Musician and First Draft old-timer Jez Hewes brings us our final ‘Collections‘ blog ahead of our VAULTS event tonight.
Hiiiiiii. I chose some songs and put them in a playlist and then wrote some words about the
songs in the playlist and now here we are.
Felix & Adelita – Franz Nicolay
There’s this place, a basement in central Manchester just off Princess between the art gallery and the town hall, called the Tiger Lounge. I never even heard of this place before I went there. Not sure if you have. To me it’s like this weird little island in the city that exists completely out of context, but maybe everybody else knows all about it and I’m just a huge square.
This assortment of words I haphazardly assembled on a couple of pages are mostly about the way we associate music with things that are not music. For me those associations are usually places or points in time, although sometimes they are also more specific things, like the criminally undervalued 1999 playstation classic Tai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger.
I will forever associate the Tiger Lounge with Franz Nicolay. He played in that tiny basement, a bearded American accordion-playing folk singer supported by a four-chord pop-punk band from Exeter. He told us stories, like the one about the best toast he ever heard, by the Ukranian ambassador: To us, the beautiful; and those that disagree may their eyes fall out.
The night after First Draft’s VAULTS at the John Ryland’s Library (seamless plug) he’s coming back to Manchester, to play at the Star & Garter. Check it out on my behalf, maybe.
Oh My God – Nik Freitas
NPR did this radio show called All Songs Considered that used to record bands playing live shows at the 9:30 club in DC and release them as podcasts. When I was a teenager with way too much time on my hands, I would track down live shows by bands I like, load them up in Audacity and cut them up into their individual tracks to make a live album. Kind of like taping the radio, but without the tape, or the radio.
That’s how I heard of Nik Freitas. He played in a band I liked, the Mystic Valley Band, and they covered one of his songs in a taped live show. I did some searching on the internet to figure out the rest.
I think the internet has made discovering things like good music more fun. I’m probably too young to know what things were like before, but it seems that way. These days there is so much good music that 90% of it is not being listened to by anybody much, and Nik Freitas is one of those people. I have yet to meet another person who has heard of him of their own accord.
This song is from a record called Sun Down. I own a physical copy, because I bought it to give as a gift to a friend. But I kept it.
My My – Plumtree
When I was 18 years old, I moved halfway up the country to Manchester and found out that Blackwell’s stocked the Scott Pilgrim books. To me this was A Big Deal because before that I had to buy imported copies over the internet (I was reading these books a lot). The book Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life takes its name from a song called Scott Pilgrim, by an indie rock band from Halifax, Nova Scotia called Plumtree.
The first year away from home is like being in space. You float around weightless, eat ready meals, talk to loved ones over a computer screen and . Everybody is thrown into a new environment, and it takes a while – around nine months – for things to renormalise. For a while, I was best friends with somebody who lived down the hall, because we were both alone, in space. Eventually we returned to the real world, and it all just kinda ended. Weird.
You to Thank – Ben Folds
That last one was about going to space, this one is about hurtling into the Atlantic in a scorched white module with the nasa logo on it. This song makes me think of turning 19 and the sun shining a whole lot more than it has any right to in the greater Manchester metropolitan area and meeting somebody who is super cool and has this one record on repeat, with this one song.
June on the West Coast – Bright Eyes
I learned to play guitar by learning Bright Eyes songs. I was not a quiet child, and when I wanted to play guitar very loudly late at night, my parents would make me leave the house and sit in the outhouse with the washing machine. This song reminds me of that room.
Radio Protector – 65daysofstatic
65daysofstatic are a very loud band, and so this is a story about the first time I ever sustained permanent hearing damage.
In April of 2009, instrumental rock band 65daysofstatic played a show at a pub in Leicester called the Musician; to 17-year-old me, this was A Big Deal because they were being supported by a band called Maybeshewill, who are an instrumental rock band. A couple of friends and I took a road trip up north to the show along with a complete stranger my friend met on an internet message board. I think his name was Dave.
I am still in touch with those friends, sort of. 65daysofstatic is the life support machine that sustains it. I saw them at a music festival, and then a few months later 65 came into town and we met up and went to the show together. It was a good time, but I know that when this band breaks up, I will never see them again.
Anyway. 65daysofstatic, April 24th 2009, The Musician, Leicester. I stood right next to a speaker stack, and the rest is history. I try to be careful, these days, with my hearing. I have the high tech earplugs, and I hope that will be enough. It’s going to have to be.
Heel Turn 2 – The Mountain Goats
Hey look it’s a new song from the new Mountain Goats record Beat the Champ, which is all about professional wrestling. There’s a great deal I have to say about a great number of Mountain Goats songs, and one specifically that I was planning to talk about. This new song came out while I was in the process of writing about it, and I changed my mind.
There’s been some stuff going down in my life lately and it turns out this is a great song to have playing while you angstily stride down to Whole Foods to stock up on avocados. It’s exactly the kind of story that would go pretty well in this piece, but a little too fresh, I think, for now.
Certain Songs – The Hold Steady
This song makes my point much better than I ever could.
Things and bobs
Join us TONIGHT (19 March) for our special VAULTS event at The John Rylands Library
Read the other blogs on this theme here
Sign up to perform at our next cabaret night: Nothing Up Our Sleeves