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Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:48 pm
by will vine
My wife and I have come to spend a week in Chichester on the Sussex-Hampshire border. A prosperous town - this cannot be what hard times are supposed to look like. The big streets are full of people. The shops are dominated by the fashionable big names and they're full too. I can't say how much money they're all making but the multitude of cafes, restaurants and bars are surviving, many of them clearly very well.

I did little to inflate the economic bubble by going on a credit spree in recent years and I'm likewise doing little to reflate the economy now. I don't really do shopping. So, while Jane took to a morning's retail therapy yesterday I sat by the cathederal listening to a busker doing a nice line in mid tempo blues....Jimmy Reed, Lowell Fulson, Albert King...that kind of thing. Himself, a low amplified guitar and some rhythm tracks. A treat! I mean, he was good. He was as good as the bloke who sat at the same spot the day before playing slide guitar. What a pitch this is for the blues. I sat for an hour or so and watched as, for quite a time, nobody threw any coins into the busker's box. Then bit by bit people did start, and the collection grew. Some people stopped for a minute or two to listen and one small party (tourists I'd say) stayed for three or four numbers and engaged him in conversation between songs. The people who were contributing, almost to a man and woman, were silver-haired or bald, many I would have characterised as prosperous, middle class, conservatively dressed, dull, certainly "square". My preconception about who gave to buskers was corrected.

Having had an enjoyable hour of entertainment I decided that, as little as I needed it, I'd buy one of his cds - more as a souvenir and a gesture of support than anything else. Like most buskers this guy was not sensational, not terribly original, anonymous, but competent and in love with his music. I like that in a performer. He peppered his blues repertoire with little pop/rock classics - All Along The Watchtower, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Comfortably Numb....and in buying his cd I find I now have a Pink Floyd song in my collection for the first time since I bought Umma Gumma back in the sixties. As I half suspected even as I bought it, the record turns out to be a slight disappointment as his rough street performance is sadly embellished with a studio shine which takes it from Jimmy Reed into more Chris Rea territory. But it's ok.

In the evening we were off to The Chichester Arms to see a couple of performers we'd never heard of, BettySoo and Doug Cox. Maybe you know them. BettySoo, a Korean/American singer, songwriter, and guitarist and Doug, a dobro player and singer. Having checked out the venue a day or two previously and been advised to book or turn up really early to get in, I was a bit anxious that we were, by early evening, on course to do neither. So we pitched up anyway a few minutes before the advertised start time to find ourselves free to choose the best seats in the house along with the other two dozen people who'd shown up. And who were these other people? I'm not saying they were exactly the same people that put the money in the busker's pot but here again were people like me, the old greyhairs, the rugby-shirted, baldy-headed, bearded ones. There were six or seven women at most and nobody, I reckon, under 40. I saw hundreds, if not thousands of people, young and old, in that town during the day yet only a couple of dozen show up for this gig. I can't help getting older but I don't want to go to gigs that look like a Saga Holidays gathering. That said, it was a great night. BettySoo's a good singer, chooses and writes good songs and Doug plays great dobro. A standout item he described as an english folk song revealed itself to be a nice acoustic arrangement of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Doug also mentioned in another introduction that he'd spent some time with Doug Sahm. I thought at the time "hmm maybe I'll get to chat with this guy afterwards," but I just let it go as he was deep in conversation with another unlikely looking punter in a Saga-style zip-up cardigan who, it turned out was a fellow dobro player. Looking up BettySoo and Doug on the internet afterwards it was revealed to me that not only did he collaborate musically with Mr. Sahm but he'd also acted as tour manager for The Texas Tornados............JeeZ!..the stories I must have missed.

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:04 pm
by Chris P
will vine wrote:Maybe you know them. BettySoo, a Korean/American singer, songwriter, and guitarist and Doug, a dobro player and singer


Doug Cox has made a couple of albums with Indian slide guitar godfather/maven V M Bhatt's son Salil - I haven't heard them though; but did want to say: great write-up/ account Will, inducing smile of recognition at what you describe

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:02 pm
by NormanD
I look forward to reading your holiday compositions, Will. They're always full of great humour and sharp observation. I hope this doesn't sound insulting - - but do go away more.

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:04 pm
by Rob Hall
Lovely account Will, thanks for that.

I think I know the spot by Chichester Cathedral where you must have been sitting, and I can see it in my mind's eye now. You probably went past our place to get there - you should have called in!

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 7:55 am
by will vine
I thought I knew every part of Britain. I worked just about everywhere in my days as an uncivil engineer, but that road from Farnham to Chichester via Hindmarsh, Haslemere, and Midhurst - Wow! That was new to me. What a rich landscape, what fine buildings, and what a good road; A road made even more evocative of Britain's past glories by the seemingly never ending stream of classic cars winding their way down to Goodwood as we wound our way back northwards yesterday.
I think Rob, that you are a Guildford man, if my memory serves me right. That's where my improvised detour home went a bit awry and I ended up back on the M25 racetrack earlier than I'd intended.

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:19 am
by AndyM
It is indeed a beautiful part of the world. There is a lovely village pub just inland from Chi (as the locals call it), it's called The Fox Goes Free but the name of the pub eludes me. I could google it, but so could you!!

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:11 am
by will vine
AndyM wrote:There is a lovely village pub just inland from Chi (as the locals call it), it's called The Fox Goes Free


Saw it, and remarked upon the name, as we came home yesterday. Sadly - did not stop.

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:27 am
by Jamie Renton
Thanks Will, great travel writing about places I might actually be able to afford to visit

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:31 am
by David Flower
the gig Will talks about was one of the series Mark Ringwood puts together each year in the Sussex area. http://www.rootsaroundtheworld.info
Despite losing his funding he is manfully soldiering on, putting great stuff on in pubs and village halls.

we have quite a Chi corner going on here. I was down again last weekend and walked Kingley Vale, a protected area and horseshoe ring of a valley containing some of the oldest yews in the world, 600 to up to 2000 years old. Claims to contain half of the UK's butterfly species. I spotted 2...From the ridge up top you have a 30 mile wide panorama out to sea.

the fox goes free is in Charlton. Great pub and grub

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:38 am
by will vine
Jamie Renton wrote:Thanks Will, great travel writing about places I might actually be able to afford to visit

I wouldn't be too sure about that Jamie. The pub hosting the gig wanted £4.10 for a pint of bitter (cheaper was available). But yes, I would recommend a visit - see David's website ref. above.

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:19 pm
by Jamie Renton
will vine wrote:I wouldn't be too sure about that Jamie. The pub hosting the gig wanted £4.10 for a pint of bitter

That's still cheaper than the Venue Formerly Known as Darbucka

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:28 pm
by garth cartwright
Lovely report, Will. I'd like to go to Chi to see the Frida & Diego exhibition - did you see it? I believe I may have missed it. Must look out for another excuse to visit.

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:44 am
by will vine
Yeah. We did go along to the Frida and Diego exhibition, but I'm not really the man to ask about what all those self portraits add up to beyond an outstanding pride in female facial hair. I'm such a philistine.

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:17 am
by DavidM
...but I'm not really the man to ask about what all those self portraits add up to beyond an outstanding pride in female facial hair. I'm such a philistine.


A well expressed philistine. That's good.

Re: Chichester - Glad to be grey?

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:32 am
by AndyM
Frida & Diego exhibition still on, but not for long; closes October 9th, for those interested.