During this notable brisk and snowy festive season, my dad
currently finds himself in a very relatable predicament, if a wholly
You see, like many people up and down the UK, Dad has found
wind and snow to be preventing him for reaching his desired destination.
However, rather than being unable to make it to school or work, the weather is preventing my old man from scaling the highest peak in Antarctica and subsequently skiing to the geographic south pole. The problem’s began almost immediately, having flown from London to Punta Arenas, Chile’s most southern city, Dad then should’ve flown onto Union Glacier, located in Ellsworth Land, Antarctica, however weather issues prevented them from leaving on schedule. With delays starting to look major, it became necessary to bare the storm and fly in the midst of the kind of weather small aircrafts generally avoid, especially when the pilots are relying on visual flying. Despite the conditions Dad arrived safely, knuckles white and stomach freshly emptied.
Having finally escaped from Chile, Dad landed on Union Glacier in the midst of a blizzard. This would keep him stranded there for 5 days, sleeping in tents in temperatures that fell as low as -20 degrees
Celsius, causing Dad to suffer frost nip in his fingers and nose; not as
serious as frost bite but still extremely painful (were hopeful he won’t have to saw his finger ends off a la Renulph Fiennes). Maddeningly, the team were required to trek back and forth between Union Glacier and base camp in order to move their gear to the point at which they would begin their climb to the peak, however once again they found themselves held up by poor weather conditions. Eventually, Dad and his cohorts were able to
take advantage of a brief break in the weather to set out, reaching the summit and return to base camp in a mere 4 days, an astonishing achievement given the record, set by a team of highly experienced mountaineers, is 3.
The next stage of the journey will be to ski to the South Pole, however the weather is currently holding dad up once again; the idea was that he would be back in time for Christmas however this is looking less and less likely as the journey goes on.
This is not the first of Dad’s little excursions, having already journeyed to his current destinations northern counterpart as well as
taming such beasts as Kilimanjaro (the highest peak in Africa), Aconcagua (the highest in South America and the highest outside of Asia) and Elberus (debatably the highest in Europe), amongst others. So I think all of this needs to be looked at with a greater perspective.
You see Dad hasn’t spent his entire life as an explorer (maybe at heart), he spent the first portion of his adult life building up a business he started in the midst of raising two young (handsome and charming) sons. Through all the years he was providing for his family I believe that it was always in his DNA to chase the spirit of adventure, but it wouldn’t be until his 40’s that Dad would go on his first expedition, climbing Kilimanjaro in 2010. On that journey, as on his current and all those in between, Dad faced hardships and set backs but was equal to them all.
For most people it is not enough to simply survive, having a vision and pursuing it is one of the things that defines us as humans. However it’s easy to drift from the track in the melee of 21st century existence and the responsibility that comes with it. It seems to me that is is not that people forget to dream, but that we can forget there was ever anything that inspired us in the first place. As with Dad being stalled by the weather, it is almost always the case that in the face of short term struggles people will step up and find that they can achieve things they never imagined, but it is allowing yourself to take the first step of the journey that can be the most difficult.
Last week we celebrated two birthdays; on Tuesday Zack turned 20 and on Thursday Andy turned 46. In recognition of their special days, we’ve written up a brief profile of the lads.
Born in the wilds of northern Scotland on 28th November 1997 to English parents, Zack has never truly felt like he belonged. His dichotomous existence has left him in a state of perpetual internal conflict, often leaving Zack looking vacant or confused at the simplest of tasks. Some have confused this for Zack being ‘thick’ and asking if he is ‘okay’. Despite this constant internal struggle, Zack has found one thing he is certain about; his love for all things six stringed. Having original taken up the guitar as the loud noise would scare off the savages that attempted to raid his cave, he found he had an affinity for the axe. Taking influence from Rory Gallagher, Tom Petty and Dolph the Elder he joined the band close to three years ago having first seen us play in Glasgow at King Tuts. Zack enjoys writing Gothic poetry, ducking under doorways and drinking gin.
Little is known of the history Andrew James Phillips. Reports are wildly inconsistent, and include claims that he was one of the prime suspects in the Great Train Robbery, that he kick started the summer of love by importing LSD from Columbia into San Francisco and that he may have played a role in the French Revolution, all under a series of pseudonyms. What we do know is he was born on November 30th, and that at some point in his enigmatic journey through live he discovered a love for music. We met Andy whilst he graced the good folk of Carlisle College with his smooth, velvety tones in 2014 and quickly snapped him up to fill the vacant tenor sax position. Andy takes influence from Clarence Clememts, Bobby Keys and Michael Brecker and can often be found listening to New Orleans Jazz and reading Nietzsche in the back of the van. Andy enjoys learning new languages (of which he claims to speak 13), stretching to peer over dashboards and his favorite color is a light mauve (also please ask him if a piano is a string or a percussion instrument, he doesn’t get asked enough).
With shows such as the X Factor still clinging to life, and the state of Radio 1, the UK currently suffers from a collective petulance at the
state of music, so we here at Hardwicke Circus feel like the time is right for a hero to ride in and rescue you forlorn appreciators of good music from the sonic doldrums by introducing you to some of the young up and comers that get a spin in the van to and from gigs. Some you probably already know, hopefully you will be introduced to some new faces.
Gang of Youths
This is something of a cheat as Gang Of Youths are already considered
indie rock royalty in the home country of Australia, however Blightly has yet to wise up to the quintet, whose most recent album, Big Music Masterpiece go ‘Farther in Lightness’, reached number 1 in the Australian album charts. The thing that first strikes you when listening to these lads is singer Dave Le’aupepe’s magnanimous lyrical approach. With songs coming in on average over 5 minutes on an album over an hour long, Dave’s soul shaking voice is close to ubiquitous (if you disregard the 3 musical interlude tracks), poetically exploring the human experience in all its bleakness and triumph, confusion and clarity, heartbreak and joyousness.
The band also display an appreciation for intricate musical detail,
with each track offering satisfying reveals to those willing to take the time to truly digest them. The songs are unique enough in structure to keep fans engaged without straying too far from the old pop song chestnut to alienate the passing listener.
All around Gang of Youths are one of the finest bands Australia
has produced in recent years, easily standing shoulder to shoulder with bands like world conquering Tame Impala and the vastly underappreciated Middle East.
Give them a go if you like: Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen,
The Lemon Twigs
The Lemon Twigs are mad; there really is no getting away
from it. The band, led by New York based brothers Mike and Brian D’Addario, are a beautiful, dysfunctional, outrageous spectacle of a band, and probably one of the most engaging things you’ll ever see. Only those that have seen the Twigs live will be able to attest to the bizarre pair, backed up by Danny Ayala on keys and Megan Zeankowski on bass, the brothers spend the first half of the show with older brother Brian on vocals and guitar and younger brother Mike on drums, before swapping duties at half time. Both brothers boast enviable chops on drums and guitar, as well as being one of the most incredible, tightest vocal bands currently around.
But it’s in the performance that the band really shines. With Brian on the vocals and Mike on the drums the band are a tight, grooving power pop machine, exuding effortless cool with the power of The Who and the beautifully crafted songs of the Beach Boys. All members of the band get chance to flex their musical muscle and display the kind of playing that musicians twice their age dream off.
However, with Mike and Brian switching the band takes on a whole
new persona. Mike, having revealed himself to be sporting a fetching sequin dress, struts around the stage like Iggy Pop, kicking over mike stands,
smashing guitars, performing muscle snapping high kicks and generally being a storm of high octane lunacy. Mike’s raucous punk defiance proves to be the
perfect counterbalance to the smooth 70’s sheen of his brother, and it is this contrast that makes the band so eminently watchable. This really is something you must see before the whole thing implodes.
Check them out if you like: the Beach Boys, The Who, Iggy Pop
Parcels are the best looking band in the world right now, which
is a fact. They are also one of the best retro-pop bands around. Another lot hailing from Australia, now living in Berlin, they do a fine job of mixing Chic-esque funk with modern pop sensibility, with the outcome being songs with choruses that will be stuck with you for days and grooves that don’t quit. Taking influence from Jungle, the vocals are, layered, super tight and show a band clearly dedicated to their craft. For evidence of just how tight this band are, check on YouTube their performance at the Funkhaus. Effortlessly cool and
tight as fuck, it’s the kind of thing that could make a believer out of the most miserable bastards.
For Fans Of: Chic, Jungle, Fleetwood Mac
Please do check these bands out and come back next week for
some other upcoming bands that we love.
They say if the cops show up, it’s probably been a great gig; so it was for early Springsteen, so it is now. Today, Rochester prison’s riot squad paid the band a visit.
The days of Johnny Cash bringing down Folsom prison are sadly over but rock and roll has always held an affinity with the incarcerated, so getting back to Rochester Prison six months later was an exciting prospect, especially after the explosive cameo from now ex-inmate Romeo, which has become the stuff of H.C legend. Romeo’s performance seems to have been taken on by the inmates as well as this time around we had rappers cuing up to have a crack at the slot.
If we thought the inmates of HMP Rochester had offered up their best and brightest last time around nothing could have prepared us for today.
The gig started poorly all things considered, as an issue with I.D meant that we wouldn’t be allowed to leave the prison let alone play. However once a few calls had been made and the people in charge decided that yes, we were in fact the same people form the time before, we were permitted to enter and set up the gear in the prison chapel.
Once we’d broken through the red tape the inevitable quality of what the gig would become began to show itself; excellent performances from poet Dirk, who read his poem ‘Free’, and singer-songwriter Matthew got things underway. With the two inmates having already worked the crowd into a frenzy, we took the stage. The set was well recieved throughout, much to our amazement the crowd broke into a display of capoeira dancing in the aisles during ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, spurred on by the onlooking prison staff. However it was on the break of ‘When the Chips Are Down’ that the gig truly took on a life of it’s own. We were joined onstage by grime M.C Jack and the enigmatic Rasta “Dada”, together their electric performance spiralled out of control until we found ourselves taking part in a 10 minute reggae dub jam. Steadily, more and more rappers, singers, poets and guitar players stormed the stage until the band was shoved to the side, making space for the barrage of performers that looked to make their mark on proceedings, with a real star turn from apocalyptic preacher Anthony, who led the crowd into nothing less than a religious experience.
The reaction was so vociferous, the staff were under the impression a riot was ensuing, and proceeded to call the prison security to deal with the inmates, but we all thought, fuck it we’re having a top time, requiring the best diplomacy from our man on the inside Tim to get the gig back on track. Having fought off the law we managed to get through the rest of the set without ending up in the cells.
This continued the top form of recent Hardwicke crowds, following two amazing cameos from the night before. Zulu warrior priestess Stevie Van Lange mesmerised us with an historic African war chant over the rap break of ‘Chips’, and the legendary Graham Parker joined us on stage to perform a duet with Jonny on his hit ‘(I’m Gonna) Tear Your Playhouse Down’, describing the gig after as “a cut above” along with fellow Rumour band mate Martin Belmont.
Next we head back to one of our favourite towns, Whitstable, into the loving arms of the best pub in the world, the Duke Of Cumberland, before heading north to Cockermouth on Sunday. Thanks to everyone who came to see us on this run and hopefully see the rest of you soon.
Tom Petty means a lot to this band.
As an artist his work stands with ease alongside the very best this world has ever produced, showing the way time and time again with infectious melodies, whilst the simple power of his lyrics affected the hearts of millions, he was the home run king of Gainesville. Whilst those around him sought to bend to the commercial curve, Tom maintained an unwavering, unflinching belief in the southern bred, personal soul of his music that left him standing atop his weaker willed contemporaries. His work with Jeff Lynne, Stevie Nicks and the Travelling Wilburys brook down barriers and demonstrated the respect he commanded with some of the world’s biggest song writers. We will forever owe him a musical debt.
As a man, he personified integrity and decency in an indecent industry. The requited love and respect he shared with his fans led him to fight against the powers that be as they attempted to take advantage of his growing success by marking up the price of his record. This includes, allegedly accidentally, threatening a top record label exec with a large switch blade. He is an example to anyone who wishes to wade the dirty waters of the music industry and we will always seek to conduct ourselves with similar levels of dignity.
All that’s left to say is our thoughts go out to Tom’s
family and friends and thank you for the music.