fatfakir's blog

Heart of Gold. Nerves of Steel. Knob of Butter.

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3...2...1... You're back in the room...

Tuesday 20th December 2011

Yes, it has been a while, but it's good to be back, Lloyd. And because it's been a long time I've got plenty to fill you in on, so I'm breaking up the update into 3 parts, so that you don't get overloaded. Yes, it is rather kind of me, isn't it?

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I suppose I ought to be flattered that someone has ripped off my Internet name. Specifically, these Indian T-shirt manufacturers, who have not only set up a website but also signed up on Twitter and set up a Facebook page. Although luckily I bagged the fatfakir user name on Facebook before them. I expect I'll be engaged in some sort of domain name dispute next. Well, hard cheese, my foreign friends, I've owned the .com (and .co.uk) domain for the last 10 years (at least) and they can go whistle. If anything I ought to be suing them...

The sharper-eyed amongst you, or at least those who haven't turned off Javascripting in their browser already, might have noticed that the comments links seem to have disappeared off my website. I thought it might have been some daft coding error that I had made, but after a little bit of investigation, I discovered that it's because the website that was hosting the comments no longer exists. So it looks like I've got three choices - persuade my brother to renew his domain ownership and restore the site, find another way of hosting comments, or just abandon the comments idea altogether. Why not leave your thoughts as a comm... oh, wait. Right. Clearly, I've gone for the latter idea.

Given that summer has long gone and most of what I did, or didn't do is now rather irrelevant, we'll gloss over most of it. Suffice to say that there are a few 2011 Weaver Wander pictures and some sculptures from the Nantwich Festival of the Arts on my flickr site. I'll be filling you in on my musical adventures and the number of terrible DVDs that I've bought in another update soon, I promise. I just decided that it was probably best to get an update up before I forget how to do one... More anon.

I am Kimble, the nimble

Monday 20th June

Following the revelations that Gay Girl In Damascus was actually a middle-aged man in America, and that one of the founders of LezGetReal was also a man masquerading under a pseudonym, I'd like to come clean and announce that actually, I'm not a fat, middle-aged English bloke, but actually a 32-year old Swedish lesbian...

Anyway, a touch on the late side but here's a review of my weekends watching the Nantwich Jazz Fest and the Crewe Live '11 music festival. To make it easier, I'll get the jazz fest out of the way first. Got to say that despite the nominal use of the word jazz in the title of the festival, there was very little actual jazz on display. And what jazz there was, I managed to miss due to football matches taking place at the same time. That and the small matter of the fest starting three days before payday. Anyway, I managed to drag my heaving carcass out for the traditional Sunday piss-up, when the population of Nantwich triples and the average age drops by a good ten years. The first band on the list to see were my ex-colleague Charlie's band Steamy Windows. I'm no great fan of the blues, but these guys mix things up a bit and rarely let the tempo drop, keeping things rolling along. After that it was a case of wandering the town and finding a venue that wasn't too packed and wouldn't take twenty minutes to get served in. Well, we didn't have a lot of luck with that, but did end up at the Railway Hotel, where we could at least have a sit down. We saw The Jalapenos, who are a good time covers band. Plenty of rock'n'roll japery going on, alongside the excellent musicianship. And after that, it was time for more beers and a realisation that, despite being out for nearly six hours, I'd only seen two bands and was feeling a bit pished. Plus I was fed up of having to queue for beer or for the toilet. I could have used the outside toilet at the Railway, I suppose, but that was just a load of buckets behind a screen - I've been to free festivals with better bogs than that. So it was off to Spices takeaway for a curry and off home to collapse on the sofa. I had vague intentions of going out again to catch Nunz With Gunz at The Bowling Green, but I never made it. And that, my friends, was as much of the Nantwich Jazz Festival as I saw this year. But then I never see that much of it anyway - I'm usually watching footy over the Easter weekend and I'm no fan of the crush in town on the Sunday.

In between the Jazz fest and the Crewe Live fest, I managed to fit in some more music, checking out some bands at The Rifleman in Nantwich, who were playing a benefit gig. I turned up a bit late, expecting to miss the first two bands, one of whom I didn't particularly want to see. Well, I managed to miss one band and the band I wasn't bothered about were on when I got there. Proud Proud People is their name, and they'd transmogrified from the terrible acoustic folk duo I'd encountered at The Box once, into a snarling folky-rocky-indie beast, complete with brass section. My word, what a transformation. Next up were Swim Into Scarlet who I've been keeping an eye on since I saw them in The Box about a year or so ago. As I predicted (he says modestly) they've developed their sound and now incorporate elements of shoegaze, surf and an Eastern influence to become something a bit special. They've even incorporated a trumpet, which always gets the fatfakir seal of approval. They were very good and even name-checked me during the gig, which was flattering. Incidentally, they have an EP coming out on Butterbridge Records, which I urge you all to seek out. (I did consider being a bit cheeky and asking for a review copy for this website, but I suspect that my readership is back in the single figures now I don't update this too regularly...) Headlining the night were Bathroom Crooners, another eclectic bunch that I enjoy. They sounded on top form, so all in all it was a good night out, even if the pub were charging 3.20 for a pint of Carling!

And so, after a hiatus last year, to the return of Crewe Live music festival. The festival proper kicked off on Friday night with all manner of bands playing round Crewe, but rather than tour round the town, I chose to start the festival in The Box, as they had an attractive line-up on offer. I turned up in Crewe fairly early. Too early, I thought, so nipped into The Express for a cheeky pint. Turned out that was a bit of a mistake, because when I headed round to The Box there was a fair bit of a queue on. By the time I got in, the ever-excellent The Flares were already on stage. Acoustic guitars and trumpets a-go-go. One of several bands currently employing brass, which can only be a good thing, in my opinion. It shows a bit of imagination, I think, and a willingness to move away from the standard indie-slash-rock template of guitars, bass and drums. Next up were Crewe/Northwich's old skool rappers The C-Dub Soundtrack. Three MC's and One DJ, as they say, plus a live bassist. They were much better than they had any right to be. If I was being hyper-critical, I'd say that occasionally they could do with another live instrument on stage just to break things up a bit, but that really is nitpicking of the highest order. Next up were Stoke's rising indie stars The Rivalry. They were very good too, sort of like Oasis meets The Who. The one minor quibble I had was that I couldn't hear the keyboard player for the first half of the set. Finally, indie-ska-rap mash-up merchants Kid British. I'd heard a few of their tracks and was expecting a ska-heavy sound live, but they were more indie. Still pretty good though - certainly better than anything I've ever done! Top band and worth checking out, in my humble opinion. I knew I'd had a good night when I woke in the morning and couldn't remember how I got home...

On Saturday, I had originally intended to head out mid-afternoon to catch the League Two play-Off final before heading on to see Swim Into Scarlet. Unfortunately, they had to pull out of their early Saturday evening slot due to illness, so I decided to have a bit of a lazy afternoon at home. I then headed out to see Not Penny's Boat at The Bank instead. Young whippersnappers, not been going long but already finding their feet and writing their own material. Promising. With excellent comic timing, Russ, who had tipped me off to NPB the night before, turned up about two minutes after they finished their set... From The Bank, it was on to The Express to see The Retrospective. Unashamed pop-rock, with a quality singer and decent tunage. Another good band in another decent pub. This festival was going pretty well for me! And it only got better when I nipped down to the Duke to catch a storming performance by Proud Proud People at The Duke. After that it was off to some girl's birthday party up at The Alex (sorry, name's forgotten). I had intended to slip out of the party to catch Sway but due to my own inability to pace myself, I was slightly pissed and somewhat knackered (well, totally knackered, to be honest) so I made my excuses and left early. It was probably a good idea.

Having had an early night I was up in plenty of time on Sunday to have a big fry-up and watch the Grand Prix before heading off up to Crewe for Day Three of the music fest. The plan was to meet Kerri in Hops for a few beers to celebrate her birthday, but knowing that she'd be late, I decided to check out New Romantics at The Imp first. Despite the name there was absolutely nothing New Romantic about them, and I did feel a bit of a fool standing in there in my frilly blouse, pirate jacket and make-up... Still, I met up with Jules from creweblog, so things weren't all bad. New Romantics were OK - good at what they do, but nothing really out of the ordinary. Scrubbing off the make up and changing into something more suitable, we made our way to Hops to meet up with Kerri and friends and get involved with some serious drinking. An hour or so and a few beers later, Jules and I hit the road to catch the pop-punk sounds of Lost Response up at the Bank. They sounded pretty good and had a fair few fans in the venue, which is usually a good sign. There was was also a bloke in there planking.Yes, I said planking, Which was quite amusing, especially when he fell off the bar stool.. We then ventured on to the Corner Bar (now known as The Stage door, apparently) to catch the grunge stylings of Sumofly. Unfortunately, they hadn't started by the time I had to move on, leaving Jules to the ministrations of his friends. I moseyed on down to The Duke to catch The Flares doing an acoustic set. Sadly, there was no brass on display, although there were one or two bras on display in the audience, so not a total disaster... The Flares' set was also enlivened by a police raid halfway through it. Luckily they weren't looking for under-age drinkers, but some proper villain, who appeared to have given them the slip. They didn't find him (or her). After that flurry of excitement, it was up to Square One to see Iron Door Club. Their 60s-flavoured pop-rock stylings sounded pretty good to my ears. After that it was off to The Waldron to round the day off with an acoustic-ish set from rock cover merchants, Mutha Humbucker. They are very good at what they do, but I have to admit, I'm no great fan of the genres they work in. Once they'd finished I was struck by the realisation that I was both pissed and tired (shocker!) and so dragged myself off to catch the last train home, which turned out to be a replacement bus. No matter - they didn't check tickets or anything so it was a free ride home. Result.

Monday and the final day of the festival. I was feeling a bit knackered and, mindful of the fact that I was due back at work on Tuesday, I resolved to try to take it easy. Which is probably why I was still out drinking at 9pm... Anyway, the afternoon started with an acoustic session from Swim Into Scarlet. Short but sweet. I then hung around waiting for Kerri to drag herself out of bed. When she finally arrived, we decided to go to Square One to see New Romantics in acoustic action. They were alright, except for the fact that every song was "rehearsed about twenty minutes ago", which stopped being amusing after the third time they said it. And stopped being plausible once their set passed the twenty minute mark, and they were still trotting it out ten minutes later... After they'd fginished we ducked back into The Express to catch the melodic post-hardcore of Bet It All In Vegas. I appreciated it, although Kerri said it just sounded like a lot of shouting. Mind, she doesn't really know anything about music! Then we headed up to the Brunswick to catch Sumofly, but just like the previous day, they didn't start on time so although they sounded alright we had to move on, heading to The Bank to witness the electro-rock mash-ups of Kalahan. I've seen them a couple of times and they really are quite good. They didn't disappoint. Once they'd finished, we followed up on a tip-off one of group had had, and headed back to Square One, where we were blessed with a solo spot from John Bramwell from I Am Kloot. Absolutely fantastic. And I even got to shake his hand afterwards and tell him so. Probably one of my personal favourite moments of the entire weekend. After that we stayed in Square One, drinking, and were treated by a performance from local legend Snakey Jake. He's a fantastic slide guitar player but his set seemed to go on for hours. It probably didn't but he certainly spent longer on stage than any of the other bands I saw on Monday. Anyhoo, come 9pm, I finally managed to convince myself it was time to go home, so staggered off to catch the train and hit my bed.

So overall, I've got to say, it was a fantastic festival, although I didn't get round to see as much of it as I would have liked. Personal highlights were Proud Proud People, Swim Into Scarlet and John Bramwell, but to be honest, I'm struggling to think of any duff bands that I saw over the course of the weekend. One or two bands that I wasn't a big fan of, but I can't fault any of the musicianship on show. What great work by Volume PR and their associated guys to assemble such a line-up. Can't praise them enough. And they are, apparently, already planning for next year. I am too - I'm definitely booking the Tuesday after the festival as a holiday - I can't take the pace like I used to.

Inside my glass of hours

Tuesday 29th March 2011

Typical. You wait months for one update and then two come along almost together. This time you get the benefit of reading all about the crappy, er, cheap, DVDs that I've bought over the last few months. There's a fair few to get through. Do try to keep up. Or at least stay awake.

And that's it for this update. I've got a project in mind to watch and review my Hammer Horror films on a regular basis, like I did with the Carry Ons a couple of years back. And I ought to give you a few reviews of my local eateries (something else I keep meaning to get round to...) Whatever, hopefullyI'll get round to something before the summer solstice.

Time, flexes like a whore...

Thursday 24th March 2011

Another couple of months tick by without a regular update. Anybody would think I've abandoned the updates on here in favour of regular updates via Facebook. And they'd probably be right to some extent. Although admittedly, I haven't posted much of substance on Facebook for a while either. I have been keeping Sick, Sorry and Sober up to date with reasonable regularity but even there I'm always a couple of days behind with my match reports.

I did mention in my last update that I'd got myself some new albums. I used to love music, still do in fact, but haven't really bought a lot of new stuff in recent years. I really ought to get back into the habit, rather than wasting my money on crappy DVDs... Anyway, here's a quick run through the music what I have bought:

And talking of music, I have to say a big "Ta, Love" to my friend Miriam, who pointed me in the direction of TagScanner, which has allowed me to update all the filenames on the mp3s I created using my USB Cassette Converter. The software was simple to install and use and I'd updated all my files within about thirty minutes of downloading the thing. And I probably could have done it faster if I hadn't spent time playing around with the various settings and things. Cheers Mims!

On a final musical tip - I haven't been out to see many live bands over the last year, for many and various complicated reasons. But what I have been out to see, I have enjoyed. So, in my favoured stylee, here in no particular order is a list:

And that's about it, apologies to any band that I've missed out on, but then you obviously weren't that memorable! On a final musical note, it's been good to see that the Crewe Live festival is returning over the late May Bank Holiday, and they've booked some quality acts this year. Check out that website for details. Before that there is, over Easter, the Nantwich Jazz & Blues festival, which features ever less jazz as the years pass. I'll be there because my old colleague's band are playing on the Sunday afternoon. I may even get round to posting an update all about it! Anyway, that's enough for this one. There's a DVD-based update hopefully just around the corner, but don't go holding your breath.