Fireworks Night announce release party line-up

5000, Organ Grinder and Brainlove presents A joint release party with:
plus support from BASTARDGEIST
and DJ Rich Thane of The Line of Best Fit
Thursday 17th November 2011, The Wheelbarrow, London
Fireworks Night celebrate the release of their new album ‘One Winter, One Spring’ on Organ Grinder Records (November 7th), which sees the band lovingly embrace two of popular music’s most seductive elements; rhythm and the pleasure of the chorus. The intricate arrangements and compelling lyrical narratives of their previous records still remain but this time they’re played by a band smitten with music as a vehicle for joy as well as sorrow, a combination which has made them an unusually exhilarating band – able at once to move feet, head and heart.

“A dizzyingly talented, dash-cutting ensemble trading in claret confessionals and gravel voiced, tobacco-stained drama, all told via nigh-on perfect string accompaniment and fantastic songwriting flair.” – Drowned in Sound

Bleeding Heart Narrative are a London sextet who weave together beautiful sounds with a haunting intensity. You might hear the shimmer of Tortoise or Steve Reich built into a song that could be played on an Arcade Fire-sized stage, or pick out Battles-esque repetition in a Mogwai-sized crescendo – but it’ll always be Bleeding Heart Narrative you’re listening to. ‘Bison’ is their first release on Brainlove Records, and follows their acclaimed 2010 album ‘Tongue Tangled Hair’.


“Musically sumptuous and highly arresting, pulled off with an enviable sense of beauty and inspired musicality” – The Quietus
“Filled with lush instrumentation” – The Line Of Best Fit

Opening proceedings is Bastardgeist, the brainchild of Chicago-based musician Joel Midden. Through layers of kalimba, processed vocals and a handful of circuitous samples and found percussion he has crafted a bedroom opus of singular vision and ambitious design.


“A bed of stimulating sonics… detailed yet uncluttered with a captivating beauty” – Shook Mag

8.00 doors
£4 at WeGotTickets | £6 door
The Wheelbarrow | 55 Camden High Street NW1 7JH


I made an Organ Grinder Records 'doc' / 'thing' / 'page' on the futuristic website Webdoc.  It might be the new MySpace


How's my driving?

Terrible. I haven't driven in over 10 years and the last time I did I wrote off an old Ford Fiesta whilst aptly listening to Blow Out by Radiohead. I don't remember the registration number of that car but I do remember the song I was listening to when I crashed it.

It's a bit of a blessing I don't drive because I won't have to share the epic amount of driving on the Smoke Fairies tour which starts tomorrow. (EDIT: it actually started yesterday but Blogger had gone the same way as a failed Grand National horse. It's back now but I've lost all the nice links, photos and stuff which is a shame - bad Google)

If you have a glance at the last three dates in particular you'll see why I'm quite pleased I'm not driving.

May 13 - Brighton

May 14 - Clitheroe

May 15 - Hebden Bridge

May 16 - Edinburgh

May 18 - York

May 19 - Liverpool

May 20 - London

May 22 - Cardiff

May 23 - Rochester

May 24 - Southampton

May 26 - Barcelona

May 28 - Newcastle

Those last three dates are 2200 miles alone, so yeah, I'll be trying to keep the driver(s) awake so I'll probably blast out the incredible new Tune-Yards album.


My preposterous interview with Sea of Bees

I interviewed Julie in a luxurious Travelodge room whilst on tour with Smoke Fairies. It's fair to say we were both a little inebriated at the time. Have a listen:

  Sea of Bees interview by hells-belles


The hunt for a BACH Bogen

***the hunt is over see Update 5 at the bottom***

The BACH.Bogen is a cunningly constructed curved bow which enables string players to play all four strings at the same time. It looks like this:

...and here's a video of one in action performed by the guy who invented the thing.

This is an awesomely intriguing invention and I need to get my shovel-like hands on one; but where from?

I've emailed numerous musical instrument shops but haven't had any luck so far. Bridgewood and Neitzert (who recently did a wonderful repair job on my viola after I inadvertently tore a large hole in it) said that they're "sadly not aware of any manufacturers for this bow."

During my online search though I did come across a marvellous site called The Viola Workshop and there's a nice little section on the site entitled 'A Brief History of the Viola' which claims that the viola is entering a 'golden age' with its increasing popularity. I'll certainly raise a glass to that wildly optimistic claim!

I'll be documenting my, probably tedious and non-eventful, progress right here. If you know where I could obtain one or know someone that might be able to offer a lead please get in contact.

UPDATE 1: I've just had an email back from Anton Lukoszevieze who's a superb cellist that uses one of these bows. He gave me the email address for the man who invented it; I just tried emailing him and it bounced back as 'failed to be delivered". Maybe he's given up on his creation. The search goes on. 

UPDATE 2. Helpful bow maker Howard Ball has got back to me with a few suggestions of people to try. You can see him in action here 

UPDATE 3. Tom Blackburn from Blackburn Stringed Instruments said I should try J. P. Guivier and with a name like that I'm expecting him to brandish a bach bow crafted by wizards. Tom also suggested I should Google 'Bach Bogen'... WHY THE HELL DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT? [/sarcasm] He also seems to share the 'londonviolins' domain with Bridgewood with the simple difference of a .com and I imagine they duel with each other regularly on ferocious steeds wielding huge 'cello bows for lances.  The prehistoric-wild goose chase continues.

UPDATE 4.  I had such high hopes for the awesomely named JP Guivier but he's crashed out with this reply: "We don't sell the Bach Bogen bows. I am afraid I don't know who does"  BUT I also received an email from someone who I think is a supplier of these bows so fingers crossed. Maan, this is as viveting as watching Deal or No Deal with weird beard Edmunds.

UPDATE 5. The hunt is over but the dog hasn't caught the fox; the dogs were close but the fox surrounded himself in a diamond encrusted impenetrable box. The cost of one of these bows ranges from £500 to £1500, which isn't that unreasonable but still way out of my range......for now. 


Hear me interview Jeanette Leech on ResonanceFM today

A few weeks ago I met Jeanette Leech in a probably-far-too-noisy-to-be-conducting-a-radio-interview pub in Crouch Hill and I asked her some questions about her smashing book Seasons they Change and I spent hours and hours editing it into a nice concise quarter of an hour chunk. Listening back to my voice though made me wonder how anyone understands anything I say... ever.

Anyway, you can listen to it on Dexter Bentley's show at noon today, more details here

UPDATE: you can listen again to the show here


Smoke Fairies on XFM

A week or so ago we popped into the XFM studios in Leicester Square to record a session for John Kennedy's Xposure show. There was something quite pleasing surreal about lugging massive amps and drums through one of London's biggest tourist traps.

We played Storm Song, Devil In My Mind, Summer Fades and Killing Joke's Requiem. It was aired last night and you can listen back to it here  I wonder if it's the first time they've ever had a viola solo on XFM?


22 April - all day gig party and BBQ at the Brixton Windmill

I'm hosting an event under the SoundsXP banner in April and I'm super pleased with the line-up. A couple of weeks ago I thought this show was doomed 'cos after contacting over 75 bands/managers/agents we only had one band confirmed but now our not-very good Friday has turned into VERY good Friday and I'm now looking forward to it muchly, as you can see from my page, I've been listening to Hannah Peel's album an awful lot so it's going to be great to see her at one of my favourite London venues with a burger in one hand and an ale in the other. I'll be djing at some point in the evening too.

Go over here for tickets and here's the blurb:

April 22nd isn’t just ‘Good Friday’ anymore, it’s Bloody-Brilliant-Music-And-Grub Friday at the Windmill, with an all-day line up of bands and a BBQ laid on for the Bank Holiday. We’re still adding courses to this banquet but the lip-smacking line up includes Hannah Peel, Laura J Martin, Fuzzy Lights, Dignan Porch, Cheatahs and I Spy with more to be announced shortly.
 Hannah Peel is a strikingly talented multi-instrumentalist, whose debut album Broken Waves (Static Caravan) was produced by Mike Lindsay of Tunng. Uncut described the album as “vibrant folk-pop with a stunning voice to savour (4 stars)” while her brilliant cover of the Cocteau Twin’s ‘Sugar Hiccup’ graces the latest Rough Trade Counter Culture 2010 compilation. Hannah’s playing with a full band at this gig so expect drama!

Laura J Martin is a one woman whirling dervish who wraps flute, mandolin and loops around gloriously crafted songs. She’s won over the likes of Marc Riley,,who she recently performed a 6 Music session for, and Rob Da Bank who said "Laura J Martin is one of the freshest out there....musically gifted, addictive and sodding brave please make sure you buy her records and most importantly see her live!'

Fuzzy Lights are Xavier and Rachael from Cambridge plus friends, who play a reverb-soaked mix of psych-folk, Americana and noise-rock. Their first album was described as “gorgeous” by Huw Stephens and second album Twin Feathers (released August 2010), with more prominent vocals, is receiving similar accolades.

Dignan Porch are brothers Sam and Joe Walsh plus friends Hayley, Phillippa and Ben from Tooting. Their fuzzy dreampop, recorded on Tascam 8-track, has attracted praise from the likes of Pitchfork and Vice magazine, and they’ve been snapped up by Captured Tracks, for whom they’ve released an album, Tendrils, and a new EP. Rough Trade are also smitten by them: “Dignan Porch are several matches made in heaven…bursting with coolness and melodies to kill or die for”.

Cheatahs was originally the solo project of Nathan Hewitt, (also in Little Death) and is now a trio. Their hazy lo-fi tunes have been released by such gurus of cool as Young and Lost, Paradise Vendors and Marshall Teller and they’ve shared bills with Best Coast, Crocodiles, Ariel Pink and Wavves. Rough Trade raved thus: “sounds like a lo-fi Elliott Smith skateboarding with Wavves - it’s totally amazing”.
AFTER SIX (ex-Friends of the Bride / The Fog Band)
This will be the debut performance for Bobby Grindrod's new outfit, entitled After Six. The band are so new they don't even have a MySpace yet but if any of his previous bands Firends of the Bride and The Fog Band are anything to go by they're sure to be a sumptuous treat of a band.


a mumbling fool is interviewed at Judy's Vintage Fair

The Fair was rammed and there was a pitiful selection of men's clothing but I still managed to pick up a delicious paisley tie. No surprise there then.

A Tour In Photos

This post should have happened weeks ago but various dilapidated obstacles got in the way.

Many political manifestos have included the Three 'E's but you only need to attach two 'E's to the Smoke Fairies' UK tour and in this case it isn't the same word lazily repeated three times for dramatic effect. The two words are 'exceded expectations'; one thing you're unlikely to get from a political party. To sell out most venues on a debut headline tour in the desolate month of January is heartwarming and encouraging stuff.

Enough with the rubbish, tenuously linked E words; here is the tour in photos:

 Kaf and Jess doing their 'witch house' poses for NME

 Manager extraordinaire Matt utilising his travel printer



 Frequenting haunted pubs

 How many candles? 

 Two peas in a pod

 an angel amongst Fairies 

 How many pedals does one viola player need? 

 The Smithereens

 Marc and Mark proudly in place at BBC Manchester where we went for a session on Marc Riley's show. Marc was refreshingly fanatical about everything as per usual which reminded me how wonderful it is to have him on our airwaves. I also happened to meet Gruff Rhys who's one of my favourite song writers as he was doing a session in the studio next door.

Part of the NME review of the Brighton show. I know I'm a tall chap and probably even a 'cello would look like a violin under my chin but it's not, it's a viola. Everyone called me Frank after that came out, which I rather liked!

 Piccadilly records

 would you like a Lionel with your hat? 

 one of the more pleasant dressing room graffiti appearances.

 at times the anticipation is unbearable.
as blurry as our heads the next morning

 Rob is overwhelmed by the tour malaise but as per usual Jules Sea of Bees has such a blazing supply of enthusiasm that it makes you feel dead inside in comparison.

 sound will be checked 

One of the many pleasingly non-travelodges we stayed in. Thanks Mr Tour Manager. Sorry guests for waking you up at silly o'clock in the morning by setting off the fire alarm. 

 Kris finds a special poster tucked away.

 How many stairs?

Blasts from the past
 at Bristol Fleece

Sea of Bees at Bush Hall. Not strictly part of our tour but they kept touring long after we'd returned to normality and overcome the longing to be back on tour.... 

...and in May we'll be doing it all again but in a slightly different order. Superb. Keep an eye on the Songkick page for details.


Smoke Fairies tour diary part 2

We arrived at The Sage last night to be greeted at load-in by a plethora of helpful chaps that seemingly love putting things on trolleys, which made the arduous daily task of carrying a million and one things into the venue easy as pie. Is pie easy? I guess so. It's such a pleasingly professional venue. We've played The Sage before but in the larger room supporting Richard Hawley, I remember someone saying to us at the time that they've had support acts here before who've gone on to headline the smaller room and it's heartening to actually make the transition. What's more, we very nearly sold out the 400 capacity venue. In Gateshead. In January; surely the quietest of months for gigs. Ridiculous.

The previous night we played the Lancaster Library which seemed like an odd place to house a live gig considering the usual mode of conduct in a library is to be as quiet as humanly possible, but it turned out to be a marvellous setting with book cases framing the audience. The show was performed in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy section and the sound desk was aptly in the Audio Book section.

We had a day off in Lancaster the day before the library show and were planning on having a nice meal for my birthday, followed by the inevitable booze fest, after the long drive from Nottingham. We turned up at this gastro pub and I was lead into this dark room and was hit by a roar of "surprise" by friends and family. It was flabbergasting, completely unexpected and bizarrely disorientating having all these people I've known for years in this room in Lancaster. It was such a lovely surprise. Fun times.

The shows on the 19th and 20th were at Glee. Luba in Birmingham and Nottingham respectively. The Birmingham show ended in disaster when drummer Rob fell down a hole when we were loading out resulting in a tenis ball sized swollen ankle and he spent the rest of the evening with buckets full of ice round his ankle. The Nottingham show would have proved an impossibility had it not been for copious amounts of painkillers a foot strap and Rob's unflappable demeanour of "it'll be fine". If it had happened to me I'd be constantly crying like a little boy who's just witnessed his new bike being crushed by a freak incident with a steam roller.

The show must go on, and it has. Hat's off to Rob.


Smoke Fairies tour diary part uno

I'm sitting back stage three days into the tour listening to the luscious sounds of Sea of Bees who are supporting us on this tour, she has a voice that would turn even the sternest of men into cuddly teddy bears.

Brighton Jam was most enjoyable on Monday. The venue itself is clearly built for vertically challenged folk but luckily I didn't knock myself out on the low flying beams. Due to the low ceilings it made viewing from the stage pretty odd cos you could only see the front row but judging by the voluminous applause you could tell there were a lot of appreciative people out there. It was a smashing turn out considering it was a Monday night and in January, the miserable month where people mainly stay at home and sob into their empty wallets.

I've discovered that sushi is literally the best food to have before a gig cos it's light and tasty. We made a bit of an error in Brighton cos we had Italian which was lovely but I wanted a sleep after eating that and not play a gig. It was seriously good risotto though.

"who are the band" was shouted out from the audience last night at the wedgewood rooms in Southsea. It always feels like a proper rock n' roll gig when Kaf and Jess introduce us: "aaaand on the bass is..."

I shouldn't miss out the first night at the shabby but strangely charming venue that is the Forum, a converted toilet in Tunbridge wells. What more can I say about that place? Dodgy are playing there soon, remember them?

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