Archie and the Moleskine

I’ve often heard it said that owners begin to look and act like their animals. Well, Archie is becoming more and more sociable. In fact, he sulks noticeably if we don’t go to the bar for an aperitif, an activity which Lesley, Archie and myself now enjoy togther, though he has yet to actually buy a round. He has also always liked playing with plectrums and pencils. So I suppose this was the next logical step……

My father’s holiday voice…..

This blog is a re-launch in effect; so I’m including a few posts of which I’m particularly proud. 🙂

‘My father had a special holiday voice. My father wasn’t someone that you could describe as a jolly person really, though he wasn’t particularly grumpy, but neither would you have called him life and soul of the party. He would be the one laughing at my Uncle Dai’s jokes. Or shaking his head in disbelief at one of my Uncle Mel’s great stories. Nevertheless, on holiday he would adopt his holiday voice.

Despite having achieved middle class salary and social status, his aspirations were modest: whilst his colleagues first ventured to foreign climes, we went to Bournemouth or Torquay, or Eastbourne. In later life, when his retired colleagues travelled further to Peru, or China, my father wanted to go to …….Bournemouth or Torquay, or Eastbourne. The significant thing about these holidays is that they were all virtually interchangeable. My summer holidays consisted of a stream of bed and breakfasts with interchangeable families around us at breakfast. Different places though had different places of interest to visit. I remember persuading my father to play the king size draughts on the pier at Bournemouth. I really wanted to play chess, but my father was not up to a match that would be followed by a large audience: bit too high a profile for him. I remember visiting Stonehenge and having the obligatory picture taken of me appearing to push stones apart in Samson like pose: the British equivalent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa photo! That was my Dad.

Nevertheless the holiday voice is the thing that stood out most of all. Every morning on holiday followed the same routine. My father and I would go to fetch the morning paper. On the first day of the holiday we would head off to a newspaper shop, and we would return to that same shop every morning of the holiday. How my father knew there was a shop there, was a mystery at the time: did he recce the location beforehand? Or did he reckon that there must be one somewhere? In flights of fantasy, I imagined that this might have been something pre-planned through his Masonic connections, and formed a way of communicating with the dark powers whilst away from base. Or maybe not…. Anyway that was what we did every morning. We would see the same people at approximately the same place every morning: and every day my father, quite a shy man, would greet these total strangers with his holiday voice But the greeting! And that voice!?

The greeting was simply “Morning.” And the voice? Ah, the voice! This was what transformed this phatic exchange into something significant: friendly, positive, a celebration of life at the sea side. This was not the habitual sullen ‘Morning’ of a man going to work: or the cursory greeting from a member of staff at a hotel. This was a joyous thing. The delivery went “mornING!” The first syllable relatively low to enable the voice to leap virtually an octave to the climactic ING!- spoken with a wide open mouth: a smile which echoed his sentiment. Fantastic.
Of course, there were some days where given the British climate, we would get caught in the rain. On these days I would run ahead taking shelter to watch my father, who never ran in his life, walking very quickly towards me, with his special fast walk. This entailed walking briskly whilst both arms performed different motions: one would pump pack and forth furiously as if he was an extra in Metropolis. The other arm however, would simply stream out behind him, like a rudder, giving him direction: its importance implying that without this stabilising influence he might career out of control and hurtle into a nearby display of rock and postcards causing untold havoc, and severe damage to essential holiday supplies. But the voice was still the same whether he was walking at a leisurely pace, or steaming along like a racing yacht.

The funny thing is that only a few years ago I found myself doing that same greeting, beaming at total strangers like some drug crazed hippy: frightening! But as to the walk, I don’t think that I’m ready for that………… not yet.’

Words and more words

I love wordplay: so here’s a few neologisms

STASIS – implore female sibling to linger

CHIPMUNK – Franciscan Fryer

HERPES  –  Greek God of spots

MONOTAMY – boring marriage

MAHOGAMY – solid marriage

I have posted one or two of these elsewhere: but I’m quite proud of them……  🙂

Jan 2009 the musical story so far…

It was on 24th July 2007 that Lesley and I started our plan to meet people in blues: the first stop being Trasimeno Blues: a major festival and near where we live. The first people we met were Papaleg Acoustic Blues Duo, Pierluigi and Marco: two lovely guys from Abruzzo. I also met Brit Andy Martin, a slide/steel guitar player, who lives in Perugia.  Then Crystal White appeared and asked me if I was Smokin’ Joe Kubek- that night’s headline act! Also met up with Gianluca di Maggio, the brains behind Trasimeno Blues which now includes an Autumn Season called Bianco Rosso e Blues and Soul Christmas. 

It was few weeks later when we heard Cjmbaljna Blues Band playing in Panicale: I knew the drummer, and they invited me up to play a few numbers which was great fun. A few months later we met at another of their gigs, a friendly pizzeria called ricomincio da tre, run by Fabio, a great bloke and a crazy for guitars: we got on immediately….. It was at this point that CBB and I set up a ‘project’. We did our stage debut in February after several months of intense rehearsal, and then recorded a demo. This started the ball rolling.

After a number of local gigs to keep us match fit, we were invited to Sicilia Blues to play for ‘Blues Band on Stage 2009’ We were on after a band called Cotton Field Hollers; who had done well previously. Unfortunately for them (but not for us) this left them a little overconfident: they were very good but …. after all, who was this bunch of youngsters with some ‘ole guy’ fronting them?  We took the place apart, and in fairness they were extremely (and genuinely) complimentary after the gig. 24th May we were back South for the final in Sicily. This was fantastic fun, and we met some lovely people who have become close friends: in particular, Enzo and Teresa from the Walking Trees , and Sandro Pittari drummer with, amongst others, Marco Gioe’s Shotgun. In the end, the judges decided to invite all the bands to Etna, rather than selecting three as was the original plan!

June began with a solo gig here in the village, then 26th June we were at the other end of Italy. We were in the final of I.B.C. to select a band to represent Italy in Memphis 2009. We eventually came 5th. Had a great time and met more lovely musicians: including Tillamook, who deservedly won. Jimbo Mathus from New Orleans and hs band were fun: the only downpoint was the mosquitos who devoured Lesley!

A few days later it was The Blue Sunset where we again met the Papaleg boys, Andy Martin, Kellie Rucker and Olga, Jimbo’s wife who were all launching new CD’s: Also met Livia Palone who’s become a good friend.

8th July we arrived in Sicily  for Etna Blues. We were also invited to play with Max Stratos and the Border Radio in a little town called Lentini,  which was a good night out: more great guys! For Etna Blues, I reckon we had the best support slot as we were opening the first night : it went down really well and then we jammed with Nine Below Zero, and the guys from the King’s Brothers. The next few weeks were frantic with three gigs during Umbia Jazz, and then (on my birthday) the debut at Trasimeno Blues: which went well although the sound system let us down a bit. A week later I went to see Bluesindrome at Taverenelle and ended up playing with them and Crystal (White) which was excellent.

August saw my last gig with the project. So we ended where we’d started in Panicale. Again a great night, and fortuitously I met Carmelo Russo a guitar player from Genova. We rehearsed a few weeks later and though our musical backgrounds are somewhat (!) diverse: – – Gypsy Kings& Flamenco vs Blues&jazz – – it works! So another project Jamencuz was born.

At the beginning of September, I was involved with a project called ContaminazioniUrbane,  during which I fronted a jam session at Urban, and did a set at Al San Giovenale in Orvieto for the closing night, when Carmelo joined me for a few numbers. We then went off to Tropea for the blues Festival during which I jammed with Red Onions Band and met old friends: Enzo, Teresa, Kellie and made new ones Maurizo Pugno, and Sophie Kertesz and generally had a wonderful time!

October was my first major solo gig supporting Gege Telesforo for Bianco Rosso e Blues, part of Trasimeno Blues, which went down extremely well.

November and December have been relatively quiet on the gig front, but I did play wth Livia Palone at Lettere Caffe in Rome and did our first full gig with Jamencuz! which went down very well. The rest of the time (musically) has been spent in recording: since moving here March 2007 I have written 30 complete songs! Also I’ve been researching where to go next.

So that’s the story so far,

Next week I’ll post some of the plans we have and what we have done so far.

Rowland