Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger. Volume Thirty Three – June 2003.

The big news of the month, I guess, is that Kimber’s Men have been reviewed in SING OUT FOLK MAGAZINE! Sing Out are very, very choosey as to whom they review so even a bad review in Sing Out can be regarded as outstanding! The review itself follows later under REVIEWS!

In the meantime I’ve been getting some letters! Apparently I’m losing it! My sharpness has been blunted. My political awareness has gone. My controversial side has softened. Goodness me I’m getting old and I have to own up to all of it. But criticism is good. One should never be scared of a bit of criticism. You simply take it in, give it due consideration and if it has credence you apologise and get on with your life. It’s simple, don’t brood over it. You will never learn if you shun criticism.

The real pleasure I get from this criticism however is that people are actually still reading this monthly diatribe I splurge out onto the world each month. People are not only reading it, they are bothered enough to complain when it doesn’t reach the required standard/depth that they are used to. This is quite something on its own, a feather in the cap if ever I deserved one.

So who exactly does read the ‘Ramblings’? Well it goes out to nearly 1,000 e mail addresses of which I suppose at least 50% are still valid. A lot of people change their server without telling the original server that they’ve moved on. So I suppose somewhere in the region of 400 possibly go absolutely nowhere at all. Another quite high percentage might go to people who delete it without ever opening it. (I’ve had one or two letters from people who have said that they’ve been receiving it for months and never bothered to read it, but at a weak moment started, got hooked and now await its arrival each month). So that’s probably at least another 100 or more to whom it falls on blind eyes. (I was going to say deaf ears – but it doesn’t make sense). So I guess I’m down to somewhere in the region of 300/400 people if I’m honest.

So is it all worth while? Well, as I’ve said before it started out 33 months ago as a news letter to my 29 world wide fans to let them know what I was doing. Although why people in Florida, New Zealand, Tenerife, Madrid, Paris, or even Sowerby Bridge for that matter should really be interested in my whereabouts was perhaps a matter of conceit on my part. But it did give some of them a link with the homeland – something you apparently miss when you permanently move away from a country. And the responses since have been both amusing and encouraging for me. I’ve had letters from club organisers offering me gigs from as far a-field as Cornwall, Philadelphia and Valparaiso in Chile. I always hated (still do) phoning club organisers to obtain work and I always hoped that the Ramblings would work long term as a free advertising agent. And in this respect I’ve been proved right and those who have chided and derided me have been proved wrong.

I also know that a percentage of my readers turn immediately to the last pages to get the jokes and probably read nothing else. Well that’s ok – they make me laugh too, which is why I print them in the first place. I’ve had letters from some people, including some from Britain’s leading record companies, who have either chided or derided me, but asked me not to print them. I’ve had a letter from the editor of Sing Out in America (The world’s finest folk magazine) pointing out that e mail petitions are a complete waste of time; and what’s more he was right. I frequently get very amusing letters from Oscar Brand, a folk giant in his own right (or should I say ‘write’) who lives in New York and has run a continuous radio programme on folk music since the second world war; although there was a slight derailment after 9/11. The funniest letter came only last month when he asked me if I could shorten the Ramblings. Apparently he has work to do and he suggested I print only every fifth word, or just nouns or the exclamation points? Brilliantly amusing even if he was being serious.

So who has hated them enough to cancel them? There’s a leading question to ask! Well the editor of my local folk magazine Tykes News wrote me a letter telling me that the Ramblings was both stupid and boring months and months ago, and the editor of Stirrings, another Yorkshire folk magazine, wrote me a kinder shorter note this month also asking to be excused the pleasure. Now let me say straight away that I have the greatest admiration for both these editors. I know the time and effort that it takes me to write this monthly nonsense. For them, probably working part time at the job, it is a tremendous achievement to produce such high quality magazines as they do. Both are a credit to the industry. So they probably find my observations an imposition on their valuable time. But I have to say that I find it odd when England’s finest small independent regional magazine (Folk on Tap) in Southampton and another magazine in Australia reprint extracts and when Folk North West has also on limited occasions found my Ramblings worth re-printing that the two most local magazines can find nothing within worth reporting. But that is their choice and I have to respect it.

Tykes News does a grand job writing articles on Britain’s leading folk performers. Ashley Hutchings, Martin Carthy, Martyn Wyndham Read, Robb Johnson, Fairport, Battlefield Band, Jez Lowe, Norma Waterson, Dave Swarbrick, Kate Rusby to mention just some, all rightly get prominent and frequent inclusion. It is important that magazines like Tykes News give these artistes prominence, especially now that other leading acoustic music magazines are more interested in music from Africa and the Balkans. I only wish that Tykes News would at sometime give more prominence to some of the great singers that live within the County itself. And I don’t mean me. Heaven forbid that I should. But I’ve never seen any articles about Chris Manners from Ilkley, or Shanty Jack from Hull. Chris of course comes from Essex, which may be one of the reasons he’s been ignored, but he must rate as one of the country’s leading writers. I don’t think sea shanties can actually be considered as a medium of folk music at all otherwise Shanty Jack would surely have been given the privilege of at least one article. Karl Dallas is another who seems to be frequently if not always overlooked. Karl is without any doubt a folk legend living within the boundaries of Bradford and you can’t get much more Yorkshire than that.

I guess it’s a personality problem. I suffer from that myself, so perhaps I should not criticise others who have the same malaise. For example I cannot abide either Ann Widicombe or Lord Archer. Neither has done me any harm directly, but I must say I find Widicombe exceedingly nauseous. She appears on television frequently as an expert on this that and the other, she flashes ‘come to bed eyes’ at the camera whilst she squeaks away with the most revolting voice and accent. Here she is nearly 80 I would imagine acting like a teenager and talking nonsense most of the time. Yet she comes back time and again. Some think she is funny. I think she’s just downright dangerous. Meanwhile Lord Archer will be out of prison again this summer. Apparently he’s hoping to be invited to appear upon ‘I’m a celebrity ….. get me out of here’. One thing is certain. The man will be feted as a celebrity by television and the media in general. OK. So he’s spent time in prison as a proven liar, he’s paid his penalty, but do we seriously have to see his ugly menacing mincing face on our TV screens again. Yes I’m afraid we are going to. Well you might – I’ll be turning mine off. I refuse to read, watch, or listen to anything that involves that repugnant piece of excrement. He’ll continue to make his millions, but not at my expense. There! I guess that’s how the editor of Tykes News feels about me!

Of course what this planet really needs is a lot more love and understanding. I have to agree with Pete. If you sent off a little capsule into space to tell the story of the human race – perhaps this next song should be in there.

Love, oh love, oh careless love
Love, oh love, oh careless love
Love, oh love, oh careless love
Just see what love has done to me

Well it’s on this railroad bank I stand
On this railroad bank I stand
On this railroad bank I stand
And it’s all for the love of a no good man

Love, oh love, oh careless love
Love, oh love, oh careless love
Love, oh love, oh careless love
Can’t you see what love has done to me?

Well when I wore my apron low
When I wore my apron low
When I wore my apron low
I could scarcely keep you from my door

But it’s now my apron strings don’t pin
Now my apron strings don’t pin
Now my apron strings don’t pin
And you pass my door and don’t come in

Well it’s love, love, careless love
Love, oh love, careless love
Love, oh love, oh careless love
Can’t you see what love has done to me?

I used to think it was just a song about a girl who got betrayed by a boy. But I think of all the people who’ve done foolish things. I knew a little boy once called Joe who wanted to do everything in the world, he wanted to be this, he wanted to be that, he would walk into a restaurant and load up his tray with more food than he could possibly eat. So for all people like him ….

Love, love, love oh careless love
Well it’s love, oh love, careless love
Love, oh love, oh careless love
Can’t you see what love has done to me?

I think of the scientists and inventors, who thought that their inventions were going to save the world and cure all the ills of humanity, and then suddenly they find out that what they’ve invented somehow just didn’t turn out right. How do you suppose Einstein felt when he saw his little formula E=MC2 make possible a bomb that could blow up the whole world?

Love, love, oh careless love
Love, oh love, careless love
Love, oh love, oh careless love
Can’t you see what love has done to me?

You could sing this song for every patriot the world ever knew. Who loved sometimes not wisely but too well. I remember two leaders of men, one lived in America the other lived here in Britain who had an unbelievable love, not only for the other’s country, but also for each other. They spent billions of pounds amassing a huge army to attack a much smaller and weaker country that they had ostensibly charged with having evil weapons of mass destruction. So they sent this huge army to attack this weaker country and after a few weeks the battle was over and the leader of the weaker country fled to exile. And the two leaders searched and searched but they never did find those weapons of mass destruction. But they had managed to kill and maim thousands of children. “Well we did rid you of your evil leader” they said. “Now you can live in peace”. Of course many of us had always thought that the weapons of mass destruction were a fabrication anyway and what they really wanted was oil. And, later, of peace there was little, and many people who would otherwise have lived in peace rose up against these two leaders and threw themselves into battle killing themselves as martyrs to a cause.

Love, love, oh careless love
Love, oh love, careless love
Love, oh love, oh careless love
Can’t you see what love has done to me?

So what am I up to?

Well at the time of going to print my ‘All American Tour’ is still in the embryonic stage. North America is coming together quite nicely with gigs in Fredericksburg, Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, New Brunswick, Boston, Cambridge, Nahunt, Bryn Mawr and Philadelphia again already confirmed. My trip to Chile to sing in Valparaiso and other South American west coast venues are still under discussion, but the trip would appear to be more on than off. The British Council have agreed to cover my flight costs. Assuming the trip to Chile does come off my engagements in Britain scheduled for late November and early December will be moved into 2004.

My date sheet currently looks like this >
June 1st (KM) Maryport Festival of the Sea.
June 6th (Joe) Jersey Festival of the Sea
June 7th (KM)Jersey Festival of the Sea
June 8th (KM) Jersey Festival of the Sea
June 15th (KM) The Bulls Head, Oldham Rd,Failsworth, Manchester.
June 20th (KM) The Dog and Partridge, Bollington, Macclesfield, Cheshire
Aug 24th (KM) The Norwegian Church Arts Centre Harbour Festival, Cardiff.
Sep 10th (Joe) The Cross Keys – Uppermill.
Oct 3rd (Joe) The Wellington, Seaford.
Oct 4th (Joe) Tenterden Folk Festival, Kent.
Oct 5th (Joe) Tenterden Folk Festival, Kent.
Oct 10th (Joe) The Grove, Holbeck, Leeds
Oct 31st. (Joe) Fredericksburg Songwriters' Showcase (South of Washington) Vg
Nov 1st (Joe) Philadelphia Folk Song Club Traditional Workshop Society. Pa
Nov7th (Joe) Mom and Pop's Club, North Philadelphia. Pa
Nov 8th (Joe) First Reformed Church, New Brunswick.. NJ
Nov 9th (Joe) Second Sunday Music, Sit 'n Bull Pub, Maynard, MA. with Rick Lee.
Nov 10th (Joe) The Cantab Lounge, Central Square, Cambridge. MA
Nov 12th (Joe) The Marine Science Center in Nahant.. MA
Nov 16th (Joe) The Point, Bryn Mawr. (Lunchtime). Pa
TBA. (Joe) Skylight Exchange in Chapel Hill. NC
Nov 27th (Joe) All Saints Church, Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire.
Dec 1st (Joe) The Three Tuns, Staines, Middlesex
Dec 3rd (Joe) The Gordon Hotel, Rochester
2004
Jan 23rd (Joe) General Ludd Folk Club, Huddersfield.
Jan 24th (KM) Square Chapel Theatre Halifax with children from Holy Trinity Jun School
Jan 30th (Joe) Kingswinford Folk Club
May 1st (KM) Sweeps Festival – Rochester. Agreed awaiting confirmation
May 2nd (KM) Sweeps Festival – Rochester. Agreed awaiting confirmation
May 14th (KM) The Grove, Holbeck, Leeds. Agreed awaiting confirmation


REVIEWS.

KIMBER’S MEN – See you when the sun goes down. (SING OUT)
It’s hard to believe that this quartet of well seasoned English musicians have only been singing together since 2001. Before reading the liner notes, I was convinced that Kimber’s Men had spent a good part of their adult lives together at sea, or at least singing together. See you when the sun goes down is a collection of 25 songs and shanties, mostly from the tradition, that will have you singing full throttle half way through the first track.
The songs run the gamut from delightfully familiar to wonderfully obscure. There are also a few contemporary songs included that might as well be traditional. There are some rough edges here, but I wouldn’t be interested in a recording of traditional shanties that didn’t include some of those. - MW

LETTERS.

Dear Joe
I’m glad that you have solved your computer problems. I was delighted to receive the latest addition of your Ramblings. Over the past year or two, I have come to value your various insights, often politically incorrect but always sincere, honest and eminently sensible. In this issue I was disappointed to see that they were missing. Hopefully this is a result of your computer glitch and they will return in future issues….
Meanwhile, a couple of web sites which you might like
http://www.welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com
http://www.crosbycpr.com/crosby/features/2003/newsTexts/QUOTES_JANFEB_2003.html
The latter contains some excellent GWB quotes. My favourite is:
"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system." - George W. Bush
Keep up the good work
Best Wishes
Bryn
http://www.ennerdale.freeserve.co.uk/home.htm
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Hi Joe
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Joe
If everyone who reads this sends it on to 10 people, you can bet that we'll save at least one life. Read this...It could save your life.
Let's say it's 6.15 PM and you're driving home (alone of course) after an unusually hard day on the job. You're really tired, and frustrated.
Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only five miles from the hospital nearest your home. Unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far. You have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course did not tell you how to perform it on yourself.
HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE.
Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness. However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest.
A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.
Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keeps the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital. Tell as many other people as possible about this. It could save their lives!!! Don't ever think that you are not prone to heart attack as your age is less than 25 or 30. Nowadays due to the change in the life style, heart attack is found among people of all age groups.
From Health Cares, Rochester General Hospital via Chapter 240's newsletter, "AND THE BEAT GOES ON..." (reprint from The ended Hearts, Inc. publication, Heart Response)
Sian Phillips INTERNET:info@sianfiddle.co.uk >HEART ATTACKS

Heart attacks are a very relevant part of my life at present. A good friend of mine, Ray Burgess, died exactly as this letter describes in late February this year. He thought he was suffering from indigestion and finally breathed his last on the M1 travelling home from London to Sandbach exactly as this letter describes. I am not sure if this piece of information actually works, but it will obviously do no harm to pass it on. Ray’s son, daughter and other members of the family read this column each month. I hope they will not be too upset by the contents of this letter or my apparent indifference by writing thus.

Well we must end on a smile if we can. So let’s hope this works for you!

NEW EVENING CLASSES FOR MEN!!! OPEN TO MEN ONLY!
Evening classes for men. Starting this month!

Note: Due to the complexity and level of difficulty of their contents, each course will accept a maximum of eight participants each.

Topic 1. How to fill ice-cube trays. - Step by step with slide presentation.
Topic 2. Lavatory paper rolls: do they grow on the holders? - Round-table discussion.
Topic 3: Differences between the laundry basket and the floor. - Pictures and explanatory graphics.
Topic 4. The after-dinner dishes and silverware: can they levitate and fly into the kitchen sink? - Examples on video.
Topic 5. Loss of identity: Losing the remote to your significant other. - Helpline and support groups.
Topic 6. Learning how to find things, starting with looking in the right place instead of turning the house upside down while screaming. - Open forum.
Topic 7. Health watch: Bringing her flowers is not harmful to your health. - Graphics and audio tape.
Topic 8. Real men ask for directions when lost. - Real-life testimonials.
Topic 9. Is it genetically impossible to sit quietly as she parallel parks? - Driving simulation.
Topic 10. Learning to live: basic differences between mother and wife.- Online class and role playing.
Topic 11. How to be the ideal shopping companion. - Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques.
Topic 12. How to fight cerebral atrophy: remembering birthdays, anniversaries, other important dates and calling when you're going to be late. - Cerebral shock therapy sessions and full lobotomies offered.

CLASSES FOR WOMEN...
Women think they already know everything, but wait...training courses are now available for women on the following subjects:
1. Silence, the Final Frontier: Where No Woman Has Gone Before
2. The Undiscovered Side of Banking: Making Deposits
3. Parties: Going Without New Outfits
4. Man Management: Minor Household Chores Can Wait Till After The Game
5. Bathroom Etiquette I: Men Need Space in the Bathroom Cabinet too
6. Bathroom Etiquette II: His Razor is His
7. Communication Skills I: Tears - The Last Resort, not the First
8. Communication Skills II : Thinking Before Speaking
9. Communication Skills III: Getting What you Want Without Nagging
10. Driving a Car Safely: A Skill You CAN Acquire
11. Telephone Skills: How to Hang Up
12. Introduction to Parking
13. Advanced Parking: Backing Into a Space
14. Water Retention: Fact or Fat
15. Cooking I: Bringing Back Bacon, Eggs and Butter
16. Cooking II: Bran and Tofu are Not for Human Consumption
17. Cooking III: How not to Inflict Your Diets on Other People
18. Compliments: Accepting Them Gracefully
19. PMS: Your Problem . . . Not His
20. Dancing: Why Men Don't Like To
21. Classic Footwear: Wearing Shoes You Already Have
22. Household Dust: A Harmless Natural Occurrence Only Women notice
23. Integrating Your Laundry: Washing It All Together
24. Oil and Petrol: Your Car Needs Both
25. TV Remotes: For Men Only


Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead.