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