Under-cover killing spree

Back in the mid-nineties a friend of mine was going on holiday for a fortnight and lent me his X-Box or PlayStation or whatever it was called. After a couple of years living TV-free, I had just bought a little portable set – the point being that I had never been au fait with all the gaming consoles that were available even then. My only experience with computer games was Spider Solitaire and Minesweeper and various other freebies which came with Windows 3.1. Along with the console, my friend lent me one game, which was called something like ‘Kill ’em all!’ or ‘Death Bastards’. I don’t remember the actual name other than that it sounded like some dodgy metal band. So, having figured out how to plug in and switch on, I embarked on my first mission: it was great fun and I spent hours in front of my little TV shooting anything that moved and dying a lot. Then, after a few days, I stopped playing it. After the initial novelty and buzz I found it totally unrewarding, deeply unsatisfying and, in a bizarre grubby and self-abusive way, slightly nauseating, rather like I feel if I ever read The Sun or The Daily Mail. The time I’d spent killing all those monsters and zombies was lost time, unproductive and not even relaxing. There had been an initial ephemeral pleasure followed by a robotic desire to get past level one and then, ultimately, boredom. I resented even the presence of that little box in my flat and was glad to get rid of it.

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Fiesta time re-ignites community warmth

Business as usual returned to Pinzales this weekend when the Pasito Show was invited back to the village to perform at the Pilarica, the last local fiesta of the season and a biggie at that. The occasion also marked the popular return of the village bar, re-opened after a summer in the doldrums. It was an appropriate confluence. It was actually during a past life of the bar that the Pasito went out of favour. Rumours had it that some of the band members had imbibed so much in the bar during their lunchtime beano that back on stage they were so tipsy that they had to resort to miming to a backtrack. That did it for the Pasito in Pinzales: villages here spend thousands of euros, sometimes as much as 25 grand, on hiring 10/12-piece orquestas for the fiesta blow-out: and for the vast sums involved people at least expect the band to perform live.

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Reflections on the way to Santiago

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Five weeks and 800km later and I’m back home. And what did I discover on my pilgrimage to Santiagio? Well, on a prosaic level, I discovered that if I never sleep on a bunk-bed in a dormitory with 50 other people again that’ll be fine with me. And even though everyone snores, the ones who snore the loudest and longest are the ones who fall asleep the quickest and sleep the deepest. I discovered that however long you walk in a day, the last two or three kilometres, when you can see your destination, are as long as the 20 or 30 you’ve already walked. And I also discovered that there are many places in the interior of Spain where you’d find only ghost towns if it weren’t for the Camino. The route is a thin artery supplying and sustaining life in villages which otherwise would have shut up shop a long time ago.

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High mountains and curly kale in Asturias

If you look at a map of Asturias, it shows a rugged and wrinkled place. I have a relief map showing little mountain peaks, contours and river valleys and plains: it looks like countryside you would see from 30,000 feet up, it looks like an old farmer´s face ravaged by time and wind. Asturias is one of the most northern provinces of Spain. It’s not the most northern point, that honour belongs to Galicia, but Asturias is next in line, straddling the Bay of Biscay with a coastline sculpted by the sea. Inland it is lush with green: this is the Costa Verde, it rains a lot here. Even so, in the summer the sun can burn quite fiercely and, despite the lushness, parts of Asturias are also dirty, polluted and have their share of badly-built housing estates overspilling towns with urban sprawl. Let’s away from the tower blocks!

I´m going to take you to the Aller valley, going past Oviedo, the region’s capital, and heading down the mining valley of Mieres, following the river Lena. Just after Mieres, let´s turn left at Las Vegas (no gambling here!) and follow another valley, along the river Aller. (It sounds just like the Spanish word for yesterday – ayer - so nobody buys bread from Aller...) Our valley runs west to east, which is unusual here as most valleys run from north to south. The Aller is joined by the river San Isidro, coming down from the ski resort of the same name much higher up the mountain (1,500 metres to the top of the ski station) and we forsake the Aller, yesterday´s river, and continue up the San Isidro valley to Felechoso (“fernworthy” in English). But we realize we´ve overshot the village of El Pino, where the walk proper begins, so turn around and the village is about one kilometre back down the road.

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Nacer en Roma, crecer en Londres y triunfar en Buenos Aires

Esta es la curiosa historia de Luca Prodan, un músico italiano que revolucionó la escena del rock argentino cantando en inglés y en un particular castellano durante la década del 80. Una carrera sin duda complicada, teniendo en cuenta el triste conflicto entre Argentina e Inglaterra en aquel momento, ya que todo lo que sonara en inglés generaba cierto rechazo en algunos sectores del país.

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Adventures in the heartland: Part 2

GOOLE

Funny thing about the human condition: we often want to escape it and we come up with all sorts of ways to escape. If we put as much time and energy into solving the problems of humanity as we do into inventing ways to get wasted then there’d probably be no war, no famine and we’d be walking on Mars by now. But we don’t so there is and we’re not.

Of course, with all the different roads to oblivion that are available nowadays, you need to choose your poison appropriately. There’s no point in sucking on a big fat spliff at an Exploited gig: you need some marching powder of some description. Likewise, you don’t want to shoot up into the clouds before heading off to a rave: you want to be gobbling up fistfuls of Es like there’s no tomorrow. And you don’t want to go to Goole after dropping acid that’ll lead to a total mental meltdown: you need something which will take the edge off the weirdness, something that’ll help you accept the other-worldly as being normal down to earth. Even the journey to Goole can play games with your mind. You pass signposts to places that conjure up strange mental pictures. Places like Beverley and, the piece-de-resistance, Land of Nod.

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Too many strings, too many notes attached...

Times are hard for pianos, partly their own fault. For starters they’re big and heavy, taking up one whole wall in the average room in the average house and then being really difficult to move to get to any rotting mouse corpse abandoned underneath by the cat. Even with so-called portable keyboards the word “portable” is a bit of a misnomer: they weigh a ton. For seconds pianos, once a fixture in every other working class home, fell victim to the promise of instant stardom held out by the guitar. While Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard were the really outrageous bad boys of rock – boy did they treat their instruments rough – the homely Bert Weedon was leading lots of young men (mainly) through simple chord progressions in the privacy of their own bedrooms. The writing was on the wall for pianos: in the late 1960s, piano sales in the UK were recorded as some 14,000 sold per year: by 2013 that figure was way down to 4,000. By contrast currently 300,000 pianos are made every year in China, of which 250,000 are for use in China.

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Notes on a well-travelled piano

The day the piano arrived in our nascent Bukowski’s Piano Bar and Diner in Sheffield saw emotion and excitement take precedence over all the cleaning and prep work still to be done before our opening night. As pictured, Geoff stopped everything to tinkle the ivories. They had a good pedigree.

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Music, camera, action!

They arrived in that order, the various elements of our Red House Work cottage-industry, starting with composing and recording songs, followed by making moving pictures to tell the tales. The music was always there. The impetus for making the videos came from the fact that we were writing songs in English in a part of Spain where not many people could understand a word. Pictures speak for themselves.

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In My Own Dream: Butterfield Blues Band

It wasn’t the Revolutionary Guards or the Morality Police checking my headgear that stopped me in my tracks one night in Tehran, it was the Butterfield Blues Band.

It was one of those rare but precious occasions when you hear a track, a song, a piece of music that you’ve never heard before, and you just have to stop and listen. On rarer but even more precious occasions, the effect on you is so powerful that you get totally lost in the sounds, lost to the point of being oblivious to whatever else is going on around you. This was my ultimate such moment, miles away from here in both time and space, and it turned out that the title of the track couldn’t have been more apt: In My Own Dream..

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About

Red House Work is the body of music, songs and videos written and produced by the band, Red House, based in Pinzales, Gijón. Here we also give you a flavour of our cultural and musical interests and those of others. Contact us on: redhousepostbox@gmail.com

Red House Work es el conjunto de la música, las canciones y los vídeos escritos y producidos por el grupo Red House, con base en el pueblo de Pinzales, Gijón. En esta web os ofrecemos también una muestra de nuestros gustos culturales y musicales y los de otra gente afín a nuestro proyecto. Podéis contactar con nosotros a través de:redhousepostbox@gmail.com