Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This parrot is no more! Gigs and sundry gabblings...

Another weekend, another blog.

And so, to Friday night. A friend and I went to see Nanci Griffith at the Sage…the fourth consecutive Austinite (Austinian? What are you called if you are from Austin? Texan! From the more specific environs of Austin…) I have seen. And she was great…she didn't set my world alight, but she was great. Did I mention I need to go to Texas (and that this has only recently dawned on me)?

The keyboard player, one James Hooker, who has been with her some 20 years, was excellent. He looked a bit like a rock n roll vicar…you can just imagine, in some cheesy film, him sitting down to the church organ of a Sunday and surprising the congregation by blasting out some choice boogie woogie. Or, as my step-mum believed Neil Diamond to have sung, perhaps he was more of a Reverend Blue Jeans ('Forever in Blue Jeans'!).

Nanci herself looks like your mum. Well, maybe not your mum. But like everybody's mum in a Sally Field-esque kind of way. And she has a little girly voice when she speaks. Her discourse seemed mostly to be about 'Pops', her step-father, with whom, I would say, she had an unhealthy fascination! Ok, so he did sound kind of cool, but she was singing songs about how beautiful he is etc. etc.
The second song was John Prine's 'Speed of the Sound of Loneliness' (my favourite lyrics of which are 'You come home straight and you come home curly'), and she also did a great cover of Ruby's Arms by Tom Waits. Now, I have never really liked Tom Waits…to me, his voice sounds a bit like someone dragging their nails down a blackboard (or chalkboard if you want to get all overly-PC about it!)…too gravelly and atonal. I can put up with the nasal offerings of Bob Dylan and the 'unpolished' (but somehow so beautifully emotive) warblings of Willie Nelson, but Tom Waits is just a step too far. I am, however, as with Randy Newman, unable to knock his songwriting abilities. And so a cover in a more audibly palatable incarnation was warmly welcomed.

She also did a great number dedicated to Loretta Lynn, the central lyrics of which were 'If you can't find a friend you still got the radio'. Lovely idea, but fat lot of use…although music really has been the thing to pull me through some of my darker times. Of course, she also did her torch song, 'From A Distance', which I'm almost ashamed to admit gave me goosebumples (well, some people call them goosepimples, others goosebumps, so I thought I'd take the middle ground!).

We were in the centre of the 7th row, so really rather good seats. To whoever was 8th row, centre…thanks for the constant arrhythmic tapping on the back of my seat!

My pal missed the encore courtesy of her bladder, but Ms Griffith did a great a capella ditty, which I presume from the lyrics was called 'Road to Aberdeen', and 'Well Alright' by Buddy Holly (who I have always loved!).

And her bassist, it would seem from the introductions (I may have misheard!), was apparently called Elana Rockwood!

On Saturday, I headed down (on my own) to catch the tail-end of the outdoor (free) Americana music. Holly Golightly was on at 5.00pm, who I was really pleased to be seeing again. I'm not quite sure how you'd describe her 'style'…50s/60s-influenced rockabilly? This is the second time I have seen her gratis (the first time being last year's Freevolution festival on the Quayside)…I will pay for a ticket one day! The setting was lovely…Performance Square, as it is called, outside the Sage…an area where they have built some stepped seating (including some grassy ones), the backdrop of the stage being the Tyne and Newcastle. Still, there was something that just felt a little bit strange about it all, although I'm at a loss to put my finger on it. Given recent precedent, perhaps it was just that she doesn't come from Austin??
The best line, in a song with which I am unfamiliar (she has released about a squillion albums, including a newish one which I have not yet investigated), was "I wanna kiss you, hold you, squeeze you til my arms fall off"…or at least something in that vein, anyway.

I hung around for a little while to catch the start of Richmond Fontaine, but it was mighty chilly and I had neglected to take a coat with me, so I didn't last much longer. As I was heading back through the Sage, on my way home, I passed Holly Golightly, who was just standing nonchalantly, not being bothered by people at all, enjoying the music herself. No I am not, in general, a stalker of (relatively) obscure musical artistes, so I didn't bother her either!

Sunday, and again solo, it was the Laura Veirs gig…it seems you couldn't give tickets away! I had one spare in the end, and the gig itself wasn't exactly jam-packed. She was being supported by local band Cedar Noir, who are partially made up of people I know. I don't think I've ever seen them live before, however, just Lucy (the drummer) in various other outfits (as in musical outfits, not clothing!). The best of the original songs they played, in my opinion, were 'Strangers' and 'Good Friend', and they also did a great cover of Patsy Cline's 'She's Got You'…with electric guitar, bass, drums, yadda yadda.

Laura Veirs was excellent. She looks so ordinary and unassuming. It was just she and her guitar (well, and some nifty gadgetry…like when I went to see Imogen Heap…something where she could record snippets of her voice, guitar, whatever, and have it play on loop as if accompanying her, whilst she sung and played over the top. Forgive me for not understanding the technicalities). I was very pleased that she did 'Jailhouse Fire' and 'Through December' from her album 'The Triumphs and Travails of Orphan Mae', as this is my favourite (and first purchased…that generally remains the favourite, in my experience) album of hers. She was to see Kris Kristofferson (who she'd never heard of!) that evening, and generally 'hang out' with Lucy and Gemma…you guys are SO rock n roll! ;o)

The only thing which I have failed to mention about my weekend happened on Friday night, after the Nanci Griffith gig had finished. My friend and I headed across to the Pitcher and Piano…no big news from there. Then it was on to the Yard (open late, and my friend is picky about where she goes!)…no big news from there either (the only thing of note is the fact that now, due to the smoking ban, there were loads of people outside on the pavement, glass in hand…I heard three break in just the time I was there!).

Finally, as seems to be the culmination of (almost) every evening out in recent memory, we repaired to The Dog (formerly The Barking Dog). For those of you not familiar with this establishment, it would seem that it is called 'The Dog' for a reason…namely the appearance of most of its clientele! It truly is a dive of a bar, but the drinks aren't too expensive (as with most of the gay bars), it is open later than most places (until 2.00am) and they do a good line in karaoke…it is often very amusing, as it is often tympanic membrane- (read: eardrum) shatteringly bad!

Julie and I spent a great part of our time there outside in 'smoker's corner'. Now, The Dog being The Dog, they have not provided such things as awnings or patio heaters, or indeed anything at all…it is merely a case of standing, glass in hand, on the pavement outside. And this was working out fine until, what seemed all of a sudden, there was a major kick-off. Two men were involved in some sort of skirmish…one of them then smashed a bottle or glass on the floor, pushed the other down onto it, and proceeded to kick him in the ribs and then, even worse, to kick his head SO hard against the wall.

It truly was awful…I didn't dare look at the man left on the floor as the man who had committed the assault sauntered off (yes, sauntered…he didn't even bother to run)…suffice to say that he was still unconscious when they carted him off in an ambulance. I telephoned the Police (who then called for the ambulance too), as no-one seemed to be doing much. When they arrived I, like the good citizen I am, gave them my name and contact details, and a description of the man who had assaulted the other. They didn't seem to be all that bothered.

I just hope the man is alright…I have no way of knowing, or checking.

I'm sure there is going to be an increase in the number of such events, with people on the streets, holding glass, increasing due to the smoking ban. Frankly it's quite scary, particularly in terms of potential homophobic attacks.

Worrying stuff.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

From the pen (or keyboard) of Goldilocks...

The title for this blog is entirely irrelevant to any of its contents. It's just that I had porridge for tea the other night, as I had nothing else in and couldn't be bothered leaving the house! It made me think that, whilst being a grown-up and having to deal with life head on (it really just doesn't work out if you try to ignore it, and its obligations, completely) does have its drawbacks, there are also the perks…such as having as many shovels of sugar as you like, with no-one to tell you it will rot your teeth! Small blessings etc. etc.

There was a stage, aged about 14, where I would talk about naming a child of mine Porridge…jokingly, naturellement. This was primarily because I find it to be such an amusing word. Porridge was to be a daughter, and I was to christen (or at least name; I personally don't believe in all that deity hype) her younger brother Spam. Chortle. A friend of mine at the time decided that she would name her children Polly, Esther, Kurt and Anne, in that order…so that when she called them in for tea, she could screech "Polyester Curtain". This stuff could only be conceived by the minds of 14 or 15 year olds eh? Like on those 'come on, be a teacher, we dare you' adverts…the stuff the teenagers say seems vaguely annoying to watch as an adult, but I bet, behind the scenes, they are wetting themselves over the 'in joke'. I kind of miss all that sometimes…when everything seemed so hilarious.

All this because of a bowl of porridge! It was posh M&S apple, raisin and cinnamon porridge…but it still required a good dose of sugar to help the medicine go down.

So, I went to another gig last night. This time it was Ruthie Foster, again at The Cluny. I'm seriously considering moving to Austin (well, not really, but I would like to pay those honky tonks a visit)…she is the third consecutive act I've seen at The Cluny that comes from there…must be something in the water!

I didn't know a great deal about Ms Foster before going to see her, to be honest. I just thought she sounded worth checking out…both from what the Jumpin' Hot Club had written about her, and from listening to the tunes she has on her My Space page (seriously, how did we, musically, survive before this?). And worth checking out she was. Five of us trundled along (I had to flog two tickets in the queue, as two people had pulled out…I'm totally going to resolve not to be the chief ticket-buyer in future…the problem with that is it means I often don't get to go to the things I want to), none of us with any very well-formed idea of what she might be like.

I would summarise it as kind of bluesy-soulish (yes, very specific!)…she has a great gospel voice that sounds sort of like Bettye Lavette, only less weathered. Somewhere between Tracey Chapman and Aretha, if you can imagine that. She proclaimed a love of Sam Cooke whilst on stage, and that is fine by me! She also told stories about meeting Odetta (the woman has an amazing voice…seriously, if you haven't heard of her, you must have a listen…she's a folkish singer from about the 1950s…even Bob Dylan has sited her as an influence) and Jessie May Hemphill.

She did a cover of 'Oh Susannah', which was lovely, but un-sing-along-able, and an accomplished Lucinda Williams cover. The latter is on the cd which I bought, which has some great cuts, including some consummate originals by Ms Foster herself, the best being 'Heal Yourself' and 'Mama Said'. I didn't hang around to meet this one, as she looked to be deep in conversation...even though we'd bonded stage to floor over Sam Cooke.

I didn't catch the name of the man that was supporting. He was an Aussie fella who played some great slide guitar. He sung Leadbelly, Robert Johnson and 'Stagger Lee'; but there was something a bit annoying about him when he talked between songs. The audience seemed rather underwhelmed.

This gig coincided with the end of the Ouseburn Festival. I like the Ouseburn Festival. I missed it, however, this year, as there was no-one who wanted to go along, and I was mostly asleep anyway! For those of you who haven't been, it's a nice, relaxed, sitting outside drinking in the sun (if there is any!) kind of affair, round some jolly pleasant pubs offering live music, stalls, 'activities' and suchlike. It's probably my favourite pub 'crawl' in Newcastle round there – the Tanners, Cluny, Tyne, Cumberland, Free Trade…even the Ship is better than the average watering hole. Steve and Ben, who came along to the gig last night, have never been before, so I'm thinking a lazy day's Saturday boozing may be in order soon…just to get them acquainted with the locale, you understand.

Round there, there are plenty of places where you can sit outside, should it be sufficiently clement and, perhaps, should you be a smoker. I have been thinking, however, that now would be a great time to invest in shares in companies manufacturing awnings and patio heaters…there will be an awful lot of pubs having to think up novel ways of not just having you standing outside on the street corner in the rain cluttering up the place!

Speaking of rain…I still haven't told you about the Unknown Pleasures thingy at the Lowry on Salford Quays have I? The one at which New Young Pony Club and Gossip were playing. I arrived chez Tom early, and Tom is notorious for being late…in summary, I had to sit in my car and wait for him to get home for about an hour and a half! Thankfully, I had anticipated this (although my bladder had not…I was so glad when he eventually arrived home!), and therefore had brought a book with me ('Still Life with Woodpecker', Tom Robbins – I shall include some choice quotations further down the page).

We made it to the Quays (after me sending Tom back in for his umbrella-ella-ella…it was pissing down! On which note, is society as a whole just suffering from some massive aberration? I am the only person I know who doesn't think that that song is really rather super indeed) in okay time…I always panic far too much about being late. We didn't see a great deal of New Young Pony Club, unfortunately, as we were in a bar outside the Lowry Centre itself, and there had been huge, opaque, metal barriers put up so that those who didn't have a ticket couldn't see in…spoil sports. We actually did have tickets, but had decided to have a wander in between bands…and then couldn't take our pints from there into the main site. Anyway, we heard them and managed to catch the end of them on stage...they were good (I understand that this word is not especially ebullient…I was just a little unmoved by the whole day to be honest…the sound system was poor and I didn't feel any kind of 'buzz' within the audience. Anyway, moving on…)…very young and bouncy (in the physically active on stage sense!).

Next up were The Horrors, who I pretty much knew I was going to hate even before they came on stage; just from the few things I have read in the press about their frontman's antics…all a bit 'oh, I'm so cool and trendy, but I don't care' Pete Doherty-ish…the frontman is called Faris Rotter for fuck's sake! I'm so glad I wasn't a young'un when this whole 'emo' thing was going on...is going on. I think Tom put it best when he said "It's like seeing five Russell Brands all on stage together".

This, my friends, is not a good thing.

Whilst we are (or at least I am) talking about Tom...I was listening to Sunny Sweeney (yes, again) the other day. She does a cover of the song '16th Avenue', which contains the lyrics "There's cowboys, drunks and Christians / Mostly white and black and blue". I have always thought that this was fairly ludicrous...but then I factored in Tom.

Tom is a skinny wee Scotsboy with vaguely ginger leanings. He is so pasty that his skin is, in fact, see-through...and therefore he fits the 'blue' category nicely. The song was obviously written as a nod in his direction...there isn't generally a lot out there in terms of blue rights.

But I digress...back to the intended rant. Gossip were up last, and I was very much looking forward to seeing them. Beth Ditto is one helluva firecracker ("on the fourth of July...[she'll] make your mama beg, [she'll] make your daddy cry" tra la la la la) and, from the (videoed) live performances I have seen she can holler and prance like a good 'un. And she didn't let us down...she strutted and (ha! Sorry to interject again...there's a song currently playing on Radio Free Texas, as I type this, called 'Beer Goggle Blues'...I love country music!!) yawped, wailed and sweated.

Yet, sadly, we were still let down by the sound system...even though she sung her lungs out, bless her little cottons. 10/10 for effort...but, unfortunately you could often barely hear her over the band, except on the quieter numbers. I think their cover of Aaliyah's 'Are U That Somebody' was possibly the show-stealing moment, and I was pleased that they did Fire/Sign, as that's one of my faves. Yr Mangled Heart and Coal to Diamonds, from the latest album, were also grand. I think I'm going to have to try to get to the tail end of Manchester Pride, the day after my friends' wedding in Hampshire though...I feel like I need to see them live again in order that I can appreciate it more.

Oh, and we saw Lee out of Hollyoaks…yes, all the big names were there!

So, as you will see from above, I am still listening to Radio Free Texas most evenings (I am properly addicted to an online game called Joywords, http://www.joytube.com/joy-words/, so I'm here quite a lot...I am such a Scrabble geek! I also had about a day's worth, all told, of addiction to a game called 'Pico's Sim Date', but that's by the by)...I have been introduced to Old Crow Medicine Show (well, reminded to check them out, anyway...I am currently loving their song 'Wagon Wheel'...it's on my MySpace profile right now...having even been good enough to replace a song, by Renegade Rail, called 'Fat Girls and Weed'! You might also want to have a listen to Adam Hood's song 'Play Something We Know'...very catchy), Sam Baker, BlacktopGYPSY, Spivey Crossing, and some suitably upbeat cheese ('Nashpop') called 'Hard To Be Good In Texas' (Candy Coburn).

Next weekend, music/gig-wise, looks set to be a stormer. Friday night it's Nanci Griffith, Saturday a day of free, outside, Americana music (including Holly Golightly), then Sunday Laura Veirs, who, I think I have probably already mentioned at some point, is being supported by folk I know...well done them! (I think I may have to learn to stop over-using the comma! And perhaps the exclamation mark for that matter). Unfortunately Hayseed Dixie are also playing on Sunday, so I'll miss them...it would maybe be possible to catch both them and Laura Veirs (she is on in the afternoon), but I don't think my pal Jules can afford it (I am also rather skint, I just do my best to ignore the fact), and I really can't think of anyone else who'd be interested in going along to that...I'll catch them next time!

Now to the brief, yet customary, section about television advertising. I don't believe that I have had a good rant about the Nationwide ads yet? You know the ones...with the tubby, smarmy gentleman who is generally a bit of a...banker. Fnar. These are, in my opinion, rather foolish. To my mind it makes one associate incredibly bad service with Nationwide themselves...anyone with me? The 'Nationwide: Proud to be different' slogan at the end is just not enough to dislodge the connection that has been made in my little brain...I will always believe that man to be a Nationwide employee...you know, like Howard in the Halifax adverts?

The only other comment-worthy advertising for now is Sheila's Wheels...seriously, if you happened to have a car crash, how embarrassed would you be to have to produce your "bonzer" insurance documents? Perhaps that is the intention behind it...you are so scared that someone might laugh at you for getting your cover from Sheila's Wheels that you make extra specially sure you never crash. Or perhaps it's to stop the person you've crashed into socking you...they're too busy pointing and guffawing instead? Just a thought.

Nearly there now...

As promised above, some snippets from the Tom Robbins book I have just read...I thoroughly enjoyed it in the most, however did get a little sick of the 'oh I'm so quirky and witty' metaphors towards the end. Here's a few corkers though:

- "this is the cherry on top of the cowgirl";
- "I have a black belt in haiku";
- "red hair is caused by sugar and lust";
- "I leased the Charles Bukowski Suite in the Been-Down-So-Long-It-Looks-Like-Up-To-Me Hotel";
- "the sky hung low. It was the colour of moles";
- "...very expensive white carpet…whiter than a toothache";
- "as ruddy and indiscreet as a plastic sack full of hickeys";
- "In the clear desert night, the stars were as wild as popcorn".

Whilst we are quoting, I shall leave you with these words which I heard on (that most educative of media!) the TV recently:

"The past is history, the future's a mystery, the present is a gift…that's why it's called the present".

Live it while you can I say! Grab it in both hands and shake out all that loose change.

Currently addicted to: Body Shop Brazil Nut Body Butter (it smells fantastic!).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gettin' my hawnky tawnk awn!

Last night I went to the gig that I have been boring all of you about for months...Sunny Sweeney.
It was fantabulous...splenderiferous...perhaps even supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! I had THE best time.

Getting to see Ms Sweeney was not without its hitches...first my pal Julie cancelled on me (and John almost had to...something to do with silage and rain and such Farmer-like matters). Then I was running late and had to ask John to come and pick me up. When we finally got there, literally as we were stepping over the threshold into the Cluny, I realised that I'd left the tickets on my living room coffee table! We made it back to the Cluny after a swift round trip back to Gateshead to collect said tickets...lucky one of us was driving!

Support was in the form of Mary Jean Lewis...the niece of a certain Mr Jerry Lee (although not the one of 'The Nutty Professor' fame). She had a lovely alto voice and even sung a Loretty number...and a Willie Nelson one ('Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground')...she was indeed very pleasant to listen to, if a little under-inspiring. I shall not be bandying about the superlatives here...I shall save those.

Ms Lewis told us that she was too old to be standing up playing her keyboard, requesting a stool...yet apparently she wasn't too old to be wearing bunches. There is a note of derision in my tone here, but it is mostly based on jealousy...I would love to be able to wear bunches, but I think, aged 27, I might look a bit of a fool!

Anyhoo, cracking on. I used this interval to purchase myself a Sunny Sweeney t-shirt. Well, more of a vest/tank top thingy really. I shall wear it with pride. Maybe I'll start working up my own collection, en homage to Sunny's penchant for Merle Haggard t-shirts (she's up to 36, as she proudly told us during the gig)...although I may just leave that schtick to her (she was wearing a George Jones t-shirt on this occasion...more of that later).
I then dutifully queued for the bar, where I was asked by the man in front of me (who had been talking to me for a few minutes by this point) if I was Sunny Sweeney. My response was "Erm, no...she is prettier, more petite, blonder and more Texan! And also likely to be wearing a Merle Haggard t-shirt"...he seemed quite nonplussed. It was from this vantage point that I saw Ms Sweeney herself walk through the room...twice, and got ever so excited with the anticipation of it all!

Finally, Sunny and band came on stage. I think I was the only audience member to actually let out a whoop when she walked on! They started with a great song that Sunny does on her album, which is called 'Next Big Nothing' (the song, that is; the album is Heartbreaker's Hall Of Fame). From this point on I was lost in singing along, tapping, wiggling, and so on. As you will well know by this point, I never dance...yet I didn't stop moving the whole time they were on...not exactly dancing (there wasn't room for that anyway), but it was like I had caught some sort of jitterbug! And my jaw quickly took to aching, as I simply couldn't keep the Cheshire Cat smirk from my face.

I could almost have sworn that, early on in the show, Ms Sweeney smiled straight across at me (and what a winning smile it is!), but convinced myself I was just being silly. Then, between numbers, she picked me out of the audience and asked me if I was her MySpace friend!! God bless you MySpace...even all your accompanying bugs n' quirks n' things! I was mortified!

Of course, I will admit that I was also overjoyed. After that point I kept getting really paranoid, as I kept making accidental eye contact, and was even mentioned again as her MySpace buddy...I began to feel a bit like some obsessive stalker...particularly as I knew all the words!

The band were excellent...really tight, especially considering they are relatively newly formed and therefore haven't been playing together for all that long. Special mention goes to the man (Craig Smith) who made it out of the Orkneys to play geetaw up there with Sunny...and who stood in very nicely for Jim Lauderdale on 'Lavender Blue' (oh, and who also told some really rubbish joke that I now forget...it was one of those "A something walks into a bar..." jokes). They also did a cover of Folsom Prison Blues...all hail the late King Cash!

The set (well, the encore) was ended with the humongously catchy 'If I Could', also on the album, and which I have sported on my MySpace page a couple of times...and, in fact, did until yesterday (following some Luscious Jackson and then Leonard Cohen's 'I'm Your Man'; I'm ever so eclectic...again, more of this later).

John and I then made a swift exit stage left for a well deserved nicotine fix (yes, yes, a dirty habit, I know) while I waited for the crowds to disperse a little before going and saying my hellos to Ms Sweeney et al. When we got back in the bar we were hanging back and kind of loitering around, waiting for a gap, when Sunny came across to meet ME!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my!

I was so starstruck! I was sweating and fawning, rambling and fawning...in summary, a giggling, and did I mention fawning, nervous mess. It was like...you know when you are talking to someone you fancy and you just end up seeming like a wally? I got so nervous I didn't know what to say! I am such a nidiot (sic). Never will I be that cool chick...I was, am, and it seems will always be, just some dumbass. Oh dear.

Anyway, Sunny was lovely...a really sweet, down-to-earth woman (this is a woman with 5000+ MySpace friends, who actually recognised me, messages back and even remembered what previous messages had said!)...real purdy, with some beautiful baby blues and a hella sexy Texan accent (and I don't do blonde, or petite...or, come to think of it, generally pretty either for that matter!). She signed both my cd and the poster that I'd previously stolen from the Cluny (see a previous blog)...which I'd remembered to bring along, even though I'd forgotten the tickets! I'm particularly proud of the cd...I was joking about how I felt like a stalker, so she has signed it, "To my favorite stalker! HA HA!". We talked (or at least I tried to talk) for quite a while, I was introduced to the hubby and the guitar player, and I generally giggled and fawned some more.

Then I admitted that I didn't know who George Jones was. I was roundly admonished and ordered to get my hands on a 'best of' cd (I was even encouraged to download it illegally if needs be...he is that important!)...which I have now obediently done...it arrived today from Amazon. I like it. His voice is somewhere between Willie Nelson and Roy Orbison...it's even a bit Everley Brothers (although I'm not sure whether Don or Phil...tee hee) on the earlier numbers. I realised I already knew 'He Stopped Loving Her Today'...but my favourite on the album (The Essential George Jones: The Spirit of Country...I couldn't find the exact one recommended...perhaps it's a US-only release?), at least after the one listen through I've had so far, is 'Bartender's Blues'...I like 'Golden Ring', 'Her Name Is' and 'The Door' too.

On which note, apparently he is the former husband of Tammy Wynette (sorry if I sound like a philostine saying this...give me a break, I come from Middlesbrough, and, in my defence, can converse on many different types of music, not just country...perhaps I should brush up my knowledge of country music a little though eh?). I made the faux pas, having seen the cheesy Wynette biopic as a kid, of asking if he was the one that beat her? This didn't seem to go down too well...oops!

I decided last week that I wanted a Southern (American, that is) girlfriend...that was in a conversation about Beth Ditto's fabulous Arkansas drawl. Perhaps I'll up sticks and move to Texas?

Speaking of Beth Ditto...I'm off down to Manchester to see Gossip tomorrow. It's the culmination of the Manchester International Festival and I 'won' some (free...yay!) tickets in an online ballot. New Young Pony Club are playing too. So I'm going to stay with my pal Tom and get to see Ms Ditto shake her thang in person...should be good. And I'm not back at work until Wednesday. She also presented the Friday Night Project last night (yes, I know I am terribly sad being in on my own of a Friday night)...I think this whole fame shebang has come on rather quickly and she seemed a little out of her depth, bless her. The only other real point of note is that Justin Lee Collins was wearing a Hugs Not Drugs t-shirt...like my shoes! I love those shoes!

Back to the wonderful Ms Sweeney. So, not only has she introduced me to George Jones, but also, via her blog for CMT, Adam Hood (now my current MySpace tune) and http://www.radiofreetexas.org/. The possibilities are endless! From an evening's listening last night, they play some great stuff, and should introduce me to a load of bands/artists I haven't heard before. There's not much call for local country radio in Gateshead...and I always forget when Bob Harris is on Radio 2. Incidentally, she also writes a great blog on MySpace...she is an amusing, intelligent, normal woman. I've already mentioned that before I think. Seriously though folks, check her out, give her your support. Her name's going to be right up there with Loretta's and Patsy's one day. She's at:

Right, I'm off to pack my bags for the Texarkana (via Dollywood!)!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Betty Butterfield is a southern talkin' momma, an overweight, prescription drug-addled, chain-smoking, tongues-speaking woman of the Lord. Her mission in life is to find the church of the Christian faith which caters best to her needs. She knows that she is devout; it would seem that she is just not sure who to be devout with. Betty has visited them all looking for something that clicks - Mormon, Pentecostal, Quaker, Roman Catholic, Scientologist...the list goes on. She has yet to find something that quite meets her stringent criteria, which would include the attire of the congregation at large and parishioners who will bring a casserole round to your trailer when you are feeling a little under the weather. Ms Butterfield is rather ill-equipped to deal with life beyond her front porch...particularly should she run out of Xanax. She has trouble with her monthlies, is the widow of a monster and simply can't figure out those supermarkets. All in all, her tool belt of life is pretty sparsely stocked.

Oh...and it's a man.

Or at least, Betty is played by a sunglass-bedecked man in smeared red lipstick. He goes by the name of Chuck Knipp; himself apparently a practicing Quaker...and homosexual. Think Divine and John Waters.

It is all delivered in a direct to camera monologue, a la this new fad for YouTube vlogging (such a terribly ugly word). It's worth a shufty...Betty can be very (unintentionally, for Betty at least) amusing, coming out with such gems as:

"I have got to quit smoking. Oh my God, it's got to the point now to where I go to church and start speaking in tongues and wheezing at the same time".

Your best bet is probably just to type her name into YouTube, however there is a website which archives many of her video rants. That's at:

(But the videos come up in tiny Quicktime format...at least they do on my PC...I may be missing something with regards how to enlarge them; I am not exactly a technical genius!).

You can also read more about Betty's creator Chuck Knipp, should you wish to, at:

There you will find that Knipp also has a more famous creation, a cousin perhaps to Ms Butterfield, named Shirley Q. Liquor. I'm afraid I don't kow much about this one, other than that Knipp 'blacks up' and drawls in a southern cotton-picking kind of way. It all sounds a bit controversial for my liking. I'll stick with Betty.