Archive for July, 2011

Last space shuttle returns to earth

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Space shuttle Atlantis touched down on Thursday, bringing the 30 year-long shuttle programme to a close. Now US astronauts travelling to the International Space Station will have to book tickets on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. (more…)

Open mic tour by numbers

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

I’ve now had a chance to make some estimations and calculations. Here is everything you wanted to know about the open mic tour, summarized numerically:

Distance travelled (approx miles) 800      
Open mics played 8      
No. of songs played 23      
Songs per open mic 2.87500
Songs per mile 0.02875
Miles per song 34.782  
Open mics per mile 0.01   
Miles per open mic 100      


Days 8, 9, 10: Up, down and back

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

The topological efficiency of the open mic tour is further degraded on Tuesday when we head back up north to Huddersfield for the Acoustic Club – once described as the Catweazle of the North. Actually that was by me. As Lewis points out, the folks in Huddersfield may consider Catweazle to be the Acoustic Club of the South, if they make the trip down. (more…)

Day 7: Mythologies

Saturday, July 16th, 2011


All kinds of peformance art are welcomed in Nottingham.

Nottingham is a place of myth. Not a mythical place but a place where those structures of signification that Barthes, in one of his more lucid moments, termed second order semiological systems, abound.

It’s Monday night and we’re playing the open mic at the Golden Fleece. It has been postulated that the orgins of the Jason myth – an early version of the Odessey, incorporating the quest for belonging, love, betrayal and revenge – stem from the practice, in Asia Minor, of holdng sheepskins in streams in order to catch small particles of gold. Once the fleece was saturated with gold dust it would be incinerated, leaving the precious metal behind.

The advertising for the night at the Golden Fleece describes it as ‘legendary’ and it also has history – the antithesis of myth – having run for the last 11 years. While it’s a perfectly good open mic night, in the main the acts aren’t quite exciting enough to make it ‘legendary’ I feel. (more…)

Day 6: From Dusk till dawn

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The open mic at Dusk in York starts off somewhat shambolically at around 11pm but rapidly gains momentum. The organisers, Mark Wynn and GT Turbo (of York Americana outfit Boss Caine) each play several numbers in a bluesy vane. Mark has an intricate (more…)

Days 3, 4 and 5: Leeds, Bradford airport – Gorton – Heckmondwike

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Moogieman at the Brunswick, Manchester.Lewis at the Brunswick, Manchester.

We start day 3 at Leeds, Bradford airport. This isn’t the launch point of the international leg of the tour, it’s just because we’d originally intended to play in Leeds the previous night and the Travelodge here is only £15.

There isn’t much to see or do around here so we look forward to having a bit of a lie in. We’re woken in the early hours by the sound of jet engines starting up. The noise abates then returns at regular intervals.

We head to Manchester. Tonight we’re playing at the B-Lounge, formerly the Brunswick, where the open mic is run by local ska-folk band Naymedici. (more…)

Day 2: a bridge too far?

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The 451st Open Mic Surgery at the Stubbing Wharf, Hebden Bridge is unmiked, and isn’t in any sense a surgery. But it’s a friendly, intimate kind of night. (more…)

Open mic tour, day 1, the Yardbird, Birmingham

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
Birmingham has big buildings.

Birmingham has big buildings.

I grew up in a city that felt like a city – skyscrapers, six-lane highways – at least like they are on TV. Central Birmingham, more than any other British city I’ve been to, including London, feels like a proper city.

It certainly has parking charges to rival any city. We arrive in the centre, coming after work, and get inadvertently shunted underground. It’s £2 to get out so we opt to stay for the full hour that entitles us to (more…)

Open mic tour prep – ties and films

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Essential equipment for the open mic tour

I can’t decide which films to take? Or ties? Probably a couple of knitted numbers, along with a narrow grey one for versatility. I think I’ll leave the pale sand crocheted one at home — it has attracted a fair amount comment, not all good.

Huck (formerly of Huck and Handsome Fee, now with Tamara and the Martyrs and moonlighting occasionally with The Epstiein, once remarked that it looked like (more…)

Film supplies

Monday, July 4th, 2011

I’ve been spending rather too much on film lately. I seem to be amassing a large stock as, invariably, the film you want to use — depending on, say, weather conditions, indoor/outdoors, desired effect — is not one you have. Or you have one for that occasion but if you use it there’ll be no spare. (more…)