Bill Ryder Jones, getting loud in a library
St Helens Central Library is not a building I’d typically find myself in on a Friday night but last weekend was different. ‘Get Loud in Libraries’ put on gigs in…….libraries – in this case, with our very own Bill Ryder Jones.
Friday’s was a different experience to any show I’ve been to before. The librarians there were sweet and giddy, excited to be looking after so many people in their house of books after dark, tickled to have Ryder Jones and his band. It’s a rare thing to be given a welcome warmed with such smiles as I walk into a gig. I’m used to being nodded at and counted, door security clicking me in, and feeling like I’m right in the middle of a Scott Walker song – “Next! You’re NEXT!” – then getting my handbag checked for smuggled in vodka (or so I’m guessing).
On Friday the librarians ushered us in, gently, and put on a really lovely night. Libraries bring with them a respectful silence, so we heard songs from the new album West Kirby County Primary in peace, plus an older selection from 2013’s A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart, and one song written so recently it was too late to win a place on the new record. Bill Ryder Jones excels in making the ordinary extraordinary; I love his observations on life and the things around him. The show at St Helens Central Library was a beautiful night; well done to Get Loud In Libraries and library staff for gifting the most memorable evening for ages. Total class.
(Photograph of Bill Ryder Jones courtesy of Get It Loud In Libraries Young Digital Producers)
Get Loud In Libraries schedule gigs all year round, check their website for a unique experience: http://www.getitloudinlibraries.com/
West Kirby County Primary by Bill Ryder Jones is released on Friday 6th November on Domino. He plays The District in Liverpool on 19th December.
A Celebration of The Songs of Phil Ochs
To me Phil Ochs is one of the finest storytellers the US has ever produced. As a protest singer he documented the 1960s civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements wittily and abrasively, cleverly; he released the first pop and world music hybrid record Bwatue / Niko Mchumba Ngombe in 1973, over a decade before Paul Simon’s Graceland album in 1986. Ochs did all this and more, yet is omitted from accounts of great American song writing so I’m so glad Liverpool is putting a celebration of his work this week. Phil Ochs would have been 75 years old in December had he not taken his own life back in 1976 due to alcoholism and bi-polar disorder; and suitably the Liverpool event is to raise money for CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably – a brilliant charity helping young men who struggle with mental health problems and depression.
A Celebration of The Songs of Phil Ochs, 81 Renshaw Street. Sat 7th November. £3 OTD. The first twenty people through the door get a free Phil Ochs zine, which includes an article about Phil written by me. Donations are accepted for the zine, if you can afford it; everything collected goes to CALM.