Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cate le Bon/Euros Childs at Cafe Europa

We arrived late at Cafe Europa after attending a faith healing session in Roath (don't ask). By this time the miniscule venue was already packed to the rafters so they wouldn't allow us in. Instead we had to make do with sitting on the pavement outside listening to Cate le Bon's dulcet tones emanating from within.

This was no hardship. For once the evening weather was warm and balmy as we sipped beers purchased from the shop next door. Very pleasant indeed and a marvellous view of the castle to boot.

Also outside was Euros Childs who looked pale, thin and pensive. He was due on stage shortly. I told him I'd just seen a miracle in an obscure Cardiff church where a woman with a bad back was cured of her pains by the power of prayer. He didn't seem too impressed by my faith healing anecdote.

Meanwhile Cate le Bon was going down a storm inside: No One Can Drag Me Down and O Am Gariad had the sardine-packed punters whooping with delight. Her alt-folk songs combine gorgeous melodies with just the right amount of lyrical darkness. If her Cafe Europa set is anything to go by then her soon-to-be-released album Pet Deaths will be a real treat.

As the crowd spilled outside for some much needed fresh air I managed to sneak in.

Once everyone had resumed their seats Euros Childs and collaborator Peter Richardson arrived on stage. Overcoming some initial nervousness they quickly found their feet playing choice cuts from Chops and Bore Da. Highlights included Sandalau which reminded us that summer is actually here and First Time I Saw You which must surely rank as one of his greatest tunes.

Childs also previewed songs from his forthcoming album The Miracle Inn. These included new single Horse Riding and a ditty about being cooler than a fridge. Or something like that. Anyway it was an enjoyable, informal performance by Childs and Richardson that left - after an encore - the Cafe Europa crowd sated.

Now, about this faith healer....

*Picture courtesy of Maciej Dakowicz who like the consummate professional that he is arrived there on time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Welsh-language Guinness Advert

Modern day Guinness adverts are celebrated for their combination of quirkiness and sophistication. This altogether simpler variant is from the summer of 1954 and is in Welsh. Basically it says: "Nice day for a Guinness" and "Have you had your Guinness today?".

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Priory for Wales

Although it pains me to mention the royal family on this blog I do really like this Cardiff Times newspaper photograph.

It was taken in 1933 and shows Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in the Lord Mayor's Parlour at the City Hall, Cardiff. He's in the star gown on the far left.

He was attending some function of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem Priory for Wales. The organisation had a branch in Cardiff of which Edward was Grand Prior. Although an entirely reputable body in every photograph I've seen of them they appear incredibly masonic. The above picture is no exception and the words "funny" "handshake" and "brigade" immediately spring to mind.

Incidentally 1933 was a significant year for Edward. His friendship with American socialite Wallis Simpson was blossoming into a sexual relationship that would eventually lead to the abdication crisis of 1936.

1933 was also the year Hitler came to power in Germany and it's worth remembering Edward was a Nazi sympathiser. Some interesting moustaches in this picture too, I notice.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Paradise Garej

Those crazy artistic types over at Garej are launching a new exhibition this Friday (20th July). Entitled Oil Change it features work by Dafydd Fortt, Alan Rees-Baynes, Kim Fielding, Phil Babot, Al Simkins and the always interesting Andy Fung.

We're promised wall paintings, video art, photographic art and live art. And there's even some live music too. So if you're in downtown Cardiff this Friday why not pop down. And if you're one of those people that gets apoplectic with rage about this sort thing feel free to go along and say: "Pah! My three year old could do better than that!"

The whole shebang starts at a very civilised 6pm. Garej is situated at 138A Kings Road, Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9DF. See you there.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lee Dorsey Riot

The dance was billed as a "fantastic all star soul together". It was intended as a celebration of black music featuring contemporary soul acts. Instead it turned into a night of teen carnage.

On the bill at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, in 1968 was American "King of Soul" Lee Dorsey best known for his hit Working in the Coal Mine. Also scheduled to appear were The Drifters, William Bell, The Quotations, Carlo Thomas, Funky Fever and The Power.

Tickets for the dance cost 10 shillings. The show was meant to last from 8pm - 1am but unfortunately the event quickly descended into chaotic violence as youth gangs from Cardiff and Aberdare slugged it out on the dancefloor. The teenagers appeared to be far more interested in knocking seven bells out of each than dancing.

Attempts were made to stop the fighting but before midnight organisers simply gave up and pulled the plug. The music ceased and the lights went up. Soul star Lee Dorsey didn't even get the opportunity to perform. Promoter Roy Tempest was disappointed but how could the show continue when there was a riot going on in the hall?

After the gig officials at Sophia Gardens Pavillion decided to call a halt on holding dances at their venue. They'd just forked out £6,000 on a makeover for the building and didn't want to run the risk of further destruction.

Such incidents were nothing new in Wales during this era - in fact organised teenage violence was rife. In particular dances held in the south Wales Valleys were regularly marred by fighting. An infamous Them gig in Maesteg in 1966 had to be curtailed as rival gangs fought it out in front of Van Morrison and co. And in Caerphilly in 1966 there was a full-scale riot involving 300 people when local youths took on their peers from Cardiff.

Kellemarie - The Bare Facts

Welsh model/porn star Kellemarie was recently the centre of much internet attention when she appeared in a YouTube video for Good Magazine.

Good Magazine is part of a growing trend in north American magazine publishing in that it is both ethical and subversive in outlook. Another publication of this ilk is the excellent and well established culture jamming phenomenon Adbusters.

Anyway, for the YouTube footage Kellemarie does a seductive striptease. However every time an area of flesh is revealed we observe something inked onto her skin. Close-ups reveal that each snippet of text is a statistic concerning internet porn.

We learn for example that: sex is the most searched word on the internet; 12% of all websites are pornographic; 25% of all search engine requests are pornographic; and that every second 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography. And so on.

Thus the cold statistical facts undermine the cheesy pornographic ambience of the video. It's rather clever. Ironically though when the video presentation went online it sent a huge wave of internet traffic to Kellemarie's porn blog, making it one of the most viewed blogs on the internet!

Nice to see the Cardiff sex-bomb causing such a cultural stir. If you want to see what all the fuss was about click here.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Thunderclap Jones

Morgan "Thunderclap" Jones was a piano player active on the British rock'n'roll circuit in the late '50s and early '60s. He was notorious for his live shows during which he would do a striptease. Off would come his jacket and bow tie; his shirt would be unbuttoned; and then he'd remove his shoes. It's worth noting that he weighed over 17 and a half stone.

I've seen one photograph of him in which he is standing at his keyboard sweat-drenched, his luxuriant quiff unravelling, with his exposed corpulent belly spilling over his trousers. It's quite a sight.

Jones originally hailed from Capel Isaf, Llanelli. A grammar school boy, he once won a music prize at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod. He spent a couple of years at Trinity College Carmarthen and went on to become a school teacher before giving it up to pursue his musical dreams.

In 1956 he secured a 3 year deal with Oriole Records and released his debut single Hurricane Boogie. With its hybrid of jazz and rock'n'roll styles it was dubbed: "the zaniest disc of the year" and Jones bizarrely labelled: "the Johnny Ray of the keyboards". He was also more accurately known as: "the Wild Welshman of the Keyboards". Appearances on television and further record releases followed.

In 1961 he co-wrote So What for Johnny Kidd and the Pirates which is regarded as one of the few genuinely great songs to come out of the British rock'n'roll scene during its heyday. Jones' thrilling piano solo on the record is its most distinctive feature.

A trawl of the internet reveals that Thunderclap was living above a guitar shop in Denmark Street, Soho, in the 1980s but after that the trail goes cold. Any additional information on the intriguing Morgan Jones would be much appreciated.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Charlotte Greig - Book Launch

Cardiff-based writer (and folk singer) Charlotte Greig will be launching her latest book A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy this Friday. Here's the blurb for the novel:

Susannah Jones' official boyfriend Jason is the perfect foil to her student lifestyle. He is ten years older and an antique dealer, so she doesn't have to live in the seedy digs her friends do. Then when she is on campus she can take philosophy very seriously and dabble in the social and sexual freedom of 1970s Sussex University. In fact, it was philosophy that led her to the sex: Rob, with whom she is having an affair, is her tutorial partner. Then she discovers things are even more complicated than she thought and, forced to look beyond her friends and lovers for support, finds help from Kierkegaard and other European philosophers. "The Women's Room" meets Friedrich Nietzsche in this bittersweet coming of age novel, in which love is far from platonic and the mind-body problem a pressing reality.

Is it a retrospective campus novel? Is it a female version of The History Man? Is it thinly disguised autobiography? Is it none of these things? Why not take the opportunity to grill the author yourself on Friday, July 6, at Kemi’s Cafe, Craft in the Bay, Cardiff - 6pm-9pm. (free)

In the meantime you can read an Independent on Sunday interview with Charlotte Greig in which she discusses the background to A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy here.