Blog Project365

Project365 #83

Today you are in for a treat. Not only do you get another daily picture that shows what an exciting life I lead, but you also get to listen to me waffle on about music.

What's brought this on I hear you say. Well actually it was a spam email. Let me explain…

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a company called Vinyl Me, Please who were inviting me to subscribe to their service. It turns out their service is rather interesting: limited edition LP, original artwork print plus a custom cocktail recipe (not quite sure about the cocktail recipe). You have no idea what the LP will be; it could be anything from rap to jazz to country to funk. The price you pay for the subscription? $38 per month. Yep, you're right, USA only – unless you want to whack another $20 for delivery.

Now, I like a bit of vinyl, it's not the only form of music I buy, far from it – I love a CD, download through iTunes, streaming through Spotify, I've even got bloody cassettes – but like I said, I like a bit of vinyl, so I was interested.

So I googled it, well to be precise, I googled 'vinyl subscription uk'. What did the mighty Google come up with? Well a few bits and pieces. But this company caught my eye: Wax & Stamp.

Now may be a good time to insert today's Project365. Just going off on a tangent: 83 days into 2015 already?!…

So what is Wax & Stamp all about? Well it is a vinyl subscription service based in the UK. For £26 per month you get a couple of LPs (or a LP and an EP) Рone chosen by the company, one chosen by some guest selector. You have no control over what is sent Рall you know is that it will be a new release Рbut it could be pretty much anything.

Sounds interesting – but I'm still undecided.



Frank Hamilton at Junction 2

Sunday saw a visit to Junction 2 in Cambridge to see the fabulous Frank Hamilton. Now I’ve been to the bigger brother, The Junction, a few times but this is a first for Junction 2. A cool little venue, about 200ish capacity, very swish, comfy seats and it’s even got its own little balcony level.

Frank was, as is usual, very good. Great set list of all the favourites including an impromptu visit to the balcony to play ‘Thinking Back’ unplugged. I’ve seen Frank a few times and every time it gets better and better, it sounded great on Sunday. On the back of #onesongaweek he seems to be catching the eye of a few people, new EP ‘Summer’ out soon and in the midst of another succesful tour. All seems good in the world of Frank Hamilton; long may it continue.



Tedious links….

In my last blog post I decided that my mantra for my Half-marathon PB Challenge would simply be 'Get Better' and then posted the video from Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip of the track 'Get Better' (see what I'd done there?). Now I'm not normally a fan of electro hip-hop rap, but Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip have written some fabulous stuff, and lyrically they are very good.

It was listening to the lyrics of 'Get Better' that got me thinking and ultimately the reason why I am blogging today. The lyrics include these lines:

“Like Billy says, whether you have or you not have wealth, the system might fail you so don't fail yourself”

This is a reference to the mighty Billy Bragg and the track 'To Have And To Have Not' from the album Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy. In the past this would have caused me to dig out the CD and whack it on the stereo, although nowadays a quick search on YouTube is all you need to do to. So here you have it, a classic track from the Bard of Barking circa 1985…..

As if that link wasn't tedious enough, I recalled another recent artist who mention the mighty Bragg: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. The track is 'Hand Me Downs' from the album Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and includes the lines:

“I'd learnt more from transit vans and Bragg, than I'd ever learnt in class, a lifelong education, from punk rock 101”

So, may I present the fabulous Sam Duckworth in the guise of GCWCF, although no video of 'Hand Me Downs' (sometimes it is possible that youtube can let you down), instead 'Find The Time'…..

To complete a trio of videos today, and a link so tedious it barely actually exists, we have Mumford & Sons. I came across this fantastic video today whilst reading some blogs, that is the link, I saw it on a blog! First time I've seen this video, not sure how I've missed it up to this point. 'Hopeless Wanderer'….absolutely brilliant…..



Blog Juneathon

Day 13 #juneathon ….but why?

Come September, and the start of the new academic year, our school is changing the structure of the school day. We have new start and finish times, longer lessons and Wednesday afternoon students will be able to choose an 'elective'. As well as a couple of other things I decided to offer a running club.

The students are in the process of choosing 'electives' for next year. Today, one of my Y9s was asking me for details of the running club, I couldn't really help with any details because I don't actually know them myself. But whilst chatting the conversation turned to our experiences of running. This lad is very keen on running and whilst talking, the topic of Juneathon came up. When I explained to him what Juneathon is all about he looked slightly surprised and said, “What? You actually run every day of the month?” I tried to explain to him that I do and he seemed reasonably happy with my answer. However, a bit later in the lesson, the subject had obviously been playing on his mind, he said, “You run every day? Isn't that bad for you? Shouldn't you give your body a chance to recover?” I tried to explain to him that some runs are short, some runs are long, some fast and some slow, and that as long as you listen to your body it should all be ok.

Which brings me to the purpose of tonight's post….why am I actually taking part in Juneathon?

  • Exercise. Seems obvious I know, I do plenty of running without Juneathon, or Janathon for that matter, but I suppose by taking part in these activities it actual forces me to keep exercising throughout the year.
  • Challenge. I like a challenge: 2012 was proof of that, setting myself something different to do every month; before that in 2011 it was project365; even this year I am taking part in '1 second every day'. I like the challenge of completing something, Juneathon is great for that, because when you get 25 days into the month it all starts to become a bit of a struggle.
  • Music. I love listening to all kinds of music. Juneathon gives me the chance to download some tracks onto the phone, get out of the house, and enjoy an hour or so of listening to everything and anything with no distractions.
  • Thinking. It gives you a chance to just think….and I think we all need that.
  • Blogging. I've been blogging since December 2010 – so Juneathon is just an excuse to do more of that.

Today's mileage = 6.29

Total Juneathon mileage = 65.44

Mojo level = very high



Day 9 #juneathon

The day after a late night at Long Division Festival. Saw some great bands: a first sight of Allo Darlin'; a fantastic The Wave Pictures, a slightly strange Dead Flowers; and a very funny Mark Wynn. As well a few rather dubious ones. I think a post solely related to the festival may soon appear later in the week.

Today's run was a steady short run under a rather cloudy sky. Without the dog, who is in the proverbial dog house after yesterday's shenanigans. After the unplanned long run yesterday, today was always going to be a short one. Felt good once I began but still decided to take it easy.

Today's mileage = 3.56 (at a steady 8 min/mile pace)

Total Juneathon mileage = 45.75

Mojo level = high


Blog Juneathon

Juneathon Day 3 plus Billy Bragg

Last night….

The fantastic Billy Bragg, The Bard of Barking, at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Great gig, great venue…overall a great night. I did manage to take a few pictures before the grumpy old bag told me not to – apparently pictures are not allowed in the home of Shakespeare. I'm not entirely sure what they thought I was going to do with pictures….sell them for ¬£millions?

NB. The empty seats you can see behind Billy were the only empty seats in the theatre.


Day 3 of Juneathon. This was intended to be a nice gentle couple of miles around the woods with the dog, but because of this…..

….it ended up as over 5 miles because a run to the ponds was required to let the boy wash himself off.

Today's mileage = 5.24

Total Juneathon mileage = 14.05

Mojo level = very high (still?)



I must confess…

….it has been three weeks since my last blog.

Quite a lot has happened in that time….

A trip to The Engine Shed in Lincoln to see the rather fabulous Lucy Rose. Since buying the album 'Like I Used To' I've been a fan….and when I heard she was to play Lincoln I was on it like a rat up a drainpipe.

Lucy Rose has been described as an English Suzanne Vega and been likened to Laura Marling…so what could go wrong? Nothing. The set was full of her own brand of acoustic folk/pop yet mixed with jazz-funk rhythm that cannot fail to entertain. Good gig – she's going to do well me thinks.

Next up was a trip to the ole smoke to see Frank Hamilton (again) at The Borderline. Although not the best gig of his I've been to, due in part to the big heffer standing in front of us who seemed intent on trying to step on the feet of everyone, complete with her ridiculous boyfriend who thought just because he had a big camera this gave him the right to be a complete arsehole. And what is it with girls in London and their stupidly huge handbags that that refuse to put down, they just hang around their elbows sticking them in you. Now I'm a Londoner and proud of it, but things have definitely changed.

But Frank himself was on top form, not the best set list he's every played, but he is slowly attracting more and more acclaim, I think 2013 is going to be a good year for the man.

There was also a very early, or should I say late, Christmas with my sister that I somehow remembered to blog about here.

School has been absolutely crazy: workshops, immersion days and so much exam prep that if my boys and girls don't pass I'm not sure what to do. This week we said goodbye to the Y11s…I've really enjoyed the last couple of years with my group, they've all done really well and developed into lovely young men and women over the years. I wish them all the luck for the future.

But half-term has finally arrived….a relaxing week in store with a few bits and pieces to do at home….mum's birthday party…Billy Bragg gig….and on the horizon we even have #juneathon. Oh crap!



What an evening!

The Date: Monday 22nd April 2013

The Venue: The Cookie Jar, Leicester

The Artist: The fabulous Frank Hamilton

If you ever want to experience a fantastic singer/songwriter you can do a lot worse that attend a Frank Hamilton gig. Following on from #onesongaweek in 2012 that culminated in a sold out gig at London's The Borderline in Camden, Frank has followed it up with a UK tour…..

Tonight was the second night of the tour – held at a great little live music venue in Leicester, The Cookie Jar located in the basement of The Crumblin' Cookie. Frank was on top from, sharing his own brand of indie-folk-pop music and brilliant song writing skills. He is a very likeable fella, lyrics that express Frank's emotions and experiences, from travelling around, moving to a new city, through to finding and losing love.

It was a great set, including the fantastic, 'Things I do', 'Make Things Make Sense' and the splendid 'Flaws and Ceilings'. Frank manages to write about things that relate to everyone: a soundtrack for life. Who can't relate to this….

“I wonder what she's thinking when she lies in bed, coz when I wake up when she's in my head, and I'm thinking in few years time will I still be yours, will you still be mine”

If you get a chance go and see Frank Hamilton: you won't be disappointed.



Billy Bragg: Tooth and Nail

With his first studio album for five years, Billy Bragg is most certainly back…..only now we see the more relaxed-into-middle-age Bragg, an album about love, loss and hope, as opposed to fight, struggle and protest. As much as this album lacks a bit of the old fiery protest singer, what it does show is that Billy has lost none of his songwriting skills: touching and poignant throughout.

The album has a definite Americana influence, lots of slide guitar and a country feel in places. Bragg still manages to produce an album that feels perfectly balanced between the polemical and the out-and-out love songs.

The album is littered with the songs of struggle – only now it is the struggle with relationships, loneliness and loss. As much as Bragg is associated with protest songs, he does, in my opinion, sing about love even better. Take 'Your Name on my Tongue' a song about love and longing, or 'Handyman Blues' a wry look at modern relationships.

“I'm not any good at pottery, so let's lose a 't' and shift back the 'e', and I'll find a way to make my poetry build a roof over our heads”

Following on from the Mermaid Avenue album's of Guthrie lyrics put to music, Bragg has included one Woody cover: 'I Ain't got no Home' – an anthemic track about a migrant worker trying to survive the depression the 1930s.

He does still sing about changing the world, but in a calmer, less anxious way: 'Tomorrow's Going to be a Better Day', 'There Will be a Reckoning' and 'Do Unto Others' all have something to say about people and politicians alike, but with a softer tone and more philosophical approach – perhaps Bragg is mellowing in his old age!

“There will be a reckoning for the pedlars of hate who spread their poison all across this estate and a reckoning too for the politicians who left us to this fate”

Overall, 'Tooth and Nail' is a great album, it has a back-to-basics feel to it, it feels like we are welcoming an old friend back…