John Wilson - Home Page John Wilson is a great singer/songwriter. I was once in a band called "The Dodgers" with him. We have remained in touch and I have produced DVDs for him.
Check out his site.
timjamesblues Home Page Tim is a really close friend who has had a site for as long as it was possible. If I need to know what I or my friends were doing since the year dot..this is where I find it out.
The Fortunes Photo Page Alex Hoek is a good friend to both myself and The Fortunes. Check out his site which he has dedicated to The Fortunes and you'll see lots of pics not even seen on the official Fortunes website.
AndyBlog Andy Curtis is a rare breed.He is a creative and multi- talented, very articulate, and highly intelligent individual who's blog outshines most in it's capacity to both astound and amuse. Check it out.
LuLu Rebecca de'Wessington, good neighbour and purveyor of Northumbrian delights via her "Northumbia Pride" retail outlet. Always en-devouring to bring class and culture to the table. This is her blog.
Persistent The blog of Ian de'Wessington partner of Rebecca. The most resourceful man I know. I often wake to his whittling arrows in the yard and applaud his industry.
Smitham's Meanderings Michael is the longest serving member of The Fortunes, a great guitarist, a good friend. Check out his blog
Jason Thompson Jason, another drummer and media merchant and good friend. Check out his blog cause it's always interesting.
Barbara and I had a fantastic time over in America staying with friends Stuart and Suzanne in their wonderful homes In Maryland and West Virginia. During our stay we took the opportunity to drive down the Blue Ridge Mountains, Visit Washington, including the White House, take in Pennsylvania with a visit to Amish county and Gettysburg. We even bumped into Senator John McCain..
As part of a photographic course I'm attending we were asked to take some images representing Autumn. Here are a few of my photographs taken from a couple of separate days out with the camera two weeks ago.
March 2009 and The Fortunes do a mini tour of Prairie Land Canada, taking in Winnipeg, Regina, Moose Jaw, Edmonton and finally Calgary. It was cold , it was flat but it was invigorating. The band went down very well and every one wants us back. Here are a few photos of the landscape variety. All the personal ones can be found on the Fortunes Website.
Our Holiday this year of 2009 was spent in Dubai....too hot to actually enjoy sunbathing..so sightseeing was the order of the day...and many sights were seen,
This album contains only a fraction of many photos that were taken...I have chosen those that have a difference to them or some artistic merit. This naturally means that by and large they are objects and locations rather than posed snaps.
What a debacle. Having watched the semi final of the Champions League cup. Chelsea V Barcelona on Wednesday night I was moved enough to try and join in a TV "phone in" over the controversy that accompanied the occasion..
Well I guess the best team won or at least they deserved to because they were trying to at least. Chelsea's tactic of keeping Barcelona out at any costs over two legs almost paid off. But it ain't over 'til the fat lady picks the ball out of the back of the net..or something similar.
OK. Barcelona won on the away goals rule...but Chelsea were denied at least three penalty decisions in their favour by a referee who just proved to be incompetent on the night. If he had given just one of these Chelsea would have probably been going through to the final. Barcelona's goal in the second minute of injury time, ( and the only shot they had on target all night!!) means they go through. The ref's bad decisions also resulted in a Barcelona player being wrongly red carded and sent off..thus disqualifying him from playing in the final. That would have been the highlight of his footballing career. The replays proved how wrong the ref got things on each occasion. The Chelsea players were so disgusted that some of them let their cool go at the end of play and there were some very ugly scenes indeed. They were so incensed and being at the height of their passion and full of adrenalin you can understand it...The apres match review was dominated not by the game play analysis but concentrated on how badly the ref had been and how he had been the most influential person on the outcome of the game .. The night before we had a similar incident where the ref appeared on seeing the replay to have got it wrong again. Because of that Manchester United will have to do without Fletcher, one of their best players, in the final. So what's the solution?
Simple the way I see it. With so much money involved and so much at stake in these days why can't football go the way of Rugby, Tennis and Cricket and use modern technology to help make these difficult decisions. There are cameras everywhere at football matches nowadays and every angle is covered...so a slow motion action replay is all that would be required to see what really happens. This would help referees come to the correct decision more often and help appease the players. The argument that this would slow the game down holds no water for me. It's already slowed down with all the arguing and gesticulating at the referee after most incidents. Players wasting time feigning injury to help secure a free kick etc. A fourth referee, as they have in Rugby, is all that is required to help reach a correct verdict. To prevent this happening at every incident captains of each side would be allowed three occasions in each game to contest a referee's decision (as in Tennis). If the replay showed that someone dived rather than be tripped then the penalty would go the other way and visa versa. This would ensure that the captains would have to be very sure they had a legitimate case before calling for a second opinion. I would suggest that they allow this for contesting penalties, off sides, and carded tackles. The game is too fast these days for linesmen and referees to cope. Week after week we get the benefit of slow motion replays to prove how many times they get it wrong. So much so that it's almost becoming a surreal farce and a lottery as to how a decision will go. Added to that is the ever increasing tendency for players to dive in the hope of getting a reward or advantage. They know only too well that they can get away with it more often than not. The use of action-replays to spot this abuse of fair-play would help curb such cheating ways. Some players, like Ronaldo for example, gain a reputation for diving so that when there is a genuine case for being illegally tackled they are not given the benefit of the doubt. So things become even more absurd. To say using technology would undermine the influence of the referee is nonsense. They are getting less respect with each bad decision that is made. We, the public, get to see what really happened everytime...shouldn't we allow the referee the same privilege? Come on UEFA my solution would solve it all, and I might add, as in other sports, bring something new to the game that the spectators would actually come to appreciate.It seems to work fine at Wimbledon or Twickenham ..no problem.The punters love it and join in with the anticipation of seeing justice done..
And why the authorities won't allow video evidence to help with an appeal, as in Fletchers case, to vindicate him and allow him to go to the final, is beyond me and makes no sense. That's another issue of course..
Come on Ref you *%$£@!......That was a try in anyone's book.
As I remarked on an earlier post....sometimes it takes others to get you off your bum to go out and see the local sights and sounds. Easter time saw just such an event. We had friends staying via our Maltese Social Circle and naturally they wanted to see some local highlights. So with that in mind, Brian Ruth, Christina, Barbara and I set off for a day on Hadrian's Wall. I must confess I'd never been up close and touchy-feely with the wall before so It was a genuine new experience for me too. I took my camera along hoping to take some "moody shots" of this historic landmark, but as it was a bank holiday weekend it was difficult to avoid the crowds. I have put some of the pics into a new album. (Check it out on bottom of left hand column). I was surprised to discover that it's not just a simple matter of strolling up to and then along the wall. It's quite a strenuous hike, up hill and down dale and you need a good pair of walking boots and a full day to do it properly. The wall has stood there for 2000 years and I can see how it must have been very effective in keeping the picts out, but I wouldn't have wanted to have been a Roman soldier manning his post on the wall in the middle of a cold Northumberland winter. bbbbrrrr.This wall has years of history buried in its stones...if only it could speak.
April the 5th and it was time for another Jackson Browne Concert. This time at the Sage, Gateshead, which is proving to be a marvelous venue for musicians of Jackson's calibre, being big enough to make it work with a band but still retaining an intimate atmosphere with wonderful acoustics. The fact that Barbara, Ros, Joan and I went on the wrong night (I got the date wrong and we took our seats on Sunday when we had tickets for Monday..good job we didn't do it the other way around!!) only made the anticipation greater as I, for one, was looking forward to a fantastic concert by one of my best loved performers. So it was case of "deja vu" same time next day!
I have been listening and following Jackson's career since the release of his auspicious debut album in 1972 where the songs contained sang of the struggle with existence, the puzzles and riddles of romance, and the potential of the human spirit in a way I'd never heard before. In fact is was with listening to JB more than anyone that steered me away from the prog rock school that seemed so contrived, overblown,inconsequential and shallow in comparison with the emerging singer songwriters of the early 70s. These included the likes of Joni Mitchell,James Taylor and Randy Newman. Suddenly artists were speaking with a much more mature point of view and had taken their cue from Dylan. From the outset Jackson Browne took great pains to mold the lyrics with the music in such a way as to bring out the true confessional nature of the material.He seemed much wiser than his years writing such early gems as "These Days" which include the line.."Don't confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them" He was still in his teens when he wrote that.
His first few albums continued in a similar vein, writing songs of retrospection and in 1974 he released what many still view as his master work. "Late For The Sky". This also remains my favorite. It was a very ambitious and densely allegorical piece of work containing big themed songs. As with all good work it stands up today along side anything anyone else has to offer. In fact I'd say it's still far above the level most attain. For those of you who want to bother...check out "Fountain OF Sorrow" as an example of his mastery with a lyric and how he can just put his finger on the thing you've been trying to say for years..
Also on this album was the mercurial playing of David Lindley, who was to become Jackson's mainstay as accompanying guitarist over the years. David's contribution to the songs adds wonderful texture and interplay resulting in a much richer experience and does so much to compliment the words and melody of Jackson's vocals. It's no wonder that Jackson has done so many tours just having David along to help out.
As his career started to take shape he veered away from the folky acoustic template and took a more Rock n Roll stance and became some what more extroverted. Surrounding himself with some of LA's finest musicians he released classic albums like "The Pretender" and still the strength was in his lyrics and astute melodic lines.. Later years saw him become more social and politically aware and pro-active with the likes of "MUSE" with the result that some of his material focused on the political rather than the personal. Yet albums like "I'm Alive" and " The Naked Ride Home" proved he has not lost touch with the soulful side of his songwriting as songs like "Sky Blue and Black" and "Too many Angels" bear testament. The musical palette he uses to embellish his songs has grown over the years too, ranging from the R+B mixture of Hammond Organ and funky rhythm section to world music, Reggae and out and out Rock.
I guess I've grown up with Jackson and as his experiences in life often (by the very fact that we are a similar age) reflect mine then his songs can also still speak to me. These days it would be harder for me to identify with some 20 year old singing about his/her lost love no matter how sincere it was. I doubt I could find much empathy.
I wasn't at all disappointed with Jackson's concert at the Sage... He did seem like he was on an other planet at times and struggled to find his way through the middle eight of one song, forgetting the words. However he has a nonchalant way of dealing with such occurrences and it passed by without any embarrassment felt. Someone told me he was suffering from a virus and was taking medication which was affecting his vitality. It's true, he did appear more laid back that usual, which is saying something..but, nevertheless,he delivered a wonderful mixture of songs spanning his entire career and I left knowing I had just witnessed and listened to a great artist and one of the best songwriters of the 20th century. He has that ability to tie the various strands of his repertoire, from the mystical language of the heart to matters of social and political concern, into a coherent whole. I just wished I could get to play in his band!!
Sometime since I last posted anything so some catching up to do. I've glanced down my calender and made note of a few highlights I'd like to keep on record.
Back in late March The Fortunes were performing with the Rockin Berries at Bedworth Civic hall. For those of you that don't know Bedworth lies just outside of Coventry to the north. Coventry being the home town of the band you'd expect to get a few friends coming along to see the show, however that night proved to be rather exceptional as faces popped up that I hadn't seen in maybe 25 years. It was great meeting friends from way back and catching up with things...some of them even managed to make their way back-stage (see pic). It was nice to see, Tony, Laura, Lol, Rog, to name but a few. I believe it was Lorraine who instigated the return of the "girls brigade". Nice one. It makes you realise just how time is flying by and that when it comes to my close friends from those early days I guess the truth is we've less to look forward to than to look back on. Heavy.