Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

SESENTAFEST - An attempt at documentation

I’m not sure how much sense it’ll make because both my Cabeza and my Corazon are still holed up out in Madrid someplace. They don’t have much use for their physical host right now but hey, I’m getting ahead of myself here so let me try and explain. When I set out with SESENTAFEST, I guess I never thought about it too much. The whole premise turned out to be somewhat ambitious for someone with less than no conventional ambition.

I turned six decades old and figured it would be a gas to organise an extended shindig to mark that occasion. The closest thing I ever did like this was to get married back in 1979. I don’t recall much about that. The honeymoon was in London and during the time there, an opportunity came up via my pal Howard to go and see Motörhead in the studio. That was vetoed for some reason but we did see The Psychedelic Furs at The Moonlight Club in West Hampstead.

A friend and I put Dave Alvin and The Guilty Men on at The Grand Old Opry in Glasgow a while back. Despite only selling 13 tickets in advance, we got 260 walk up and it worked out with us making 20 quid each on the night so that was really my extent in terms of putting on a show. When I say putting on, I mean coming up with it and bringing in the professionals. This was punishment for Jonathan Vidal who was instrumental in my discovering I had an extended family that I didn’t know about. All I can say is that playing “All Pop, No Star” by The Slingbacks that fateful night at the Wurlitzer Ballroom in October 2008 opened up a whole alternate dimension to me. Throwing a stramash that would last from the closing hours of Thursday November 2nd until the wee hours of the 5th seemed like the way to go. I have no dependants other than those I've adopted and if I get hit by a bus tomorrow then at least everyone will remember the occasion as a true rock n’ roll experience in the city that only ever sleeps during siesta time. As I type this, I realise that next October is my 10th Wurliversary...!?

The DJ tag team of Los Sangria-Las got things moving. This was my pal Sara and I playing records in the wonderful WEIRDO! BAR, my other home away from home where the throng got in about the Cafe de Licor and other treats. It really was fun to trade tuneage with my wee Spanish sister and I hope we can do it again. She has such great taste and sense of exactly what to do in a room. We rolled from there and down to Wurlitzer for a wee small hours nightcap though it was closer to morning than it was to night.

Friday the triple action of Wreckless Eric, Amy Rigby and Amy Allison took the stage. As entertainers, songwriters and just plain old great folks go, this was a dream come true. None of them should need any introduction but if they do then I envy you. We jumped around like crazy folk to the musical selections presented by Diego El Sotano and Head and Banger. Everything went swimmingly.

Those gathered to play all had some connection to these recent years and to the history of NBT. Saturday was my actual birthday and we kicked off with Reine Laken playing their hearts out on two songs, a huge thing because they’d never been out of Risør. Their gift to me was “I Want Your Love” and “Hate To Say I Told you so”. The fact that they nailed it is one thing but they had my love from the day and minute I met them. Suzy and Los Quatto were next. Completely instrumental in this taking place and recalling the "1-2 Tutti Frutti" battle cry.

This could not have taken place anywhere else but Wurlitzer. The epicentre of what has become an important source of transfusion to me gave the whole thing a gravitas that having at home in Scotland would not have provided. The location and the setting and the people elevated everything. Sure, I threw it but those that attended booted the whole stramash into the stratosphere.



Photo by Tom Erik Kristoffersen

I met Andre and Line Dahlmann in Madrid too and that was a massive moment. They’re the kids I never had and what do you know, they have a kickass popular music group. Not only that but they covered and made a record of them doing “Fireball”. The first record I ever bought at age 6. They were in cahoots with those Nomads. Who in addition to agreeing to come to this malarkey, they only went and recorded a brand new song for the occasion and the commemorative 45. I was moved to tears let me tell you and I’m a hard-faced old sod. Young Marco Padin of Ghost Highway Recordings had these chestnuts struck into vinyl and there’s a beautiful little 45 doing the rounds. I don’t believe it either but I have physical proof.

Anyway it was a heck of a turnout, an international gathering of the punk rock clans with Ross Nelson breezing in from Australia even. I think we were nudging 80 out of towners in the end, many of whom hadn’t visited the fabled city before. NBT has been for me what playing the pipes was for my father, it has allowed me to meet and get to know like-minded crazies across the world.

It wasn’t just my birthday, Rocket To Russia turned 40 on November 4th too. And it was Nancy’s but sadly she couldn’t be there other than in spirit. Ulla, Kaisa and Aku did though.

When it comes to Madrid, I’m always wary of having talked it up too much. What if all these people didn’t take to it the way I did? There was no need to worry, since the mass invasion I’ve had about a dozen revellers check in to enquire if there’s a Samaritans group that might assist with their transition back into reality. This was an experience that they’re keen to play on repeat just as soon as it’s humanly necessary. I’m always buoyed up to discover that it’s not just me that gets it.

Attendees were urged not to bring gifts but many gave that the rubber ear. The idea was to have a charity box with proceeds going toward permeating Madrid's R n' R supremacy for future generations of the unique metropolis. MENUDOFEST provides a musical grounding for kids by putting on daytime events in the city’s clubs. Venues open (often not long after they’ve cleared out the big kids) to welcome the prospective stars of tomorrow with parents and family members. Artists and bands pitch in to provide their services to assist aspiring youngsters to make as big a racket as possible. Some of the really young ones give the ‘avant jazz’ types a run for their money. I think we raised around 500 euros around the time of writing and that might increase a wee bit before I settle at the end of the month.

All that remains to be said is that the world outside the hallowed walls ceased to exist for a bit. Mi amigo Jo Espen said that Wurlitzer is our Bang Bang Bar/Roadhouse. Anything can happen in there and it absolutely did. If you’re familiar with “It’s A Wonderful Life” then you’ll know the “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends” credo.

I sure felt like George Bailey over that weekend.

This is just a hobby for me, nuthin’ y’hear... a HOBBY?? My arse. It ceased being that a long time ago. Who could ever have believed it’d become a vocation. My granny used to tell a story about how some minister or someone told her that I’d come to represent some form of religion, he evidently neglected to mention that it was rock n’ roll. 

SESENTAFEST definitely happened but I’m fine with anyone considering that something so damn groovy could never have happened. I have the bruises to confirm that it did. Massive thanks to everyone that contributed by playing and coming and going crazy to what really turned out to be beyond all reasonable expectations of a bloody high old time.

Here is Amy's report. I get something in my eye every time I look at it.

I'm currently working on photos so maybe there'll be a pictorial to accompany this at some point. Then again... meanwhile you can get a wee idea of what went down here. Photo album by Mona Di Pontty.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A WONDERLAND OF STAR DUST!


Friday, November 10, 2017

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

FUNTASMAGORICALLY SPEAKING!!!


The twelfth edition of the annual party out of bounds that is FUNTASTIC came to an end 5 days ago. We attendees are decompressing and wondering how it’s possible to throw such a shindig and actually gain momentum rather than lose it, probably something to do with gravity. Or maybe even those laws of physics that Scotty from Star Trek used to babble on about? 


The on-board currency
Whatever the hell it is, if you could bottle the atmosphere in this outta space bar then you’d really be on to something. That’s why folks go every year. To cavort in the UFO and let the freak flag fly. Southern Culture On The Skids even had a song (from their latest album no less) about such activity. However, as ever, I’m getting ahead of me’sel’. I was lucky enough to arrive in Alicante to be able to hitch a ride into the ‘drome. (Gracias Russ + Saskia) 

A hen party arrived just ahead of us so that delayed getting to the ship. The opening stramash was in full swing and The Hollywood Sinners were banging out that racket in the way that only they can. The Meows (from Barcelona) followed and they specialise in Dictators-type activity which is never a bad thing. I was too busy blethering to watch much of Shannon and the Clams and they did just fine without me.


The opening party ticket action
T’was an early rise for a dazed breath of air on Friday morning and later in the day, I made it to the beach and even went into the Med. It was warm. Anyway, it was there that Sara and I plotted some Sesentafest activity before heading back to prepare for what was always likely to be an extended session. It was time to pick up the wristbands that would allow us to get on board and John Schooley started the ball rolling with his one man band. It was still light outside and the joint was just filling up. 


Me in a terrible wig with
Sissophonic Cheryl

(Pic by Cheryl Abramson)
I missed Jon and the Vons and Hobocop, the latter are a variation on S&TC because I met some friends that I hadn’t seen since the previous flight. The Mindreaders brought this year’s taste of Medway to the Mediterranean next by providing a twist to some punk rock standards that really hit the spot with the crowd. It was at this point that I noticed Steven Tagg-Randall wasn’t shooting film. I still don’t know why. I miss being able to catch up.

I caught snatches of Futuro Terror and The Kaisers. Both raised the excitement level. Dirty Fences did nothing for me so I took that as an opportunity to go put on the terrible Dracula wig that I’d picked up in Asda. My mate “Heino” reckoned it was a bit (Dave) Vanian. Anyway, I managed to alarm Stella but not Maitane who busted me right off. The Neanderthals were perfect to close the live music selection on this Friday 13th. The numbskull frat rock was just what the soused crowd needed. Daftie reworks of garage classics. Todd-o-phonic Todd (Abramson) led the DJ action inside when they were done and it went hell for leather until 8am. Not Todd but a rolling collection of ace spinners through the night.


Crackhouse - Damn they were good!

Disorientation was setting in at this point. This was further confounded when I tried to have the apartment building reception book me a cab. I had to have the guy bring a calendar to point that no, it wasn’t Sunday already. I took a birl down to Rockstar Bar where there’s always a happening and everybody seems like the night before never happened. There’s never anyone that looks like a burst ball. You get those special powers, I tells ya. 
OK, we’ve established that it was still Saturday and it was important that I get up to the venue this year to see Crackhouse. They include mi amigo Mr Bratto. Little did I know that they would provide the assault that probably my favourite of the whole shebang. They left me giggling like a little girl by the sheer magnitude of their stupid punk rock majesty. Puy saw me. I’m guilty as charged.

The Pacifics hail from Dublin and they’re like The Undertones crossed with Untamed Youth. Todd was smitten. Les Lullies are some of the guys from Les Grys Grys. They’re the Hellacopters/Aussie Rock take on what that band does. If they provide a gateway drug for youngsters to the stuff they plunder then I’m down with it. They throw all the shapes.

Control Freaks started fine and fell away but that was OK. There were people to hang in the outdoors with. The Gruesomes picked up where The Neanderthals left off. The Montreal combo were very entertaining but with only the front man retaining the hairstyles that put them on the map during the big garage scare of the 80s. The Revelators really whipped up the room with their stripped down blues holler. The Midwest monster precursor to folks like Daddy Long Legs.

There’s an FDC 45 with two outtakes available now from here.

Which brings us to The Schizophonics, I’d seen them in Edinburgh where a meagre crowd was treated to an animated set that left some of us breathless at the hyper-animated antics of front man, Pat Beers. He and Lety (drums) are also in The Little Richards and also the El Vez punk rock revue so we’re talking high calibre. The recordings thus far suggest a strong whiff of the MC5. Live, there’s a lot more going on – musically. Pat’s acrobatics seem to suggest that he’s not playing because how could he? In front of the packed FDC crowd, the energy level crackled throughout the room and afterwards I heard some chatter that suggested they were playing over a hard drive triggered during the set. People have gotten so attuned to listening to paint dry that they can’t accept this velocity of show. If you don’t like the music then fine, we can debate that but to gossip or harrumph with accusations of miming is really fucking short-sighted. If you flat-out don’t like them then that's OK but they’re about as far from faking it in these hyper-dupe as you can get.


There’s a Scientists/Spacemen 3  type pummel nestled in there that maybe isn't evident in the recordings (yet). I also detect a hint of that sound that bands like Husker Du or those on SST were known to brandish. I don’t care for any of that but on this occasion it added to what is already a solid rock n’ roll foundation. This suggests to me that they might court appeal outside the circle of the converted. Encoring with “Looking At You”, I think that Rob Tyner would be proud. This rendition made me think of Matt and Kim if they had a motor city transfusion.

Southern Culture On The Skids will need no introduction to NBTsters. Something that really registered with me was how much Rick Miller looked like Lou Whitney. And for a minute I wondered what it would have been like for The Skeletons to let rip on the ship. These folks are veterans. They put on a great show and well, when the closed with the Ronnie Cook/Link Wray double header the place went berserk as only the Funtasticos can.

SCOTS have the Funtastic ladies dish
out the 8 piece box
SCOTS scooted a little after 3 and because of a logistical glitsch (I made an arse of the booking) I needed to get back to pack, check out and take a cab to the airport at stupid o’ clock. Next year I’ll be staying an extra day. It starts with feeling like there’s all the time in the world then all of a sudden you have to leave for a flight at stupid o’ clock when all of your friends are still howling at the October moon. Several hundred Goo Goo Mucks going radge like it’s going out of fashion.

I managed to locate and bid farewell to a bunch of the kids and duly beamed myself back to terra firma just after the pyrotechnics. Meanwhile, the ship continued to birl for a few more hours. The moon would have been down and the sun would have been on the way up when the 8am descent into Benidorm got underway. I was on a different, way less appealing craft at that point wishing I was still giving it laldy with my homies old and new.

Paloma and Varo done damn pulled another chestnut out of the fire. Bring on Lucky 13!!

For a total pictorial, head HERE!