Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

We are sound October 30, 2011

Filed under: Music — lauravw @ 11:35 am

A lot has changed in the past 18 years – but a lot has remained the same.

One December night in 1993, I went to see James, in concert in Derby. My mother came with me to the concert, while my father, who drove us there, went to a nearby cinema to watch Kes.

And then last week, mum and I went to see them in concert again, this time in Nottingham.

I’m not sure what 15-year old Laura would have made of the fact that 30-something year old Laura would still be going to see the same bunch of musicians, even after all those years. Or that this time, she was wearing a skirt, grown-up shoes, and a pashmina. (15-year old Laura had a very limited wardrobe of jeans, trainers and band t-shirts. 17-year old Laura had a similar wardrobe, but with the addition of a leopard-print top and some dark lip gloss.)

Some things change, and some don’t. Something that has changed in that time: the fortunes of the group that supported James back in 1993, a little-known group called Radiohead. I hear they’ve done quite well since then.


Nothing to write home about June 21, 2011

Filed under: Music — lauravw @ 8:56 pm

I don’t know why I’ve been so quiet on here of late – I can’t even claim to have been that busy. I’ve just slowed down a bit, I think.

What I am *slightly* busy doing is looking forward to the Glastonbury Festival. I am not a camper – well, I could be persuaded to go camping, but certainly not with 125,000 other people (including a fair few soap-dodgers, I suspect). I will be watching the festival from the comfort of my sofa, with easy access to a kitchen full of fresh food, and a clean and tidy bathroom with hot and cold running water. Being at Glastonbury on a sunny year would cause me to fret endlessly about getting sunburnt, but being there on a wet year is not exactly appealing (four days’ worth of mud on my clothes? No thank you.). Being there on the sofa is ideal.

I have never camped overnight at a music festival, which I know probably means I’m missing out on some wonderful shared experiences. But I just think I’d be anxious the whole time – I’m a worrier, and I’d be worried about my tent while I was away from it, and what I was missing while I was in it (and worried about creepy-crawlies of course…). I’ve had the odd day-ticket for music festivals, so I’ve seen how it goes, and I think I’m OK with leaving it at that.

Plus the advantage of watching it all on TV is that you can watch the best bits over and over again – I lost count of how many times I watched Bruce Springsteen’s set from a year or two back. And you don’t have to traipse across dozens of muddy fields to get from one stage to another.

So yes, I’m happy with the sofa. And these are the bands I’m hoping to see perform from there:

If you’re watching, I hope you enjoy it. And happy solstice – it’s almost 10pm here, and still light-ish outside.


Of birds and music May 6, 2011

Filed under: Music,Nature and wildlife — lauravw @ 1:02 pm

Last night I was able to see one of my favourite musicians, playing live in a small club just a short bus ride from home. Laura Cantrell is a singer songwriter. Originally from Nashville, she now lives in New York City. I first heard her music on the John Peel show some years ago – as did many other Brits, which is why she’s reasonably popular on this side of the Atlantic. He said her first album was his “favourite album of the last 10 years – and possibly my life” – and that was enough of a recommendation for me to buy it. (Is it really amost seven years since John Peel died? I still miss hearing his voice on the radio.)

Since then I’ve enjoyed all of her music, but I didn’t think I’d get to see her play live – until I noticed on her website that not only was she coming to the UK, she was coming to Nottingham. I’m sometimes cautious about going to see people whose work I admire a lot – I’ve been disappointed once or twice by musicians (notably another country singer, Ryan Adams, whose concert I still regret not walking out of). Bill Bryson is one of my favourite authors, but I’ve deliberately not gone to his book signings and talks when he’s been in town, just in case he didn’t match up to how I imagine him to be (though for the record I’ve heard him on the radio often, and he sounds thoroughly nice, so perhaps I should just get over myself!).

But the concert last night was every bit as good as I had hoped. I love seeing small-scale acoustic concerts, where the musicians can take requests and play whatever songs take their fancy at the time. She played so many of my favourite songs, some lovely new ones, and told us stories about female country singers from the 1950s and 60s. I think what really helped her win over the crowd was the way she kept pronouncing Nottingham – in that charming way Americans sometimes do.

But that wasn’t the only thing that made last night memorable. Before the concert, I had dinner with a friend at Wagamamas, which faces out towards the Trent University building that’s currently home to a pair of peregrine falcons. The birds have been nesting there for some years, and this year a webcam was installed so that people could watch them raise their young. They laid four eggs, which hatched out last weekend. I kept my eye on the building through much of our meal, and towards the end we finally saw a big bird swoop towards it, and perch on a ledge. We paid our bill and went outside to get a better look, and I was delighted to see it really was one of the falcons. I took two pictures – one of the view from our seats inside the restaurant, and a slightly closer one to show where the bird is. I find it amazing to see such a rare bird right in the heart of the city centre.


Send him some daffodils May 22, 2009

Filed under: Music — lauravw @ 10:10 am

We’re all getting older, but Morrissey turns 50 today. Wow.

When I was little, I used to love the song ‘Every day is like Sunday’ – not because all my days were like Sundays, but because the Sundays of that era of my childhood were dull and the song captured that atmosphere perfectly. That was in the days when nothing was open on Sundays – all the shops and anything that might have helped pass the time were closed for the day. (That may make me sound very old, but it was only 1988.) We often travelled to Coventry to visit my grandmother, and her house and street are what I think of when I hear that song. Possibly accompanied by the sound of people mowing lawns, and the smell of all the industrial strength hair products she kept in her spare room (she was a hairdresser).

Simon Lewin has posted a link to a video of a German Morrissey tribute act, singing Dieser Charmante Mann.

Update: there’s an article in the Manchester Evening News about Morrissey today, describing him as the ‘greatest living Mancunian’.


Tony Wilson August 11, 2007

Filed under: Music — lauravw @ 11:17 am

While listening to the bizarre but enjoyable Bob Dylan’s theme time radio hour last night on BBC 6 Music, we heard that Tony Wilson has died.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this marks the end of an era – he worked to raise the profile of Manchester and its musicians for as long as I’ve been alive.

You can read more about him at the Manchester Evening News, and Radio 4 this morning interviewed Stephen Morris from New Order about him – quotes from that interview seem to have been used for this article.

I went to university in Manchester and for me one of the most exciting things about arriving there for the start of my course was being in the place where so much of my favourite music had come from. We went to the Hacienda on Tuesday nights for indie night, and Dry Bar – both of which were numbered in the same system used to number all the music put out by Factory Records (FAC 51 and 201 respectively).