Monday, January 8, 2018

On the Gonzo Beat

 ‘Gonzo’ magazine, titled with respectful regard to Hunter S. Thompson, appears online on a more or less weekly basis.  I became aware of it towards the end of 2016, during some website browsing, and sent a copy of ‘Wilful Misunderstandings’ to see if it would get a review.  Intrigued at least by the comments from Alan Moore (for which I remain extremely grateful) on the back cover, editor Jonathan Downes took on the review and gave my book his enthusiastic approval.  In subsequent exchanges of messages, Jonathan asked if I’d write for the magazine – to which I agreed on an occasional basis, depending on other commitments.

To knock out a full colour multi-paged mag once a week is no mean feat and if you check it out on you’ll find that its enthusiastic band of contributors cover a wide range of music and other cultural activities.  Its most distinguished writer, I guess, is the one-time Guardian journalist CJ Stone, who contributes a regular column.  Short cuts are taken to fill the pages and a number of them remain unchanging issue to issue – ads and random bits of filler mostly.  But this seems to me entirely forgivable, given the weekly schedule.

So sometime after the New Year double issue (#215/6) containing the Wilful Misunderstandings review last January I undertook to contribute some features on musicians, primarily those associated in some way with the Grateful Dead, whose music I’ve loved since the 60s.  The first of these was lifted from this blog at Jon’s request.  It was my personal eulogy and career review for the then recently deceased guitarist Martin Stone (issue 219).  Those familiar with Martin Stone will know that even he has some tenuous connections with the Grateful Dead, but my focus was on those with closer associations, including the surviving members of the band.  There followed pieces on Phil Lesh (#222), Mickey Hart (#225/6), Warren Haynes (#229) and David Nelson (#233).  More recently I’ve contributed an extended piece on guitarist Steve Kimock (#s253, 257 and 261).  If you enjoy both the music of 60s and 70s US West Coast bands and today’s ‘jam-band’ scene, you might find some interest in these write-ups.

I’ve also been contributing occasional reviews, beginning with one that fitted my feature remit: musicians Mark Karan, Slick Aguilar, Tom Constanten and others reproducing the ‘Live Dead’ album at the Cheese and Grain in Frome last January (#220).  Since then I’ve reviewed a concert by Trad Arrr (#235), Port Talbot’s Deke Leonard memorial show (#239) and the New Forest Folk Festival (#247).  A recent piece on the stage show ‘Girl From the North Country’ (#255/6) first appeared here in the blog.

It’s been fun.  As with some of the other contributors, I think, it gets the frustrated ‘rock-journalist’ ambition out of my system, and gives me a chance to highlight musicians who don’t these days receive a great deal of attention, particularly here in the UK.  I’m currently making a short list of possible profiles to put together in 2018, and may well expand my repertoire.

Meanwhile I look forward to reading through the latest double issue (see below).

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