bluesshow bob's blues show blog
I've always worked to the philosophy that as one door closes, another will slam in your face. Not an original thought but quirky and it just appeals to me for the way in which it spins homilies on their head. So, has anything changed for me in recent weeks following my move to the Pembrokeshire National Park? Has being away from the hub of Welsh Blues music adversely affected my life?
Well, in a word, no. Or, at least, not a great deal. Certainly not in a negative way, anyway.
Last weekend, I was invited to introduce the British Blues legend, Mick Pini, to the stage. Beforehand, I interviewed Mick about his life as a Bluesman and this will appear on the Blues Exclusive some time soon. I'll also be reviewing the show in the Gig Review pages of this website too.
Opening for Mick that night were my good friends, Glas, a very able local band with lots of potential. Glas will be recording a Live album on May 19 at the Royal Oak in Cardiff (itself a legendary Blues and Blues-Rock venue) and I am truly delighted that they have asked me to host that evening too.
In July, I will be compering the 2nd Annual Abertillery Rock and Blues Weekend. This event was started by local music enthusiasts after the demise of the very popular Abertillery Blues Festival which stuttered to a halt a couple of years back because of budget cuts - just a year short of its tenth anniversary. Last year's inaugural event, which I also hosted, was very well supported by the faithful and there is now a feel of permanency in the organising camp and some darned good bands lined up to play.
So, I'm very pleased that my contacts in south East Wales are still bearing fruit (Bluesberries?) but moving west has also had a beneficial effect. I was invited to meet with Chris Osborne and Malcolm Cawley a few weeks back 'for a beer'. Unless I'm driving this is usually a clarion call and I graciously accepted their invitation.
During a wide-ranging conversation about Blues music, Pembrokeshire life and local personalities, I was delighted when they invited me to join the committee of the Tenby Blues Festival. I'm just back from my first committee meeting and I can tell you that this year's festival, the eleventh, has all the hallmarks of a memorable weekend. I recommend that you take a look at the Facebook page for Tenby Blues Festival and also check the website which is currently being updated with details of this year's event. Then, mark your diary to keep the weekend clear.
I think I can safely say that the next time I slam a door behind me, I will once again ensure that it's a revolving door...
It was a very difficult decision for me to walk away from the GTFM Blues Show which I had produced and co-presented for over thirteen years. I agonised but eventually conceded that it was not possible for me to continue as it would entail a 180 mile round trip every Monday night. But are there any compensations? I've always believed that for every Yin there is a Yang so could this possibly be true of this situation?
Well, today I awoke to a sunny Spring morning (much earlier than I would have woken when I was an urban fox) and petted my new puppy as I gazed out over the awakening garden. On the bird-table there were great tits, blue tits, a chaffinch, a robin and even a lady blackbird who had clearly not read the instruction manual that assures us humans that blackbirds are ground feeders only.
On the lawn were a pair of pheasants; the male resplendent in the pomp of his multi-coloured jacket and collar, the female looking so spotty and non-descript you'd wonder whether he was, perhaps, just a little embarrassed to be seen walking out with her. Maybe his red face has evolved because of that fact...
And then a pair of partridges flapped their way in from the adjoining copse. Let's face it, they're not nature's sleekest, most graceful movers, sharing an innate clumsiness with collared doves, but they have a certain attraction. Could it be a throwback to the Christmas song? Was I expecting three French hens or six geese-a-layin' next?
No. I think it was just one of those moments of joie de vivre which we all get from time to time. (Generally fleetingly until another of life's traumas interferes again).
My pup is a border collie crossed with a springer spaniel - cringingly, the breed is described as a 'sprollie' - a name I'm just not comfortable with. It just sounds so damned twee. I won't use it. I had a spaniel cross sheepdog when I was a boy and in those days he was described as a mongrel. What's the difference between a mongrel and a crossbreed? About two hundred quid give or take. Having said that, CJ (named after Eggheads' C. J. de Mooi because this dog is supersmart - for Reginald Perrin devotees, he didn't get where he is today without being called CJ) is a delightful, loving and very clever creature. Although just fifteen weeks old, he has stolen the heart of my wife and he can get away with anything. She would say the same about me, I'm sure.
So, this morning she and I saddled up the dog and meandered our way down the lane to the beach. The sun was already bright, causing a fine mist as we gazed in awe at the gentle spread of Carmarthen Bay. Apart from another dog-walker about half a mile distant, it was a tranquil scene; the only other movement being the regular, hypnotic swell and fade of the sea. The colours were intense as they can only ever be early in the morning. I suddenly got a sense of why an artist paints, why a photographer feels impelled to take a shot to mark a moment. I think for the first time in my life, I understood. In the past, music has spoken to me many times, the written word also for as long as I can remember. Pictures - with few exceptions - have not had this effect on me; apart, perhaps, from the wonderful cartoons of people like Kliban in the 50's and 60's and, of course, the saucy seaside postcards which seem to have been just about consigned to history. (And in a sense they were both capturing the picture and the text in a perfect, condensed fusion).
I've only been living here for a couple of weeks but already I'm a changed man. I'm going to go to art classes to see if I possess a well which is worth tapping into. Maybe there's been a massive pressure of artiness within my body for all these years suppressed by having to give attention elsewhere.
So there is a Yang. In the past, lots of my Sundays were taken up with preparing the GTFM Blues Show. Mondays were final prep days before setting off for the studio to air the live show. Then on Tuesdays I began the process of editing the previous night's show for further transmission on the internet stations and sending off the finished article. Playlists would also be posted to interested parties on that day. Wednesdays, I devoted time to downloading new music from independent artists and promoters then cataloguing everything including CDs received from record companies so I always knew where to access specific artists/tracks. On top of this was the edit work on celebrity interviews to précis and fit the show.
Now, although still producing/presenting a solo Blues Show every week (broadcast times on my Home page), it's done from my home studio and is a single entity meaning that I will have more time available for other activities. This is my warning to the art world. This could be fun. This could be a disaster. Either way, it's going to happen... Now, where did I put my charcoal pencils?
I know I had some when I was in Grammar school...