Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Interview THE DELTA BELL About Getting Wasted On Heartache And Tears, And Her Favorite Color.

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   The Delta Bell is the AKA of Kate Gerrard, a Norfolkman living in Brighton, England. She has an excellent new single out called Wasted b/w The Back Of Your Mind (RandomActsOfVinyl 7") that I was turned on to by the records producer Paul Pascoe of the bands Mudlow and Fire Eyes.

   It's a refreshing sound, both country and not, British and not, but literate and well-crafted all around. I think it's fantastic. I wanted to find out more so Kate consented to an interview via Facebook message:

Rick Saunders (RS) :: You've got a cool voice for...country music? I want to call it country but is it? Listeners can decide, but would you agree that what you do is at least a hybrid of country music? I hate to say alt-country, as that seems a dead or unnecessary sub-genre now. Your music, filtered by an english voice, makes your sound instantly familiar, a sweet nostalgic twinge and whisper of old-timey music. I don't want to suggest that you play english country or old-timey music in the strict sense, but there seems to be a strong element of that.

Kate Gerrard (KG) :: Yes definitely, I love country music, mostly 60s/70s artists like Flying Burrito Brothers, Skeeter Davis, Townes Van Zandt, CCR. I love the honesty of country music, and that songwriting as an art is at the centre of it. That's how I write songs. Country's such a wide genre that one person's country might be very different from another's. When I talk about country, I mean those great songwriters who were singing and playing from the heart.

(RS) Agreed. There's a level of poetry in so much of the older stuff, and that's hard to come by these days. So much of country music, the horror that is pop-country, is that it's a bumpersticker slogan for a corporate beer commercial faux party.  On the other hand, one of the things I like about your work is the thoughtfulness of the lyrics and the music. How long have you been playing, and have you been in other bands?

(KG) Thanks. I take a lot of care with all the aspects of my music – arrangements, lyrics, through to photos and artwork. To me, it’s all art and deserves time and thought and consideration. I’ve been playing music since I was a kid, and I started on the guitar when I was about 13, so I’ve been playing for nearly 20 years. I started writing songs about then too. I’ve been in various bands over the last ten years or so, tried to get various things started. But I got to the point a couple of years ago when that got a bit frustrating, so I decided just to record my songs, and I got people to come and play on them – drums, pedal steel, strings, backing vocals, flugelhorn. I’m lucky to be in Brighton where there are a lot of great musicians around. I like the freedom of doing it like that, you don’t feel compelled to include an instrument just because you’ve got someone in your band who plays it. That being said, since recording the album I now have a five piece band – including Andrew Blake, who played the pedal steel on Wasted - and they're all great musicians, so I’m looking forward to bringing the songs to life, and I think future recordings will have more of a band feel.

(RS) The care you've taken in your presentation via the videos and graphics for the single, the overall sound of the production, plus the fact that you didn't just dump an album on the world all at once...it shows care, and thoughtfulness...and style.
I'm delighted to hear you say that you look at all of it as art. I have the same view. In this day and age you either craft it carefully or get ignored. Of course you can still be well-crafted and get ignored but...
I want to ask you about the album Bow Out Of The Fading Light but first I want to ask you about the single you did for the wonderful Random Acts Of Vinyl label. I've loved all the stuff I've heard from that label, particularly the single by your friends Paul Pascoe of Mudlow and his friend the great Sally Megee, And of course the Mudlow single. How'd that come about?

(KG) Yeah and I really enjoy crafting it, and thinking it through. And there’s no imperative to do things quickly, I’d rather let something come to fruition when it’s ready. Although that’s not to say it doesn't get frustrating now and again! Ah the wonderful Random Acts Of Vinyl! They’ve got/are some great bands – Palm Springs, Fire Eyes, Beat Hotel. I think the upcoming Fire Eyes single will be their 15th release, so they’ve got a good back catalogue too. My involvement came about because Davey (Pinnington, who runs the label with Jon Russo) saw my previous band at a night he was co-running at the time. He liked it and wanted to do a release. That was about two years ago, just when I’d started this set of recordings, and the band I was in was coming to an end, so it ended up being what became The Delta Bell. Davey and Jon have both been really supportive and encouraging. It was Davey who suggested doing the mixing and mastering with Paul Pascoe, which I’m so glad I did – he just got what I was doing, and took the extra time to master the songs onto tape which just gave it that extra warmth and magic. It feels very communal, and we’re all involved in each other’s music somehow – the great Sally Megee sang on one of my songs, I ended up playing piano for Palm Springs and doing some background vocals, that kind of thing. It shouldn’t be underestimated how fun it is doing it that way, there are a lot of good times in the RAOV world!

(RS) Paul has some great ears and taste to match, doesn't he? If I could afford to record my band with anyone he'd top my list. 
Tell me about the name, The Delta Bell.

(KG) I was at a photography exhibition in London, and there were some photographs by William Eggleston. I love his work, it totally draws me in. There were a couple of photos next to each other, one was of a car in front of a food stall, and the sign said Delta Kreme. I liked the sound of Delta Kreme, but not wanting to sound like a donut vendor, I wrote some other words down. The next photo along had the ‘something bell’ on it -  I can’t remember what exactly – so one of the ones I wrote was The Delta Bell. I still liked it a few weeks later so I kept it.

(RS) Do you have a release date for the album, Bow Out Of The Fading Light? How are you going about putting it out? Do you have a label or are you going DIY with it? I love the title. Whats the source of it?

(KG) I don’t have a release date yet, but I think it will be early next year, and there might be another single before then on RAOV. I’ve only released one single so I’m at the very early stages of getting stuff out there so I’ll see how it goes. RAOV are keen to put the album out but as always it depends on finances, and they're supportive of me seeing if there are any other interested labels so we'll see how it goes. It will be out somehow early next year, mainly so I can get on with the next one! 
I’m not really sure where the album title came from, it’s just one of those phrases that I had knocking about in a notebook and it seemed to fit that collection of songs. I guess when I thought of it, it was at a time when there were a lot of changes in my life, so to me it’s kind of like closing the door on the past, not in a traumatic way, but just stepping aside from it all and starting anew. Kind of laying ghosts to rest, and moving on.

(RS):: Ok, last question: How fun was writing Wasted? The lines throughout are so good and quietly cutting, I love "wasted on heartache and tears." Anything else the world should know about The Delta Bell? Favourite writer? Favourite books, Color?

(KG): Ha, yes it was fun. I love playing it. I had part of the chorus knocking about for a while, and then the rest of it kind of tumbled out one evening. I think there’s that point when you’ve broken up with someone and you’ve done all the crying and drinking, and then you’re kind of left with this empty cynicism and just not wanting to have to bother thinking about it anymore. It was fun writing a song that was intended to be delivered so drily, and I always wanted to play it as if I couldn’t be bothered. That’s quite hard to do as it turns out, so it bounces a bit more than it did in my head! Favourite writers change a bit, but I always love Christopher Isherwood. He's a neutral observer, and I love that he lets you come to your own conclusions about characters. I also like it because I'm a bit of a history nerd, so I especially love the Berlin novels. My other 'release' this year is a chapter I've written on East German punk for a book on alternative music behind the Iron Curtain. So yeah, that's something you didn't know about The Delta Bell!
(RS) Thank You, Kate! I appreciate you taking the time to chat. I can't wait to hear more.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

What Tallulah Bankhead Taught Me.

Maybe you know her name, or maybe you are into movies or old Hollywood and you'd heard her name and some salacious gossip...even today 45 years after her death.

I first became intrigued with Miss Bankhead while reading Milking The Moon, a bio of Eugene Walter. Here's the story of their first meeting recounted by Paste Magazine writer Charles McNair:

"He claimed as a friend Tallulah Bankhead. Ms. Bankhead bestowed her friendship on Eugene after he suggested a stage prop in one of her shows be given to “the state of Alabama because we ought to make a shrine over that like they made over Buddha’s tooth in Ceylon.” According to Eugene, Ms. Bankhead rewarded him with three of her pubic hairs for his suggestion … two of which he swapped for books or other treasures, and one of which he kept in a Chinese porcelain box until the day he died."

When I read a book I use a 4x11" folded piece of paper as a bookmark. I use that to make note of things I know nothing about, and things I want to know more about.

Here's what I learned from Tallulah Bankhead.


Via Tallulah - My Autobiography

Traducer

Stark Young

Texas Guinan

The Talmadge Sisters

Laurette Taylor

David Belasco

Jobyna Howland

Margaret Case Harriman & The Vicious Circle

Beardley Rumi

Ninon D' Enclos

Lola Montez

Willie Collier

The Hottentot

Ethel Barrymore 

Declasse


Rachel Crothers

Willard Mack

Toper or Tosspot

Costermonger

Madam Blavatsky

Dastard

Poltroon

Gilda Gray

Chic Sale

Dick Wittington

Tenterhooks

Surcease

Welkin

Toffs

Lohengrin

Bricktop

Sadie Thompson

Chemin de fir

Tom Tiddler's Ground

Augustus John (painting of Tallulah)

sculpter Dobson

Gainesborough - Perdita

Ambrose McEvoy (Portraint of Tallulah)

Common Weal

James Thurber cartoon that Tallulah owned

Planter's Punch

Francois Villon: "Ou' sant les neiges d'antan?"


Sgt. Eugene List

Addlepate

Haridan

Estelle Winwood

Burris Jenkins

Bugs Baer














Saturday, May 17, 2014

What I learned From Jimmie Rodgers.

 
 When I read a book I use a bookmark made out of a sheet of paper folded to about four by eleven. I use it to take notes about things I want to know more about, or don't know about at all. 

Here's the list from Nolan Porterfield's JIMMIE RODGERS - LIFE & TIME: The Life and Times of America's Blue Yodeler::


ne plus ultra

apple knocker

Chick Webb - Sweet Sue 

Sinecure

Incunablula

The Happiness Boys - Billy Jones and Ernie Hare

The Silver Masked Tenor = Joseph White

Nellie Melba


Riley Puckett

Reverend Andy Jenkins

Edward Abbe Niles

Boyd Senter and The Senterpedes

Gene Austin

Simoleans

Bill Bruner

Joe Hanks aka Fine Arts (no info found)

William S. Hart

Hoot Gibson

Ben Turpin

Jimmie & I.N. Bronson

The Two Black Crows

Romans : 6

Bindlestiff 

Last songs recorded by Jimmie Rodgers (in order) =
Old Love Letters
Mississippi Delta Blues
Down Below The Mason-Dixon Line











Thursday, May 1, 2014

I Will Miss Your Company.




Fact.





Saturday, April 5, 2014

J. Geils Band - "Live" Full House: Greatest Live Album of All Time or First Sign of The Detroit Breakdown?



"Serves you right to suffer baby. 
Serves you right. 
You gonna live alone."

Is J. Geils Band LiVE Full House the greatest live rock album of all time? For me that'd be a two-way tie...maybe three-way. The tie is with the live side of ZZ Top's Fandango. So, tie and a half maybe. Third? Rush- All The Worlds a Stage. Bite me. I'm no big Rush fan (anymore ;0) but I do respect the hell out of them. More about that later*.
Why J.Geils Full House? About all I can say is you have to hear it. It's made loud to be played loud. The band is as tight as if they were all breathing from the same lung. Their set is filled with hard soul boogie and seriousass deep blues. Peter Wolf is one of the best post-Jagger leadmen in the history of rock. Magic Dick is a harmonica player who is tasteful and plays with the band and augments the band and knows when to wail and when to shut the hell up. Rare in a harp player. The whole album is only about forty minutes long and that's all J. Geils needs to kill and bury you. Trust me. This is one album that no collection is complete without. I bought my first copy on vinyl in 1972 when I was twelve after my brother told me he'd just blown his tweeters after repeated listens to Whammer Jammer. I got it and stretched my woofers from endlessly playing J. Geils cover of Hooker's Serves You Right to Suffer. That song helped make me the man I am today.

*Here's the deal with Rush- All The Worlds a Stage: As a kid I had a hand me down stereo I got from my older brother. It was one of those old jobs where the speakers are attached to the side and you could fold them back and flip the turntable up and it had a handle on the top which made the thing portable. One day I was listening to something as loud as that ol' stereo would go when all of a sudden it started smoking and one of the channels went out. I was crushed. I kept using the thing as a mono rig and didn't bother to buy any more records because I knew they'd sound like crap. But then All The Worlds a Stage came out and I had to get it. When down to the record store and picked it up. Put it on and it sounded like crap. At first. But but then that old stereo started smokin' again and the speaker started working again. The power of Rush repaired my stereo.





Friday, April 4, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Calling All Angels.

I went to a memorial for a college student today. A freshman. She died in a car accident on the way home for Christmas. She must have done something right, she must have lived right because the room was packed. Life is far too short no matter how long you have in it. 
Peace to her and her friends and family. And to you.


Friday, September 20, 2013

ARCHiE SHEPP - Hambone + Things Have Got To Change.


Put this on and ride it out, baby.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I spend the days with my vanity.


Paddy McAloon:

"Name me one little thing, you'll be wanting to keep,

As you give up the ghost as you sink into sleep.
Maybe her face in the morning, maybe his in the evening?
Maybe words never spoken, aren't they the ones worth hearin'?"



Pablo Neruda-

XX

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write for example, 'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to a pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.




Philip Larkin:

Love, we must part now: do not let it be
Calamitious and bitter. In the past
There has been too much moonlight and self-pity:
Let us have done with it: for now at last
Never has sun more boldly paced the sky,
Never were hearts more eager to be free,
To kick down worlds, lash forests; you and I
No longer hold them; we are husks, that see
The grain going forward to a different use.

There is regret. Always, there is regret.
But it is better that our lives unloose,
As two tall ships, wind-mastered, wet with light,
Break from an estuary with their courses set,
And waving part, and waving drop from sight.

 

Unhappy Catullus, stop playing the fool,
and let end that which you know leads you to ruin.
Once, bright days shone for you,
when you were often drawn to that girl,
loved as no other will be loved by you.
Then there were many pleasures with her,
that you wanted, and the girl did not mind;
truly the bright days shone for you.
And now she no longer wants you: and you
weak man, should be unwilling to chase what flees,
or else live in misery: be strong-minded, stand firm.
Goodbye girl, now Catullus endures,
he will not search for you, won’t ask for you unwillingly.
Instead you will grieve, when nobody comes calling.
Woe to you, wicked girl, what life is left for you?
Who will submit to you now? Who will see your beauty?
Who now will you love? Whose will they say you’ll be?
Who will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?
But you, Catullus, be resolved and be firm.


Ernest Dowson:

There comes an end to summer,
To spring showers and hoar rime;
His mumming to each mummer
Has somewhere end in time,
And since life ends and laughter,
And leaves fall and tears dry,
Who shall call love immortal,
When all that is must die ?

Nay, sweet, let’s leave unspoken
The vows the fates gainsay,
For all vows made are broken,
We love but while we may.
Let’s kiss when kissing pleases,
And part when kisses pall,
Perchance, this time to-morrow,
We shall not love at all.

You ask my love completest,
As strong next year as now,
The devil take you, sweetest,
Ere I make aught such vow.
Life is a masque that changes,
A fig for constancy!
No love at all were better,
Than love which is not free.

 

Paddy McAloon :

"Desire as a self-figured creature who changes her own mind."