A Brand New Website, Valentine’s and Worms

Brand New Website
The back room elite that makes up the Big City geekerati have been working with the very good people at Greystone Creative on a Brand New Tim Readman Website™. It will appear, as if by magic, on the internet on March 1st 2018 and can be viewed on smart phones, tablets, laptops and desk tops anywhere that we haven’t been banned 😉 It won’t work on dumb phones, tablets of stone, lapdogs or your refurbished Commodore 64. Just sayin’.

Happy or Unhappy Valentine’s Day!
Here at Big City Towers, our favourite Valentine’s romantic song is My Funny Valentine – the Elvis Costello version, which you can hear here:
Our favourite anti-Valentine’s love gone bad song is Cry Me a River- the Julie London version which you can hear here:
So however you choose to spend the day, and no matter what you do, there’s a song for you! For us, it’s the busiest day of the year in the Big City Office … whoops … another broken letter opener … more metal fatigue! Tristan and Tim say thanks for all the cards!

Arrogant Worms in BC
Tim will be on the road with Canada’s clown princes of musical comedy, The Arrogant Worms in March. The dates are:
03/20/18 – Dave Dunnet Community Theatre – Victoria, B.C.
03/21/18 – The Tidemark Theatre – Campbell River, BC
03/22/18 & 3/23/18 – Rogue Folk Club (at St. James Hall) – Vancouver, BC
Will he be driving the bus, doing some dialect coaching or merely hanging out and taking in the shows? There are rumours of something in the works we are not at liberty to disclose. Confidentiality must be protected, we’re afraid. Our legal counsel has been ominously silent! That’s a surprise because she’s usually a right gobshite.

Recording Projects Update
We can confirm that there are two more recording projects for Tim in the works. One is another Eventually Bothers recording and the other is a children’s album. Meanwhile work continues on the Cuckoo Gene sci-fi prog-rock epic. That’s all we are saying for now.

Fear of Drinking Recordings Unearthed
We’ve had several requests for the first two Fear of Drinking releases on CD. ‘Get on With It’ and ‘It Could Happen to You’ were only ever released on cassette. Recently we heard from the band’s former accordionist, Jane Gowan, who sent us a package of Fear of Drinking materials she’d found while moving house in Toronto, that she thought we might like to have. Among the photos, posters, love letters, fan mail, Valentine’s cards and fliers were a few cassettes of both releases. If you want one please get in touch. Otherwise if anyone wants the digital MP3 files, we can likely sort that out for you, so that you can listen to Sally Wheatley on your portable music-playing device once again.

Sally Wheatley
… And speaking of Fear of Drinking, longtime fan, Timo Lakininenn, from Helsinki, Finland dropped us an email to ask us to settle an argument about who wrote one of the band’s old favourites, ‘Sally Wheatley’. Although it is often mistakenly credited to Alex Glasgow (it was included in a musical he wrote) or listed as ‘Traditional’ it was in fact written by Joe Wilson from Newcastle upon Tyne. He wrote many songs for music halls in the 19th century; his best-known song being the legendary ‘Keep Your Feet Still, Geordie Hinny’. Joe Wilson originally published Sally Wheatley” in the late 1880’s. Tim got it from the singing of his Seaham Northlea schoolmate, Bob Fox, who recorded what many people now think of as the definitive version with Stu Luckley on their seminal Nowt So Good’ll Pass L.P., released in 1978 on Rubber Records. You can hear Fear of Drinking’s version of Bob’s arrangement on their debut cassette, Get on With It’ – which is just about where we came in.

Exiles and Newcastle United Football Book
We received a query, via lyricist Alan Millen, from Davey Brown, a fellow Newcastle United supporter who is writing a book about the 50th anniversary of the Magpies winning the European Fairs Cup in 1969. He came across the video for one of The Exiles Songs ‘Fairs Cup Reverie’ on YouTube and has asked us to share the song’s back-story. Davey is also an artist as well as writer and you can see samples of his work here www.daveybrownart.com. He’s painted icons such as ‘The Modfather’ Paul Weller and Muhammad Ali. He has also published a book of verse called “It’s In The Blood: A Book Of Newcastle United Poetry” which was serialised in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. We are looking forward to collaborating with a kindred spirit! You can see Fairs Cup Reverie on YouTube here:
… And footage from the 1969 final here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOMSPSVQ-IA

Go Blue Video Ads
We were flattered when former Blintz Band bassist, Beatles archivist and all-round good guy Colin ‘Batty’ Barratt created some marvelous promo videos for Go Blue and posted them on various social media sites. We got a lot of response, for which we are most grateful. You can see them if you follow these links:

February 2018 … and We are Still Going Blue
We continue to get a tremendous response to our request for fans to send snaps of the cover of Go Blue from around the world for us to post on social media. There’s a new selection of photos below for your pleasure. As long as you keep sending the photos we’ll keep posting them!

Happy New Year – Tim Readman’s First News of 2018

Blintz Band Reunion
Tim met up with Kev Bainbridge (guitar and vocals), Ian ‘Ted’ Hay (drums) and Colin ‘Batty’ Barratt (bass) in December at Overall Studios, Washington, County Durham, England to play some tunes. It was the first time the band had been together in 43 years! The session was recorded for posterity and many photos were taken! It was great to get the 4 lads who shook the Dun Cow Inn back together again! Who knows what will happen next? You’ll be among the first to know!

The Dillen Doll
Tim’s trip to the UK over the holidays included a visit and a couple of shows with Jez Lowe and the chance to pick up a copy of his first novel and accompanying CD. The Dillen Doll is the debut novel from Jez, set at the turn of the 19th Century and bringing together characters from various Tyneside folk songs of the period. Dolly Coxon, the mysterious heroine of the well known Tyneside song Do Li A embarks on a journey that will change her life forever. This is her story, as imagined by Jez, going some way to explain why an impoverished woman from the Tyne quayside should have been celebrated in a song that has survived for over two hundred years. Everyone at Big City Towers really enjoyed the book and the accompanying CD of Tyneside songs hasn’t been off the hi-fi since the year turned. Tim spent a lot of time on the Quayside, where much of the action rakes place in the early 80’s during his 10 years in Newcastle upon Tyne and recognized the ghosts of people and places that populate this fine story.

Michael Hill – Under The Influence
This just in from Michael Hill, the author of “John Lennon: The Boy Who Became A Legend”.
“May I take this opportunity of saying how impressed I was with the CD Under The Influence by Newcastle Road, which you so kindly gave me in Liverpool. I have played it several times and will do so again. A great concept and beautifully created and performed.”
Now 77, Michael was a member of John Lennon’s gang of friends throughout his school days. They were classmates from start to finish. In his book Michael describes record playing sessions at his home, during which John first heard Little Richard’s version of Long Tall Sally on 78rpm, which John himself later described as a pivotal moment. Michael now lives in Australia.

Breakfast With The Beatles
This message from one of our Beatle Week correspondents came in overnight. She lives in Santa Barbara, CA, USA.
“So I’m driving down to LA to relax at my fave resort … listening to Breakfast With The Beatles on KLOS, and what do I hear on their Beatles Christmas Show? Christmas With The Beatles! Thought you would like to know that L.A. and surrounding cities heard you loud and clear! It sounded great.”
Click on the arrow below to hear Christmas With The Beatles.

You Play Too Much!
Tim has regaled us with the tale of his recent guitar repair … “Took the old Larrivee in last week – it now needs its third re-fret. I asked master guitar craftsman Eiichi Ishikawa at Yoshimura Guitar Craft how come? He’s been working on my guitars for 30+ years. He looked at me and said, ‘You play too much!’”
If you are ever looking for someone to work on your guitar we’d recommend him 100%.
Master guitar craftsman Eiichi Ishikawa has been helping many internationally recognized musicians, as well as many guitar enthusiasts for over 25 years. He has earned a great reputation among professionals for his skilled guitar repair work and custom-made guitars.
Shuriya Guitarcraft – Art of Guitar Repair www.shuriyaguitarcraft.com

January 2018 … and We are Still Going Blue
We continue to get a tremendous response to our request for fans to send snaps of themselves with the cover of Go Blue for us to post on social media. There’s a new selection of photos below for your pleasure. As long as you keep sending the photos we’ll keep posting them!

December and the Mid-Winter Solstice Happenings

Mid-Winter Solstice Greetings and Felicitations
We wish you all the very best for whatever it is you celebrate at this time of year. We go for a little Christmas, a wee bit of Xmas, a happy New Year and a bit of Hogmanay. There’s touch of pagan mid-winter feasting thrown in there too. So whatever you do, enjoy it and be safe. We will catch you all again in 2018 which promises to be a transformational year in so many respects.

New Penguin Eggs Magazine Out Now!
Tim’s reviews of Usher’s Well, The Young ‘Uns and The Jeremiahs’ new albums are featured in the winter issue of Penguin Eggs, now the only folk, roots and world music magazine still in print in North America. Young Quebec band Les Poules à Colin are the cover feature. Other interviews include, Steve Earle, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Geoff Berner, Happy Truam, Dana Wylie and Ann Tivel. Also this edition features the 2017 Penguin Eggs Album of the Year and New Discovery poll.

Special Vin Garbutt Memorial Concert
Jez Lowe will be appearing solo on Tuesday December 19th at a special memorial concert for the late Vin Garbutt at The Normanby in Middlesbrough, along with songwriter Pete Davies. For 16 years the late, great Vin held a Christmas Concert at The Normanby in Middlesbrough. Jez and Pete have long been friends of Vin and performed on the same stage with him on many occasions.
For details go here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1147270565406550/

Beatle Week 2017
A review of Beatle Week 2017 in Liverpool features two versions of an original Beatle Week theme song written by Tim and his song-writing partner Alan Millen backed by footage of performers at the festival. The video footage is in chronological order of performance, with part 1 covering Friday and part 2 covering Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The song is from the CD Under The Influence by Newcastle Road.
Beatle Week 2017 is also revisited in this photomontage combined with two theme songs from the CD “Under The Influence” by Newcastle Road.

Blintz Band Reunion
Following Tim’s 2014 show in England at the “40 Years After” reunion concert with The Kane Gang, Erik Shone and Mad Jack he has made contact with the members of his first ever band the Blintz Band. Although a band performed under that name at 40 Years After, Tim was the only original member. Now Kev Bainbridge (guitar and vocals), Ian ‘Ted’ Hay (drums) and Colin ‘Batty’ Barratt will be getting together later in December with Tim in Overall Studios, Washington, County Durham, England to play some tunes and the session will be recorded for posterity. It could be the start of something large!


December 2017 … and We are Still Going Blue
We continue to get a tremendous response to our request for fans to send snaps of themselves with the cover of Go Blue for us to post on social media. There’s a new selection of photos below for your pleasure. As long as you keep sending the photos we’ll keep posting them!

November Update – Bright News for Dark Days

Sci-Fi Prog Rock Project Ahoy!
Baltimore’s Andy Cooke and Tim are now busy writing songs for their Sci-Fi Prog Rock project … with the working title Cuckoo Gene. Will it have a gatefold sleeve? Will it be a double concept album? Will the songs last at least 20 minutes? Oh yeah – probably!
Andy has recently released Black Light, a new Doom Metal album under the moniker of ‘Wizrds’, which we have been rocking out to at Big City Towers. You can listen to samples of tracks from Black Light here:
Andy is the mastermind behind Dataloaf who you can hear here and in various other places:
He also has a few other incarnations including Pine Tree State https://pinetreestate.bandcamp.com
and Electric Wave Inspection Bureau
Remember to tell your people-you heard it here first!

Halifax Disaster Song
We reported on our blog earlier about Tim and Alan Millen’s song about the Halifax Disaster – ‘Song for Kate and Anthony’. Now there’s the news that Canada Post have issued a Halifax Explosion commemorative stamp, which captures the moment after the ships collided. You can read more here:
In case you haven’t seen it yet here’s the link to the video for the song:

We got a nice message from Chrissy Crowley who we’ve known since Tim booked her at the Vancouver Celtic festival back in the late noughties.
“Some really nice people wrote some really nice stuff about the new record 🙂 Read the full review with links below. Can’t thank Penguin Eggs/Tim Readman enough for the positive words.”
In case you missed it Tim’s review is below … now go and buy the album!!!!
“This is the second album from this Cape Breton supergroup. They’ve lost one fiddler since their debut and haven’t changed their name to reflect their diminished number. No matter, because there’s nothing else that has diminished in any way. Quite the reverse, in fact—this is a walloping good set from these young lions of East Coast trad.
There are five songs and seven instrumental tunes on Rove, all wonderfully engineered and mixed by Dave Gunning. I’m really happy to hear them increase the singing this time around. Rachel Davis and Darren McMullen both have fine voices, and McMullen’s take on Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill was a very pleasant surprise. The purity of Davis’s vocals shines on Down the Road.
Instrumentally, few can match these folks. Jason Roach, who is at his thunderous best on the fast and furious numbers, gives fine accompaniment to the superb fiddling of Davis and Chrissie Crowley. McMullen plays guitar, cello, bouzouki, mandolin, mandola, banjo, whistle, and flute—his choices of instrument perfectly complementing the rest of the band on every track.
There are plenty of reels, jigs, and strathspeys as you’d expect, as well as a surprise addition of a Dave Brubeck tune. That’s Three To Get Ready played by four, in a band called five in Gaelic. What’s not to like? Get it while it’s hot!”


Allison Russell
This article in Vancouver’s Georgia Straight caught our eye recently … mentioning Fear of Drinking alumnus Allison Russell.
Some of us spend our lives forever trying to recapture some kind of golden age—and if that’s what’s going on with Amy Helm, you can hardly blame her for trying. Especially since it’s not so much her star-studded upbringing that she most treasures, but her memories of a funky barn on her dad’s upstate New York property.
Helm’s father, of course, was Levon Helm, the Band’s charismatic and universally beloved drummer, singer, and mandolinist. Her mother, Libby Titus, is an underrated lyricist who was once Burt Bacharach’s songwriting partner. And Helm’s stepfather, for almost 30 years, has been Steely Dan main man Donald Fagen.
Award shows, movie premieres, private jets: Helm’s known them all. But when asked about her upbringing, the 46-year-old singer immediately zeroes in on the Midnight Rambles that Levon liked to organize on his Woodstock farm.
“I can certainly say that listening to ‘Black Friday’, sung by Donald and played by the Ramble band with my dad’s backbeat on it, was one of the cooler things that I’ve ever heard,” she says fondly, on the line from a Portland, Oregon, tour stop. “It was pretty great, I gotta tell you. It was just greasy enough.”
And while the avowed template for the new and as-yet-untitled album that Helm has just finished recording is Motel Shot, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett’s warts-and-all impression of a postgig jam session with Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, John Hartford, and Gram Parsons, the spirit of the Ramble was very much present in the studio.
“The intention of the record was to sort of create a sound that sounded like community, that sounded like a whole bunch of people hanging out in a room making music—very live, very spontaneous,” Helm says. “The centrepiece of the album is a lot of keyboards, and lots and lots of vocals. I actually featured a singer who you may be familiar with named Ali Russell, from a band called Birds of Chicago, and another fantastic singer who I work with a lot named Adam Minkoff, and Ali’s husband, JT Nero. The three of them were my choir, so a lot of the songs have that sound as their centre.
Allison had previously messaged Tim to say she’d been jamming with Donald. Now we know how that came to pass. Small world!

Novel News from Jez Lowe
THE DILLEN DOLL – first novel and new CD from Jez Lowe
We’re pleased to let you know that Jez’s first novel, entitled “The Dillen Doll” will be published next month by Badapple Books in the UK. The scoop from Jez’s site is:
A new album of traditional folk songs, also titled “The Dillen Doll”, will be released by Tantobie Records to coincide with the book.
The novel is set at the turn of the nineteenth century, and brings together characters from various folk songs of the period, centrally a woman called Dolly Coxon, who is mentioned, albeit obliquely, in the well-known song from Newcastle Upon Tyne, “Do Li A”. This is her story, as imagined by Jez, going some way to explain why an impoverished woman from the Tyne quayside should have been celebrated in a song that has survived for over two hundred years.
The song itself is one of “around fifteen” that have been fashioned into a suite of songs to reflect the narrative and evoke the musical background of the tale. The album features The Bad Pennies, plus Rachel Hamer and Benny Graham on backing vocals, and with a cover painting by Kari MacLeod.
Track titles are as follows – THE WAGGON WAY / BENWELL LASS / BROOM BEZZOMS / FILL THE TANKARD / MARKET DAY / BLIND WILLIE / BYKER HILL / FOLLOW THE HORSES / TENDER / KEEL LAD / LUMLEY / BOBBY SHAFTO / SALTY SHIELDS / SAIR FAIL’D / DO LI A. Other songs and tunes are referenced throughout the continuous piece.

Watch www.jezlowe.com to find out when the book and the album will be available – mail-order facilities will shortly be set up for advance ordering through that website.


November 2017 … and We are Still Going Blue
We continue to get a tremendous response to our request for fans to send snaps of themselves with the cover of Go Blue for us to post on social media. There’s a new selection of photos below for your pleasure. As long as you keep sending the photos we’ll keep posting them!

September Fally Autumnal Notes

Tim Live at the Red Dragon on Main Street
Here’s another reminder that Tim is starting a series of musical pub nights at the Red Dragon on Main Street. Entrance to the pub is via the back alley behind The Cambrian Hall, 215 East 17th Avenue, Vancouver – just off Main Street. We had a great night last time in June with pub food, pub quiz and some very funny heckling! We are doing it all again on Sept 29th – so don’t miss it! Save the date!
Details of all gigs are here: http://timreadman.com/upcoming-shows/

Halifax Disaster – ‘Song for Kate and Anthony’
So pleased that Tim and Alan Millen’s song about the Halifax Disaster – ‘Song for Kate and Anthony’ – has now become part of the commemorations in Halifax via the “Halifax Explosion: 100 years, 100 stories” page on Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/100years100stories/
This special page is a powerful testimony to that tragic day in Canadian history. You can find out more via their wonderful website here:

Novel News from Jez Lowe
Exciting news from our old pal and Tim’s fellow County Durham boy Jez Lowe. A little bird told us he has an upcoming album of traditional songs – to accompany the publication of his first novel in November. Those of you who’ve listened to Jez’s lyrics won’t be surprised that he has turned his hand to this more extended form of wordsmithing. We can’t wait to hear the album and read the book. There’ll be bidding for the film rights next!

Walter Becker
We were gutted to hear of the death of Walter Becker. His solo albums 11 Tracks of Whack and Circus Money are never far from the hi-fi at Big City Towers. His work with Donald Fagan in Steely Dan is simply peerless. He’ll be sorely missed. We missed Donald at his September Seattle show, which was understandably cancelled. Donald has vowed to continue touring with the Steely Dan band, which is at least some consolation. Walter Becker, R.I.P.

Interview with Ché Aimee Dorval | Proglodytes
We were pleased to see an interview with Tim’s former collaborator Che Aimee Dorval in Proglodytes. It’s great to see Che out there making it happen. Those of you who came to Tim’s ‘musical friends’ nights at Montmartre Café in East Vancouver will remember Che’s stunning voice, especially her amazing versions of Zero 7’s ‘Somersault and David’ Gray’s ‘Sail Away’. For more about that go here: http://timreadman.com/bandspast-and-present/montmartre-cafe-tim-readman-and-musical-friends/
In the interview she says:
We got our first computer with Garage Band on it, and I got heavy into writing and producing songs. One of those songs was “Lights Out” off of Vol. 1. Also, at this point, I was working with this amazing local musician, Tim Readman, who was teaching me guitar and the basics of songwriting. He had a weekly night at a French bistro in Vancouver and I sang at occasionally. It was with him and one of his producer friends that I recorded my first demo called Lights Out that I sold out of a coffee shop for a year before eventually losing the masters. So that’s gone for good.
The link to the whole interview is here but we had some troubles with it so we recommend you copy and paste it rather than clicking it. If it doesn’t work you can get to the interview via Che’s Facebook page or by Googling ‘Interview with Ché Aimee Dorval’.
Meanwhile we are looking high and low to see if we can find our copy of Lights Out!!

The Exiles featured in The Magpie
There was a feature in the last edition of The Magpie magazine produced by the Newcastle United Supporters Club of London about the Exiles and their songs about the Toon. It included Alan Millen’s new regular column, which we’ve reproduced with links to some of our videos below.
A regular column, Alan Millen, one half of The Exiles, a song-writing duo based in Switzerland & Canada brings us some more tunes and tales from their collection. Alan Millen & his musical partner Tim Readman as ‘The Exiles’ write songs about and inspired by Newcastle Utd. In total they have written around 50 songs about the highs & lows of supporting The Toon.
Way Back Home, from our second cd, celebrates the Toon Army travellers of the past season, during which the club set a record of 14 wins away from home. The video revisits each of the three-pointers.
We wrote and recorded this back in 2007 but with the record-setting achievement now in the bag I was inspired to round up the pictures and make something more out of the song. The camaraderie of away-day travel is at the heart of the song. On a personal note, my only away-day league experiences with NUFC have been at Craven Cottage, none of which resulted in the celebration of three points! However, I’ll never forget being at the San Siro for the 2-2 draw with Inter Milan.
Postcard From Newcastle – This video is for a song called Postcard From Newcastle … in which a homesick magpie recalls the early 1970s. I put this one together after my most recent visit in early February. The song is on our 2012 release “at St. James’ Park”.
Until My Dying DayAs we prepared for the 2016-17 season I posted a video on Facebook in memory of my dear old dad, who passed away a few days after we narrowly escaped relegation at the end of the 2014-2015 season. His first visit to SJP was in 1935, when we were in the old Second Division. I believe the last time he saw NUFC play was at the 1955 F.A. Cup Final, together with his own dad. We were living in Hemel Hempstead at the time. Immigration to Canada in 1957 ended his days of seeing NUFC in person but he was a supporter until his dying day, just like the song says.
The inspiration for this came within minutes of buying a 45rpm single of House of the Rising Sun by The Animals at a charity shop in Newcastle. I think it was in September 2002 because I was there then for the funeral of my auntie Rita, my dad’s older sister.

Dave Brewis – Autoleisureland
We received a new CD from Tim’s former Seaham schoolmate and (briefly) Kane Gang band mate Dave Brewis. Dave is a multi-instrumentalist who played most of the instruments on The Kane Gang’s hit records. He also produced and played with Prefab Sprout who were lead by Paddy MacAloon. Paddy went on to write the songs for Crocodile Shoes with Jimmy Nail. Anyway … Dave’s album is here – 12 tracks of Soul guitar music! It has been on the Big City hi-fi non-stop – in between Walter Becker’s albums – for the past several weeks now. It’s well worth getting hold of a copy.

September 2017 … and We are Still Going Blue
We continue to get a tremendous response to our request for fans to send snaps of themselves with the cover of Go Blue for us to post on social media. There’s a new selection of photos below for your pleasure. As long as you keep sending the photos we’ll keep posting them!