Shakin’ up an intercity force for the gooood

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It’s been a while in the making but Red House Work, back from its summer recess, is proud to announce the upload of its new music video, Shake, Rattle and Roll, a rockin’ collage of dance moves and happy faces from Liverpool to Lisbon, Sheffield to Santillana del Mar. You can view it under our “Videos” tag.

The first mise en scène was the small but hot tourist destination, Santillana del Mar, in Cantabria, northern Spain, known fondly as “the place of three lies”: its name roughly translates as a holy flat area by the sea but it’s actually not particularly religious, it’s in the foothills of the Picos mountains and it’s inland. Despite this apparent misnomer, Santillana is very attractive - Jean Paul Sartre described it as “the prettiest village in Spain”, which is quite some accolade coming from an existentialist. But there is also something horrible lurking right in the middle of town: the Museum of Torture. This makes for a truly depressing experience. Full of original machines and implements of unspeakable torture, the exhibition spells out in really gross detail exactly what simple but awful horrors one human being is capable of inflicting on another, no orifices spared. No room in a music video for such cruelties.

Happier vibes were encountered in Sheffield. A group of birthday guys in El Paso’s and a chorus-line of chicks at the Peddlers’ Market helped rock the venues into instant stage-sets with lots of energetic moves and mouthings, aided and abetted by some familiar but still determinedly enthusiastic Red House Work extras. In Liverpool a bronzed Billy Fury obliged, shakin’ his rattlin’ bones by the Mersey at just the right moment, while who can resist the manic rollin’ virtuosity of our arm-pumpin’ friend in the Belvedere pub.

Lisbon, infected by UEFA Cup fever during our filming, was alive and kickin’ even as their team was getting kicked into touch from somewhere down in the doldrums in the early stages of the tournament. The non-stop rock’n’roll energy commanding the airwaves over Lisbon was so strong it finally lifted the team and ultimately the trophy.

And so to the good folk of Gijón, captured here strutting their stuff in the traditional Begonia square dancing to welcome in the New Year. Thanks to one and all. We had a ball. ML

Heading off on The Way

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A couple of years ago my Dad announced that he wanted to do the Camino de Santiago. I think this was partly inspired by the film The Way, starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son Emilio Estevez, and partly because my Dad likes to walk. Now, I’ve no burning drive to walk. Other than a means of getting from A to B I can think of better ways to use my time but I was suddenly faced with an opportunity which doesn’t come along too often: the chance to spend an extended period of time with my father. Life has a way of getting in the way of things like that. You can’t just take six weeks off; you’ve got to go to work, pay the bills, do the shopping, keep on with your routine. After all, life is routine so much of the time. You do what you have to do and not what you want to do because of RESPONSIBILITIES. But the thing about life is that it’s finite. I’m not getting morbid but as sure as eggs is eggs we’ve all got to die at some point, as far as I know there’s no way out of getting out of that one. But when someone close to you dies you inevitably ask yourself: did you spend enough time with them? Did you miss out on talking with them because you had to go to the supermarket? Did you not visit them because it would be too inconvenient? Did you waste an opportunity to share some time together? Did you put it off until another day? Did you just not see them because life got in the way? So when my Dad said he was doing the Camino it was immediately clear to me that this was an opportunity that I wasn’t going to waste. Sod the routine.

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Band leaves the stage

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The last chords were sounded by Red House this week as Geoff decided to call it quits on the band. He wants to devote his time and energies to composing and arranging, keeping control over the sound and mood he wants to achieve with individual songs. The band had its last practice last Saturday: Geoff informed Maggie of his decision the following day and the rest of the band found out at what was supposed to have been a special practice on Wednesday.

It was a sad but inevitable decision: after some three years, the band had reached a level it was unlikely to exceed. Friendship as well as music-making had underpinned everything and ultimately it was important to preserve the friendship in the face of perhaps a growing discontent in the music-making. Geoff and Maggie will continue to work together on songs under the title Red HouseWork.

“After the practice last Saturday I was trying to work out how to resolve the problems which were preventing us from making further progress,” said Geoff. “On the Sunday I decided that maybe we had just come to a natural end; that maybe the progress I was looking for was of a different sort than the scope of the band could offer. When you do something for the love of it but the pleasure is slowly being eroded by other factors, then maybe you need to look for a change. But we’ve had a great time and met all sorts of people and made new friends and so thanks to all those we’ve worked and played with: Nico, Norali, Juan, Matis, Marina and of course Sandro, Colin, Miguel and Tania.”

The website will continue and contributions are still invited.

CD laid down now he’s on the road again

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Itinerant musician Hugo Blouzouki, who earlier this year wrote for Red House about his global adventures as a music-maker, has finished his latest CD, Je Déménage, a collection of original songs recorded with a group of musicians in Istanbul over the early summer months. It is an inviting, rich mix of sounds, including horns and sax as well as guitars, harmonica and percussion. Blouzouki has a gentle approach, he sounds like a French Lou Reed or sometimes he’s reminiscent of Leonard Cohen. You can listen and see if you agree via www.blouzouki.com/music For me there are two stand-out numbers; the title track, Je Déménage, a lilting foot-tapper with a soaring saxophone interlude, and Le Porto, which introduces elements of Portugese Fado music and flamenco hand-clapping.

It’s to be hoped that sax player Hakan Kiltepe and his fellow musicians, as well as everyone at Drum and Bass Studio, Istanbul, where the CD was recorded, mixed and mastered by Aybars Gulumser, are safe and well after the catalogue of terrorism attacks in Turkey and the recent failed military-coup and all its casualties. Hugo himself had already left Istanbul: he contacted us in June from Berlin, just before setting off to Switzerland for some street playing. He might even head here to Pinzales in late summer... ML

Play mates ring out the cash

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Two new arrivals who swapped their field nursery for the red house are after just one week showing signs of musical integration, not necessarily of the welcome kind. Chav (the tabby) and China (the other one) were rescued from a colony of cats in the gardens of an old house after their mother had had enough. China subsequently had to be rescued again. After a couple of hours spent hunting round the sitting-room investigating the source of relentless cheeping cries, Geoff eventually traced the by-now quavering kitten: China had entangled herself in the back of the piano. It has since become one of her (most inconvenient as regards furniture removal) hiding places. Meanwhile Chav shares responsibility for orchestrating the tinkling sounds of our money pouring into pet-shop tills – mother’s-milk substitute, special kitten food, eye-drops, anti-flea spray-with-comb, anti-flea bombs for when they’re old enough to be out of the house for three hours. All this has interrupted the usual work in red house. The kittens were crawling with fleas when they arrived, you could literally just sit and watch the pesky marauders taking the air (and the blood) at will and then the poor kittens demented with all the subsequent scratching. Morning bath sessions in washing-up liquid in the kitchen sink were initiated, followed by a routine of flea-spray combing then flea-zapping with a battery-powered flea-zapper; nothing intrusive, of course, they’re too young. The routine has proved quite successful: so many of the blood-suckers have been executed that Chav and China are having a bath-free morning today. Needless to say the Red House website has had to take a backseat this week.

Choice offerings at Lisbon's Joycean fest

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Bloomsday flowered in the gardens of the Irish Ambassador's residence in Lisbon last week, on Thursday June 16, not coincidentally the very day and date on which James Joyce set his day-in-the-life-of Leopold Bloom in his huge tome, Ulysses. Hosted by Bartholomew Ryan, of the Lisbon-based Irish musical outfit The Loafing Heroes, the evening was a celebration in song and performance of the words and wit of one of Dublin's major literary forces. Major he might be but he's not for everyone, of course. As Bartholomew said in his introduction to the programme, opinions vary on Ulysses. The book is regarded variably as anything from a literary masterpiece to a load of impenetrable nonsense.

Such a mix of extreme and contradictory reactions is fitting in itself: to Joyce, everyone, every single individual was strange, odd, the ordinary was the extraordinary.. He brings all that to Ulysses. “I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant,” he said. But it wasn't the stylistic machinations that proved the initial problem. Published in Paris in 1922, Ulysses was originally regarded as obscene in England and was banned as pornographic in the US., It was not until the end of 1933 that American readers would get legal permission to read the book after a US district judge declared it explicit but honest. “I do not detect anywhere the leer of the sensualist, I hold, therefore, that it is not pornographic.” Joyce was to feature on the cover of Time magazine just a few weeks later.

He features in many celebrations of Bloomsday held around the world every June 16. The Lisbon soiree is presented by the Irish Association in the city and is an annual fixture on the embassy calendar. Newly arrived for her first taste of the occasion was Her Excellency Orla Tunney - “Call me Orla”- who just weeks ago took over as Irish ambassador in Portugal. Immediately dispelling any fears anyone might have harboured of the new girl perhaps not being up for the event, HE played a significant part in one of the readings. The future of Bloomsday is still in good hands in Lisbon. ML

In those same good hands is a copy of Red House's new CD Lifting the Lid. Orla can be seen here graciously accepting her very own from Maggie by way of thanks for a great evening.

Asturian bands gear up for Cavern gig

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Three local bands will be playing at the world-famous Cavern club in Liverpool next month as part of a Beatles tribute special. The gig cements a link established last year between Lennon’s Bar in Lugones and the Liverpool venue when bar owner Chus Garcia took four Asturian bands on the road to the Merseyside mecca. He says the trip will be an annual event.

On the tour-bus this time are blues band Capitan Cavernicola, rockers Johnny Penicilina y Los Frixuelos Electricos and the multi-genre swingers, Memphis Belle. They will each play short sets of Beatles covers at the Cavern on Saturday, June 4, then full sets of their own music the following day, culminating in a mass ensemble jam on stage.

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Eurovision insight

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Cheese is bound to be on the menu this week as the traditional smorgasbord of tasty offerings from some 42 nations head to Stockholm to compete for the honour of composing the best of a medley of songs which otherwise would hardly merit a nibble. The Eurovision Song Contest can be relied on to dish up a positive feast for TV viewers hungry for a healthy serving of schmaltz, a word, I learn from the dictionary, which actually does refer to sentiment in music or drama. The bookies’ favourite this year is an appetising bowl of stroganoff from Russia, this time minus the grannies pictured above. Apparently it incorporates various ingredients – catchiness and nonsense lyrics - of past successes. We’ll see on Saturday. Yet even before the competition proper kicks off there have been a couple of helpings which left a nasty taste: Rumania was eliminated before the conductor picked up his baton because of cited “unpaid debts” while Australia caused a bit of a stink at the mess table when accused of including a sneaky bit of product placement in its lyrics. (The song from Down Under was taken to task for providing a promo for Apple with its mention of “face time” but no rewrite was ordered as, following an official inquiry, the composers got off on a technicality – Apple uses “FaceTime”, the Aussies escaped with “face time”.)

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Time for you to have your say

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We have finally got round to having a facility on the site for any feedback you might want to give us, either on our music, our videos or on any of the articles posted on our web pages. There is now a comment box at the end of every article and we hope you’ll avail yourselves of the opportunity to add your own input. Also we’re always open to ideas for future articles or maybe you’d like to offer to write one yourself. There is also a new index on the site pointing to past features.

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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