Monday, 30 April 2012

A radio legend

This is radio Peel 
A few weeks ago this blog dedicated one of its entries to Mandela's archive, which has been recently made available to the public through an ambitious online project; today, we are told of a project of a similar nature about another legendary person whose legacy will be, as of tomorrow 1st May, made also accessible online. I'm talking about the Liverpool-born radio DJ John Peel, whose 40 year-career on BBC Radio came to an end with his dead in 2004. It is difficult to think of any other music broadcaster that commands, even today 8 years after his sudden and sad departure, the same respect and admiration as Peel does. His legendary John Peel Sessions on Radio 1 were a sort of rite of passage for upcoming artists, championing and supporting  independent artists from far and wide.
I guess that for any musician,being in one of his shows was a major achievement and a passport to recognition.Peel's influence and shadow is so important that a centre has been created to honour his career while providing a creative platform for artists( So the fact that his record collection -which is, as you can imagine, huge- will be uploaded online can only be fantastic news for fans throughout the world, who from tomorrow will be able to start finding out information about Peel's records, including- in all likelihood- interesting insights about the stuff  he so passionately broadcast and promoted.A good time then to (re)discover John Peel's voice and commitment to what he so much cherished.

Friday, 20 April 2012

No Music No Life

Good old spinning vinyl: fashionable again?

It happened many years ago but I vividly remember that image (though not the city- was it Dublin perhaps?) of an old street musician playing the accordion with that cardboard sign in front of him bearing the'No Music No Life' message.I remember it because it struck me as short yet very powerful statement.As a music lover,I found it irresistible and it has been in my mind ever since,especially whenever I'm reminded of how much music can improve people's lives, making them so much bearable and enjoyable.I mention all this because this Saturday 21 April is Record Store Day;if you haven't heard of this event,which was created in 2007,you should know that it first started in the USA when over 700 record shops got together with the aim of celebrating their uniqueness at a time when independent shops were fast disappearing.Then other countries joined in and now every year is getting bigger and hundreds, if not thousands, of events will take place on Saturday. 
At a time when record sales are dwindling and consequently forcing shops to shut down (how many independent shops are there in your neighbourhood?),this day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate passionate and dedicated people who,against the odds,  manage to keep open their shops and offer the invaluable experience of browsing CDs and vinyls,asking questions to their knowledgeable staff and discovering exciting new bands in the digital era.
I firmly believe that digital natives should be taught all these skills!
Independent bands and musicians also do their bit to make this day special by releasing new stuff, meeting fans or performing in shops...
If you are lucky enough to live close to a good independent record shop, pay them a visit, browse and buy a record; make this a habit, support up-and-coming artists,crowfund them, nurture pays off because if there is no (good) music, there is no life.
Getting ready for Record Store Day?

Friday, 13 April 2012

And now for the good news

News worth reading
Unlikely as it may seem, it's not all doom and gloom out there.It is very tempting,and at times hardly difficult to avoid the idea that we are forever swamped and buried under layers of negative news;switch your radio/TV/PC on and you are likely to be fed a torrent of by now depressingly familiar and repetitive news that can only confirm, yet again, the stupidity and greediness of a ruling elite that continues to fiddle while a system they helped create (and benefit from) crumbles.
Which is why is all the more refreshing and exciting when one finds out about projects such as Positive News (; with the motto'Inspiration for a change', this is a newspaper aiming at doing what it says on the tin.Focusing on solutions and projects that bring sustainability and contribute towards a fairer world, Positive News is a timely reminder of the wealth of very interesting, creative and proactive communities that don't necessarily find their voices heard in the mainstream media.
Flicking through the pages of the latest print issue(Spring 2012)found in a North London organic restaurant, I learnt about, for example,how more and more people are choosing to break their ties with traditional banking and shift their money to ethical banks, thanks to the success of the Move Your Money UK campaign;also, it was nice to read how the online campaigning organisation Avaaz is giving voice to millions of activists on a range of issues;and have you ever heard of initiatives such as Cidades Sem Fome,which work in the Sao Paolo shanty towns, reducing hunger and joblessness through different actions linked to urban agriculture.
So in a matter of a few minutes I was reminded of the power of staying positive and how through organised and conscious action,communities can develop social and environmentally responsible projects.I also realised about the importance of spreading the word, a word that will ultimately inspire others to achieve this change.Beat the gloom,Roll on the positive news!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Off the shelf:Penguin books

Penguin 1958's classified list
One of Penguin's most famous and well-known  illustrators, John Griffiths,has recently passed away.As someone who enjoys and cherish this most-loved and respected publishing house,I would like to somehow pay homage to and celebrate Griffiths' work, who was responsible for producing some striking book covers in the late 1950s and 60s.Penguin Books was the brainchild of Allan Lane, who founded the company with the aim of offering affordable and well-designed classic books,thus changing the reading habits of vast numbers of people who wouldn't otherwise be able to get these tittles;the first Penguin Classic was the translation of The Odyssey,which was published in 1946 and sold three million copies.The era of the paperback was born.In this context, Griffiths's illustrations gave Penguin books an extra value and force,making the reading experience more enjoyable as the books' covers gained interest and became artworks in their own right.With Griffiths and other equally talented illustrators,Penguin revolutionised the publishing world and brought affordable books to everybody.