A Driving Instructor's Blog

Music

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Planet Rock Radio – New Single “'85 ROCKSTAR” – Blackwater ConspiracyRegular readers will know that I usually attend quite a few rock concerts each year. I actually had several lines up for 2020, but they were all cancelled for obvious reasons – and there would have been more. But, by God, am I missing them right now!

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Joe Bonamassa was cancelled completely. Bad Touch was rescheduled for April this year, but I reckon it will get cancelled again. Hollywood Vampires and George Thorogood were both rescheduled for later this year, but the jury is out on those right now. Most artists are currently scheduling in 2022 at the moment.
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Planet Rock is my go-to record station. You can find it on DAB, on 105.2 FM in the West Midlands, and on digital TV (0110 on Sky, 924 on Virgin, 730 on Freesat). It’s also available through Android, iPhone and iPad apps. You can also listen online by clicking the image at the top of this article.

Another good source is NOW 70s on Sky. Right now it is on Channel 361 (but it tends to move around a bit depending on Sky’s fairly regular channel reorganisations, and also available on Virgin and Freesat). If you catch it right, there’s lots of rock and punk, but if you get unlucky, there’s far too much disco. I mean, as everyone knows, the best decades for music were the late 60s and the 70s – up until disco ushered in the 80s. And as everyone also knows, the 80s onwards was absolutely crap for music – though if you really must, there is a NOW 80s channel, too (there’s also a NOW 90s, which is worse still, and there were others – but music was so crap in those decades that they were cut, hence Sky’s last channel restructuring around the music channels).

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Some bands have been doing livestreams during lockdown, and a good place to find out about those is through ENTS24, which is one of the sites I use to find out about upcoming gigs, and where I often book tickets. You can choose which bands or music types you are interested in, and you get immediate and advance alerts of upcoming gigs, often with presales (click beyond the home page). Gigantic is another source of such advance warnings (again, click past the home page to get detailed information).

Then, of course, there good old CD, DVD, and BluRay (and streaming). You can get any band you want that way in whatever format you prefer. I get most of mine from Amazon.


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Black Star RidersI saw this article today on the BBC website. Nottingham’s Rock City has turned 40.

Steel Panther (one gig)They’ve been shut down throughout the pandemic, and I’ve been worried they might not survive. It’d be a disaster if they closed for good.

The StranglersIt’s a brilliant venue. I must admit that some of the bands that play there aren’t my cup of tea, but the rock bands certainly are.

Sparks

Sometimes it’s a case of seeing them before they sell out to pop or rap. Other times, it’s a blast from the past, with bands you maybe grew up with and who are still going strong.

Brothers OsborneThen you get the genuine new bands who are good at what they do. In many cases, they’re big in America, but not so well known here.

HaimThen come the ones who are big here, but not as much so in the rest of the world.

Steel Panther (another time)And then there are the cult bands which most people have never heard of, but who have a huge following meaning they sell out unless you get in quick.

The Darkness - 1I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been now. Sometimes it averages once a month, and I’ve been doing that for many years.

The Cadillac ThreeThis year is one that will go down in infamy for the obvious reasons, but the future is looking a little brighter now as far as the pandemic is concerned.

The Darkness - 2

So here’s looking forward to Rock City’s next 40 years!

.

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ReadlyA couple of years ago I was having a clear out and I was amazed at the number of magazines I’d collected over the years. They were mainly my Classic Rock mags, and part of my decision to have a clear out was that I’d been getting more and more disillusioned with that particular publication.

At the time, I was on an annual subscription, but Planet Rock had just launched its own magazine and that did exactly what it said on the tin – it covered rock music. Classic Rock acquired a new editor, and she made it clear in her introductory piece what she was planning. Subsequently, any rock music they covered had to include at least half female acts – meaning it became obscure and far from ‘classic’, at best – and they also decided that (as just one example) Depeche Mode somehow ticked both the ‘classic’ and ‘rock’ boxes at the same time (actually, they decided twice in the space of just a couple of months with that one example). Then they did their ‘best 100 female artists of all time’ issue, and necessarily had to include non-rock genres to fill it out. That was it from me, and I cancelled my sub.

Before any feminists start frothing at the mouth over this, I go to see lots of female artists and bands with female members. I actually seek them out if I hear them on Planet Rock and like the sound. Like Samantha Fish, Haim, Paramore, Evanescence, Courtney Love, Joanne Shaw Taylor, The Lounge Kittens… I just don’t need any feminist magazine editors trying to filter out the men for me. And if you don’t like the fact that I don’t like that fact, click the back button and go somewhere else.

Planet Rock mag suits me fine, but when the lockdown came along, it also came with a lot of extra time for reading and finding tips on how to do stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise had time for. And going out to buy magazines wasn’t an option – even if it would have been of benefit with the ‘current’ issue on sale (you usually need a series of them).

A few years ago, as a result of my quest to find some authentic German food recipes, I came across a subscription service called Readly. It carries – and this is no exaggeration – thousands of UK titles. They’re all the ones you see on the newsstands (and many you don’t), from TV Times, OK!, Hello!, through all the photography and amateur DIY magazines, through to music and musicians (including Classic Rock). They cover specialist computer and technology subjects, gaming, weddings, cycling, fishing, horse riding, pets… everything (but no X-rated adult stuff). Including back issues, too, which multiplies the content by at least ten. And as I already implied, they have similar numbers of publications from Europe, Asia, and America. They’ve also recently started including newspapers, though it’s only The Independent and Evening Standard right now.

My normal Readly subscription is less than £8 a month, but they offer a two months for free trial. Even so, at £8 a month, that’s the newsstand cost of just three magazines! If you were after foreign magazines, you’d probably pay more than that for a single issue once shipping was included.

You can get the Readly app with the offer through Amazon (it’s free), and you can read on your phone, tablet, or computer. You can also read offline by downloading the content.

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Sweet - Steve Priest on the leftAnother legend from my childhood gone. Sweet were one of the glam rock pioneers in the early 70s, and one of the bands I grew up with.

The 70s was easily the best for music.

Steve Priest – one of the founding members – was the one who wore make-up and big ear-rings. RIP, Steve.

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Bad Touch - rock bandWell, that’s one down. I was due to see Bad Touch next week at the Bodega. I’d heard the band were going to reschedule, and now it’s official – the gig has been rearranged for September.

Fingers crossed things are better by then. This year was gearing up to be a big one, with lots of tickets already purchased. Some of the bigger events, like Joe Bonamassa (almost certainly off) and Hollywood Vampires (later in the year), are more likely to be cancelled than rearranged. George Thorogood, who’s been on my bucket list for years, is currently booked for July, which is borderline right now.

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Brothers Osborne - wide shotI’ve been to a lot of gigs the last few years, though I haven’t posted any articles about them. I need to do a bit of catching up on that.

Anyway, I went to a brilliant show on Friday at Rock City in Nottingham. After Rush, my favourite genres have to be blues and Southern rock – both of which seem to be very popular these days, and Planet Rock covers them a lot. That was how I came to know bands like Blackberry Smoke, The Cadillac Three, and Brothers Osborne.

Osborne Brothers - wide (2)In fact, I saw The Cadillacs a couple of months ago (hell, it was a year ago!), and Brothers Osborne were supporting them. So, Osbornes announced a headlining tour of their own, I got tickets.

Take a listen to this. They played one of my favourite songs, Copperhead Road, originally written by Steve Earle. They nailed it completely.


It came out of the blue, but I recognised it after the first few drum stomps, just as the mandolin came in.

Brothers Osborne - Jason Graumlich (I think)I have to say that it was easily the best gig I’ve been to in a long time. The crowd was well up for it, and every song was worth listening to. Lots of slide guitar, keyboards, banjos, and mandolins – and extended solos. Although officially a duo, they had an admirable backing band, to whom they gave generous room to perform – the backing guitarist in particular, who I believe is called Jason Graumlich.

The encore seemed unusually long – I haven’t listened to the full recording yet, but there must have been five or more songs. Most bands don’t go above three. But it didn’t matter. It could have gone on for another hour and still been great.

The band seemed awed by the reception. T J Osborne (lead vocals) said that they’d been over here a few times, and if people kept coming to the gigs like this, they’d keep coming back. I’ll certainly be there when they do.

Lucie SilvasThe only slight stain on the night was of our own making – well, my mate’s. That was due to his desire to drink the better beer in the Rescue Rooms instead of the weasel piss you get in the Main Hall. OK, I can relate to that, but it meant we ended up missing all but the last song and a half by the support act, Lucie Silvas. She’s got one hell of a voice, and she went straight on my watch list for her next tour.

I got my own back in the Indian restaurant after, though, where we had the usual decent curry and an argument about Brexit (which I won, as always).

Incidentally, Brothers Osborne performed at Rockstock over the weekend, and they were interviewed by Darren Redick.

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Tom Petty - Don't Come Around Here No MoreIf it’s true, it is yet another sad loss to music. Reports say that Tom Petty suffered a major cardiac arrest on Sunday and was left brain dead. As a result, life support has been removed. However, in spite of reports stating that he was dead, at the time of writing (23.30 on 2 October 2017) those reports have been withdrawn and his official death is not confirmed. If he is brain dead, though, it is much the same thing.

I’m sorry I never got to see him in concert. He didn’t do the UK much until the last two years, and those appearances were at festivals, which I won’t go anywhere near, because I can get wet standing in the rain and up to the ankles in shit right here at home without having to travel to do it. But when something like this happens, you wonder if maybe you should have.

All the legends are disappearing.

Update: No longer a surprise, but I woke up to discover the official announcement that Tom has died. RIP, Tom. Thanks for the music.

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