracks are top class but when stripped down his ear for a tune and arrangement are outstanding – “Rainy Day Valentine” is a voice over bass melody that Lowell George would have been glad to call his own. “Only Son” is a gentle ballad and starts with Kamp accompanied by his acoustic guitar before the band joins in and the melody is driven by Dan Wistrom’s pedal steel.
This is a very consistent 14-track release engaging throughout and exuding craft and melody. The only negative is that he’s having far too much fun: maybe he’s the antidote to 2020?
If you’ve been making music for as long as septuagenarian Marshall Chapman has, you have earned the right to pick someone else’s songs and make them you own. The South Carolinian released her first album in 1977 and is respected in her own right as a songwriter. Here she visits classics by Leonard Cohen, Bob Seger, Carole King, Elvis Presley and others. On the first listen Betty LaVette came to mind: a careworn voice that is perfectly matched to the selection. It’s redolent with all life’s experience, carrying authority and never to be hurried. Both these ladies bless each cover with a new interpretation and poignancy that makes them convulse with gravitas that simply arrests you.
Neilson Hubbard’s production is terrific. He understands her talents and the essence of each cover to pitch it perfectly. Her voice is set atop a sparse and atmospheric acoustic sound with Will Kimbrough adding deft but important flourishes on electric guitar. She starts with Leonard Cohen’s “Tower Of Song”, only a person of a certain age can sing “Well, my friends are gone and my hair is grey / I ache in the places where I used to play”. Bobby Charles’ masterpiece “Tennessee Blues” is faithfully reproduced, which didn’t need any adaptation; it fits her like a glove. Given her Southern heritage and laid back groove any JJ Cale song would fit, and she picks “After Midnight”.
Arguably the least promising songs deliver the most pleasure – “Don’t Be Cruel” swings. Dan Mitchells’ honky-tonk piano bolted to Hubbard’s snare brushes is uplifting and managed to purge The King’s version from my mind after a few listens. “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” reminds me of my youth and maybe the odd campfire and tambourine as it does Chapman who recounts her love of the song starting when she was 8 years old. This last song includes a spoken passage that is homely and delightful over a gospel backing. A fabulous exit from a fabulous album. After only nine tracks may we have volume two, please.
As industries get back to work after the Covid-19 lockdown Moores find themselves on Yorkshire’s local BBC news programme – ‘Look North’. Through my pension trustee responsibilities I know Steve Parkin (and I knew Doug Gough when he used to be in short trousers!) Absolutely terrific to see them back in the public eye after all the lean years.
I suppose apart from the mundane there hasn’t been a great deal to write up due to the restrictions of lockdown. (Yes, that hasn’t been a barrier to posting a blog in the past).
Like most homeowners stuck at home our garden has never looked as good. I was unable to avoid that long and tedious job of repairing the pointing on the paving around the house. That was a restoration job but we also were removing things and had four trees cut down on the property boundary. The initial quote came in at £1,600. After a bit of shoe gazing the tree surgeon said £1,400. We said we’d think about it and promised to ring him. Funnily enough at this point it became £1,200. It’s not a great feeling to ever take down trees but they were forming some form of hazard to the neighbours and always needed expensive maintenance.
As a Yorkshireman I can find spending money a painful initiative. Nevertheless the coffers have recently been depleted by paying the daughters’ student loans paid off and I bought a new bike. It was my first new bike in eight years. Given my annual cycling mileage of between 4,000 and 6,000 miles this means my other bikes regularly get rebuilt. I’m now quietly thrilled at owning a Cannondale Synapse Disc with Di2. Which brings me onto cycling. After the rude interruption to my trip up Australia I have continued to ride around our beautiful county. One of the changes has been getting used to the new cyclists who clutter the roads around us.
These are the folks who have discovered two wheels as part of their daily exercise regime. There is good and bad with this. The good is that they don’t realise that as regular cyclists that cheery waves and greetings are completely verboten. A steely forward stare is the approach of most Yorkshire lycra clad cyclists as they fret over losing a few seconds by turning to wave. If that’s the nice bit then the absence of helmets still freaks me out: the first part of the body to hit the tarmac will be their head when they come off. Also I’m appalled at some of the major roads that parents lure their small offspring onto. Children shouldn’t be dealing with trucks and speeding cars.
Pilates still forms part of the weekly schedule. The present Mrs Ives would do it every morning. I can generate enthusiasm for a couple of days. This in turn has led to other core strength demonstration challenges e.g. can you get over the stiles, we encounter on a walk, without needing to hold onto the rails? As Anna doesn’t read my blogs I can admit she’s better at this than me and I’m nursing an injury where I hit the stile so hard with one knee I’m surprised it is still standing.
As regards anything other than leisure I had one morning on Microsoft Teams as a pension trustee. I was shocked at how dressed down all the other attendees were. I maybe didn’t expect suits but the look was casual. It’s probably not surprising that if you let actuaries pick their own wardrobe outside of a suit it is likely to be the kind of stuff Alan Partridge would call ‘smart casual’ circa 1987. I was also hoping they’d be sat in front of an interesting bookcase where you can try and read the spines of the books they have on the shelf behind them – no such luck here.
Sadly of late events are focussed around Margaret, my mother-in-law’s passing in May.
She had trouble with a second replacement hip and was scheduled for another operation prior to the hospitals’ prioritising Covid-19. This delay left her surviving on morphine and being unable to sleep in a bed. From the start of the lockdown conversations were held through her care home’s window on the mobile. Assessing how she was coping was difficult during this strange, cold and brief audience. When the local hospital felt they could now entertain some elective surgeries she was top of the list. She was delighted. However, given her advanced years, 89, she had a number of other health challenges that brought a risk with any operation. The surgeon was explicit about this. She knew and accepted this. A successful operation had her up and walking in the hospital but in a matter of 11 days she had a stroke and then pneumonia. These were battles she couldn’t win.
The hateful coronavirus didn’t take her but it did mean that it was March since her three daughters had had proper contact with her. In the end one daughter had an unsatisfactory telephone conversation with her post operation. Then Anna had the opportunity to formally break the lockdown constraints and enter the ward for a last ‘end of life’ visit. Unfortunately Margaret to all intents and purpose had slipped away at this time; she got to hold her hand and talk to her. Heart breaking. No words.
Of course the funeral had restricted Covid-19 attendance rules. I had known Margaret for 35 years but was left outside avoiding the rain and hailstones. (I accept all Covid-19 restrictions, no complaints).
It seems hard not to acknowledge the turbulent world around us in this blog as I write. The USA appears to be on fire and in London rent-a-mob hooligans are wheeling bicycles into Police horses or defacing monuments of national heroes. I certainly long to be packing up a tent and thinking about a day ahead in a foreign country with nothing to worry about other than finding a coffee as soon as possible and hoping the sun shines.