Monday, May 28, 2012

Buddy Holly in Cardiff

Here’s a review from March, 1958, of Buddy Holly and the Crickets at the Capitol Theatre, Cardiff. It was the penultimate gig of their one and only UK tour. The short write-up is taken from a defunct newspaper of the time the Cardiff and Suburban News. They also gave an amusing monosyllabic interview to the South Wales Echo, completely confounding the journalist with their Texan accents. They may as well have come from Outer Space. Holly died tragically in a plane crash a year later – band members Jerry Allison and Joe Maudin were amongst his pallbearers.


If rowdyism, drive and down-to earth abandon are the ingredients necessary for success in the rock’n’roll field, then Buddy Holly and The Crickets are all set for a long and eventful run of popularity! They rocked their way through a tremendous, belting 25-minute act without letting up for one moment at the Capitol Theatre on Monday, and the audience shared their approval in no uncertain terms. Much of the trio’s success can be attributed to the fact that their “in person” sound is almost identical to the sound they produce on record. They generate a brand of contagious excitement that is irresistible. On Monday, they completely overpowered the 13-piece Ronnie Keene Orchestra in relation to the volume of sound produced and, at times, I felt that leader Holly’s guitar was badly over-amplified. Drummer Jerry Allison attacks his kit with murderous intent, but bassist Joe Maudin remains relatively calm, and looks rather miserable most of the time! But how these 3 boys manage to make such a big, big sound with their limited instrumentation still baffles me!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Katell Keineg - Platfform 0

Just a quick reminder that Katell Keineg has a single in Welsh entitled Platfform 0 available as a free download. The song was apparently penned in a Cardiff train station and recorded in New York for the Radio Free Song Club. To celebrate its release she will be performing a gig at Chapter Arts Centre on May 31. Over the years Keineg has played alongside the likes of Jeff Buckley and collaborated with such luminaries as Iggy Pop and Allen Ginsberg. Her last album At the Mermaid Parade was an absolute belter, winning much critical acclaim. The well-travelled singer-songwriter has built up a reputation as an excellent live performer so if you are in the Cardiff area don’t miss this golden opportunity to see her in action.

*Katell Keineg will be at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, on Thursday 31st May. Gig starts at 8pm and tickets are £6.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Patricia Highsmith - Literary Cat

Here’s a great picture of cool American writer Patricia Highsmith posing in front of the animal wall at Cardiff Castle in 1989. I wonder if there is any significance in her choosing the leopard? She was certainly an animal lover and famously said that she preferred their company to that of people. She even kept snails. An alcoholic, a lesbian and all round misanthrope she was often described as being “difficult”. In later life she developed an osteoporotic hump.

Why was she in Cardiff? Not sure. I know that some of her stories were filmed in the area during '89 so perhaps that is the reason. One of the stars of the televised series was Anthony Perkins. He got busted for sending himself cannabis through the post while staying at the Angel Hotel. I’ve mentioned his ill-fated stay in the city here.

Every Cardiffian has a favourite creature on the animal wall (mine's the anteater) but I think the leopard has now acquired extra hipster points. Anyway, next time you are in the vicinity of Cardiff Castle why not pay homage to one of the true bad ladies of literature by standing in front of the animal wall looking a bit grumpy.

*Photo ©Micheline Pelletier/Sygma/Corbis

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ivor Davies's Exploding Art

Ivor Davies, eminence grise of interesting Welsh art, is probably best known for being a mover and shaker at the Destruction in Art Symposium of 1966. There he worked with Yoko Ono and old chum Gustav Metzger, amongst others. Davies is often acknowledged as being the first person to systematically use explosives in art. His exploding collages had, of course, a transformational dimension but they also to some degree parodied military practices. As well as blowing stuff up during DIAS week he read a Destructivism Manifesto written especially for the event. Above you can see before and after images of one of his exploding artworks.

*Photo is ©Marvin Lichtner/Getty Images.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Wales

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a versatile performer: holy-roller, gospel singer, axe-woman. Her extraordinary life story was the subject of a recent BBC4 documentary which sought to re-evaluate her career and elevate her position to the status of godmother of rock’n’roll. Tharpe came to Wales in 1957 as part of a gruelling month-long UK tour with jazzer, Chris Barber, and his band. She did 20 shows, travelling from gig to gig on a coach. Her first Welsh stop was the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, followed by a performance at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. She got paid £40 per show.

When asked by local press for her views on religion she commented: “Darlin’ religion is not just for fanatics and long-faced folk. Religion is a wonderful happy thing – an unhappy church is a dead church. When I go on stage my faith swells up inside me. I know that God is travelling with me wherever I go.” She also said that the colour bar operating in the US didn’t really affect her: “Everybody likes and loves me, you see, honey. Yes, even down in the South. They know by the way I sing the blues that I’ve suffered. I used to sing for my mother when she preached on the sidewalks. I was only 6. Sometimes we wondered when we’d eat next. Yes, darlin’, the atom bombs are terrible…. but so was the breadline back in the bad old days.”

While she was in Cardiff, Tharpe did a photo-shoot down the Docks. As you can see from the splendid picture above she is happily skipping through Loudon Square with some Tiger Bay street urchins.

*Photo ©Chris Ware/Getty Images

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trevor Crole-Rees

I don’t know much about Trevor Crole-Rees other than that he was a highly regarded make-up artist whose handy work appeared in films and TV programmes throughout the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. His cinematic output was pretty diverse, though for obvious reasons he was particularly in demand for war and horror films. These included: Battle of the Bulge (1965); Kelly’s Heroes (1970); Circus of Horrors (1960); The Abominable Dr Phibes (1971); Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971); Dr Phibes Rises Again (1972). He also dabbed a few cheekbones for Tiger Bay (1959) and The Naked Prey (1966). In fact during his long career he altered the visages of everyone from Yul Brynner to Vincent Price.

The face he created for Vincent Price in Dr Phibes Rises Again was one of his most challenging creations. He said in 1972: “The make-up looks simple enough when it’s on, yet it is one of the trickiest I’ve ever had to do in the 37 years I’ve been in the business. The face you see is terribly ‘brittle’. It is made of melted wax, applied hot and then covered with a special plastic skin which adheres to the wax before it sets. It has to stay put on Mr Price throughout the day’s filming, which means eight and a half hours. And there’s always the danger it may crack. If that happened it could cause anything up to a two hour delay in shooting."

Any more info on Trevor Crole-Rees would be much appreciated.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Marc Bolan - Cardiff Leader

Don’t know about you but I always preferred the glam rock Marc Bolan to the cod-mystical My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows version. This picture shows the T. Rex front man lounging about reading long-since defunct local newspaper, the Cardiff Leader. Alongside him is percussionist Mickey Finn. I’m guessing the snap must have been taken in 1972 when T. Rex played the Capitol Theatre, Cardiff. You can see a YouTube of them here performing Cadillac at the show to what appears to be an almost exclusively female Welsh audience. Oh, and if you ever wondered where Nicky Wire picked up that feather boa idea....

*Photo ©Michael Putland/Getty Images

Rhondda Communist Party

If you’re from, say, Surrey you might find this photograph of the Rhondda Communist Party HQ a bit odd, possibly even disturbing. Such overt manifestations of left-wing political ideology, however, tend to be more commonplace in south Wales. The picture was taken by Keith Morris in 1972. Prominently displayed in the window are posters of Angela Davis the American radical, Communist and one time Black Panther leader. Another poster says: END AMERICA’S WAR ON VIETNAM JOIN THE COMMUNIST PARTY.

*This photo is ©Keith Morris/Getty Images