Tuesday, 6 November 2007


It was a great idea, and in the event it worked terrifically well, I thought. For me it was a huge pleasure to be able to stand up and give brief Hand Me My Travelin' Shoes readings (and talks around those readings) in between short sets by widely varying musical acts. I was the oldest person up there by well over three decades, and courteously treated by all.

Best was hearing so much of Blind Willie McTell's material performed live by such generally "alt", contemporary bands and singers - none of them succumbing to the 1970s guitar-thrash approach.

For myself, the most interesting was David Cronenberg's Wife, whose 7" vinyl single (yes!) I bought on the spot. Their set comprised two McTell covers and two songs of their own, the first of which, I think called 'I Do Know You Love Me' was thrilling for its freshness, its full-on musical self-confidence and some brilliantly witty lyrics - in which the wit came from expressing dangerously honest thoughts rather than from any desire to be amusing. In this respect, though certainly not musically, the comparison that comes to mind is Malvina Reynolds' immortal 'We Don't Need The Men'.

Other Betsy Trotwood highlights included Victoria, vocalist with Congregation, singing McTell's first-session masterpiece 'Mama Tain't Long 'Fore Day', and Extradition Order roaring their fond, irreverent way through, well, quite a lot of things... and, in the spirit of long ago and far away, using an oil-can as the body of a guitar.

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