Dave Walker: How to Avoid the Peace

Image result for dave walker, cartoon book, How to Avoid the Peace

Dave Walker’s latest cartoon collection (Canterbury Press) is sub-titled ‘Tips for Advanced Churchgoing,’  but although you don’t have to be an Anglican to enjoy the humour, it will help you to catch the subtleties. His understanding of the ordinary person in the pew pours out of these drawings.

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Frank Cottrell-Boyce: Wowed by the Wonder in Blue Planet 2

Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Source: BBC)

There is very little television to bring the nation together anymore. We access the news whenever we want, and even the water-cooler culture of reality TV has its separate tribes.

But if there is anything to galvanise the nation’s front rooms into simultaneous viewing over the next year – short of a highly unlikely World Cup final in Russia – one likely programme is halfway through being aired.

Sir David Attenborough, a man so treasured that he even gave his name to a polar research vessel ahead of the public’s choice of Boaty McBoatface, has been fronting another flagship BBC production: Blue Planet 2.

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Wildwood Kin – Turning Tides

Wildwood Kin(Silvertone / Sony)

While a female family trio that features flowing, flawless harmonies might suggest Haim, this band is completely different. Wildwood Kin are less poppy and more atmospheric. Opener “The Author” would have slotted seamlessly onto a Note for the Child album, and they come across very much as a female Fleet Foxes, with touches of Simon and Garfunkel sprinkled in.

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Mark Heard: A Treasure of the Broken Land

That Mark Heard turned down the offer of touring with Dylan and T-Bone Burnett speaks both of his talent and his humility. He may not have had the chance to make a big splash from that tour, but the ripples of his artistic impact have rolled outwards for years, and the latest example is the tribute album released this autumn to mark 25 years since he died at the stomach-churningly young age of 40.

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Mostly Autumn – Sight of Day

Mostly Autumn

“This isn’t prog!” exclaimed my colleague on the way home from work, when this one was in the player.

Of course, I defended the genre – explaining that it has always been broad enough to encompass folk, blues, rock, classical, world music and more. But I could see why he thought it too straightforward to be prog.

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Stu Garrard: Behind the Beatitudes

Stu GWe sometimes envy those with successful careers, but – as public figures from Tony Hancock to Caroline Aherne have shown us – inside their skin, they may be living in a far more fearful world than their public face reveals.

Stu Garrard had lots going for him. Guitarist with trailblazing worship band Delirious?, he had singles and albums chart success in several countries; supported acts like Bon Jovi; and performed at Wembley and Glastonbury – feats dwarfed by twice playing to over one million people, once in Germany and then in India.

But when singer Martin Smith unexpectedly quit the band and the others went their separate ways, Garrard’s self-confidence went off with them.

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A Man for All Seasons: The Oscar-winning Twig on my Family Tree

A Man for All Seasons

How can I have reached middle age without having seen A Man for All Seasons until now?

Not only is it a great film (it won six Academy Awards) but the film’s hero, the 16th-century Lord Chancellor of England, Sir Thomas More, is a small twig on my family tree: one of my ancestors married his sister.

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Stu Garrard – The Beatitudes Manifesto

Beatitudes project

So this release was 15 years in the making? Even without the book and film that are a part of this whole project, this one would have still been worth the wait.This is the ex-Delirious? guitarist’s best release since… probably Mezzamorphis.
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The Neal Morse Interview, Pt. 1: Musicianary Man

Neal MorseThe show was packed with life-long rock fans, and many had seen the best bands around. Some had been queuing for hours to get a good place in the sold-out venue. Word was that some had been to each of the four UK gigs on this tour.

As the show began, the crowd was animated. Along with the obligatory dry ice, the screen behind the stage was showing an impressionistic video of a man setting out on a journey. So constant were the energy and excitement of the music that the band didn’t do their first “Hello” from the stage until fifteen minutes into the second set.

At the end, the crowd reaction was ecstatic.

What was the show about, to have created such a rapturous atmosphere?

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The Neal Morse Interview, pt. 2: Deeper into the Music

Neal Morse

With the clear evidence of bands like Genesis in his music, it’s no surprise that Neal Morse grew up enthused by the British music scene. His is yet another story of an artist being struck by the Beatles’ legendary appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show – even though he was only four years old.

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