Monthly Archives: February 2015

And Breathe…..And Relax

And breathe…and relax.

The “R” word is something I am very bad at. It’s always on the To Do List but invariably ends up being the last thing to be ticked off – if I even get that far!

This week however I ticked it off the list!

I find it very difficult to make proper “me time” on a regular basis. Yes. I go for a walk most lunchtimes (weather permitting) but that doesn’t really relax me as , by the time I’m heading back up the path towards the salt mine, I’m already thinking to the afternoon ahead and to what I need to achieve.

If the sun’s out at the weekend or on summer evenings I try to head out for a walk along the beach, camera in hand, but again, soothing as it is, I’m thinking photos, sunsets, birds and the occasional rainbow.

“Book Baby” has taken up a huge amount of my spare time over the past year and a half and, much as I love losing myself in my characters and the story, I don’t totally relax while I’m sitting pen in hand (cue panic that people will think my Book Baby is ugly!)

So how do I relax? How do I finally hit the pause button on my world and my mind?

Reiki.

To explain briefly, for those of you who have never heard the word before, Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. (This link explains it better than I ever could www.reiki.org )

For about ninety minutes the world around me gets placed on hold. Nothing out with the room exists. It truly is my “me time”.

I’ve tried a wide variety of holistic and massage therapies over the years. I’ve even taken courses on some but Reiki is the only one I’ve found that totally de-stresses me and generates a calm feeling that lasts way beyond the actual treatment.

For me, each treatment differs. Over the last ten or twelve years that I’ve been enjoying the benefits, no two experiences have felt the same. Some have been very emotionally intense but I always head home feeling lighter, calmer and at peace with my world.

Last Wednesday night was no different. I knew I had left it too long between treatments but even I was horrified with myself to discover it had been ten months since my last “me time”. Far too long and it won’t happen again. (I promise, Laurie)

It’s a very personal experience when you have a Reiki treatment. I  feel there has to be a connection with the Reiki practitioner. If that bond isn’t forged then you don’t get the full benefits of the therapy session.

This time the experience was very calm, deeply relaxing and good for the soul. Exactly what I needed.

The best analogy I can use to describe the effect Reiki has on me is this – you know the spare shoelace that lies at the back of the junk drawer in your kitchen? The one that’s all tangled up and covered in bits of fluff and dried up elastic bands? Right, that’s how I feel when I arrive for a treatment. The “fluff” is all the clutter that sticks to us in daily life. When I leave, the shoelace is all clean and straight. All the kinks have been removed and the fluff’s long since been shed.

Even now, several days later, I’ve still got that feeling of inner peace. I visualise the Reiki energy being stored within me in wee bubbles. My bubbles are all round and full just now. Happy girl.

Once they start to pop and dwindle in number then it’s time for “me time”.

This time I promise myself that I won’t wait until they are long since gone.

If you are feeling frazzled by everyday life, this beautiful therapy experience may be the one for you. It’s not for everyone as some people find it too intense but if you think it could be for you, treat yourself.

You inner shoelace will love you for it!

 bubbles collage

credits to the picture owners- sourced from Google

Just How Many Clothes Do You Need At A Gig?

This week it was time to resume normal musical activities.

Rock Mum made her first appearance of 2015!

Chaperoned by Boy Child, we headed off to Glasgow last Wednesday.

Yes, usual train.

Yes, usual venue.

When we saw the lengthy queue outside the O2 ABC some forty minutes before the doors were due to open I was convinced to forego my usual caffeine fix to ensure a spot on the barrier.

Forty minutes is a long time to stand in the cold, staring across Sauchiehall Street at my missed coffee opportunity. (One more stamp on my loyalty card and I get a free fix!)

An hour later coffee was the last thing on my mind!

I had Crobot on my mind! Oh and headliners Black Label Society.

I was also beginning to feel like a clothes horse! Due to the cold weather, I had worn two thin hoodies and a long sleeved top over my Crobot t-shirt. Now as I stood on the barrier, I had the two hoodies, one inside the other, tied round my waist with the long sleeved top stuffed down the sleeve of the hoodies. In my trusty red “gig bag” I had another two Black Label Society t-shirts, procured from the merchandising stand (There was no one manning the Crobot stand at this point- return visit was already planned). Beside me Boy Child was grumbling about having to wear a hoodie and what was he meant to do with it.

The lights dimmed. Crobot hit the stage with all guns blazing! An awesome sight to behold!

I’ve been a huge fan of this band since being given their EP and subsequently their debut album to review last year.

I had the honour of seeing and meeting them last September in the smaller O2 ABC2. They were amazing that night, performing as if they were playing to a packed arena instead of to less than fifty folk.

This time round the room was much bigger and it was almost full. Result!

Watching Brandon, Jake, Chris and Paul give it their all made my heart sing.

How Chris manages to twirl that Fender Telecaster round his body the way he does I’ll never know. Neat trick!

All too soon their seven song set was over. (Please hurry back and headline a show, boys)

Time to go and say hello.

With Boy Child in tow, we surrendered our barrier spots and headed back across to the merchandising stand.

Front man, Brandon, was already there and deep in conversation with a fan. A part of me began to fret that I was being a bit presumptuous here. Would he recognise or remember me? After all, how many folk must these guys meet and greet?

I needn’t have worried. A huge smile, an interrupted conversation and an equally huge hug reassured me that I had been recognised. Cue one happy girl!

Politely I stepped aside and allowed the other fans to chat with him while I slipped past to buy two new Crobot t-shirts (one was stowed in the trusty handbag and the other went down the other sleeve of the hoodie)

When Brandon was finished chatting to the other fans, he turned back to Boy Child and I. More hugs and quick introductions to Boy Child then a couple of photos. Enter Jake, the bass player, from the right. More hugs and greetings and introductions. More photos! Love the face these boys pull!

We chatted briefly then they excused themselves (OK slipped out the back door for a sneaky smoke) while Boy Child and I wandered back over to watch the second band of the evening, Black Tusk. Great name. Pity about the noise they made. Wasn’t impressed. (Sorry, guys)

While the stage crew worked to clear the stage and set up for Black Label Society I headed for the little girl’s room and the bar (Diet Coke- honest!) I met Jake en route and we exchanged pleasantries. I also met a work colleague who seemed somewhat amused that I was happily camped out down at the front of the crowd – again!

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Black Label Society. On the other hand, Boy Child had been surveying the crowd and had his hopes set on a mosh pit.

Before the lights dimmed, he handed me his hoodie to look after. More clothes!

Hoodie number three was duly tied round my waist. This was getting silly, not to mention hot!

Let me attempt to set the scene with regards to the crowd here. Black Label Society fans appear to be almost “patched in” like a scene from Sons of Anarchy. Most fans had “cuts” on with Black Label Society emblazoned on the back and were sporting beanies on their heads. And I’ve never seen so much facial hair in one room before!

So how do you get everyone on side before you start? Playing a bagpipe rendition of “Flower of Scotland” was inspired. Everyone in the place was singing their hearts out. When “Flower of Scotland” was done, the lights remained dimmed and the Black Label Society curtain still hung over the front of the stage while a mash-up of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” blared out. Cue more enthusiastic singing.

The curtain dropped and Black Label Society stood on stage in their full glory, blasting out their opening number “In The Beginning…At last”

Cue second inspired move – Zakk Wyle was wearing a kilt! Brilliant!

I’ll be honest- I’m not overly familiar with their music but I do love some of the tracks off their last album. If you don’t like lengthy ego-massaging guitar solos, give these guys a miss.

Boy Child had darted off into the midst of the crowd as soon as they had started while I had slipped back down to the barrier at the corner of the stage. Perfect vantage point for my camera.

A few songs in and much moshing later, Boy Child appeared at my side, clutching his nose, muttering that he was OK and then thrust his sweaty t-shirt at me. It took me a moment or two to realise he’d been covered in blood, by which time, he was long gone back into the dark.

The “mother” in me twitched a bit but figured he’d be back if he was really hurt. I returned my attention to the stage.

Not however before I had stowed said sweaty t-shirt down the sleeve of his hoodie and re-tied it round my waist. Thank God it wasn’t overly hot in the venue!

This was the first night of Black Label Society’s European invasion…sorry, tour….so I’m possibly about to be a bit harsh. (If I am, I humbly apologise)

On stage at Zakk Wylde’s feet I had noticed a pile of A1 laminated sheets. Lyric sheets in large print. Everything about these guys is larger than life- even the cheat sheets!

I take my hat off to vocalists. I have no idea how they remember the lyrics to all their songs.

Highlight of their set for me was “Angel of Mercy”. Love that song.

It was followed by an impressive piano solo by Zakk Wylde and a song called “In This River”, sung in tribute to the late Dimebag Darrell.

Time was running away from them and curfew was fast approaching. Black Label Society declined to go off and return for an encore, electing instead to stay out on stage and just play the final couple of numbers.

As the last chords died away, the lights went up, roadies invaded the stage and I went in search of Boy Child, feeling somewhat weighed down by three hoodies with three t-shirts in their sleeves.

I found him. Hot, tired, sweaty, a bit battered and broken but grinning from ear to ear.

The “mum” in me was relieved to see him in one piece. Baby Boy Child was nursing a suspected broken nose, a punched face and some bashed ribs but he’d survived moshing with the big boys…just!

All in all, a successful night out. Wish Crobot had been able to play for longer. Wish Black Tusk hadn’t bothered to play at all!

And I wonder what Zakk Wylde was wearing under that kilt…………..

 BLS collage

You Can’t Do That To That Song! It’s Just Not Right…….

After last week’s Hayseed Dixie gig I showed some of my video footage to Boy Child.

He threw his hands up in horror and declared emphatically that certain classic rock songs should be “listed” in a similar way to buildings.

He may be on to something here.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, if a building is “listed” in the UK it cannot be demolished, extended or altered without special permission from the relevant authorities. I believe many other countries have similar legislation covering buildings of historic interest.

In Scotland, there are three categories of “listed” buildings depending on their significance – A, B and C listed.

An example of a Class A listed building would be the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, a Class B example is the Mitchell Library in Glasgow and a Class C example is my favourite haunt, the O2 ABC, Glasgow.

You get the picture, right?

So, if this theory of classification were to be applied to rock songs what would/should be classified as “Listed”?

Do you put an age caveat on eligibility? For example, does the song have to be over ten years old?

Do you categorise it by the number of copies the original sold?

Or the number of downloads on iTunes?

This could get complicated!

Let’s keep it simple for starters, shall we?

Class A listed songs – ones that should never be messed with but may be covered with permission as long as the cover version remains true to the original.

Top of my list would be “Bohemian Rhapsody”. When I asked Boy Child to name his Class A songs he instantly replied “Everything by Led Zeppelin.” I’m sure many of you would agree, I may however be a bit more precise. I’m sure there are a few B’s and C’s in there!

Class B listed songs– ones that may be covered with a modicum of deviation away from the original.

I’d include “Sweet Child O’Mine” in this list, despite the fact it may be my all time favourite song. There are only a handful of vocalists who can do this song justice! A perfect example of an ideal Class B version would be the treatment this song is given by Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. (note- I still prefer the original)

Class C listed songs – could be altered to a greater degree, with the original act’s explicit consent. This one is harder to choose an example for!

The first song that springs to mind is “London Calling” by The Clash. This was covered last year by Brent Smith and Zach Myers of Shinedown. Their acoustic version of this classic track is significantly different to the original but still retains the song’s identity.

Ok I’ve started the lists – which songs would you add?

Appearing For One Night Only….the Big Green Gummi Bear’s night out

It’s been forty five days since my last fix.

Withdrawal symptoms had long since set in and the depressing January weather among other things wasn’t helping. However Friday dawned bright and sunny, if a tad on the chilly side, and my fix was almost in sight.

This time there was to be a break in my usual routine. A different persona was about to emerge. One that I don’t think has ever been seen in public before – Rock Wife.

As I took my seat on the train to Glasgow to meet the Big Green Gummi Bear, I wracked my brain in an effort to remember the last rock/pop gig we’d been to together. There were a few memorable shows in the dim and distant past- Iron Maiden circa 1991, Def Leppard circa 1993 and a dodgy Bjorn Again gig circa 1994 (not my choice!) among others. I honestly couldn’t recall one that we had been to since we got married in 1995!

The Big Green Gummi Bear has a strict set criteria for going out to play that he rarely deviates from so I suspect I caught him in a weak moment when he agreed to attend this show. It did tick most of his boxes though –

It wasn’t on a school night.

It was part of Celtic Connections, the annual music festival held in Glasgow in January/February

It wasn’t “yicket” music as he phrases it (Hard rock/metal to the rest of us.)

The tickets were bought and paid for before he had time to have second thoughts!

My usual pre-gig routine slipped back into its normal pattern as, accompanied by the Big Green Gummi Bear, I headed for my favourite coffee shop for a much needed caffeine fix.

So where were we going?

The venue for the evening was Glasgow’s O2 ABC. (I love that venue!)

The band that were going to have the honour of being the first headliners the Big Green Gummi Bear had seen this millennium were Hayseed Dixie.

We were both about to be initiated in the delights of “rockgrass”!

Suitably caffeine fuelled, we joined the queue outside the venue shortly before the doors were due to open. (Cue much muttering about the cold and queuing)

Once inside the hall, the Big Green Gummi Bear insisted on putting his jacket in the cloakroom then, after a quick trip the merchandising stall (“Why do you need another black t-shirt with writing on it?”), we took our places right down on the barrier.

The Big Green Gummi Bear is a self-confessed snob. The look on his face as he glanced around was telling me that he was less than impressed so far. Hmm this could be a long night….

The support act were a band from Dublin called The Riptide Movement and they entertained the growing crowd admirably for around forty five minutes. A mental note was duly taken to add then to my ever increasing list of bands to check out further.

Up on stage everything bar four mic stands was cleared away. No drum kit?!

I nipped to the little girl’s room to powder my nose. By the time I returned another couple had come to stand beside us and the Big Green Gummi Bear was talking beards with the guy. No idea how that conversation started! Up on stage there was little activity. The girl enquired if we’d seen Hayseed Dixie before. Both of us confessed we hadn’t. She promised that we’d love them. The Big Green Gummi Bear had his cynical face on. Sensing his scepticism, the girl declared that if he didn’t enjoy the show she would buy him a drink at the bar at the end. Deal!

Hayseed Dixie duly came out on stage to rapturous cheers from the capacity crowd. Their show is very tongue in cheek. The name’s a play on ACDC and front man , John Wheeler, was sporting cut off denim dungarees and a tie-dye t-shirt (A kindergarten version of Angus Young?)

Within minutes of the start of their set the Big Green Gummi Bear was seen smiling.

Over the next two hours many rock classics were given the Hayseed Dixie treatment. Hearing songs like Highway to Hell, Ace of Spade and Bohemian Rhapsody played on acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo with the occasional fiddle thrown in was a thoroughly enjoyable if bizarre experience. John Wheeler’s rapport with the audience was fabulous and filled with amens and Hallelujahs. A man that‘s not taking himself too seriously. Amid the rock classics they played a few of their own tunes, most notably I’m Keeping Your Poop. Mandolin player Hippy Joe Hymas’s actions and antics throughout the entire set added to the humour. A hillbilly Gene Simmons!

Behind me a strange transformation was taking place. The Big Green Gummi Bear has graduated from smiling to laughing and was even heard singing along (never a good thing as he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket!) However, he was having fun!

The show ended with a fifteen minute encore of Hotel California – another classic that will never be the same again!

When the lights went up the girl beside us asked if she needed to buy that drink. The answer was a resounding no.

Hayseed Dixie collage

Mental note to Rock Wife self- add another box to that tick list. Any future gigs with the Big Green Gummi Bear must be on warm dry days.

I almost froze to death outside on the pavement waiting on him collecting his jacket from the cloakroom!

Only nine days until my next fix!