Rock music, History, Environment and Animals

Lizard straddling the strings and pick-ups of a Fender Stratocaster Sunburst solid bodied electric guitar
Lizard straddling the strings and pick-ups of a Fender Stratocaster Sunburst solid bodied electric guitar
Image by Scottslm via Pixabay

Hi. I’m British, an average guitar player, who has an interest in music, nature, wildlife, steam locomotives, and history. My weakness is a liking for Real Ale. If I could I’d invite you across for a drink, a chat, and put the world to rights. In the meantime you can check out more about me here, or browse my current portfolio below.

Pets

History

Environment

Rock Music


From Bombsites to Rock and Roll

Lizard straddling the strings and pick-ups of a Fender Stratocaster Sunburst solid bodied electric guitar
Lizard straddling the strings and pick-ups of a Fender Stratocaster Sunburst solid bodied electric guitar
Image by Scottslm via Pixabay

I live in a small English seaside town a few minutes walk from the beach, in an area many describe as ‘the back of beyond’. It suits me now, the relative quiet and easy pace of life, whereas at one time I much preferred the hustle and bustle of city life.

I was born in the 1950s in a city which, during World War II, was the second most bombed in the UK after London, with 95% housing damage. Of course, I wasn’t alive for that, but as a child I did play among the bomb sites, while in the…


My Five Favourite Riff Stories

Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

Noah Levy, who likes ‘all things music’, asked me to kick off a new series, to write about my five favorite Riff pieces, and why I chose them. No pressure then! Out of the many writers on The Riff, how do I whittle down a list to just five that made an impact on me? It was a challenge, so picking up the gauntlet Noah has thrown down, I came up with these five.

Kevin AlexanderThis Week’s Heavy Rotation #16

Having joined Medium in early 2021, one of the first things I discovered on The Riff was Kevin Alexander’s ‘Heavy Rotation’ programme.

The image immediately grabs…


How 1940s British Foreign Policy ‘Bevin-grad’ is remembered in Israel

Black & White Photograph of the aftermath of the bombing of the King David Hotel, Jerusalem, by the Irgun on 22 July 1946 in which 91 people died
Black & White Photograph of the aftermath of the bombing of the King David Hotel, Jerusalem, by the Irgun on 22 July 1946 in which 91 people died
King David Hotel, Jerusalem, after the bombing by the Irgun on 22 July 1946. Image by Gordon Trevor Moore CCA-SA-4.0 via Wikimedia

‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ is a statement I have heard many times. Who is right, who is wrong, and who decides these issues?

The current escalation in violence in the Middle East reminds me of my late father’s words whenever there was a flare-up and more conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, “You’ll never stop it. It will go on long after you and I are gone.”

He spent ten years in Egypt and what was Palestine, now Israel, serving in the British Army, and later as a Mounted British Palestine Policeman in what was known then…


He’d never seen the sea and didn’t seem to understand trees

Photo of ten week old Labrador puppy dog sitting to attention
Photo of ten week old Labrador puppy dog sitting to attention
Bruce the Labrador puppy — photo by author

I decided to get a dog for a couple of reasons. To help me keep fit, knowing our walks together would benefit us both, and also to save a life. His.

It was a time when some dogs were put to sleep, the gentle way of saying put down, if a home couldn’t be found for them. Rather than pay an exorbitant amount for a pedigree dog from a registered breeder, I looked for one that had been neglected.

All it cost, was his seven day food and kennel fee.

I found him at a well run Dog Rescue Sanctuary…


Jerry Lee Lewis and Pete Townshend were crazy too

Iggy Pop performing at South by Southwest 9 May 2007 - Image by Kris Krug - CCA — SA — 2.0 via Wikimedia

There are many contenders for the title — Real Wild Ones of Rock’n’Roll.

Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a bat on stage — did he really do that? Slash taking his pet mountain lion, Curtis, on tour with him, it escaping its cage and completely wrecking a hotel room before being sedated. Yes, the cat really did do that. Curtis, it seems was quite capable of trashing without any help from Slash. Nirvana, the Stones, Amy Winehouse, and many others, were just as destructive on stage as they were back in the hotel.

Three who stand out for me…


Robert Zimmerman — Elston Gunn — Bob Dylan: What’s in a name?

Image of Bob Dylan on stage singing and playing a Fender Stratocaster
Image of Bob Dylan on stage singing and playing a Fender Stratocaster
Bob Dylan at Massey Hall, Toronto April 1980 — Image by Jean-Luc Ourlin CC BY-SA2.0 via Wikimedia

Robert Zimmerman doesn’t sound very rock and roll. Elston Gunn: now that’s far out for 1959. Bob Dylan. That’s a cool name. Much better.

Booed, slow-hand-clapped and called ‘Judas’ by fans at a concert at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in England on 17 May 1965, Bob Dylan shrugged it off by responding, “I don’t believe you… you’re a liar”, and telling his band — to play it fucking loud.

Bob Dylan — No Direction Home

His crime? Playing a solid-bodied electric guitar for the second part of his show, the first part having been his typical acoustic set.

Bob…


A road trip embracing museums, music, and monuments

Photograph of lone male walking down the centre of a long straight road towards the horizon
Photograph of lone male walking down the centre of a long straight road towards the horizon
Image by Author

I’d been to the States before, on my own, attending the Clovis Music Festival in New Mexico, and a similar event in Lubbock, Texas, both dedicated to the memory of Buddy Holly and 1950/60s rock music.

In 2009 I took my wife along, to spell the driving and take a serious road trip across those southwestern states on our way to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and later, Nebraska.

It started in Lubbock, Texas, with a visit to Buddy Holly’s gravesite. I caught up with old friends, some of whom had played with Buddy, and visited The Buddy Holly Centre…


To be labelled the godfather of Chicano rock music at 17 is quite something

Photo of Grave of Ritchie Valens and his mother in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery
Photo of Grave of Ritchie Valens and his mother in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery
Grave of Ritchie Valens and his mother in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery. Image by ArthurDark CC-ASA-4.0 via Wikimedia

This month marks the 80th birthday of the late Ritchie Valens, yet his music is timeless.

My first reaction to hearing Ritchie Valens’ ‘La Bamba’, was that it made me smile and feel happy. I considered it another American rock classic, in the same league as those by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Elvis. I’d never seen a photo of him; had no idea of his ethnicity. Why would it matter? He rocked. Another thing: it’s sung in Spanish. Did I know what the words meant? No. It still rocked.

Yo no soy marinero
Yo no soy marinero…


What a difference a year can make

Photograph of The Beatles pop group dressed in British police uniform in 1963 at a concert in Birmingham UK
Photograph of The Beatles pop group dressed in British police uniform in 1963 at a concert in Birmingham UK
Picture was taken outside the Birmingham Hippodrome in 1963 when the Beatles were smuggled into the venue in the back of a police van. Image by West Midlands Police CC-ASA-2.0.

Lets face it, love ’em or hate them, The Beatles made a difference. They paid their dues. They probably played more gigs than any other band before a hit record came along, enabling them to perfect their style and sound, becoming as tight as a ducks proverbial. Struggle was probably their middle name. Drive, self assurance and belief, they had in spades.

Noah Nelson’s ‘A Beatle Visited Small Town America’, is a fascinating story about the time George Harrison visited the mining community of Benton in Southern Illinois. This was six months before the Fab Four set foot in the…

David Acaster

British, retired, loves reptiles & amphibians, keen on history, steam locomotives, travel, real ale and still trying to master that Fender Stratocaster.

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