Friday, January 01, 2021

Here's to a musical 2021

So it's new year and we can say good riddance to 2020 and look forward, hopefully, to a better 2021. I managed to get to the Rockin' Race in Spain in February before lockdown came in but that was the only live music i was able to enjoy during the year. It was a bad year too for my record hunting addiction as car boot sales and charity shops were closed for much of the time. And of course it was a year of more music deaths, including Little Richard, Toots Hibbert. Charley Pride and Roy Head among many others (see my recent 'death list' for the year). The latest deaths to have come to my attention include English songwriter Geoff Stephens at the age of 86. Geoff wrote or co-wrote such hits as 'Tell Me When' (Applejacks), Dave Berry's 'The Crying Game', 'There's A Kind of Hush', a hit both for Herman's Hermits and the Carpenters, 'Sorry Suzanne' (the Hollies) and 'Like Sister and Brother' (the Drifters). He also discovered and managed Donovan and formed the New Vaudeville Band, who had a worldwide smash with 'Winchester Cathedral'. Another who has died is Phyllis McGuire, last surviving member of the McGuire Sisters, who had a run of fifties hits (often cover versions) including 'Sincerely', 'Goodnight My Love Pleasant Dreams', 'Sugartime'. 'Volare' and 'Red River Valley'.
I saw the New Year in traditional style with Jools Holland's 'Hootenanny'. It was a scaled down show without the usual audience or American visitors and with several clips from the archives. I have a lot of time for Jools Holland and his regular singer Ruby Turner (pictured at the Jazz Cafe in 1999) was on good form with Joe Turner's 'Morning Noon and Night' and a duet with Jools on 'Alright, OK You Win'. Also on good form was Sir Tom Jones, whose voice shows no signs of being affected by his 80 years. He also featured a Joe Turner song 'Flip Flop and Fly' as well as Jimmy McCracklin's 'Think'. There was also an impressive contribution by Celeste on 'Love Is Back'. She has the potential to be the new Amy Winehouse perhaps. Other guests included the winner of the Mercury prize Michael Kiwanuka, Jools' old mate from Squeeze Chris Difford, who sang 'Cool For Cats', and Roisin Murphy who sang David Bowie's 'Let's Dance'. Rick Wakeman was also there but didn't contribute much apart from a duet with Jools on one number. Jools often features New Orleans artists and the archives featured Trombone Shorty from three years ago with Ernie K-Doe's 'Here Come the Girls'. My photo shows him at Cleveland, Mississippi in 2018. Other archive flashbacks included Jamiroquoi and Franz Ferninand. So what does 2021 have in store I wonder? Assuming I get a jab fairly soon I can at least start to think about foreign trips, indeed I've already booked my hotel for the Porretta Soul Festival in July. And maybe we can think about a US trip in the autumn. Let's hope so. In the meantime, Happy New Year to any readers who may be out there.

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