Scouse troubadour hits the right notes: Day 13
There’s no reason why you should, but you may remember that while I was in Spain, I had planned a nice little side-trip to London as a reward for sitting on my bum for 10 consecutive days writing. The idea was to fly in, visit a couple of friends, and then go and see Damien Dempsey and Ian Prowse in a special St. Patrick’s Day concert in Camden, before flying back to Málaga to carry on my pretence at writing.
I’ve already talked about Dempsey at some length in another blog – I went to see him in Dublin in December and was absolutely blown away by his performance (plus, Vicar Street is one of the venues everyone has to see before they shuffle off this mortal coil). Canadian Geese is just one of those songs that grabs you by the guts: “The inner city folk, they often spoke / With a tongue that was more like a fist / On the reservation six miles north of the slums that some still missed.” Magic stuff – and sung by a voice like the streets of Dublin: angelic and as rough as a badger’s arse, all at the same time.
Ian Prowse, however, is a different cup of tea completely. Prowse comes from the other side of the sea, from Lherpool, England’s only Irish city, and the only one with its own Irish name. He’s possibly best known for a single he did with his band Amsterdam, Does This Train Stop on Merseyside?; it is one of Ottawacker Jr.’s favourite songs, and manages to capture so many of the elements of Liverpool that inspire and exasperate me in equal measure. Ah, the contradictions of being a Scouser. Anyway, the day before I was due to go to London, I decided it was too risky to go, and so cancelled. And the same day, the concert was cancelled too, so my feelings of disappointment were a softened a little. Just a little mind.
I mention all this because for the past two weeks, Ian Prowse has been doing Friday free concerts from his living room to raise morale during the coronavirus pandemic. Just him and his guitar, occasionally supported more than ably by his young daughter Rosie (who steals the show), playing for an more than hour and broadcasting it live on Facebook. No pressure to put any money in the hat; if you want, you can just watch and appreciate and celebrate the fact that life can still go on in a safe and enjoyable way – even when the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
I’ve been lucky enough to see both of his living-room concerts, and I’m hooked. Like most of us from Liverpool, he’s left of centre in his politics – and this comes through in everything he sings and says. He covered Alun Parry’s Dessie Warren, did a Damien Dempsey number, praises the NHS to the eyeballs and says what he thinks. He’s a man of the people, and I like that enormously about him; you can tell it is sincere, there is no bullshit about Prowse – or Dempsey. You can see the whole second concert here (and I am sure the first one is still up as well, if you look hard enough). I can’t wait to see him in concert – and while many things will be very different once we come out the other side of this current crisis (not least my travelling habits), I can still hope. Besides, he promised to buy me a pint because I had to miss his concert.
Things here at home have been a little flat today. I seem to have picked up a stomach bug which left me staring at the floor in discomfort while emptying my bowels. Thankfully. Dial-a-Bottle turned up with my medicine (no kidding, two shots of Ricard or Pernod is the best cure for diarrhoea; it binds your stomach in five minutes) and so I have been fine ever since. Mrs. Ottawacker has her back to the stove in self-defensive “don’t blame me, I never said I was a cook” mode – but I am not really sure what caused it or why it came on so quickly. The problem is, in the current climate, every single thing is looked at in the optic of Covid19: slight cough? Covid19. Wet fart? Covid19. Mispronunciation of Sam Gamgees name? Covid19.
Just as well that last one isn’t really a sign of the virus, because there were many of those in today’s Radio Dungeon broadcast of Lord of the Rings. Good grief, I was tripping over my tongue right the way through the chapter. Thankfully Ottawacker Jr. was blissfully unaware – at least I think he was, because he went to get an extra sofa cushion to hide behind when the black riders attacked the hobbits and completely disappeared from view for 10 minutes. As the chapter came to a close, his little head rose above the parapets and said: “Is that it? Are they dead? You’ll told me it was a happy ending.” Tolkien seriously ups his game as the story goes on – at least in terms of storytelling. (Honestly, though, who am I to criticize?) But I see the face of my son as he listens to the unfolding story – probably using many words he doesn’t understand completely or at all – and he is spellbound.
Today’s photo is of the Scouse troubadour himself and the extra is of the cushion fort protecting the ears of Ottawacker Jr. from the dark riders.