The Singers tale Jazz Fm with Ian Shaw 1 & 2

An interview… and some of our musical adventures over the years…

I am almost resigned to this after evening after night talking to me and I. Lucky old me ..I have a first patch of earth to plant and putch about in. Now and then I emerge with a dear pal, to walk or gather in a garden somewhere..but it seems we are all unused to conversation with groups of people…especially those of us who live alone, forgetting words, losing the art of a flowing conversation. Am I talking gobbledegook?

I find my self suddenly losing courage, back to my old chip, the chip that used to sit on my right shoulder, the chip that left school at 15, not a GCE to her name, let alone a diploma. Degree? Don’t make me laugh. Once more, I was lucky. I met and became friends with people who had been educated, but had none of the snobbery, contempt and dismissal that I encountered when I was young and yet to make good friends.

Ian Shaw is one such human being. I met him when he was fresh out of London University, a whip cracker of a young man, fiercely brave with a camp and rib busting wit, fired by a fizzing quicksilver brain and a soaring voice with a range as low and as high as the Himalayas. 1987. I was 42 years old and pregnant with my second child. I am so happy we met Ian Shaw. That second child and me.

Singing and Serendipity,

I am missing ..10 minute friendships, chance meetings on the run, banter and laughter. The buzz and unexpected – ness of London. I am missing zip pep and elan, and the flumptious, frilly, fizzy moments. Getting my glad rags on, the lipstick and singing shoes. What frock to choose? Or is it a Jeans and funky shirt gig? Is it denim and sparkles?

The community of Musicians… the playing of music as one… connected by the essence of what has sustained me and given me my life. Rhythm and Rhymes. Melody and Harmony. Flying off the beaten track…improvising, winging it. My hair has lost its pink. I look in the mirror. Who is that old gal? Who am I? And why?

An interview in 2 parts.
The Circus.

Ian’s writings.

Ian Shaw

12 June 2019

 Roll Up. It’s…Rory! Fairly decent? Or scratch and see the usual Tory fayre? There’s hardly the book of rules here these days.

Clowns to the left and jokers to the right. Or thereabouts.

On returning the mouldy old deal-or-no-deal jam to the Parliamentary Party Pot, a quite formidable Maitlis, on Newsnight, looks tonight like she’s now beginning to rather enjoy The Circus – she does have a book out – Why not eh. Contestant Nine looks and sounds like he’s plaiting the jam, before it gets back to that famous table. 

She suggests to an almost sensually smug Rod Stewart (actual name and Best In Show for many) and fresh  from delivering some extremely bad comedy at AN ACTUAL Big Toppity tent, that:

“You’re all going to become Theresa May Mark Two.” 

No return on that one. 

I don’t buy His Military Old-Beanshipness I’m sorry. Best of a bad bunch probs, but no. Masks they do slip. A neat sideswipe of a questioning line, proving that as our insularity precludes any other driving issue, these issues are sinking. Or sadly, drowning. A new report of unnecessary deaths in the Mediterranean – 550 and counting – as a dangerously divided southern Sudan, again forces tens of thousands from home danger to Europe’s dismal disregard. Rory’s chance to show a slightly more outward-gazing, empathetic, politically-willed answer right there?  No return on that one either. Brexit is the only thing shot through the cannon from his sawdust. But he can’t quite find the matches. 

“It’s the case of who’s knifing who” then came to a mischievously glorifying Emily. Odd little responses from the three deeply dull guests. Gove’s unofficial biographer, who’s rushing the wretched, UPDATED (natch sniff) bloody thing to the chunky airport section (still to fully grasp this concept) bumbled on a bit. Campbell unedifying. Someone from The Observer. Then the classic Boys Own Youngish-Tory, and zomboid Johnson ‘backer’ fabulously refusing pointedly to answer a single meaningful question on his showhorse. Usual shit. 

The echo-chamber of these contestant podiums – fan club members in situ, whoops and placards honouring the honoured, is the systemic familiarity of The Art Of The Campaign.  I understand fully the tradition. But there is something particularly heave-inducing about this grubby lot. Not just cos they’re all fucking liars and posh clowns. Proven thus. But cos it’s all so feverish and desperate, and nauseously glossy. Zombie-like too. Esther McRidiculous aside – we know they know we see their bullshit. McVey is just plain silly. Zero attempt to even pretend that we know she knows we know that they probably know too. You know. 

And running through every newsfeed, every flash, every telly update, this electorate-led *UnNaked Attraction show (imagine them on the *real thing – not that I watch it) and every campaign tweet, talking head and junket – is the opening act to tomorrow’s Top Of The Bill. Delicately derided, or reffed with an eyebrow twitch – jobs boys and girls, jobs – precisely nobody can truly foresee how The Great Pretender, the king liar and original clown, now allegedly reinvented – with mystery, allure and a new suit, will present himself at the most important speech of his so-called political career. The fabulously named Johnson backer, Liz Truss, says ‘we need a technicolour politician.’ So there we are. We ordered the clown. Send him in. No stranger to the zip wire himself, his particular circus will parade the ghouliest clowns, the gaffs, the goaded, the blindly led, the blood-stained ropes, the locked rooms, the arse-licking middle-benchers, the secret meets, the erased, the whispers, the magnificent and the malevolent. The Greatest No Show On Earth.

With no safety net whatsoever. 

Here’s the stunning Carol Grimes, singing The Circus anyway. It’s very brilliant. It catches a few things. Enjoy  


dearest encore…ere’s me words….feel free to chop suey and polly paste xxxxx

Outside the flabby arena of increasingly disposable pop singing Joni called “junkfood for juveniles”, there has always been a welcome, often genre-busting, rich seam of music making. Within this (jazz, folk, blues, soul) seam, the singers can be routed to a certain era of popular song. Pastiche, touristy, sepia, anodyne and familiar.

Not Carol Grimes.

The writer, John Fordham called Carol a “British Jazz Soul legend”. Blimey, she probably winced as she read that. “British”..yep, quirky happenstance has made Grimes a child of the sooty skies, the brown and grey hues, the freezing winters of post-war Britain, where it took a good few rationing years before the wild child, misplaced and misunderstood, heard that ’59 hymn to the all exotic,lushly warm and NON British, Miles’ “All Blues.” No better start to this warts’n all live CD, taken from gigs where, shepherded and buffeted by the warmest mob of brilliant players, “C. DAWN”(Carol, Dorian, Annie, Winston, Neville) our wild girl unfolds, through song, her story.

That voice. I first heard it on the crackle and velvet of vinyl. I was a Welsh teen oddity, shaken up by Aretha, Otis, Ella, Frank (she’ll tell you about him here)..but I wanted to see if there was any of this closer to hand. Dad brought “Warm Blood” by Carol Grimes back from Penny Lane Records in Chester. I still thought this girl was a mate of Bonnie Raitt, an ex of Tom Petty, a Laurel Canyon untouchable. Nope. I met Carol in London, just after I graduated. I wanted to sing like her. And..she showed me, and others, that we could.

It’s all here. From the superb, slouchy “Mood Indigo” through the ultimate “outsider” late night laments, Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and the seminal Sinatra last-chance-saloon, “One For My Baby” (pianist and arranger, Dorian Ford is beautifully minimal, leaving Grimes room to ache and sway) to two of her best co-writes, with Maciek Hrybowicz “The Circus” and a re-worked “Alexandria Dance” (bassist, Neville Malcolm locking tender horns with the UK’s finest drummer, Winston Clifford) Mitchell’s naive but vital “Big Yellow Taxi” is also here, showing Carol’s conviction and crystal clear high pipes and Nick Caves. “Into My Arms” is gospelly.

Old mates are vital to Carol. The superb Annie Whitehead plays on these live takes, punctuating the waltzy “The Dance” Grimes and Ford, like it’s a warm exchange of news. Oscar Brown Jnr.s “A Tree And Me” is delivered with heartbreaking simplicity, contrasted with the almost Etta James-like “Roll Me A Cigarette.” Shaw, Ford, Grimes.

“Jazz Soul Legend??” (I’m gonna get lamped when she reads this) “Jazz” is the sound of surprise, it’s playful and swings. Tick. 

“Soul??” Oh please. My friend Andrew had to excuse himself at the launch of “Mother”, her acclaimed last studio session. ( Produced by myself!)

He couldn’t stop crying, such was the depth of her opening song, the Cave song. He later said..” Where does all that come from?? And why am I so upset!?” TICK.

“Legend??” Well, she’s certainly been around a while.

She’s quite short. She’s a great mum, tells the best stories, does great things with vegetables, introduced me to Brinjal Pickle with cheese, has the best eye for interior design…..Oh, and there’s the book soon.

And Fuck Me, she’s singing better than ever.

Tick. Tock.

Ian Shaw. London 2013.

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