Tag Archives: Magic Band

OCH Aye, the new! Dukes Bar, 27th January 2017


David Attenborough should consider it as an adjunct to his Evolution series.
It would certainly appear, to me, that as one band  stops playing Captain Beefheart music, Mother Nature detects the void and another immediately blossoms and moves in, to fill that breach.

In this case, the breach fillers are Orange Claw Hammer, their name truncated to the rather apt, for Scots folk anyway,  OCH, and they’re from the Eastern seaboard of Scotland – but, hey, no one’s perfect!

I’ve seen them a few times before, but never in my home town of Glasgow and tonight they’re in Dukes Bar located in that trendy perineum between Byres Road and the Finnieston main drag, otherwise known as Stobhill.

The material that they play comes from throughout the Beefheart catalogue, but with the lions’ share emanating from Trout Mask Replica, Spotlight Kid and Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) in fairly equal measures.

Dukes Bar is the size of a phone box that should consider going on a diet, while the magnitude of the crowd, that turned up ,would shame no Scottish Junior League ground, on a Saturday afternoon. The bar has two doors on different walls and I’m fairly sure that, like some Marx Brothers movie, as people pushed in one, some poor folk were getting squeezed out of the other, onto the pavement.
The experience was on the hairy side of uncomfortable and I’m actually glad that the pals that I wanted to be there couldn’t manage along.


From them opening with Dropout Boogie, through to the encore of Golden Birdies/Ice Rose they were an absolute joy to behold. Steve Kettley plays the saxophone. Sometimes, when the notion takes him, he even plays two – these go simultaneously through octave, delay and wah-wah pedals (channeling his inner David Jackson, I suspect) and on the relentless and mighty Bat Chain Puller he goes one further and deploys a Hohner Melodica . Guitarist, Stuart Allardyce plays like a man possessed all night and enjoys his own showcase in Flavour Bud Living. Dave Beard, meanwhile, not only plays but wrestles  a muscular Rickenbacker into submission – all of these shenanigans under the watchful eye of Des Travis juggling those infectious rhythms on drums.

It’s seldom that your author gets a name check from the stage. However, lo and behold, Steve, the second best dressed man in the room, mentions me, during the introduction to a new part of their repertoire – as I’d only gone and (t)asked them, the last time I saw them, to “go learn Suction Prints”.
This modest reference seemed to impress the barmaid, no end, and I was then afforded great preferential attention every time I approached the bar, thereafter.


By my reckoning (but I’m no expert) Orange Claw Hammer tackled four tunes that the Magic Band have never played and the mid-tune grins on their faces as they negotiate the various musical stops, starts, roundabouts, chicanes & hairpin bends of ‘When Big Joan Sets Up’ told this audient that they were enjoying it every bit as much as I was.
The extended soundscape intro to Click Clack is currently my personal highlight of a set that changes and improves every time I hear them.

Simply put (and if they’re stuck for a quote)
“Orange Claw Hammer
play Beefheart music reverentially, which is the way it should be, but with a big twinkle in their eyes and a swagger in their step!

Normally I’d provide the set-list but I’ll leave it as a surprise for you.
Still thinking about going to see them? OCH go on, you know you really should!

If you haven’t already, go buy their album here:

or at their next  gig!


Under The Bridge (Again)


Way way back in 1969, little did I suspect, when I bought Trout Mask Replica (as a pre-release import) with my best girl on my arm, that some forty seven years later, the drummer on that wonderful record would serenade the very same wummin (kissing her in mid-song), in a subterranean Chelsea night club owned by a Russian oligarch.

You couldn’t really make that up, could you?
Here we see Drumbo sound-checking and singing a stonking Bat Chain Puller, while Lesley levitates and feigns disinterest, wondering when we’re all going out to eat!
Couple of hours, some Cajun Salmon and a good natter later it was suddenly showtime………….

I’m not really a big fan of taking photos during a show (subscribing to the Fripp School of thought that if you’re concentrating on shooting snaps then you’re not paying the music the correct respect) and as a result, generally don’t. However always aware that the current MB gig might be my last – on this occasion, during Set #2 and cognizant that Jan Podsiadly was already at the front of stage, I moved around and took shots from deeper in the room.
For a first attempt, I’m quite content. Not quite sure I’d do it again, though.
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Post gig cuddle and blether with lensman Jan.



and playing with some new software……………………………


A Chronology of The Magic Band

Magic Band Tree 2016

Album of the Year, 2015


Until the eleventh hour (early November to be precise), my 2015 album of the year was a straight shoot out between two gals.
Kaki King’s ‘The Neck is a Bridge to the Body’ caught my attention, immediately upon release, back in March. The_Neck_Is_The_Bridge_To_The_Body_Kaki_King

and then immediately after that (and seldom off my CD player since) was Ela Orleans’ Upper Hell. That haunting melodic collaboration with Howie B, by way of Dante’s inferno.

Should you ever get a chance to catch Ela live, do so without a second’s hesitation.
She’s absolutely mesmerising!
But then, while I debated which one was better than the other, out of the blue, as the year wore on, appeared Evil GeniusBitter Human – a collection of instrumentals by the Los Angeles trio that features Wormhole wizard Max Kutner (Grandmother of Invention stunt guitarist, Magic Band guitarist-stage left ). Stefan Kac on Tuba and Mike Lockwood on drums
bitter human
I often buy albums purely on the strength of unusual instrumentation or juxtaposition thereof (e.g. Brass Monkey) and so this item was a shoo in for me . I can’t really recall playing an album quite so often, one time after another, since Ali Farka Toure’s The River.
Overall there’s a flavour of Henry Threadgill running through and over the whole thing but that’s no bad thing, no bad thing at all. Over the weeks, I realise I’ve been editing wee imaginary films to go along with this wonderful music.
Want to see them?

Blind Elephant’s Green Felt Jungle Dance – It’s a Czech cartoon that was made during the early days of the Cold War but was never seen until the early nineties. A small frog, which we’ve  seen earlier, fishing with his two froglets, is now being chased by a sinister fox made from used pipe cleaners.

Juke’s Prompt – James Corden has ordered a pizza delivery and rushes around as he readies his squalid suburban apartment for its arrival. His fiance meanwhile dumps him by text and the arriving pizza, in a metaphor for the state of his romance, is violently binned.

Another Ale for the Gesture Urn – The working week of a village pharmacist is studied and condensed into six and a half minutes of sonic bliss (Documentary)

Secondary Air While staking out a bordello and enjoying the skills of its  masseuse, a heavily moustachioed Tom Cruise is slipped a hallucinogenic suppository. As he trips out, in an out of focus over-saturated slo-mo tumble, and slowly realises he’s missed the villain escaping with the loot, the house band is playing this tune.

For No Particular Reason – Stop -motion close up of a Danish Pastry speedily deteriorating into the blue mould of decay.

(Share in a) Regional Meat Vision – Jim Rockford is in the shower. Some malcontent calls him and leaves this tune on his  ansafone!

Ice People – A potters wheel turns, showing an embryonic vase slowly being corrupted by pieces of sheep offal that are thrown lightly into the clay.

Vamp for Lenny Kekua – William Burroughs cut up letters repeatedly spell out ‘Hoax’ in a variety of languages.

Manuever – Dr Morbius explains The Krell, and their history, to some angry pensioners.

Evil Genius, Bitter Human – An alcoholic Jack Lemmon  has entered a sandcastle building contest. Building more and yet more elaborate castles we share his frustration as he repeatedly knocks them over to build afresh. Somewhat cleverly, the viewers never see a completed castle.


A taste of those I’ve been discussing……..