Archive for April, 2011

Listen or download the show here:  Cruising with The Commissioner #4 (28-04-11)

Well, the sun has made more than a few welcome visits to the Grand Duchy of Bexleyheath this past week and brought a hint of tropical utopia to the Dartford Delta (if you squint hard enough and keep company with Mr. Merlot). However, I think it may be too soon to say that summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets.

Well, we were pleased to host visits from two fellow DJs on this week’s Cruising with The Commissioner show and each was most welcome on our musical journey. They made great travelling companions (with some plasticine that they found in the glove compartment) and they brought along musical contributions from their cherished collections. We set off knowing that The Shake was going to take us for a detour and a risky ramble all-along,down-along ‘Memory Lane’. This week he recounted a tale of schoolboy rivalry to find an obscure song featured on a TV documentary, the discovery that the singer was, in fact, veteran musical hall artist, Max Wall, and a surprise home visit from Mr Wall . . . . with dolly bird in tow. Take a listen to the track and the story in the show (posted below).

It was great to have DJ Wheeliebag visit the show for the ‘Three from me’ slot. He never fails to find some memorable gems from his amazing archives, although he left it to me to tell listeners what they were! He treated us to some great ‘real’ RnB tracks and he couldn’t resist giving us his gig guide and if you are looking for an entertaining night in good company, check out DJWB website and his up-coming pre ‘Cinco de Mayo’ Hot Latin Mexican Music Nite on 4 May. Each time I’ve seen his show, he has added a few more tracks to my lengthening musical ‘wish list’ and this week I took his suggestion to visit Sounds That Swing in Camden Town, close to where he has his Wednesday night residency at The Spread Eagle PH. This visit ensured that . . . . Sounds That Swing are marginally more economically solvent and I am distinctly better provided for with good music. Thanks DJWB for the recommendation. I shall return.

Our good pal DJ Leyton Rocks was off on a clandestine filming project in ‘another place’. Unlike his radio manner, DJLR was saying nothing on this occasion and we were all left to speculate whether this was, or was not, anything connected with a certain celebrity event being held in London this week.

Occasionally, we feature a couple of well-known songs and dig out the originals. This week’s ‘originals’ segment, featured the song ‘Oh Boy’ which was a big hit for Buddy Holly. Although Buddy was a prolific and successful songwriter himself, this song was written and recorded by Sonny West who was a fellow Texan from Lubbock, Texas. In 1957 Sonny West wrote and made the first recordings of Oh Boy and Rave On at Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico, where Buddy Holly also recorded. These were quickly covered by Buddy Holly and The Crickets and became timeless classics.

We also played the original of “See You Later Alligator”, which was written and first recorded by Louisiana songwriter “Bobby Charles” in 1955. He was a white Cajun musician, but adopted a New Orleans-influenced blues style for the recording, causing some to believe he was a black artist. However, the most famous version of the song was recorded on December 12, 1955 by Bill Haley & His Comets and the rest (as they say) is history. (A foot note here: Bobby Charles also wrote “Walking to New Orleans”, which was a hit for Fats Domino).

The carefully planned musical route for this week’s show was going well, until we encountered some technical misfiring and had to re-route. When the gremlins come a-chasing, you have got to be enterprising to evade them and make it home safely. The resultant playlist (below) may look interesting, but it is quite different from what was planned. Even with these changes, we did mark Duane Eddy’s 72nd birthday this week and gave an acknowledgement of 40’s bluesman, Blind Willie Johnson’s music on its continuing journey aboard the spaceship Voyager.  Anyway, we arrived back with everyone still on board and accompanied by some encouraging chatter in the Wireless FM chatroom.

Lipstick, Powder & Paint – Delbert McClinton
How Sweet It Is – Jnr Walker & The Allstars
Brand New Girl – Walter Scott & The Kapers
But It’s Alright – J.J. Jackson
Wild Child – The Sapphires
Big Time Operator – Charlie Rich

Oh Boy – Sonny West
See You Later Alligator – Bobby Charles
Skee Mo – Hoochie & The Coochie Coos

Three from me . . . .  DJ Wheeliebag
Dirty by the dozen – Little Johnny Jones and the Chicago Hound Dogs
Worried ’bout you baby – Roy ‘Mr Guitar’ Gaines
Possum Belly Overalls – June Bateman with Noble Thin Man Watts and his Band

Leave Me Alone – Baby Washington
I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself – Cissy Houston
I Must Be Doing Something Right – Dee Dee Gardner
Let’s Jam (Part 1) – Bobby Gregg & His Friends
Turn It On – Don Covay
Sweet Darlin’ – Jimmy Soul Clarke
Woolly Bully – Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs
Chaquita Linda – Bill Haley & His Comets
Ain’t Love Wonderful – The Fantastic Four
Irresistible You – Bobby Peterson
Motherless Children Have A Hard Time – Eric Clapton

Memory Lane . . . . The Shake
Dream Tobacco – Max Wall

Love Makes The World Go Round – Odds & Ends
Hide Nor Hair – Lou Rawls
Touching & Caring – Nina Simone
Think – The 5 Royales
Fine Junk Thing – The Electric Flag
Shazam – Duane Eddy
Oh Baby (We Got A Good Thing Going) – Barbara Lynn
You Want It, You Got It – The Detroit Emeralds
I Like It Like That – Don Bryant
O’Baby (I Believe I’m Losing You) – Billy Hawkes
Going To A Go Go – The Miracles
Well – Little Richard

Already, plans are afoot (well 30cms actually) for next week’s show (I can hear the gasps of disbelief from here). This will include a little Latin rock, since the show will coincide with the ‘Cinco de Mayo’ festivities and I don’t doubt that you have already selected an appropriately flamboyant outfit from your cavernous wardrobe for the occasion. For the fashion conscious amongst you, I shall be wearing a super size sombrero with a bold, multi-striped poncho in a dazzling array of spicy colours and all set off with a maxi size Pancho Villa moustache. Doubtless, the Cruising Cruisettes will have some tequila, a few limes and some salt, for our passengers. Of course, I am well aware that we will be at risk of bandits on our planned journey, but, hopefully, we will have DJ Leyton Rocks on board to ride shotgun and to assume filming rights for any ‘incidents’ along the way.

Well, once again I am grateful to Wireless FM for the opportunity to assail your ears with my choice of music on this week’s journey. If you enjoy this selection, I hope you’ll join me next Thursday for a veritable cornucopia of rock, soul and ‘real’ RnB, when once again we’ll go Cruising with The Commissioner.

If you can’t wait till then, I recommend you take a listen to the Tuesday Night Mafia on Wireless FM (from 6 till midnight), where they’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse and play music you’ll never forget.

So, from The Commissioner, until next time, have fun!


Here are some gems for the Cruising Crew:

I Need Your Loving – Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford

I Must Be Doing Something Right – Dee Dee Gartrell (Maverick)

Bikini – The Bikinis (Roulette)

Look At Me Now – The Ethics

Hide Nor Hair – Ray Charles 

This has turned out to be a spectacularly busy week one way and another and keeping up was nearly as important as getting where Ihad to be!

One of the real highlights of the week was a trip to the cultural centre of Putney, the long-running and much celebrated ‘Half Moon PH’, which continues to be a fine music venue offering a fascinating array of artists and styles in its programme. This visit was to catch a rare re-appearance of Mike Sanchez and his band and it was simply the most sensational show I’ve seen him give for many years. He was on top form and boasted a band that was tight, exciting and packed with top class musicians, most certainly without any exceptions. Mike has had many musicians in his bands over the years, but this band was truly exceptional.

The show set off at a storming pace and never let up for two solid hours. The folks who packed out the Half Moon’s showroom cheered, danced, screamed and shouted encouragement throughout. The walls were ringing wet by the end and most of the audience too. If you want ‘full-tilt’, rocking RnB with fun and attitude, this is a ‘must see’ show. Be assured, once you’re there . . . . ‘You can’t sit down’ (respects to the Phil Upchurch Combo). Joy!

A guided tour of the Royal Albert Hall was a special treat and a great opportunity to see behind the scenes of my favorite London music venue. Some fascinating stories and insights that was followed by afternoon tea in one of the Capital’s ‘select’ hotels and another visit to The Jersey Boys to enjoy an excellent presentation of the story and music of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

My ventures around various record emporiums of London recently have bagged some notable ‘finds’ that will, doubtless, be shared with listeners to the radio show in the weeks to come. One such venture, in the company of fellow DJ Max Quirk proved to be a joyous outing on an already bright day that ended with a spring in my step, joy in my heart and clutch of real gems in my hand. The thing that really knocked me sideways, though, was the generosity of DJs Johnny Alpha, Max Quirk and The Shake over the past weeks. Each surprised me with outstanding record contributions to my collection. Great guys and great music!

The sun has made more than a few welcome visits to the Grand Duchy of Bexleyheath this past week and brought with it the serenade of lawn mowers and masked the customary fragrant wafts of mimosa and coriander in the air with the scent of sizzling sausages that signaled the re-discovery of many a barbeque. The weather has changed the appearance of the local traffic too, with the roads of the grand Duchy festooned with a perpetual parade of posers’ cabriolets, each with its own musical accompaniment and the drivers replete with the requisite dark glasses and hair blowing in the wind (of course I was always to proud to chase after mine).

DJ Leyton Rocks returned to Cruising with The Commissioner to take the wheel for a guided detour across some very ‘rocky’ terrain and there may have been some white knuckles as one or two gripped the edge of their seats on this part of the journey. But you should be assured that DJ Leyton Rocks’ road safety record is well known in A&E departments across the land and he still has all the body parts he started out with (some in near mint condition).

This edition of the show featured a couple firsts . . . . the first of the ‘Three From Me’ feature, where we invite someone to nominate three favourite tracks from their current playlist. It was a great coup to have the company of The Majestic, who is widely regarded as a spiritual leader amongst pipe-smoking DJs (and a comfort to dry-cleaners wherever he goes). The occasion also marked his decision to abandon his vow of radio silence in order to provide his speaking debut on radio. The result was an undoubted triumph of style and taste and, on the back of this, I think we may have significant competition in securing his return to Cruising with The Commissioner, but we’ll certainly try. Next week, we hope to persuade DJ Wheeliebag to offer ‘Three From Me’ and I think we can look forward to another excellent selection.

Another first was the inaugral trip Down Memory Lane, in the company of fellow Wireless FM DJ, The Shake. Recalling the earliest entries in his record collection, including Pinky & Perky’s cover of the Osmonds hit ‘Wild Horses’ and a punk rock anthem from the Angelic Upstarts (featured on the show). I think we have a much better understanding now of how The Shake got the way he is and perhaps we can encourage him to find that Pinky & Perky track and play it on his Tuesday night show sometime.

For the avid archivists amongst you, here’s the playlist for the latest show:

Be My Guest – Fats Domino
One Way Love – Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers
The Question (Whatcha Gonna Do) – Mike Sanchez & His Band
Say Mama – Gene Vincent
Teenage Heaven – Eddie Cochran
You’re Gonna Hurt Yourself – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Down In Mexico – The Coasters
Get Back In Line – Roy Rogers
Mojo Boogie – Johnny Winter
Girl Don’t Make Me Wait Too Long – Bunny Sigler
That’s When The Tears Start – The Blossoms

Three from me . . . .  The Majestic
One Mint Julep – The Clovers
Hang Me Now – Jean & The Darlings
Easy As Saying One Two Three – Timmy Willis

Cruising on . . . . .
She’s Not There – Santana
For What It’s Worth – Keb Mo
The Jackal – Ronny Jordan (with Dana Bryant)
If You Don’t Get It The First Time – Fred Wesley & The JBs
Ride The Groove – The Players Association

Down Memory Lane . . . . The Shake
Teenage Warning – Angelic Upstarts

The Leyton Rocks detour . . . . .
Into The Drink – Mudhoney
Start Choppin – Dinosaur Jr
Positive Bleeding – Urge Overkill
Debonair – The Afghan Whigs
Solid Brown – Sebadoh

Back on the highway . . . . .
With This Ring – The Platters
Almost Summer – Celebration
You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice – The Grass Roots
Cut It Out – Joe Tex
High School Dropout – Roy C
Uptight – Stevie Wonder
Hoochie Coochie Coo – Taj Mahal
Olena – Don Nix
Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – Wilson Pickett

The chatroom chatter during this show touched on the al fresco listening opportunities offered by the warm weather, the vaguaries of the postal system (a frequent topic for record collectors) and gave an enthused welcome to ‘One Way Love’ by Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, ‘That’s When The Tears Start’ by The Blossoms, and ‘The Jackal’ by Ronny Jordan (with Dana Bryant). If you stop by the show on a future Thursday night, why not check out the chatroom and let’s have your pleasure of your company and comments too.

 The fact that you are reading this confirms that the Cruising with The Commissioner website is live and has not crashed yet, so “I must being doing something right” (respects to Dee Dee Gartrell). It seems to have been well received, although it feels like flying a plane while it is still being fitted out. It will get developed further with time.

If you like the mix of music on Cruising with The Commissioner, make a date to tune in to Wireless fm ( each Thursday night at 8-10 pm, for more rock, soul and ‘real’ RnB. We’ll aim to post future shows on this site for the benefit of the curious, the inquisitive and those who enjoy a little deja vu.

Oh, and don’t miss the Tuesday Night Mafia on Wireless fm . . . . they’ll offer you music you can’t refuse and you’ll never forget: Welcome to the Spongelab (6-7.30 pm), Out of Sight (7.30-9.00 pm), Max’s Magic Circles (9-10.30 pm) and Killer Diller (10.30-Midnight).

Until we meet again, have fun!

Listen or download the show here:  Cruising With The Commissioner #3 (21-04-11)

You won’t find Hospital Radio Medway (HRM) on your radio at home, because it is based in Medway Maritime Hospital providing programmes full of music, news, sport and information exclusively for the hospital’s patients. Over 50 volunteers combine their spare time and love of radio to produce this range of programmes and broadcast from 2 studios in the basement of the hospital.

The friendly folk at HRM are proud to say they’ve got something to suit everybody’s taste in music from country, folk, pop, classical, hymns, house, trance, rock, music hall, and even comedy, to help patients through their stay in the hospital. They are not only friendly, but persuasive too and so the invitation to host a regular weekday, Cruising with The Commissioner show was an offer not to be refused and an opportunity to add some rock, soul and ‘real’ RnB to the station’s playlists.

Check out the Hospital Radio Medway website: Hospital Radio Medway

Here’s a taste of the HRM Cruising with The Commissioner shows, in case you are curious about what you might hear on the radio if you find yourself here.

Listen to a promo jingle: The Commissioner – PROMO

Listen to a show: Cruising with The Commissioner (Medway#1)

Listen or download the show here: Cruising with The Commissioner #2 (14-4-11)

Well, the powers that be at Wireless FM were indulgent enough to open the doors again to let us go Cruising with The Commissioner once more. Of course, there is always the anxiety of setting out on what was intended to be a carefully planned journey, only to find one page of the route guidance missing, and the hint of disappointment on finding that nobody had tidied up anything since the last trip out. But, next time . . . . . well, hope springs eternal . . . . .

Once the show got on the road and we picked up some pace, the chatroom filled with some lively exchanges on a bewildering range of topics, from the affects of inflation on the price of alcohol and resultant ‘best buys’, a comparative economic impact assessment of contemporary rock band and DJ career management, inspiring maxims for life and an impromptu helpdesk feature for  aspiring film scriptwriters . . . . interspersed with some enthusiastic, informed and enlightening commentary on the music too.

Here’s this week’s playlist which includes some fine choices from our good pal DJ Leyton Rocks, who we picked up along the way thumbing a lift and boasting a tee-shirt emblazoned with the descriptor ‘Panic Street Creature’ . . . . . . and I think I’ve got some of their recordings somewhere!

She Walks Right In – Diz & the Doormen
Fools Fall In Love – The Drifters
Roberta – Frankie Ford
Sunshine Day – Jethro Toe
Bus Stop – Graham Gouldman
Toyland – Alan Bown
SOS – Edwin Starr
I’m So Thankful – The Ikettes
Three Time Loser – Wilson Pickett
Choosing Up On You – The Dramatics
Black Magic Woman – Larry McCray
I’m Your Witchdoctor – John Mayall
Summertime – Ricky Nelson
Apache – The Chiefs
Seventh Son – Mose Allison
It Should’ve Been Me – Georgie Fame
She Shot A Hole In My Soul – Geno Washington
Mellow Moonlight – Leon Haywood
I Guess I’ll Always Love You – Isley Brothers
Sparrow Dead – Mighty Sparrow

The DJ Leyton Rocks detour . . . .
Power Glove – Rob
Sleeping With The TV On – The Dictators
Oh Tara – The Knack
Everyone’s Mad At Catherine – The Cretones
Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield

Back on the highway . . . .
I Like It Like That – Don Bryant
I’ve Got The Rest Of My Life – Kenny Seymour
Both Ends Against The Middle – Jackie Moore
Rik-A-Tik – The Fireballs
Sand Storm – Johnny & The Hurricanes
Come & Get It – Eli Paperboy Reed
It’s Your Voodoo Working – Lee McBee
Flip Flop & Fly – Big Joe Turner
I’m In Love Again – Little Richard
Don’t Get Off That Train – Tony Blackburn
How Sweet It Is – Jnr Walker
Ain’t Love Wonderful – The Fantastic Four

Well, we got there in the end, despite a brief stop for some technical repairs, and I think we avoided getting any tickets on the way. So, maybe we”ll try it again next week and, if you have a preference for rock, soul and ‘real’ RnB, don’t forget to tune in to Wireless fm ( on Thursdays nights at 8-10 pm. It would be good to have your company.

Oh, and don’t miss the Tuesday Night Mafia on Wireless fm . . . . they’ll offer you all sorts of music you can’t refuse: Spongelab (6-7.30 pm), Out of Sight (7.30-9.00 pm), Max’s Magic Circles (9-10.30 pm) and Killer Diller (10.30-Midnight).

In the meantime, have fun!

After an indulgent amount of planning, anguishing over direction and an extended period of technical preparation, we eventually set off on 8 April with the first ‘Cruising with The Commissioner’ show on Wireless fm. A wall-to-wall mix of rock, soul and ‘real’ RnB, with a very welcome visit from DJ Leyton Rocks, who brought an eclectic mix of jazz, rockabilly, psych rock and soul tracks with him.

The Wireless fm chat room became fairly crowded during the show, with many familiar folks and a few new visitors who were listening in and curious to check out the chat room. It was reassuring to have the Wireless fm Tuesday Night Mafia in evidence, with Sponge, The Shake, Max Quirk and Johnny Alpha all making appearances during the show and taking in the sounds.

It seemed to go well, but I suspect someone had alerted The Samaritans, just in case! Here’s the playlist from the first show:

Cruising down the highway . . .
Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go – Hank Ballard
Well, Oh Well – Tiny Bradshaw
That’s What You’re Doing To Me – The Dominoes
Taxi Blues – Little Richard
Hold On – The Radiants
Gotta Have Your Love – The Sapphires
I Can’t Help Myself – Donnie Elbert
M.1. – The Ted Taylor Four
Ginchy – Bert Weedon
Tovarich – The Gladiators
Selfish One – Jackie Ross
Talk To Me – Little Willie John
Smooth Sailing (From Now On) – The Temptations
Lazy Day – Tinkerbell’s Fairydust
Shadows & Reflections – The Action
A Dream For Julie – Kaleidoscope
Lost In the Blues – Bill Perry
You Need To Be With Me – Susan Tedeschi
I Wish You Would – Billy Boy Arnold
It’s Not Unusual – Freddie Scott & The Seven Steps
Green Door – Esquerita Go – Sounds Incorporated

The DJ Leyton Rocks detour . . . .
Giant Steps – John Coltrane
Real Wild Child – Ivan
Race With The Devil – Gene Vincent
By Yourself – JD Martin
Ecstacy Dance – Gert Wilden & His Orchestra
Up Around The Bend – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Open My Eyes – The Nazz
I Ain’t No Miracle Worker – The Brogues
If I Had A Reason – The Bubble Puppy

Back on the highway . . . .
Some Other Guy – Richie Barrett
You’d Better Move On – Arthur Alexander
Lookin’ For A Love – Bobby Womack & The Valentinos
The Cat From Coos Bay – Big Dave & His Orchestra
Texas – Edgar Winter
Everyday I Have The Blues – Memphis Slim
Stop Messin’ Round – Peter Green & Fleetwood Mac
Too Many Tears – Miles Stone

That will give you a flavour of the mix of music and we’ll aim to post the shows on this site in the future for the benefit of the curious, the inquisitive and those who enjoy a little deja vu. So, if you have a preference for rock, soul and ‘real’ RnB, don’t forget to tune in to Wireless fm ( on Thursdays nights at 8-10 pm. Oh, and don’t miss the Tuesday Night Mafia on Wireless fm . . . . they’ll offer you music you can’t refuse: Spongelab (6-7.30 pm), Out of Sight (7.30-9.00 pm), Max’s Magic Circles (9-10.30 pm) and Killer Diller (10.30-Midnight). Have fun!

If you are looking for music from jazz, to blues, to country and pop, try Austin.

 I first visited Austin after an uneventful visit to Houston, where, the only gig of note was Jeremiah Johnson at The Big Easy. I suspect that the décor and the seating at The Big Easy were inspired by the aftermath of UK Cinemas showing ‘The Blackboard Jungle’. In contrast, the music from Jeremiah Johnson was deserving of a more prestigious setting. His songs ‘Gasoline and Smokes’ and ‘Brown Eyed Senorita’ were standout songs that resonated a long time after the show.

In terms of attraction, Etta’s Lounge, described as “a Houston blues club institution that’s been rocking it with dive bar sensibilities for a darned long time” sounded enticing as somewhere for “listening to seriously good live music”. Little appreciating the cultural journey ahead, we caught a cab and asked for 5120 Scott Street. After some 20 minutes of driving and a progressively changing vista from affluent central Houston to increasingly shabby outskirts of town, the hint of anxiety was becoming evident in the back of the cab. After another 20 minutes of driving and a further shift in general description of the local housing stock from decrepit to derelict, we reached Etta’s Lounge. Even our afro-caribbean cab driver did a double take and asked politely, “Is this it? Are you really going in there?” He clearly wasn’t going to risk it himself. Now Etta may be many things as a hostess in her lounge, but customer care and fastidious and purposeful property maintenance are not immediately evident amongst her attributes. So, after a quick look inside and a sample of an Etta’s Lounge welcome (more hostility than hospitality), we decided to re-programme our evening and with the helpful guidance of our cab driver, who revealed an enviable knowledge of music venues back in the centre of Houston (where cats with tails are locals not visitors).

We returned with mounting relief and rueful reflections to find ourselves at a great Western Dance Hall, but a few minutes from our hotel. An experience of a quite different order from Etta’s Lounge and a large venue decked out as an old time two-step dance hall. Cowboy boots and Stetson hats abounded and the traffic flow on the dance floor resembled Hyde Park Corner at its busiest (but without the hooting, shouting and gesticulating). A fine time was had by all (including us), and there is a cab driver in Houston who doubtless enjoyed his fare and generous tip, as well as a good dining out story.

Decamping to Austin was a welcome move and, although the South By South West music festival is probably the best-known feature of Austin’s credentials as music capital of the world, the place is buzzing with all kinds of music throughout the year. 

Decamping to Austin was a welcome move and, although the South By South West music festival is probably the best-known feature of Austin’s credentials as music capital of the world, the place is buzzing with all kinds of music throughout the year.

Acclimatising to the heat of the day (and evening) certainly took time and affected behaviour. Austin’s local economy received several unscheduled boosts with the adventurous acquisition programme launched by Mrs TC. Local retailers were undoubtedly excited by this surprise retail spree and Jerry Ryan, owner of the Heritage Boot Store in West 8th Street, in particular, was pleased to close a deal on two pairs of hand made cowboy boots in one sale. “All that from just an enquiry about how to clean a pair of boots she had already!”

Our visits to Austin have been around the 5th May when, in past years, when we have enjoyed the Pecan Street Festival, which is held on the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend. This is where they close several blocks in the centre of Austin and set up sound stages on each corner for several day-long programme of local bands on each stage. Alongside the inumerable music bars in and around the city centre, there is little doubt during this time of Austin’s claim as the music capital of the world. Anything from blues, funk, soul, folk, country and Latin rock can be found here during this fine festival of local talent.

Our most recent adventures in Austin were accompanied by 90+ degrees and a restless roaming around town from early afternoon to after midnight to catch the various bands playing in the streets and the clubs around town. With sets of 1 to 2 hours, it is a constant challenge to keep up with the turn over of bands in the many bars, clubs and stages.

Some of the memorable bands last year were Second Day Red, Pheonix Hall, Bus Stop Stallions, Beans N Rice, Black Pistol Fire, El Tule, The Barbarians of Seville, Long Tall Eddy, River Hymn, and Kalua.

A visit to Threadgill’s World Headquarters is a must for music memorabilia from the long-gone Armadillo World Headquarters that hosted a bewildering array of artists on its programmes. Check out the jukebox that contains many of the artists who played the Armadillo, the piano that hangs from the ceiling that has been played by artists as diverse as Jerry Lee Lewis to Captain Beefheart, and some excellent examples of the posters and artwork created by Jim Franklin for album covers and shows at the Armadillo World Headquarters. He was the primary poster and album cover artist for bands such as Shiva’s Headband, 13th Floor Elevators, Conqueroo, Canned Heat, Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, and Freddie King. A special attraction is Franklin’s painting of Freddie King, so large that it hangs in the roof space above reception.

Antone’s is an Austin institution and on the first visit to Austin, we were recommended to see popular Texas Latin rock band, Del Castillo – a recommendation that ensured a stunning evening of superb guitarwork and stylish vocals. Last year’s visit brought an unexpected bonus when Del Castillo announced a late appearance at Threadgill’s open air stage on our last night there. 

Austin boasts some truly amazing local record stores here . . . . music collectors cannot miss Waterloo Records and Cheapo Discs (the size of an aircraft hanger and jammed with CDs and vinyl gems). The Antone’s store is a treasure trove of blues, soul and country material including vinyl single and LPs . . . even some cherished 78s!

My sorties (plural, you’ll note) to these platter palaces kept revealing more gems and further intriguing new discoveries. The longer I stayed in the stores the more great music came wafting across the house PA, and the staff always seemed surprised and flattered to be asked about what they were playing.

One great discovery from these sorties was the music of Dee Dee Gartrell. She made a couple of singles for Maverick Records, including what has since become a fave of mine ‘I Must Be Doing Something Right’ (perhaps an aspirational message for TC). She had little success initially, until she was relaunched as Delia Gartrell with tracks such as “Fight Fire With Fire”. Great stuff!

The haul from visits to these stores soon got to be several boxes full and, together with the footwear and other swag, engendered the prospect of buying another suitcase to get it all back home.

The abiding memory of Austin (for some time to come, no doubt) is the gift of the breakfast chef at our hotel, who (having served us every morning for many days) engaged us in genial, casual conversation on our last day. He observed with great insight that “You’re not from around here are you”. “Where you from?” On being told “London, England”, he asked (without any hint of irony), “Is English your second language?”

If you get to Memphis . . . . you must find time for some essential visits.

Check out the Sun Recording Studios, Graceland, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Music Museum, the Gibson Guitar Factory, the Stax Soul Music, the Peabody Hotel (for the parade of the Peabody Ducks), the Mississippi Queen (for the guided river cruise), the Hard Rock Café (for the requisite tee shirt and meal(s)), a visit to Swarb’s (the oldest shop in Memphis, where ‘if we ain’t got it, you don’t need it’), the Beale Street classic motorcycle convention on Wednesday evenings and BB King’s Blues Club.

On our recent visit (Mrs TC & me), we did them all and had a great evening at BB King’s Blues Club, where we caught the end of a great set by 16 year old blues guitarist/singer, Will Tucker. A (forty-ish) American man sitting next to us asked ‘how do you keep so slim?’ and then proceeded to order a large plate of ribs, fries and veg, PLUS another large plate that was cover by an enormous steak. So, now we know . . . even if it’s still a mystery to him.

One day we started with a little light breakfast and decided to set off on our great adventure – to embark on a walking expedition to the Stax Soul Music Museum and then onto the Hi Records Royal Sound Recording Studios in South Memphis. The warm morning breeze provided encouragement for our purposeful stroll through the back streets of Memphis and the opportunity to observe the gentle shift of scene from city sophistication to suburban shabbiness and then industrial dereliction. We paused regularly to consultant local inhabitants along the way who marvelled at our adventurous nature and fortitude in embarking on such an expedition. We meandered along roadsides that may not have witnessed human footfall for many years and occasionally encountered some signs of previous habitation.

Just as we had foregone the prospect of further human contact, we burst, with great acclaim, upon an oasis of civilization, featuring a Walgreens Store. A ripple of relief ran throughout this dynamic duo, especially upon discovering their toilet facilities and some additional geographical reference points (which when translated) signalled that our first conquest was within reach.

Our arrival at the Stax Soul Music Museum was celebrated with a photo opportunity, followed by a truly fascinating tour and detailed review of the historic artefacts and exhibits. Nothing was left without examination, including the available refreshments and the toilet facilities. Thus restored, revived and replenished, we sought directions from the locals for our final conquest, the Hi Records Royal Sound Recording Studios. “Down the road apiece and take a left”, said the genial fellow on the Stax Museum reception desk.

So, with a song on our lips, joy in our hearts and a spring in our step we set forth on our next adventure. A casual perusal of the roadside environs and buildings suggested the vicinity had a great potential for designation as a ‘regeneration area’, but would have to smarten itself up a bit to be eligible. We noted well the hastily arranged exhibitions of charred furniture in the front yard of several roadside properties and avant garde use of chipboard panels as alternatives to glazed windows and the re-assuring notices of interest, generously provided by the drug squad from the local constabulary.

Initially, we observed with detached interest the approach of a bright red fire appliance with blue lights flashing, perhaps assuming it to have been overseeing another of those hastily arranged exhibitions of charred furniture in a front yard somewhere nearby. That was until it lurched across the road towards us, against the flow of oncoming traffic, and squealed to a halt beside us. The driver enquired after our well-being and our intended destination. He was evidently filled with awe and wonderment as the story of our adventures of the day unfolded. He observed, with considerable insight, that we were not from ‘around these parts’, and he marvelled with his assembled crew members at our fortitude and resolve at travelling so far from home and to sample such rough terrain and inhospitable surroundings. Doubtless, recognizing the enterprising spirit and courageous nature of such ‘foreign’ explorers, he suggested (in fairly direct terms) that this was an area where such ‘courage’ was more likely to be regarded by sane folks as reckless foolhardiness. His suggestion that we return to our car and get out of ‘the hood’ a.s.a.p. may have seemed perfectly sensible, until he appreciated that we had travelled entirely on foot and getting a cab was equally remote as a possible solution.

So, with the panache and enterprise that so characterizes public servants across continents, he insisted that we join himself and his crew in the Fire Appliance to regale them with tales of our adventures as they transported us back downtown and dropped us by our hotel. It was not the conclusion of our expedition that we had expected and we never got to see the Hi Records Royal Sound Recording Studios, but at least we got to ride through Memphis in a Fire Appliance . . . . and you won’t find that on the tourist brochures !!!

In search of less adventure, we spent the rest of the day on a Mississippi river trip, which was relaxing and informative by comparison, but a bit of an anticlimax to our morning. We remained curious to see if, when the sun goes down and the tide goes out, the people gather round and they all begin to shout “Hey, hey Uncle Dud, it’s a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi mud . . . . . but they didn’t!