music

Mallorca’s perfect.

16

Don’t you miss London? It’s something I get asked now and again, and I can honestly say No, I don’t miss it. I still love it, but I don’t want to live there anymore. I’ve got plenty of things to keep me happy, occupied and stimulated right here on my doorstep.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to photograph many concerts and DJs at BH Mallorca Hotel (formerly Mallorca Rocks Hotel). It was quite a different experience last Sunday evening when I arrived with my cameras. Instead of hordes of young people and pumping loud music I was greeted by neat rows of silver haired music lovers seated on chairs with blankets over their knees. It was a little like stepping into a different dimension, it looked familiar but something very different was going on. It wasn’t long before I was approached by a man sporting a bowler hat with feathers sprouting out of it. “Hi, my name is Robin, are you from the papers?” I guess the big camera gave it away, that and the fact I was definitely NOT the oldest person in the venue, another change from my normal BH experience when I certainly feel a bit on the elderly side. Robin briefly introduced me to Gerry Flynn, the festival organiser who told me that they were delighted to be in Magaluf and that they were thrilled with BH Mallorca and how the festival was going. “We’ll definitely be back with twice as many people next year,” he told me, “it’s perfect for our needs. We’ve basically got a large space which functions as a festival field and then hotel rooms around it.” “Like extreme glamping?” “Yes, exactly that.”

Eddie Reader and Band performing in Magaluf last weekend PHOTO CREDIT VICKI MCLEOD PHOENIX MEDIA -9654

I’d arrived in time to see Eddie Reader and her band. Would her voice be as beautiful and clear as it had been when singing on hits such as “Perfect” back in 1988? Yes it was. She and her band gave a fantastic hour long performance of songs spreading across several genres including folk, pop and jazz finishing off with a beautiful closing rendition of “Moon River”. I really enjoyed the performance of one of the songs of my youth, Patience of Angels, which was sung by its original writer, Boo Hewerdine (who has a long association with Eddie). Then after a short break, where I wished I’d brought my own blanket, The Lindisfarne Story began their set and knocked out some tunes even I recognised before I decided to call it a night and leave the revellers to their party. You can follow the organisers’ plans for next year at http://www.costadelfolk.co.uk.

Morcheeba are headlining this weekend coming in Palma

Next up in Mallorca we’ve got another festival this weekend. This time at Son Fusteret in Palma. You can see that line-up at http://www.mallorcalivefestival.com. Not sure how many silver haired rockers there will be there, but the organisers promise three consecutive stages with indie, rock, world music and electronica all going off over the weekend. Headlining acts include Morcheeba, Nic Fanciulli, Booka Shade, Fuel Fandango and Laura Jones. Or if you don’t fancy that, there’s the Palma Boat Show, or the Beach Rugby back down on Magaluf beach…. Looks like 2016 has finally begun! mallorcamatters.com

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Turn and face the strange

David Bowie

My week long “digital detox” from Facebook and Twitter ended on Monday, just in time for me to read of the news of the death of one of my heroes, David Bowie. David Bowie wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but he certainly influenced my youth, my taste in music and my view of originality. He showed me that it was fine to stand out, to be different, to say challenging things, and because the way that he delivered ideas was always in a non threatening way, he managed to get his point across in a way that seemed to really work. David Bowie didn’t make angry music, instead he wrote thoughtful songs about emotions and life situations. These past two days, because of my return to Facebook and its never ending feed of information and posts,  I’ve been on a long, and occasionally tearful, jog down memory lane back to my childhood when Ashes to Ashes and Let’s Dance were hits. I was too young to enjoy the Aladdin Sane and Thin White Duke eras first time around, but I lapped up the albums as my interest in Bowie grew. I liked his style and I liked his groove. I respected him as an poet, a style icon and a performer: even when he did that awful song “Dancing in the Streets” with Mick Jagger he got away with it.

As the world started to react to the news of David Bowie’s passing so it also listened closely to the lyrics of this songs: the most recent single, Lazarus, released only last week on his 69th birthday opens with the line “Look up here, I’m in heaven”. Even in his death David Bowie was expressing himself as elegantly and originally as he had done in his lifetime. He seems to have faced and considered his own demise with clarity and thoughtfulness, measuring out exactly what he wanted to say about it, delivering it perfectly.

But now he’s gone, who do we have breaking the mould, standing up and being themselves, not being afraid to express themselves profoundly? We must take inspiration from this amazing man’s life and be proud of our individuality and of our thoughts, there is nothing wrong with being well educated, of reading, of having deep and intense conversations. Having spent a week away from social media I’ve realised that recently I’ve been too busy trying to collect information and not busy enough trying to understand it. That should be our mission for now, to try to absorb and understand more, to reflect out, to be more Bowie, and less X Factor.

RIP David Bowie. 1947 – 2016

Rain starts play

Tea and CDs

I often work at strange times of the night. It’s quieter then and I can get a lot done in a short period of time, and let’s face it, there’s more fun stuff to be done than working when other people are awake! I’m either an evil genius or very lucky that my job allows me to do this. I can schedule myself to produce the things I need to do when I want to do them. I’m normally accompanied at my desk by at least one cat, a cup of tea and, playing in the background, whatever TV series I am binge watching on Netflix at the moment. (You can get it in Spain now, but for quite a long time I have been using it via a VPN which can mask my whereabouts to seem as if I am in the USA or the UK or indeed anywhere around the world, handy for watching telly mainly although the company who runs the VPN would insist it’s much more for your own personal security than for enabling me to watch every season of Mad Men back to back).

When we get some funny weather (storms, high winds, heavy rain) it can affect our internet connection in our village as it is done via some kind of clever wireless system.  Then I find myself with many more cats as they are not keen on the rain, the same amount of tea, but no internet. I can still work, as it’s mainly my brain and my notes which I need to produce the articles, but boy is it lonely! Then I have to turn to old fashioned things such as CDs for company. Yes, we still have them, about a thousand of them, all collecting dust downstairs in our living room. We just had a major clear out upstairs last week and soon it will be the turn of the ground floor. Can I cast out my CDs? Is that as bad as getting rid of books, which for me are easier to hoard than shoes might be for another woman. Decades of my life are chronicled through my CDs, my choices of bands, the songs that meant something to me at the time. I may not listen to them that often anymore but they’re still important, right? I will occasionally listen again to songs on Spotify which remind me of other times, some happy and some very sad memories. My husband likes to talk about that episode of Tomorrow’s World where the presenters demonstrated the apparent indestructibility of the CD, do you remember it? They poured substances all over the disc and scratched it up, but it still played, a nice metaphor for our lives as well.  But some of my CDs have been treated with love and still refuse to work. Much like the internet this morning as I write this column. We live in a valley in the countryside after all. Despite my connectivity to the world I am still, gratefully, joyfully, living in a small village on a Mediterranean island exposed to the elements year round. It’s times like this, as I tap out these words, surrounded by furry friends and listening to some Joni Mitchell, as the rain beats on the window and I am cosy inside in my office, that I get to remember that life really is rather great.

Sing like you’re winning

‘The only thing better than singing is more singing,” said Ella Fitzgerald. I’ve got to say that I agree with her, I’ve always sang: in the car, in the shower, occasionally on a stage, mostly to myself, but since being a grown up I’ve never had the chance to sing in a choir. So I am filled with anticipation and excitement about this coming weekend as at 11am on Saturday October 20th we will have the first meeting of the newly formed Mallorca Community Choir. I think that being part of a gang, a group, a choir looks like a lot of fun. It promises to be a really uplifting experience, and I think there’s a few of us that could do with something to lift our spirits over the winter.  So why not give it a go? Absolutely everyone is welcome to come and see what it is all about. No experience is needed, and if you think you can’t sing prepare to surprise yourself as you will improve as you practice.

The choir leader, Emma Sweeney, has just moved to the island and is ready and eager to start. The choir won’t be expensive, the rehearsal space is being donated by Mood Beach Bar and Restaurant, and the subscriptions will be literally to cover the cost of buying sheet music and any other expenses that a choir might incur. The first meeting will be an informal get together to see how many people may be interested to join and to get to know each other. The meeting will be at Mood Beach Bar & Restaurant, Ctra Km 11 Palma – Andratx, Costa D’en Blanes. To help you orientate yourself: Mood is between Marineland and Sporting Tennis Club.

But what about you, does the idea of singing fill you with joy or dread? Did you know that singing is good for you?

Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, has studied developmental and medical aspects of singing for 30 years: “The health benefits of singing are both physical and psychological. Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting. Singing has psychological benefits because of its normally positive effect in reducing stress levels through the action of the endocrine system which is linked to our sense of emotional well-being. Psychological benefits are also evident when people sing together as well as alone because of the increased sense of community, belonging and shared endeavour.” Seriously, what’s not to like?

You can contact the choir leader Emma through http://www.mallorcatutors.com or just turn up this Saturday at 11am at Mood.

All together now

It seems rather fitting, what with it being the Paralympics starting this week to be doing something to benefit and encourage disabled people who live in Mallorca. Next week on Wednesday September 5th I’m getting together a group of young musicians to do a benefit concert for Aspace.

Aspace is a centre for people with cerebral palsy and other similar disabilities. They support babies and children as they grow up, and through school and continue to work with adults right throughout their lives. The organisation has been going in Mallorca for thirty five years. It was set up by concerned parents who felt that the educational and physical needs of their children were not being met. Back then in the mid Seventies there weren’t such things as ramps to get into buildings, or toilets big enough to get a wheelchair into, let alone the idea that someone using a wheelchair may be capable of holding down a job. Now the centre has grown and Aspace has over a hundred registered users of all ages. They offer a comprehensive service for people with disabilities and this means that they are helping disabled people integrate into school, and work and helping them to lead their lives to the full and enjoy themselves.

I have to declare an interest. I worked for many years in the UK in the theatre, in particular community theatre with different groups of disabled people (both physical and learning disabilities), so integration and inclusion are things which I really feel strongly about. And I think that local young musicians need to be encouraged and supported as they develop as well so hopefully this will be the first of a series of concerts we will do throughout the year. So that’s why I am organising a concert next at 7pm Wednesday September 5th at Mood Beach.

Local youngsters from the island will play a mixture of their own and others’ songs. Performers include Luke Evans, Giorgio Garrett, and the band Jipsy. The evening will be hosted by comedian Glynis German. The money we raise will go to the Aspace centre and will be spent on musical activities, I like that: musicians raising money for other musicians. To get hold of tickets or for more information contact me on vicki@moodbeach.com

Summer music in Mallorca

It’s the busiest time of year for many of the hotel singers, dinner entertainers and tribute acts on Mallorca: competently replicating Aretha Franklin or Robbie Williams, for example, pays the rent for many musicians living here, and despite the decibel levels row in Calvia, there is still a demand for live music. But what to do, as a member of the audience, or as the performer, if your taste for live music also extends to live, and original music? Especially if you are known for your expert renditions of Diana Ross, but want to be known for your own compositions; how do you change your audience’s perception of you, and indeed get any attention from a record company? Being taken seriously by the music industry seems to involve either being a) drop dead gorgeous, b) at least slightly madder than a box of frogs, or c) have a dad who happens to own a record company. Being prodigiously talented doesn’t always have much to do with it, and being based on Mallorca where it’s definately ‘big fish, small pond’ territory, can also limit you from getting ahead, unless you can make the right connections.

One such prodigiously talented musician is the delightful BiBi. A.K.A Bilonda, for her Motown and soul sets around the island (particularly popular at Mood Beach where she performs in their lunchtime Sunday Best sessions), she is also the composer of several tracks of her own, and subsequently leads a double life: one night she is Bilonda, getting the crowd up and rocking to classic songs, and on another night she is BiBi, performing her own works, with a 4 piece band backing her up. I caught BiBi at the new Harlem Café in Es Molinar (www.harlemcafe.es)last week. The Harlem Café has hit the music scene in Mallorca with a small bang, it’s early days yet to see if the venue can sustain its aims to have live music and entertainment six days of the week – bar prices and audience numbers will surely determine that, along with a varied programme to choose from.

It can be a leap of faith, to go from singing well known classics to your own songs, but performing to an audience of about 100, BiBi seemed to be completely at home with her own sounds of R&B, funk and soul. She cites artists such as Jill Scott and Erykah Badu as favourites of hers. Wearing a Jazz chica uniform of tight black dress and red beret, BiBi entertained her audience with her new tunes, which flowed seamlessly through the evening. A promising start for this brilliant singer. You can find more information at http://www.myspace.com/bilonda Look out for my favourites Growing Old and Whistleblower.

 

BiBi aka Bilonda, at Mood Beach

BiBi aka Bilonda, at Mood Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you remember Billy Bragg from your youth, then where were you on Saturday night? He performed at Bellver Castle to a largely Spanish audience. They say music is an international language, but I did wonder if the majority of the audience really understood him as his spoken English has a heavy Estuary twang, and his music is hardly what you would call melodic. However, it was a treat to watch the boy from Barking, small beer belly beginning to show now that he is in his fifties, rocking out and still as passionate about his beliefs as ever. Bragg was clearly impressed by his surroundings, and made several references throughout the gig to the Castle’s history. In fact, I have to shamefully admit to never having been inside of Bellver before this evening, and at the end of a week of the Perseid meteor shower, it was very pleasant to sit in the ancient castle gazing up at the night sky, occasionally catching one of the glimmering trails of light as Bragg sang about love and politics.

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg

Bragg spoke between songs about his life, and about events which had influenced him, inspiring the audience to begin to shout out requests, in particular for the song She’s got a new spell which was covered by Mallorcan band La Granja back in 1989 and won him his only award for songwriting. Other old favourites such as Levi Stubbs Tears and The Saturday Boy were interspersed with Woody Guthrie songs that Bragg was invited to write music for after Guthrie’s death. It’s impressive to remember (unlike other musicians and comedians from his generation) that this singer songwriter has collaborated not only with many other artists and managed to stay firm to his personal beliefs. Talking about being a young man, when he was working in a very racist culture, he felt that he couldn’t challenge what was being said until he went to a festival called ‘Rock against Racism’ where he realised as a nineteen year old that he wasn’t alone and could speak out. Still speaking out about injustices around the world he electrified the balmy air when he said, ‘I’ve learnt that I can’t change the world; singer songwriters can’t change the world, but their audiences can.’ He will be performing in Madrid and Barcelona in October. http://www.billybragg.co.uk

Upcoming highlights:

Gin Club
A stomping four piece band from Brighton with a sound that harks back to Muddy Waters and early Rolling Stones. Early rhythm and blues with a pop sensibility and a country twist.
Thur 20 Aug @ midnight, Shamrock, Paseo Maritimo, Palma
Fri 21 Aug @ 21.00, Sa Taronja Cultural Centre, Andratx

Nit de L’Art

Thursday 17th September – galleries across Palma participate in this annual art event. Expect thousands of culture vultures to hit the streets to participate.

Aaron Lordson

Incredible soul singer, familiar busker on the streets of Palma, will be performing his own songs. http://www.myspace.com/aaronlordson. Entrance free. http://www.aaronlordson.com

Sat 19th Sept 21.30h, Mood Beach Club, Costa D’en Blanes.

Vicki McLeod presents the Saturday Breakfast Show with Oliver Neilson on Luna Radio 100.3fm http://www.lunaradio.fm If you want to suggest a featured artist for the week please email phoenixmediamallorcaputtheswirlyatsignheregmail.com