No Off Switch

“You’ll have to excuse me, I haven’t been myself since Jason Orange told us all he was leaving Take That” were the opening words to the One Man Show of one of my broadcasting heroes, Andy Kershaw. The show is essentially a live version of his excellent memoir “No Off Switch” – the only book I’ve ever read the mentions both General Pinochet and Willie Nelson and on the same page at that.

Little did I Imagine that as a regular listener to his Radio 1 and Radio 3 programs in the Nineties and Noughties, I would, years later end up meeting the man himself and becoming quite pally with him too.

He does indeed have absolutely “No Off Switch”. The show was 3 hours long (albeit at a very quick pace and with an interval) and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with as varied and as adventurous a life as he has had and is still having. In these three hours we started in his home town of Rochdale, then we took in Leeds University, The BBC Studios for Whistle test, Room 318 at Egton House and a shambles of an office with John peel and John Walters, then through to Live Aid, and this was just part 1!!

In part 2, we were taken all over the world. We stopped off at Zimbabwe, Haiti, The USA, Mali and North Korea. The last in that list, I learned, are quite possibly the only nation that would produce a pop song that would make reference to a bayonet!!

One is often encouraged never to meet one’s heroes. Well, I’ve not only met but been welcomed with open arms by one of mine. I’ve been treated like a friend since I first met Mr Kershaw. He’s been everything I hoped he would be and more. His show is a must see and his book an essential read.

Two days later, I saw the first of what I hope will be many gigs at the new Fargo Village project in Coventry. The first of the two acts were newcomers to me. They were an instrumental band called “Beta Club” and at it’s best, their music bore some resemblance to the more interesting and tuneful moments of Santana and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. I hesitate to call it “chill out” music but it certainly had a very relaxed feel to it and I shall be interested to see how they progress.

The headliners that night were the mighty Charles Dexter Ward and the Imagineers, who are, quite possibly, the greatest live band operating in the city as we speak. Always menacing, exciting and energetic, the CDW sound can be compared best to the classic heavy metallurgists of the early 70s such as Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and most of all to Black Sabbath. A new album from those guys is imminent and I can’t wait to hear it. You really should go and see them as they will “take your misery, and make it disappear.”

Finally for this instalment, we come to the monthly event at The Nursery Tavern organized as always by the ever reliable Elaine Tierney.

First on there was a singer/songwriter originally from South Africa named Abigail Ornellas. The highlight of her set was undoubtedly a highly imaginative cover version of the Grease classic “You’re The One That I Want!!” The rest consisted of her own material and while she has a lovely voice and while it was perfectly pleasant, there wasn’t a great deal that set her apart from any other singer/songwriters (of which these days there are a great many), but it was a very nice set.

Secondly we had the a capella vocal duo “Medieval Boyz” who were intriguing, fun and fabulous. Their wide ranging set included a Gregorian chant and song about new oysters written by one Thomas Ravenscroft (not the 6 music DJ of that name I suspect).

Headlining that evening, I thoroughly enjoyed “He is a Pegasus” which is the nom-de-plume of local musician and singer David Butler. I can best describe David as a slight and slender man with a big big voice. His own material was powerful and reminded one of elements of Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and Anthony Hegarty. His set highlight however was his take on the old spiritual “John The Revelator” (made famous by Son House) on which he accompanied himself on percussion. The only drawback of said evening was the absence of “Delightful Young Mothers”, one of the many aliases of local accordionist Matthew Campbell who had to pull out due to illness. Do get to see him live if you can. He plays regularly and is always a treat.

See you next month I hope, for Devon Sproule, Dr John and the Night Trippers and Tamikrest among others..


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