I spent last Saturday at Exeter Yule Ball – a fantastic event Tom and I hadn’t been to before. It may take me some days to recover. With live music during the day and in the evening, it was a great opportunity to hear some new bands. I was deeply impressed by the sheer diversity of music.
I’ve been talking a lot about book industry issues in recent weeks, but things are no less tough in other creative industries. Music is given away online, the only way a performer can make a living is by touring (which is bloody hard work) and selling at gigs. It’s pretty much impossible to make a career by staying home and writing songs. Like most authors, most musicians will have a day job. If you love music, you need to support your musicians. Buy their albums, don’t just pick up youtube freebies.
New-to-me music I think you would like… links on the names for things you can check out. Gurdybird – folk electronica, hurdy-gurdy and pirate hat, great tunes, and also really good videos. Ideal for dancing to. The Wattingers – bass and harmonica. No, really. It shouldn’t work, and yet it does, but the bass (which you don’t get at all listening at home) is like a physical assault and I swear my bones will never be the same, having heard them. Totally startling, in a really good way. The Mysterious Freakshow – Fey Pink sings like every female goth vocalist I have ever loved with a bit of Kate Bush thrown in for good measure. Videos do no justice at all to her captivating stage presence, but go watch some anyway.
I’ve been following Miss Von Trapp online for some time now. She sings songs of murder and violence, or turns previously innocent songs into mayhem and blood baths. Accompanied by a cello. Really funny stuff. It turns out that in person she’s just as delightful, and has a truly amazing voice. You can check her out in this video in which she and Professor Elemental abuse a song and a reindeer… (I was there!)
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. Another group I’ve followed for years but had not seen live. Very much the punk side of Steampunk, lots of retro-politics that are all too relevant right now. An intense performance, brilliant songs, a mosh pit (from which I was absent) and my first proper encounter with a musical saw. This song is stuck in my head, and is one of my favourite things at the moment. Atheist issues with the supernatural. This house is not haunted – no god, no ghosts, no afterlife.
The end of the evening bought a set from Professor Elemental. I found him by accident, years ago when looking for an OBOD video on youtube, and have adored him ever since. Fantastic performance, not just funny, but an experience designed to lift people up, leaving us feeling better about ourselves and each other. A one man austerity antidote in a pith helmet. Part of the normal audience job is to look up in awe and be inspired to love the performer. I go to gigs expecting to love the performers. There are whole other levels to this for me with the good professor. Having worked with him to co-create a book, been a test reader for him, thrown works-in-progress of mine his way, introduced each other for nerdbong podcasts… he’s been important to me for a long time, both as his stage self and when not pithed-up. Seeing him over the weekend reminded me of just how much I love working with him, so I’m determined now to find some opportunity for a new collaboration.
And that previous joint project looks like this. Paperback and hardcover, with the lovely people at Snowbooks.