Radio Bam Review

Radio Show: Radio Bam, Sirius XM Faction Radio

Episode: Show #248

Original Broadcast: 16th May 2011

Everyone needs a jackass in their life, and Bam Margera is probably one of the best. His longstanding and sometimes erratic radio show always seems to be an off-the-cuff affair, lacking any structure or prepared features.

In this show Margera is in Quebec City, disucussing his newfound Twitter addiction and regaling his listeners with bizarre anecdotes, such as a prom that he’s contractually obliged to go to with an 18 year old girl from Calgary and encouraging his Twitter followers (‘twits’) to bombard his mam with Happy Mother’s Day texts and calls after posting her phone number on the site.

Margera makes some surprisingly indie song choices (Ladyhawke, who’d have thunk it?) interspersed with the likes of Pennsylvanian natives Hail Social. For all of the show’s disorganised content there’s something appealing about their “I don’t give a fuck, I’m not Howard-fucking-Stern” approach. It’s not polished, it’s not organised and a lot of the time it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what makes the show so listenable. Switch off your brain and switch on Radio Bam.

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Other Voices TV Review

TV Show: Other Voices, RTE, South Wind Blows Production

Episode: Season 9, Episode 5.

Original Broadcast: 11:25pm, 6th March 2011, RTE 2

Usually when musicians are in the rural countryside it’s for one of two reasons; they’re in rehab there or they got lost on the way to the pub. Luckily for any disorientated musicians who may find themselves in either of these categories there is a chance that they may find BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac walking down one of the meandering streets of Dingle enthusing about the latest indie bands.

Other Voices, the brainchild of producer Philip King, brings indie and alternative musicians to the small coastal town of Dingle in Co. Kerry to perform in unique venues around the town, such as the St. James’ Cathedral and, in some instances, the homes of bemused locals. This week sees Illinois native Lissie bring her unique brand of soft rock to the Dingle Peninsula.

St. James’ Church is a surprisingly fitting venue for her to play in, bounding around the makeshift stage all messy blond hair and energetic shuffling. The narrow, silent streets of Dingle seem a world away from what touring musicians are used to, perhaps quieter and not as exciting as the usual city jaunts. “I saw some goats, and some sheep,” Lissie tells Annie Mac in her American drawl.

It seems an odd formula, maybe one that shouldn’t work, but somehow does. The stunning scenery and the quaint, original locations in which the bands perform compliment the music. During the month of the December many musicians, some more well-known than others, descend on the little village usually greeted with enthusiastic locals.

This week also featured an appearance from the English blues duo The Smoke Fairies, who played a stripped back version of their song ‘Storm Song’, aided with only acoustic guitars and their swirling vocals. This was all done to a backdrop of the Dingle landscape, which could be seen through the large floor-to-ceiling windows that surrounded the band.

It’s rare to see musicians playing outside of typical gig venues, and rarer still to see them playing gigs in rural areas. But this appears to be what Other Voices does – it takes musicians away from the environment they’re used to, and makes it all about the music. There’s no need for massive orchestral arrangements or a large crew, all that’s needed is a voice, a guitar, perhaps a drum and the video camera to capture it. It’s a simple format, but one that works beautifully.

Lennon Naked: Only Skin Deep

John Lennon had a tormented childhood. At the age of 5 his parents made him decide who he wanted to live with – his father Alf who was moving to New Zealand, or his mother Julia who was to remain in Liverpool. John chose Alf, but as his mother was leaving he ran after her and ultimately chose her. His Aunt Mimi then reported his mother to Social Services, so he remained with Mimi instead.

Aged 17 his mother was hit by a car and died near her home. It’s often been said that the absence of his father and the death of his mother at a young age contributed to Lennon’s seeming inability to deal with confrontation and responsibility in his personal life and caused him to undergo therapy in his later years.

The BBC 4 film ‘Lennon Naked’ explores this side of Lennon. It begins with Lennon in his adulthood, continuing where Sam Taylor-Wood’s ‘Nowhere Boy’ left off. Some footage of when Beatlemania began to take hold was interspersed throughout the opening scenes, black and white film of girls screaming wildly and declaring their love while the suitably pleased 20-something musicians are lapping up the attention.

Before long the film delves into the world of Lennon while with his first wife Cynthia. She’s portrayed as a nagging, emotional woman who has doe-eyed look across her face every time she tries to reason with him. Meanwhile Lennon is shown to be moody towards his wife and unhappy with her boxing him in and limiting his creativity. A barrel of laughs this certainly isn’t.

As the film progresses the constant carelessness of the character of Lennon grows tiresome, and the film is awash with some less-than-convincing actors. Paul McCartney, played by Andrew Scott, sounded like he had a comedy voice throughout, his deep nasally tones sounding more Little Britain than Liverpudlian. The slight appearances made by the actors playing George Harrison (Jack Morgan) and Ringo Starr (Craig Cheetham) were blighted by their comedic moustaches and, particularly in the case of Paul, drawn on eyebrows.

The film is exactly as it was described, it was a drama. A drama that gives little insight or enjoyment to your average Beatles fan, the characters seem to have derived some acting advice from the cast of Eastenders. It’s a shame because the lead actor, Christopher Eccleston, who played John Lennon, gave an excellent performance, but the lack of any progression in the character of Lennon and the dreary and constantly unhappy portrayal of him offered no insight or development in his character.

Ultimately all this film taught me, from the soundtrack, is that The Beatles had a song for every occasion.  And right now after watching the film I feel like I Should Have Known Better.

He’s a Real Nowhere Boy

I went to see Sam Taylor-Wood’s highly anticipated directorial debut in ‘Nowhere Boy’, a film depicting the teenage years of John Lennon..

In my infinite wisdom I overestimated the time the trailers would be on, and so I missed the first minute of the film much to my annoyance. Set in Liverpool in the late 50s Lennon (Aaron Johnson) is torn between two very influential women in his life – his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas), who he lived with since childhood and his mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), who lived around the corner with her other children. His Aunt Mimi is a staunch, strict middle-class woman with upper-class aspirations. It’s noticeable that while Scouse accents are of course prevalent in the film Lennon’s Aunt Mimi never speaks with one. His mother Julia is a fun loving, creative and vivacious woman.

Having already read various books about Lennon’s life from many different angles I found it hard at times to not think “that never happened!” and “that character wasn’t really like that!” In which case I found it hard to judge it on the merits of a film of its own, and to not compare it to factual accounts of certain events. But about 20 minutes into the film all of that was forgotten.

The scenes were mesmerising, at times it felt like I was actually in Liverpool in the 50s. I was expecting ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ to start playing at any given moment, even though it wasn’t released til the mid 60s! The acting was flawless, never did it feel like the emotion was slipping and everything was very believable, it was a brilliant performance by everyone involved. The only issue I have is, again, the creepy way Lennon’s relationship with his mother was portrayed.

The film ends just before Lennon sets off for Hamburg with the Beatles, and, well, we all know what happened after that. I’ve seen many films concerning the Beatles and John Lennon, some terrible (Chapter 27 comes to mind) and some brilliant. And Nowhere Boy is definitely at the top of the list for brilliance. In short, Nowhere Boy is a film you’ll regret not seeing, especially if you’re a John Lennon fan.