Items filtered by date: February 2016

Barring an act of God...

  • Published in Venues

Flood, fire and economic pestilence robbed a village near Gijón of what was not only its social centre but also a popular venue for live entertainment. Bar Pinzales was forced to close its doors 12 months ago after one disaster too far, an anniversary not celebrated with any joy in the pueblo nor by the artistes who regularly earned a few bob performing there every weekend. Unfortunately for all concerned, there doesn’t seem to be much hope of a rescue plan for the bar any time soon. The accordion players, the one-man bands, the karaoke kings and queens, the crooners, schmoozers and comedians who appeared there will all have to wait some time before making a return.

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Creating an Explosion - on the hoof

  • Published in News

The death of David Bowie in January triggered a meltdown of activity in the Circo Perrotti recording studios in Gijón, which will no doubt fuel the enthusiasm of fans of the three zanies who make up the Doctor Explosion phenomenon. It all sounds like a very Doc.Ex story. On day one there was nothing, not a word, not a riff, not a tune, just a response by Jorge Explosion to the media coverage of Bowie’s demise: fast forward a week to eight songs recorded and ready for mixing. Planned release date for the resultant album, on the Subterfuge label, is some time in September.

It may be called On the Hoof, a suggestion by Red House Work that appealed to Jorge Explosion after he talked about working sobre la marcha. Hard work but inevitably full of spontaneity of the non-stop explosive variety.

“Six days from nothing to a CD of all original songs is some achievement,” said Jorge. “I was composing as we went along. We were due to do some recording in the studio and I was in front of my mates pretending I already had some proper ideas but I was actually coming up with the ideas there and then, changing them all the time. I used their faces to judge the value of the ideas so sometimes I had already changed the idea because I was reacting to their expressions before they’d even managed to get their comment out.”

Red House Work was treated to a solo performance by Jorge Explosion of David Bowie Murio, a song which obviously tickles Jorge’s sense of the ridiculous. He was and is full of respect for Bowie the musician but not for the huge media chain-reaction to the megastar’s death. “In the song I’m making fun of the drama in the media and that whole thing on Facebook when stars die,” he said. He quotes a line from the song by way of illustration: ‘Now stars are passing away in tragic accidents in their golf carts.’

The whole song is a comic irreverence. It tells of someone sitting eating lobster in a restaurant when he hears the news of Bowie’s death. ‘So I finished my food, had some dessert, had a liqueur, paid my bill and left. So David Bowie murio, so what? My life went on as normal.’ All very Doctor Explosion, as you’d expect.

And aficionados do expect that integral mix of humorous irreverence and tongue-in-cheek comedy in Doctor Explosion albums, which at times is a double-edged sword, according to Jorge. “We always include a funny cover-version and that’s often the song that gets all the attention and takes away from maybe another really good song on the album. So this time we haven’t yet decided what to do. We may release a mini-album of the songs we’ve just been working on and then release a very silly song as a single, or we may include a silly one in the album, we don’t know.”

Then his face creases up: he knows which silly one he has in mind. “I thought it would be really funny to do a Spanish version of Bo Diddley’s I’m A Man but using some Julio Iglesias lyrics, so you’d have a very romantic, very cheesy song but in a totally different context, in a punk-blues sound. It would be fun.”

No doubt but we’ll have to wait and see in September. The Subterfuge people are also planning to re-release Doctor Explosion’s whole discography later in the year: 2016 will be treated to a positive plethora of explosive materials. ML

***Jorge Explosion has just confirmed that their new CD will be called Titivating On the Hoof. The Red House Work input is confirmed: the word ‘titivating’ was how RHW described Jorge’s tweaking and adjusting his tunes and lyrics as he went along.

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Adventures in the heartland: Part 1

  • Published in Articles

There are some strange places in England, stranger than you might imagine. Small dots on a map which you pass over barely registering their names. Names like Goole, Glossop, Beverly. Even larger dots heralding places like Mansfield, Bridlington or Wakefield - you’ll probably still scan past them looking for wherever it is you want to be on the map. These are the small towns north of Birmingham and south of Newcastle which inhabit the arch of the aorta, carrying blood to their own particular heartland of England. For many they will always remain dots on a map: there are very few reasons to visit them, just barren and hard places crumbling in the aftermath of their own industrial hay-days.

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Good tonguing needed

It’s rude and lewd and not what the nuns in my old school would have expected me to write but perhaps Don’t You Dare conjures images that may have tormented them in their stark convent cells in the dark loneliness of the night. This song should be sung by a sister but instead, incongruously, the vocals are provided by Geoff.

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All set for take off...

  • Published in News

It seems the bat might take flight after all. The challenge I was given by an Argentinean friend to write a song about a murcielago – which means a “bat” in English (see Preguntas in our Song for the Week – has led to an unexpected collaboration between Red House Work and Emilio de Bonito, the maestro flamenco guitarist who stole the limelight in the film, Vicky, Christina, Barcelona. He called in to the red house over the weekend, was coaxed into checking over my lyrics, liked them and so the bat came one step nearer to achieving take-off.

Originally conceived in my Western-rooted 3/4 time, Murcielago, it turns out, lends itself perfectly to a totally different approach. Emilio was treating me to a private recital of flamenco music on the back terrace of our house (in the sunshine, glass of wine and ciggies to hand, trees swaying in the breeze) and then conversation turned to songs and composing. The result was that several minutes later I was listening to an impromptu flamenco version of my song Murcielago. It was a mesmerising performance and, for me, totally and utterly and ridiculously satisfying. I had thought that my lyrics would never be heard in the light of day, let alone be heard in such a perfect genre.

The pictures painted in the words evidently echo the sentiments and oft-times darkness of flamenco. Forget 3/4: boring, gypsy passion is the way forward. Emilio took the lyrics away with him to work on the music and delivery. He’s coming back to the red house this week to continue work on the music with Geoff Watch this space. ML

¿Listos para despegar?

Parece que el murciélago por fin va a despegar. Una amiga me desafió escribir una canción sobre un murciélago – que se llama ‘bat’ en ingles (ver Preguntas en el ‘Song for the Week’ - Canción de la Semana), y puede llevar a una colaboración inesperada con Emilio de Bonito, el maestro de flamenco que brilló en la película Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Emilio pasó por la casa roja durante el fin de semana y daba un vistazo a las letras de la canción. Le gustaron y así el murciélago ya esta preparándose a desplegar sus alas.

Había sido concebido en un tempo 3 / 4, de tradiciones occidentales, pero resulta que la canción puede ser interpretada de una manera bien distinta. Después de me interpretar un recital magistral de flamenca guitarra en la terraza de la casa (en pleno sol, con un vino tinto y un cigarrillo, los árboles bailando en la brisa) empezamos a charlar. Hablamos de canciones y composición. De pronto, me encontré escuchando una versión improvisada de mi canción, murciélago. Su actuación fue sensacional y me daba un enorme y ridículo sentido de satisfacción. Escribí las letras sin ninguna esperanza de escucharlas nunca con música, mucho menos así, en un genero tan perfecto.

Sin haberme dado cuenta, mis letras, o las imágenes evocadas por las letras, reflejan el lado oscuro del flamenco. Lo del 3 / 4 ya parece poca cosa: viva la pasión gitana! Emilio se fue con las letras y su guitarra para perfeccionar la música y su interpretación. Va a volver la semana que viene para trabajar junto con Geoff en la versión definitiva de la canción. Esté atento a este espacio!

...y gracias a todos que me ayudaron aquí con la traducción.

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Jazz on the off-note

  • Published in Venues

According to a friend who knows more about these things than I do, most of the jazz heard in Gijón and roundabout is of the experimental kind. He even went to a concert in which just one solo double-bass player was on stage, keeping the audience rapt (evidently not entirely) in his virtuosity for a whole hour of, so I’m told, exploring the sounds and off-rhythms he could elicit from the instrument. It wouldn’t have been my cup of tea.

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Wath happened? Taking five at Toma 3

  • Published in Venues

We got stood up by the boss of Toma 3 after fixing and then confirming an interview date in his own bar, a very convivial place for us and, one would assume, very convenient for him. Something must have happened that even precluded a call to his staff to tell us he’d not be turning up. Don’t know what that was all about, with free publicity on the cards.

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Ripe to the taste

It seems you can take the band out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the band. “Country music is in our blood.” Confirmed. Maybe not the first thing you expect to hear on a wet afternoon in Gijón but not so strange when you’re talking to Jake Garcia, singer with The Ripe, three quarters of whom come from Austin, Texas. The band have just completed a tour of Spain with an informal midday gig at Toma 3.
“It’s been a great if somewhat low-key tour,” the fourth quarter of the band, guitarist and Gijón’s own Jorge Muño-Cobo Gonzalez a.k.a Jorge Explosion, enthused after the gig.

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Iced Tea and Yorkshire crumpets

mid-1990s Sheffield, UK
I was playing bass in a punk rock band called Etiquette. We were publicity whores. If you got banged up for the night, it went in the papers. If a full-scale riot broke out at one of your gigs, it went in the papers. If you bleached your hair platinum blonde, it went in the papers. If you didn’t have a story, you’d invent one and it went in the papers.

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Twerking our stuff - down in Sotiello

Instructor Sylvia Blanco Martinez warms up before the class

In 180 countries around the world, a reported 15 million people gather weekly in more than 200,000 venues to step and twerk and shimmy their way through an hour of Latin-infused exercise classes. A dozen or so of the 15 million meet in the community centre in Sotiello. This pretty but industry-scarred village near Gijón hardly suggests the high-temperature rhythms of Columbia, where the dance exercise system was born, but home to a zumba class it is. Beam me down to Sotiello, Scotty.

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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