Thursday, 26 January 2012

Van Meets the Bard of Ely



Steve Andrews is an interesting character.  No two ways about that.  Steve (AKA Bard of Ely) is a singer-songwriter, author, poet, freelancer, environmentalist and naturalist from Cardiff, Wales, now living in Tenerife in the Canary Islands.  In the past few years he has written for the Tenerife News newspaper and Living Tenerife magazine.  He has also been quoted as a "weed expert" in The Ecologist.
In the UK, he has written for Kindred Spirit, Permaculture and Feed Your Brain magazines, and, collaborated with CJ Stone for Prediction and the NFOP magazine. He had a column in the Big Issue, and it was this publication that dubbed him ’Bard of Ely’.  His writings include the book Herbs of the Northern Shaman.  The Bard's song You're a Liar, Nicky Wire was featured on BBC R1 Session in Wales and received a good review from the NME .  He has also been a co-presenter of two series of In Full View on Choice and he has appeared on many more TV programs on the BBC, BBC2 and HTV.

In 2002 and 2003, the Bard was a compère for the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury Festival and he has also played at this world famous event.  He has also appeared at the Green Man Festival .  He is a member of the Loyal Arthurian Warband druid order and, aptly, a Bard of Caer Abiri (Avebury).  He has also made a name for himself growing exotic fruit when he was on HTV Wales news for having the first homegrown pineapple in Wales.

 Quite the Renaissance Man.  Anyway, why he is being mentioned here is that he does have some connection with Van.  On author CJ Stone's blog called "Ten Thousand Days" there's a post about the Bard meeting Van for the first time.  
Here's the Bard of Ely's description of that meeting:
 "First of all I spoke to Van at Robin’s. I was working for Robin Williamson. This would have been about 1993. I was working at Robin’s as his secretary. And I had to answer the phone and everything, and I answered the phone one day and it was actually, it was Van the Man, and I’m saying, "who’s speaking please," and he’s saying, "Van Morrison." And I’m in total shock, awe, whatever, I’m like, "wow, this is Van Morrison," you know. And that was the first time I spoke to him, and that was a very unsuccessful conversation. I’m sort of gibbering, "oh, um, I’ve always been, well er, a great fan of yours." And he’s saying, "yeah, yeah?" And I’m saying, "yeah, yeah, really, what shall I…?" And he’s saying, " just tell Robin that I’m in the area and if I’m around I’ll give him a call again." I said, "oh yeah, right, right, I’ll do that." And - I remember what he said - he said, "all the best." And that was it. And I thought, "oh wow, wow, Van Morrison has said ‘all the best’ to me, this is brilliant, I’ve spoken to him." And that was the first time that I had any sort of connection with Van.


But then, I’d taken my son to his pottery class. And it was closed that day. And it was in the afternoon by now. Robin Williamson was doing the midsummer solstice concert at the Celtic folk museum in St Fagan’s, which I obviously knew about. I had an invite to be there. Because the pottery thing wasn’t happening, I said to my son, "well let’s go along and see Robin." So we went to the folk museum and it was an appalling day - it was one of these midsummer absolute piss-down days, it was absolute torrential rain going on - and we got there quite late anyway, and when we got there Robin’s gig was just about finished. And because of the terrible weather, they had to move the open air thing into one of the marquee tents. And Robin finished his set, and I could see a couple of people, one of whom was Van Morrison. And Robin went over and he was talking to them, and I thought, "wow, that’s Van Morrison again." And then I heard in the conversation, it came up that the other guy who was with Van was from Ely. And I thought, "wow, wow, Van Morrison is actually with someone who’s from Ely. This is my cue to go over and say something." And I went over and I said - the first thing I said was just utterly ridiculous - I said, "so you’re Van Morrison then?" And he said, "er yeah?" And I said, "oh yeah, I spoke to you once before, from Robin’s." And he said, "yeah." I said, "And I’ve always been a great fan of yours, I love your music." And he said, "yeah." And by this point I’m thinking, I’m not making much success here, I’m not having much success in having sparkling conversation with my hero here, all he ever says is "yeah."
At which point my son came over to me, and he’d just been outside the tent, and he came in the tent, like, we were at the edge of the tent, and Robin is stood one side, and Van’s stood here, and there’s this other guy from Ely stood there, and Isaac just comes in under the edge of the tent, and he says, "Dad?" And I says, "yes Isaac." And he says, "you see this rope?" pointing to the guide rope coming off the marquee tent. And I said, "yeah?" And I’m starting to sound a bit like Van Morrison, I’m saying, "yeah?" And he said, "well, can you put your head by it?" And I said, "yeah." And he said, "well go on then." So I’m moving my face down by the rope, very naively, in my usual way, and not expecting anything, and not being on my guard at all, I’m just putting my face down by this rope. At which point he grabbed the rope and twanged it, and all the water that had collected on the tent roof flew all over my face and down my neck and all over my clothes, and I just didn’t know what to do or say or anything, I’m just completely and utterly freaked out with utter embarrassment, cos this is right in front of Van Morrison. And I just muttered something, "er, oh, er, Isaac, um, we’ve got to, er, we’ve got to go and, um, come on," and sort of grabbed his hand and went. And I didn’t look back. I just sort of went out into the rain outside and headed for the exit as fast as possible. And that was it".

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Kevin Parker Review: Astral Weeks and The Troubles



In 2003 Kevin Parker wrote about Astral Weeks on the Perfect Sound Forever site.  His review adds something different to the hundreds of reviews of Astral Weeks that have gone before it.  He links the album unconvincingly to The Troubles in Northern Ireland that began around the same time as the album was released.  He also claims his hundreds of listens has revealed a coherent narrative in the album.  Here's a sample of what he had to say:

"I spent several hundred listens trying to make emotional, if logical, sense of the lyrics. Gradually, this revealed a strange narrative (which, to me, compliments Van's own assertion that Astral Weeks is some sort of rock opera). Once I found a narrative, though, I had no more realisations about the album. They were small understandings: how the strings' entrance on "Astral Weeks" suddenly creates drama; Richard Davis' bass, by jumping up an octave in the trombone solo of "The Way Young Lovers Do" causes the song to tumble into the chorus; how Connie Kaye's off-kilter cymbal work at the end of "Madame George" adds poignancy. This last listen, though, felt something like an epiphany. "The record was released in 1968 as political violence escalated."
 
Before, I believed Astral Weeks was the painful story of one man who, by way of his obsession with a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl, becomes the tragicomic figure of Madame George. The first half of the album, titled "In the Beginning," chronicles this man's (or boy's) estrangement ("I ain't nothing but a stranger in this world"), loss of innocence ("Beside You"), and euphoria of new love ("The Sweet Thing"). Then, something strange happens. The narrator falls in love with a fourteen-year-old girl. Acknowledging my debt to Lester Bangs, I claim only that Van has imagined a character but made no moral judgements about him; Van has dared to ask what if this man genuinely loves her as a person – as a human being – and not as the sick obsession of a pedophile.
 
(Also, as listeners, we assume that the narrator is far older than she is, but there is no evidence of that. We know only that he drives a car and walks by the railroad tracks with his cherry, cherry wine. He could be in his early 20's, late 30's, or mid 60's. What if the narrator is only 18?)
 
Wracked by the pain of this love he cannot express, the narrator becomes "Madame George," and Van shifts the perspective from first person to second person – just as he did in "Beside You." Just as the child is leaving Madame George for the last (first and last?) time, there is human contact. They touch hands, and, in that touch, the child experiences genuine compassion for another human being. It is compassion nearly divine in its depth (hence the rapturous repetition of "the love that loves"). The final songs, "Ballerina" and "Slim Slow Slider," are from the perspective of Madame George, still pining over this girl. Years lapse between "Cyprus Avenue" and "Madame George," and the girl is nearly an adult by now. Nonetheless, it became impossible for Madame George to meet her long ago. He has to resign himself to these last, fleeting glances of her. As the final song begins to fade, he offers up one last cry of frustration, 'Every time I see you, I don't know what to do'."
 
Click on the link above for the rest of the review.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Crazy Fans, Crazy Love




Just look at this. I absolutely can not draw. This is supposed to be a modern drawing of Van Morrison, of “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Astral Weeks” fame. I dated a girl in high school who left me after prom to fly to a Van Morrison concert. The thing is, now he’s fat and drunk and drinks onstage and sometimes won’t even perform. I’m a really big fan, believe it or not. I just hope he never googles his name and sees this, but honestly his fingers are probably too big now to operate a keyboard. See, there I go again. Why am I being so hard on him? Van Morrison, I’m sorry. I think you’re great


More crazy fans:


Darkwing

I bumped into Van one Sunday morning in Pogo. I was the only one in a games room and he came in and started chatting. He left when one of his stalkers came into the room, and blew me a kiss as he left. lol. I only saw him one other time, on New Year's Eve of the same year... think it was 2004. I saw him and went to wish him Happy New Year. He was really sweet.


Darkwing (7548)   - again
I felt that, as I didn't pressure or idolise him and make a big "thing" of it, he accepted me as a friend. I tried to pretend that I wasn't overawed with him... treated him as I would treat anybody else I met on the internet and it worked.
As he left the room, he blew me a kiss. *swoon*. He was the perfect gentleman with me and how difficult it was to think that he could be such a tyrant at times. 

Girlmcgirly

Timezarrow 03-11-2005

Van Morrison's music is something that has touched me. Not just made me want to listen. Not just made me a fan of his voice, of his style, of his amazing musical ability....but it has touched me, influenced the way I think, feel, act and hopefully interact with others.
When I was young and thought only the most ugly and boring people in the world had brown eyes....Van came along and told me that he could love a brown eyed girl and it honestly triggered something in me...it would be okay...someone would love me. Somewhere, somehow it would happen.
Into the Mystic is a song that I can't listen to with getting goosebumps from head to toe...I've felt as though I were connected to it in something that resembles a past life. I've always known I had a gypsy soul and he's always been there to rock it.

Anonymous

It is a little known fact that Van Morrison does not actually exist! The "Van Morrison" name really refers to a shadowy group of session musicians who ghost-write all the material and create the albums.
In recent years they have grown tired of living in the shadow of the fictional entity, Van Morrison, which accounts for the crankiness you have observed.
In concert, a holographic image designed in Hollywood to represent the archetypal Irish singer/song-writer is projected to satisfy the public hungering for a glimpse of the understandably reclusive pseudo-star.



slider 03-11-2005, 10:01 AM
I first encountered Van Morrison when he was youngster with a group called Them. The album had some tunes that to this day stick with me.  Gloria, Here Comes the Night, Brown Eyed Girl, Mystic Eyes,etc.  Shortly after that release he went solo. I cant find that album anywhere; it's out of print.
I don't think he played instruments. I consider him more an arranger.

Andrewrg 03-11-2005
It used to be,until relatively recently,that you could give him a call and he would show up and sing at your wedding/birthday,whatever.
Unfortunately due to his well documented crankiness him showing up was dependent on his mood.Nice touch though,I thought.
I`ve seen him playing a black Tele and a D28.

ShesGotVerve 03-11-2005
Before this friend turned me on to Van, I simply didn't know anything about his music beyond Brown Eyed Girl and Into The Mystic (I song I still love). I just didn't know there was this huge collection of work by him that turns me inside out!

So Van plays guitar? Tell me this, does he play the rip-roaring leads that he has in some of his songs? (Ordinary People immediately comes to mind)

.......Because if that's him, he's an amazing guitarist.......but I'm sceptical that's him.

I've never seen him in concert but have wanted to since I learnt about him. I'm completely obsessed with his sound, particularly his bluesy stuff. People have told me he sucks live nowadays, but I'd still fly anywhere in the U.S. to catch his show.



 madog 9903-11-2005
I think Van is a one of a kind , you can't compare him to anyone else. even his 70's stuff was so different , always had a touch of jazz .And he put out a record every year , he must have 30 discs ?? Plus back in the day his records were always over 45 minutes, you could never get them to fit on a one side of 90 minute tape. To do that year after year, keep coming up with songs and stay fresh, new sounds, new styles is pretty amazing . He even did some stuff with Thomas Dolby "in the days before rock+roll " that kills me . Thomas Dolby ??? did anyone buy that guys record (or records ?) But Van hooked up with him for some reason and it worked. Van the man!
bek 03-12-2005
Van is a monster, IMHO. I've seen him four or five times and he's always very good, sometimes better. My favorite albums of his: Moondance, Poetic Champions Compose, Avalon Sunset, Too Long in Exile. Yes he has a reputation for not being very nice; I don't care, he's not in my living room. He can out-sing anyone except maybe Dylan. No, I don't care for his jazzy scat-singing stuff, but I like more of his stuff than anyone else's. Yes he plays guitar and saxophone sometimes onstage, but usually it's just harmonica. He has always written his own material, but has always covered other people's songs, too. He's the only person who co-wrote and recorded a song with the Band. Several years back we saw him when he was touring with Dylan (another cranky, talented guy). He was better a couple months later in a smaller venue. In fact, he was remarkable. My take: when he is good, his passion is unmatched. He does things no one else does (like Coney Island on Avalon Sunset, followed poignantly by I'm Tired Joey Boy).

WebMann (2756)   
I have loved Van's music as far back as I can remember. I really like Into the Mystic, Brown Eyed Girl, And It Stoned Me oh man there are so many. Many people haven't heard a fraction of his music. Kinda like Harry Chapin, few have heard more than 3 songs.
Yeah Van is the Man.

minxy67 (989)    
I love Van Morrison, I have had to replace his greatest hits album twice, I think that it was once lost of purpose.(by my husband) LOL
I find that his music cheers me up. I think that his best songs for me are brown eyed girl and have I told you lately that I love you. I have never been lucky enough to see him in concert, I would have to go on my own if I did because my husband is not that keen on him.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Wavelength (1978)




During the past couple of weeks I've dragged out Wavelength for a listen on the daily commute.  I've never had it in my Top 10 Van Albums (which is my benchmark for 'greatness', whatever that means).  It's still a very good album with many pleasant surprises.  I also realise I'm so into Van that I've lost all objectivity about the Man's music, making my reviews virtually pointless. 

Wavelength was considered his 'most American' album on release but Van came to deny the homage to America tag claiming it was based on personal experience.  From the cover the feeling is vaguely "American".  The guy looks like the Californian ideal where he was residing the time of production - tanned, buff, casually dressed, hair a bit sun bleached.    


The album followed the disappointing Period of Transition from the previous year and went gold within three months of release.  Surprisingly, it was his biggest-selling album up to that time.  It outsold Astral Weeks, Moondance and Veedon Fleece, though Moondance would quickly overtake it and eventually sold more than 5 million units. 


Track 1 is Kingdom Hall and is so surprising to anyone who knows something about Jehovah's Witness.  The lyrics that speak of dancing and celebrating music "down at the Kingdom Hall' is in stark contrast to the staid religious observances of JWs.  Van's mother was a JW and I wonder if he ever went around the streets bothering people in the name JWism.  Mainstream evangelical Christianity places the Jehovah's Witness movement firmly into the 'cult' category because of their views about the place of Jesus Christ.  It's an energetic album opener and may be Van's first forays into 'spirituality' which came to define Van’s music on later albums.  


Checkin' it Out is the second track and is a bouncy, lightweight song which stirs up some controversy with his lyrics about 'spirit guides'. It's another example where mainstream Christians find Van lyrics challenging.  It happens with most albums, but that's Van.  He really is a very broad spiritual seeker who can't leave religious themes alone.  In some ways his spiritual quest is the ever-present 'monkey on his back'.  It makes for an easier life if you avoid contemplating the overwhelming evidence that a spiritual dimension exists and just get back to the football and a few pints.  A playful melody with a message about losing your way and finding a beacon of hope in the form of a spiritual guide.  It also hints at Van's primary activity of the era of checking out all kinds of esoteric beliefs and knowledge.  


Natalia is up next and is a well-crafted pop love song.  I hate the fact that I like it because, on the surface, it seems to belong to a performer without the intellectual and spiritual force of Van the Man.  The "na, na, na, na, na, etc." prefix to the the name Natalia has proved annoying to some reviewers.  Me?  I love the man so anything he does is fine by me.  This song has been described as a "free flowing country R&B ballad". 
 
Track 4 is Venice, USA.   The track is routinely criticised by reviewers as evidence of the man's decline.  However, it really is typical Van and sits well alongside his other work.   Venice is one of the extended tracks on the album at almost 7 minutes.  A number of reviewers have commented on its "odd reggae feel".  Van’s soulful delivery lifts the song from its mundane nature. Lyrically and aesthetically it’s as simple as it gets. 

Track 5 is Lifetimes and again hints at the broad nature of Van's spiritual quest.  Lifetimes has slight reincarnation theme to it.   It's a subtle and smooth number that's easy to enjoy.

Track 6 is another Van ode to radio called Wavelength.  It has some odd synthesiser work on it which sounds a little dated today.  It's a carefully prepared and delicate musical track, with its impassioned vocal and fairly mysterious lyrics. Some people have described it as "plodding" but I really like it.  

The last three tracks are my favourites. Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession, Hungry for Your Love and Take It Where You Find It are fantastic evocative tracks. 

Track 7 is Santa Fe\Beautiful Obsession which is a slow, mellow R&B number in traditional Van style with a little country twist that hearkens back to Tupelo Honey. It is a riveting ballad with self-referential lyrics (“see the cowboy ride”).  The Blues guitar is under stated but perfect.  The transition to Beautiful Obsession is the casual conclusion of the journey to Sante Fe.  

Track 8 is Hungry for your Love.  It is one of those raw, natural love songs that Van churns out each album.  A great track.  

The final track is Take it Where you find it.   It opens with a rolling snare and a mellow marching melody.  Musically and vocally the song is very strong and hints at more eccentric explorations to come on later albums.  It's a brilliant song and is a quietly epic love letter to America.

Overall it's a deceptively strong album.  It seems to take a little while to get going even though the earlier tracks are the most commercial.  The later tracks have the gold.  Garth Hudson from The Band appears on three tracks (Kingdom Hall, Venice U.S.A., and Take It Where You Find It), and Jackie DeShannon co-wrote Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession.  

Side One
  1. "Kingdom Hall" - 5:59
  2. "Checkin' It Out" - 3:29
  3. "Natalia" - 4:04
  4. "Venice U.S.A." - 6:32
  5. "Lifetimes" - 4:15

 Side Two

  1. "Wavelength" -5:44
  2. "Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession" (Jackie De Shannon/Morrison) - 7:04
  3. "Hungry for Your Love" - 3:45
  4. "Take It Where You Find It" - 8:40

Monday, 9 January 2012

5 Van Interviews

I'm fascinated by interviews with Van Morrison.  At the worst of times he has verbally abused interviewers and stormed out.  At his best he offers some interesting insights into his music.  As an interview subject he's always somewhat of a contrarian.  The interviewers know to always be aphrehensive when they're dealing with a subject who'll say "why interview me about my work?  Do you interview a plumber?" and who'll always bristle at any question that mentions his private life.  Of course, it's all a bit hypocritical.  The price of fame is that people want to know all about you and Van isn't the only one who suffers in this way.  In fact, he suffers least.  His photo isn't prized by the paparazzi like many other well known entertainers.  He isn't chased down the street by hordes of admiring fans.  Overall he's done amazingly well.  How can it be that this working class Belfast boy who left school at 14 command such a presence and reputation on the music scene?   How could it be that Hyndford Street in East Belfast spawned such a musical genius as Van?   It's impossible but it's true. 


Here are some sites which contain interesting Van interviews. 


  1.  Rock's Back Pages Library has a lot of reviews and interviews about Van.  It's a fantastic site.  No need to thank me if you've never heard of this site.  Just enjoy all the Van stuff. 




  2,  van-the-man.info site is Michael Hayward's old site preserved somewhere else.  Looks like a few people cached the site to preserve it at various places around the internet.  A number of great interviews exist here but all this stuff may go one day.  Preserved sites like this often don't last.  Already some of the links don't work and the whole thing only goes up to 2008 when it stopped. 

  3.  The Los Angeles Times from October 31, 2008 included an interview mainly about the new interpretation of Astral Weeks.  It was titled "Van Morrison's full Q&A on Astral Weeks".  For the interview Van responded by e-mail to questions from Times staff writer Randy Lewis. 

  4.  Paul du Noyer's site has several interviews of Van including the infamous Spike Milligan interview that appeared in Q magazine. 

  5.  Cameron Crowe's interview appeared in the May 19, 1977 edition of Rolling Stone. 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Cover or Original?

 
    Vs







Cover vs Original is an interesting site that allows visitors to vote on which version of a song they like best, the cover or the original. Which do you like better, Rod Stewart's version of Have I Told You Lately or Van's original?  More than 77%  of people prefer Van's.  The other 22% were members of Rod's extended family.  

Some comments by visitors to the site:

The song was written by Scotty Wiseman, published in 1945 and became a country hit. It was covered by at least 25 major recording artists over the years, including Van Morrison and Rod Stewart.
- Allan, Paisley, Scotland, 16.04.2010

I am a HUGE Rod Stewart fan but have to say Van's version ruled in this 'battle'. By quite some margin. Simply awesome.

- Matt, London, England, 17.11.2008

Strange, Van Morrison wrote it ? This song was already recorded in the '50 by Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran and many others. Still think the Rod Stewart version is the BEST!
 -
Nikitia, The Netherlands 31.08.2008

 This song breaks my heart every time l hear it,it was one of the songs at my beautiful brothers funeral,cant ever stop listening to it,van is the man to sing it,Rod Stewart kills it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Jo, Liverpool, England, 14.02.2008

I think Hank Williams Sr. sung it best. Next best was Sissy Spacek, in "Coal Miner's Daughter.

- Lu, Philly, United States, 22.03.2007

The site even pits the Astral Weeks version of Cyprus Avenue against the It's Too Late to Stop Now live version.  Get on the site and vote for the Van songs.  You can even tell the site about other original songs and their covers.  These then become "voteable".   

Thursday, 5 January 2012

10 More Quotes about Van Morrison

Author Andrea Kayne Kaufmann

 11.   Author Andrea Kayne Kaufmann  -  "Ever since I discovered Van Morrison’s Moondance album in seventh grade, I have been hooked. For me, he is the ultimate poet, whose lyrics always transcend and transport me to a better place."

  12.  Personal Assistant to Van, Siobahn McGowan  -  "I really loved it.  He was really straight and ethical.  Some people might find him difficult to handle, but I didn't. 

  13.  Longtime Van musician  -  "He records everything from the minute you start; there's plenty of bloody pressure with Van! Sometimes he just sits with a guitar and starts singing. We'll start playing along and when he finishes that's it - that's the take. I wish it could always be like that. It really is a buzz, because there's no hiding place."

  14.  Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood  -  "Many years ago I played with Van Morrison and he's been one of my favourite artistes ever since."

  15.  Actor Ciaran Hinds  -  "My favourite records are all by Van Morrison... Van is the Man; his music is my muse, the conduit between my ordinary, ho-hum consciousness and, to quote him, my 'sense of wonder'." 

  16.  Singer Cissy Huston  -  "Van was a very strange person.  Not particularly friendly, kind of shy and withdrawn.  But when he started getting in front of the mike and singing, it was great."

   17.  Musician Eddie Reeves  -  "I met Van sometime in the mid-1970s at the Rainbow Bar & Grill located next to the Roxy theatre on Sunset Blvd.  I told him I was aware that he had recorded my song (Don't Change on Me) and I thanked him for doing so.  He asked me if I was still writing songs and I told him I wasn't.  He asked me what I was doing and i told him I was now a music publisher.  He said, 'Oh, if you can't lick 'em, join 'em."

  18.  Musician Mike Scott  -  "I was at a dinner party once and Van was there.  Someone produced a guitar and asked him to do song.  He said, "Mike, you play the piano - you know 'Madam George'?"  I wished I'd said no, because the piano was out of tune, the sustain pedal wasn't working.  It was like a weird dream playing with Van Morrison and the piano wouldn't work."

 19.  Elvis Costello  -  "I think of Van Morrison as someone with a definite style.  He can cast a song in the ballad mode and you know the contours of it and yet it's still an original song."

  20.  Bill Clinton  -  "Van Morrison's music continues to inspire people seeking to end the violence..."

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Van Morrison Looks Like Christopher Hitchins

Alex Baldman in his "Shouts from the Stoop" blog includes two photos as evidence for his claim that Van Morrison looked like famous atheist Christopher Hitchins.  (Although Christopher Hitchins' appearance was dramatically changed through his battle with a life-threatening illness.  He succombed to cancer in December.  Interestingly this leading light of the cause of atheism said in the latter months of his disease that any life after death "would be a bonus".  Rather detracts from the atheist cause.  Van's appearence, too, has been changed by several decades more of life and a few pounds extra in weight.)

Here's the evidence if you're interested in such foolishness. 


Sunday, 1 January 2012

Celtic Soul - Part 2


Celtic Soul are a must-see band for all Van fans.  These guys are really good as their clips reveal.  You can check out some of their performance clips on youtube or from their website.  You can also get more information about the band from their facebook page.   (But careful, there's at least one other Celtic Soul doing their thing.) 

After I wrote about Celtic Soul a couple of months ago I was thrilled to receive an email from one of the band members Clarke Wilson which added to my store of knowledge about the band.  We've exchanged a few emails and I have to say he's a likable guy and any Van fan would appreciate what he's trying to do with the band.   

They are Belfast-based with six core musicians.  Clarke Wilson is on sax and vocals, Ray McEvoy on electric guitar, Mike Crockard on bass, Rik Gay on drums and Keith Ward on keyboards, augmented from time to time by Gerry McClurg on trumpet. Celtic Soul are simply about both Van and his music.  They have finished recording their promotional DVD with 5 or 6 tracks and an interview about themselves and the basis of the tribute which should be out soon.  

The whole band concept is a project they have been working on for a while.  All of the members are of an age where they grew up with the sounds of Morrison, but also appreciate the musicality within his work.  Their musical backgrounds span rock, blues, folk and jazz, and give a wealth of experience to recreating the sounds of Van.


Whilst tribute bands are pretty popular at the minute, Celtic Soul see themselves more as a ‘band tribute’, not just churning out the better known material but taking a chronological look at his material from Astral Weeks, and even further back to Them, up to the more modern works which rely heavily on great arrangement, and a reasonable standard of playing.

If you're living in Northern Ireland what about supporting one of their 2012 gigs?  The details are as follows, but check their website for updated info:  


(Fri)  February 10, 2012  -  Donaghadee Golf Club

(Sat)  February 11, 2012  -  Scrabo Golf Club

(Fri)  June 29, 2012  -  Killyleagh Castle