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been a while! been busy

So the crazy intensity of the summer gigging schedule has finally eased off and last week I only did 3 gigs!  This week I break all records and only do a weekend at the Old Irish Pub in Frederikshavn – a gig I haven’t played before, and am looking forward to.

So what have I been up to instead?

Well, last Thursday (as I did a couple of days the week before) I was at Media Sounds Studio in Copenhagen recording for the forthcoming Neil Brophy album, which so far is sounding amazing.  The backing vocals went down in no time and I’m well chuffed with them.  I then zapped down to the Scottish Pub to play a 4 hour session there before driving back to the farm on Fyn.

Home at Avalon I continued the sealing of the windows in the studio before driving with the Leprechaun and Vupti the dog over to Helsingør.  Fabulous night at The Old Irish Pub with folks I haven’t seen for a decade and a resurgeance of long forgotten jokes, and some hilarious drunk Swedes.  Had several drinks with various staff members afterwards and caught about 4 hours sleep in the “Dungeon”

Saturday I had breakfast with old friends and a good catch up.  Went for a walk and to inspect a horse with The Leprechaun and her friend, then had fab vegan food courtesy of the artist sometimes known as Michael Donnan.  Saturday night’s gig was less hilarious than the previous, but picked up nicely and ended with a good party by the pool tables with Leprechaun, Steffan, Felix (Lucas) and a bunch of fun people.

Sunday we drove back to Avalon – forgetting en route to drop off the drum kit we’d brought over for Stokkebye. (and having forgotten my guitar on the stage earlier!).  Since then I’ve been recording childrens’ lullabies for the new-born daughter of some friends.  It’s turned out quite nice , so anyone else wanting a copy, let me know.

A monkey rant

Imagine a group of apes.  They live in a small extended family group and find food from the area surrounding their nesting place.  When food is scarce they move on.  Other groups do the same.  Occasionally there is conflict between the groups when they come into each other’s areas.  Always there is conflict to a lesser extent within the group itself as hierarchies are established and challenged.  This is the human race barely 100 lifetimes ago.  Barely 10 lifetimes.  In fact, the same rules apply for many today.

Let’s now take those apes and put them in huge cities.  The family group is now so big it doesn’t know who is family and who isn’t.   The hierarchy has evolved so that the alpha of the group is alpha for a huge group of subgroups, and a complex system has developed to prevent endless fighting over position and resources.  Those great cities become part of a global tribe.  This is where we stand today.

No, this is where we stood yesterday.

Yesterday we stood – 9 billion apes – with a global system that has been built up based on the same principles our cave-dwelling ancestors lived by.  If there is plenty, we hoard.  If there is little we move.  If others move to us and there is little we fight.  Thus has it always been.  The difference today is that socialism, unionism, acceptance of human rights, global peace treaties, war crimes tribunals, globalisation, democracy and a host of other 19th/20th century interventions have established a system that fights against our apish instincts and, where allowed to, allows the weak to survive and thrive, forces the richest to share their hoards and prevents the inevitable fighting that occurs when the hungry, war-weary or persecuted move.

Today the politics of neo-liberalism are popular – despite being disadvantageous to all except a tiny minority who will hold the wealth when the above safeguards are removed.  The popularity is because it speaks to our apish nature.  It is the politics of the cave.  Of tribal self-service.  Of primevil hoarding.  But when hoarding is no longer necessary (we can now globally grow food enough to feed all 9 billion of us) there is a different name for hoarding.  Greed.  Unfortunately, hoarding is a survival instinct built up over millions of years – the fact that it is no longer necessary (in fact, detrimental) requires a constant fight against our instincts.

Out of our city-caves comes another anachronism.  Our tribe is so large we cannot tell who is one of us and who isn’t.  So we make sub-tribes within the tribe – people with same interests, same clothes, same skin colour, same sexual preference, same political views – and maintain our cave-based need to belong based on arbitary similarities.  Those outside our “tribe” become potential enemies.  When our resources are threatened (for example when the capitalist system breaks down as in 2008) we look to the other tribes amongst us to fight.  It’s natural.  It’s human nature.  We’re all racists in one way or another.

What is important is that we have a political system which does the following things:

1) Ensures that our instinct to hoard is regulated for the common good.

2) Ensures that no tribe or sub-tribe or potential new sub-tribe is left outside of the system or disadvantaged

3) Ensures that there is a safe outlet for the inherent tribalism in the form of sport, humour, culture etc.

4) Educates the population to recognize that we are apes and the consequences of acting like apes.  That seen from outside the human race is a parasite and how to avoid being parasitic.

The political elite has neglected our evolutional heritage, and nationalism, populism and radicalism are the results.  Hardly surpising really, as the mainstream politics of our age is based on parasitic ape-like economic theory.  It’s time whilst celebrating our tribes,  to remember that there is wealth enough for us all – remember: half the world’s wealth is in just a few hands.  Remember:  Austerity is a political ideology, not a necessity.  Anyone looking for a tribe that is responsible for the desolation we witness is the economic lives of the population of the “west”?  I present you – neo-liberalists.  No, not muslims – they have nothing – NOTHING – to do with this mess, other than that many muslim majority countries have also been victims of neo-liberalist (oil) hoarding (and consequently a disproportionate number of people having to flee from war zones call the god of the old testament “Allah” rather than, say, “God”)

We don’t need a world war.  Wars are not as fun as they look in Hollywood.  Please people – Don’t drop more bombs.  Drop neo-liberalism, drop tax havens, drop bankers’ bonuses, drop Front National, drop Brexit, drop politicians pay rises, drop Austerity, drop 3rd world debt, drop Trump.    Drop voting like a cave dwelling ape.

Feel like you can’t make a difference?  That the alphas have all the power and which ever way you vote the politicians get in?  Trump and Brexit both proved that people can overturn the establishment through voting.  Next step is to vote for something positive instead of voting to hit your neighbours over the head with a club.

Most important – think all the time:  “Am I being an ape”?  Because we all are, all of the time.  It’s what we are.  Being aware of it allows us the possibility to stop being one when it hurts other people – or potentially the entire planet.

last week – marielyst and odense plus moullettes @ loppen

Last week I was in Marielyst on the Thursday night at the newly renovated and much larger Café Daisy.  They came with cake for me in the break, having found out that it was my birthday!  Very fun night with very fun people…will be back there in the summer (outside if the weather’s good) both solo and with Strong Ale.

On Friday I did the early set at The Old Irish Pub in Odense followed by 2 sets with Strong Ale.  Quite a lot of people I know there and a fab evening with a very drunk Leprechaun and Miss Monkey.  Saturday night I did the late set after the Strong Ale sets.  Fabulous evening again once the crowd got into gear.

On Sunday The Leprechaun and I went to Copenhagen, and, after eating at Pairøen (Copenhagen Street Food) we watched Moulettes play at Loppen in Christiania.  Amazing musicians and terrific use of cello and harmony vocals, and very inventive guitar playing and fantastic drumming, combined with Loppen’s brilliant sound…but still somewhat disappointing.  The interaction with the audience was embarrassingly ill-thought out and awkward, and the band really looked like they didn’t want to be there.  Still, we had a great night – rounded off nicely with drinks at Downtown Copenhagen where the greatest bar staff looked after us and a bunch of English visitors.  Happy days.

Randers

2 great nights at The Old Irish Pub in Randers.  It’s a really class venue – not in the least pub-like, more a concert experience.  I got the feeling they were used to background music, but (particularly the second night) the audience got involved and was on-side.  One weird drunken buffoon caused a bit of bad vibes:  I love hecklers, but coming onto the stage and shouting at me to play a danish song while I’m in the middle of a song is actually pretty annoying 😉  Anyway, ignore bad behaviour long enough and it tends to go away!

Spent Saturday afternoon walking with a friend in the beautiful nature behind the Rainforest (yes, they have an indoors rainforest).  The river and surrounding nature is stunning, particularly on such a beautiful sunny, winter’s day.  Afterwards I watched an impressive Wolves performance against Newcastle (they didn’t deserve to lose!).

Took the train there and back – got to love a country where the public transport works so well.

This week, I’m off to Marielyst, Falster and then doing weekend gigs in Odense (just up the road)…I think Brian Armstrong will be joining me.  Just waiting for confirmation!

weekend in Frederiksværk and Roskilde

Just back from a weekend on Sjælland again.  Slusen in Fredeiksværk was a delight to play.  A small café type venue, with no room to set up in, but with a lovable and engaged audience and more atmosphere than you’d ever believe you could get in so little room.  Had a fab night.  Stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast in Melby (Karna and Per on Melbyvej).

Had a chilled day in Roskilde on Saturday and then a gig at Mulligans – I’d played there 2 weeks ago and it had been one huge party with everyone singing along, dancing, screaming and clapping.  Well, they made me work for it this time.  But we got there in the end!!!  The first set was good, the second one I died….then the last set was great – proving that a musician should never give up and should give it everything to make sure an evening is a success ever time.  I often wonder when a gig doesn’t seem to be kicking off properly – is it something I’m doing?  It is never the audience’s fault if you have a bad gig…well, I fixed it in the last set and all was well that ended well.  Watching people dancing and everyone singing along to Make mine a Pilsner at the end made my day!

A drive back to Avalon of about 1 1/12 hours and I poured myself a glass of Bowmore 18.  Weekend over.  Time for my weekend to start.

My Cd collection pt. 1

I’ve finally moved to a permanent address, which means that I’ve finally unpacked my CD collection which has been in storage for about 7 years.  Having set them up on shelves in the studio I’ve started playing through them in alphebetic order.  So far I’ve got through:

The Adventure Babies: Laugh

The last album released on Factory Records and recorded at Mad Hat Studios in Wolverhampton.  I was going out with an engineer from Mad Hat while it was being made and knew some members of the band and the engineer Mark Stuart.  I met Steve Lilywhite, who produced the album (with Mark) at the Newhampton Pub one evening.  I always liked TAB’s catchy tunes and clever, unorthodox lyrics, and it’s a good quirky, feelgood album

Aerosmith: Big Ones

I never consider myself a fan, but listening to this, it’s astounding how many great songs they crammed onto this.  And you really can’t question the musicianship.  Brilliant stuff and full of deserved hits.

AfroCelt Soundsystem: Vol 1 Sound Magic

The first Afro Celts album is still the best I think and it’s great to hear it again.  Whirl-y-reel was briefly included in Rumpus and The Rhythm Maniacs set when we had Matt playing Bass, whistle and Sax.  Still as good as ever, and – having recently seen the new Emerson fronted line up – it’s got the visual element of a record by a band I’ve seen live (although most of this line up wasn’t there).  Great and ground breaking record.

All About Eve: best of

I’m not a big fan of “best of” albums, but this has nearly the whole first album on it – which is what I really wanted, but this was on offer for a fiver!  Martha’s Harbour, Every Angel must die, Gypsy dance…amazing stuff.  Shame they didn’t keep the magic going longer.

Alphabeat: This is

An Ok album if you can ignore the terrible lyrics, and the out of place cover of Public Image.  You can hear why they made such an impact when they came out, but in retospect, you can also hear that they didn’t have enough substance to back it up with a second bearable album.  Brainless fun for a party.

Altan: Best of

I know…another best of.  Great band and this is one of my most played CD’s (it never made storage in the cellar and has been with me the whole way through!)  Concentrates mostly on the early years and is thus more whistle dominated than later stuff.  Which is no bad thing.

Tori Amos: Tales from a Librarian

Terrific songs from a terrific artist.  Crucify should zap straight on to my Spotify “Greatest Songs Ever Written” playlist

Anthony and The Johnsons: I am a bird now

I bought this on impulse after hearing Anthony do one song on a tribute show (I can’t remember what show).  I rather like his bizarre voice, the music is atmospheric and the theme of gender identity interesting…but a whole album is a lot to take at one time

Atomic Swing: In their finest hour

A great example of why the Swedish music scene has for years been one of the best.  A real band playing real music with real songs about real things.  The bass is beautifully abstract – he does exactly what you don’t expect all the time.  Love this band.  Shame they didn’t do more – I think this is a compilation of 2 albums.  I knew Meat Swap Bossanova, from which many of the songs are taken, and I think they did one more.  Weird in retrospect to hear Phil Spector singing on “So in need of a change”.

B52’s – Planet Clare

Early stuff from the great B52’s – most of this is from 1979, and is the same material by and large they played when we saw them 2 years ago.  Good live band, and that live vibe is captured perfectly on record.  You can’t help but love em!

I’ll keep you posted as I continue…

2016

2016? I know, I know…but for me it’s been a great year.

Lots of festivals and UK tour with Neil Brophy Band, markets and pubs with Strong Ale, a couple of parties and events with Aliens, and a really busy year doing all sorts as a one man minstrel monkey…particularly helped by a whole bunch of newly launched and thoroughly brilliant “The Old Irish Pub”s all over Denmark.

Recording of the single “Fear of Fear” with Neil Brophy Band and preparation of the video project about to be launched on patreon.com.  Several trips to Britain and Norway and lots of great festivals, including the best Glastonbury ever.  And of course the big event – moving to Avalon, our new home in Denmark (and the beginning of Avalon Studios!)

Got to see some great bands: The Great Malarkey, John Grant, Afro Celt Sound System, Treacherous Orchestra, Christy Moore, Aurora, Blackbeards Tea Party and Of Monsters and Men among others.

We’ll take the consequences of Brexit and Trump next year…for me it will be challenging even if we don’t end up in world war 3…and we can feel sad at the loss of some of my great heroes (particularly Bowie – who left us with one of his best ever albums as a farewell…what a way to go!)  But I have food in my belly, a roof over my head, music all around, good health, an amazing wife and wonderful friends and family.  Lucky monkey.  Blessings to you all

Video a week on patreon.com

Hi and happy new year beloved folkies!

A new feature for 2017 is the Martin Dale patreon page at:

https://www.patreon.com/martindale

Here you can see live performances of songs, background info about the songs, thoughts about new songs and much more.  Better still, it’s an interactive experience – you can tell me what you think, ask me questions, make requests or say whatever you feel like to me!  I’ll reply to every post.

It’s launched today (1st January 2017) and there will be a new video (plus background info video) every Sunday come rain or shine, as well as bonus recordings, musings, song sketches etc.

Click the buttons and become part of it.  You know you want to!

Afro celt soundsystem

I don’t get to as many gigs (of other artists!) as I’d like to (except at festivals), so when I finally get the chance to see an act I really like it is double the pleasure.  So when my good friend and ex-Rumpus partner Ed Conway suggested seeing Afro Celt Sound System at Birmingham City Hall while I was in England last week, I jumped at the chance.

First, I will get the only negatives out of the way.  They looked awful.  Dressed in the clothes they did their shopping in and with (in the case of the piper, Griogair Labhruidh) a sweater your uncle wouldn’t even wear at Christmas, they hadn’t made an effort on the visual side.  With the exception of the one (hugely talented) African member, N’Faly Kouyate, who donned a long colourful jacket, and the dancers, in their traditional Indian costumes.  And Griogair rapped.  Rapping is shite in any language – even Gaelic.

Right.  That’s the negatives out of the way.  The music more than made up for it.  I had always considered ACSS to be a very electronic project, with the acoustic, traditional instruments laid over computer-based rhythms and synthesizers.  The electronic side, actually, played a much smaller role than I expected and the bulk of the sound was produced by the pipes/flutes/whistles, guitars, kora, drums, percussion and bodhrán augmented by terrific harmony vocals.  The synth was mostly providing bass (I would have preferred a bass guitar, but that’s just a question of taste). One of those who made the biggest impression on me was Rioghnach Connelly on vocals and flute.  A hugely talented lady with great on-stage attitude.  But they were all amazing, and took turns coming to the front before stepping back into the huge African, Asian and Celtic sound soup.

The set was mostly from the new album “Source”, but with a few pieces I recognised from the early Afro Celt albums.  The members of the “other” band who share the name may be threatening legal action and disclaiming the project, but it was very much a Simon Emmerson project in the beginning, as I understand it, and he pulled off a spectacular show with this line-up, featuring all the elements we loved from the early records.

Fab night.

Neil Brophy UK tour roundup

Had a wonderful week eating great British food and drinking great British ales, whilst playing great British venues in Great Britain.  Neil Brophy Band made its first steps into the great British music market and at the same time had lots of fun and giggles.

First port of call after driver and on-road entertainment Jim picked us up from Luton airport, was Dublin Castle in Camden, London, where sound crew Martin and Jens from Powerstage were waiting.  Not a big crowd, but a good way to warm up for the tour, with reunions with old friends, quality curry beforehand, quality beer after and an unexpected headline slot, when the headliners didn’t show up.

After a sardine night at the hostel, we headed up to Northampton, and, having sampled pie, mash and mushy peas and admired Jim’s hotrod, played a much longer set at The Black Prince.

Next day we went to The Adelphi in Hull (after eating the best fish and chips in the world).  This place is like traveling directly back in time to the 80’s.  Great atmosphere, retro-sound, characature characters and terrific beer.  This was the first of 3 gigs supporting the wonderful Blackbeard’s Tea Party – lovely people, and great musicians.  A really fun night, and a great response from the crowd.

Long trip the next day to the beautiful city of Chester, where we stayed with the wonderful Brian and Ann.  The venue – Telford’s Warehouse – was as beautiful as the city, the sound fantastic and the audience appreciative.

The last day was more relaxed due to shorter driving distance…just up t’road to Manchester.  Fac 251 is the old Factory Records building, and there’s a sense of rock n roll history in the place.  Another great night and both NBB and Blackbeard’s were on fire.

Lovely to be back in Denmark now, but what a great week in the UK!