I perch on bridges and bellow, while dreaming only of thee

I think I may have mentioned that one of the main reasons for my starting this Blog was that I hoped by so doing I would be overwhelmed by free CDs, backstage passes and offers of sexual favours.

Whilst I shall remain tight-lipped over the latter (a gentleman never tells), I have to say that on the former hopes, the haul has been less than impressive (five CDs and an invite to an in-store performance a hundred miles away). I have racked my brains about this lack of success in the freeloading department and am forced to conclude I’m just not that good at it. I do a piece on a band then forget all about them (literally so in at least one case), I get my name on mailing lists and then somehow don’t get round to passing on the updates I get from them. It’s hopeless, really.

Anyway, this is all going to change. And I’m starting here…

The Handsome Family

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Loose Records (see!) have made a new download from Brett and Rennie Sparks available to all, free of charge. Here’s what Loose say…

“They have long considered their music to be Romantic in the 19th century sense of the word: full of an awed sense of emotion in the face of nature’s mysteries and this has never before been clearer than on their eighth album Honey Moon – a collection of songs written to celebrate their twentieth year of marriage. It is, according to Rennie, a love song to the world that takes place under bowed branches and deep within winding corn mazes. Lovers kiss in dripping wet caves and call to each other from trembling mountain peaks. They sigh on windy drawbridges and weep silver puddles in the street.”

It’s a charming little number about insect love, and it made me smile

Darling My Darling

I’ve put the track up here, (mainly to make use of the Yahoo Media Player thingie I’m trying out…), but really you should go to the Loose Site itself and snag it there.

Happy Anniversary to both.

But Mary you are with me now, all around me in the waves

My cherished iRiver H120 is broken and I am rather depressed about it. Its last will and testament was a frustratingly obscure Kurtz-like “ata error -32” My efforts to revive it have been rather cack-handed and have only made things worse – can’t even coax anything out of it now. Indeed if I was a surgeon, I get the feeling I’d be followed gleefully around by Lionel Hutz…

Anyway, I’ve replaced it with a rather cute plastic-y Zen V plus, which you can cram shedloads of music into but which won’t allow me to use my microphone – the jack won’t fit into it. So anyway, I ventured off to Bristol last night with Josie, to see Albuquerque’s most dysfunctional, armed only with the Zen’s built-in mic.

The Handsome Family

I like St George’s – there’s something defiantly middle-aged and middle-class about it, which obviously suits me fine these days. And what could be more middle-aged and middle-class than a picnic and champagne tent in the grounds of the old church. We didn’t get ourselves organised for that part, I’m afraid, which was just as well because predictably the weather didn’t play along (really windy and later rainy).

Brett and Rennie Sparks are The Handsome Family, a husband and wife team who augment their rather sparse sound as they feel they need it (but you know all this). Last night they employed a guitar/fiddle player and a drummer for their selection, and also played two sets with an interval in-between (during which the Champagne was rather forlornly declared closed “due to adverse weather conditions”).

I enjoyed their songs, full as they were with skulls and snakes, grizzlies and airports, and I liked the way they switched around the instrumentation a little – a pedal steel here, a melodica there.

They’re also known for their between-song banter, which was genuinely charming and witty. On the subject of their upcoming twentieth weeding anniversary, Rennie informed us that she’d been sold to Brett by her family when she was six. “They told me she could sew” was the response from the other side of the stage…

All in all, it was a really good show, and ironically (given that there had been lengthy discussion from the front about ionisation, lightning rods and UFOs) our ride home was accompanied all the way by a suitably Night of the Hunter-ish freak storm.

I made a few recordings. To be honest, they’re not as good as I’d like, but they’re kind of OK. Unfortunately, the spoken intros and chat are not really audible, which was a shame.

After we Shot the Grizzly (Live, at St George’s)

Amelia Earhart vs the Dancing Bear (Live, at St George’s)

Weightless Again (Live, at St George’s)

There are a few downloads available, none from their site, I’m afraid, (“Sometimes I can’t even dress myself”), but the site does direct you here, where you can fill your boots…