Wednesday 29 June 2011

This is Pop

I love old photographs. Who doesn't? But when my dad recently gave me a big brown envelope full of random 'family snaps' I was somewhat troubled by the fact that I hardly knew any of the protagonists. 'Go away and write on the back who, where and when,' I told him.

So that's what he did. Now it all begins to make sense. So, knowing how boring other people's photos can be, here's just a small selection. I've now got a photograph of my great great great grandmother.

My grandfather, aka Pop, doing a spot of parading.

A rather nice shot of him with my Nanna on the promenade in Eastbourne in 1963; I love the way men used to wear shirts and ties when visiting the seaside.

And then, at the bottom of the envelope, came The Mystery Woman; my dad put a question mark on the back of her photograph. It would appear nobody in the family knows who she is. She's a flapper and no mistaking. Looks like I could be doing some detective work over the summer.

This post is dedicated to my Pop. John Richard Medd (whose name I share) was born December 29 1906. (my birthday is the 28th) and died December 1983. I think about him often.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Get Christie

The tickets for last night's show* had been on the side of the fridge for what seemed like an eternity. The current Mrs M would often fill a lull in conversation with 'Tony Christie's on in (pick a number between 1 and 6) weeks' - Medd Towers had succumbed to Christie fever. And so we set off for the little Arts Centre where the Steel City belter, known to his mother as Anthony Fitzgerald, and his nine piece band (would there be room for them all on the compact stage?, we were thinking on the way) were playing the 41st night on a grueling 50 date tour; to mark the anniversary of his 50 years in the business.

Parking up and walking to the venue we saw what looked like several Wallace Arnold refugees heading in the same direction: 'Looks like we'll be the youngest ones in tonight' I said to the GLW. I wasn't wrong. In our seats with time to spare whoever was in charge of the sound-system had got it spot on: some laid back Hammond grooves even had the blue rinse brigade tapping their feet in anticipation.

And then the lights dimmed and the dulcet tones of Get Carter emerged; only it was Get Carter with a twist:

The band (a nontet?) took up their positions before Christie entered stage left; sporting a stylish crumpled whistle and with his now trademark shock of silver hair, he clicked his fingers and the band launched into The Protectors Theme - better known as Avenues and Alleyways. Any doubts that the 68 year old wouldn't (or couldn't) hit all the notes were soon dispelled as his masterclass in how to deliver a back catalogue spanning five decades began.

All the hits were dispatched (I Did What I Did For Maria, Las Vegas, Is This The Way To Amarillo - obviously) in a perfunctory manner, but, for me, it was his album tracks that stood out and really showed what the man's made of: when he tackles The Human League's Louise (from his Made In Sheffield album) and strips it down to just voice, piano and acoustic guitar you realise just what a set of lungs he still has. His inter-song banter is very self deprecating and must surely herald an autobiography sometime soon. Christie's wilderness years, spent practising his golf swing in Spain, are described with such pathos that when he gets rediscovered (three times: by Jarvis Cocker, Peter Kay and Richard Hawley) you breath a sigh of relief knowing that he's finally got the recognition he deserves.

Much of the evening was spent plugging, and playing selections from, his new record, Now's The Time, and rightly so: with a bit of luck and some Radio 2 airplay, Tony Christie may well have a contender for Album Of The Year on his hands.

From the merch stand!

* It was definitely a show, not a gig

Thursday 16 June 2011

Magic Carpets

Yesterday on BBC Radio London the venerable Danny Baker was looking for custodians of various modes of transport. Thanks to The Candyman I am now in charge of Magic Carpets. Will this mean letters after my name? Will it get me a table in exclusive fancy dan restaurants? Probably not. Though a badge would be nice.

So what will I do during my tenure? Well, for starters, a recent song of mine, Magic Carpet, will be dedicated to the Danster. Along with three more Johnny Medd originals I've been road-testing in local folk clubs, it'll be on a little EP I'll be putting out later in the Summer; with the knob twiddling expertise of The Number One Son, we'll shortly be spending a couple of days in his new Manchester studios.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Creeping around in brothels

You can do anything...

We went to see Barry Cryer last night; so if you've got a problem with this gag, please take it up with him.

A woman went into a pet shop and said she wanted to buy a parrot. The chap behind the counter showed her some and she chose one she liked - but he pointed out that it tended to use bad language as it had lived in a brothel previously. It was only £20 so she decided to take a risk and bought him.

When she got home she took the cover off the cage and the parrot said 'Nice place.'

Her two daughters came in and it said 'Lovely girls.'

Then her husband came home and the parrot said 'Hello Keith!'

Do you like my shoes btw? We were at a 60s themed evening at a local restaurant over the weekend (fish fingers, coq au vin, Black Forest gateaux - you get the picture) and these were my brothel creepers of choice. I wore them to my step daughter's wedding a few years back and they've been in the box ever since.

Here's some classic footage of Barry Cryer fronting Jokers Wild; ever wonder where they got the format for Mock The Week?

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Here's Johnny

This used to be me

When I was a young boy (not the silver ball playing variety, alas), I was invariably known as Johnny; at school, youth clubs, parties and in pubs it was the name I responded to. But for the last 25+ years I've just been John. Don't ask me when I lost my ny, my second syllable if you will; one day it was there, the was gone. I'm sure David Essex, and any number of men of a certain age, have the same feelings about their once flowing locks. Or teeth.

And then twitter came along. @JohnMedd was taken (who are you btw and why do you not tweet?) and then old friends started resurfacing on Facebook. So now Johnny's back - muscling in on my virtual world - but I'm still John in the real (some might argue the only) world. And anyway, that's what it says on my birth certificate.

That picture in full

Friday 3 June 2011

Radio Radio!

Not since the heady days of 2005, when Phill Jupitus broadcast his breakfast show from my house, has there been so much radio activity at Medd Towers. Let me explain. While we were north of the border a couple of weeks ago, staying in a forty two room Scottish Castle, we met Edwyn Newman - jazz buff, raconteur and a presenter on Edinburgh based community radio station Leith FM. It was while playing snooker with Edwyn that I asked him if he'd play Corner Pocket on his next show. And, sure enough, he did.

Fast forward 48 hours and my good friend Mondo and his partner in crime, Piley, are at the controls for their first live broadcast on S6 Radio. The Medds were huddled round the wireless in true nuclear family style and, next thing I know, Mondo's name-checking me. Nice one Mondo! If he gets time maybe he can fit this into his tight schedule next Tuesday when Show #2 has a numbers theme.

Edwyn Newman's Jazz programme, Sunday evenings 6.00 - 8.00pm - Leith FM

Mondo & Piley's Podrophenia, Tuesday nights 9.00 - 10.00pm - S6 Radio

Thursday 2 June 2011

I made it to The Top

A recent visit to the West End found me walking down Wardour Street past the site of The Marquee. To any young 'uns reading this, the legendary London was torn down in the early 90s. The only reminder that 90 Wardour Street W1 once played host to some of rock and roll's most famous, and infamous, luminaries is the blue plaque name-checking Keith Moon.

I have many happy memories of nights spent in the tiny Soho club. Anyone who's been (and if you were there, like me, you really must be a dinosaur) will remember the corridor from the main doors leading to the bar on the left. Once in the bar, through the glazed wall/window you could see when the support band were about to pack up and vacate the stage in readiness for the main turn. That's when everyone would pile in and form a scrum in front of the stage. A blind eye would be turned when it came to fire regulations, so despite the venue having an official capacity of 700, there would often be 1000+ sweaty bodies in there. And there certainly was in October 1983 when ZZ Top (even then, a stadium act in the States) came to town. As a warm up gig for their Eliminator tour, the Texan beardies descended on The Marquee - a venue so small that the band would have played in places with dressing rooms bigger than it (and what they would have made of the broom cupboard where they got changed is probably unprintable). Here's my ticket.

I've got a button badge somewhere in the loft with the strapline 'I made it to The Top.' I don't know what ' be in your seats by 7.45' was strictly standing only. Looking back, three things stand out when I think about that night: seeing Thomas the Vance in the bar, being close to tears when they played La Grange and chatting with Garry Bushell who was reviewing it for Sounds; my music paper of choice. Good times.

Pickin' on Tush!