Tuesday, September 03, 2002

MORAG II: A busy weekend this, which saw Morag on Saturday go to the Americana One Festival at Liverpool's Masque venue
or americano as the venue had billed it. mmmmm. a coffee fest; yes
The day got off to a very bad start when my brother claimed he wasn't expecting to have to go and see some bloody boring bands but thought I just wanted to crash at his house afterwards. Er, no Adrian; that's why I said on Wednesday I want to get the last train home but I've bought you a ticket anyway. I'd forgotten just what a bad tempered git he can be sometimes; however I suspect an undisclosed hangover as
fter a few coffees and a huge scowl at me (plus a rather bizarre diatribe about how I spoilt his plans to buy a new phone and get a biffy dvd that's allegedly only available in one tesco store in the country) he declared himslef ready to go and then only moaned about it being country a couple of times.
The afternoon was cramped and hot and we were too far away from the stage to distinguish who was on half the time; it did all rather seem to melt into one. Lots of lamenting lost love and aching violins aplenty; very few stand out songs. Special mentions to Cicero Buck who I will defineltey look out for; they had a woman singer and some songs with real passion. I also the have-nots a great deal; they are young and pretty and have some beautiful harmonies. I know everyone thinks they love ryan adams a bit too much but I think they get away with it. Plus Matt Hill's producing their album and I confess to having a huge soft spot for him. It's a shame his set got cancelled but at least he had a good excuse; he was in las Vegas singing with an Elvis impersonator at a friends wedding. I just wish the
afternoon had moved me more; I wasn't filled with inspiration
There was a break between the free show and the main acts, we missed the screening of O Brother Where Art Thou so we could go get some food; by this time Adrian looked like he was almost enjoying himslef and I was glad tio be there with him. When we returned, after a hefty delay, we went upstairs for the main attraction. Whilst we were hanging around I discussed whether we were really a scene or not and Adrian kept telling people I usually drag him to see Britney.
I've seen Michael Weston King a few times; each time I think `he was rather good; I must buy a good sons record' and then I get distracted and forget and can't remember why I thought he was so good. And guess what; same happened today. I can recall he was accompanied by Allan Cook on pedal steel, possibly the hardest working man in show business (if this counts a show business) Anyhow if there's a guest pedal steel player at a show in the Uk there's an 85% chance it'll be Alan and he's always a very welcome sight.
Bap Kennedy was ok: I'm damning with faint praise because I suddenly found myself craving glamour and pop stars and passion instead of some amiable bloke singing nice but unremarkable pub rock numbers. Bonus points for the vampire song though.
I love The Arlenes and was really looking forward to seeing them live for the first time. They play fairly traditional country but they do it so well; maybe I'm just a sucker for the husband/wife dynamic. I can't help but think if the handsomes didn't have mental health issues maybe they would sound like this. I spent a gratifying amount of time Saturday talking abut the handsomes, always a favourite subject as y'all know. Anyhow, I digress. back to the arlenes. Sadly Steph wasn't there, having just had a baby (Honey Belle Arlene; what a cool name) and tbh I was disappointed, they were good with out her but nothing special. Her absence also made it an unremittingly blokey night. save for a backing vocalist on a couple of Bill malonee and Michael Weston King songs the evening stage was entirely male. I found that profoundly depressing, not least when I realised I couldn't think of anyone I especially wished was there.
Token genuine American Bill Malonee was the highlight of the night for me; intelligent, haunting songs and the evening's first sighting of charisma. I've always enjoyed the Vigilantes of Love but this was an unexpected delight. He reminds me somewhat of Mike Scott, not least because of his entertaining , thought provoking and occasionally barking words but noone seemed to see this so perhaps I'm wrong. There was some inexplicably moving harmonica playing and he apologised for any trouble his country may be causing at them moment. Memo to self: buy my own copy of audible sigh.
Peter Bruntnell does what he does very well indeed; that thing is strumming his guitar and singing languorous melodies about darkly humourous stuff you wouldn't expect (cryogenics, hating tabloid journalists, the joys of Hull) I know he can rock out too but I was sort of glad it was just him and the ubiquitous James on guitar as it fitted the mood better. One track, not even his best, did that weird thing music can do sometimes and transported me back to the first (and last) time I'd heard it.
anyhow next up were witness; after all the hype and adulation they were almost inevitably a let down. For some reason I was reminded inexplicably of The Real People, probably as a result of the scouse indie contingent there to cheer them on, and in truth that's what they were; and average indie band with very little sparkle. I wouldn't even have said americana was a particular influence on them and yes, once again it was totally blokey.
Perhaps I'm being a little harsh on witness; their last song was a power pop cracker about a man who uses a buggy as a zimmer frame and I suspect they may well be a grower and I'd be keen to hear the album. but right now, I didn't think they belonged on my heart on this stage.
the whole night had overrun spectacularly so I was pretty glad I'd been offered a lift back to manc with steve who produces Triste magazine (the next issue of which includes my encounter with richard buckner) His brother has just moved to chicago; this made me jealous and pretty pissed off. if he can do it, why can't I? the answer seems to be my lack of expertise about animal feed. grrr. The conversation then drifted onto the place of kazoos in skiffle bands; this made me much happier. But it was late, I was tired and I am, as often stated, crap at navigation, so we got to whalley range via cheadle and thus it was 3.30 am before my head hit the pillow.

More about Americana One on the official site

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