A.J. Walker

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If Music Be The Food Of Love

The footy season is indeed now over but last week magical Anfield held another event: the Rolling Stones first Liverpool gig for nearly fifty years. When the tickets went on sale I briefly considered getting one. I mean an iconic band in a wonderful stadium. I'd previously watched one gig there, which was Paul McCartney in 2008 (the Capital of Culture gig). I'd done the same that time to by not getting a ticket when they first went on sale but really wishing I had as it approached. Then the day before the gig an acquaintance said he had a spare and I snaffled it up in super quick time. It did not disappoint. But I'd never seen Macca before and I've been lucky enough to see the Stones several times including the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, at Twickenham, and at Glastonbury, so I didn't have quite the same push to spend the one hundred pounds or so on a ticket. Still on the day I was kinda jealous of everyone going. You really can't beat a live music event - be it giants of history like them or newer or more intimate events.

Felice Brothers

So I decided that I'd get a ticket or two for gigs which would fill the need (and be cheaper than seeing the one band (or two if you counted the Bunnymen)). I quickly got on the case and over a couple of days got myself a ticket for the brilliant Felice Brothers, who are playing Leaf on Bold Street in a few weeks, and Frank Turner for later in the year (October). I'll keep my eye out for another gig or two and still come in below the cost of seeing Jagger, Richards and co. Notwithstanding that it did sound like it was a top night and everyone seems to have enjoyed Anfield that night and I do kinda wish I'd gone. Having the Felice Brothers and Frank to look forward to is pretty damn cool though.

Frank Tagain

Over the last couple of weeks I have not done a single open mic, which is rare since the return of them to the hostelries in Liverpool. And so it was that I decided to go to a new open mic night at the Angus who had announced they were to move their night to a Sunday and have it on a more regular basis (at least whilst the football season is in abeyance). John Witherspoon who I know from his hosting the mic at the Keystone (and now the Belvedere) is to be the new host but on this occasion he had to pass it on to another regular guitarist: Mike Blue. I pootled down to the Angus just before the start time at 8pm and found there was only one guy with a guitar already there; this turned out to be Mike. Shortly afterwards he got up to play and introduce the night asking if anyone for requests, saying he hoped some people would turn up to play soon. But town looked quiet everywhere as far as I could tell from my walk to the Angus - and from the people passing the windows of the bar. Quite a few people would be playing in the Jacaranda open mic which has been going for some time now. It'll take a few weeks of word of mouth for this new night to become more widely known (not everyone is on Social Media all the time - hard to believe I know). Eventually I let it be known that I could go up an play lest Mike end up playing the whole night as a gig and I went up and played three of my usual songs ('Oh My Sweet Carolina,' 'Heart Breaks Like the Dawn, and 'Whiskey in my Whiskey' - the last one being the Felice Brothers who I'll see at Leaf). Then Mike returned. He hadn't seen me play before, so for a nice change he'd not been subject to the same songs week after week.

As the night moved on it became more apparent that other singers were unlikely to turn up, at least not in numbers, and Mike continued playing some great songs (largely requests from the audience) including a couple of great Neil Young covers. The couple in front of me then suggested it was my turn to go up again, probably to allow Mike a toilet break and opportunity to refuel and I duly did (I felt obliged) playing 'You Couldn't Get Arrested' and 'Splendid Isolation.' Mike continued and finally after he played a fine U2 cover I went up a third time and played my own U2 cover (albeit a trad song) 'Van Diemen's Land' and (half a version of) 'Somewhere Down the Road.' Mike played on till time was called and beyond - and that was that. We shook hands and chatted. Like John and Ali, Mike was an accomplished guitarist with a good voice and stage presence and was a thoroughly nice chap, it was a shame a few more (or even just one more!) people didn't go up to play.

Several people in the bar said they enjoyed my songs which was a) nice and b) made me wonder what they had been drinking.

I've a soft spot for the Angus (for it's music and its beer) and I really hope in the longer term the open mic will succeed, whether that is on a Sunday or another night. Ultimately it will always be a moveable feast due to football supporters being an important part of its clientele; and because of the regular professional gigs it hosts. It was good to get back to playing in front of people again and I won't leave it as long to the next time. Maybe even the Belvedere on Thursday?


Onwards and Upwards. And yes: Play On!


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