Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bill Posters Will Be Band at The Bull's Head, Barnes

Sunday 28-December-2014

My fourth and final time of seeing Bill Posters Will Be Band*. This was their farewell gig. After 31 years performing they have decided to call it a day. Got in quick to get my tickets to see the end of an era - and be entertained.

Featuring Peter Shade (off camera), Sam Spoons, Jim "Golden Boots" Chambers, Megs Etherington, John Gieves Watson and Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell (standing in for Biff Harrington). More biographical detail on the Bill Posters Will Be Band website.

The act defies coherent description - musical lunacy with more than a flavour of Spike Milligan about it. They play a number of songs, wear silly costumes, do comedy skits, Peter wears a cat tea cosy on his head while Jim plays a coat hanger; later John plays a metal washboard tie.

We get an old Bonzo's classic "Jollity Farm", sing-along to "Don't Tell I Tell 'E" (made famous by Adge Cutler and The Wurzels), comedy puppeteering from John, and too many other songs to remember. We unfortunately missed the final encore and valedictory speech as our taxi had arrived.

All washed down with couple of pints of Doombar. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

* Feb 2004Nov 2004Dec 2009

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Daffodil at Toto's Restaurant 2014

We were into November and no word on the Daffodil Christmas meal. It was a bit of a last minute panic: for us - what will become of our work's christmas party? - and for John the organiser - will it take place, when and where? Then mid-November the call went out for a straw poll - 6th or 13th of December?

In the end a date of the 6th of December was fixed upon. We duly dressed in our finery, took the 87 bus and turned up at the regular venue, Roux at Parliament Square, only to find the doors locked and the lights out.

Oh sugar, was it actually going ahead, had we got that date wrong, was it being held elsewhere? A quick phone call revealed "Yes, "No" and "Yes" respectively. Into a taxi for a 6 minute ride to Toto's Restaurant in Lennox Garden Mews where an apologetic John welcomed us.

So another break from tradition after almost unbroken decades of devotion to Michel Roux, Jnr. However I knew the food and wine would be good because John (on the right below) organised it.

The food was, of course, superb but it is all about the company, the dish is the accompaniment to the conversation.

The pairing of food and wine was all planned in advance, as per usual.

Daffodil Lunch @ Toto's
Saturday, 6th of December 2014
Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG, Ville d’Arfanta, 2012
~ ~ ~ ~
To share
Burrata di Andria with grilled vegetables
Raw & cooked artichoke salad, pecorino shavings
Romagna DOC, Trebbiano Le Coste, Poderi dal Nespoli, 2013
~ ~ ~ ~
Tagliatelle with mixed mushrooms
Campania IGT, Greco Ponte Pellegrino, Fattoria Alois, 2012
~ ~ ~ ~
Cod fish with Mediterranean sauce
Toscana IGT, Donna Patizia, Buccia Nera, 2011
~ ~ ~ ~
Baby chicken, diavola sauce
Barbera D’Alba DOC, Piani, Pelissero, 2010
~ ~ ~ ~
To share
Selection of cheeses
Porto, Fine Tawny, Taylor’s
Sweet bites will be served with selection of coffee and tea

In terms of wine the standout was the Greco Ponte Pellegrino; for the food it was a tough call between the Tagliatelle and the Baby chicken but for seasonal correctitude the fungi nosed into the lead.

Another M&M works Christmas party successfully concluded.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

John Mayall 80th Anniversary Tour at Ronnie Scott's

Wednesday 26-November-2014.

It is four years since we first saw the legendary John Mayall (Wedding anniversary weekend 2010) supported by Marcus Bonfanti. This time it was at Ronnie Scott's with Ronnie's regular support band the Nigel Price/Jim Mullen/Mick Hutton Trio.

I got there early (6:15) in time to bag our favourite table - by the rail in the raised part of the premium seating directly in line with the centre of the stage.

We have seen this same excellent support trio several times now. Like a number of other front men, Nigel Price always introduces the other band members but never introduces himself.

Mary was in Switzerland and all flights to City airport were cancelled due to fog. She was rebooked on a Heathrow flight but it was touch and go if she would make it in time. As soon as she landed, through the miracle of modern telecommunications, I was able to order her food and drink timed for her arrival: she walked in the front door literally as John Mayall walked onto the stage. She dumped her bags and sat down before the welcome applause had died down. Phew!

An excellent set - John Mayall seemed to be really enjoying himself.

Blues Matters thought so too. "It is easy to summarise the set that John and his band served up for the first house of the night, in two words: most excellent. John Mayall’s brand of Anglicized Chicago Blues, his weaving of a long song to a tremendous crescendo, his ability to play the organ while with the other hand making great harmonica music, is undimmed. So, too, is his evident pleasure in playing and pleasing an audience, nearly sixty years into his career." Full review...

Afterwards we queued up to buy CD's, unusually separate CD's from each of the band members rather than the assembled company. So we bought three, one for each of Rocky Athas (lead guitar), Greg Rzab (bass guitar) and Jay Davenport (drums), and got them signed; we also got John to sign a couple of them as well. They have provided some excellent listening since.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Ian Seigal and Jimbo Mathus at the Green Note Cafe

Camden, London. Monday 24-November-2014.

Blues at the Green Note - my kind of music, my kind of venue.

Earlier in the month I met up with an ex-colleague I had not seen for 32 years (!) and we ended up swapping Blues guitarist recommendations. I gave him Marcus Bonfanti and he gave me Ian Seigal.

As luck would have it the Green Note email dropped into my inbox a couple of days later and there was Ian Seigal and Jimbo Mathus. A quick consult with friends Kate and Nigel and I snapped up three tickets (Mary was in Zug, Switzerland on business).

Nigel was there for doors open at 6pm and bagged a good table. They no longer operate a full kitchen but there were wholesome, vegetarian bar snacks.

From the opening chords I knew this was my kind of music. The John McLaughlin concert and the Blue Note concert were fine, nay world class, but this music got my toes tapping. They did two sets.

This is my third visit to Green Note (previously Marcus and Myshkin) and just as much fun as the others, This is real, up close music - brilliant. I love the fact that you can wander up afterwards and shake hands with the musicians and say "Great gig, really enjoyed it" - this is not a "Like" on FaceBook, it is the real thing.