Saturday, July 31, 2010

'Sometimes I need a revelation...'

It was a beautiful evening in Brooklyn last night, just the perfect weather for an outdoor show at the Bandshell as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn series of summer performances.

And the music was just as beautiful; in fact, it turned out to be absolutely one of the best gigs I've been to for years.

Opening was The Low Anthem, the fascinating group of musicians out of Rhode Island whose latest album, "Oh My God, Charlie Darwin" is intoxicating and compelling. Even though their music has been described as "apocalyptic", there's so much about their accessible melodies that's fundamentally uplifting.

And they also have a saw player, more of which later.

During the intermission, as if the groove couldn't get more mellow, John Martyn's "Small Hours" played over the PA.

He's come a long way from Outspan Foster, but right now Oscar-winner Glen Hansard may well be Ireland's finest singer-songwriter. He certainly brings something of the best of everything to the table: a little of the passion and righteous anger of Christy Moore, a little of the songcraft of Paul Brady or Freddie White, and a lot of the melodic perfection of Van Morrison.

And in collaboration with the beautiful voice and piano of Marketa Irglova - whatever tensions may surround their personal relationship - his own music frequently makes the leap to the heavenly, while his musical references onstage show the breadth of his musical path. Their version of Morrison's "Into The Mystic" was stunning. Exactly the sort of life-affirming five minutes Van always wanted it to be.

In the end, the latest Swell Season album, "Strict Joy" could hardly be better named. But if there's a more perfectly melancholy song than this, I can't think of one right now:

The Brooklyn audience was with them all the way, through the silence and the storm that makes up their brilliant live show. The rest of the band are a perfect complement and it was also a highlight to have Clarence Clemons' son Jake on sax and Curt Ramm on trumpet in a great horn section.

I'd also forgotten what a simply outstanding rock and roll song The Frames' "Revelate" is. Thank God Glen reminded me last night.


Two of the world's great annual folk festivals were taking place over the weekend - in Newport, RI and Cambridge, England.

NPR did just a wonderful job streaming the performances from Newport, including, brilliantly, The Swell Season and The Low Anthem.

Cambridge always has a great and varied roster of artists and is always an excellent weekend. You can catch up with podcasts from Cherry Hinton here.

There's a couple of other 'mini-festivals' coming up in New York City this week: for Jazz guitarists in Greenwich Village from Monday, while next Saturday in Astoria, you can attend the the eighth annual Musical Saw Festival.


Like, it seems, everyone else in the country I went to see Inception earlier this week. Enjoyed it a lot. But here's something I have to admit I never expected...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

'Tilting on my axis, leaning towards the sun..'

It's never easy to play a lunchtime gig outdoors.

Especially somewhere like the World Financial Center plaza. There's the sound of helicopters buzzing overhead, there's bankers having a loud lunch, there's the elegantly-attired nannies of well-heeled local residents killing time with their crying charges; and of course there's the guys with trash carts who seem to need to empty the bins every five minutes.

It must be like playing in a high school cafeteria sometimes.

But rising - no, soaring - above all that today was Chris Velan, a singer-songwriter from Montreal who was playing as part of the River To River Festival.

Velan looks a little like a young John Gorka and rhythmically sounds a bit like Johnny Clegg - understandable since Velan spent some time in Sierra Leone and a couple of his songs might be perfectly at home on Paul Simon's 'Graceland' - or Jon Gomm, because of his use of taps.

His latest album - his third - is called "Solidago", but he's working on a new record at the moment. Some of his songs, like "Same Clothes", "Hunting Season", "Out Of Range" or, particularly, "A Year Can Change A Lot" will just blow you away.

He closed out the set with his song "Oldest Trick" - which has echoes of Mark Knopfler - just as the heavens opened. But by the end of the 90-minute show, the folks who were left didn't care about getting caught in the rain.

The last time I saw a live act - whose music I'd never heard before - that caught my attention the way this guy did today, was in the mid-90's when I saw Ezio open for Shawn Colvin at the Hanover Grand in London. But Velan pressed all my buttons: compelling, smart songs with catchy hooks, nice guitar work, great use of loops - the whole package.

A little bit Jack Johnson, a little bit Ben Harper or Amos Lee - even a little bit Marc Cohn, Velan is a clever songwriter and a very fine musician.

He's playing downtown again tomorrow lunchtime, at One New York Plaza, Baltimore on Sunday, and Cambridge MA on Tuesday, then is back in New York in September for a series of shows at Rockwood Music Hall.

If you get a chance to check him out, you won't regret it.

* UPDATE: Friday's show at One New York Plaza was even better - nicer weather and a good, appreciative audience with some enthusiastic dancers of all ages. Only different song from yesterday was a very cool version of "Billie Jean" - if Carlos Santana had recorded it - which made me think of the great cover of "I Want You Back" by KT Tunstall.

The song that got people moving today was "Inez" - a melody Velan says he got from working with the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars. It's simply a great groove.

Here's a clip of a new song called "You Don't Know What You're Asking Me":

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

'Here's hopin' we all pull through..'

Today's slice of brilliance from the legend that is Pete Seeger.
(Via Folk Radio UK)

'Raise your voice, make a joyful noise..'

Went to the Lower East Side last night for a "secret" show by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Marc Cohn, thanks to some imaginative advance work on Twitter by his management.

Turned out it was a beautifully intimate performance at The Living Room, maybe forty people in total, and it was a nice ambience for him to run through some of the songs from his newly-released album "Listening Booth - 1970", a collection of covers of songs from that year.

Flanked by his longtime collaborator and producer of the new record, John Leventhal, and by the brilliant former Springsteen sideman Shane Fontayne, Cohn tenderly re-invented classics like McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed", Cat Stevens' "Wild World", and Badfinger's "No Matter What" - strangely, one of the first songs I ever remember hearing on the radio.

I'm a couple of years younger than Cohn, and although I obviously came to the same music at a tangent geographically - I guess Belfast and Cleveland aren't that far apart in the grand scheme - I can totally relate now to the importance of that particular point in time, and exactly why that year is so noteworthy.

There were just some truly game-changing albums released that year: "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Tea For The Tillerman", "Layla", "Deja Vu", "After The Gold Rush" and "Let It Be" among them.

1970 is the year of the Beatles' break-up and Hendrix and Joplin's deaths, of My-Lai, Apollo 13, Joni Mitchell's environmental shout-out in "Big Yellow Taxi"; the Kent State shootings and social unrest (although "Ohio" didn't appear on a CSNY album until the following year. Likewise, Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" was recorded in June of 1970, but not released until the following January).

And it's the year Belfast's own Van Morrison released his classic "Moondance", which Cohn acknowledges was hugely influential in his own musical development. (Of all the tracks on Cohn's album, "Into The Mystic" is probably the most faithful to its original.)

What Cohn's getting at is that songs from that very specific period, while they may have been tremendously important and socially relevant when they were first heard, are simply timeless as music and deserve to be re-imagined, and continuously celebrated.

His versions last night of "The Only Living Boy in New York" (which maybe owed a little more to Everything But The Girl's arrangement than Paul Simon's original) and, especially, Burt Bacharach's "Close To You" were so perfect for his voice they could even have been his own songs.

In a couple of weeks, rather amazingly, it'll be five years since the incident in Denver which - thankfully - led to Cohn's resurgence as a songwriter with "Join The Parade" and his rediscovery of the sheer joy of making music.

In a way, with this retrospective album - just his fifth - he's also celebrating songs that are still as vibrant, still as alive as when they were first heard. It's like making a full circle connection, a pause on the path to look back at how far we've come before stepping out again on a new trail.

On NPR, you can listen to a one-hour show Cohn did recently for Mountain Stage here; and a previous WXPN live show to promote "Join The Parade" here.

And he's playing two shows later tonight, Weds 28th at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street before heading out on tour. If he's coming to your town, please don't miss him.

Monday, July 26, 2010

'I'm young again, even though I'm very old..'

So... I recently started writing songs again, maybe ten years after doing it seriously last time. I'm still re-learning the process - and obviously it's different for everyone - but I'm finding that more than anything it reflects how focused my mind is on any given day.

For example, I sat down the other morning determined to finish one song by the end of the day, but because I couldn't really concentrate I couldn't close it out. My head was all over the place and I ended up with melodic structures for four others. And no lyrics for any of them.

Lyrics used to be what came easy to me. When I played in bands in the past, I ended up one of the main songwriters by default because I wrote lyrics, but anytime I brought a melody idea to rehearsal it always turned out to be a collaboration, with everyone else throwing in ideas on tempo, key, rhythm of the lyrics, whatever. Very often by the end of a couple hours rehearsal, the only thing that would be the same might end up being the title. And the song was better in the end because of it.

There are two big things that are different now from the last time I sat down to seriously write a song. The first is GarageBand. My God, where were you when I really needed you thirty years ago?

At the moment, my relationship with Apple's app is very much more love than hate. The great thing is it lets me collaborate with myself; it's like having another guitar player there who knows exactly what I want on a particular track. The slightly less great thing is it's been stalling out on me and I've lost a couple of tracks I was trying to save. But overall it's just amazing for laying down live demos and then revisiting them days later.

If the melodies still "work" a couple of days on, they're worth persevering with.

Over the past week I've recorded seven or eight raw demos on GarageBand, out of which I might end up with two or three decent songs. But just being able to pick up a guitar and click a button when inspiration strikes is simply priceless.

There are other technologies, of course, that make writing and collaborating easier - SoundCloud, for example, which I've signed up for but haven't uploaded anything to yet.

But the second, and infinitely cooler, thing for me that's different is that my stepson plays guitar and - assuming I can distract him from his XBox - I can always jam riffs with him whenever I feel like I need to work something out and see if it plays ok.

He's actually a much better guitarist than I was at 16; he has an excellent one-on-one teacher, and it's only a matter of time before he finds a band that he can have some fun with. But the fact that I get to jam with him and watch him develop is just great fun for me.

So for now, songwriting's a puzzle and I'm just enjoying trying to put the pieces together. It's time to start thinking about lyrics again. That will be interesting. I realized today that the last time I wrote lyrics that got performed in public, I was 20 years old.

I might be the same person, but my idea of what makes a "good song" has probably moved on.

We'll soon find out.


Talking of songwriting, one of my absolute favorite songwriters is the late John Martyn. And now it turns out there's going to be a tribute album later this month. Although the list of artists sounds great, I have to admit I'm nervous about hearing some of my favorite songs "re-interpreted".

But maybe I'm just being too precious. For example, there were some tracks on this I could have done without, but then again, some others were magical. If the songs are strong enough, they'll hold up no matter what anyone else does to them.

And deep down, to keep a songwriter's music relevant and meaningful beyond the moment it was written, it should be constantly covered by new artists.


Happy Birthday to one of Rock's most charismatic figures, Sir Michael Philip Jagger, who turns 67 today. And if you believe the papers, he may be close to calling it quits on the touring front. Not sure I buy it. As the piece says, the Stones' first "farewell tour" was exactly 39 years ago.

And the public's demand for Mick and the band seems as strong as ever.

This is one of the first rock autographs I ever collected, about 25 years ago. I'm sad to say I didn't get it in person, but rather through a dealer. I just knew I wanted a Mick Jagger autograph, and this is a great photo of him (it wasn't signed contemporaneously).

I've only seen the Stones play live once, at Wembley Stadium on the Voodoo Lounge tour in July 1995. Great, great show. I also saw Mick sing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary show at Madison Square Garden, where he just blew the house down.

But since we're on a songwriting theme today, and thinking about the merits or otherwise of cover versions, here's what might well be my favorite Stones song to play live, covered the other night at the Stone Pony by two of my favorite artists.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

'When you see a chance, take it..'

Back up to Caramoor last night for a performance of 'Maria di Rohan' by Donizetti. Really nice work again by conductor Will Crutchfield and the excellent Orchestra of St Luke's.

And there was an unexpected bonus - the chance to witness an emotional performance by a last-minute stand-in lead. Jennifer Rowley took over the role and despite having just one full rehearsal handled the occasion with confidence and grace.

It wasn't the easiest of circumstances to be thrown such an opportunity. It was just unbelievably hot and humid, while the cicadas - or whatever knee-rubbing insects they are - were at their noisiest.

But Rowley's fellow performers, the orchestra and, especially, the crowd responded to her; and at the end of an extended ovation after the opening aria, I'm sure I noticed her wink at the conductor before continuing. She was more than entitled to do so. She was tremendous.

The AP thought so too.

The other principal singers were also excellent - particularly Scott Bearden and Luciano Bothelho as the love rivals. Needless to say, the story doesn't end well, but you kind of already knew that. Nice touch to finish when Crutchfield held up the score during the applause.

Stepdaughter was again in the chorus, and also had a chance earlier in the evening to take part in one of the young artists' pre-performance contextual concerts, held in the lovely little courtyard.

She's had a terrific time at Caramoor this year, and her poise and confidence as a singer has clearly improved as a result of being around other talented and committed performers. What a great way to spend a summer.

I rode up to Westchester on the 'Caramoor Caravan,' the - thankfully - air-conditioned coach that runs there and back from Grand Central.

On the way back, the orchestra's bus broke down so they had to ride with us in the seats available on the three other buses. Some of them sat behind me and it was great fun listening to their banter about the show and other gigs they've played.

I miss hanging out with musicians. There's no substitute for passion. It's times like this that I really miss being in a band and feeling that beer and adrenaline-driven high that comes inevitably at the end of any performance.

Yeah, I really miss being in a band. Maybe I should do something about that...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

'Twice if you're lucky..'

Lovely performance by Crowded House on Jimmy Fallon's show last night (via SlicingUpEyeballs).

Not entirely convinced about Neil Finn's mustache, though. Especially with that pinstripe jacket, makes him look a bit like the cad in a GK Chesterton story.

The band are playing the third of three nights at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, then Montclair and Atlantic City at the weekend before heading south.


What looks to be another great show on the road at the moment is Robert Plant's edgy/Americana project Band of Joy (a revival of the name of Plant's original band before he joined Led Zeppelin).

This incarnation includes legendary players Darrell Scott and Buddy Miller, while the wonderful Patty Griffin takes the role of Alison Krauss from Plant's previous dalliance in the country arena, 2007's 'Raising Sand'. The Band of Joy album will be released in September, but in the meantime, they're playing a select few dates in the south until the end of this month.

From all accounts it sounds like the concerts are all you'd expect from exceptional talents like these. Here's Jim Fusilli's piece from the Journal yesterday.

And here's some nice footage of the band performing a Zep classic:


Hot Press magazine has a 'world exclusive' today, revealing what may or may not be the name of the next Snow Patrol album. Gary Lightbody talks about how the Tired Pony project has rejuvenated him and says: "..the songs at the moment are the best we’ve ever written by some considerable distance," so that can't be bad.

And talking of clever titles, Hot Press also tells us that Eleanor McEvoy's new album will be called "I'd Rather Go Blonde". Check their story for a nice clip of her playing "A Woman's Heart" on a radio gig.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

'The best things in life are free..?'

Following on from the discussion recently over the models for funding of new music in a culture of "free", at both Simon Jones and Nick Tann's blogs, there's been a couple of interesting stories the last few days:

The Root has an interesting stats breakdown on how much musicians make in a traditional distribution model, and looks at a Neilsen report that makes pretty grim reading - both in terms of sales and in the numbers of new albums being made.

Only 2.1 per cent of the 97,751 albums released in 2009 – or about 2,050 unique titles – reached the 5,000 sales mark. And that 97,751 is down from the 105,000 new releases that came out in 2008.

But all is far from lost. This week in New York is the New Music Seminar, where musicians and folks involved in the new music distribution industry get together to share success stories and come up with strategies for making it in the "next music business".

One of the best sites I've come across for keeping up with developments in the whole area of music distribution in a digital/social media environment, is Sandbox.

They have an interesting story today about the teen appeal band McFly whose record company is launching a monthly subscription service - I guess a step further than the common fan club set-ups, which usually have a one-off payment and give the member priority ticket ordering and various other benefits.

Obviously there are different approaches in dealing with that sort of younger fan base, where you might have a shorter window for connecting with and monetizing them, but it will be interesting to see what Island will include as benefits, as well as what sort of revenues and member numbers they can generate off this scheme.

I still think established artists and labels are missing a trick, but that's further down the road..

Sandbox also pointed me towards this nice piece from the New Yorker I'd missed earlier in the year about Suzanne Vega and how she has been reclaiming her back catalog by recording acoustic versions of her own songs, while at the same time her career has brought her back full circle to life as an independent artist.

And on the subject of artists taking control of their musical histories, there was a story in The Guardian about Fugazi planning to put an archive of "hundreds of live shows" online as a possible prelude to a reunion tour.

Bruce Hornsby, Paul Brady and other acts have shown that there is definitely a market to be embraced among existing fans for digital recordings of artists' archive shows, and it might also be that there's a chance of reaching a whole new audience as well.

Now, I have a huge number of bootlegs I made in the early 1980s. Where's the cassette-to-USB converter...?


After the good news for his hometown the other day, it looks like Derry's own Feargal Sharkey could be in line for elevation to the House of Lords, according to the Daily Mirror (subsequently rehashed by The Guardian).

Since he stopped performing, Sharkey has, perhaps ironically, been a figurehead for the corporate side of the British music industry as CEO of UK Music.

And of course the Mirror, in one of it's typical anonymous quotes, manages to work in the title of an Undertones song, "It's Going To Happen". (Incidentally, the first web version of the story had the headline "My Peerfect Cousin" - not bad, but maybe they thought it was a bit obscure, so ended up going literal.)


Finally , a singer-songwriter I've liked a lot since discovering him a year or so ago is Ben Glover. Here's a new video of him performing "Grounded" at McHugh's in Belfast.

He's playing a gig at one of my old haunts, The Bedford pub in Balham - of course, it's a bit more classy now than when I used to go there - on Wednesday July 28. If you're in London, please go along and check him out, you won't regret it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'Tis you must go, and I must bide..'

Congratulations to Derry/Londonderry/Stroke City or whatever you might call it, for being chosen today as Britain's inaugural "City of Culture".

Here's the announcement (and the BBC style guide clearly favours the 'London' prefix, whereas, unsurprisingly, RTE doesn't..). Culture minister Ed Vaizey rode the fence.

This is a big deal for Ulster's second city, and as well as the financial and infrastructure boost in preparing for the events of 2013, there are sure to be some very cool festivals and concerts that might make it well worth planning a trip to the North-West of Ireland, especially with Derry's close proximity to the beautiful coastline of Donegal.

And the timing is historically significant too. We're currently in the midst of the 400th anniversary of the Plantation of Ulster, which forever altered the nature of what it meant to be "Irish", and the building of the walled City of Derry - and 2013 marks the changing of the name of the city by the Livery Companies of London.

But, musically, there is one reason above all others - yes, even above the best pop song ever written - why this city's cultural heritage deserves to be celebrated; and that is the 'Londonderry Air' or, in its best-known lyric form, "Danny Boy"; simply one of the most beautiful and stirring pieces of music ever composed.

Like all the best musical stories, there's some dispute over its parentage, but the traditional melody had quite likely already been adapted in various forms by the time the building that would become the city’s first major concert venue, the Exchange on Diamond Square, opened in 1692.

We're all here for such a short time, whatever we call the city we live in, whatever language we choose, or whichever government we pledge allegiance to.

But truly perfect music lasts forever.

'One more cup of coffee..'

Last night I went to Gizzi's coffee house in the Village to hear a friend of mine, Luke Weiss, play mandolin with a couple of musician friends of his, Chris Murphy and Jay Buchanan. It was a nice vibe, very mellow.

All three are very good players and the room had a pretty crisp sound - apart from the occasional gastric-flu gurgling of the espresso machine. They played some clever original songs and there was a nice loose feel to their set. Lot of fun. They'll be at Roots Cafe in Park Slope next Friday, so check them out if you can. Here's their closer:

(as always with the embedded clips, if it looks like the video is bigger than the frame, just double click on it to break it out to its YouTube page.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

'Summer's here and the time is right..'

..For opera overload.

After a great time on Saturday night up at Caramoor, we went along to the Met Opera recital at SummerStage in Central Park last night and it was just brilliant. A great show, with singers Nathan Gunn, Michael Fabiano and Susanna Phillips, and pianists Jonathan Kelly and Julie Gunn.

Here's the New York Times' review of the show.

We met some nice people in the line, and when we got in to the performance area, there was plenty of seating with good views and people had picnics on the fake lawn area - although I gotta tell you, one thing New Yorkers seem to hate? Sitting next to other New Yorkers. It was a very well-run production, the sound was perfect and the audience was mostly respectful of the performers. Overall, its just great to have access to free events like this in the middle of the city.

Here's a couple of extracts from duets by Michael Fabiano and Susanna Phillips:

And here's Nathan Gunn finishing the main program with "Brother Can You Spare A Dime"

Sorry the video quality's not great because I was so far back, but the decent sound system means the audio's pretty clear. Here are a couple of great photographs of the principals taken by one of those nice people we met in the line, Mark Abramowitz from Pittsburgh:

The next Met outdoor recital is at Crotona Park in the Bronx on Thursday night. Details of that and the other borough summer shows are here.

On the way home we caught NPR's Soundcheck show, which is consistently good but last night had Angela Meade in the studio performing the amazing Casta Diva from Norma that got such a great reception on Saturday night.


My friend and fellow blogger Natalia Paruz, the Saw Lady, is organizing the 8th annual Musical Saw Festival next month in Queens. Here's what they got up to last year:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

'You're the voice, try and understand it..'

This summer, like last year, my brilliant stepdaughter has been working at the Caramoor music festival, which is held in a beautiful garden estate about two hours north of the city.

The Bel Canto program there is run by Will Crutchfield and Che says she's learning a tremendous amount from him and the other young artists.

Last night was this year's opening performance of "Norma" by Bellini, with the amazing Angela Meade - who also performed last year in Rossini's 'Semiramide' - in the title role and Keri Alkema as Adalgisa. Some of their duets were fantastic and Norma's 'Casta Diva' was out of this world. There's a nice interview with Angela Meade here, where she talks about the role, describing it as a "mammoth night of singing".

And while the jauntiness of the score can be deceptive, it's certainly a deeply intense piece of work which, like all good operas, ends with a lovers' death pact.

Being part of the chorus, and just getting to be around such wonderful artists, to witness their preparation and performance, is invaluable for young singers like Che at the beginning of their own careers. It also means that while we're supporting her we get to increase our own operatic knowledge - the pre-performance activities at Caramoor always include a talk on the piece - by hearing some of the finest singers of their generation.

Next week it's another performance of "Norma", then "Maria di Rohan" by Donizetti, before she heads off to summer school at the Vianden Festival in Luxembourg ahead of classes starting up again in Cincinnati.

The most important thing is that she's waking up every day and doing something she loves. But did I mention how proud we are of her...?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

'So you want to be a rock and roll star..?'

I just became aware of this new product available at Walgreen's, which apparently was launched at the beginning of this month.

Sounds like it might be a step towards this... but I'm not getting excited just yet.

On an industry-related note, Simon Jones has another good blog post where he asks "So is music free now?" - it's a debate, as he points out, that's been alive since the 'home taping is killing music' warnings thirty years ago, and is even more important now that downloading, both legal and illegal, is having a significant effect on how we learn about new music and how those musicians are rewarded.

I wrote a bit about this a little while ago, but its not going to go away, and its always good to revisit an issue that will have such a fundamental impact on how music will be created, and paid for, in the future.

Monday, July 5, 2010

'Will you still feed me..?'

We were down in Pennsylvania with family for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, like we were last year. One of the cool things about going down there - simple pleasures, I know - is going to WaWa for sandwiches.

So it was a bit of a surprise when we were in one of their stores to see the posters for their current "Hoagiefest" promotion, that looked just a little too much like it was a "Yellow Submarine" outtake.

I don't pretend to know what the image rights situation is these days for the Beatles or John Lennon's estate, but apparently this isn't a new thing and WaWa have been using a Fab Four theme for their annual promotion for a while now.

Anyway, in other Beatles-related news, it's Ringo's 70th birthday coming up this week and he's playing on Tuesday night at Radio City Music Hall.

If you can't make that gig, you can still catch The Meetles down in the subway.


And if you're looking for a good July 4th tune, you can hardly beat this one...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

'Tell me more, tell me more...'

Accompanied the women of the house to Pier 1 tonight for a singalong "Grease".

Great fun. Really.

It reminded me that in every musical, there are actually some great songs, even if they're waiting to be unearthed. So, many thanks to the Beautiful South for redeeming this one...