Attila the Stockbroker on his poetry and music


This 27 October 2014 music video from England is called Attila the Stockbroker – Farageland. The song is about Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP party in Britain. The title is also a wordplay on, and the music is from, the song Garageland by punk rock band The Clash.

The lyrics of Farageland are here.

And this is a music video of Garageland by The Clash. Lyrics are here.

By poet Attila the Stockbroker from Britain:

I’m not counting the years, just the beers

Thursday 18th December 2014

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

WONDERFUL night at the iconic and atmospheric Borderline club in Soho last Wednesday, celebrating 20 years of my band Barnstormer.

I started off as a punk bass player in 1977 and always thought I’d be in a band. But the bands I was in kept splitting up — partly because rather than standing meekly at the back as bass players were supposed to do, I wanted to write songs and play lead lines on the bass.

Some people, especially fellow punk musicians, didn’t understand this.

So in 1980 I started getting up on stage on my own in the breaks between bands at gigs, shouting the lyrics I’d written for the bands I was in that had split up. Add a stage name inspired by being told “you’ve got the manners of Attila the Hun” during a predictably horrible 11-month temporary stint as a clerk in a stockbroker’s office — the last “proper” job I’ve ever had — and that’s how Attila the Stockbroker, performance poet, came into the world.

For 10 years or so I was happy going solo, but in the ’90s I had a dream of forming a band to combine punk with my own take on medieval music, in much the same way that the Pogues combined punk with Irish music. I found a very sound bunch of local musicians, The Fish Brothers, called as such because of their drinking habits, and my band Barnstormer was born.

To be honest, we didn’t actually start as Barnstormer. For our first two gigs, our debut being at the legendary old Jericho Tavern in Oxford in November 1994, we were called Flounder and our bass player was Captain Sensible, incidentally.

Now, for me, as a coastal dwelling sea angler “flounder” only means one thing — a rather tasty flatfish.

But it was soon pointed out to me that the word had a rather different interpretation, to be completely useless. Since our band were actually quite good, I christened them Barnstormer and so we have been ever since. That’s apart from our first tour of Germany, where we were called Die Erbrechenden Rotkehlchen, which translates as The Vomiting Robins. Yes, I know.

We’ve done over 500 gigs, mainly in Germany. I’ve been a poet over here and in other English speaking countries and a band over there. It’s worked out very well.

Bands get treated much better in mainland Europe, where there’s free food, unlimited beer and accommodation comes as a basic rule of thumb which, any aspirant musician will tell you, is definitely not the case in Britain.

Above all, we’ve stuck together, so thank you to Dan Woods (guitar) and McGhee (drums) and bassists “Baby” David Beaken, Jason Pegg and Tommy Muir for being lovely, creative and talented and, crucially, for being able to retain those abilities on stage after vast quantities of free German beer.

And so to our celebration at the Borderline. I roped in my old mate John Otway to recite his Xmas hit — yes, he’s in the process of having one as we speak, thanks to a dedicated fanbase and the wonders of the internet — and Thee Faction, TV Smith and Blyth Power contributed hugely to a wonderful evening.

Another 100 gigs or so this year. Not quite as many in 2015 as I take some time out to finish my autobiography, timed for my 35th anniversary as Attila.

Hoppy Christmas and a Beery New Year to you all, comrades!

Deep sea snail named after British punk rocker


This music video from England is called The Clash Live Manchester 1978. Songs: I’m so bored with the USA – London’s Burning.

And this music video from Manchester, England is called The Clash – Capital Radio / Janie Jones / What’s My Name / Garageland – October 1977.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Joe Strummer has deep sea snail named after him

Alviniconcha strummeri live beneath the surface of the ocean and apparently ‘look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s’

A species of deep sea snail with the bold, spiky aesthetic of early Clash fans has been named after Joe Strummer. Alviniconcha strummeri are golf ball-sized invertebrates that live around 2,000 metres beneath the surface of the ocean.

The Strummer-indebted snails are one of five new species identified in a paper that was published in the journal Systematics and Biodiversity. “Because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment, we decided to name one new species after a punk rock icon,” Shannon Johnson, a researcher at California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel (via Exclaim).

Only strummeri have been named after a musician: the other alviniconcha species get their monikers from things like research facilities and gastropod experts. “The name highlights the ‘hardcore’ nature of Alviniconcha snails, that inhabit the hottest, most acidic and most sulphidic microhabitats at Indo-Pacific hydrothermal vents,” researchers wrote. “The name also recognises the surface of Alviniconcha shells: the spiky periostracum resembles the fashion of punk rock bands.”

Alviniconcha strummeri will now vie with Amaurotoma zappa, named for Frank, in the collections of malacologist music fans. Those who are not simply interested in snails may also pursue exemplars of the isopod Cirolana mercuryi, named from Freddie, Jaggermeryx naida, an extinct “long-legged pig” named after Mick, and Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi, a spider who is apparently looking for a Heart of Gold.

22 December will mark the 12th anniversary of Strummer’s death.

World War I commemoration and folk music


The video of this punk rock song is called Siouxsie & The Banshees ‘Poppy Day’ Live 1979.

By Nick Matthews in England:

In Flanders Fields finds a new voice

Monday 13th October 2014

Inspired by John McCrae’s World War I poem, a new folk rendition was a highlight of the Derby Folk Festival, writes NICK MATTHEWS

I had a fabulous time at the Derby Folk Festival earlier this month.

At one point it did not look like it would go ahead after a fire at the Assembly Rooms — however a large marquee in the market place saved the day.

Bill toppers included Steeleye Span, Show of Hands and Kate Rusby.

Lower down the bill however there were some real showstoppers including an outstanding performance from the wonderful Martin Simpson and a lovely laid-back slot from Americans Dana and Susan Robinson.

The most moving performance by a long way however was that of In Flanders Fields by vocal trio Barry Coope, Jim Boyes and Lester Simpson.

They have been stalwarts of the festival for a long time and are one of my personal favourites.

That is not just because they release their music on the co-operative No Masters Voice label.

Their vocal harmony singing is sublime and they combine a mastery of the genre with tremendous wit and biting social commentary.

The folk world generally has produced some of the best musical offerings to mark the centenary of the first world war and as you would expect from folk artists, has done so from the bottom up.

This music video is called The end of “Gentle Men”, written by Robb Johnson and performed with Roy Bailey at the Ropetackle, Shoreham-by-Sea 24.7.14.

Robb Johnson’s Gentle Men, his family history of the war to end all wars, is very good indeed and so is Show of Hands’ Centenary, a mixture of song and poetry from the period.

This 18 June 2014 music video is called Show of Hands – Centenary: In Conversation with Steve Knightley.

Coope, Boyes & Simpson’s is a very substantial piece of work. It is both moving and funny and marks a 20-year collaboration, not only with the history but the place of Flanders itself.

Piet Chielens, co-ordinator of the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, argues that they have been at the forefront of the commemoration in the West Flemish Front region for 20 years.

Their body of work on the war can be seen as a “lieu de memoire.”

Indeed in Flanders, he says, no artistic initiative seems to have been more successfully involved with the theme than that of this trio.

In their show they bring together eyewitness accounts, contemporary poetry and songs specially commissioned for the town of Passchendaele’s peace concerts.

The album’s title, In Flanders Fields, takes its name from the poem written by John McCrae who was killed on the Western Front in the first world war.

Ironically the poem was used in army recruitment and its references to poppies made them an important part of later commemorations.

In the live shows the pieces between the songs are as well chosen as the songs themselves, including quips from contemporary music hall song, extracts from the Ypres Times — the satirical paper produced by the soldiers in the trenches — as well as poetry and letters home.

They give voice to the poor bloody infantry and their contempt for the sergeant majors and officers.

Never afraid to prick the bubble of the pompous they create a rounded image of the war that is deeply moving.

Visiting Belgium over two decades changed the life of Boyes in particular.

He now lives there after visiting regularly since the ’70s, before becoming involved in Peace Concerts Passchendaele, where he made many friends and later made Belgium his second home.

His involvement with the Flemish folk scene began when he released a solo album called Out The Blue.

It was the first thing he had done on the co-operative No Masters label which he had set up with John Tams.

Chielens, who wrote for the Flemish folk magazine Gandalf, had known of Boyes since his time in Swan Arcade.

He reviewed the album which contained a song, Down On The Dugout Floor, that he had written after a visit to play the Dranouter Folk Festival near Ypres.

When Chielens started the peace concerts, he invited Boyes to go over and play with some Flemish musicians.

Once there he was asked if there was anyone else that Boyes would like to involve.

He had just started working with Coope and Simpson and eventually they took part in five different peace concert productions in Belgium and England, performing on former battlefields like Hill 60, among the memorials at Tyne Cot and at the request of the town of Passchendaele for their 80th anniversary commemoration of the long and terrible 1917 battle.

Many of these performances are now contained on In Flanders Fields and there is also an impressive book to go with the two CDs.

At Derby they mocked the Guardian’s description of their work as post-modern folk. More like “post-mortem” they said. Sadly there is nothing post about this work — as we embark on another war, it is strikingly contemporary.

This work is beautiful, funny, passionate and angry and a terrific antidote to much of the jingoism that marks the centenary.

The artists argue that “the more we learn about war, the more important it becomes to sing about peace.”

Get to see them perform if you can and let’s hope that’s what everyone who hears them learns too.

Nick Matthews is chair of Co-operatives UK.

Thai military dictator condones murdering women


This is a music video by United States punk rock band the Dead Kennedys, live performance of their song called Holiday in Cambodia.

It is about Cambodia during the evil times of the Pol Pot dictatorship.

Now, in 2014, it looks like Thailand, neighbour to Cambodia, is not really a much better holiday destination, with its dictatorship now than Cambodia then.

We already know that, if you plan to spend your holidays in beautiful Thailand, then you can get into big trouble when taking George Orwell’s novel 1984 with you, as the dictatorship hates that novel.

And, no matter how hot Thai beaches can be, it seems very dangerous to bring your swimwear as well.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests ‘attractive’ female tourists cannot expect to be safe in bikinis

In a televised speech on tourist safety, following the murder of two Britons on the island of Koh Tao, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha questioned whether female travellers can be safe in bikinis

Natasha Culzac

Thailand’s military ruler has suggested that “beautiful” female visitors to his country should not expect to be safe in bikinis.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha allegedly made the comments as the investigation into the death of two Britons intensifies.

David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were killed earlier this week after they attended a beach party on the island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand.

Negative attention on the country – to which 800,000 Britons visit each year – appears to have left its leader attempting to offer explanations for why young travellers may run into trouble there.

Speaking in a live broadcast today discussing tourist safety, he said: “There are always problems with tourist safety. They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere,” according to the AFP news agency.

He added: “Can they be safe in bikinis… unless they are not beautiful?”

No arrests have yet been made following the murder of Miller and Witheridge, whose bodies were found less than 100 metres from the location of where the gathering was being held on Sunday night. …

The bodies were taken to Bangkok and autopsies have today found that Witheridge died from head wounds while Miller suffered severe blows to the head and then drowned in the surf. …

These comments [by dictator Prayuth Chan-ocha] were rebuffed by Witheridge’s MP, Brandon Lewis, who told the Daily Mail: “I have not seen anything indicating that there should be any blame on the victims, and right now the investigation will hopefully be targeted on finding the perpetrator of the crime.

“I hope the focus will be on bringing whoever committed this barbaric crime to justice.”

See also here.

British poet Attila the Stockbroker on punk rock


This video from Amsterdam in the Netherlands says about itself:

Attila the Stockbroker & Barnstormer – Live @ Soundgarden 02.11.2012 – Pt 1:

1. LEVELLERS / DIGGERS 2. BAGHDAD SKA 3. COMANDANTE JOE 4. TYLER SMILES 5. THE BLANDFORD FORUM.

Attila the Stockbroker on vocals, violin, crumhorn and recorders; Dan Woods on guitar; Baby Beaken on bass; Mass Murder McGee (some of them are also members of The Fish Brothers.)

Attila the Stockbroker (born John Baine, 21 October 1957, Southwick, Sussex, England) is a punk poet, and a folk punk musician and songwriter. He performs solo and as the leader of the band Barnstormer. He describes himself as a “sharp tongued, high energy social surrealist poet and songwriter.” He has performed over 2,700 concerts, published six books of poems, and released 30+ recordings (CDs, LPs and singles).

By poet Attila the Stockbroker from Britain:

The Europeans’ knack for culturally nourishing rebellion

Thursday 14th August 2014

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

Amsterdam is always a pleasure to visit, and the Paradiso club — once a squatted church — is a legendary presence in the scene.

Did a gig there, solo poetry and with my band Barnstormer, as part of a vibrant and wide-ranging evening of spoken word and music and then headed to Peine, near Hannover in Germany, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their autonomous centre, the AJZ.

When it comes to independent music, politics and culture generally, much of mainland Europe is a completely different world compared to Britain.

Autonomously run venues emerged from the squatter movement years ago and are now legal and run independently by local left-wing activists — there are literally hundreds of them, dotted across many different countries, which guarantees performers like myself a network of ready-made places to play, run by like-minded people.

For someone whose British network consists of fairly mainstream arts centres and rock venues and sympathetic pubs that let people put on gigs in an an upstairs room, it’s always a sheer pleasure to see how things can be organised differently.

Highlight in Peine was a blistering performance by Canadian punk legend and activist Joey “Shithead” Keighley and his band DOA, whom I was to meet again a few days later at last weekend’s annual Rebellion punk festival in Blackpool.

For many years now, thousands of punks, young and not so young (!) have taken over the Winter Gardens there for a four-day celebration of the music we love.

As usual, this year’s event was a blast and I had a wonderful gig on the Almost Acoustic Stage on the Friday. As for whom I saw on stage, well, here goes…

My mate TV “Adverts” Smith and his band the Bored Teenagers were fantastic. So were The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Peter & The Test Tube Babies, John Otway, Ruts DC, The Cravats, Roy Ellis aka Mr Symarip (doing “Skinhead Moonstomp” and reminding us that real skinheads have hated racism since 1969) and The Outcasts and The Defects from Belfast. To name but a few.

But it’s absolutely wrong to think that Rebellion is just about the old guard, and among the new breed I must single out acoustic singer/songwriter Louise Distras, who is the sharp, angry voice of her generation of punk rockers and a real breath of fresh air in the scene. Her set was a masterpiece.

We have to beware the impostors though. Inside the Winter Gardens there was a real sense of unity, but outside I came across a group of fascists, some with tickets, some not, intent as always in spreading hate and causing trouble.

I had a verbal altercation — I’m 56 and was on my own, I’m glad it stayed verbal — and soon realised that many of them were from eastern Europe. Cue the ironic rant!

“Brain dead morons from mainland Europe, coming over here, singing crap English songs, crap English fascists wrote in stupid accents… We’re full up, mate.

“We’ve got our full quota of racist cretins with IQs smaller than their boot size. Piss off back to where you come from!”

It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

Next stop Guernsey, and a rather different festival. Happy holidays to one and all.