Tag Archives: music

Mitch Albom, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. Review.

3D-frankie-e1439344972792The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto starts off a little slowly as the narrator gets themself established. Considering that the narrator is music itself, this isn’t an easy task but it does make for a little of a slow burn. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Albom whose previous successes give him some leeway.

It’s like when JK Rowling spent pages and pages describing all the departments in the Ministry of Magic describing everything. It didn’t progress the storyline but by that point, no one was censoring her. Frankie Presto is a much shorter story than any Harry Potter could be, however.

Music, our narrator, is at the funeral of one of its beloved musicians, one of, if not the best one that there has been, Frankie Presto. A Spanish documentary is being made about Presto and the story cuts back and forth from Frankie’s childhood to his end. The book is full of cameos from all sorts of famous people such as Lyle Lovett, Duke Ellington, and Wynton Marsalis who either provide their best story or featuring in Frankie’s progress.

With such powerful emotions and dramatic tellings, long-time musician Albom keeps the telling sparse but appropriately wrapped in musical metaphors.

It’s a beautifully told story and I read it in one day. Highly recommended.

Downloaded from NetGalley.

Some fun things

There are so many things I see and want to write about but then I forget or spot the next thing and can’t figure out when to write a whole post about them. I’ll include as many as I can remember here instead.

Humble Bundle

Pay what you like for a bundle of music and distribute the sum between charity, the artist and the site. The artists include They Might Be Giants and Ok Go.

There are five days left for the current bundle.

Cherry Pie Lane

I chat to Cherry Pie Lane on Twitter and she posts the most beautiful handcrafted goods that it makes me want to pick up something and do something else with it. One of my favourite things is the clay baby foot commemorating a birth.

Children’s Wool Craft Classes

The Homemade Mama is doing some wool craft classes for children. My little girl is too little but I imagine that older tinies would enjoy making pom poms and garlands and other interesting things.

Three Gigs in Bristol Not To Be Missed

There are three musical events which have me excited about October and November.

Belleruche (+Bizali)

Belleruche are a band I’ve meant to watch for a while as I seem to keep missing the  vocals of Kathrin deBoer and the light accompanying guitar although be warned that the sound is more funky than folksy.  They played at the Big Chill bar in February and are back in Bristol in October.

Where: Metropolis, Bristol
When: Thursday, 21 October 2010, doors at 19:30, starts at 21:00

Bristol Ticket Shop £8.75  SeeTickets £8.80 (+£1.50 transaction fee)


Junip are a three piece band from Gothenburg, Sweden – featuring Tobias Winterkorn (keyboards), Elias Araya (drums) and José González (vocals & guitar).  José González is better known for his solo work which includes the song Heartbeats featured in the Sony advertisement with the colourful bouncing balls. Junip are promoting their new album Fields (new single Always is on Spotify).

Where: Thekla, Bristol
When: Sunday, 03 October 2010, doors at 19:30, starts at 19:30
Bristol Ticket Shop £9.25 Seetickets £9.75 (+£1.50 transaction fee)

Local Natives

Local Natives are an indie rock band based in Silver Lakes, Los Angeles, USA. They released their album Gorilla Manor in November 2009 in the UK. According to Wikipedia, Clash Music described their music as “psych-folk, or modern worldly folk” and that sounds about right.

Bristol Ticket Shop £11 See Tickets £11.50 (+£2.25 transaction fee)

Where: Thekla, Bristol
When: Thursday, 18 November 2010, doors at 19:00, starts at 19:00

Cover of Fields by Junip

Dot to Dot: the Crookes

A beach baby, bouncy, feel to the Academy was a pleasant surprise and I don’t mean in a Bon Iver kind of way. The Crookes were the band that were on at five and we had just arrived from an overcrowded and very hot Thekla. The only band playing at the Thekla was in the bar and we weren’t allowed in because it was too crowded.

I was looking forward to the unknown bands at Dot to Dot most of all and the Crookes fit well into this category. They are a four piece Indie band from Sheffield although none of them are originally from there. Their sound was half ska, half Grease Lightning and were a fun way to start off the festival.

Stokes Croft Streetfest photos (2)

Some more photos:

Stokes Croft Streetfest

The urban cultural area of Bristol, better known for graffiti and Tesco protests, is set to become even livelier next week. A few days ago, a friend from Cheltenham asked if I was going and at that point I hadn’t even heard of it. The flyers are starting to appear around Bristol however or it could be that I’ve only just now had the time to notice the publicity.

The event is the Stokes Croft Streetfest and it takes place around most of that area on Saturday 22 May. Following a public consultation in February, the one day festival was organised in the hope of bringing together the many people who live, work and play there. The aim is to help raise the profile of Stokes Croft’s positive aspects: the art and creativity, inclusivity and diversity.

Activities, described as an ‘eclectic mix’, are arranged over two periods of time: day and evening. During the day, from 12pm to 6pm, there is no entry fee for performances, street theatre, art installations, indoor and outdoor markets which will take place in open areas such as King’s Square and the ‘Bear Pit’.

Events at night, from 6pm to 6am, are accessible with the purchase of one wristband at £5 in advance or £7 on the door. Just Jack at Lakota, the Ten Pound Suit Band at Leftbank and Brazilian Beatz at the Croft are just a small sample of the many acts taking part.


For more information visit www.stokescroftstreetfest.org.uk. Tickets are available from the Bristol Ticket Shop, Rooted Records, Canteen and all usual outlets.

Alphabeat, Bristol

Two location changes saw Alphabeat‘s gig move from the green and prettily located Anson Rooms in Clifton, down to the centre and then to the back-of-an-industrial-estate feel of Bedminster. Through an alleyway, in the rain, I made my way to Fiddlers and got there eight minutes early. He arrived eight minutes late which gave me plenty of time to absorb all the smoking going on around the door and note with interest a car pull up with a young woman driver. She offers to sell two tickets and then gives them away after mentioning she had won them on the radio. Two girls rather indifferently take said tickets and then use them to get out of the rain rather than wait for their friends who had theirs.

My ticket’s arrival in the pocket of my beautifully luminous friend saw us make our way into a much more pleasant setting. Fiddlers was small enough to let us get quite close to the stage and at the same time spacious enough to host six or seven tables on one side, a large bar in the middle (cash only) and a stage with a setup that provided a pretty great sound.

This latest Bristol gig for the Danish band was six months to the day (and date) since they last entertained us at the Thekla. The supporting acts last night were Pearl and The Puppets and Eliza Dolittle. I heard the strains of the first act when I was out by the front but only really caught Eliza’s act properly. The soulful, coffee shop jazz was wonderfully melodious with the aid of a guitarist/ukulele player and a double bass. I loved the music which could have just as easily set the mood for drinking whiskey in a smoky, dark, little room with a saxophone just out of sight but winced at some of the contemporary lyrics about banisters and poles and skinny jeans. Fusion cultural offering at its best and probably easy to get used to once I give it another try.

Quality in small doses was obvious with the next band as well who were of course the main act. Friends were surprised that the venue was so small for such a big act although at the time it all seemed just right.

Anders and Stine were friendly and social in between songs taken from their last two albums. Fantastic six kicks off the night and Stine tells us that it is the last night of their tour. They cover songs such as Hole In My Heart, Chess and Heatwave from the new album The Beat Is. The latter song is quietly appropriate as the music venue keeps getting hotter during the night. I looked up to see whether there were any heating vents but apparently it was just the enthusiasm of the crowd. Anders needed a towel and his enthusiastic loping dancing was a little more muted as he dripped with sweat. With a towel around his neck he was still energetic enough to sing Touch Me,Touching You, Go Go and 10,000 Nights of Thunder.

As at the previous show, the end came way too fast and with Stine announcing their last song, my equally dismayed friend looked down on me and prophetically said but they haven’t played the Spell, DJ or Fascination. So then they did. The latter two were brilliant encores. To be seconds away from such fortune telling was quite impressive although it was all a bit forgotten when Anders threw his towel in to the crowd to excited and disappointed gasps (mine for being too far!).

The crowd was a mix of younger afficionados of skinny jeans, older shuffling dancers, joyful vivacious lovely blonde girls and some sportily attired fans. I’m sure that everyone walked out feeling cheerier than when they came in out of the grey, rainy evening. A later curfew at Fiddlers meant the walk home was at a time closer to midnight than 10pm and through the edge of Bedminster rather than the prettily lit Queen Square. However it was nice to be so close to a charming band although the location and heating may be a reason that it was available at such short notice for the band’s last change. No complaints though as it was a fantastic band which provided for a fascinating evening.