Friday, December 16, 2011

There's A New Blog In Town

Author and Journalist Iain Finlayson and I were at Ritz Newspaper university together, which in retrospect offered the best crash-course journalistic training a scribe could ever hope to have.

Iain, who is currently the non-fiction critic on The Times, and also the book editor on Saga Magazine has just created a compelling new literary book review blog titled New Blog In Town.

But is Iain Finlayson mental?! Why should a prolific author and book critic bother to create a blog?

'I've been told often enough that I need 'presence' (charisma is the next step), so I've finally managed to work up a blog,' he tells me modestly.

But, what a beautifully written Blog! New Blog In Town includes Book Reviews, The Power of Ten (Iain Finlayson's current top favourites) and an End of Year round up of books titled Lives & Letters.

'An abridged version of this end-of-the-year round up was published in the Books pages of The Times on 3rd December. Here’s the full thing,' he blogs.

But doesn't The Times object?

'I'm allowed to post my weekly 'In Short' non-fiction review column from The Times, so not too much trouble to do that (and it gets legally round the News International firewall) and I'd actually like to review some books I don't have room for in The Times or Saga,' Iain says.

Personally, I think the 'New Blog In Town' has more future potential than The Times Literary Supplement.

John Gross
However, if the ex-TLS  editor/my one time fan: the late John Gross was resurrected, then there could be some cut-throat competition as to which man is the best read man in Britain.

By the way, Iain Finlayson is not just any old hack!

His laundry list of books include the wonderful Tangier. City of the Dream, which will be reprinted soon and biographies on lofty subjects such as Boswell, Churchill and Browning.

If Iain has any sense, he now has the perfect opportunity to self-promote his brains out by blogging about his own books on New Blog In Town.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival goes FRANTIC

Tom Bushnell. Photo Credit: John Bonehill

I know this stinks of self-promotion, but I was amazed when I saw some of the audience at this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival reading my novel Frantic.

John Bonehill. Photo Credit by Neva Joy Bonehill 

Austin de Lone, Bill Kirchen & co. at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

It's probably not all that surprising as Frantic, which is partly set in San Francisco during the early Seventies is also stuffed with (hopefully unrecognisable) musician characters.

So thanks to John Bonehill (co-owner with his wife Neva Joy Bonehill of Barking Lot Grooming) for taking the Frantic photos.

'I'm an Interstellar-tourist who got stuck in San Francisco in 1973. It was only after reading FRANTIC this year, that I was able to come to terms with these facts, and realise I'm now a proper 'West Coast' geezer, ' John admits.

Thanks John Bonehill for helping to spread the Gospel!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Christmas Jug Band Live Streams

For those deprived unfortunates who are fans of the Christmas Jug Band, the Christmas Cracker 'kings of 100 per cent acoustic folk-skiffle-swing holiday highjinks', and are unable to physically attend their December tour around the San Francisco bay area .... do not wrap a Christmas stocking around your head and fret.

Thank God for technology as You can order a (click on:) live steam of the group's Wednesday December 14 show at the Freight and Salvage show in Berkeley. (Special guest is Jo McDonald).

I personally shall cement myself to my screen on that date as I am still recovering from attending an unforgettable Christmas Jug Band's 'tongue-in-cheek seasonal' performance during a recent Christmas in Mill Valley.

Paul Rogers and Austin de Lone

If you haven't witnessed their musically eccentric antics courtesy of washboard, washtub, bells, whistles, accordion, guitar, piano, bass, drums, and assorted reeds and brass, you haven't lived!

Gawp at the group's genius musicians whose line up usually includes the legendary Austin de Lone, Paul Rogers of Those Damned Accordions infamy, Dan Hicks, Greg Dewey, Ken Jacobs and Tim Eschliman of Rhythmtown-Jive ... and just count yourself lucky, 'it's that time of year' again!

The legendary Austin de Lone

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Fry Up At Dingwalls


The Pub Rock genre was undisputedly started by Eggs Over Easy, an early 70s American country rock band which attracted musicians like Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe, whose future careers were totally motivated and inspired by The Eggs.

These musicians were amongst the 'respectful' fans who regularly 'worshipped/let their hair down' at The Eggs' musical shrine at their packed out Tally Ho London pub residency.

I was in America during most of the early Seventies so to my knowledge never saw the legendary band play live in the United Kingdom. However, a few years later, I first met my brother-in-law Austin de Lone in London where he dragged me on an endless pub crawl. I drunkenly slobbed and sobbed into my drink how tragic it was I had never seen Eggs Over Easy play.

Eggs Over Easy

But now (boom boom boom!) Austin and his fellow original Egg Jack O'Hara (Download his hypnotically melodic new album Sooner Or Later from iTunes) will be headlining in a massive pub rock gig at Dingwalls on Sunday November 13th.
Jack O'Hara, Brian Hopkins, Austin de Lone

This is the first time they have performed in London since 1971. And I predict I shall be fighting (with knuckle dusters) for a table in front of the stage!

Austin de Lone. 

Other legendary acts playing at this undoubtedly beer sodden gig will include Duck Deluxe, who've invited Brinsley Schwarz to play with them, The Tex Pistols and Starring Eyed & Laughing. Also appearing will be the Egg's original UK drummer, former member of the Animals, John Steel, and former Chilli Willi bass player, Paul "Bassman" Riley!

Eggs Over Easy at Dingwalls. Photo credit: Jeff Dexter

Pub rock fanatic Mike Halpern, the American musical impresario who is staging the concert has warned me that tickets are selling out quickly, so pub rock fanatics flock on line to Dingwalls to book.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Celia Birtwell's New Book Wows the V & A

UK cover 

If you don't buy Celia Birtwell's book (published in the UK on October 3rd and on October 11th in the USA) you will miss out, especially if you are obsessed by Beauty, Fashion, Style and Art.

Celia's scrumptiously designed book (text is supplied by style journalist Dominic Lutyens) is a picturesque historical 'scrapbook' of her 'extraordinay' life featuring her designs and rare pictures of her ex-husband Ossie Clark and many friends including David Hockney, who has drawn and painted her over the years.

USA cover 

'Celia is one of the most talented textile designers ever. She's brilliant .....' decrees cobbler Manolo Blahnik. Even fashion honcho Karl Lagerfeld has said Celia Birtwell is the best textile designer in the business.

On Friday night, Celia Birtwell who was gonged a CBE for 'services to fashion' in 2011 was interviewed by curator Sonnet Stanfill in the Victoria and Albert museum's packed out Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre.

I plonked myself in the front row with Celia's partner Andrew Palmer, her youngest son George Clark, his wife Bella (who both now run Celia's Westbourne Park Road shop) and 'Pygmalion' stage designer/ director Philip Prowse.

I was just in the middle of 'dishing' thespian Rupert Everett when to my horror I suddenly realised the cameraman perched next to me (filming the event for future streaming on Vogue) was recording the sound.

(Rupert Everett's 'Pygmalion' contract stipulated he was permitted to leave the production three weeks before the end of the show's run forcing its director Philip Prowse to audition a replacement).

Photo by Karen  Cazabon 

After the interesting talk, there were so many slobbering fashion enthusiasts lining up to buy Celia's book, she almost did her wrist in patiently signing everybody's copies. Quadrille, the book's publishers must have been ecstatic.

Let's hope Celia has recovered in time to attend her stand (no K336) at Decorex held in the Royal Hospital Chelsea from September 25th until September 28th where her unique fabrics will be displayed.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Richard de Lone Rocks Again

Bill Kirchen (photo credit: Ian Gittler)

Jimmie Dale Gilmore 
Steve Earle 

Jim Lauderdale

Ryan Bingham
Buddy Miller

Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans

Caroline de Lone
The interesting 'mugshots' above aren't decoys in a Police Lineup. They are illustrious musicians! They will all be playing their guts out at the 5th Annual Benefit for the Richard de Lone Special Housing Project, presented each year by Richard's parents Austin and rdshp President Lesley de Lone. (Their talented singer/songwriter daughter Caroline de Lone will be performing at the concert too).

The legendary Austin de Lone

This year's shindig will take place on SEPTEMBER 29 at 8p.m. at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

Bill Kirchen and The Hammer of the Honky Tonk Gods
'Titan of the Telecaster' Bill Kirchen and his band, The Hammer of the Honky Tonk Gods, will be the hosts with the most and house band.

'Bill Kirchen, the self-proclaimed 'King of Dieselbilly' will be playing his own high flyin' hits as well as adding his steaming hot licks to an amazing array of singer/songwriters from around the country,' Austin de Lone, benefit organiser for his Prader-Willi son/my nephew told me today.

Musicians who will congregate from all over the USA to twang their instruments at this gorgeous sounding benefit are:

From Nashville, Grammy winning country/bluegrass crooner Jim Lauderdale, guitar slinger/producer-to-the-stars Buddy Miller ......and from New York City Steve Earle.

From Austin Texas, Bill Kirchen and the sagebrush soul of Flatlander and Wrongler Jimmie Dale Gilmore. From California, songwriter to the songwriters Kevin Blackie Farrell and Academy, Grammy and Golden Globe award winner Ryan Bingham.

If all that isn't Magnificent enough, the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans 'swings in to lend their funk and spice to the whole evening.'

'This will truly be a ruckus to remember!' proclaims killer keyboarder player Austin, whose party trick is to crawl up the walls when hypnotically playing his ivories.

PS. I for one, will NOT be wearing my earplugs at this concert even if it means I shall lose my hearing for months afterwards. 

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Vanished

Clive Ashenden is a young film maker to watch. We met several years ago at the  RADA bar during a horror genre scriptwriters' workshop held at the drama school. We immediately hit it off discussing mainly George Romero's movies and torture porn.

Our friendship was consolidated after he  invited me to a screening of his award winning short Snatching Time, which later freaked out the appreciative audience at the FrightFest horror festival.

Clive has just written, directed and edited (click the link to view:) The Vanished, a viral video commissioned by The Seafarers charity.

The Seafarers video, which was produced by in aid of The Seafarers UK charity stars, and stars Scott Hinds is a successful attempt to do something different from a normal charity video.

'It's much more exciting than that description makes it sound,' Clive says and he's right.

Clive  is also currently in the process of securing a Producer for the horror feature film Habeas Corpus.  Although he wrote and directed the teaser trailer for it - 155,194 views and counting on YouTube,  he is only one of five directors on the film and his section was co-written with Ben Woodiwiss.  

Clive Ashenden's prolfic C.V. includes Code Grey (which he starred in, co-wrote and co-produced with Rob Wickings). it was awarded the Best UK film, screened in competition at the recent Cambridge Super8 Film Festival.

Both of Clive's parents are practising mediums, and when his mother once gave him regression therapy, during the treatment he woke up to find himself incarcerated inside an Iron Maiden, a medieval torture instrument. He is still hesitant to discuss this gruesome experience in depth, but the regression therapy must have done something right, for immediately afterwards, he conquered his writer's block and started scribbling his first feature script and horror shorts, for Sick Puppy Films (maker of Clive's creation: the notorious Snatching Time).

So why 'the hell' am I plugging Clive? Not only is he an original talent, but he has promised to give me a role in Habeas Corpus on one condition: if the Special Effects transform me into an apparition gruesomely beyond all recognition.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What Goes Around Comes Around

Dexter & Bolan

lf lovers of 60's music want to check out the excellent acoustics in Dingwalls' lavatories, start camping outside the club (exact location: Ongleur Club Main entrance East Yard Camden NW 18 AL London)  on June 3rd (from 10.30 p.m. onwards).

This is no ordinary gig, for the Legendary Jeff Dexter, who is on the committee of London 60s week has been lured in to play classical 60's sounds during the Sixties vintage themed evening there.

Jeff Dexter in the bath 

'What Goes Around Comes Around,' the karmic platitude instantly springs to mind when I think that Jeff Dexter, the eternally youthfully music promoter and manager (America etc.), who was THE most innovative D.J. and Master of Ceremonies at fabled Sixties clubs like Middle Earth, Implosion etc. will be playing the regurgitated Sixties music which people can actually dance to.

According to the event's flyer: "The ultimate Mod Rocker Frat Soul and 60’s party in town, hosted by one of the main men of the original Groovy Swingin' London Jeff Dexter's cosmic visions, 60's SHAKE'N' is an official vintage dance party hosted by the London 60's Week and Raison D'etre collective. For the occasion the venue will be fully decorated with 60’s vintage memorabilia. The night is about celebrating 1950's and 1960's music, peace and groovy London, 60’s fashion. 60’s Shake ’n’ brings 'dynamite’ party time listening and dancing to the mighty selection of classics and rare 45’s nuggets from late 50's 60's and early 70's."

Alongside Jeff Dexter who will be DJ/MC for the night, Healer Selecta, the guitar-man for the Dustaphonics and Rob Bailey aka DR Roberts will also be contributing.

Their mission for the evening is to get the guests to 'come down and get shake’n' in true 60’s style.' (I'm exhausted just thinking about it!).

The only snag is, the invitation says "No Fancy Dress", but if it is going to be a Sixties themed 'vintage dance party', then surely people will be permitted to come in uniforms of that era after digging around in their vaults.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Original Cockette Delivers A Cocktail of Glamour & Anarchy

Rumi Missabu is an original member of the defunct Cockettes, the extraordinary San Francisco based theatre troupe, who wowed their internationally famous audiences with their iconoclastic musicals during the early Seventies.

When I first clapped eyes on them at the Palace Theatre where they regularly performed,  I was so flabbergasted I impulsively jumped up onto the stage. As a result, The Cockettes inspired me to write my first book Frantic, a novel about the hedonistic early 70s.

The troupe were so far ahead of their time, they spawned fashion trends for decades to come besides sartorially inspiring Glam Rock stars like David Bowie.

Rumi, who is a prolific star of stage and screen (Elevator Girls In Bondage etc.) has now started his first blog titled A Cocktail of Glamour & Anarchy, which is so delightful and original, it hooked me in immediately.

'I will celebrate artists who have touched or stirred me in some way sometime in my lifetime as well as post my events, appearances and film projects,'  Rumi says.

If the following reads like a Press Release forgive me!

Rumi Missabu is so busy,  it's a miracle he finds time to blog about the icons who inspire him. He recently toured with Fran├žois Chaignaud, the dancing sensation from Paris, a tour which included Rumi hosting a live show off Broadway.

'The tour was a series of firsts and lasts for me. It was the first time I sung with a band in years The first hour with just me and the band followed by nine special guests.'

His sidekick, Agosto Machado of Andy Warhol and Jack Smith fame helped introduce some of them.

'The theater stage was trashed after each bizarre act I had booked, some sight unseen, with catsup, ping pong balls, broken ceramic photo frames,' he reminisces.

Rumi, who is the official archiver of The Cockettes carefully places the historic memorabilia and archives with various institutions including the New York Public Library for the performing Arts at the Lincoln Centre.

On May 19th, he will start rehearsing, working with a cast of ten dancers and character dancers as well as dancers from three companies on two continents with on both USA coasts.

'It's safe to say that October 17th I will host and produce my very mini-ballet at Lincoln Center in NYC as part of a larger event to honor the Cockettes archives/papers available to the public. I'm very excited but just as nervous about it.'

If all that isn't hectic enough, Rumi will be in New York during most of October and will stage the mini-ballet Off Broadway for one night only and will give a talk to the students at Columbia and NYU besides hosting a gallery show in Brooklyn.

Rumi also recently included pieces from the collection to the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art in Colorado, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona and the National Queer Cultural Arts Festival in SF in June. Phew!

'Scrumbly,' (another legendary former Cockette member)' and I just did a piece, a transcribed conversation, for OUT THERE Magazine UK available in July. There's also a lovely photo of me taken by Benjamin Huesby in London in 2007, in the new issue of Arena Homme,' Rumi says.

My head is realing with this original Cockette's busy itinery, but what I shall be crossing the pond for on May 17th is his RUMI PALOOZA party which he will be hosting. The only snag is, I can't compete with him in the wardrobe department - not in a trillion years!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marin Human Race To Beat The Olympics

Richard de Lone 

Anyone who lives in the Marin area might like to dig out their vintage trainers and start training by powerwalking around the block and beyond.

The Richard de Lone Special Housing Project is having its 3rd annual run in the 2011 Marin Human Race on May 7th.

This year, the event's runners feature Whitman Donaldson, who is the son of RDSHP's board members Michelle and Kevin, and who has Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Lesley de Lone, who is Richard de Lone's mother will be rockin' for her son, likewise her daughter Caroline, Richie's sister. They are currently running their guts out, preparing for the Great Race. They are so fit, they could easily qualify for the Olympics!

Several of Richard's teachers from Cypress School will also be running on the day, alongside a team of neighbourhood kids - Will Coomber, Lucas Alper and Olivia Gerraty, and a team of runners from Southern Marin Fire Department, led by Johnnie Alper.

If anyone would like to donate..... go to Marin Human Race, click on Participating Organizations, scroll down to the Richard de Lone Special Housing Project link, type in the name of the runner whom you wish to sponsor, and GIVE, GIVE, GIVE! All donations will go towards the Richard de Lone Special Housing Project.