Call me Russ L

End-Of-Year Count 2019: Films

Posted in Films by Russ L on 31 December, 2019

Not many of these either this year, but… well, y’know. Films.


End-Of-Year Count 2019: Books

Posted in Books by Russ L on 31 December, 2019

It doesn’t feel like I’ve managed to read enough this year.


End-Of-Year Count 2019: Stage

Posted in Music, Stage by Russ L on 30 December, 2019

All the world is one, or at least that’s what I’m told.


End-Of-Year Count 2019: Gigs

Posted in Music by Russ L on 29 December, 2019

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. Now it’s that list-mekin’ time of the year.


End-Of-Year Count 2018: Books

Posted in Books by Russ L on 1 January, 2019

I’ve just put these in alphabetical order by author.


End-Of-Year Count 2018: Films

Posted in Films by Russ L on 1 January, 2019

This is the one that really might not be completely spot-on.


End-Of-Year Count 2018: Gigs

Posted in Music by Russ L on 1 January, 2019

No worries at all about any of these having been missed, since I have the the ongoing list on this very blog.


End-Of-Year Count 2018: Stage (including operations)

Posted in Music, Stage by Russ L on 1 January, 2019

There were some problems with this list.


Festival Festivities 2018: This was all carefully planned, but that doesn’t seem to have made any f’n difference (Lunar)

Posted in Modern Living, Music, Well, it passes the time by Russ L on 25 August, 2018

Lunar Festival, at the Umberslade Farm Park in posh Tanworth-In-Arden. Just the Sunday for me, for this one. The Stranglers were by far the least interesting of the three headliners, but the line-up through the day looked good (it later occurred to me that this was because most of the bands were already familiar to me, which isn’t necessarily the best way to approach these events, but then again it’s not like this was Supersonic) and you get the bonfire on the Sunday. FIRE! At last!

Let’s get the important bit out of the way. Lunar festival contained…

No sousaphones! Not even one in the brass band for the procession. I’m a bit disappointed by that.

The themes were clear, at least. There was some ooblocks about ‘Seven Elements’ in the programme and preliminary blah, but what we really had was the traditional four elements and plenty of them. Water from sky – oh mercy, so much water fell from the sky. So, so much. Earth, in the form of mud. Air, in the form of wind. And later on FIRE. (Also stands to be noted – having the Lunar Festival on the weekend of the blood moon eclipse seemed apt. Apt, I say).

Didn’t it rain though, children. It didn’t seem so bad to begin with – after all, Dorcha were on first and they’re a great band to twirl your umbrella to (being, as they are, a wolfpack of Mary Popinses). After a while it starts to get you down, though. At my lowest I was tempted to abandon the music entirely and go into one of the indoor bits in the other field, but then I realised that was also somewhere around the time that Jess Phillips was running a No Homers Diane Abbotts club (VIP seats reserved for Lord Ashcroft) in one of them. You don’t want to blunder into that by accident.

Jane Weaver summoned the first bit of sun we saw all day (regrettably she also summoned Janice Long as an unadvertised compere) and that seemed right and fitting, but that didn’t last. Still, it was actually quite a nice day by the time that it wasn’t daytime anymore, and then we got the procession and bonfire (FIRE)! Great for drying your bum. The pyre was just a big triangle this time, though, rather than the (previously) customary Gigantic Woodbird. I don’t know if it makes me bloodthirsty to want to burn an animal in effigy. Sapthirsty, maybe.

Musical turns of note: Dorcha (with and without Damo Suzuki), Galleon Blast, The Swampmeat Family Band, Jane Weaver, AK/DK, Songhoy Blues (band of the day), and I don’t know who the brass ensemble doing the procession were but, y’know, them.

(Title quote courtesy of Mark Radcliffe).

Festival Festivities 2018: Ay! Get away from that food! (Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul)

Posted in Modern Living, Music by Russ L on 4 August, 2018

I decided to try to write about the music festivals this year and (in the process of doing the first one) decided that I couldn’t be arsed with writing about the actual music too much, and instead would try to identify a theme for each festival. I can’t help but feel, though, that we need some sort of objective measurement so that posterity will know which one was Best. There’s only one definite empirical measure I can think of, really: a sousaphone count. I didn’t see any at Supersonic.

Mostly Jazz Funk And Soul 2018 contained…

One sousaphone!

I might have enjoyed Supersonic more this year, but by the empirical measure MOJFAS wins.

I went on the Friday (Jimmy Cliff day) and the Sunday (Sister Sledge day) – I’ve already seen Candi Staton (headliner on the Saturday) a couple of times and those two days looked like the better line-ups overall. Incidentally, I have seen Jimmy Cliff a couple of time before too (but I like him a lot more) – the programme stating “as far as we can tell, Jimmy hasn’t played live in Birmingham since the 80’s” can be easily forgiven given , given that the small number of people at his Academy/Ballroom gigs in 2003 and 2012 suggested that barely any sod knew about ‘em in the first place.

Themes, then. I couldn’t really detect one for most of the way through. The penny began to drop during Sister Sledge’s set. There were plenty of bits I liked amongst their crowd-hyping arena nonsense, but it all seemed very endearingly confused. “Lost In Music” was used as a framing device that carried on for about three weeks – wandering off into long solos, stopping entirely before starting again, and moving sideways into completely unrelated songs before returning. It went everywhere and anywhere possible before the final resolving chord, like a disco “Tristan Und Isolde” if King Marke decided to do suddenly do bits of “Le Freak” and “Love Like This” for no obvious reason. This was the whole thing in microcosm – the theme of Mostly Jazz was that it was just a bunch of unrelated stuff that happened, some of which was good.

Musical turns of note: Namiwa Jazz, Ash Walker Experience, The Brass Funkeys, Jimmy Cliff (obvs), Noya Rao, Jazzlines Ensemble (with an assist from Young Pilgrims), Laura Misch, Ezra Collective, Fred Wesley & The New JBs (also obvs), Roy Ayers, and I’m going to give a special ‘uncategorisable’ award to Sister Sledge and their strange ways.

Supersonic didn’t have anyone who could be considered as going in an uncategorisable list. Up your game, weirdo noise bands – you not even as enigmatic as Sister Sledge.

(Title quote courtesy of The Jungle Brothers)