Archive for the Entertainment Category

The Fantascapes

Posted in Art, Entertainment, Music, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on August 23, 2008 by kevmoore

It’s been a while since I produced any new music, so I was pleased to help my partner, the French Artist Miki, when she asked for a short film and musical soundtrack to introduce her “Fantascape” series to the world. I love these particular art pieces that she’s created, so it was a joy to try and create a musical atmosphere to complement them.

I went for an ambient kind of percussion feel, with washes of ethereal-sounding keyboards, a mellow bass and some distant, cranked-up messy lead guitar to round it all off….Enjoy!

Kev Moore


Jess Roden – Beginnings -The Alan Bown Set

Posted in Entertainment, Music, Thoughts, Writing with tags , , , , , , on May 2, 2008 by kevmoore

There’s been a few mentions about the recent Alan Bown compilation featuring Jess recently, so I thought I’d do a small piece on it. Enjoy!

You probably have to be of a certain age to remember the English soul club scene of the 1960’s. but for those of us who discovered the mighty larynx of Jess Roden a few years down the line, as his solo career was flowering, the journey of discovery back in time is a rewarding one.

If you missed Jess’s debut on the London stages first time around, this well-packaged release on Sequel records should get the adrenaline flowing, and satisfy Roden completists.
Entitled The Alan Bown Set – Emergency 999, it gathers together the first 5 singles, complete with B sides, plus the rarity, “Jeu de Massacre” (the killing game) a bona-fide oddity written by Jaques Loussier and included on the soundtrack of the movie of the same name, which previewed at the Cannes film festival.

Boasting 21 tracks, this compliation also gives us rare demoes, and  a live set, originally released on the London swings-live at the Marquee club LP – a peculiar release that saw The Alan Bown Set  and Jimmy James get a side apiece!

Jess joined the Alan Bown Set  in time for their second single, and remained with them throughout their name change to The Alan Bown! -which signalled their metamorphosis from soul band to psychedelic pop outfit. This set contains the song “Mr.Job” , which signalled their new direction, but had never been released until now, though it proved to be a useful debut for Midlands band Jigsaw to launch their career.
It was the rise of the discotheques that eventually put paid to the popularity of soul bands like The Alan Bown Set.  Clubbers could now dance the night away in the company of Sam and Dave, and James Brown. For the Brits, it was a case of adapt or die, but the Summer of Love was never really going to be the answer to their prayers.

So if you want to immerse yourself in a steamy Marquee, or Flamingo and catch the buzz that was around in those early days, this CD is your time machine, come on in and listen to Jess’s youthful, vibrant soul, hinting at the catalogue of classic performances  that were ahead of him.

Kev Moore

First bass No.4 – Aria on a budget

Posted in Art, Bass guitars, Entertainment, Life, Music, Short Stories, Thoughts, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 28, 2008 by kevmoore

Kev is inevitably upstaged by the understated simplicity of the sleek black Aria

Somewhere in the North East of England, I’m guessing near Sunderland, I’m on stage, seemingly willing my bass to levitate. This picture is notable for several things. Firstly, note Simon Kay, Tubeless Hearts’ drummer, behind his highly collectable Ludwig Vistalite kit. He bought it with money he won at the Casino, and although he admittedly sold it so he could buy Phil Collins’ actual kit from the Genesis “Duke” album and tour, he was financially too embarrassed to hang on to this classic. Note also, my doomed John Birch from an earlier entry, now relegated to being propped up against the amp as a spare bass, and if you look really closely, you can see how I let some half-assed “luthier” (I use the word loosely)  install a Fender p-bass split pick up with a brushed aluminium plate, at the expense of the original John Birch pickup. What was I thinking? Obviously not a lot, as the John Birch soon left my hands in order to bolster my ailing bank account.

In retrospect, I suppose a guy who wears a sports headband in an ill-advised Dire Straits moment, and Aladdin Sane make-up 8 years after Bowie had discarded it is always going to be accused of bad judgement. So let this be a lesson to all of you…..

The bass around my neck, (if not actually in my hands) is an Aria Pro 2. I think the model is an 800b or something. It comes with a simple single pickup configuration, and a coil tap switch. it was quite simply, the heaviest b*stard in the world, and I’m pretty sure I can trace my recent visits to a chiropractor right back to this joker.
The upside was, I found it in a second-hand shop in Leeds  for 125 of your English pounds, in pristine condition, complete with hard case, and in fairness, it produced a lovely rich tone, which was not surprising, considering the wood had a density rivalling that of a white dwarf. (the star, not a small Caucasian person).

It became my constant companion for several years…

Next time; losing my head….

A Tale of two Cities

Posted in Entertainment, Life, Music, Short Stories, Thoughts, Travel, Writing with tags , , , , on April 28, 2008 by kevmoore

Last weekend presented me with a lightning tour of two of the U.K.’s most ancient and famous seaside towns, both situated on the singularly uninviting East Coast, their almost identical parades of sweet shops and slot machines standing defiant against the grey forbidding, seething mass that is the North Sea. The North Sea has been a graveyard for Vikings, intrepid fisherman, U boats et al, in equal measure. one does not bathe in it willingly. therefore people’s desire to holiday anywhere within its proximity is concept I find completely without merit.

Nevertheless, a deal is a deal, as they say, so I boarded my flight, and headed for Luton airport, there to be met by our lead guitarist, amiable Dane Michael Koch.Mike steals a trolley Our first port of call was Skegness, where the flatlands of Lincolnshire bravely kiss the North seashore, and usually receive a meteorological smack in the mouth for their impudence. This famous seaside town’s motto “Skegness is SO bracing” can be easily translated to mean “it’s so goddamn windy here, if you buy one of our stupidly inane “kiss me kwik” hats, you’d damn well better staple it to your head”. Clever marketing that. Tell the public that the weather is awful, but in a nice way. I didn’t buy it for a minute.

We were playing in a venue called The Skyline, which is best described as follows: Take about five large electricity pylons, and stick them in the ground at strange angles, then get one enormous white rubber sheet and stretch it over the whole shebang, making it look pointy and stuff. there you have it. Looks great. Acoustically good? Forget it. It’s like playing inside a giant tent. Come to think of it, it IS playing inside a giant tent.

Fortunately, we had Nathan, our hired sound engineer for the evening. With almost no time for a soundcheck, due to the fact that the management unhelpfully allow the place to be swarming with punters all day long, we feared the worst. But we needn’t have worried, everything was crystal clear, great monitor sounds, I could hear every syllable I uttered. I cannot over-emphasise the sheer unfettered joy when it comes together like this and your crew is as professional as the band. the guy on the desk has the power of life and death over you, whether you triumph or fail is ultimately in his hands. On this night, we all did our job, and we stormed it. One down, one to go!

I cannot, in all conscience however, leave Skegness without mentioning the management. The company that run these resorts is legendary for its unwillingness to “go the extra mile” for the bands that entertain its patrons. We were denied accommodation, and meals, told to go and eat where the holidaymakers eat. We were given a plate of sandwiches though…..

This “no room at the inn” policy resulted in us having to strip our backline and leave the gig immediately after the show and get on the road for the next jewel of the east coast; the surely ironically-named “Great” Yarmouth. This, after I’d been up since 5 a.m. U.K. time. So, after 21 hours, three long car journeys and a plane ride, my head finally hit the wafer thin pillow on the pelmet masquerading as a bed in our cozy caravan at Vauxhall Holiday Park. But I won’t have a word said against them, we were afforded TWO free nights accommodation, whilst performing only one. Are you listening, Skegness?

My frustration at missing The Blockheads show that evening was tempered by the knowledge that the following day would bring reunions with old friends from SAILOR and SMOKIE.

The morning surprised us with its clearly sunny intent, and morphed into the hottest day of the year so far. Mike and I, feeling particularly healthy, opted for a walk into town and breakfast in a greasy spoon cafe, where the knowledge of the walk back eased our guilt at the cholesterol-fest that was placed in front of us.

Mark and Pete opted for an exercise-free self-cooked cholesterol fest in the comfort of the caravan. Our “portakabin” residence was something of a dichotomy. Worth perhaps the equivalent of a bundle of firewood, it boasted state-of-the-art kitchen appliances, including a seriously expensive looking Aga-style cooking range. Given the fact that most of the punters were busy gorging themselves on fish and chips and hot dogs, culinary luxuries like this seemed a little excessive.

The afternoon brought the wonder that is the multi-band soundcheck, where everybody plugs in everything and plays at the same time. To be a sound engineer presiding over this cacophony must surely require patience of herculean proportions.

To add to the chaos, we all renew acquaintances and talk about old times instead of getting things done. I love it. Guitar lead in hand, I ignore my responsibilities, and ensure that Phil Pickett, of Sailor, does too, as we discuss the pros and cons of living abroad. Phil is responsible for the massive Culture Club hit “Karma Chameleon” and played on most of that band’s albums, after his own success with Sailor. Our conversation is fragmented as we struggle to do our jobs, and I move on to annoying Grant Serpell, their drummer, and a dear friend. He is more concerned with getting back home to tee-off the following day, and to this end is determined to borrow everybody else’s drums and not use his own. He is a master at this, and inevitably succeeds. I know this will lead to me searching for Pete’s drumstool at the end of the evening. I mention to Grant Miki’s passion for golf and her attempts to teach me. “Ah” he says in his cultured tones, “You need to read my golf self-help book” I look at him, puzzled. “it’s called How to play like a twat” he offers, helpfully.

Later that same evening, he accosts me as I leave the stage , resplendent in my new jacket that i had bought that very afternoon. “ah” he says “you’ve been reading my other book, How to DRESS like a twat.” I’ve missed these guys….

While Sailor invited the crowd to drink from their “Glass of champagne” I spent time backstage with Terry Uttley, original bass player with Smokie. We’d last got together in Essen years ago, and spent the whole aftershow in the hotel nightclub, emerging for breakfast at 6am. Needless to say, we were both taking it a little easier these days! Smokie’s second singer, Alan Barton was a friend and near-neighbour, when I used to live in Yorkshire, who tragically succumbed to injuries sustained in a motorway crash while travelling to a show we were due to perform together in Stuttgart. It became a tribute concert to him.

A chat with Terry is always good value, he has so many stories, ranging from his working in San Francisco with the legendary guitarist Pat Thrall, to playing in the Kremlin, summoned for a New Years Eve command performance by Vladimir Putin. One happy outcome of our chat is that I will be able to reconnect him with an old friend, the singer Peter Sarstedt, with whom he’d lost touch.

For our part, we played out of our skins for the second night in a row, and were blessed again by a great onstage sound, courtesy of another professional crew. These nameless people, frequently hairy, frequently unfeasibly large, and usually both, generally go unsung, but they are the glue that hold these shows together, they are the magicians that make your heroes really appear larger than life, and they deserve the thanks of both the audience and the artists.

We wandered out front to watch some of Smokie’s show, and of course BC Sweet and Smokie’s sets share a common bond, the songwriting genius of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Virtually every hit single both bands played that night were written by those two guys, an incredible achievement. A fitful sleep followed, as much a result of continued adrenaline levels as uncomfortable beds, but we were extremely satisfied with our job over two nights. It’s a constant challenge to step up to the plate and keep the standard high, usually against the odds, i.e. long flights, long waits, bad sound etc, but this week the pieces came together beautifully. Pete and I hit the road at 8 a.m. in order for me to get my fight from London Stansted back to Alicante, and with a rushed breakfast in the airport Starbucks to see me through the flight, I prepared to do it all again next week, only this time in Germany.

Text and photos by Kev Moore

First Bass no.3 – A Shapely Swede

Posted in Bass guitars, Entertainment, Life, Music, Thoughts, Travel, Writing with tags , , , , , , on April 23, 2008 by kevmoore

This is the only existing photo of my lovely Swedish-made Hagstrom semi-acoustic 4 string bass guitar. In sunburst with cream piping and a bridge and tailpiece, (the bass, not me) – I sit proudly cradling it by the swimming pool at “The Farm” in Spennymoor, County Durham, during the summer of 1981. The Farm was a musician’s dream, a retreat for travelling bands touring the North, it used to be a schoolhouse and boasted an outdoor pool and the legendary Rita who ran the place and provided us with enormous breakfasts. I’m sat with the two Trev’s; Midgley and Sargent, the guitarists from Tubeless Hearts original line-up. We are almost certainly working on “Telephone” – our first single, which would be released on Posh records some months later.

Kev cradles the Hagstrom

The Hagstrom is probably from the Concorde series, perhaps from around 1968, and they were popularly known as “The Viking Bass”. I bought it in Drammen, a small town in Norway just outside Oslo, whilst touring Scandinavia that previous winter.

The fate of this bass perfectly illustrates the plight of the perpetually cash-strapped musician, not to mention the ill-judged impetuosity of youth. These basses, quite rightly, are now highly sought after collector’s items, and I got rid of it because the more “80’s” bass I wanted wasn’t really affordable unless I did some selling. Stupid, stupid boy. I look at the photo now, and that beautiful bass sits there, nestled between my skinny legs, mocking me.

Kev Moore

Next time: second-hand, second thoughts….

First Bass…and then some! a personal history of my bass guitars through the decades

Posted in Entertainment, Life, Music, Thoughts, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2008 by kevmoore

Following a completely unrelated post on Cafe Crem, the subject of bass guitars arose, and it got me thinking about the many that have passed through my hands over the years. Sadly, not many have stayed with me, either through being strapped for cash or just plain stupid, or occasionally because they simply weren’t very good. I don’t have photos of me with all of them (which believe me, may be a blessing), but where possible, I’ll find a pic and post that instead.

So…the year was 1975. I’d had enough of the drums (and sitting at the back) I had been mightily inspired by Glenn Hughes’ vocal and bass performance on Deep Purple‘s “Burn” album from the previous year and, somewhat optimistically, I thought “I want to do that.”

Much to my parents horror, it wasn’t long before the kit was gone and a brand new shiny CMI copy of a Fender precision was in my sweaty little hand. The other hand held a weekly payment book from HFC Finance. My life as permanently in-debt muso had begun. No sooner had I plucked my first note, than I cashed in a life insurance policy and armed with the princely sum of 70 quid, bought a second-hand HH bass head. they lit up in the dark, man! I was becoming seriously rock’n’roll!

Fender precision A real Fender precision relaxing yesterday. not one of yer crap CMI copies like wot I had.

The drums became a distant memory as I gingerly set foot in the spotlight with my bass, playing covers with a local band called Spice. (with a girl singer- does that make her the original Spice girl?) Within weeks, I felt confident enough to realise this bass would soon outgrow its usefulness as a serious instrument. In a move that signaled further financial ruin, I traded it in for a brand new Shaftesbury Rickenbacker 4001 copy, upping the limit on my little payment book. This bass saw me through the formative years of bands such as Crosstown Traffic, (one of whose songs was to appear many years later on the Tubeless Hearts CD “Three” ), and crowd favourites and pub-punk rockers Midnight Express.

I always loved the Ricky shape and sound, especially after seeing pics of Glenn Hughes, the source of my original inspiration, playing one. It would be some time before I reconciled the Ricky look with something approaching quality, but that’s for the next instalment. For now, recoil in horror at the frightening image of me in full flow with Midnight Express at The Derbyshire Yeoman, now sadly a McDonalds (isn’t everywhere?) playing my shiny new ricky-copy.

Next time: hand crafted with more knobs than sense.….

Kev Moore with ricky copyKev sports a pre-Oasis monobrow…

Kev Moore

Leaving on a Jet Plane…Coach….Car… name it!

Posted in Entertainment, Family, Life, Music, Thoughts, Travel, Writing with tags , , , , on February 5, 2008 by kevmoore

BC Sweet 

That was a tough four days.  When you realise the time on stage in total is around 2 hours 45 minutes, you understand why Graham Oliver from Saxon refers to this as “the minor inconvenience”.  I left home around 3 pm on thursday, drove 2 hours to the airport, flew 2 and a half hours to Luton, spent two hours on a coach, spent an hour freezing to death in a Leicester bus station, spent another hour on a coach,  finally made it to Derby. 

Grabbed a few hours sleep, dropped my sister at work so I could use the car for the weekend, drove up to North Yorkshire (another 2 and a half hours in blizzard conditions) to arrive at the gig at around 5.30pm. Soundchecked, had dinner, went onstage 10pm.

Drove down to Wakefield (1 hour, sub-zero) got into hotel for the night. Managed to spend around 4 hours with my son on Saturday before driving South (1 hour) to rendezvous with the lads again for the second gig. Soundchecked at 6pm, onstage for two shows, 9.30 and 11pm.

Drove to Derby after the show (40 minutes) slept 5 hours, got a lift from my sister down to the Coach stop. Left Derby at 08.25am, arrived Milton Keynes coach depot (not nice) around 2 hours later, and spent a further 2 hours sat there waiting for a connceting bus, which eventually took me to Luton Airport for 1.20pm. An hour later, my flight should be leaving. It’s delayed by and hour. I eventually land in Murcia at 7pm, and proceed to drive 2 hours, arriving home around 9.30 pm.

Thats around 76 hours away, most of it on the road, to spend under 3 hours on stage.

Am I mad? Probably.

Kev Moore