Is folk music too white?

MOWOs anyone? The editor of one of the country’s leading music magazines looks around and doesn’t like what he sees.

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Dodging cows in Cookham

cows cookham

Minor cycling hazard.

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Confessions of a conservative comedian

Geoff Norcott comes out on the comedy blog Beyond the Joke:

Apparently one of the reasons you can’t be a Tory stand-up is good comedy involves “kicking up”. I don’t like this metaphor. In reality, kicking upwards demands flexibility and strength. In stand-up, it’s the less demanding route. If you want an applause break just mutter “Cameron, bankers, Starbucks,” followed by a daring swear word and the crowd will be whooping like Jeremy Hardy at a Communist rally. I’m not sure comics “kick up” as often as they think. Some of my favourite left-wing comics seem to have no trouble lampooning various working class sub-sets for comic effect on Radio 4.  I’d say an urban teenage boy is fairly powerless.

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The phantom punch


On this day fifty years ago. Ali vs Liston in Lewiston, Maine. (Photo by Neil Leifer) I just watched  the fight again – all one round of it — and still couldn’t figure out what happened. Richard Williams looks back on it all in The Guardian. All I’ll add is that Sonny Liston deserves to be remembered as much more than a famous loser. As you can see. (The airline ad with Andy Warhol is a gem.)

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Perfect way to spend a Sunday

An at-home jam session in New Orleans, courtesy of  Leyla McCalla and her pals.  Life-affirming, to say the least.

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Toughest comedy gig ever?

Definitely an uphill battle. From Steve Martin’s superb memoir, “Born Standing Up”.

steve martin drive-in gig

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B.B. King RIP

I hope “Midnight Believer” gets a mention in the obituaries: it’s a bafflingly under-rated album — too glossy for purist tastes, perhaps, but full of gorgeous tunes and funky arrangements. “When It All Comes Down” is the opening track. Many years ago, in New York, I spent a couple of hours sitting at B.B’s feet, literally, as he rehearsed with the Philip Morris Superband. A humble man, he was extraordinarily nervous about working with so many top-flight jazz musicians, not realizing he could say more in a couple of phrases than most mortals can manage in a couple of hours.

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Propaganda: English novels are banned of course, but there are books by A.J. Cronin in every shop window. He’s Scottish and exposes shortcomings of social and public services in England.

Victor Klemperer, diary, 4th April 1944.

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Little Stevie is 65

I still can’t quite believe it.


The first album of his that I bought was “Music of My Mind”, purchased with my school holiday earnings in Littlewoods department store.  The opening track hardly ever gets played nowadays. I have no idea why. It’s easily one of the best things he ever did.

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Günter Grass RIP

From the closing pages of his memoir, “Peeling the Onion”

gunter grass quote

PS: And then, of course,  there was the young man who wore a uniform a decade earlier:  “The moral blindness of Gunter Grass”

This NYT piece by Grass’s friend, John Irving, is worth reading too.

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