Friday 31 May 2013

Frank Sidebottom: Fans raise £40,000 for documentary

An online appeal to raise funds for a tribute documentary to cult comedian Frank Sidebottom hit its £40,000 target hours ahead of deadline.

The appeal to pay for Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story closed at 01:00 BST on the Kickstarter website.

Filmmaker Steve Sullivan said the project had received "amazing" support since its launch a month ago.

Chris Sievey, who played Sidebottom wearing an over-sized papier-mache head, died of cancer in 2010.

Mr Sullivan filmed The Magical Timperley Tour, a documentary where Sidebottom toured the area of Greater Manchester where he lived with 100 fans on an open top bus.

"We talked about making another film but sadly he died and I just started to get fascinated by the idea that nobody really knew who Frank Sidebottom was and who was beneath the head," he added.

Mr Sullivan added: "This is going to fund an incredible documentary."

Kickstarter is a website that allows people to raise funding for films, games, music, art, design and technology.

TV regular

Mr Sullivan said the funding will enable the film to use footage from TV performances of Frank Sidebottom as well as rare interviews with his creator Chris Sievey.

Sievey, who died aged 54, hit the charts in the late 1970s with his Manchester punk band band the Freshies and had a hit with I'm In Love With The Girl From the Manchester Virgin Checkout Desk.

But it was Frank, the comedy character he created satirising the music business, that he was best known for.

Often accompanied by his sidekick Little Frank - a glove puppet made in his own image - Frank became a regular face on TV in the 1980s and 1990s.

His TV fame peaked in the early 1990s with his own series Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show.

Source: BBC

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Tonight at The Musician: A Farewell To Liz & Skatz

A Farewell To Liz & Skatz
Friday 31st May
feat. Woodstock, Bryter Layer, The Liz Scattergood Band plus Skatz & Rob Gee
£4.50adv/con £6door

Say goodbye to Liz Scattergood and Skatz before they set off for their new life, with a 'last chance to see' some of the great Leicester bands they've been in over the last decade.

For the first and last time ever you can see Woodstock, Bryter Layter, Liz Scattergood Band and Skatz on the same night, with a special final appearance by infamous stand up comedy duo Rob & Skatz.

And who knows, you might even hear some Scattergood & Cartwright and legendary The Looking Glass too.

Celebrate Liz & Skatz's great back catalogue of songs, liberally sprinkled with the obligatory Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills Nash & Young and Nick Drake.

Harmonies, hippie songs and happy tears start at 8pm. Unmissable.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling:

Thursday 30 May 2013

Review: The Bright Forever – Hidden In Plain Sight

The Bright Forever – Hidden In Plain Sight (Blue Button Records)
The Bright Forever is the musical pseudonym of Megan Hook, a singer-songwriter originally from rural Pennsylvania and now living and working in Los Angeles. The intriguingly titled “Hidden In Plain Sight” is the first part of a trilogy of albums to be released in 2013 - the second collection “Carried Away” has already been released, and the third part “Starting Over” is currently being recorded.

Whereas “Carried Away” primarily featured songs written and performed on piano, Hook’s guitar is the predominant instrument here, and as such, offers new insights into her songwriting and musicianship, together with the influences that have shaped her as an artist. The dreamy ambience on “Hidden In Plain Sight” refers back to a late ‘80s / early ‘90s indie sound, personified by groups like Madder Rose and Mazzy Star, though Hook’s take is rooted in her songs, and her ability to express a range of emotions with her exceptional voice.

As with its follow up, “Hidden In Plain Sight” isn’t an overlong record, but at over 25 minutes, it sticks around long enough to make its point. Her songs get under the skin in a most agreeable way, and although there’s nothing here that could be classed as pop (not in the way daytime radio or the charts understand the word), there’s no shortage of big choruses and vocal hooks. The title track is a pristine and perfect example of everything that Hook does right. The production is warm and lush, the drums and cello play rhythmic tricks, while vocals and guitar swoop and soar. It should feature on a thousand mixtapes alongside “Everyone's a Labyrinth”, a dark, gothic lullaby to sooth the most unruly of children.
Phil S.

Tonight at The Musician: Alasdair Roberts plus Weikie, Jinnwoo and Melanie Page

Magic Teapot presents…

Alasdair Roberts
Thursday 30th May
plus Weikie, Jinnwoo and Melanie Page
Cult Scottish songwriter, singer and acoustic fingerstyle guitarist Alasdair Roberts will be performing his interpretations of traditional ballads alongside original songs which span a rich career that's seen tours and collaborations with Will Oldham, Bill Callahan, Joanna Newsom, Isobel Campbell and many more.

His new album 'A Wonder Working Stone was released in January and it continues Alasdair’s long-standing love affair and deeply creative interaction with the traditional music of his native Scotland (and beyond), offering an idiosyncratic and nuanced radicalization of that tradition.

The music of Alasdair Roberts straddles the border between contemporary pop music and traditional folk music, drawing new listeners from both sides of the divide, as well as commentators from the scholarly realms.
"One of Britain’s most singular and original talents" - Colin Irwin, fRoots

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling:

LS Lowry and David Hockney artworks at auction

A collection of paintings and drawings by LS Lowry has fetched almost £600,000 at auction in London.

Many of Lowry's pictures depict Salford and the surrounding areas where he lived for more than 40 years.

One of the auction highlights was a drawing of the Agecroft Regatta (above), held on the River Irwell at Kersal Cell in 1948, which sold for £211,250

Also in the sale at Bonhams was a painting by David Hockney, which fetched £97,250.

Hockney was born in Bradford in 1937 and as a teenager would use a pram loaded with paints and brushes as a mobile art studio on the city streets.

Urban landscapes

He went on to find fame at the Royal College of Art in London in the 1960s.

Lowry was born in Stretford, Manchester, in 1887 and worked full-time at the Pall Mall Property Company, even when he was one of the most popular painters in Britain.

He studied painting part-time in evening classes, and later only painted at night after work.

He is particularly recognised for his trademark matchstick men represented in desolate industrial and urban landscapes.

In 1953, he was appointed an official artist at the Queen's coronation.

He died in 1976 at the age of 88.

Source: BBC

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Edvard Munch: 'Most comprehensive' exhibition to open in Oslo

The "most comprehensive" exhibition of Edvard Munch's art is set to open in Oslo to mark 150 years of the artist's birth.

More than 270 works will be displayed, including art loaned by public and private owners from around the world.

The exhibition will run across two venues - the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design and the Munch Museum.

Munch Exhibition of the Century runs in Oslo from 2 June until 13 October.

Munch Museum director Stein Olav Henrichsen said he hoped to "expand knowledge, curiosity and enthusiasm for Munch's life and art, locally, nationally and internationally."

The exhibition will include work from the Norwegian's debut as a 20-year-old in 1883 until he stopped painting just before his death in 1944.

Munch's work from 1882-1903 will be exhibited at the National Gallery, while his works from 1904-1944 will be shown at the Munch Museum.

Last May, the artist's famous work The Scream became the most expensive art work sold at auction, selling in New York for $119.9m (£74m).

The 1895 pastel is one of four in a series by the artist and was the only one still owned privately.

Source: BBC

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Review: Emily Cavanagh – Keep It With Mine

Emily Cavanagh – Keep It With Mine (Independent)
Perhaps it’s the Norah Jones effect, but over the past decade or so, jazz has become a major influence on singer-songwriters. Whether it’s a welcome development or not, cannot be judged simply on that one aspect. As always, songwriters are judged on the quality of their words and singers on their voice. Their influences are rarely discussed when the prizes are being handed out.

Emily Cavanagh was born and raised in Chicago, and is now resident in New York, where she runs a non-profit creative arts project for formerly homeless young adults, instilling in her students a love of artistic pursuits and, at the same time, releasing three albums of her own. Her latest, “Keep It With Mine” seems to be the most readily available, though all three titles are listed on Amazon, which is fortunate, as anyone listening to this ten-track collection will doubtless want to hear more.

Taking its title from a Bob Dylan song “Keep It With Mine” indicates, with some subtlety, and no little ingenuity, that Cavanagh sees herself primarily as a singer-songwriter. I’m inclined to agree; her songs tell stories that lay bare their subjects and impact on other songs, and she does so with an impressive turn of phrase. She begins with “We Were Young”, which, within its structure, contains elements of old European folk music, country twang, and more than ample pop smarts. Her narrative flows and the instrumentation is varied and sometimes unexpected.

So It Goes” is an altogether different kettle of fish. Its jaunty piano and lightness of touch appears almost throwaway, yet its melody stays long after the music has finished, and Cavanagh’s vocal is faultless. “C'mon Let's Do” is just as catchy, its insistent rhythm driving the song along, and its simple “la-la” refrain impossible not to be swept away by. Whereas the elegiac “Flower & Stone” carries a deal of sadness on its shoulders, its effect magnified by what sounds like a lonesome pedal steel, and Cavanagh’s relatively subdued delivery.
Tony S.

Review: Handsome Family + Snowapple at The Musician, Leicester, 26th May, 2013

Handsome Family + Snowapple at The Musician, Leicester, 26th May, 2013
Following the much-needed warmth of the day, by 8:30pm the amassed crowd was spilling out onto the street for a leisurely tobacco fix prior to the evening’s entertainment, from legendary alternative Americana outfit, The Handsome Family. The venue was relatively full, though perhaps that owed more to the large stomachs of the middle-aged and balding, mostly male audience, rather than a close packed head count.

Support came from Dutch all-girl harmony group, Snowapple.  The graceful, sophisticated and 1950s styled trio told stories of love and nature taken from their debut, eponymous LP (out now on V2 Records). They sparingly backed their compositions with guitar from the beaming and hard staring (and mildly unnerving) Laurien Schreuder, complimented by the violin, keys and accordion of Fanny de Ruiter, with Una Bergin taking glockenspiel, tin whistle and mandolin duties. 

The well-rehearsed three-part harmonies led the way, but it was the unexpected turns that made for an absolutely engaging show, like the whistled intro to a song about the wives and lives of Edgar Allen Poe (“Virginia”), the fuzzed-out guitar break of “Bluebirds, Blackbirds” and moments of almost operatic soaring which recalled Josephine Foster. Their Eurocentric cool allowed for a French language waltz, “Le Clown et La Fleuriste” and they closed with a near rowdy and obscure cover (to me anyway) of Jolie Holland’s blues, “Old Fashioned Morphine”.

The three-piece Handsome Family - comprising 25 year married Brett and Rennie Sparks, performing on bass ukulele, long necked banjo and guitar, with surrogate son, Matt Werner, on drum and percussion, took to the stage at 9:40pm and Rennie instantly engaged the audience with wit and charm. “Octopus”, taken from their new LP, “Wilderness” was the first of the animal songs to be heard of the course of the night. 

Their format was to alternate new (animal) tunes with those from their 20-year back catalogue, where often obscure subject matter turns magically into wry humoured melancholic analysis of the human condition, and the sheer miracle of life.  Aside animals (frogs, lizards, owls, woodpeckers and the aforementioned octopus) other topics covered were magnets, lava and the heat of the world, holes, the Moon and suicide (the amazing “Weightless”).

It might be fair to say that their songs are not graced by the most striking of vocals or musical proficiency, but their no frills approach seems often to be the point. Having been on the circuit for 20 years, the homely and personable track that they’ve worn may mean that they’re as familiar and unchanging to their fans as a comfortable pair of old slippers.

Snowapple stole the show.

Review: Jon Davis – Open Shore

Jon Davis – Open Shore (Independent)
Jon Davis is a classically trained singer, a jazz pianist and singer-songwriter from Montreal. “Open Shore” is his second album (his debut collection “Golden Hue” was released in 2009) and it reveals a gentle folk-pop style that will remind senior listeners of artists like James Taylor and Nick Drake. Davis’ voice most resembles the former, though there’s a complexity to his sound and style that reflects both his jazz interests and a considerable artistic ambition. The results are simultaneously easy on the ear, but equally inclined to stretch the listener, as Davis himself is stretched.

“Open Shore” begins with the sublime “Overcome”, its piano arrangement propels Davis’ song and fills in the gaps, until the final half minute or so, when its fragility is exposed and its conclusion is almost Antony Hegarty-esque – it’s stunningly executed and quite moving. “Streets Aren't Paved” introduces new instruments, including a dirty sounding guitar, and the feel of the record has shifted somewhere new. Fortunately Davis’ song and voice provide dual anchors, and however the approach differs, the destination remains the same. It’s a fine song, with a distinct blue-collar sensibility and includes a chorus that radio should be excited by.

It’s an album that deserves to be heard from beginning to end, preferably late in the evening, however it would be utterly remiss to sign off without drawing attention to tracks like “Forest in the City”, which hits like a wave, or “Curtain”, which is beautifully constructed, with a hook that may have to be surgically removed.
Phil S.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Tonight at De Montfort Hall: Eliza Carthy & Jim Moray

De Montfort Hall Presents…

Eliza Carthy & Jim Moray

The Wayward Tour

Wednesday 29th May
Tickets: £19 / £17 (Conc.) / £5 (Under 16)
Doors: 7:30pm
A very special double bill from two of the great figures in English music, each with an anniversary to celebrate: Eliza has been touring for twenty one years and it is ten years since Jim put out his first album. To mark these achievements they will be sharing a ten-piece band and playing a set each with material from across their extraordinary careers.

Proposed line up:
Eliza Carthy - Vocals, Fiddle, Accordian
Jim Moray - Vocals, Guitar, Piano
David Delarre (Gift Band, Mawkin) - Guitar
Sam Sweeney (Bellowhead) - Fiddle
Barnaby Stradling (Martin Carthy, Waterson: Carthy, Blowzabella, Edward II) - Bass
Lucy Farrell (Emily Portman, Alistair Roberts) - Viola
Saul Rose (Kings of Calicutt, Eliza Carthy, Waterson:Carthy) - Melodian
Willie Moleson (Eliza Carthy Band) - Drums
Beth Porter (Eliza Carthy Band) - Cello
Tuba -TBC
Trumpet - TBC

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling:

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University of Reading sketch is by Rubens

A drawing owned by the University of Reading has been confirmed as a work by 17th Century artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens.

The 4.25in by 3.5in (10.8 cm by 8.9 cm) sketch of the Marie de Medicis has been valued at £75,000.

When bought in the 1950s for £50 it was thought to have been drawn "in the style" of the Old Master.

Professor Anna Gruetzner Robins, from the university's art department, called it an "extremely exciting discovery".

Rubens was one of the most influential Baroque artists in northern Europe.

Prof Robins said: "[He] has a special significance for Britain because he undertook several commissions in Britain including a decorative ceiling for the Banqueting House at Whitehall.

"[This sketch] belongs to a group of portrait drawings of Marie de Medicis made circa 1622... all of which were studies for 21 life-size paintings representing Marie's life from her girlhood, coronation as Queen of Henry IV of France, to old age and exile."

World record

Clues to the sketch's true creator arose after it was sent for conservation.

When removed from its frame it was found to have the mark of Jonathan Richardson, a noted collector of Rubens' work in the 18th Century.

Experts in Old Masters drawings subsequently verified its authenticity for the university, and Antiques Roadshow contributor Adam Schoon valued it at £75,000.

In 2010 Rubens' A Commander Being Armed for Battle fetched £9m in an auction of items from Althorp, ancestral home of Diana, Princess of Wales.

In 2002 his Massacre of the Innocents was sold for £49.5m at auction, setting a record for a work by an Old Master.

Other notable works include The Horrors Of War and Venus And Adonis.

Old Master refers to a great European painter from around the 13th to the 17th centuries.

Source: BBC

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