Thursday, 4 August 2011

Durham's Best Open Mic - 3/8/11

Have just got in from another pounding session at The Market Tavern, unquestionably the best open mic gig in town. Hosted by Honest Jack, there was a full bill of local luminaries on stage tonight: from Chris with his avant garde re-interpretations of the Zombies' back-catalogue to Nick G and his bulging songbook of Half Man Half Biscuit & Soft Boys covers. Fishburn Mafia were cooking with gas on a scorching version of 'Ziggy Stardust' and to close the night, it was those post-punk veterans, The Creme Brulee, who climaxed with a psychedelic raga-rock version of Echo & The Bunnymen's 'Do It Clean'. Outside the venue, DC's crisis kids roamed free on their skateboards; whilst inside, the white light/white heat of rock n'roll performance expressed people's resistance to the Coalition Junta. On a sweltering night in August, The Market Tav was the place to be.

Durham City Buskers' Night By Andy Warhol

Thanks to 'Andy' ( ) for this Warholisation of me and the barcode from a tin of tomato soup. I would like to point out that I may occasionally have a few beers before getting up to play but I rarely get totally canned.

Digital De Stael

I am currently embroiled in writing an article about the Russian artist Nicolas De Stael (1914-55). As part of my research, I've been re-imagining some of his pictures using graphics software. OK, this may lose the impasto effect of oils, but it is an interesting way to get to grips with his unusual use of form and colour. The image below is my version of De Stael's 'Fallen Leaves (Les Feuilles Mortes)' from 1951.

From The Durham Miners' Gala To The Houses Of Parliament

One of the highlights of this year's Miners' Gala was the rousing speech by Dennis Skinner, the MP for Bolsover. Despite the relentless rain, he soon had the audience worked up with a trenchant attack on David Cameron whom he memorably described as being 'educated beyond his intelligence'. I could have sworn that there was steam coming out of his ears by the end.

Only a few days later, I was watching the Westminster debate on the News International scandal when I was delighted to see the Beast Of Bolsover take centre stage again. Amidst the usual to and fro of debate, it was Skinner who asked the Prime Minister directly: 'Did you discuss the BSkyB bid in any of your meetings with News International?' Cameron looked as if he had been caught with his hand in the tuck shop till and could only reply: 'I had no improper meetings'. Needless to say, the Opposition benches fell about laughing at the pathetic inadequacy of his reply. This is actually a key issue in the whole affair and if it can be shown that Cameron agreed to help Murdoch control BSkyB in exchange for his support in the 2010 Election, then it's the end of the road for his wretched Tea Party Tory Government and their Quisling Lib Dem collaborators.

By strange coincidence, I am writing this listening to the acid folk classic 'On The Shore' by The Trees. Suddenly the song 'Murdoch' has come on, with the lyric 'Murdoch tempted me...' This must be a sign! Thanks to Chris ( ) for this Gala pic of a miners' lodge banner on the way back from the speeches. Note how they are manfully resisting the urge to have a few in The Dun Cow.