Whirring little spinners that tickled the rough of my hands…

Well, it’s been an interesting week, involving quite a lot of work, a broken elbow and a trip to Thekla.

Which would you like to hear about? I thought so…

Avi Buffalo @ Thekla

The aforementioned elbow, with arm in sling, meant I was feeling a bit ginger as Martin and I made our way below deck and bought drinks. We were met with the sight of Master Buffalo himself manning his own merch stall, which is kinda stirring when it’s the likes of David Gedge or Laura Cantrell, but even more charming here, when it became clear that, although I see Avi Buffalo as a bit of a star, he clearly doesn’t.

We chatted and when Martin mentioned that we’d seen him play at Green Man and that I’d recorded it, he seemed keen to hear it and gave me his email address. Altogether charming and one of a long line of Polite Americans, we seem to meet.

Support acts were …OK-ish, though I’ll not be rushing to see Admiral Fallow at Green Man this summer, all a bit folk-by-numbers, nothing particularly interesting or different there. (Plus, they took an age to set up. Unforgiveable). The first band, Tripwires fromReading, were certainly derivative (UK shoegaze etc) but far more engaging and seemed to have a song or two up their sleeves. I quite enjoyed their set.

Avi Buffalo shambled on at about 9:45, looking laid back and casual, and I believe sporting something of a new line up sinceGreenMan.He had mentioned a new guitarist, George and a bassist, Barbara who I have to say was excellent. Starting the evening with the new single, How Come? and moving through a mixture of old and new material , he went on to play a pretty unpredictable set, some of it brilliant and some of it, well,  less so.

He didn’t appear to have a setlist, making decisions on the spur of the moment. He introduced one song with a less than promising “So, I’ve been doing a lot of coke lately.” and hurtled off on another tangent, dragging his poor band off with him. They looked to be struggling at times…

I thought the best performances were some of the (really strong) songs from his old record, although he did seem to be tiring of some of them and was looking for ways to freshen them up (not always successfully).

At the time, I wasn’t impressed with the new material, but on further listens, it’s actually growing on me pretty strongly. I reckon he’s been listening to a fair amount of Arthur Lee, and probably some Zappa or Beefheart too. I do reckon it needs a bit of tightening up, though but that’s OK, I don’t think the new record’s due until Autumn.

Having said all this, the hits outnumbered the misses – the man is obviously dripping with ideas, and the talent to match them. His song writing is interesting, his guitar technique by turns delicate and ungainly and his reedy vocals still spellbinding. I still love him, and I’m hopeful that his second album will be a worthy cohort to the best record of last year.

I made some recordings which have largely come out OK, and I’m posting some of my favourite tracks. There’s more if anyone’s interested.

Five Little Sluts

Weatherman Says

Won’t be around no more

How Come?

A wise man said to me, don’t underrate simplicity

It’s pouring down. I mean … throwing it down, biblical proportions.

We’re on the coach back from Bristol. I’m thinking of what I have to do tonight and what I have to get done for tomorrow…

The woman sat in the seat next to me is large and seems to want half my seat. She is reading a copy of A Bit on the Side and smells of beans.

Ah, Saturday night…

Lou Rhodes

Newsflash: Thekla is still as cool as it was last week. And although I’ve seen a noisy gig there, I’m now convinced that it is even better suited to quieter acoustic evenings. Again the sound was excellent and having gone up to the balcony this time (in reality only a vantage point of about ten feet) the set up and general vibe (there’s a good muso word for you) was even better.

Didn’t know a whole lot about Lou Rhodes before last night (ex singer with Lamb, apparently, not that I’m much clearer after finding that out, either) but we’d carved out a weekend away and were keen to see some music. Got hold of her first record and, consummate professional that I am, did my homework – turns out Beloved One is an album I can easily endorse with a clear conscience.

She’s a frail looking thing but has a clear and striking voice well suited to an evening of delicate songs accompanied carefully by a classic Nick Drake-style format of cello and double bass. Occasionally the pace of her songs got a bit same-y, but the short attention span of this punter was well catered for by the way the arrangements changed from song to song, with the cellist moving to glockenspiel and the double bass player switching to an acoustic bass.

At one point, she introduced one of her songs by saying that if you were one of those people who were too cool to arrive in time for the support act, you’d have missed a real treat. Well (astonishingly) we were one those too cool people and did miss the support, who turned out to have been John Smith.

I’ve seen and written about John before (here) – he was the best part of our ill-fated Davy Graham evening a couple of years ago – and so I was disappointed to have missed him, but fortunately he was called on to play with Lou Rhodes for one of her songs. He’s an astonishing player.

The evening was over rather too soon, but I did manage to make these recordings of the set. (Don’t know the actual name of the fifth track, I’m afraid…)

Janey

There for the Taking

Tremble

Each Moment New

Circles

As well as this, there is currently a free download (available here) which I would recommend you getting hold of too.

A beautiful and engaging singer.