Trained Up

I’m starting with York Hospital Radio (YHR) tonight. Well, not starting starting, more like getting trained up starting.

I’m really excited about it.

Whilst I’m enjoying my stint at 5 Towns Radio, their setup is not quite as, shall we say, structured as YHR promises to be.

Plus, I’m getting invaluable training in the art of Radio Presenting for virtually (there’s a £45 membership fee) free! What more could a boy possibly want?

Right, I’m off the read the terms and conditions of my indentureship before I sign on the proverbial. Did I mention that I’m really looking forward to this? 🐸

A Letter from Me to You

Hi WordPress Peeps,

Strikes me that you might be curious about me and what I do? Hmm, let me think. Here’s a potted Bio I prepared for some other purpose – perhaps you could pick something out of the bones:

I live in York, UK where I work as a data wrangler for The Man whilst secretly planning my next career as a World-Famous Author. You can find me on my blog (obviously) most days so please drop a comment in to say hi. I also have a show on 5 Towns Radio, a podcast called Sklugoo Speaks and make really good vegan pizza.

My radio show? Well, that’s a bit difficult to define because I haven’t really got a particular style like other presents there. I don’t play reggae like DJ Reptile Rock, I don’t stick to the easy listeners like Barry York and I’m not a Dance Anthems Diva such as Fiona. The best you can say is that I play really good tunes that I love (and that I hope you will too) and then wax lyrical about them in an effusive and bubbly style. Oh, and I also read a story that I’ve written and published on my blog about halfway through each show.

I record from home and so send my shows in for Chris (the station supervisor) to schedule. In the emails, I describe each show. Here’s how I described the latest one I sent in (a few minutes ago):

This week’s show is all about me, in a sense. You know how I’m called Robert Day, well this is a whole show full of songs with the word Day in them. Predictable, it’s called The Day Show! We start off with a cracking tune that’s also one of my wife’s favourite songs: These Days by Rudimental. Then, as the show progresses, we go through each of the seven days of the week with a song or two (or three) for each day. So we have Boomtown Rats telling us how they don’t like Mondays, through to the end of the working week when The Cure tell us how they are in love on Friday finishing on Sunday when U2 get Bloody, Blondie have a Girl and Morrissey tells us that every day is like this one. Then we freestyle it for the rest of the show taking in Dermott Kennedy, Coldplay and Radiohead among other stellar acts. All in all, it’s a real blast of a show and the 5 Towns Radio listeners are sure to love it.

I know that this is all way too much verbiage, but I hope you get the gist and are able to pull something out for your own purposes.

The picture is from a month ago today. Don’t ask. 😃

Best regards,

Robert in Shorts

Traction on YouTube

You know, like, how I have a radio show on 5 Towns Radio (which I’m getting better and better at recording by the way, just in case you were wondering. If you’re reading this within an hour of me posting this article on my blog then you can tune in and listen to me right now (see link above) and I usually tell you which songs I’m recording and share the Playlist with you on YouTube. Well, here’s some good news: my YouTube Playlists themselves have started to get some traction too!

The last but one Playlist was called The Atmospheric Show and it’s notched up a very impressive (for me) one-hundred and seventy-four listens! I know! Amazeballs, right?

I’m about to record another show now, which is going to be called the Ambient Show. The playlist has only just been put together but you can jump the queue and listen to it right now, right here:

You’re very welcome. 🙂

The Wedding Show

Featuring the Wedding Songs of me and my beloved. This will be broadcast on 5 Towns Radio at some point in the future.

The original list had sixty-nine songs but, because I have to fit them into a couple of hours of broadcasting, I’ve, sadly, had to cut loads out. Still, that leaves us with this lovely list of love:

  1. Ben E King – Stand By Me
  2. Bryan Adams – Everything I Do I Do It For You
  3. Commodores – Three Times A Lady
  4. Dan Hill – Sometimes When We Touch
  5. David Grey – Sail Away
  6. Dolly Parton – I Will Always Love You
  7. Edie Brickell and The New Bohemians – Good Times
  8. Elvis Presley – Teddy Bear
  9. Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight
  10. Etta James – I Just Want To Make Love To You
  11. Joe Cocker – You Are So Beautiful
  12. Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes – Up Here Where We Belong
  13. Leo Sayer – When I Need You
  14. Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World
  15. Michael Bolton – How Am I Supposed To Live Without You
  16. Morris Albert – Feelings
  17. Nat King Cole – When I Fall In Love
  18. Norah Jones – Come Away With Me
  19. Peggy Lee – Fever
  20. Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman
  21. Sam Cooke – Wonderful World
  22. The Stylistics – You Make Me Feel Brand New
  23. Syreeta – Harmour Love
  24. Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around

There, that’ll do – plenty of classics – plenty of love – what more could a couple of lovers want? 🙂

Here’s the playlist that I made, just in case you want to sing along:


I’ve got a spreadsheet now that lists the (5 Towns) Radio shows that I’m going to create.

I’ve already recorded these:

  • The Variety Show
  • The Comparison Show
  • The York Show
  • The Earworm Show
  • The Day Show.

Next, I’m going to record these (one per week):

  • The Wedding Show
  • The Afrobeats Show
  • The Goth Show
  • The Indie Show
  • The Chilled Show
  • The Trip Hop Show.

The first set are all available as Playlists on my YouTube channel:

The next set will appear in the same place, one by one.

Did you ever want to be a robot? I bet robots don’t get stiff necks when they type with a cushion on their chair that’s too high.

I like music but I’m all talked out about it at the moment. Do you think I should upload my radio shows to my account on MixCloud?

One of these days I’m going to get all the links to all the things I do on the internet together in one place. It’ll make it easier for you to ignore them (rather than not know about them). Ignoring is not the same as ignorance.

The Day Show

For my next trick, as a 5 Towns Radio Presenter, I’m going to produce a Day Show. Yeah, it’s a play on my name, but it’s also going to be a show featuring all the best songs with the word ‘Day’ in the title, lyrics or refrain (or even in the name of the act). I can already think of several. There’s the Banana Boat song (Daaay-O, Me say Day-ay-ay-O), the Yesterday song (Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away) and the classic by The Cure: Friday I’m In Love.

Right, let’s get them all on a list and then see how many more we can find on the interweb:

  1. Rudimental – These Days Ft. Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen
  2. The Beatles – Yesterday
  3. Stan Freberg – Banana Boat (Day O)
  4. The Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays
  5. The Bangles – Manic Monday
  6. The Rolling Stones – Ruby Tuesday
  7. Simon & Garfunkel – Wednesday Morning, 3 AM
  8. The Undertones – Wednesday Week
  9. Jess Glynne – Thursday
  10. The Cure – Friday I’m in Love
  11. Sam Fender – Saturday
  12. The Saturdays – What About Us
  13. U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
  14. Blondie – Sunday Girl
  15. Morrissey – Everyday Is Like Sunday
  16. Blancmange – The Day Before You Came
  17. Randy Crawford – One Day I’ll Fly Away
  18. Dermott Kennedy – Better Days
  19. KSI – Holiday
  20. Riton x Nightcrawlers – Friday ft. Mufasa & Hypeman
  21. Europa (Jax Jones & Martin Solveig) – All Day and Night with Madison Beer
  22. The Strokes – Someday
  23. Radiohead – Daydreaming
  24. Gorillaz – Tomorrow Comes Today
  25. Coldplay – Daylight
  26. Tame Impala – Lost in Yesterday
  27. The 1975 – The Birthday Party
  28. The Sugarcubes – Birthday

Got any other suggestions? Ping me.

Here’s the playlist:

The Earworm Show

I want to make a list of songs with the kind of ridiculously catchy choruses and refrains that burrow through your mind like worms. Any idea?

Okay, don’t worry, I did it myself. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Kanye West – Famous (Bam bam, ‘ey ‘ey ‘ey Bam bam bam, bam bam dilla)
  2. JAY-Z – Empire State Of Mind ft. Alicia Keys (Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York)
  3. The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name (that’s not my name, that’s not my name etc.)
  4. Sneaker Pimps – Six Underground (tie me down, six underground)
  5. Elton John – Candle in the Wind
  6. Boney M – Rivers of Babylon
  7. Elvis Presley – Devil in Disguise
  8. Britney Spears – Baby One More Time
  9. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
  10. Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
  11. Bachman Turner Overdrive – You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
  12. Elvis Presley – It’s Now or Never
  13. Hanson – MMMbop
  14. Lady Gaga – Poker Face
  15. Aerosmith – I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing
  16. The Human League – Don’t You Want Me
  17. Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
  18. Michael Jackson – Beat It
  19. Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman
  20. ABBA – SOS
  21. Lady Gaga – Just Dance
  22. Survivor – Eye of the Tiger
  23. Lou Bega – Mambo No. 5
  24. Spice Girls – Wannabe

There you go, that’s my 24 song list compiled for the next 5 Towns Radio show. I cheated on 5 to 24, though; I Googled ‘catchiest tunes ever’ and came up with this site:

On another note – if one of y’all out there could make versions of these songs without the verses, but keeping just the hooks, then that’d be real nice. Oh wait, I just remembered – they did that already. They’re called adverts.

Right, let me get on. I’ve got a show to record. 🙂

5 Towns Radio – The York Episode

Thought that I’d record a show about music and song created by people and bands who are based or were created in York. I found this great list on AllMusic and I’ll be using it as the basis for the show. It should be going out week commencing 27th of January 2022 on 5 Towns Radio. Check their website for the schedule.

This is a list of the 26 acts. Here’s hoping I can fit them all in:

  1. Angel Pavement – 1960s Pop/Rock
    Anyone unfamiliar with Angel Pavement shouldn’t feel too bad. After all, the band was hardly a household name in its heyday, and its peak of exposure consisted of a pair of failed singles at the very tail-end of the 1960s in England. But they were a seriously wonderful sunshine pop outfit from late 1960s, hailing from York, with a sound that was equal parts psychedelia and pop/rock in the best Hollies/Zombies/Beatles manner. The band, which took its name from a 1930 novel by J.B. Priestley (himself a Yorkshireman, naturally).
    This song, from 1969, is called Maybe Tomorrow:
  2. Beaumont Hannant – 1990s Electronic, IDM, Techno, Ambient Techno
    A wildly eclectic producer who released four LPs during 1993-94 but then all but retired his solo work for a place in the trip-hop duo Outcast, Beaumont Hannant began DJing in 1986 after attending several hip-hop mixing competitions. During the late ’80s he was heavily into electro, techno and hip-hop as well as indie-rock (he even managed fellow natives of York Shed Seven for awhile). Hannant began working on production in 1993 with the EP Tastes and Textures, Vol. 1 for GPR Records. One track, “Awakening the Soul,” appeared on the Positiva Ambient Collection, and Hannant released his debut album, Basic Data Manipulation (Tastes and Textures, Vol. 2) that same year. In 1994, Hannant recorded an unbelievable three full-lengths (Texturology, Bitter Sweet, Sculptured) for GPR, each possessing a breath-taking variety of styles.
    The song I’ve chosen is Sym-phon5 from 1993. All his songs seem to be long ones and this is no exception:
  3. Benjamin Francis Leftwich – 2010s – 2020s Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk, Alternative/Indie Rock
    Benjamin Francis Leftwich is an English singer/songwriter known for his introspective, acoustic folk sound. Leftwich emerged in 2011 with Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm, which peaked at number 35 on the U.K. Albums Chart. He continued to hone his melancholic brand of acoustic folk-pop on subsequent efforts like After the Rain (2016) and To Carry a Whale (2021), which drew similar acclaim and elicited comparisons to the likes of Jose Gonzalez and Iron & Wine.
    Born in York in 1989 to South African and Australian parents, Leftwich lived a nomadic childhood, spending as much time in Sydney as in his native U.K. Inspired by Elliott Smith and Bruce Springsteen, he taught himself to play the guitar at age ten, and fronted indie pop outfit the Nicoles in his teens before embarking on a solo career.
    The song I’m playing for you is called Box of Stones from 2011:
  4. Beyond All Reason – 2000s Pop/Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Nü Metal
    According to BandCamp Beyond All Reason have developed a sound that has the perfect mix of intelligent modern metal grooves, spacious atmosphere and powerful melodies all wrapped into songs that will appeal to rock and pop fans alike. The only other information I can find is that they are 4 piece rock band from York/Leeds UK. Damn, boys – why you have to be so mysterious?
    This My Last Lie, taken from their debut album ‘Words Of Betrayal’, which was released in 2006, is the song I’m going to play now:
  5. Bull – 2010s – 2020s Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
    British alt-rock group Bull take an eclectic approach to indie rock, varying their style and tempo to create off-kilter pop songs often accompanied by witty and self-referential lyrics.
    Formed in 2011 by Tom Beer (vocals) and Dan Lucas (guitar), they recruited Tom Gabbatiss (drums) after meeting him in Thailand and rounded out the group with Kai West (bass), a fan who would regularly invade the stage at their live shows. For the best part of the 2010s, Bull focused on writing songs and playing shows, waiting a full decade before releasing their debut album, 2021’s Discover Effortless Living, which saw release on EMI.
    This song is from 2021 and is called Green:
  6. Ebor Singers – 2010s Classical, Choral
    The Ebor Singers, from the city of York (the name is derived from Eboracum, the Roman name of the city, and from the honorary title thus given to the Archbishop of York), have emerged as one of Northern England’s most innovative vocal ensembles. The choir was founded in 1995 by Paul Gameson, a researcher at the University of York interested in English and French music of the 17th century. Its membership is mixed, consisting of both professional singers and amateurs from the York area, and the choir has been involved with various educational projects in and around York. The Ebor Singers have performed a longstanding series at York Minster, the city’s massive medieval cathedral, as well as giving concerts at other churches in York’s city center. It has performed at festivals around the U.K. and in other countries, and has offered Cavalier Christmas concerts exploring music Charles I may have heard.
    This song, from 2018, is called Never Weather-Beaten Sail and features music by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry and words by Thomas Campion:
  7. Elliot Minor – 2000s Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Pop Punk
    Known at an early stage as the Academy, Elliot Minor formed in York, England, in an attic flat in 2005. Friends and students Alex Davies and Ed Minton joined up with drummer Dan Heatherton, keyboardist Ali Paul, and bassist Teddy Heatherton to flesh out existing recordings and take their rock sounds to the people. Within a few months, the band won a recording deal with Repossession Records, and recorded its first single, “Parallel Worlds,” in Los Angeles in late 2006. Released in spring of 2007, “Parallel Worlds” was a minor hit, entering the charts at number 31. Four more single releases followed — “Jessica,” “The White One Is Evil,” “Still Figuring Out,” and a re-release of “Parallel Worlds” — as well as a national tour. In late 2007, it was announced that 2008 — April to be exact — would see the release of Elliot Minor’s first album, simply titled Elliot Minor.
    Here, now is their first single, from 2007, called Parallel Worlds:
  8. Fawn Spots – 2010s Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Hardcore Punk, Experimental Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
    Hailing from our very own York, the guitar driven ensemble Fawn Spots are successfully going their own way, creating a distinctive brand of punchy noise rock. Their music has a contemporary flare and feel. It reflects trends in modern society and has a pronounced identity that leaves its mark on you, especailly after repeated listen. Known both for their wild live shows and melodic, well written songs, they have gained acclaim in both the local and wider national scene. They’ve widely toured the US alongside fellow noise rockers Cumstain, with whom they recently released the raucous joint album Wedding Party.
    This song, New Sense is the first track to be taken from From Safer Place; their debut long-player:
  9. Helen Grime – 2000s – 2010s Classical, Chamber Music, Concerto, Keyboard, Orchestral, Vocal Music
    Helen Grime MBE (born 1981) is a Scottish composer whose work, Virga, was selected as one of the best ten new classical works of the 2000s by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
    Though she was born in York, England, Grime’s parents returned to Scotland with her when she was a baby, and spent her early years in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. Her grandparents were music teachers in Macduff, Aberdeenshire. Her mother taught music at St. Margaret’s School, Edinburgh.
    As a youth, Grime learned the oboe with John Anderson, whilst her sister Frances learned violin. Grime began music studies at age 9 at the City of Edinburgh Music School, and continued at age 17 at St Mary’s Music School. She played the oboe in the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. She started to compose from age 12, where her teachers included Hafliði Hallgrímsson.
    I’m going to play you the first part of Bright Travellors from 2017, a five part piece with such titles as Soundings, Brew, Visitations, Milk Fever and Council Offices, This is Soundings:
  10. Iestyn Davies – 2000s – 2020s Classical, Vocal Music
    Iestyn Davies is a British countertenor widely recognised as one of the world’s finest singers celebrated for the beauty and technical dexterity of his voice and intelligent musicianship. Critical recognition of Iestyn’s work can be seen in two Gramophone Awards, a Grammy Award, a RPS Award for Young Singer of the Year, the Critics’ Circle Award and recently an Olivier Award Nomination. He was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2017 for services to music.
    Although blessed with a Welsh name, Iestyn hails from York, born into a musical household, his father being the founding cellist of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet.
    He began his singing life as a chorister at St John’s College, Cambridge under the direction of Dr.George Guest and later Christopher Robinson.
    Later, after graduating in Archaeology and Anthropology from St John’s College, Cambridge Iestyn studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London of which he is now a Fellow.
    In 2015 he delighted London theatre audiences singing the role of Farinelli in the play, Farinelli and the King with Mark Rylance at the Globe Theatre. The hugely successful project transferred to the West End this season and was nominated for a number of Olivier Awards.
    This achingly lovely aria is ‘Ombra mai fu’ from Handel’s opera Serse. Iestyn is joined by the Academy of Ancient Music:
  11. Joe Alexander Shepherd – 2010s Pop/Rock, Neo-Classical, Contemporary Instrumental, Solo Instrumental, Keyboard, Chamber Music
    Joe Alexander Shepherd is a 25-year-old pianist & composer from York, England. He is a graduate of Paul McCartney’s acclaimed Academy of Music. He writes minimalist contemporary – classical music taking his influences from Olafur Arnalds, Michael Nyman, Thomas Newman and Ludovico Einaudi. A composer since the age of 15, he has a classical background, but is also a pop and electronic music fan who incorporates textural synths into his work.
    His music is incredibly emotional and developed – it’s not surprising that he has been asked to score ads for Land Rover, UEFA, RFU, England Rugby & Melvita and was recently nominated by BBC Introducing to attend a day at Abbey Road Studios, London with artists such as Mark Ronson, Calvin Harris and Labrinth. 
    Joe performs live as a solo artist and has shows lined up in London. He also has an Ep ‘Time’ released via the Nettwerk Music Group.
    This is the lead song from that EP performed live at Sofar London on September 22nd, 2017:
  12. John Barry – 1950s – 2000s Stage & Screen, Classical, Jazz, Pop/Rock, R&B, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Film Music, Film Score, Movie Themes, Original Score, Soundtracks, Spy Music, Cool, Early Pop/Rock
    John Barry (1933 – 2011), born in the city of York, Northern England, was a British composer and conductor who provided the musical scores for more than 100 motion pictures and television programs, notably 11 movies featuring Ian Fleming’s iconic spy James Bond: Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, and The Living Daylights.
    Barry won the Best Original Score Oscar and Golden Globe awards in 1985 for Out of Africa. It is the perfect example of a composer managing to capture pictures in sound; it’s music in the key of savannah. In 2005, the American Film Institute ranked Barry’s score at no. 15 on their list of the greatest film scores: here’s Out of Africa:
  13. Joseph Barnby – Classical, Choral
    Joseph Barnby (b. York, England, 1838; d. London, England, 1896) An accomplished and popular choral director in England, Barby showed his musical genius early: he was an organist and choirmaster at the age of twelve. He became organist at St. Andrews, Wells Street, London, where he developed an outstanding choral program (at times nicknamed “the Sunday Opera”). Barnby introduced annual performances of J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion in St. Anne’s, Soho, and directed the first performance in an English church of the St. Matthew Passion. He was also active in regional music festivals, conducted the Royal Choral Society, and composed and edited music (mainly for Novello and Company). In 1892 he was knighted by Queen Victoria. His compositions include many anthems and service music for the Anglican liturgy, as well as 246 hymn tunes (published posthumously in 1897). He edited four hymnals, including The Hymnary (1872) and The Congregational Sunday School Hymnal (1891), and coedited The Cathedral Psalter (1873).
    This is Sweet and Low as performed live in September 2012 at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City by the New York Polyphony:
  14. King No-One – Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Indie Rock
    To give you a flavour, here are the first few paragraphs of an article about King No-One in the York Press in May 2021: “IT’S been a long time since King No One swapped busking outside Bettys for the stage but York will always be the place where the up and coming indie band was born.
    From across three different cardinal directions of the county, Zach Lount, Joe Martin and James Basile make up the cult underground band, which started out on the city’s cobbled streets around eight years ago.
    “York is just the birth of it all really,” singer and lyrics writer Zach told The Press. “We started out really busking for money. None of us had particularly much money growing up so we needed to make money whilst we had this band. Every different spot had its own character traits. The Church spot in High Petergate we found the best way to do it was five back to back songs really hard and people would come up after and come and chat to us and maybe buy a CD.”
    I’ve seen them busking and they’re good. Here’s their single Obsolete:
  15. Lynne Dawson – 1980s – 2010s Classical, Opera, Choral
    Born in York and growing up in Yorkshire, Dawson fully expected to continue the farming tradition of her family, and indeed singing was not her first career; she first worked in industry as a translator. However, later she studied at both the Guildhall School of Music and Britten–Pears School in Suffolk, where her teachers included Rae Woodland, Gerald Moore and Peter Pears. Her time as a music student, however, was limited as she soon obtained enough professional work to embark upon a career and made her operatic debut in 1986 as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro (Kent Opera). Dawson’s position as one of England’s most versatile and popular sopranos was confirmed by her performance as a soloist in “Libera me” from Verdi’s Requiem with the BBC Singers at the Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997. She still continues a busy musical schedule, is head of vocal and opera studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) as well as the University of York and is a Professor of Leeds College of Music.
    Here’s Dido’s Lament, which is the aria “When I am laid in earth” from the opera Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell:
  16. Mostly Autumn – 1990s – 2000s Pop/Rock, Prog-Rock, Celtic Rock, Progressive Folk
    Mostly Autumn are an English rock band. The group formed in 1995 and have built their reputation through constant touring, never signing to a major label. They produce music heavily influenced by 1970s progressive rock. According to the BBC, Mostly Autumn “fuse the music of Genesis and Pink Floyd with Celtic themes, hard rock and strong, emotional melodies”. They have also been compared with other progressive bands from the same era such as Renaissance, Jethro Tull and Camel, blended with traditional folk music. Later albums also include more contemporary influences.
    The band currently consists of Olivia Sparnenn on vocals, Bryan Josh on guitars and vocals, Chris Johnson on guitars, Iain Jennings on keyboards, Angela Gordon on flute and keys, Andy Smith on bass, and Alex Cromarty on drums.
    The song I’m going to play you is called Tomorrow Dies, which is from their 2017 album Sight of Day. Here it is:
  17. Reginald Kell – 1940s – 1960s Classical, Chamber Music
    Reginald Kell (1906-1981) was a great musician, distinguished concert artist, creative maverick, and clarinet virtuoso. Born in in York, England, Kell began his musical education on the violin but soon switched to the clarinet. His father, Frederick Kell, was a violinist and conductor of the York Symphony Orchestra (from 1932-1937). Kell’s early training as a string player likely contributed to his distinctive style as a clarinetist. His style featured a dramatic sense of rubato, impeccable and elegant phrasing, nimble articulation, and his signature vibrato.
    He was noted especially for his career as a soloist and chamber music player. He was the principal clarinettist in leading British orchestras, including the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, and Royal Philharmonic, and was also active as a solo recording artist.
    Kell was influential as one of the first clarinettists to employ continuous vibrato to enhance the expressive quality of the instrument. He was also a noted teacher, serving two different appointments at his alma mater, the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 1948 Kell moved to the United States where he pursued a solo career and taught, with pupils including the jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman.
    This scratchy old song I’m going to play was recorded in with piano accompaniment by Gerald Moore. It’s Schumann’s Fantasiestücke:
  18. Robin Walker – Reggae, Classical, Chamber Music
    Robin Walker was born in York in 1953 and attended schools attached to York Minster – where he was Head Chorister – for ten years. He studied at Durham University with the Australian composer David Lumsdaine, and at the Royal College of Music with the late Anthony Milner. He taught successively at the universities of London and Manchester before resigning his post and moving to the Pennine hills of northern England. For the last thirty years he has lived on or next to a farm in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
    Though a serious student of modernism until the mid-1980s, he withdrew from its secular mythology (and consequent fabrications) in order to investigate the instinctual basis of musical composition, unhindered by the intellect. This process involved a long – and continuing – apprenticeship to Nature, and an extensive exploration of differentiated feeling. The musical result of this activity formed a preoccupation with symphonic music, and with spontaneous ‘folk’ utterance – elements most recently brought together in his full-length opera Odysseus on Ogygia.
    His work has benefited spiritually and technically from two periods of time in India – investigating the dance rituals of Bharata Natyam in the south, and the rituals of Buddhist monasteries in the far north. He does not believe in God, which he is very sorry about, not least because the composition of music is without doubt a religious activity. He is an interpreter of dreams, and lives according to their instruction. He learnt more than he can say from conversations in his formative years, severally, with the composers Michael Tippett and Harrison Birtwistle.
    Here’s one of J.P. Sweelinck’s most memorable pieces, based on a dance written by Jacopo Peri (1561 – 1633), and played by Robin Walker on the organ of the Abbey church in central Florence, Italy. Here you go:
  19. Shed Seven – 1990s – 2010s Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, British Trad Rock, Britpop
    Brit-pop band Shed Seven formed in York, England in 1991, although frontman Rick Witter, guitarist Paul Banks, bassist Tom Gladwin, and drummer Alan Leach first began collaborating while still in their teens. After signing to Polydor, 1994 debut single, Mark/Casino Girl failed to chart but follow up, Dolphin, hit the Top 30 and the group ended the year with the release of their debut LP Change Giver and 2 further top 40 singles. The band achieved limited success outside of the U.K. however they achieved megastardom and a number 1 single in, of all places, Thailand.
    They belonged to the post-Smiths wave of British musicians such as The Sundays and Marion, with a sound relying heavily on complex guitar arpeggios often in a minor key, and wailing vocals. At the height of their popularity between 1994 and 1999 they had fifteen Top 40 singles[1] and four Top 20 albums in the UK.
    Heralded by the single Getting Better, 1996’s A Maximum High earned stronger reviews than its predecessor and they scored 6 UK top 40 hits that year. 1998 saw the release of Let It Ride which included Chasing Rainbows but the album failed to match the success of it’s predecessor and the band parted company with Polydor following a Greatest Hits album. For 2001’s Truth Be Told, Banks had left the band and original guitarist Joe Johnson, whom Banks had replaced in 1993, returned. The album failed to make much impact and the band disbanded following a farewell tour. In 2007, they reunited with Banks returning alongside Johnson and they continued to build a reputation as a popular live act. In late 2017 they released a new studio album, their first in 16 years. Produced by Youth, Instant Pleasures combined their traditional sound with blues, pop and gospel elements and saw strong reviews and a return to the UK top 10.
    They will be touring the UK in March and April 2022.
    This is on you might know if you can cast your mind back as far as 1998; it’s Chasing Rainbows:
  20. St. Christopher – 1980s – 2010s Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
    Standing at the intersection of Brit-pop and indie pop, St. Christopher is helmed by singer/songwriter/guitarist Glenn Melia. The band formed in the early ’80s, and their early releases were collected in the compilation Dig Deep, Brother: 1984-1990. Albums such as 1991’s Man, I Could Scream, 1994’s Love You to Pieces, and 1996’s Lioness followed on ; four years later, St. Christopher returned with Golden Blue, which was released by . A long hiatus during the 2000s ended with a string of live dates in 2007, and a pair of singles during 2008-2009. A compilation, Forevermore Starts Here, appeared in 2014.
    This is As Good As Married from their 1996 album Lioness:
  21. The Epilogues – 2010s Pop/Rock
    Epilogues was born in Norwich but grew up in quiet bedrooms across the UK. Established in 2011, the brainchild of Mikey Donnelly has its foundations firmly laid with his family in York, but has settled, for now, in Leeds. Whilst the band has undergone a few iterations, name changes, identity crises, and line-ups, what remains at its centre is Mikey. His fragile dreamo folk is vulnerable, atmospheric, and enrapturing. Hope, truth, and transparency run through each achingly personal song. Epilogues strives to be a small slice of solidarity; his performances are promises and prayers to be a better friend, a better brother, and a better man.
    After fleeing an empty isolating apartment in the flatlands of East Anglia, into an empty isolating apartment in West Yorkshire, Mikey spent some time in our capital, always making sure to leave an often unnoticed legacy of humble performances and little musical victories. Epilogues has aired on Radio 6, courtesy of Lauren Laverne; toured the UK; crossed the Atlantic to play the West Coast of America; supported Billie Marten, Rachel Sermanni, and Aidan Moffat; and played in elkyn’s UK tour with LOVE. But his real success is in the intimacy of shared experience, communication and connectivity with audiences; in the the quiet shared clarity of people’s failings and feelings.
    The song I’m about to play is lovely. It was recorded as part of The Chapel Session and is called This Is Why, live from St Constantine the Great, York:
  22. The Howl & the Hum – 2010s – 2020s Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Experimental
    In 2020, there are more ways than ever to get your name out there. Stars are born on Soundcloud, or via Instagram; musicians can cultivate a whole following without having ever played a note outside of their bedrooms. It’s a new type of opportunity, but it’s also one that lacks the romance and community of a youth spent cutting your teeth around like-minded souls. And, as The Howl & The Hum’s chief singer and songwriter Sam Griffiths discovered over years embedded in York’s artistic open mic scene, it’s those experiences that really whip you into shape. After moving to York, Griffiths was hanging out at open mic and poetry nights, a strange Yorkshire version of Greenwich Village in the 60s, and it was through these nights that Sam would go on to meet bassist Bradley Blackwell, drummer Jack Williams and guitarist Conor Hirons.
    With a magpie mentality they cut their teeth playing in and learning from local bands and busking, with a strong songwriting core and an inventive, progressive view on what place guitar music has in today’s culture. Their inspirations ranging from Leonard Cohen and Phoebe Bridgers to Lizzo and Kendrick Lamar, and have been likened to Massive Attack, Radiohead and Alt-J.
    Here’s Human Contact from 2019:
  23. Trevor Watts – 1960s – 2010s Jazz, Global Jazz, Modern Creative, Avant-Garde Jazz, Free Improvisation, Jazz Instrument, Saxophone Jazz, African Jazz
    Watts was born in York, England.[1] He is largely self-taught, having taken up the cornet at age 12 then switched to saxophone at 18.[1] While stationed in Germany with the RAF (1958–63), he encountered the drummer John Stevens and trombonist Paul Rutherford. After being demobbed he returned to London. In 1965, he and Stevens formed the Spontaneous Music Ensemble,[1] which became one of the crucibles of British free improvisation. Watts left the band to form his own group Amalgam in 1967, then returned to SME for another stretch that lasted until the mid-1970s.[1] Another key association was with the bassist Barry Guy and his London Jazz Composers’ Orchestra, an association that lasted from the band’s inception in the 1970s up to its disbandment in the mid-1990s.
    Though he was initially strongly identified with the avant-garde, Watts is a versatile musician who has worked in everything from straight jazz contexts to rock and blues. His own projects have come increasingly to focus on blending jazz and African music, notably the Moiré Music ensemble which he has led since 1982 in configurations ranging from large ensembles featuring multiple drummers to more intimate trios. He has only occasionally recorded in freer modes in recent years, notably the CD 6 Dialogues, a duet album with Veryan Weston (the pianist in earlier editions of Moiré Music). A solo album, World Sonic, appeared on Hi4Head Records in 2005.
    Watts has toured the world over numerous times, run workshops, received grants and commissions, and he has collaborated with jazz musicians including Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy, Don Cherry, Jayne Cortez and Stephen Grew. As of 2011, he continues to travel and toured North American with Veryan Weston.
    This is a piece called from 2014 called Antichain with Trevor Watts on Saxophone and Mark Hewins on Guitar etc.:
  24. Twinnie – 2010s – 2020s Country, Pop/Rock, Pop, Country-Pop, Contemporary Country
    Twinnie-Lee Moore (born 18 August 1987), known professionally as Twinnie, is an English singer-songwriter and actress, known for playing Porsche McQueen in Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks.
    In 2015, Moore released her debut single, “Cool”, on SoundCloud. On 17 February 2016, Moore played The Mint in Los Angeles. On 6 November 2016, Moore performed Live at Zedel with her band and played many of the songs from her catalogue.
    Moore signed a record deal with BMG Rights Management on 23 August 2017. She has performed at the C2C: Country to Country event in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Her debut EP Better When I’m Drunk was released on 2 March 2019, with the title track reaching number one on the UK country chart. She promoted the EP with her own headline show at The Borderline on 17 April 2019.
    Moore announced a new single, Social Babies would be released on 1 July 2019. It received its radio premiere on BBC Radio 2 on 27 June 2019. The track was added to the B-List on the BBC Radio 2 playlist on 24 July 2019. At the 2019 British Country Music Association Awards, Twinnie received nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year and UK Song of the Year for “Better When I’m Drunk”.
    Here, now, is that song, Better When I’m Drunk:
  25. Wystan Hugh Auden – 1930s – 1960s Comedy/Spoken, Classical, Spoken Word, Vocal Music, Choral, Opera
    Wystan Hugh Auden, better known as W.H. Auden (21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973) was a British-American poet.
    He was born in York and grew up in and near Birmingham in a professional middle-class family. He attended various English independent (or public) schools and studied English at Christ Church, Oxford.
    Auden’s poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with politics, morals, love, and religion, and its variety in tone, form, and content. Some of his best known poems are about love, such as “Funeral Blues”; on political and social themes, such as “September 1, 1939” and “The Shield of Achilles”; on cultural and psychological themes, such as The Age of Anxiety; and on religious themes such as “For the Time Being” and “Horae Canonicae”.
    Here is, apparantly, W.H. Auden himself reading Funeral Blues:
  26. York Minster Choir – 1890s – 2020s Classical, Choral
    York Minster has one of the UK’s leading cathedral choirs; its mastery of the English choral tradition is one of the cathedral’s crowning glories.
    It includes adult Songmen, choral scholars and boy and girl choristers aged between 7 and 13 who are educated at St Peter’s School York, the Choir School for York Minster. The cathedral was among the first to introduce girl choristers, who share the singing equally with the boys at eight sung services each week during term time.
    Thanks for listening. To finish us off this week, here we savour the atmosphere in one of the world’s great cathedrals with Thine be the glory (Maccabaeus) sung by the York Minster Choir:

The full playlist is available on YouTube:

How Words Opened the Tin Can of my Mind

I prefer to talk from whatever I find in my mind. But sometimes I can’t do that. Well, I can, but it’s more difficult that way.

Take, for example, the radio show I’m recording at the moment. I know what I want to do: compare the top 12 songs in the UK singles chart from 1982 to the songs in the chart 40 years later; which means this week. Sound easy? Well, sure – on the face of it it’s just a question of obtaining the twenty-four songs, putting them on a track in Garageband and then recording 25 pieces of wordage to introduce the show, connect the songs and finish off the show. But it’s the practicalities that are rather complicated. For a start, I have to talk without saying ‘um’ or ‘ah’ or otherwise leave long pauses between my words as I wait for my thoughts to catch up. In and of themselves, the pauses aren’t too bad. I can actually edit them out or re-record them if they are too distracting. But the reason for the pauses is another thing entirely.

Forty years is a long time in music. Heck, a week is a long time in terms of what can change in the composition of the singles chart in the UK. Just this week there are at least four songs in the top twelve from acts that I’ve never heard of. One of the reasons for that is that I just don’t listen to BBC Radio One enough (I’m on a BBC Radio One Relax jag at the moment, which plays (duh, it’s printed on the tin) relaxing songs of various kinds), but most of the reason is that some of these acts are slamming in from absolutely nowhere like meteors hitting the earth looking for the rest of the dinosaurs.

I mean, take the number-nine-track: Coming For You by (wait for it) SwitchOTR featuring A1 and J1 (or, as it says on their Wikipedia page A1 x J1). I mean, c’mon, how am I supposed to even know how to pronounce all that! In the end, I had to go on YouTube and dig out a fan video and hope that he knew how to say it. And as for A1 x J1 – is it said as A one times J one or something more esoterically exotic? Who knows. In the end I guessed. I just hope I don’t sound too foolish.

Another thing I came across this week that made me think about language and the new worlds that it can open up was a blog post written by the equally unpronounceable mosckerr. I’m going to guess that his first name is Mos (perhaps short for Moses?), his middle initial is C and his last name is Kerr. Whichever way around, this post is fab, It’s called Pam Larson Knowing Gawd through his word day by July 25 2 Chronicles 34 -36 (isn’t that a wonderful title!)

But here’s the thing: the post was, to my uneducated ears, largely unintelligible. That is until I decided to get a little help from Uncle Google. Just by looking up words like ‘Gemara’, ‘משל’, ‘Mishna’, ‘Mussar’ and ‘sh’itta’ I managed to turn a whole paragraph into something that … well, let me read you the comment that I sent to my mate Mos so that you understand: ‘Man, that’s opened my eyes! In an attempt to understand your post I googled a few of the words that, on my first read, had no meaning for me and found that they have translations that render your post meaningful and, dare I say it, rather insightful. But, like – wow – a whole new universe, one that I never expected, has revealed itself to me. Thank you.’ He replied to me too, telling me that a big smile had spread across his face. Nice.

Just by sheer coincidence, the next book on my list-of-what-to-read was (is) Planet Word by John Pirnie Davidson (based on the BBC TV series of the same name hosted and narrated by Stephen Fry), which I hope is going to educate me more about all these new words I’m coming across and the worlds they have opened to my delicate sensibilities. Yeah, wish me luck.

Buying a Microphone

I know that I go over the top when I research a new, relatively expensive purchase and choosing a mic to use for podcasting and recording my 5 Towns Radio show for broadcasting is no exception.

I recorded a whole show using my Macbook Pro. It’s one with a maxed-out spec and so it’s up to the task. I used Garageband as the software: three tracks: one for the voice, one for the songs and the other for the bed. I used the built-in mics (there are three of them on this model) on the mac to record my voice and I think it came out pretty well, but it’s obviously not going to be top-notch. Hence my search for a microphone.

My initial research suggested a Blue Snowball mic and so I priced it all up on Amazon and, including a suitable adjustable microphone stand, pop filter and windscreen pack and the USB to USB-C adaptor it came to about £75.

I told someone at work about this choice and he said you should go for road. Road? I said? Yes, he said. Turns out he meant Rode. I completely ignored his advice.

Then I got a call back from Rob Godridge, a fellow presenter on 5 Towns Radio, who also records from home. He recommended the Samsung Go. I looked it up and realised that I had misheard him and he was saying that I should get the Samson Go. It’s a clip-on mic (no, not to your lapel, to your laptop or other structure on the desk) and it’s neat and well reviewed. It doesn’t need a stand and so comes in at only £45 (£50 if you include the USB adaptor). So that sounds good.

Then, when I was comparing reviews and looking at other mics, I came across one called MAONO AU-PM421. The reviews looked fabulous and it was promised to be a mic that exceeded the sound and build quality of items that were three times its price. It also came with a stand, a windscreen and a pop filter, all for a bargain £70. I almost bought it on the spot. I didn’t because when I read the reviews on Amazon, then all talked about the amazing sound quality but said that the stand breaks a bit too easily.

So I thought about it over dinner. I realised that, although having a stand for a mic gives a better quality sound, it’s also the thing about working in the studio that I disliked the most. You see, the mic is always in your face and it obscures the screen where the music is and the phone I want to read my stories from and the pad with my notes on. Suddenly it all became clear. Rob’s recommendation of Samson Go was the way forward.

I’ll think about it overnight and order it tomorrow. It’ll be here on Monday and then I can get on with recording next week’s show. I have it all mapped out and I have the music already. It’s going to be a comparison of the top 12 of this year and the top 12 of 40 years ago (1982 for those of you that can’t do maths). And that’s all I know.

If you have any recommendations for mics then let me know before noon tomorrow. Goodnight.

Update: The Samson Go is on order and, as I said, it’ll be here tomorrow. I wanted it in white and so it’s entirely appropriate that the other two colours were out of stock. Here’s what it looks like:

Samson Go Microphone