sidetracks & detours present PASS IT ON 58 weekly supplement Sunday 23 6 2024

sidetracks & detours



weekly supplement Sunday 23 6 2024


Hear The Call


By Akela

first exhibition of the summer season


created and curated by Claudie

all across the arts collated by Steve Cooke

Toad Lane Concerts


Music for flute, strings and harpsichord

Review by Dr Joe Dawson

Immersive Experience


Preview by Steve Cooke


at The Octagon: Bolton

Review by Hilary Dawes

creativity and community celebrated


nominated for Creative Lives Award Steve Cooke reports 

Live Jazz IN Reading


previews by  Newsletter

Jazz On Air

HOT BISCUITS  plated by Steve Bewick

Live Music


preview by newsletter

Rochdale Music Society

A Reader´s Perspective; All Points Forward


Peter Pearson chats to Norman Warwick

Island Insights                        


wonders Norman Warwick

Hear The Call


by Akela

Hello and welcome to our weekly Sunday Supplement, PASS IT ON – Just before you head to your favourite reading room, though, you might like to be updated on items you might have missed in our daily Monday to Friday not-for-profit blog, – sidetracks & detours. Our wonderful volunteer reporters have searched high and low to find you interesting arts-related news items. They combed the North of England to discover where British Pop Culture lives, and gathered up all the details of Cyndi Lauper´s world farewell tour. Our newest writer, Rosa Marie Staves, delivered another concord of sweet music and the gang made another visit to Jazz Junction for all the news that is jazz. The team returned to Lanzarote on Friday morning with new jazz books for our bigger bookshelf, Saturday was a rest day to catch up on the European Championship football matches and to see if little Yaiza on Lanzarote can win their final play-off game. They have already qualified for the Copa Del Ray and a victory now would guarantee them a place in a higher division. Today´s PASS IT ON is full of goodies, such as a  preview of some visual art by Claudie, reminding us that home is where the art is ! We are grateful to Steve Cooke for gathering items from all across the arts in the UK and we have our usual jazz listings and previews from Jazz In Reading and some jazz Hot Biscuits served on air by Steve Bewick. We also bring you a sneak preview of a forthcoming classical music event at Manchester Music Festival. Peter Pearson and Norman Warwick chat about their favourite genre of music and how it can be best served by the media. Finally Norman Warwick´s wife joins a short trek across the cliff tops of Lanzarote to a derelict ´artbreak Hotel´.


created and curated by Claudie.

invitation to the first summer open studio 


To my dear friends of the island and fine art –


I used the recent dark clouds over the north of Lanzarote well and created a lot of new works.

In addition to the usual suspects,  like acrylic painting, jewellery, photography, dragon eggs, deco and such I am proud to present some brand new drawings with ink, a lot of water and some magic dust. All this you can see on Sunday 23 06.

My door will be open from 11am – 6pm.

I am looking forward to this little event and seeing you, have a lovely week.


You can find me in the calle peña hendida 11, the yellow house with very green garden.

all across the arts collated by Steve Cooke


Music for flute, strings and harpsichord

Review by Dr Joe Dawson

In the first week of meteorological summer that refined troupe of players, the Telemann Baroque Ensemble made the second of their quarterly Toad Lane Concerts of 2024. Their varied line ups are drawn from the cream of freelancers in the Northwest. This concert featured Alastair Roberts on flute, Elaine da Costa and Sarah Snape violins, John Goodstadt viola, and Roger Bisby cello. Harpsichordist and director Peter Collier also provided enlightening introductions to the pieces. As usual, players and audience alike revelled in the glorious sound they made in the generous acoustic of St Mary in the Baum.

In true baroque tradition the basso continuo (cello and harpsichord) provided the fundament throughout. Above this we had JJ Quantz’s Quartet No 6 in B minor for flute, violin and viola, JB Boismortier’s Quartet in G minor for flute and two violins, and JD Heinichen’s Trio sonata in C minor with violin and viola. This glorious eighteenth-century chamber music allowed each instrument’s contribution to be heard as the combinations shifted and changed.

Finally, the full ensemble joined together for a superb performance of Flute Concerto in B minor by GP Telemann. The sustained applause showed how much the audience enjoyed seeing players of this calibre bringing rare music to life.

The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday at 12.30pm at St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.

Immersive Experience


Preview by Steve Cooke  

The innovative Factory International and award-winning art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) set out to redefine the boundaries of storytelling and cinema in the world premiere of Sweet Dreams, a surreal, immersive journey through appetite, human desire and the evolving landscape of food.

Developed and funded by the BFI [British Film Institute], awarding National Lottery funding, and created in collaboration with award-winning writer and former chef Simon Wroe, this playful new interactive artwork wraps big questions about how and what we consume into a comic, immersive pop package.

Featuring a cast of satirical on-screen animated cartoon characters, voiced by leading international actors and comedians and illustrated by renowned French artist McBess (Matthieu Bessudo), the narrative centres around a fast-food empire in decline. Mascot Chicky Ricky, voiced by actor and comedian Munya Chawawa, grapples to understand the ever-shifting desires of the masses, alongside an array of other characters including The Boss with a Rolodex head voiced by comedian Reggie Watts and Penny Peckish voiced by comedian and impressionist Morgana Robinson, a shelved mascot made of plastic straws.

Unfolding over a series of meticulously crafted rooms in the vast Warehouse space at Aviva Studios – which last summer showcased a major exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable artworks – audiences will be transported into a mesmerising blend of motion graphics, gaming, illustration and cinema, moving between the tantalising and the grotesque, the nightmarish and the hilarious.

Munya Chawawa, who voices Chicky Ricky, said, “I’ve always felt my career wouldn’t be complete without voicing a psychologically twisted animated chicken, so this truly was a dream come true. The concept and characters are so brilliantly poignant and satirically sharp, it’s been a total delight and will be for anyone who goes to see it. Let’s just say you’ll think twice before your next burger…”

Sweet Dreams is the second collaboration between Factory International and MLF following Dream, a live online theatre show set in the midsummer forest of Shakespeare’s play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ that utilised live actors in motion capture suits influenced by live audience interaction through gaming technology.

Known for their breath-taking immersive exhibitions, Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) is an experiential art collective whose work reinterprets the idea of human perception and experience, through design, digital media, performance and sculpture.

Incorporating online phenomena such as Mukbang ASMR and utilising cutting edge AI tools and motion capture technology, Sweet Dreams is the culmination of years of innovative work from MLF creating ground-breaking digital experiences all over the world.

Robin McNicholas, Director of MLF said, “Sweet Dreams holds a cartoon mirror on our world. We’re serving up a story where audiences can deepen their connection to the food they eat. We aim to spark further conversations about our place in the food chain, via chirpy cartoon faces that often are the gatekeepers to the things we consume.”

Gabrielle Jenks, Digital Director at Factory International said, “We are thrilled to expand our creative collaboration with Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) – Sweet Dreams advances a new direction for the creative team and aligns perfectly with Factory International’s mission of supporting art forms of the future. As one of the most exciting immersive art studios practising today, MLF invent new formats for storytelling, using cutting-edge cinematic tools to bring characters and worlds to life. We are excited to premiere this flagship work and look forward to hearing the audience response.”

Mia Bays, Director of the BFI Filmmaking Fund, said: “We were delighted to board this bold multi-sensory immersive project from Marshmallow Laser Feast and have been supporting the team over a number of years to evolve this ambitious piece with Executive Producer for the BFI, Ulrich Schrauth. It’s thrilling to know it will be finally shared with audiences, starting with Factory International at Aviva Studios – we hope people will be greedy for it, given that it is a study of human appetites! Our mission is to support distinctive collaborations and talent to stretch and push boundaries, and backing immersive projects such as this sees us working with storytellers who are extending the form of film along with the audience experience in really dynamic ways.”

Sweet Dreams adds to a growing body of work from Factory International that harnesses emerging digital technologies to blur the distinction between real and virtual worlds. These include the Virtual Factory series which commissioned artists to create online and digital work responding to the architecture of Aviva Studios including the avatar LaTurbo Avedon – whose installation of Factory International in Fortnite has already welcomed more than 1.5m visitors, visual artist Tai Shani, games developer Robert Yang and filmmaker Jenn Nkiru; and Factory Settings, a digital creative platform that allows audiences to experience a new virtual version of Factory International’s new space using augmented reality.

Sweet Dreams

Aviva Studios, Manchester, M3 4JQ

17 July – 1 September (Tuesday – Sunday)

11-16 July (previews)

60-minute experience


at The Octagon: Bolton

Review by Hilary Dawes

Written by Le Navet Bete and John Nicholson and directed by Paul Robinson, Dracula the Bloody Truth is a hilarious and madcap comedy retelling of the famous gothic classic.

It’s 1900.  Dracula, the best-selling novel by Bram Stoker was released three years ago and Professor Abraham Van Helsing is not happy.  He was there.  He knows The Truth. The Bloody Truth, and The Truth must come out.

Professional vampire hunter Van Helsing has gathered three totally incompetent actors to assist in relating his version of events in order to reveal the true ending to the story of the vampire who sailed from Transylvania to Whitby leaving a trail of destruction in his wake

Professor Van Helsing introduces himself to the audience to explain the reasons for this performance.   He is at pains to stress that “this is not theatre”, but rather an attempt to tell the true story of what really happened to him and his friends in their encounters with Bram Stoker’s titular character, shamelessly fictionalised in the novel.    

Mayhem ensues, as Van Helsing vainly endeavours to direct the inept cast, only creating more chaos along the way!  Every attempt to portray the “real” story results in more things going wrong!  Add into the mix unreliable props, collapsing scenery, plus lightening fast costume changes, and the result is hilarious slapstick farce, which still maintains the essence of the original novel.

Sometimes sharing characters, sometimes one actor portraying three in the same scene, each of this cast of only four deserves the highest praise, delivering at breakneck speed 40 or so characters with incredible energy, skill, and perfect comic timing, as we travel with them to Transylvania, Whitby, London and back again to illustrate Van Helsing’s extraordinary version of events.

Chris Hannon as the indefatigable Professor Van Helsing, Annie Kirkman as Dracula and Dr Seward, Alyce Liburd as Mina Murray and Holmwood, together with the superb comic skills of Killian Macardle as Jonathan Harker and the ill-fated Lucy Westenra, in addition to their countless other roles, all ensured that the pace never flagged and the laughs kept on coming!

Praise too should go to the creative team, with designer Helen Coyston, lighting designer Jane Laljee and composer and sound designer Simon Slater.  Movement and fight direction are by Wayne Parsons and Kaitlin Howard, and wardrobe supervisor is Julia Perry-Mook.

For a thoroughly entertaining and exhilarating evening, forget everything you think you know about Dracula and catch this brilliant show at the Octagon Bolton, running until 29th June.

creativity and community celebrated
nominated for Creative Lives Award
Steve Cooke reports 

Riverside Writers are proud to announce that Mr William Pollard, the writer of the biography of M.R Lahee, the lost Rochdale Poet, will be speaking at a forthcoming Festival. The Festival Of Summer will bring together not only Riverside´s writers and poets, but also local community groups including musicians, clogdancers, a ukulele band and the U3A choir. The event will be followed by an open-mic session for those who are still standing.

This year one member is the recipient of the Presidents Cup for poetry by Edwin Waugh Society.

Judging panels from each nation will choose a winner for England, Ireland & Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, while members of the public can vote for their favourite in the People’s Choice Awards.

Voting in the People’s Choice Award is open until 29 July 2024. To learn more about the shortlisted projects and to cast your vote, please visit

Winners will be announced at the Creative Lives Awards ceremony in Cecil Sharp House, London on 26 September 2024, partnering with the Everyday Creativity Research Network conference. Winners will receive a bespoke award, framed certificate, cash prize and access to support and training.

Rochdale’s Riverside Writers has been shortlisted for the 2024 Creative Lives Awards.

The awards shine a spotlight on the amazing creativity taking place in local communities. with 34 creative groups shortlisted from across England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Voting is now open for the public to choose the winner of People’s Choice Award, so lets get voting for our own Riverside Writers.

From murals, mosaics and movement, to pantomime, poetry and photography, Creative Lives is celebrating the everyday creativity of groups from across the UK and Ireland through this year’s Creative Lives Awards.

Riverside Writers is a creative writing group that meets weekly in Rochdale. All writers aged over 18, are very welcome to attend their sessions and all genres of creative writing are encouraged.

In 2024 Riverside Writers has created and maintained its own website and has delivered workshop sessions on a range of topics relating to the culture and customs of our area in order to create a knowledge of and pride in our heritage.

The group also created workshops to help members develop new techniques, genres and styles in their writing.


Riverside Writers has written for the Manchester City of Literature Festival of Libraries and is currently preparing for our Festival of Summer following a very successful first event in 2023.

Judging panels from each nation will choose a winner for England, Ireland & Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, while members of the public can vote for their favourite in the People’s Choice Awards.

Voting in the People’s Choice Award is open until 29 July 2024. To learn more about the shortlisted projects and to cast your vote, please visit


Live Jazz

Art Theman: SAX ON THAMESç

previewed by Jazz In Reading

Friday 19 Jul

Thames Traditional Boat Festival
Fawley Meadows
Henley-on-Thames RG9 2HY

6.15pm Riverside Stage 

LEGENDARY Henley Musician Art Themen will open this year’s Trad Festival on the riverside, Henley-on-Thames Friday 19th July.

Art’s Jazz and Blues Quintet take to the Riverside Stage 6.15pm; kicking off a weekend of incredible musicians and evening entertainment.

Art Themen’s illuminate presence on the world jazz circuit for over 40 years. He toured the globe fronting Stan Tracey’s quartet and played alongside all the British and American legends. A friend and regular at Ronnie Scott’s club (Art even acquired Ronnie Scott’s sax).
Originally a blues saxophonist back in 1966 with Alexis Korner, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker (before Eric Clapton joined when the band became CREAM). Outside the jazz world, he’s worked with fellow Henley Beatle George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Chuck Berry, Joe Cocker, Row Stewart and even Bing Crosby.

The Thames Traditional Boat Festival is the world’s largest gathering of vintage river craft. Remembering D-Day’s 80th anniversary with a flotilla of the original Dunkirk little ships all perfectly restored. Spitfire, Hurricane, Lancaster and bi-plane flypast. Festival stalls galore, street food and a Pop up Crooked Billet Stoke Row bar, canteen and live music stage.

Artists Art Themen, Buddy King, Rob Berry, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Mickey Gallagher (Animals, Clash, Blockheads) Ding Dong Daddios.
Advance discounted tickets online now from only £15

Best regards, The Jazz in Reading Team

On air sign background

Jazz On Air

HOT BISCUITS served by Steve Bewick

Next week I’ll feature the musical journey of the Gaz Hughes Trio, including Andrzej Baranek and Ed Harrison. Their musical journey has taken them from Art Blakey – Blue Note Records to Nuclear Bebopalyse.

The podcast further includes, Dipper-mouth Blues from KEN COLYER SOCIETY. Eriksson Kaner & Sacha , on the way Ugo Rossi & Bob Mintzer, Esmond Selwyn, Jazz Colossus, who love the sunshine. Tim Garland with Jason Rebello on 2toGo. If this looks interesting follow me and listen in at 24/07.

Live Music


preview by newsletter

Meet Featured Guest Artists: David Shifrin, Sara Couden and Lawrence Dutton who appeared at a Manchester Music Festival Thursday night concert recently.

MM welcomes artists from all over the globe to perform in the city..

David Shifrin (right) is a clarinetist and artistic director of Yale’s Chamber Music Society, the Yale in New York concert series, and the Phoenix Chamber Music Festival. He’s won both the Avery Fisher Career Grant (1987) and the Avery Fisher Prize (2000), is a recipient of a Solo Recitalist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has held principal clarinet positions including the Cleveland Orchestra and the American Symphony under Leopold Stokowski. His recordings have received three Grammy nominations and his 2012 Delos recording of Ellen Taaffe Zwillch’s Clarinet Concerto was chosen as culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant by the National Recording Preservation Act by the Library of Congress in 2023. 

Contralto Sara Couden (left) is a premiere interpreter of operatic, concert, and song repertoire praised for her “unusually rich and resonant voice” (Opera News). Sara has sang many roles including Ottavia in West Edge Opera’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, Catiscià in Il Ducato, and Osmiro in Olimpia vendicata with Ars Minerva. She is the alto soloist in the Mozart Requiem with Eureka Symphony, Alma Mahler’s Five Songs with the California Symphony, and Messiah with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Tucson Symphony, and at Duke University. She’s made company and role debuts at St. Petersburg Opera (Florida), as Juno/Ino in Handel’s Semele, as well as the Marquise of Berkenfield in Donizetti’s Fille du régiment, and a role debut as the Nurse in Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-bleue with West Edge Opera. She covered Erste Magd in Elektra and Mrs Sedley in Peter Grimes at the Metropolitan Opera, and has toured Japan with Maestro Masaaki Suzuki in Bach’s B Minor Mass.

Lawrence Dutton (right) is the violist of the Emerson String Quartet, winner of nine Grammy Awards. He has collaborated with many of the world’s great performing artists, including Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Lynn Harrell, and has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras around the world. He has recorded works by Igor Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith for the Bravo cable network. Currently Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at the Manhattan School of Music, Stony Brook University, and Mercer University, Mr. Dutton earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at the Juilliard School. As a member of the Emerson String Quartet, he was a winner of the 2004 Avery Fisher Prize.

Rochdale Music Society


forthcoming concerts preview by Graham Marshall

“I’m looking forward to conducting the Rochdale Light Orchestra’s concert on Wednesday, July 3rd in St. Michael’s Church, Bamford, as advertised in the poster (shown right). The programme includes ‘Six London Sketches’ by Mozart. These are six of the piano pieces Mozart wrote while visiting London in 1764-5 aged 8-9 years old. I’ve arranged them for our ensemble, and I think they make a pleasant, easy-listening addition to our wide-ranging repertoire.There will also be Gounod’s ‘Funeral March of a Marionette’, the quirky clarinet which has become inseparably associated with Alfred Hitchcock, and a two-step March entitled ‘Rastus on Parade’ by the American composer and music publisher Kerry Mills. The concert is promoted as an occasion of “Moonlight, Mystery, Mozart, Glen Miller and much more”, and the much more consists of still popular 20th century song and dance music like Henry Mancini’s “Moon River”, Edwin Lamare’s “Moonlight and Roses” and (not only for the Man City fans!) Richard Rodgers’ “Blue Moon”. It will end with Glen Miller’s iconic “Moonlight Serenade”. I’m sure you will enjoy all this music, if you come along. Admission is FREE! (See the poster), and there will be interval refreshments.I founded the RaLO (as we call it) in 2008. It offers local amateur musicians an opportunity to get together to rehearse and play music of a generally light-hearted nature from the pre-Baroque era to the present day and of all genres.On Wednesday, July 17th the orchestra will play in Holy Trinity, Littleborough, so you can come along then if you miss out on the July 3rd performance.Do visit our website for further

Graham and his music-fan friends at Rochdale Music Society are also looking forward to another splendid concert later in the month.

On 17th July they will deliver not Moonlight and Romance but a gift of Mozart and Roses, at The Holy Trinity Church in Littleborough (see left)

A Reader´s Perspective; All Points Forward


Peter Pearson chats to Norman Warwick

Norm:   Thanks to a prompt from our Americana correspondent, Peter Pearson, I tuned in eventually to a series about musicians on the seriously excellent Sky Arts channel.

I therefore saw Cyndi Lauper on a programme called Legend, hosted by Brian Johnson and Mark Knopfler. As Geordie lads, Johnson was the drummer with AC / DC and Knopfler, of course the leader of Dire Straits before also enjoying a lengthy and productive solo career.

Cyndi was, I had thought, somewhat dismissively, simply a pop star, even if I had enjoyed her hits as much as anyone.

The mutual admiration society that emerged on every episode of Legend was evident in this particular segment with Cyndi too. It was a strange show with the premise of taking Johnson And Knopfler back to old haunts in America and the UK to meet up for the first time, or perhaps re-unite with, other musical acts working the same sort of patch at around the same time.

I know Peter must have watched most of the series, too, because he recommended it to me ! In truth, though, I found it all something of a curates egg. There were little gems of stories and insight, but mutual admiration does not chemistry make ! It all seemed a bit forced. I wondered about Peter´s  thoughts on that?

Peter:    Lets start with the background Norm.

Brian Johnson had a Sky Arts series running for two seasons between 2017-2019, called A Life On the Road in which he interviewed some of his favourite musicians in their own settings.´Mark was one of those guests. At the end, Mark said to Johnson, “Isn’t it a shame that we couldn’t just keep walking and filming and talking?” That stuck in Johnson’s head.

With that the pair agreed to join forces for the new Sky Arts series “Johnson and Knopflers Music Legends.”

It was filmed in various locations over the course of a year. Starting April 25th, the six part series has recently ended but Sky will no doubt be showing repeats. It is billed as the first series, so the implication is that there will be more to come.

Watching Johnson’s “A Life On The Road”, I never thought of it as anything more than a light-hearted romp. The same really as I think about this new series. In ” A Life On The Road” when Johnson went to the States to interview Joe Walsh, after a mock search for him, Walsh emerged from the nearby boot of a roadside car, which set the tone for the rest of the programme.

This Legend series is slightly more formalised. Maybe like a musical version of Last of The Summer Wine, as the pair traipse around the UK and USA, holding sit down informal chats with a diverse range of fellow musicians.

I agree it is a curate’s egg. With the diverse range of artists I think that is inevitable. As to being a bit forced, I guess if you were to analyse it that critically you could say so.

I´m not sure of the chronology of when the series was made for tv and when Knopfler was recording and releasing his latest album which, as I mentioned to you at the time we reported it in Sidetracks And Detours, I found to be, and still do, powerful and vibrant with all the usual Knopfler traits and production values. When ´presenting´ Legend he looked tired and listless I thought.

I read that the series was filmed over 12 months ago. Mark is 76 now and Johnson 77.  Mark was starting to show signs of his age during his world tour in 2019 for his  Down The Road Wherever album. It was then that he announced that he was to cease touring and concentrate on writing and recording. None of us know the state of his health but he had a really bad road accident in 2003 and we know that these sort of things take their toll.

I think the series had quite a wide remit but in some ways it couldn´t please all the people all the time. I liked the idea of it being conversation rather than be a dialogue of prescribed question and answer. That led to some rambling stories that went nowhere really.  I loved the idea of the guest artist dissecting and performing a song whilst sitting on a sofa with Mark and Brian joining in. To me, though, that often left unfinished parts. Inevitably and invariably, the sounds and interpretations they made were so beautiful that I always wanted more of them.

Before watching Johnson’s first series, all I knew of him was that my brother reminded me that he was the lead singer in AC/DC.

I thought of him as that guy in that Australian group whose lead guitarist dresses up like a schoolboy with short pants and a satchel on his back, whilst blasting out ear splitting hard rock. I think the Geordie lad thing is genuine. All I have read and seen about Johnson suggests this to be the case.

Mark on the other hand is more of an adopted Geordie, being born in Glasgow, though spending his early years in Newcastle and at 18, leaving to study journalism at Harlow, Essex. Newcastle United F.C adopted his Going Home theme song written for the film, Local Hero, as their club anthem.

I think Johnson does bring a different perspective to the programme. You can see that he takes the lead in almost all the interviews and perhaps has more experience than Mark because of his fronting two previous series. Johnson´s charismatic personality and sense of humour contrast with Knopfler’s more introspective personality and wry sense of humour. I think both are down to earth genuine guys with no edge and this comes across in the series.

There was a lot of talk on  some shows about the whole Studio 54 scene, with both Cyndi Lauper and Nile Rogers remembering that time. There is a wonderful track on an album called The Throng Of Blowtown by  Mary Lou Lord, mentioning the much respected guitarist Carol Kaye. Are you aware of that artist, or that song, or that scene they were all speaking of’?

Carol Kaye was a 60’s female bass guitar studio session player, maybe most noted for the bass part on Nancy Sinatra’s “Those Boots are Made For Walking”.  I have not heard of the song you mentioned, The Throng of Blowtown, but will make a point of listening to it. I have to say that the Cyndi Lauper and Nile Rogers episodes were the least interesting to me, though I thought Cyndi Lauper came across rather well. Much better than the difficult to work with person she has been reported to be.

Obviously, though, I was delighted by the episode  in which Knopfler (left) and Johnson spoke with Emmylou, who also brought with her to the interview Vince Gill. Again I felt we seventy-somethings had heard all the Gram stories before but she came across as the physically and emotionally beautiful woman she is. It helped that she had worked with Knopfler over the years, but she seemed so fully engaged as she very gently steered the conversation, more than most guests had, to be more inclusive so that there was  some repartee.

I agree that the musical intervals were unsatisfactory and might  have been accurately  summed by a preview I saw in Radio Times. It went along the lines of Brian Johnson does not remember the lines of the song and fails to join in but when he does join in you’ll wish he hadn’t. The only episode that left me wanting more was the Emmylou Harris segment with Mark’s song,” Donegan’s Gone”. The programme-makers did,  however, extend the song over the closing credits.

We are both huge Emmylou fans, but much as I love her, I genuinely prefer her singing in accompaniment rather than as a soloist. I love the Trio albums they spoke about that she made with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt for those albums, and of course the recordings she made with Gram too. I think the partnership with Gram went  a long way to turning country into Americana.

Your interviewing experience has exposed you to a great deal of musical urban myths that I have not come across.Tom Jones has never been my cup of tea, musically speaking, and the interview did not really endear him to me but I was mightily impressed by his vocal power and fitness at age 84.

I think Legend has the opportunity for another couple of short series, but as presenters The Geordie Boys were less than The Likely Lads and certainly not as lively as Ant and Dec. It might be interesting to hear Knopfler and Johnson speaking with new exponents of the art of Americana such as Molly Tuttle and Billy Strings.

Yes I know what you mean Norm. Sky Arts are filling a gap largely vacated by the BBC, since BBC 4 got relegated to a repeat channel with an axe hanging over its head. Sky Arts daily diet largely consists of showing older music DVD’s. I doubt this series would have been commissioned by the BBC or it would have been cut.

On the other hand I have found some of their original programming to be quite good. I thought their recent Mahler 2 London Philharmonic Orchestra Series, showing rehearsals and culminating in a complete live performance was excellent.

Making conversation, even between friends, can be awkward sometimes, and even as friends conducting a talk over e mail it can be hard work. So how would you summarise the series and how would you rate this strange experience of reviewing a music series partnership, in partnership?

Yes Norm, probably because Mark and Emmy have so much respect for each others music and values and had toured and recorded together it was more inclusive, although Brian Johnson was left to some extent as an admiring bystander.

For me it was always going to be the highlight episode.

I must confess, though, that I do find some of the Trio work a bit twee. I much prefer Emmy’s solo work and duos with the likes of Knopfler and Rodney Crowell. Also her harmony vocals on other artists work. I have recently returned to playing Jesse Winchester’s mid 70’s album, Nothing But A Breeze, a favourite album of mine. Her harmony vocals on the title track and My Songbird are superb. Ditto those with Roy Orbison, Neil Young, Guy Clark and, the list goes on.

She honed those skills with Parsons. That was the birth of Country Rock which together with other roots genres is now classified as Americana. I was interested to hear that she was so much influenced in her early career by Joan Baez.

Since I had seen the first two series, I knew what to expect, so maybe I was not as disappointed as you. The format largely follows that set in the first two Brian Johnson series. Mark Knopfler has featured in a few Sky Arts documentaries.

Guitar Stories features him visiting people and places with connections to some of his guitars, alongside his friend and co-founder of Dire Straits, bassist John Illsley. It is a more serious documentary type series. This one is much more informal, perhaps too much so and yet you get the impression there was an underlying script. Unlike this email interview format ? !

There is a new series of Legend planned but no guests have been announced yet. I don’t think it will be an Americana music rooted series. I can imagine Sting being lined up, as he is a fellow Geordie and collaborator with Knopfler.  And Clapton? Jackson Browne?

That would be pretty good, wouldn´t it?

Yep, I think that might get the Pearson Warwick seal of approval. Don´t you think Sky Arts might commission a new series called Sidetracks & Detours, to be presented by Pearson and Warwick featuring all the Americana artists you have featured in your PASS IT ON  column?

Island Insights   


wonders Dutton the Button (wife of the editor)

On Lanzarote they call it the Ghost Hotel. It can be seen from a distance only in a certain light, and if you are driving along the LZ 2 near Playa Blanca it can be seen some days and others not, and even then only as a mirage-like object in the distance.

It stands between Playa Blanca and El Golfo, and is pretty much in the middle of a small but unforgiving desert, that runs away to the cliff-top edge about 150 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

Deserts have a strange unreality all of their own.

Driving across the Rubicon desert gives a sense that nothing has ever really happened here; walking there gives an even greater sense of timelessness – it´s easy to imagine that whole civilisations might have disappeared under the wastes of the world´s great deserts.

On a holiday here about fifteen or twenty years ago Norm and I had been told about this semi-mythical and unoccupied building that had been built as an intended hotel. We set out on a ´stroll´, unprepared and ill-equipped to find the unoccupied building and have a look around. Because of the way the sunlight plays upon the land there you often don´t really see the place until you trip over it, but on this occasion we could see, from a couple of hundred yards away, a silhouette of the shell that had been left by the owners and builders a quarter of a century earlier. From that shell emanated an eerie silence and there was, too, a strange stillness.

Or so we thought.

However, as we crept a few steps forward,  we could hear voices and in the shimmering sun we could see human beings. There were no walls, but only a strange shell of rectangular rooms and we recognised the sight as similar to many others on the island at that time in places such as Costa Teguise. It all seemed strange and felt as if these people we could see in the distance were perhaps homeless people having taken up residence rights in rooms with no facilities:  not even a roof. To be honest we felt like intruders and were afraid we might not be welcome if we advanced any further.

So we turned round and walked the five or six km back to our car.

Some years later we retired here to Lanzarote and live in Playa Blanca, the nearest town to the so called Ghost Hotel. In the nine years we have lived here we have never approached the place, for a variety of reasons. One reason is because there are no roads out to the derelict edifice, as the building work was abandoned before the infrastructure was put in place. Another reason is because The Ghost Hotel is a long walk from anywhere, mostly across an uninviting desert terrain. And another reason is because we are just a little bit too nervous to go anywhere near it.

Maybe it is the songwriter I married….but somehow his only blinking sight of this place reminded him of hotels of infamy and fame.  In his mind it looked like the Hotel California that The Eagles lamented in their song of that title.

How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
So I called up the Captain, “Please bring me my wine”
He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969”
And still, those voices are calling from far away
Wake you up in the middle of the night just to hear them say

“Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
We´re livin’ it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise
Bring your alibis”

and, although this tumble down structure is far removed from the grandeur of Graceland, perhaps, Norm thinks that Elvis now lives there, down at the end of Lonely Street, in this Heartbreak Hotel.

Many readers will also know the mythology of the mysterious death of folk-country legend Gram Parsons, and will be aware of his careers with The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds and working in tandem with a young Emmylou Harris. Parsons died at The Joshua Tree Hotel in the Arizona desert. For many nefarious reasons some friends and high profile musicians in his entourage removed, Gram´s body to a ´secret´ place, and now a million stories are carried by the wind across that lonely strip of desert.  

Regardless of all this, when I announced this week, that I had cajoled my “Yogini” girl friends to join me and our leader, Mercedes, to take a Saturday morning light-walk from El Faro de Pechiguera lighthouse to The Ghost Hotel, I thought there was somebody else I ought to invite.

Would you like to join us? I  asked my husband.

´No, but thanks ever so much´, he replied, knowing that there was a football match on telly in the afternoon.

Perhaps, too, there is something about our previous trip to The Ghost Hotel that still haunts him.

The yogini´s expedition  followed along the seaward margin of the Rubicon passing some beautiful rock pools set in the lava foreshore, to the ´peña´ of this desert, the long-abandoned Atlante del Sol Hotel (to give the place its real name), a monument to the foolishness of investing in the desert, – that was our original summary, though the foolishness of property developer greed is obvious amongst Playa Blanca´s recently abandoned developments, the Atlante del Sol´s dramatic isolation still stands as a monument to the failure of ´desert dreams´ decades after its ill-fated construction.

The six yoginis walked in three sets of pairs, in single-pair file: The rock pools were glorious, I told Norm when I arrived back home and the sea, to had been a constant beautiful backdrop to our walk. After an hour´s gentle walking, albeit through real heat and driving winds, we got to within sight of the oasis that is The Ghost Hotel.

I told Norm that, unlike the only other time he and I had seen it, the place seemed uninhabited with only a few brave or foolhardy ramblers moving within close distance of the structure.

Nevertheless, I and my group preferred to stand and take long distance photo shots of the interior walls of the rooms with no exterior facade. When we looked into our long lenses at the imaginative murals painted on the walls by either previous ´inhabitants´ or passers-by we were struck by vivid scripts and hues.

There are several of these graffiti-blotted or art adorned empty buildings throughout the island.

Rumours abound of legislation that some of these anachronistic shells (certainly compared to some of the huge and dignified hotels now being built) will be demolished, but little action seems to be taken and instead these empty shells stand as a stark reminder of the island´s social housing problems.

When Norm eventually asked me if we had gone any further after taking these photographs, I replied. ¨No. We were hungry and we had a table booked back past where we had come from, at Chiringuito Tropical Bar, back beyond the lighthouse. 

We all shared a tapas lunch of croquets, prawns, tomatoes from Tinajo, fried vegetable chips and paella and drinks of wine and beer before heading home. I arrived home just after the kick-off of the match Norm had been looking forward to.

´That Ghost Hotel, as you call it, looked really good,´ I said to him.

´Great. How close did you get´?  he asked without looking away from the TV screen

´About two hundred yards´! I said. Ï think you´re right there is something ghostly and slightly scary about …

GOAL !!!!

I took a quick exit left, pursued by a bear !

If I ever go to The Ghost Hotel again, perhaps Norm and I  we will find the courage, together, to advance a little further.

We will be back out down the sidetracks and detours again next week, and our plans are to deliver on line stories about deafening rumours of a great guitar revival. Down At Jazz Junction I shall try to catch The Look of Love from jazz pianist and singer and writer Diana Krall and our team will also agree on the 20 albums we might take from 300 greatest albums of all time chosen and published and discussed by the wonderful Paste writers. Graham Marshall will share one of  the best reviews his Rochdale Music Society colleagues are preparing to archive on line. And finally, as he was an artist that both Paste on-line and sidetracks & detours would  agree on as a seminal album, we will bring home, (for the bigger bookshelf we are building) books by and about Townes Van Zandt. So we are confident you will enjoy these free-to-read items and please remember that if you enter our blog via the link below you will have immediate free access to more than 1,200 articles. So, that´s all you have to do, simply follow the link, find something to read, enjoy and then if you don´t mind we would love it if you shared the link with you like-minded, arts loving friends.

Type into your search engine to find hours of great reading.

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