The 12 dads of Christmas

When Ben (aka The Fool) contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking if I’d be part of a video project he was embarking on, I agreed in an instant, without knowing what was involved. Only after I’d signed up did he reveal that the video I’d to produce involved singing. Hmmmmm… not my strongest talent, but by this time I was signed up – what could I do?

Of course I’ve been found exercising my vocal chords on YouTube before; sadly, though, my rousing rendition of Flower of Scotland (before a match at Hampden) is no longer available, or I’d have it linked here. No, really!

Anyhow, Ben’s idea was to get 12 dads singing The 12 Days of Christmas. Each of us were given a different verse to sing, and a deadline to get our video back to Ben. Easy peasy. I waited until our tree was up, just to give proceedings a festive backdrop, and then in literally 4 takes it was done. How professional!

The final result is (hopefully) embedded below for your amusement and delight. I’m absolutely thrilled with the result, as was Heather when she spotted me on YouTube. Imagine – Daddy appearing on her beloved YouTube. I think a small part of her mind might actually have been blown.

My only criticism of the whole thing is aimed squarely at myself. Next time I’ll make sure to have a light or two on, so I can actually be seen – the shadowy air of mystery I’ve ended up with wasn’t intentional!

Now, all we have to do is sit back and wait for Mr Cowell’s call, for fame and fortune surely beckon?

You can read Ben’s blog post about the project, including a list of everyone involved, here. Thanks to Ben and all the other dads for creating something truly… special :)

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Music was my first love

Things have been pretty quiet round here of late, I think I’m lucky if I’ve managed one post in the past month. I blame the Olympics… well, that and training for a 10k that’s now only two weeks away – eek!

So as an attempt at getting back in the habit I’m shamelessly stealing borrowing an idea from Last Year’s Girl, and joining in with the Guardian’s Six Songs of Me project. The idea is as follows: they give you six prompts, you pick a song for each one. How could I resist?

You can see my picks here, and if you’re a Spotify user you can listen to them too. If you want to know why I picked the songs I did, read on…

The first song you ever bought
Los Lobos – La Bamba
I didn’t like much “modern” music when I was young, preferring to explore my dad’s record collection. At age 11 I finally caught up with the 80s and bought my first record… a cover of a song from the 50s! True story: I’d have taped this off the radio, except they always cut off the guitar bit at the end, which irritated me beyond belief.

The song that gets you dancing
Stevie Wonder – Superstition
In the mid to late 90s I spent a lot of time in Fury Murray’s. And if this didn’t get played at least once, it wasn’t a good night out!

The song that takes you back to your childhood
Elvis Presley – Blue Suede Shoes
A highlight of my dad’s aforementioned record collection, I think this was probably the first song I knew all the words to. Even though I had no idea what “drink my liquor from an old fruit jar” actually meant.

Your perfect love song
Beach Boys – God Only Knows
Paul McCartney once described this as the most beautiful song he’d ever heard, and who am I to disagree? I remember playing this to Gem one night, saying it was from me to her. I think the opening line, “I may not always love you”, threw her a bit, but she soon got the real message, and I think she had shed a tear or two by the end.

The song you’ll have played at your funeral
Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter
No-one really knows what this song is really about, so mumbled are the lyrics. And that includes Pearl Jam themselves! But it’s their most consistent set closer, which seems apt, and it’s got a fantastic Mike McCready outro to boot. Perfect.

Encore – one more song that made you you
Manic Street Preachers – Faster
I think I’ve seen the Manics more than any other band, so they had to figure here somewhere. It was a toss up between this and La Tristesse Durera, but I was listening to The Holy Bible when I filled the thing in.

So that’s the six songs of me – what are yours?

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

I took my pennies to the market square

I mentioned last week how between us me and Heather had concocted a fishing game, using a bit of ribbon and a Snow White figure. I still don’t really understand her contribution, that the fish has to be asleep before it can be caught, but then I’m not three years old – maybe I’m not supposed to understand?

Yesterday she came up with another game, based on the AA Milne poem “Market Square”. I say game, it’s really role play I guess, but whatever you want to call it, it’s amusing. What it involves is Heather holding some coins (she found some on my bedside table this morning, including one that came back from Sweden with me) and saying she is going with them to the Market Square. When she gets there, she asks if I have any rabbits, and when I say no, she asks what I do have. Which is one of sweet lavender, fresh mackerel or new saucepans. But she doesn’t want any of those, she wants a rabbit. And I don’t have any of those. So she goes away “disappointed”. Every time.

If you’re not familiar with the poem this probably doesn’t make much sense. I’d have been in the same boat until fairly recently, until I came across Chris T-T’s excellent “Disobedience” album in fact. It’s a collection of AA Milne poems set to music, which was performed at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and then at various shows around the country. Every track is brilliant, and even better, I discovered we’ve got all the lyrics at home, in the form of a Winnie the Pooh collection that includes the books the poems are taken from.

I tried reading from the book one night at bedtime and it seemed to go down well. So much so, in fact, that Heather’s asked for it the last couple of times I put her to bed. Tonight it was a late substitute, mind you, but it replaced the Gruffalo, and if that isn’t high praise then I don’t know what is.

I’m pleased to report that she seems to like my favourite of the poems, Binker, although I think Market Square is Heather’s favourite. It’s certainly the only one she’s made a game out of, although I guess there’s plenty of time for the others to be gamefied yet!

You can hear – and buy – Chris T-T’s “Disobedience” on his Bandcamp page. The whole album really is excellent, but I’d especially recommend Binker, which would bring a tear to a glass eye. And Market Square, of course.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

The song just keeps on repeatin’, drop the needle again

It seems like every time I post something here I’m apologising for the lack of recent activity, and saying it’s going to be different from this point onwards. And this time is no different – it’s almost two months since I wrote anything of my own (borrowing someone else’s press release doesn’t count, does it?).

Now, it has been a busy couple of months, with birthdays, christenings and anniversaries, not to mention two bouts of chickenpox and numerous sniffles. But with two pre-schoolers in the house pretty much EVERY month is busy, or at least feels like it. Plus, they’re not around when I update the blog (at work), so I can’t really blame them. And all of that stuff should really be fuel for writing, not something that gets in the way. Maybe a catch-up post is in order…

But not today. Today I’m talking music, specifically a few things that have excited me in one way or another recently. So, in no particular order…

The Gaslight Anthem – 45

The first release from The Gaslight Anthem’s upcoming album has been on repeat since I first heard it last night. Gem reckons it sounds exactly like a Gaslight Anthem song, and that’s no bad thing. But it sounds like a progression to me – like Brian Fallon and co. have managed to combine the more grown-up sound of their last album with their earlier punk rock sentiments. Hopefully the rest of the album (due for release on July 24) lives up to the promise of this track.

Eddie Vedder – Skipping

This song is simply beautiful, and the sentiment sums up exactly how I feel about being Daddy to my two girls. Shame the charity album it’s featured on – Every Mother Counts 2012 – will only be available in the US and Canada :(

Listen: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/exclusive-stream-eddie-vedders-mellow-solo-tune-skipping-20120430

She Makes War – Little Battles

She Makes War is Laura Kidd, a London-based “multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and digital polymath” who we saw supporting the wonderful Chris T-T at the weekend. Gem was so impressed she snapped up both SMW albums from the merchandise stall. And since Gem almost never gets into things on first listen, you know this is good. I haven’t heard this enough yet to pick out any favourite tracks, so why not listen for yourself here:

Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made the Radio

I got quite excited last year, when I heard the surviving original Beach Boys were reuniting for a 50th anniversary album and tour. But the tour isn’t coming to the UK, at least not this year. And if this first single is anything to go by, the album will probably be a disappointment too. There’s nothing wrong with it, as such, but I guess I was hoping for more than just a re-working of the surf n’ cars n’ girls stuff the band were recording when they actually were boys. 

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Better late than never…

About a month ago, I told my pal Lis I’d plug the shows she’s promoting once I’d written about a special little girl’s birthday. Due to illness (sniffles followed by chickenpox) said little girl has yet to have her first birthday party, and I’ve therefore not got round to writing about it. With the first of these gigs less than a week away, I guess its time to come good and shamelessly cut/paste Lis’s blurb.

I’ve never seen Jim Bob (or Carter USM), so can’t comment there. Chris T-T was great when I saw him in December, so I’m expecting similar this time around. I’ll be at both of these – see you there?

Chris T-T Sings JC to Sleep In Glasgow

Saturday, 28th April, 7pm // The Admiral, Glasgow

The iconoclastic Chris T-T will be back in Glasgow at the end of April to promote new EP The Taking of Clarkson’s Lighthouse, and YOU are invited!

On this solo headline tour, Chris will tell the tragic (made up) tale of a divisive genius TV presenter, a violent island uprising and the last surviving Fraggle. He will be joined by London-based DIY songwriter She Makes War, touring her excellent second album Little Battles on which Chris played piano.

Glasgow’s Lovers Turn To Monsters, also on the bill (and who I’ve been promising a gig for ages), might not be promoting a new album by April but – given his track record – probably will be.

This one is on Saturday, 28th April at The Admiral Bar. As you know I’m a massive fan of Chris’ work and I’m hoping this will be a really special night. Tickets are £6 and available from Eventbrite, where – as luck would have it! – there are still some tickets left for Jim Bob’s book tour in May.

More Chris T-T: http://christt.com/music/
More She Makes War: http://shemakeswar.com/
More Loves Turn To Monsters: http://loversturntomonsters.bandcamp.com/

Tickets available here: http://lastyearsclarksonsleep.eventbrite.co.uk/

Jim Bob: Driving Jarvis Ham (with Gordon McIntyre, 8-Bit Ninjas)

Sunday, 27th May, 7:30pm // The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow

Driving Jarvis Ham': new novel and live tour from Carter USM singer Jim Bob.

Following on from his critically acclaimed debut novel Storage Stories, Jim Bob’s second novel Driving Jarvis Ham is published by The Friday Project (Harper Collins) on May 10th.

The novel will be available in hardback, paperback and as an e-book. The limited edition hardback edition will have a link to a coded download EP with four all-new Jim Bob songs on. The EP is called “Day Job”.

Tonight Jim Bob will be performing songs from his back catalogue, both solo and Carter USM, and reading from the novel. Support comes from Gordon McIntyre (ballboy) and a first Scottish show from Walsall’s 8-Bit Ninjas

Here’s what Jim Bob’s publisher has to say about Driving Jarvis Ham:

A friend reflects on life with Jarvis Ham: tea-room assistant, diarist, lift-cadger. Princess Di fan, secret alcoholic, relentless seeker of fame, and all-round irritant.The novel is for anyone who has ever found themselves looking across at a childhood friend, and wondering why they still know them. Everyone here who has read Jim Bob’s book has pissed themselves laughing. It is very funny, but very, very dark. We look forward to unleashing Jim on the festivals and bookshops of our nation this summer.

More Jim Bob: http://www.jim-bob.co.uk/
More ballboy: http://www.ballboymusic.com/news/
More 8-bit Ninjas: http://8bitninjas.co.uk/wordpress/

Tickets available here: http://lastyearsjimbob.eventbrite.co.uk/

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!