Happy John Martyn day first of all. John would have turned 65 today.
There are plenty of presents available this year. The sampler Sweet Little Mystery; serving as a warming up for the massive Island Years box set. And as a byproduct the vinyl edition of the 1972 concert Live At The Hanging Lamp.
I have lots of thoughts about these releases but I the main thing is that John's legacy remains available.
The box set contains a lot of interesting material but also quite a bit more of albums we already own in several versions.
We will give it a spin when the ship comes running up the harbour.
The tour program counts 12 pages and contains mainly interview and review quotes about John, a discography and short biographies of the band members. It was compiled by Chas Keep who has vivid memories of the project (see bottom).
It's been four years now and the world nor the music business have become any better.
So please would You give us Big John back. We know You don't like music anyway and the man never meant any harm to anybody.
Over the past years this site has seen many engine upgrades. This time it got a new car... In the background there is a new platform running that is more flexible and future proof than the old one. One thing you might notice is the new location of the search bar. There might be the odd image not being visible any more but on the whole functionality has been preserved. Enjoy and contribute, as always.
This is to wish you all a good new year. Johnwise it is going to be a challenging one.
It is clear from YouTube, Facebook and Twitter response that John's music is still appealing to new fans around the globe. On the other hand CD sales have been in decline for a few years now. Most collectors are looking for rare items in Ebay, and often find vinyl originals that still pop up every now and then. Others download recordings from YouTube or some torrent site. The estate does not make any money from that..
From a business point of view the Tribute Festival of 2012 in Thomastown was not as successful as it should have been. This must have been caused at least partly by the ongoing crisis. So we will look eagerly to this year's plans.
Of course this site will continue to expand. Technically I am preparing for a major -and I mean major- update that requires some heavy lifting. In the mean time you can always stay up to date following the @bigmuffsite Twitter account.
Keep spreading the news: John Martyn deserves it. Both in Heaven as it is on Earth.
The second John Martyn Tribute Festival to be held at Thomastown the weekend of 15 and 16 September promises to be a highly interesting event. Organiser Eva Lynch has been quite busy putting names and places together. The program stretches over three days and tickets (25 euro) are available online through ticketmaster here. My advice is to buy a weekend ticket in Ireland for 40 euro; in this way you save 10 euro and you get a lot more fun. There are free concerts too in various places.
The interesting bit is that the original John Martyn band is going to be playing again. Not only with Spencer Cozens but also with Foster Paterson and Martin Winning on saxophone. The concerts take place in the beer garden of Bill Carroll's bar. He has placed a marquee that should be able to shelter 700 people at a time. A dedicated Facebook page has been set up: www.facebook.com/thejohnmartyntributefestival
The weekend tickets are available until 12th September only and can be purchased from Rollercoaster Records, Kilkenny and from Carroll's Bar, Thomastown. Bill Carroll by the way is a huge fan and has a unique dedicated wooden John Martyn seat you should not forget to take a look at.
Glen Veness has posted another JM at Hastings video, this time from 1992. It starts with John visiting the Lord Nelson pub. Then he plays Big Muff on a free beach concert. With a band, of whom we recognize John Giblin on bass and Spencer Cozens on keyboards. The saxophone player is probably Jerry Underwood and Jeff Allen the most likely candidate for drummer. It was a charity gig for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
The audience (especially the dancing children) are as amusing as the music. The date remains a mystery, as with the 1991 Big Muff video. I have an August 1992 reference to a free beach concert in the giglist but apparently that had been cancelled. So we have another sweet little mystery to solve.
We all know John will not be forgotten by his fans. Some people make an effort to enhance the memory further.
Some people are trying to put a blue plaque above the door of the house John used to live in during the Hampstead period. They are still thinking about which house would be best: Pilgrims Place or Denning Road. Bob Cunningham writes: "There is no rush as the earliest a plaque can be put up is Jan 29th 2019. There is a 10 year gap period. Personally, I think the Blue Plaques are a long lasting tribute to people who lived in London; and JM probably wrote Solid Air while living in Hampstead." So we will have to wait some more.
Jim McKnight, who knew John well, got another idea. He had this plaque made and installed in the Scotia Bar, Glasgow on 18 February 2012. "It is placed under Hamish Imlach's, which has been on the wall since Hamish died, as Hamish was John's mentor." Nice touch.
The Scotia Bar (established 1792) is the oldest pub in Glasgow; 112-114 Stockwell Street.
A film by Lyn & Eleanor McMullan featuring John Martyn
Along with interviews, rehearsal footage and a bonus track (Sergeant, Sergeant).
About half of the material on this DVD is unreleased. A lot of stuff is familiar from the Tell Them video, however much of the behind the scenes and impromptu rehearsal footage of the original VHS tape has been deleted.
Every once in a while some unique material pops up on YouTube.
This clip was published by Glenn Veness and features live footage of a spontaneous beach concert that took place in Hastings in 1991 so during the Cooltide era. I don't have an exact date, yet.
Glenn: "John was drinking in the Lord Nelson with the fishermen when, after a few drinks, they talked him into playing on the beach. He played all afternoon for free, and went round with a wellington boot collecting money for local charities. This is a great track from that afternoon called Big Muff."
The intro is hilarious.
Well ya bunch of English bastards. Riight ya want me tae be mair Scottish, is that whit ya wan? A''rrrriiiiight pal, yooouv'e goot it...
Also it is highly amusing to see women and children dancing to the rather unorthodox rhythms produced with the echoplex.
Michael Eavis is famous for having founded the Glastonbury festival. He is 75 years of age now but still active in organising the event. When asked about his memories he comes up with a surprising favourite act. We quote from the website This Is Somerset:
Virtually every major rock act has played Worthy Farm, apart from the Rolling Stones, and Mr Eavis is confident of booking them one day. But few would guess his personal favourite was the late John Martyn, the singer-songwriter who played in 1979.
"He was so good, it brought tears to my eyes. The world would not think that was the major thing at the festival, but to me it was. Then there were The Smiths, Oasis and Radiohead. And T-Rex, who replaced The Kinks at the first festival, was one of the best ever."
Good to read this and thanx to John Neil Munro who discovered it. Read the whole story here.