Still time to buy early bird tickets
THERE’S still a few days left to snap up early bird tickets for an award-winning music festival.
Whitby’s Musicport Festival won Indoor Festival of the Year in last year’s Fatea Awards and acts confirmed for this year include Lo’Jo and Scotland’s Idlewild (singer Roddy Woomble pictured). Also included in the line-up will be Tamikrest, one of Mali’s young stars of Saharan music, and BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Lucy Ward.
Discounted tickets for the festival at Whitby Pavilion Complex from October 17 to 19 are available until the end of June. To book call 01947 603475. CHRIS Stein has something of a surprise admission to make.
The guitarist and co-founder of one of America’s most popular and enduring rock groups of the last 40 years is, it turns out, a big admirer of Drenge, the young grunge duo from the Peak District.
While Drenge only have one CD to their name, this year Blondie are back with their 10th studio album – and their fourth since triumphant reformation in 1998 after a decade-and-a-half apart.
It’s a double disc, called Blondie 4(0) Ever, comprising new material on one, called Ghosts of Download, and re-recordings of 11 of their greatest hits including Heart of Glass, Sunday Girl and Atomic.
“The re-recordings were partially for financial reasons,” explains 64-year-old Stein, matter-of-factly. “It meant we could synch them in films and commercials and we would have full ownership of those tracks. It was also an exercise. We worked much harder on the new album.”
Approaching such familiar songs from a distance of 30 years – or more was an interesting “sonic exercise” for Stein, whose diagnosis with the life-threatening illness pemphigus, was once of the reasons for Blondie’s premature retirement in 1997.
“To recreate stuff and make it sound similar was just a challenge. That said, it was a lot easier to do than create it all the first time around.”
Clem Burke, the band’s drummer who’s worked with Stein and singer Debbie Harry since 1975, has described Ghosts of Download as a “very collaborative disc”. Among the guests on the album are girl group Stush, hip-hop outfit Los Rakas and Columbian electronic artist Systema Solar. The best known, however is Beth Ditto, of the Washington dance rock group The Gossip.
Ditto’s involvement, on the standout song A Rose By Any Name was apparently keyboardist and producer Matt Katz-Bohen’s idea. The rest of the collaborations were simply “how things evolved”.
“There was not really any master overview of the whole thing. We worked on it track by track.”
Consistent with the varied nature of Blondie’s output over the last 40 years – everything from punk to reggae, disco and rap – Ghosts of Download is something of a musical melting pot and includes an unlikely cover version of the hit Frankie Goes to Hollywood song Relax.
It continues a band tradition of cover versions that includes The Tide is High and Denis. “Hanging On The Telephone was a cover too. Most people don’t know that; only the hardcore fans get that,” says Stein. “Relax is a cool song, it’s one of my favourite songs. I had never heard anybody cover it before.”
Among those contributing song ideas was Jeff Saltzman, who the band worked with on their 2011 album Panic of Girls, and an intern of his, Natalie Hawkins “who developed some melodies”.
“It was a lot of people collaborating from different directions,” says Stein.
Keeping things fresh is