Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Mimic Man and other holiday 'classics'

Have I mentioned yet that I’m a World Record Holder?  No? Blimey, how have I managed to keep that quiet?!  

You’d think, as a new Blogger, that would be the first thing mentioned in the first ever blog post to really grab people’s attention.  So, why haven’t I mentioned this before?  Well, it’s because my World Record is a bit rubbish.

I admit I’m no Usain Bolt – evidence of this is when I pulled my hamstring in the dads’ race at DD1’s Sports Day a couple of months ago – no, I am a World Record Holder in dancing with 300 other people (they were work colleagues, by the way, not a bunch of randoms brought together in some sick X-Factor type stunt!) to “Superman” by Black Lace whilst wearing 80’s gear.  I bet you’re so impressed, aren’t you?!!  It was for charity though which makes it a lot more credible.

Anyway, it is Black Lace, rather than my amazing world record, which has influenced this post.
The family and I went on holiday to Majorca in June.  It was our first trip abroad as a foursome and we had a bloody great time, thank you very much.  Anyway, one of the reasons for this was due to the excellent children’s entertainment that was on offer at the hotel – DD2 wasn’t that bothered as she was only about 7 months old at the time, however, 4 year old DD1 was in Heaven! 

Every night they had a Mini Disco at about 7pm and 11pm and during the day they had numerous activities e.g. mask making, swimming pool games, more mini discos and the odd dance off by the side of the pool – it was impossible for the kids to get bored.

Even for the adults, they had a Beatles tribute band, a Take That tribute band, a Glee night, a bloke singing various stuff, a bloke playing various stuff on guitar, it was brilliant and the kids loved these too.  But it was the Mini Disco that really stood out for me and this is where ‘The Mimic Man’ comes in…

The Mini Disco always consisted of between 5 and 7 of the child entertainers dancing on stage in front of their numerous, idolising fans (of which I was one).  Some of the songs they sang / mimed to were the obvious holiday ones - the ‘Cha Cha Slide’ by DJ Casper, ‘Follow the Leader’ by The Soca Boys and ‘Agadoo’ by you know who.  A couple of new songs I’d never heard before were one that went ‘Sunshine for me, sunshine for you, sun is shining everybody feels alright’, not quite up to Ivor Novello songwriting standards but still quite catchy and another called ‘Chu Chua’ a Spanish song originally sung by a clown called Pinon Fijo which is bloody catchy and was probably my favourite song of the holiday.  It must have been on the fourth night though when we were introduced to ‘The Mimic Man’ (don’t worry, we’re nearly there!)

If you haven’t already heard it, ‘The Mimic Man’ is a version of Black Lace’s (yep they’ve cropped up yet again in this blog post!) ‘The Music Man’.  It ‘mimics’ everyone from Tommy Cooper to Victor Meldrew via Michael Barrymore – go on YouTube and have a listen, just be warned that you’ll never get the 5 minutes back though.  Even if you just skip to the Frank Spencer bit – it goes “ooh Betty, ooh that’s nice” - it’ll be worth it.  I guarantee that you have never heard or will never hear anything like it again.  Oh and don’t stop there, find a website which shows the moves and dance away.  Get all the family in the room and dance together.  The moves are classic, I’ve no idea where the Frank Spencer one came from, and I can’t even describe it to you, it’s that unique.  But once you do bust that move you will never forget how to. 
This was the last song we danced to on holiday until about 11.30pm on the last night.  My wife recorded DD1 (who was on my shoulders) and I dancing to it and it brings back some great memories when we watch it.  Can’t wait until DD2 grows up so we can do it all over again…

N.B. Please note that, despite the positivity shown in this post, musodad does not promote the use of Black Lace in everyday life (on holiday you can get away with it though).  

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Learning to Uke - Re-released with exclusive live track

"I am the Music Man, I come from down your way and I can play..."

("What can you play?...")

"Well, I know three chords on the guitar, erm...I did have a few ukulele lessons in the Autumn but I haven't picked it up since to be honest. Oh and I play tambourine when we go karaoke"

("So you're not really "The Music Man" at all are you?")

", I'm not"

("Come on lads, we're wasting our time here. Let's go round @daddacool's house, he's much more talented")

So there you have it, I confess, I haven't really been keeping up with my uke playing. However, I wanted to re-release this blog post as an exclusive to readers of Love Music Blogs to show you what could have been (one day I might be known as the 'Pete Best' of ukulele players).

So, please sit back, re-read my original 'Learning to Uke' blog post, and then enjoy yours truly performing 'Jolene' at his final ukulele lesson. You have a 2 in 6 chance of guessing which one is me in the video.

The original post was...

My mate Dom has inspired me to learn the ukulele.  I used to ‘play’ acoustic guitar but never really made it past 3 chords and there’s only so many Status Quo songs you can play (not that I ever did, mind, it’s just a figure of speech).  When I first started going out with my wife I even knew how to play “Live Forever” by Oasis.  The first time she met my parents I took her up to my old room and serenaded her with this song (which must have been a bit weird for her!), now I’m limited to plucking away at a much tinier, poorly tuned, instrument most nights.  She even asked me to stop playing the other night because of the din.  I blamed the new tuner I had bought at the weekend and it was only when I got to my lesson last night that my teacher told me I had it on the guitar setting.  Things can only get better…
Last night was my second ukulele lesson and I am absolutely loving it.  We got to play “Jolene” (this is going to be our group song after the 4 lessons and we are going to be filmed and uploaded to YouTube, so I really need to nail this one), “500 Miles” and even finished with a resounding “YMCA”.  DD1 loves that song and I have promised to play it to her when she gets back from school tomorrow (at least my uke will be properly tuned by then!)
For any parents wanting to learn an instrument, I recommend it.  My acoustic guitar is still in our loft, and I will get it down one day, but ukuleles are so much easier to transport and store - we have a tiny house already, and it’s got even smaller with the arrival of DD2.  It just hangs out on the stairs most nights and you wouldn’t even know it was there (that’s the uke, not DD2!)
When I first signed up to the lessons – Dom tried to get me along to the ones he was taking earlier in the year but DD2 was still too young and the timing wasn’t right – Eddie Vedder, the Pearl Jam singer, brought out an album of ukulele songs imaginatively titled ”Ukulele Songs”.  It’s only now that I’ve started listening to it intently.  It is brilliant and I’m looking forward to be able to play some of the songs soon (although there’s a lot of finger picking involved in some of the songs and I won’t be at that level for quite some time yet).   The song “Sleepless Nights” was my ‘Song of the day’ yesterday and has been added to the musodad Spotify playlist.  DD2 woke up early on Tuesday morning and that, combined with the fact that I had a lesson yesterday, inspired my choice.
Anyone else wanting to learn, the web address of the company that runs the lessons is and I highly recommend them. Go on, get involved, you know you want to…

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The musodad Spotify Playlist

Being a Spotify addict, there was no way I was going to write a Music Blog and not collate a Spotify playlist to run alongside it.  I've always loved building compilations.  I've still got so many cassettes in the loft which I started putting together from the age of about 14 - the only thing is I've got nothing to play them on now!

What I've decided to do in this case is nominate a musodad 'Song of the day' which will go straight onto the playlist for your listening pleasure.  The playlist will be available here - The musodad playlist

The first Song of the day is "Cigarettes in the Theatre" by Two Door Cinema Club.  It could have so easily been one of the other songs I heard in various High Street shops (see my last Blog post) over the weekend, however, given my poorly DD2 seemed to perk up when I played her the Irish trio's album yesterday, it's them who get my vote.

Oh and before I go, I'd like to dedicate this post to Terry Winstanley who appeared on X Factor tonight.  I have to admit that X Factor is a bit of a Guilty Pleasure of mine and what really stood out for me, when Terry was interviewed, was that he said he "lost touch with music after his children were born".  I, of course, can relate to that and now one of us is off to Boot Camp and another is writing a Blog about it.  Even though I doubt you'll ever read this, Terry - good luck...

When did High Street shops start playing such great music?

The family and I went to Hitchin for the first time yesterday.  It's a lovely market town about 30 minutes from Hertford and we'll definitely be returning in the future.  Hertford is pretty rubbish for men's clothes shops (we have a very expensive one, the name of which escapes me now, and a Matalan) so it was quite refreshing going somewhere with a White Stuff, a Fat Face and a Next. 

It was lunchtime when we got there and the threat of rain made us duck into the first cafe we came across which was was a Greggs.  While I fed DD2, my wife queued up with DD1 to get our food and then something extraordinary happened - "Anarchy in the UK" came over on the loud speaker.  It was the start of a very interesting weekend's worth of cool High Street shop music.

After I'd picked up a ukulele tuner from a music shop (strange, but I don't actually remember them playing any music in there!), we headed to Next where the first song on the loud speaker was "Undertow" by Warpaint.  The album is one of my favourites of the year so far and after hearing it I was already looking forward to what would be playing in the next shop we went in (yep, I am that sad!)

Fat Face delivered as well when Two Door Cinema Club's "Cigarettes in the Theatre" started playing.  A great song that always reminds me of the Hertford Theatre.  Even though you can't smoke in there, you can take beers in - even those purchased from outside, which is nice.  When we got home, my wife took DD1 off to a birthday party so I had some bonding time with poorly DD2.  I put on "Tourist History", another great album, and I think she liked it - and it probably made her feel a lot better.  You can tell these things even if they are only 10 months old!

The rest of the shops must have had broken sound systems that day as I don't recall hearing anything else of note which is disappointing after such a fantastic start.  However, a trip into Hertford today proved it wasn't a one off. 

I popped into Card Factory (if you don't know it, it's THE place for bargain birthday cards) and straight away "You are a Tourist" by Death Cab for Cutie came on.  My faith was restored and I eagerly await our next High Street shopping trip...

Saturday, 17 September 2011

What inspired me to start writing 'musodad'...

My eldest daughter (Darling Daughter 1 or DD1) was born in March 2007.  It was the first of the 3 happiest days of my life.  The second was the day I married my gorgeous wife in 2008 and the third was the day our second daughter (Darling Daughter 2 or DD2) was born in 2010.  However, the time after DD1's birth is really what inspired me to start writing this Blog as it was around that time that I starting losing touch with what was happening in the world of music.

I love music, it is a huge passion of mine and in their short lifetimes I've already seen this rub off on my children (DD1 especially, given she's a few years older than DD2).  However, after she was born our focus was 100% on her (as, of course, it should have been) and reading about new up and coming bands in the Radar section of NME week in week out went down massively in my list of priorities.  Of course, the opportunities to discover new music were still there - we still had MTV and You Tube was getting bigger and bigger every day but I neither had the time, or energy, to invest much effort into watching these. 

Anyway, everything came to a head when DD1 was about six months old.  My friend Tom, over from Australia, asked me which music I was listening to at the moment and whether I had any recommendations for him to take back Down Under.  For the first time in years I couldn't answer and I had to admit that over the last few months I'd been mostly listening to "The Wheels on the bus" and other popular childrens' songs.  Then, around the time of their Mercury Music Prize win, my friend Chris told me how good Elbow's "The Seldom Seen Kid" was.  I'd loved Elbow's first three albums but this one had passed me by - how could I have let this happen?!  Well, the answer to that was obvious but I decided that day that things were going to change.  Of course, I wasn't going to start neglecting DD1 - missing our bonding time at bed time by going to see new bands every night at the Bar Fly - or anything like that.  I've always made sure, when I'm back from work in time, that it's me who reads her a bed time story and this was never going to change.  But what I did do was make sure I started reading up on new bands a lot more - by buying NME again every week, for example - and treating myself to the odd bit of new music here and there.

Around this time as well, my wife and I found out about some pretty good kids' music, that wasn't limited to nursery rhymes (I'm not saying nursery rhymes aren't 'good' but you know what I mean!) - step forward They Might Be Giants.  Yep, the band that gave us the brilliant 'Birdhouse in your Soul' all those years ago have recently released a number of albums aimed at kids.  Our, or should I say DD1's, two favourites are 'Here Come the ABCs' and 'Here Come the 123s'.  They are absolutely brilliant albums, really catchy, and my wife and I must know every word to every song.  They are the kind of albums you don't mind listening to in the car as they aimed at adults as much as children - they are just musically brilliant (overuse of the word 'brilliant' in the last few sentences, I know!)  Since then the two Yo Gabba Gabba albums, Music is Awesome 1 and 2, featuring such great bands as The Shins, Weezer and MGMT, are the only kids' albums which have come close to touching these.  STOP PRESS - on searching for these albums a second ago, I've just found out there's a Volume 3 featuring The Killers- I can't believe DD1 hasn't told me about that!!!

Not much longer after that, everything changed.  The catalyst for this was a new online music streaming website.  I soon became a Spotify addict! 

If Spotify had existed the day DD1 was born in March 2007 I might not have been inspired to write this Blog now - it would have been a lot easier to discover new music back then had it been.  However, as I am really excited about finally having a reason to become a Blogger at the age of 36, deep down I'm glad it wasn't.  Spotify is now a part of my daily life.  I am a Premium member and listen to it on my iPhone to and from work every day.  DD1 has her own 'Mini Disco' playlist, featuring most of the They Might Be Giants kids' albums as well as such classics as 'Rockin' Robin', 'One Day Like This' and 'Never Forget'.  The Yo Gabba Gabba albums aren't on there yet unfortunately.  As part of my Blog I am even going to start a 'musodad playlist' that I will make available on here and will add to regularly for your listening pleasure - I bet you can't wait!!

Anyway, I've been waffling on for quite a while now - it's my first entry so please forgive me.  Before I sign off for today though I wanted to explain why I am starting this blog.  Well, firstly to help parents in the same situation as I was.  When you become a parent for the first time your life changes massively and you, rightly so, have to make some sacrifices.  There are a lot of things that matter a lot more than you discovering 'The Next Big Thing' before your mates, and having bands 'only you are allowed to love' before they become famous.  At this point you either go down the 'I knew about these before everyone else but still love them all the same' route or the 'they're too famous now so i don't like them anymore' (aka 'they've sold out!') route.  Secondly, as I said before, I love music and I just want to write about my passion and tell other people about it.

Finally, I'd just like to mention my wife.  She's the love of my life, my soul mate and music (as well as our mutual love of Arsenal Football Club - but I'd rather not talk about them at the moment for obvious reasons!) was one of the main things that brought us together and made us such good friends before we got together.  I still remember her having 'Nothern Lites' by Super Furry Animals as her ringtone when we first met which made me think she was 'pretty bloody cool'.  10 years on, the other week we went to see Pulp and The Drums together in the same week.  How times have changed since 2007...

So, as well as my kids, I'm writing this Blog for her and I'm sure she'll crop up many times within it in the future.  You never know, it might even inspire her to become 'musomum'...