Come to Ealing: tons of live music in a park for £1

Ealing Summer is one of the great annual events in this borough. If you’ve not been here yet this year you’ve already missed the comedy and opera nights. In September you can catch the Literary Festival.

But starting tomorrow are the popular music events in Walpole Park. If you’ve got nothing good on this weekend, take the Central Line out west, sit in the park (or stay in the tents if it’s raining), and have a listen.

Tomorrow, Saturday 19-July, from 2pm to 10:30pm, is the Blues Festival. There are two stages to choose from, with acts like The Dani Wilde Band, Funkdory, Amrit Sond and clapalong favourites The Guv’nors. Check the link for a full list. And you can stay all day for just £1 (kids under 12 get in free).

On Sunday 20-July it’s the Global Festival. Once again there are two stages of music from 2pm until 10:30pm, with Radio Revolución, Zywiec (what, the Polish beer?), BOSforUS, Discipulos De Otilia, and plenty more.  Once again: you can get in for just £1.

Then from Wednesday 23-July to Sunday 27-July you get the Jazz Festival. Every weekday evening (and all afternoon too on the weekends) you get two stages of live music. Check the link because they start at different times each night. As before, each night is only £1.

There’s a lot of tunes there for very little cash. The park is a nice setting, and not too big. As for all these things there’s always lots of beer and food on sale inside.

And put 10-August in your calendar, because that’s the London Mela: a massive and excellent celebration of south Asian music, food, and culture.

Photo from Paul Robinson via Creative Commons license

Don’t Let Your Chance Go By

Dan sent me a link overnight to some sad news: Canadian guitar whiz Jeff Healey has died from cancer at the age of 41.

In 1988 I was between my first and second years at university. Like anyone else in their late teens I was heavily into exploring new music, especially the favourite music of all the other students I was living with and attending classes with. Someone got me listening to Jimi Hendrix, and, well, that was that. I heard something inside his psychedelic rock sounds – supporting those sounds, really – that moved me. At around the same time, during one of my last summers home working on the farm, my dad bought a Stevie Ray Vaughan album, Texas Flood. That two-pronged attack made me realise: I loved the blues. Suddenly, my appreciation for ZZ Top and George Thorogood made a lot more sense.

Shortly afterwards, back at university, I saw a music video for a Canadian blues-rock trio called the Jeff Healey Band. Healey, the guitarist, was amazing. Even more amazing was that he was blind, and played his guitar while it sat flat in his lap. I bought his first album, See The Light.

This isn’t going to turn into a story about how Jeff Healey changed my life. He didn’t. He was not the most original songwriter, and the big hits off that first album were “Angel Eyes” (a John Hiatt cover) and “Blue Jean Blues” (a ZZ Top cover). He was a phenomenal guitarist, though, and his songs were light and fun if nothing else. You could tell he had a love for the roots of music.

I saw the Jeff Healey Band perform live twice, and they were very good, as all blues-boogie stuff is better live and unproduced. Healey himself would get up and jump all around the stage, hopping blindly with his guitar held to his lap, lost in his solos. I followed his pursuits for a couple of years, and bought his next two albums,Hell To Pay (which had a very good cover of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”) and Feel This (which I actually have an autographed copy of – I bet that’s suddenly worth something). I even smiled when I saw Healey and his band play opposite Patrick Swayze in one of my favourite worst movies ever, Road House (which has a couple of the band’s cuts on the soundtrack).

I lost track of Healey after a couple of years, although I knew that he’d gone back to the roots music he loved by hosting a Toronto radio jazz programme. I thought that was a pretty cool thing.

I didn’t know that he was ill, but the article says that he’d been fighting cancer for a while. It’s too bad that he died so young.

Some YouTube videos: