On Saturday, we headed off to South Record Shop in Southend to see John Doran, music journalist and editor of the excellent online magazine The Quietus, read extracts from his new book, Jolly Lad, published by Strange Attractor, "... a memoir about recovery from alcoholism, mental illness, and substance abuse, [the book] is also concerned with the healing power of music, how memory defines us, the redemption offered by fatherhood and what it means to be working class."
This Southend date was one of 31 on a reading tour entitled: An English Trip. This "trip" ended yesterday in Salford.
This venture was some kind of experiment and voyage of discovery - taking the author and his collaborators to unusual venues.
When people asked incredulously why I was doing the tour, I stammered that it was important for me as a music writer to have a clearer understanding of the lot of an independent musician in 2015. I wanted to know how difficult it was to book gigs where I didn't live, to find the money, to plan the route, to come up with merch to sell on the way, to find suitable support acts.
An English trip featured readings by John accompanied by his friend Kjetil Nernes from Norwegian band Arabrot.
As an author and ex-music journalist who is really interested in the interaction of music and words - I have created a playlist for my third novel, which is itself inspired by a PJ Harvey song - I was really looking forward to witnessing the coming together of John's prose and Arabrot's dark noise... but it wasn't meant to be.
The author arrived on his own carrying his box of books and CDs... No Arabrot in sight!
Still, even without the music, it was a very enjoyable event.
We were first entertained by the fantastic "Wild Man of Wivenhoe", poet and rock musician (with his band Cleaners From Venus) Martin Newell. Charismatic and extremely dynamic, he read some of his poems full of wit and sharp social observation. A real treat!
Listen to an interview with Martin Newell HERE.
John Doran read several extracts from Jolly Lad, including his serious run-in - whilst a Metal Hammer journo - with a guy releasing music under the moniker "Madame Guillotine". The author has an incredible way with words: his prose is lyrical, witty, cutting; the scenes he describes so vividly come to life in front of your eyes, and you find yourself wondering whether the guy in front of you really is the protagonist of such surreal adventures...
I very much look forward to getting started on Jolly Lad, which I'll do whilst I continue reading Thomas Hardy's The Woodlanders.
That should be interesting.
An interview with John Doran on The Louder Than War website HERE.
Some notes from An English Trip HERE and HERE (as well as an extract from the book).
A great review of Jolly Lad HERE.
In other news, also last weekend, Matt ArtPix and I finally held a copy of author and musician Johnny Navarro's debut novel Kill Devil Delta in our hands!
It is a thrilling read (I have done some proofreading work on it) and it looks superb (Matt has designed the cover and typeset the content of the book!).
Read Matt's blog about it HERE.
Read my interview with Johnny about the book HERE.
The book/music theme will continue in June with two events I will be attending: Jaz Coleman (Killing Joke) at St Pancreas Church, London (spoken word tour, Letters from Cythera) on June 17th and the launch of Carl Stanley's book, Kiss and Make Up, published by our friends Ignite Books, on 21st June in London!
I think therefore I write.
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