DANNY ROBINS' EVENTS GUIDE: 3RD FEBRUARY
There's been a vogue in theatre for years now to do musicals based around the songs of a well-known singer or band, We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia being the two most bombastic examples. One artist you may not have had pipped for a West End musical is Woody Guthrie, American folk singer of the first half of the twentieth century.
Guthrie was an icon of the folk movement. His songs came out of the Great Depression in the States, when he travelled the country with migrant workers, earning the name the 'Dust Bowl Troubadour'. He spoke out for the common people. His songs were political and outspoken - he performed with a guitar that has 'This Machine Kills Fascists' written on it - and he was an inspiration for many artists who came after him, including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg. Bob Dylan famously said, "Woody ain't a folk singer, he's a genius, genius, genius."
And now he's the subject of a West End musical? How did that happen? In reality, Woody Sez is a world away from the glitz and cheesiness of Mamma Mia or We Will Rock You. It's a simple, stripped down telling of Woody's story, through his songs (which definitely stand the test of time) by a small cast who play a range of instruments. With songs about hard times and evil bankers, it feels very right for now.
It's on at the Arts Theatre. It's been running for a couple of weeks now and has had great reviews. The show runs till April 2nd.
Chinese New Year
It's Chinese New Year today, 3rd Feb, but all the celebrations seem to be taking place on Sunday 6th Feb, when there'll be events kicking off in cities across the UK.
Birmingham has a dragon procession, Chinese dance, kung fu demonstrations and fireworks around the Arcadian Centre on Hurst Street. There's similar stuff in Liverpool's Chinatown area around Nelson Street. They've also got a Chinese street market. The biggest one is of course in London. It attracted a quarter of a million people last year and spreads out from Chinatown into Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square.
2010 was the year of the Tiger but 2011 is the year of the Rabbit. I wonder if that means we'll all start breeding loads?
Apparently, people born under the sign of the Rabbit are said to be quick, clever and ambitious, but seldom finish what they start. They are famous though for their artistic sense, good taste and stylish wardrobe!
Famous Rabbits include Walt Whitman, Marie Curie, Napoleon Bonaparte and Albert Einstein.
If you haven't heard, Jonny is a two-man indie supergroup - a superduo if you will - composed of Euros Childs (former front-man with Gorky's Zygotic Mynci) and Norman Blake, lead singer of Teenage Fanclub. Their self-titled album has just come out and they are doing a tour to promote it.
I've always had a soft-spot for Euros's work from Gorky's days - I've got great memories of a gig in Newcastle as a teenager at the start of my gig-going life. The coming together of his and Norman's talent seems a match made in Indie-heaven and it has produced a collection of lovely indie-pop songs.
I'm hoping they might play one song live that isn't on the album - Gloria, a meditation on 80s singer Gloria Estefan, with the immortal line, "Miami sound machine, live in Milton Keynes, the best band that I've ever seen."
03/02 Brighton Brighton Ballroom
04/02 Cambridge The Haymakers
05/02 Reading Play
07/02 Bristol Cooler
08/02 Cardiff Clwb Ifor
10/02 Nottingham Bodega
11/02 Liverpool Mojo
12/02 Sheffield The Harley
14/02 Manchester Deaf Institute
15/02 Birmingham Glee Club
16/02 York The Basement
18/02 Middlesborough Westgarth SC
19/02 Glasgow Platform
20/02 Newcastle Cluny
21/02 Sunderland Independent Room 2
See the Jonny single 'Candyfloss'