How did your New Year celebration go? Did you have a good time? Can you even remember?
If you're like us, you gave up going out for a celebration, because it's so damn expensive - especially the post-midnight taxis. Instead, we curled up on the sofa with a drink or two and watched Jools Holland's Hootenanny. If you're not familiar with the show, allow me to elucidate. Basically, it follows a similar pattern to the root programme [Later.... with Jools Holland], in that there is usually a wide variety of musical artists taking turns in playing songs. Like I said, variety is the key, the programme is noted for showcasing rock, RnB, folk, pop, jazz, blues and even world music - often all in the same show. Another feature of the programme is that artists are encouraged to leave their comfort zones and sing/play something completely different to them. For example, this year's Hootenanny had Cyndi Lauper performing her hit, 'Time after time' in a gentle folk manner, having earlier sang 'Girls just want to have fun' in a completely over-the-top reggae-fied fashion. Very entertaining.
Other acts this year included Aloe Blacc, The Vaccines, Sandie Shaw, Buddy Greco, Jessie J, Imelda may and the wonderfully named Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three. On top of all that, you still have Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Band, featuring the huge-voiced Ruby Turner and Ska trombone legend Rico Rodriguez.* Go on, Google or Youtube any of them and watch some clips - especially of the Hootenanny itself if you can. I can guarantee there'll be some thing for you there.
Of course, with such a wide variety of people to watch, Julie had a field day with her Gems. Are you ready? There's a major hit of Gems coming your way right now. Sit back, read and enjoy.
First up was Betty Wright, an amazing singer of superb pedigree, and not a small amount of experience in the business. Then too, there was her hair. Wow. That's a LOT of hair, isn't it, Julie?
Yes, that's Betty in the picture, but I swear the 'fro was even larger on New Year's Eve.
Then came Aloe Blacc. I love his voice, but - like many, I imagine - I wondered about the spelling of his surname. Julie was also wondering about his name, as it turned out. Although, not in quite the same way as me...
Sheesh. I have to admit, that one got her The Look. Not that she was abashed or ashamed at all. In fact all it did was make her laugh even harder and inspire her to new heights/depths. Take this next Gem, where Jools was introducing Mr Blacc by saying how well things have been going for him.
Some way into the programme, after some excellent sets (Aloe Blacc) , a couple of mediocre ones (The Vaccines) and an utterly WTF performance from Sandie Shaw (Still barefoot after all these years!), there finally came one of the performers I had been waiting for - Caro Emerald. Seriously, if you haven't heard her, you need to do so immediately. Stop reading his now and go find something by her. This will still be here.
Welcome back. She's good, isn't she? Looks good too. I need to have a cold bath after watching her for too long. It's nice to see someone who doesn't think that the best look for a woman is stick thin, but has a bit of shapely meat on their bones (see also Adele). Julie, of course, put it a little differently.
So... all the rough bits have been smoothed out. Is that what you're saying, love? Yes... I can go along with that.
After all this, I can't very well leave you without a clip from the show, can I? To be honest, the main reason I hadn't before now is that I'm all-too aware that many of our international friends won't be able to watch the clips due to licencing issues. Tell you what - have a gander at the afore-mentioned Pokey Lafarge. They were this year's 'fun oddity that's still great entertainment' band.
*I'll be honest here - It's great to see Rico is still alive and willing to perform, but he's really struggling now, and the trombone isn't the lightest or easiest of instruments to play - and it showed.