Tent Pegging

Went to the latest Acoustica evening at the Guildhall on Friday, where Vijay Kishore was returning for the second time. I wrote about the previous time I saw him here. He was pretty good, though, to be honest, he was pretty much the same as last time I saw him. I dunno if I’ve grown older and fussier in the past couple of years but although his voice still sounded out of this world at times, the songs didn’t sound as strong this time and the whole performance lacked some of the lustre of the previous time.

I do remember, though, that the last time I wrote about Vijay, his manager suggested firmly that no, I couldn’t post any mp3 here, but I could embed a video from YouTube. Well at the time I hadn’t quite figured out how to do this, but hey, I have now.

So I will:

I do also have something else that I’ve stumbled upon whilst trawling through a couple of different labels…

Steven R Smith / Hala Strana

Hala Strana is the stage name of one Steven R Smith, an American musician who apparently played in “fabled” (or was it “legendary”?) space rock band Mirza. (No, me neither…) I don’t really know a whole lot about him than this and what you can read for yourself on Wikipedia etc. (I do like the sound of a fretted spike fiddle, though…)

Anyway, Smith produces these dark (very dark) guitar pieces that are heavily influenced by Eastern European style. Lots of strings and bows over the top of some pretty distorted guitar work, and I have really developed a taste for it. The songs I’ve heard remind me a bit of the Velvet Underground but also have made me think back to those tracks by Ignatz that I became rather hooked on a few months ago.

There are tracks available at both Emperor Jones and at Soft Abuse, two terrific little labels that I need to return to, both of which offer some great downloads. I’m posting the three strongest ones here but there are more tracks available. You can also buy at least two of the albums on Emusic (here and here).

Streets of Raised Platforms – Hala Strana

Tent-Pegging – Steven R Smith

Blood Partridges – Steven R Smith

Thoroughly melancholic stuff…

I’m just not quite over you.

Back at school now, and therefore, posts are going to be a little thin on the ground for a while. I’m kinda disappointed it’s taken me so long to get this one actually, because we had a really good evening last weekend at this month’s Acoustica.

Vijay Kishore

Didn’t much fancy Celtish, the main band (as ever), but the support act for the evening was a feller called Vijay Kishore who I’d heard was a bit special, but had missed the previous time he’d come to Gloucester.

He looked pretty unassuming, just him and a guitar, (which is always a bit of a barrier for me as you may have worked out, by now. Give me mandolins, loopers and pedal steel washboards!). But what he does have is this quite amazing, haunting voice that you really need to hear to believe. The comparisons with Tim Buckley are obvious, but we also thought his voice sounded a little like Ryan Adams (without the obvious unpleasantness and falling over).

But to be fair, he’s got an awful lot more to him than just this voice. His playing was quite interesting and the songs themselves were strong. And what I really liked about him was the way he didn’t bolster up substandard stuff with any kind of vocal contortions. He used his voice pretty sparingly at times, to be honest, and could even have gone for it a bit more. But that’s a good thing.

I can’t claim to have any talent in predicting the next big thing, but surely, if there was any justice in this ol’ world, Vijay Kishore would be it. And I couldn’t help asking myself why on earth the rest of the Blog universe is not collectively looking for a change of underwear. I mean, Jose Gonzalez…

Any way, having jumped ship on Celtish pretty early, we happened to see Vijay in the bar afterwards with a black guy who looked a lot like Curtis Mayfield (I don’t mean he was in a wheelchair, he just had the whole Superfly thing going on, if you can imagine it). Turns out this was Dave, his road manager, who let me know that although Vijay doesn’t have any legal downloads available, there is a rather nice YouTube performance that I can embed here.

Now if only I knew how to do this.

I’m on it, honestly…

The Jake Flowers Scandal

What I do have as an offering, however, is a couple of tracks from the beguilingly named Jake Flowers Scandal, who come from Shropshire and seem to be made up of a reformed folkie – Jake Flowers – on guitar and Ed Gauden on drums. They played a great set at Green Man, on the Green Man Café stage, making a welcome change from the sensitive types we’d had previously. I get the impression that this drums-and-guitar line up is a bit of a goer at the moment – I seem to have seen it a few times recently – and the Scandal, do it pretty well.
Jake has a Myspace page for his folkie guise, which is worth a visit, but these tracks are from his Scandal Myspace page – there are a couple of other tracks streamed there too.

It’s a good rough sound and it goes down well with good rough cider! (Let me tell you…)


The Rooster & the Shepherd