Category Archives: music news

Oceaneers Light of the Whalebone: what I had meant to say.  

Bumped into writer/musician Russ Litten last friday from Oceaneers (we were checking out the Infidels at Thieving Harry’s) and I told him how I’d loved listening to his band’s album Light Of The Whalebone during lockdown. I wanted to explain how it had been a source of comfort and connection, the way it suddenly became more important to seek out and support hometown artists.

He asked me which tracks I liked from it, and suddenly on the spot, I found I was unable to wax lyrical as I had done in my head a hundred times over last year, when the Oceaneers’ sound had kept me company. 

So Russ in that moment when you asked me about the album this is what I would have said: and if it comes over as gushing then so be it.  

Where Echoes Go To Die is achingly beautiful and starts the album with a soaring refrain thats sets out the Oceaneers stall. There’s the subtle underling bass line that comes in, in such a sublime way…the perfect placement of the backing vocal. The difference between making music and churning out pop songs from a tube is that I find today’s stars find one neat trick and then repeat throughout, other musicians find a trick/hook and build from there ever challenging themselves and the listener. It is a perfectly crafted number and leaves you in no doubt of the accomplished nature of this band of brothers. 

Prince of the Vagabond People what a title… another beautifully swimmy vocal. A yearning, heartfelt song all those things that make you clench your fist in some meaningful gesture of holding on, as saltwater pricks the corner of your eyes in the middle of the morning.

A Brighter Day my first introduction to the band and perhaps unfortunate that it was released just before a pandemic gripped the globe and changed life as we knew it…  Brighter days may well be on their way now so this song does feel timely a year after its release.  Another strong opening refrain with harmonies that takes you by surprise, and then the uplift at the end that feels part of the verse/chorus. More surprises with the appearance of a bohemian flute with shades of john Barry’s Florida Fantasy. 

Camouflage a slow burner that just begs to be sung along to: hellishly catchy, picks up and you with it and doesn’t let go.

The closing number The Very Bones of You on Light of the Whalebone – remains a remarkable album critically acclaimed when released during lockdown last year – has a bit of everything poetry, punch, pianos, desperate refrains of ‘wrapped up in white’ and yowling Tom Waits-esque hysteria, with an eccentric almost gaudy sign off.  

Go and check it out it really is that good… 

Oceaneers online:

Oceaneers are: singer, guitarist and lyricist John Parkinson; bassist and lyricist Russ Litten; guitarist Simon Bristow and drums David Stead. 

Leave a comment

Filed under music news

Lockdown mk III : Son of Covid

You have to wait till something really excites you, really turns you on. It’s like the bar is set higher somehow… or there’s so many layers for the thing to break through; that could be a poem or a must- read book, a film, a picture of a painting, a zoom show whatever…

That happened today. But before I share what I just wanted to describe how this kind of thing happened in the real world. And how it was one of the best things about living and working in Hull and being a patron of the New Adelphi Club. To mention each and every one would be nigh on impossible, but on that list would certainly be hearing Richard Rufus (better known as Men Diamler) for the first time, or Matt Edible, Mariee Sioux, Signe Tollefsen, Hurray for the Riff Raff on my birthday night, or RM Hubbert during Adelphi 30 Each one a moment to savour, each one just that little bit more special for having that magical element to transform.

ADELPHI 30: Celebrating 30 Years Of Hull’s New Adelphi Club. from codhead on Vimeo.

I’m talking about those halcyon nights of perfect stripped-back acoustic sounds. Special nights where Paul Jackson would rearrange the tables (maybe the hardworking Adelphi staff would actually do the lifting) and put candles out. Nights spent wrapped in Adelphi goodness that linger long after the last note has faded and the player has left the stage. Nights where the queue for the merch table snakes across the small club, with audiences having been moved so completely, sometime a first time visitor to the Adephi or maybe a debut performance, from that moment each are forever changed. It was the same when first I saw Jeffrey Lewis ( who I’ve written about before) and Seth and Dufus, and all those glorious Catskills Mountain cats.

There’s a beautiful thing that happens when you find one of these jewels in the music scene, you suddenly find that you can still be surprised, and become just that little bit less cynical, less world weary and tap into the innocence of being a first timer once more. I love that. So who is it who has moved me to write today? Maybe someone you know very well, someone you’ve been hiding from me… and at present I know but one side of his work… Lost, now Found The Bare Bones Mix. It was the following lyric that sealed it for me, after first falling for the voice, and then the sound of his guitar playing…

While you shield and do not yield…’ lyrics from ‘Leopard’ by Gary Stewart out this Friday! Artwork by Ruth Valera

I’d not have found it, if it hadn’t been for a recommendation by my good friend Jill Lingard. It was the artwork that prompted me to drop her a message, and she pointed me to the artist Ruth Valera… then happened to say the song was good too. And so I went to have a listen, and now, I have spent the entire afternoon listening on repeat. I can’t get enough.

If I were in charge of the Adelphi I’d book him in a heartbeat. He would be perfect for that intimate candlelit magic that the best of the Adelphi musicians conjour. And so Gary Stewart, until we can have gigs again, until we can be transformed and enriched by live music again, I’ll make do with this beautiful set of songs recorded in Leeds during Lockdown 2020. I’ve done nowt but shield for so many days and months now alone with my thoughts not healthy not all the time, and today I needed to know I could still have my outer shell pierced, and for something beautiful to seep in. Go and seek him out like I did and tell me that he’s not created something wonderful.

Had a few quiet days reflecting on the family. We lost Uncle George on Saturday. I suppose it was expected he was eighty-five and had been very frail for a number of years, but it still comes as a shock.

spent a few hours making a beach-themed collage

It is the idea that the family is getting smaller. When I was young, naturally we lost grandparents on all sides of the family. No one lasts forever but two generations, it somehow feels distant no less sad at the time, but distant. With Uncle George that’s my father’s generation, it’s his family, his brother in law. My Auntie Nan has been looking after George, caring for him pushing him in a manual wheelchair here there and everywhere for the past few years: she’s made of strong stuff.

And in some ways it comes as a relief, trying to keep him safe from the pandemic and the frustrations of being in lockdown, watching him slowly, ever so slowly deteriorate, must have taken a heavy toll physically and emotionally. Still it is sad and a reminder if ever we needed one of our own mortality. George died in hospital from complications arising from a chest infection, it was not Covid. That comes as something of a relief, he didn’t have that nightmare end that so many have faced, not to mention the added trauma for the loved ones left behind.

We won’t get to the funeral, it will take place down south I’ll send a card and a letter offering my condolences to Nan and the family. I remember in my younger days a trip down south that went awry somehow and both Nan and George came to my rescue plucking me from a strange house on the outskirts of the capital. They drove me away and immediately took me for coffee and a bun. There’s a lot to be said for the power of coffee and a bun to ground you once more in the real world, to feel safer. They took me to Victoria Station and put me on a coach home, paying for my fare. I’ll always be eternally grateful that they were there for me that day, without them I’d have been in a real mess, with no means of getting home.

Rest in Peace Uncle George. . .

I closed yesterday by mentioning the drab clothes I’ve worn the past week. It got me to thinking about another time when a piece of drab clothing suddenly took on momentous importance to me. I think you’ll be surprised. Let me take you back to my early teens – not yet going to the pub but beginning to sneak out at night and also to frequently ‘leave home’.

This particular time was mid afternoon I’d had a row, I can’t remember what about, it might have been something to do with the gardening I recall having the strimmer chucked at me once… for committing some heinous crime in the eyes of my father. Maybe it was then. I was off, anger and tears in my eyes unable to control my emotions. I sped down the road without really knowing where I was going… I was just running away again. Didn’t you just hate those years when you couldn’t do angry properly and although you were so mad you found yourself crying instead? I longed to be able to do angry properly without giving myself away, and leaking tears all over my cheeks.

I’ve run away a good few times, a dozen or more, sometimes for a few hours to cool off, get my head in check, sometimes a few days to teach them a lesson. Trouble was they never seemed all that concerned when I disappeared. The old, ‘We weren’t worried, we knew you’d be back when you were hungry,’ line trotted out upon my return, or ‘Look what the cat dragged in in the night,’ after I suddenly reappeared sheepishly. Towards the end before the final time, they’d start locking all the doors and windows so I couldn’t get back in… I’d devise clever systems with hangers and spare keys and the like. I spent many hours trying to lift window handles with twisted wires in the dead of night.

Of course it was wrong, and I can quite see why once I started disappearing for longer and longer, they didn’t want me just coming back any time I felt like it. ‘You either live here by our rules or, you find somewhere else to live… we won’t keep going through this over and over again,’ my father. ‘You are driving this family apart, you have to decide if you want to be part of this family or not… it hurts us very much, but if you can’t live with us then you can go,’ that’s my mother’s ultimatum. Sounds simple doesn’t it, but no, oh no it could not be further from simple if it tried.

On this particular weekend, we’ll call it strimmer weekend for sake of argument, I ran, walked and ran some more when I thought I saw a car that looked like my dads (it hadn’t been). I found myself around four or five in the evening stumbling around a waste ground. Parts of the ground underfoot were strange colours pale blues and pinks, there were bits of corrugated iron, old pipes, dirty plastic sheets, large blue tubs lying on their side, congealed substances pouring out of many. I surmised this was all left over from the old chemical works… It was almost certainly chemicals in the barrels, and the lumping great pieces of concrete dotted around on the site, were bits of the fallen structure, which had been reduced to rubble, but not yet cleared away. I remember making a shelter form some industrial tubing, bits of plastic sheeting, fertiliser bags on the floor. I lay there for what seemed like an age… I had once again run away with nothing: no food, no coat, no plan and no clue. I found a jumper just laying on the ground, a dark green/blue woollen thing, fraying at the cuffs and neck with encrusted paint stains which rubbed like hard pellets against my skin. I vehemently remember thinking, this is who I am now, this how I live.

Of course it wasn’t. I lasted no more than six hours that time. I was trying to sneak back in by midnight. I may have even been caught and told to get to bed. ‘We’ll discuss this in the morning…’ Father again most likely.

I kept that jumper. I kept it for a few months: a mildewed, paint-stained, torn and tattered garment that connected me, and was itself connected, to that other life. I remember mum asking, ‘What is this disgusting thing living in your room?’ when she found it hidden at the bottom of the wardrobe. ‘Get rid of it this instant.’ I considered trying to explain that it was important to me, but realised quickly with such an explanation would come the admittance of all those mixed up feelings about not wanting to be here. I soon found that after she had discovered the filthy jumper, it lost all its totemic power, and I chucked it in the wheelie bin with the rest of the rubbish.

It had only been but a few hours but it felt like a lifetime. Up there on that waste ground a few miles from home, out of sight of the town I was isolated, it felt dangerous which triggered feelings of elation, somehow. I was completely alone, at that moment no one in the world knew where I was and there-in lay a kind of power: a strange sense of control.

I chose the name Son of Covid because it echoes the self-styled ‘Son of Sam’ the notorious killer David Berkowitz who terrorised New York City in the late seventies. That in turn reminded me of the Spike Lee movie Summer of Sam starring John Leguizamo whom I have always had a bit of a thing for. Incidentally I saw one of those profile documentaries of Spike Lee a few days ago on Sky Arts. It was a potted history of Spike’s most memorable or genre-defying films and it puzzled me that the commentators were all white film experts, made up of middle-aged men and one woman. Clips of the films were followed by some point of analysis or appreciation as is the form in these things. At one point they showed a famous clip from the film Do the Right Thing where Buggin’ Out – played by Giancarlo Esposito – asks of Danny Aiello’s cafe owner character ‘Why are there no brothers on the wall Sal?’ I’ll just leave that there and let it sink in.

Back to John Leguizamo, in ’95 he was cast as Chi-Chi Rodriguez in Too Wong Foo and thanks for everything Julie Newmar. A touchstone film for me growing up, about three drag queens on a road trip across the states, the trio breakdown near a backwater town with closed minds and traditional values. Decades later the one scene that sticks out to me is where Vida Boheme played by Patrick Swayze, discovers that their host, who has kindly taken the three of them in to her home, is experiencing domestic abuse. He stands up for her forcefully kicking the abusive husband out. Being rescued by Swayze, even if he was in a frock, clearly held some appeal for me. The film was rounded upon by some critics as being timid and predictable and had been overshadowed by the cult drag film The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which was another touchstone movie for me. I was a teen in the mid nineties, exploring my identity and sexuality, experimenting and being picked up by men in clubs. It was a time when Section 28 had just about eradicated all mention of anything but binary relationships and identities – including whoever I was. Those moments where you glimpse something else. Something other. Something freeing and fabulous, you hold on to dearly.

Today if you want to see and read about drag and alternate lives lived and loves, there are thousands of images and words, television shows on the subject and a million signposts, to show you where to find them. Christ there are some drag queens, that actually go into schools and say hey kids, it’s okay it’s just a character, it’s just clothes, make believe and a bit of magic, now sit down let me read you a story. Even wholesome family musicals around drag and the universal struggle to find your identity.

And the world has to be a better place for it…

I sit reading this back, having not worn anything more exciting than black joggers all week, a jumper to be hastily pulled on over whatever pyjamas I’m wearing, when the gasman or electrician arrives. I’m missing being fabulous I’m missing that sparkle in my life, the escapism and freedom of transformation becoming a different character on stage. I miss the camaraderie of the cast and all the people who pull together to make a show happen. And most of all I think I am missing the audiences.

I haven’t felt much like writing this week. It would have just been me moaning about the lack of hot water and being unable to bathe comfortably. That seemed rather self-regarding considering the trials and tribulations being faced by so many just outside my front door. Mention of the door tells you that I am shielding again, the infection rates are far higher than last time, or appear to be and the news of the new variant, which I have dubbed Son of Covid, means that it really wouldn’t be prudent to do anything but. I can share with you that I do have a working shower now, and have washed myself and my hair quite thoroughly so as to provoke a better humour.

I am startled by the way I have so easily slipped back into the shielding routine. I wake each morning, that is vital, allowing yourself to sleep-in, so quickly upsets the circadian rhythms. With my propensity for insomnia and broken sleep, I am acutely aware of making that simple effort to rise and see as much daylight as afforded by the winter season. I take my breakfast cereal – I have wheat biscuits at present – a yoghurt for my digestion and a strong coffee. I make a point to take my first meal sat at the kitchen table. I may put the radio on, listen to cheery pop music, or the world service to stay abreast of global new stories. I have gone off the local radio station, I find myself increasingly at odds with the views and comments of both the listeners and the presenters. Their binary outlook on all manner of issues are discomfiting, and likely to infect my thinking and darken my mood: moods can sit so stubbornly.

There has been some good news of late. I am pleased to be able to say that my sister has had her first vaccination and also my octogenarian aunt was due hers this week. My mother was very cross with her because she didn’t enquire as to which one of the vaccines she was going to get. I spoke with her, my aunt, at the beginning of the week to thank her for the card and a small cheque, that I will put in the bank and draw on when I can leave the house again. I’d like to use it to treat myself. Despite the concerns of using public transport coupled with the government restrictions, I find myself daydreaming about a train ride to the coast. Last year I was so very fortunate to be invited by friends to the beach on two occasions during the better weather, I do so hope we can do the same again this year.

I drank rather too much at Christmas. Forgetting the consequences, having rarely touched a drop the preceding year, I found myself suffering rather, for a number of days after. So much so that I somehow managed to convince myself I had been struck down by the disease. I took the necessary steps to find out, contacting the NHS, describing my symptoms, and booking a test. The symptoms were all centred around taste, or my lack of it. I suspect all the alcohol had eradicated my taste buds, in that way it often does the morning or indeed day after. Not to prevaricate – unlike me as you well know by now readers – I did the home test and the result came back firmly negative. So it was I began the year with a hangover, that lingered a few days which I immediately thought was covid.

How very 2020 of me.

Leave a comment

Filed under adelphi, music news, Self Isolation

Peppermint Swirl : the sweet name on everyones lips

Peppermint Swirl a sweet retro name –  shades of tangerine trees and marmalade skies – is in fact the name of a new boy/girl duo at the start of their musical journey. A journey that began on Orchard Park specifically St. Michael’s Youth Club, earlier this year, where James Bolt and Ellie Price decided to form a group together after finding a shared passion for Detroit rock duo The White Stripes.  Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under adelphi, music news

Wilberforce students channel spirit of Bowie for charity gig

Wednesday evening I trotted off to Polar Bear for a Bowie/Ronson themed, charity event called ‘oh no love you’re not alone’. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under education, music news

Lyricull 2018 : celebrating the best of contemporary British songwriters

Lyricull 2018 Presented By Wrecking Ball Promotions took place 12/15 April at Hull Central Library, where audiences were treated to a stellar line-up: the sparkling Suzi Quatro, a sardonic Chris Difford; a game Glen Matlock and the terrific Kevin Armstrong: with  author/poet Russ Litten playing the role of Parky. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Art blogs, music news

Make a date for An Audience With the Girlfriends in May

Formed in 1965, Mandy and the Girlfriends are famed for being the first all-female, rock n roll group in the UK. In May ‘the Girlfriends’ are reforming for one final time, for a very special An Audience With the Girlfriends at the popular Kardomah 94 venue, in their hometown of Hull.

girlfriends and Geri

L to R Merle, Hilary, Lynda, Lesley, Geri, Karen at East Riding Theatre Beverley

In October 2017 the Hull group appeared on The One Show with Geri Horner, when the former Spice Girl met the group and celebrated their unique place in British Music History.


Original group members Hilary, Merle, Karen, Lynda and Lesley will be back together playing live, sharing stories and answering questions about how they blazed a trail across Europe, at the height of rock n roll.

The Girlfriends will be joined on stage with cast members of Different For Girls – the musical inspired by Mandy and The Girlfriends – as She Productions the all-female company behind the hit show, announce the musical’s forthcoming U.K tour.   

Where: Kardomah94, Alfred Gelder Street, Hull

When: 18th & 19th May

Start time: 7:30pm

Tickets: £7.00 ( reserved or bought on the door)

Tel: 01482 317941

Event on venue website:


Leave a comment

Filed under music news

the Cult of Bunkerpop loves You

Bunkerpop do not pander to the masses with boring ballads on break ups, or spout kidult rock citing uber cool pop . Bunkerpop are hairy frontman Paul ‘I was in Fonda you know’ Sarel; ‘Jonathan Schoolgirl’ from Hull’s infamous bedroom Diy-ers The Schoolgirls; ‘Bliss’ of Baby Mammoth fame; Trevor ‘The Reverend’ off of Easy Skankin; ‘Carlos’ from Fire the Unstoppable Force. 


Bunkerpop @ Hull’s New Adelphi Club

The out-there music has vocals of a sort, beats in the form of drums and congas and retro crunchy synths…  provoking, last Friday at Freak Scene, the much repeated phrase ‘It’s like robots,’ from Sarel, to which the audience roar back ‘INNIT!’ and unfathomably shouts of ‘Akela!’


Picture by Codhead Films

Calls of ‘Kiss your brother, hug your sister...’ results in complete strangers turning and embracing each other, like some mass sixties love-in.

If you haven’t seen Bunkerpop live… you haven’t lived. 

The band demands audience participation, crumbling the space between audience and band like a sweaty cheese. Bunkerpop have a penchant for costume, particularly white paper CSI suits. Uniformly retained from previous musical incarnate HOTMIM… they [HOTMIM] included at any given time the Arc of Noise; a miscreant bunch of varying musical ability, who could deliver bloodcurdling wolf cries and off-kilter choruses as and when required.


Crowds cheer on Bunkerpop leader

Someone wrote Bunkerpop are ‘purveyors of Krautrock’: they are, if that describes extended improv sets – no MUCH longer than that – in notable keys such as G and F Sharp to wave upon rolling wave of shamanic beats. Bunkerpop build an infectious groove with the power to transform the most reticent, standoffish audience member, making them giddy as a gadfly. Many are wearing white plastic butcher’s aprons torn from a hastily acquired roll, after the paper suit fairy fails to materialise. The mic gets passed around, the drink gets passed around, a decapitated polar bear’s head gets passed around… and all are initiated into the bizarre Cult of Bunkerpop.


Picture: Codhead Films

Other aspects of the live experience involve bare flesh, escaping the stage at every opportunity, interfering with the audience, inducing mass hysteria and haunch dropping: the audience become mesmerised like the unwitting children of Hamlyn.

I don’t remember any actual songs…. I thought they were from out of town…. they’ve been at it for hours…’ just a few of the comments overheard at the mammoth gig last weekend.


Bunkerpop New Years Eve 2017 @ Pave

I’m told Bunkerpop did combine their cabal of nonsense, with contemporary dance at New Year, to make merry mayhem in a bar on Princes Ave.

Anyone might find themselves in BunkerPop as I found out, when the topless, bearded bandleader announced that they were trialling a novel idea, where the audience play the instruments so they can all take a break. Sarel handed me the guitar – they are heavier than they look- and disappeared for the umpteenth time into the crowd. I strummed the strings with an incredulous look and hoped to God he’d hurry back. Lucky for me, that debut on guitar and all the action on and off stage, was captured by Codhead Films. (Watch this space for Bunkerpop coming to the small screen in 2019)

MICH two

L to R Jonathan, Carlos, Trev Picture: Codhead Films


album cover design

Bunkerpop have an album coming out in 2018 after a successful crowd-funding campaign, tail end of last year. Thanks to all those who donated, the band have announced a plan to release a Double Vinyl album this Summer.

There’s mention of a festival too with no line up, or date: a kind of metaphysical event that will take place inside your mind, or at the Adelphi whichever is available that month.

Listen to Bunkerpop

Make friends with Bunkerpop

Tweet at Bunkerpop

Bunkerpop YouTube Channel

Images by Codhead Films and by permission from soc. media

Leave a comment

Filed under music news

Dave Cardo on ThisisUll

I just couldn’t believe it when I heard that Dave ‘Cardo’ Sinclair had passed away so suddenly earlier this month. How could it be? I saw tweets and posts online R.I.P. Cardo… the stunned posts shared by his friends online. I read a very emotional tribute by DJ Mark Page recalling the years Dave encouraged crowds to riot, giving promoters, sound engineers and venue owners everywhere nightmares.    Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under music news

Helen McCookerybook: post punk fave returns to the city for Furleys show

Helen McCookerybook (The Chefs, Helen and the Horns) was a favourite of John Peel and the last time she played in the city, her ‘weirdo band’ shared the bill with The Housemartins at Spring Street Theatre. Tonight her support comes from another weird homegrown act, the zany, avant-garden that is Graham Graham Beck.    Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Art blogs, music news

Seattle’s Finest Thunderpussy Return to Hull

‘Now we know why Jimi did it this way’

Rock n roll history is made in dive bars when no-ones looking. So it was at O’Rileys Monday night last November, when Seattle’s hottest band Thunderpussy chose to kick off their first-ever UK tour in Hull. Named best rock band in 2015 by Seattle and on a high after causing a storm at Air Waves Music Festival in Reykjavik a few nights before,  the all-girl rock group gave the crowd in Hull a night to remember. The debut single ‘Vicious Noose’ featuring Mike McCready from Peal Jam on guitar, was released on May 8 and now the most exciting thing that has graced the rock n roll stage in years, make a welcome return this Saturday. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under music news