6th August 2023 sidetracks and detours weekend walkabout. PASS IT ON volume 12

Sidetracks & Detours: Weekend Walkabout

PASS IT ON volume 12

6th August 2023

As our Sidetracks And Detours daily blog celebrated its fourth birthday last week, we were busy getting its three month old baby washed and dressed to take out in his pram as we have done for the past eleven weeks. So welcome to the new generation of Sidetracks & Detours and please say hello to Pass It On. We start today off with a great plaet of Hot Biscuits as Steve Bewick tell us of his Jazz on Air and then we bring you theatre news from Steve Cooke, and his latest reports from Manchester International Music Festival and Dr. Joe Dawson tells us all about the organists´ day trip to Leeds. Peter Pearson shows us all points forward with a look at tribute songs and Norman Warwick´s Island Insight is about All The Fun Of The Fair


Jazz on the radio

HOT BISCUITS by Steve Bewick

all across the arts


preview By Steve Cooke

At MIF23 with Manchester Camerata


all across the arts

MIF23 ALISON GOLDFRAPP review By Steve Cooke

Live Classical Music

ORTOA (Oldham, Rochdale & Tameside Organists Association) summer trip to Leeds, Saturday 8 July 2023 review by Dr Joe Dawson

A Reader´s Perspective


Recorded Music

THE RIVER-JONI MITCHELL review by  Ralph Dent

Island Insights

ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR by Norman Warwick

Jazz on the radio

HOT BISCUITS by Steve Bewick

Next week, on my Hot Biscuits release, I’m featuring extracts from a set delivered by a duo of Dan Whieldon (right) on piano and Gavin Barras on double bass recently at the The Carlton Club, Manchester. I will also deliver something old and perhaps e ven something new to you, from the late Peter Brotzmann,

The sax musician Peter Brötzmann ( Remscheid , March 6 , 1941 – Wuppertal , June 22 , 2023 )  was a German jazz saxophonist and clarinetist considered one of the most important musicians on the scene known as free European jazz. 

Brötzmann studied painting in Wuppertal at a time when he was associated with the Fluxus movement and with which he would soon become disenchanted. His first jazz concert was accompanying Sidney Bechet while he was still studying in Wuppertal. 

Brötzmann never really left the art world. Most of his covers, as well as a large number of posters, have been designed by him. His training in music began self-taught, learning various types of clarinets, saxophones and the tarogato .  His first collaborations were with double bassist Peter Kowald and For Adolphe Sax was his first recording, released in 1967 with Kowald and percussionist Sven-Ake Johansson.

Amost until the time he passed away Brötzmann remained very active, recording and touring regularly. He published more than thirty albums as a bandleader and has collaborated on more than a hundred. Brötzmann has also recorded with musicians such as Cecil Taylor , Willem van Ragin , Mats Gustafsson , Ken Vandermark , Conny Brötzmann Bauer and his son Caspar Brötzmann , who played guitar.

There will also be Nostalgia from Nigel Price and Tricotism. I´ll also play some Gretchen Parlato and we´ll listen to  Joy Ellis finding a peaceful place.

I´ll finish with one from a first a class trio of Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass and Stephan Grapelli. If this looks tempting to you join me anytime for Hot Biscuits at trhe link below. Oh, and pass it on, please!  

www.mixcloud.com/stevebewick/ 24/07

MANCHESTER CONTACT THEATRE Autumn Seasonpreview By Steve Cooke

If you like thought-provoking events, Contact’s 2023 Autumn Season is set to challenge, inspire, and ignite curiosity in audiences of all ages – featuring a heady combination of shows that will challenge perceptions, platform today’s most exciting artists and advocate for a brighter tomorrow.

This season embodies Contact’s vision for the future, following a year of reflection on the organisation’s 50th anniversary. With a renewed energy, Contact is sprinting into the future, pushing boundaries, and igniting curiosity.

Keisha Thompson, Contact’s Artistic Director, and CEO, expressed her excitement for the upcoming season:

“This exceptional line up represents Contact’s unwavering commitment to creative risk-taking, amplifying diverse voices, and engaging with urgent societal issues. Our 2023 Autumn Season is a love letter to the themes that make Contact one of the most exciting venues in the UK: themes of humanity, resilience, empathy, experimentation, and connection. As we look to Contact’s next 50 years, we can’t wait for audiences to join us on this exhilarating journey”.

Contact’s Autumn Season features two ground-breaking world premieres. First up is Census, a brand-new Contact commission by Malandra Jacks. Contact, along with hÅb, will work with Malandra Jacks to create a digital-led theatre show that celebrates their North Manchester heritage, brimming with Moston spirit, and asks questions about what class means today.

Next, Keisha Thompson will premiere her brand-new play, in partnership with the National Football Museum, the hotly anticipated 14%. Set against the frenzy of the Lioness’ success, this multi-sensory show invites you on a journey inside the confines of a post-match train carriage. Follow British footballer Nadia and her unnamed, unborn Baby. Prepare for a layered audio-visual experience where internal and external pressures rise.

Building on the success of the critically acclaimed production, Brown Boys Swim, in Edinburgh, Contact welcomes the powerful show to their stage. This poignant play, hailed by The Guardian as a triumph, will leave audiences moved and inspired. With themes of friendship, resilience, and overcoming adversity, Brown Boys Swim by Karim Khan takes a brave and honest look at the issues faced by young people.

Celebrated playwright Tim Crouch will bring his audacious act of collective imagining – Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel – to Contact. In this virtual adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, Crouch offers a fresh perspective on power, truth and art. Witness Crouch’s mastery of storytelling and immerse yourself in this transcendent theatrical experience.

Half Moon will also present Hot Orange, an immersive exploration of friendship and the moment you fall in love, by Amal Khalidi and Tatenda Naomi Matsvai. Hot Orange follows Amina and Tandeki as they navigate what it takes to sustain love and friendship beyond childhood idealism and reflects Contact’s decades-long commitment to platforming LGBTQIA+ experiences.

Contact are also excited to be collaborating with Manchester Literature Festival to present an array of spectacular events with Zadie Smith (left), Max Porter, and Linton Kwesi Johnson. During Autumn, Contact will also be laying the groundwork for the launch of Re:Fute, a brand-new festival refuting the past and evoking conversations around a shared vision for the future. And Christmas at Contact isshaping up to be a magical one, with tickets to Cinderella, presented by eight-freestyle and Contact Young Company, flying out the door.

Visit: https://contactmcr.com/whats-on

With a range of thought-provoking events, Contact’s 2023 Autumn Season is set to challenge, inspire, and ignite curiosity in audiences of all ages.

At MIF23 with Manchester Camerata


review by Steve Cooke

Following the wonderful Angelique Kidjo the previous evening Manchester’s AFRODEUTSCHE took to the stage with the Manchester Camerata string section at Factory International for her MIF23 performance of her composition Psalms, an expression of worship, with a nod to Handel.

A completely different but equally engaging vibe which drew the audience in to a world of haunting vocals, classical piano, strings, electronic sounds, and cinematography.

AFRODEUTCHE explained that a recent diagnosis of autism had led to a realisation that their understanding of ‘love’ was different from other people’s – taking her on a deeply personal exploration of which some of these songs were a part.

The performance opened with AFRODEUTSCHE at the piano, surrounded by the Manchester Camerata’s strings, set against a backdrop of meditative candlelight. They commanded the stage wearing a golden sand-shaded robe with a stunning red headdress.

AFRODEUTSCHE (right) intertwined these Psalm-like melodies with the Camerata’s adagio string lines to moving effect captivating the audience.

The “songs of worship,” encompassed repeated lines such as “I give you all” and wordless melodies, brooding to joyful, with the Camerata’s staccato passages or gentle sways creating an immersive experience.

After about 45 minutes, beats were introduced with Michael England’s remarkable footage projected onto the cinema screen behind the performers.

Layered string lines intertwining with images of metal gears representing the movement of time were accompanied by simple but highly effective breakbeats.

As the conclusion approached, 808 beats and Acid House sounds merged with dramatic adagio strains from the highly versatile and always excellent Camerata.

The piece was further intensified by images of bound and writhing bodies in bicycle inner tubes climaxing with the screen becoming an inferno of raging flames.

The audience were on their feet passionately and affectionately applauding, knowing that they had just witnessed something special.

all across the arts


review By Steve Cooke

Alison Goldfrapp (right9 triumphantly delivered at Manchester International Festival with the third ever gig at the new Factory International event space, Aviva

We were witness to an engaging, spot-on performance from this trailblazing artist.

I was fortunate to be seated at the centre of the front row of the circle in a plush yellow seat, a perfect spot to fully appreciate the excellent lighting and sound that this exciting new venue offers.

Studios – its first part standing / part seating event.

AG made her entry in a stunning, sparkly bolero jacket with something of the disco ball in its effect. setting the tone of the night with her cool, commanding presence.

She sensuously sways and occasionally steps across the stage with her sparkling gloved hands giving dramatic emphasis to her songs – backed by the impressive pairing of Seb Sternberg pounding out the beats on the drums and Evelyn May adding electro-drama to SG’s songs, old and new with the excellent dancers adding a complementary element.

The set of inventive electro dance anthems underpinned by thudding baselines showcases songs from her new solo album The Love Invention.

Although the setlist is dominated by the new tracks, kicked off with the breathy sass of Hotel (Suite 23), before album’s title track, Goldfrapp’s classics raise the crowd’s levels with such as Ride a White Horse and Rocket the finale to the main show.

The huge video screen that backdrops the stage brought up plenty of impressive arty images and on her return for the encore slightly bloodshot eyes dominated the hall.

New track Fever, a dance collaboration with Paul Woolford, was a jumping conclusion to an excellent set showing that her new material can whip up as much audience enthusiasm as the classics.

Full credits for the show: Drums/MD: Seb Sternberg @sebastiansternberg, Keys & B.Vs: Evelyn May @evelynmay, Styled by: Yana McKillop @yana_mckillop in Alexandra Vauthier @alexandrevauthier, Choreography: Harry Price @harrypriceprojects, Dancers: Moses Ward, Belen Leroux and Elisabeth Mulenga @moses.m.o.ward @belen_fab18 & @elisabeth.mulenga, Hair: Adam Garland @adamgarland__, M.U: Louise Hinton @globalmakeupdesignltd

Setlist: Hotel, Love Invention, Believer, Digging Deeper Now, So Hard So Hot, Number 1, Impossible, Anymore, Ride A White HorseSlo Flo, Beat Divine, Gatto Gelatto, Never Stop, Rocket——In Electric Blue, Strict Machine, Fever

Live Classical Music

ORTOA (Oldham, Rochdale & Tameside Organists Association) summer trip to Leeds, Saturday 8 July 2023

review by Dr Joe Dawson

During the extensive renovation of Rochdale Town Hall, the renowned Binns organ has been silent, under wraps and surrounded by scaffolding. Soon it will re-emerge and undergo restoration work itself before thundering joyously once more. Watch this space!

Meanwhile ORTOA committee has kept up its traditions since 1908 and members have been exploring their patch with its varied and renowned instruments. Rochdale Parish Church, St Paul’s Royton and Albion URC Tameside have been used and promoted as suitable venues for celebrity recitals by some of Britain’s finest organists.

In addition to this the membership has been encouraged to continue with AGMs, meetings and ‘organ crawls’ in the area. This includes an annual visit to a significant place of interest in the organ world. This year the intrepid explorers ventured over to Leeds, organised by former president Mark Johnson.

It meant a 9 am start at Leed’s Roman Catholic Cathedral (St Annes) where resident organist David Pipe, introduced the venue and demonstrated the magnificent instrument. Members were invited to play and got any advice needed. Every organ is different and usually individually designed and developed for a particular site. These three today were particularly well respected in the UK.

The second was across the city centre in the Anglican Leeds Minster. Formerly known as Leeds Parish Church, again help was on hand for members to experience a notable historic organ.

Following lunch, the third was at St Bartholomew’s Church in Armley, Leeds. This superb instrument (illustrated) is breathtaking at first sight. The genial host was the celebrated organist Graham Barber, who showed its vast potential with a splendid short recital. The histories of all the venues and significance in their areas, as well as the instruments themselves were fascinating.

The rovers left for home about 4.30pm. after a full, informative, and musically satisfying day

pass it on logo

A Reader´s Perspective


by Peter Pearson

When my editor Norman Warwick messages me urgently to tell me has just heard a great new song that I must review for our readers, I know that he invariably means he has just heard for the first time in many a year a song he has long-forgotten. So it was this week, after he had been playing on Spotify, creating  playlists, that he came across Darling Kate by Emmylou Harris. He was raving over it because the lyrics seemed so obviously to refer to the late Kate Wolf.

In fact, that is not quite so.

Darling Kate is one of my favourites off the Hard Bargain album (right).

Yes- its a tribute song, but  to Kate McGarrigle ! On the same album Emmylou pays tribute to Graham Parsons in the song-The Road. 

Hard Bargain is one of my favourite ELH albums. It features more of her own song-writing than can be found on most of her others. Along with the two tribute songs which she composed it also features My Name is Emmett Till which we discussed in one of the earlier blogs, in the Knopfler Kronikles Collection.

The first Transatlantic Sessions series on BBCtv featured Emmylou, Iris Dement, recently profiled IN Sidetracks And Detours, and the McGarrigle Sisters, Kate (left) and Annie, along with the likes of Guy Clark, Kathy Mattea and John Martyn. Emmylou duets with the McGarrigles on several songs .I am sure their relationship would have predated the series but being locked up in a remote part of Scotland for several weeks filming the series would surely have solidified it.

photo 3 Norm and I often speak of the magazines and journalists we have enjoyed over the years, such as Peter O´Brien´s Omaha Rainbow, which I covered in last week´s column, and Stillwater Times produced by John Graeme Livingstone. In that same piece I mentioned Arthur Wood of Kerrville Kronikle fame, who is a huge fan of Kate Wolf and told me that, on his first visit  to the Kerrville Festival, Kate Wolf was a headliner on the bill but  she had to withdraw due to her Leukemia. It broke his heart.

I know that David Deverson, who Norm worked with to produce the original Detour publications, was in touch with the Wolf family after Kate´s death and that Detour magazine delivered one or two in depth features on Kate Wolf (right) and her music.

After hearing the Nanci Griffith cover of Kate’s Across The Great Divide on her Other Voices album I took the decision to purchase the entire Kate Wolf  back-catalogue which had just been re-released via Rhino. It did however take me a few years to bite the bullet and import the DVD An Evening in Austin. For a long time it was horrendously expensive on Amazon as an import. Just before covid and subsequent plummeting of the pound against the dollar I took the plunge and managed to get it at a reasonable price. Recorded in 1988 for Austin City Limits and only available on her own Owl label it certainly stands the test of time.

There is also a very fine tribute album which you may have heard or have- titled Treasures Left Behind. I’m not a great lover of tribute albums but this one is quite exceptional for me on a number of levels-excellent sound quality, artists participating  and song choice.

In his marked ´urgent´ e mail this week, Norm also mentioned the Jerry Jeff Walker song Mr Bojangles. This must be one of the most covered songs of all time. I quite liked the Neil Diamond version and Norm favours the Sammy Davis Junior version as performed live at The London Palladium. That demonstrates the range of the song, I think

In 1977 Jerry Jeff released a double album, A Man Must Carry On, that became one of my favourite albums. At the same time Guy Clark released Old No. 1 and I got to see them both as a double header at a nightclub in Longsight Manchester in 1986. Jerry Jeff was in fact the headline act with Guy opening for him. I have to say that Jerry Jeff was at that time a much more polished performer than Guy and deserved the headline status. Sadly he never appeared in these parts again.

Guy was not in a good mood that night. After his opening set he was at the bar and a young guy approached him with his vinyl cover of one of Guy’s albums asking for it to be autographed. Guy got hold of it chewed it apart with his teeth and threw it back at him.

Contrast that with the late 90’s when I saw him appear with Eric Taylor in Norm´s hoime town of Tadcaster (I had already seen them at MU Student Union a few days earlier) Having got Eric Taylor to sign he said if you want Guy to sign, his dressing room is just around the corner. Remembering the chewing incident I was a bit hesitant but I thought he might have more difficulty chewing a cd case.

Anyway I joined a small line and Guy invited us in and was kindness personified. He had his own special pen and signed everything that was presented to him and offered thanks for coming to the concert. It was a night to remember with some great music making

By the way, though things are currently bucking up on the gig front. I’m off to see Sarah Jarosz at Band on the Wall in a few weeks and Tim O’Brien early next year.

The Band On The Wall web site says of  Sarah Jarosz (right) that with her captivating voice and richly detailed song-writing, she has emerged as one of the most compelling musicians of her generation. A four-time Grammy Award-winner and ten-time nominee at the age of 31, the Texas native started singing as a young girl and became an accomplished multi-instrumentalist by her early teens.

After releasing her full-length debut Song Up in Her Head at 18 years old, she went on to deliver such critically lauded albums as Follow Me Down, Build Me Up From Bones, and Undercurrent, in addition to joining forces with Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan to form the acclaimed folk trio I’m With Her.

Her fifth studio album, World On The Ground, produced by John Leventhal, went on to win the Grammy award for Best Americana Album.

In 2021 Jarosz released the Grammy-nominated Blue Heron Suite, a much-anticipated song cycle, which she composed after being the recipient of the FreshGrass Composition Commission. She continues to tour in support of both releases.

Tim  O´Brien (left) has been around a little longer !

Born in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1954, Grammy winning singer songwriter and multi- instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school. After seeing Doc Watson on TV, he became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music. Tim started touring nationally in 1978 with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize. His songs “Walk the Way the Wind Blows” and “Untold Stories” were bluegrass hits for Hot Rize, and country hits for Kathy Mattea. Soon more artists like Nickel Creek, Garth Brooks, and The Dixie Chicks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has collaborated with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old-time musician Dirk Powell, as well as with Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, Dan Auerbach and Sturgill Simpson.

Living in Nashville since 1996, O’Brien’s skills on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo make him an in-demand session player. He tours throughout the US and abroad, most often with his wife Jan Fabricius on mandolin and vocals. A voracious reader who loves to cook, he has two sons, Jackson (born 1982) and Joel (born 1990). The International Bluegrass Music Association awarded him song of the year in 2006 and named him best male vocalist in 1993 and 2006. He was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2013 and into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2022.

O’Brien’s latest release, 2021’s “He Walked On”, weaves historical and socially conscious themes through songs about ordinary and not so ordinary people just trying to “keep it between the ditches”. Other notable O’Brien recordings include the bluegrass Dylan covers of “Red on Blonde”, the Celtic-Appalachian fusion of “The Crossing”, and the Grammy winning folk of “Fiddler’s Green”. His duet recording “Real Time” with Darrell Scott is a cult favorite, and he won a bluegrass Grammy as part of “The Earls of Leicester”. His 2017 release “Where the River Meets the Road” paid tribute to the music of his native West Virginia. A new release of original material “Cup of Sugar” drops June 16.

Multi-Grammy award winner Tim O’Brien and his wife Jan Fabricius have performed together nationally and internationally either as a duo or as part of the Tim O’Brien Band since 2015. In a duet setting with a guitar, a mandolin, and their two voices, they bring an intimate and warm acoustic music roots repertoire that’s at once both original and traditional.

photo apf  9 Jan Fabricius grew up in WaKeeney, Ks. and sang from an early age in church and school, taking up clarinet and then mandolin. A registered nurse and mother of two, she kept her hand in music through local jams and regional bluegrass festivals while raising her family.

Jan’s music with O’Brien started informally around their home as he wrote or learned new songs, and she soon found herself singing and playing mandolin in the studio and onstage. O’Brien’s 2021 release “He Walked On”, and his upcoming release “Cup of Sugar” feature original songs co written by Tim and Jan.

So I think we can safely stick with our chapter heading of All Points Forward, and I shall try to submit a review of each gig when the time comes,

Recorded Music


Ralph Dent reads review and remembers

Tina Benitez-Eves has written IN American Songwriter that   If there’s one song synonymous with Joni Mitchell, it’s River. Though never released as a single, the song, off Mitchell’s fourth album Blue, is one of her most well-known and has become a standard during the holidays.

“River” reveals one of Mitchell’s most vulnerable moments in song-writing, opening up about a breakup and the deep bond that’s difficult to shake. The lyrics of River are thought to have been inspired by the end of Mitchell’s relationship with musician Graham Nash (left) ; the two dated from 1968 through 1970.

By 1970, Mitchell was struggling with her own musical contributions and success and took a trip to Europe and ended their relationship by sending a telegram to Nash from Crete, Greece.

She then began piecing together Blue, and what has become her most memorable Christmas holiday song: River. Though the song wasn’t intentionally meant as a Christmas song, it is set around the holiday season.

´River expresses regret at the end of a relationship, but it’s also about being lonely at Christmastime´, said Mitchell about the meaning of the song, and the release of the official video for the song to commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2021.

 “A Christmas song for people who are lonely at Christmas,” added Mitchell. “We need a song like that.”

It’s coming on Christmas 
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer 
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

But it don’t snow here 
It stays pretty green
I’m going to make a lot of money 
Then I’m going to quit this crazy scene
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

I wish I had a river so long 
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river I could skate away on
I made my baby cry

y My own favourite cover of this Joni Mitchell song is on an album by Kirsty Almeida (left) and The Troubadours, a band that included keyboard player and record producer John Ellis. Kirsty´s live version was pretty damned good, too, as I remember from a gig at Heywood Civic Centre ten to fifteen years ago, on a night just like the one the song describes

Now a holiday standard, River is the most covered composition by Mitchell with almost 900  versions recorded.

The piano-led song, which borrows heavily from the 19th-century holiday standard “Jingle Bells,” has become a popular cover by artists across genres, particularly around the holidays. Everyone from Mitchell’s former beau James Taylor to Barry Manilow, Sarah McLachlan, Judy Collins, Idina Menzel, Travis, Cee Lo Green, Ellie Goulding, and even Olivia Rodrigo and Harry Styles, have covered “River.”

He tried hard to help me
You know, he put me at ease
And he loved me so naughty
Made me weak in the knees
Oh, I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I’m so hard to handle
I’m selfish and I’m sad
Now I’ve gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
Oh, I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh, I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I made my baby say goodbye

Island Insights


by Norman Warwick

We had left the house at nine p.m. at night, for a quick trip into town, but in some ways found ourselves heading all the way back to the future ! We pulled into a free (hotel) car park and strolled across the road on to the site of the travelling fun fair, which has currently set up stalls on ground near the Princess Yaiz Hotel in Playa Blanca.

Like all the best fairgrounds this one is a test of all the five senses. To satisfy your aural senses, loud pop music blares out from a speaker at each attraction and the lighting and whirling machinery together create a colourful, blurred effect for your visual senses.. Your sense of smell would draw towards each of the food stalls dotted around the site. The hot dogs, candy floss and popcorn available at areas like Rock Dinner and the cocktails at Mojito Madness would tempt anyone, but Dee and I settled for cone of chips each, mine drowned in tomato sauce and washed down by Dee with a can of / Up, and y me with a can of Fanta Orange, which to diabetic throwing caution to the wind was an ice-cold drug induced high. We sat down to dine on white plastic chairs and tables for a meal that was fine dining for a President and His First Lady.

We then set off a stroll around, looking for the perfect fairground attraction. Although I have always thought Eadie Reader was the perfect fairground attraction I nevertheless felt that tingle of excitement that fun fairs have always sent creeping up my spine.

The Tokito is a gentle roundabout, complete with small hill and a tunnel that is ideal for little children, each in their own ‘vehicle´. Proud, young parents stand around the perimeters, waving at their young ones, and taking photographs as they spin round the circuit. The Saltarin is a similar ride for children and there are even, too,  mini dodgems, which somehow reflect the way some adults drive on the roads around here! Fortunately, The AutoPista Infantil sets a more sedate example for the drivers of the future, as does the Aero Baby for the next generation of young men and women who might be one day piloting the planes in and out of the airport here on the island.

Los Tortillos are the mechanical bulls that try to throw off the children on to the soft floor surrounds, and there is a real feel good factor in watching these ‘steeds’ seemingly dancing to some rollicking Mexican music as children seek to hang on to the saddle. The youngsters seem to manage this with more ease than the adults who try to ride the bigger bulls at the similar Texas attraction, which has its speed levels seemingly set at professional Rodeo level. If any of you know the Guy Clark song about the wild bull-riding Rita Balou you might just think the current generation of teenagers r9iding the bulls at this year´s even might follow in her footsteps.

There’s an Alice In Wonderland fairy tale ride (left) for the children too, as well as bouncy castles and safe ‘plastic playground’ arenas, and the Gusanto ride takes kids on the back of a giant caterpillar string of coaches around a fixed circuit.

There is also something similarly quaintly old-fashioned about the entertainments designed mainly for teenagers. These include stalls inviting customers to burst three balloons with three darts, or three shots from an air rifle, in return for some very strange looking stuffed animals. I’m not sure what was the prize for knocking over three skittles from the penalty spot with a football but given England’s recent success in world cup shoot outs I was very tempted to deliver my Harry Kane impersonation, but my attention was distracted by Olla, a kind of plastic walled ring, but tilted at an angle that makes it difficult to walk or even stand in. Then, when the music starts and the thing begins to bounce and reverse as well, it is fun to see teenagers sprawling all over the place. However, it also incredible to see the few who seem able to keep their balance even as the space around them quivers and shakes like a jelly. I quite fancied that I might be able to do this but my wife wouldn’t let me. She said I manage to fall over even when the earth doesn’t move, and she didn’t want me, at sixty five, to become possibly the oldest man ever to world to fall from a fairgound ride.

The longest queue we saw was at the bungee trampoline which had customers performing somersaults and back flicks that served only to further remind me of my arthritis.

There was plenty of space at the fun fair to walk around in between all the attractions and although the fair was very busy there was none of the aggressive shouting and jostling from young adults, that we had come to  associate with fun fairs in the UK over the last thirty odd years.

Holding court in the centre of the area, though, was the Star trek Super Looper (right) which is exactly what it says on the tin. It is basically two pods of rows of open seating. It doesn’t do much other than rock and roll to a musical soundtrack, one pod in a clockwise, and the other in an anticlockwise, direction. When the pods, or the fingers, on this imaginary clock face, reach midnight, about once every forty seconds, the passengers are suspended upside down in their seats. looking, if their eyes are open, to the ground some seventy feet below. The descent to ‘six o’clock’ seems beyond the speed of sound, though I feel sure the screams can be heard in space.

As I looked around I was reminded of the fun fair scene at Rydell High School, which takes place at the end of the film Grease. The rides looked very similar and even the behaviour of all the young people seemed redolent of that era. Cheeky but harmless, there were boys who were simply, in the words of Springsteen ‘watching girls in their summer clothes’ while the girls feigned to ignore the boys showing off on the big rides.

It was getting late, just gone ten o’clock when Dee, my wife, decided we should head back home for a cocoa, before I had time to start looking for a leather clad Olivia Newton John! Nevertheless, I was content to have been merely an observer of yet another slice of life on Lanzarote that somehow returned us to a gentler era. There may have been none of The Tunnels Of Love that Dire Straits sang about and nor was there a Wall Of Death as described by singer- writer Richard Thompson, but there was just that hint of danger essential to all fairgrounds.

The fun fair will be in Playa Blanca throughout the Fiestas en honor a Nuestra Senora del Carmen, a celebration of the town’s patron saint who is also the saint of boats and fishermen. This sees a mass held at sea, attended by all the port’s fishing boats, and watched from the shoreline by thousands of people.

Another not to be missed event here on Lanzarote.                  

Sidetracks And Detours



twelve tracks for a play-list

The Fair Ground                             Ralph McTell

Tight Rope                                      Leon Russell

Coney Island                                   Van Morrison

Tunnel Of Love                              Dire Straits

Fortune Teller                                 Benny Spellman

Fairground Blues                            The Walkabouts

The WS Walcott Travelling Show The Band               

Scarborough Fair                            Simon And Garfunkel

Big Dipper                                      Jethro Tull

Renaissance Fair                             The Byrds

Carnival                                          Tom Waits

She Moves Through The Fair         Sinead O´Connor

Been Too Long At The Fair           Bonnie Rait

On A Carousel                                 The Hollies

Helter Skelter                                 The Beatles

Somewhere Down The Crazy River       Robbie Robertson

Gost Train                                       Elvis Costello

All The Fun Of The Fair                David Essex

Fifty years After The Fair              Aimee Mann

Farewell To The Fairground          White Lies

We will set out on further sidetracks and detours tomorrow. Monday 7th August in a week during which we will stroll through Middle Earth with Tolkien, before going dancing Skip To My Lou.  We will listen to Patti Smith Speak and follow a man who rides a pony on his boat. We will bring the week to a close by enjoying a Friday lunch time drink with Mary Gauthier . Our next Weekly Walkabout Pass It On supplement will be published on 13th August when, among all your usual favourites, we will deliver a review of a recent incredible live performance on Lanzarote by John Malkovich.

We´ll see you round the corner.

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