Catweazle at 25

A huge honour to be asked to play at Catweazle’s 25th birthday yesterday. It’s been just over 11 years since I first tiptoed into the East Oxford Community Centre of a Thursday evening, and – as readers well know – the night has had a formative for me ever since. I like that one of my biggest musical influences is not actually a band but a group of performers whose stuff actually has very little in common; Ed Pope’s thundering Peake recitations, the blues of Patti Dale, Sam Taplin’s frenetic piano, Ditte Elly’s tender folk, and of course the sub-Beatles croonfest that is Matt Sage. These are the names of titans, but even in naming them I miss my own point – Catweazle is really the random guy who comes in and does a single, memorable, insane song and then vanishes. Even when they did stuff I didn’t particularly like, these people played a huge part in teaching me what’s important about music, and life, and the advisibility of live amplification. They still do.

I was a bit sad last night at how few people I knew were in the crowd and onstage. I left Oxford in 2010, and although I’ve kept up regular visits the core of people I knew in that fine town have begun to disperse – Catweazle 25 had a lot of people from the Old Days (ie before my time) and a lot of more recent arrivals who I haven’t had a chance to get to know yet (late Thursday working, alas alack etc). But after 24hrs of reflection, of course it’s good really – I have new names to google and new music to get to know! Which is how it should be.

Yes, my dog did a stage invasion. No, it wasn’t on purpose. Yes, I’m doing a whole album of songs for her. No, it won’t be out for ages. Yes, life is for living.

Thanks to Rosie for the photo!

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