Remembering Prince

2016 is proving to be a sad year for saying goodbye to celebrities too early – and yesterday ‘the purple reign’ ended with the untimely death of Prince, aged just 57, a mere 9 years older than me.
Like David Bowie, Prince has soundtracked my life – from the eighties: ‘1999‘,’Little Red Corvette‘, ‘When doves cry‘ or his most recent ‘Pretzelbodylogic‘ he has recorded some outstanding songs which I’m sure will still being played tens of years from now. He may have a been an oddball, especially with the symbol stuff, but he was an awesome guitar player and there is now a purple hole in our lives. RIP.


Remembering David Bowie

I was awoken by the BBC News app on my phone this morning with the very sad news that David Bowie had died after an 18 month battle with cancer. A few days after his 69th birthday and the release of his new album Black Star. Incredible to think that he’d had the creative strength (maybe that’s what keep him fighting the cancer) to bring out 2 albums since being diagnosed and amazing that he’d kept it all secret – as Visconti posted on Facebook:

He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.

Along with the rest of the world my reaction was grief similar to that of losing a member of my family, bizarre reaction really as I only own a couple of his albums and wouldn’t call myself a fan, BUT he has soundtracked my entire life, with each new decade his music has always been in the background – my earliest memory being ‘Let’s Dance’ in the early 80s.

BBC 6 Music decided to play Bowie songs all day, not just the classics but the songs that seemed to have escaped us, apparently he was there most played artist, I hope that continues.

There is now a visible hole in the world where his genius was, our best way of remembering him is to simply keep playing his music – with 20 plus albums across 4 decades there is plenty to choose from.

Let’s dance put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Let’s dance to the song they’re playin’ on the radio


at the Latitude Festival – Day Four

Last day of the festival – despite the heavy rain (including the tent leaking) managed to sleep ok – bit of a relaxed morning as my first gig was Nils Frahm at the iArena at 2pm. Duly tweeted Mary-Anne Hobbs from BBC6 Music (a big fan of Nils) I was in the queue and managed to get an excellent front row position – see photos below. Excellent performance, lovely friendly chap – particularly enjoyed the playing his piano with drumsticks.
Nils Frahm, Latitude 2014

Nils Frahm, Latitude 2014
I hung on to watch Josephine Foster who followed after Nils, somewhat smaller crowd and much quieter performance – her voice may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m a fan of Liz Green so thumbs up from me!
Josephine Foster
Meant to check out Kate Tempest performance but ended up catching Eagulls – not my bag and annoyingly most of the crowd stayed for The Fat White Family – who I really wanted to see, so ended up at the back – missed must of the malarkey and mischief (they were soon down to their boxers and up to their well publicised antics) – brilliant!
Failed to catch The War on Drugs and the evening went down hill from there as I was too far away for Tame Impala and The Black Keys – wish I’d gone to see Julia Holter instead!
Another excellent festival – 2015 is Latitude’s 10th anniversary so fingers crossed for some extra special goings on!

at the Latitude Festival – Day Three

Took the foot of the pedal today having slightly overdone it yesterday – started off with a decent breakfast of fried egg sandwich at the Greenpeace cafe, which helped sort out feeling ill (lack of sleep and dehydration I think) before heading to the front row of the gorgeous Agnes Obel in the BBC 6 Music tent (photo below).


A well needed laugh followed with Katherine Ryan in the Comedy Tent before returning to my favourite venue, the iArena, for Hauschka (scroll down link page for review) – a visual as well as aural treat watching him attach things to his piano (photo below).
Took it really easy by grabbing a sofa (outdoors!) in the Lavish Lounge to catch Mariam the Believer, performing for Radio 3’s Late Junction – new discovery and worth the trip away from the more obvious acts to see.
A thunder storm interrupted night time plans so we hung about in the Faraway Forest while Damon Alban conducted the lightning.


at the Latitude Festival – Day Two

You never sleep well at a festival, the boom of late night DJ sets and people tripping over your guy ropes ensures you get a max of 4 hours. I was awoken to a very Latitude alarm clock – the cry of ‘Jemima! Brioche?‘. Thankfully things don’t kick off to around noon – our first act was the brilliant San Fermin. Possibly used to a night slot they never the less were full of energy in the BBC 6 music tent. We were on the front row so managed to get some great photos:



San Fermin turned out to be the highlight of the day as despite some serious running around we never got as close to anyone – caught the end of Mighty Oaks, a little of Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, most of the excellent John Wizards and then Crystal Fighters.

The evening started off with Goat who despite the heat were in their iconic masks and headgear, followed by Anna Calvi – a bit of an amazing Jekell and Hyde performance – sultry one minute and rock chick guitarist the next.

Slowdive (lead singer wearing an excellent ‘Shoegazer’ tshirt) were a good warm up for the final act of the night Mogwai which has to be the loudest gig I’ve ever been to – excellent performance but my internal organs did jump around to the bass!

at the Latitude Festival – Day One

This is our second Latitude Festival and we’ve learnt from last year – stayed over in a Premier Inn last night as the drive is a killer from home when you end up in a queue on the A12 for 2+ hours. Instead we arrived on site at 1.30pm, loads of camping space and no queues to get wristbands. Camp site is a stark difference from the dust bowl of 2013, fingers crossed the sunshine continues. Not a lot happening on site on Thursday so spent much of the afternoon with a highlighter pen and the programme – not too many conflicts but going to be a busy weekend fitting it all in! The night proved to be a good test for my little Panasonic Lumix GM1, despite the fact I can’t see what I’m taking without my glasses on, it was a case of auto everything and hope it turned out ok – see below. On the Waterfront Stage – clever little illusion of the dancer walking on water accompanying The Irrepressibles. The performance from Ilotopie was ok (described as a ‘surreal floating installations including Dali-esque horses, jousting knights mounted on petals, a flaming apocalyptic angel and a giant gliding Lady of the Lake.’) but no idea what was going on, not as good as last years Thursday night.

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Buying vintage type specimen books

The problem with buying old wood type is identification. Sometimes the maker’s mark is stamped on the A block but often it’s a case of putting on your deerstalker hat and trawling through old type specimen books. This isn’t a chore as I love these books, the ones from the 1930s onwards are reasonably cheap, especially if you avoid ebay and support the dwindling second hand bookshop market. I recently picked up this 1938 edition of  ‘A catalogue of Typefaces, Ornaments, Borders and Rules’ produced by Western Typesetting in Bristol. A hefty hardback of 232 pages, 10×12 inches in size full of joy! It smells wonderful too.

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Retiring an old workhorse

It’s a fitting coincidence that in the week that Apple celebrates 30 years of the Mac I replace my ageing MacBook Pro – I say ageing – it was brought in 2009 but in computing terms it’s a pensioner. So I’ve given it to my daughter to enjoy a gentle retirement doing nice things like playing Sims and watching YouTube cat videos, rather than huff and puff over a 1Gb Photoshop file. It’s replacement is a much leaner thing, very eager to please and galloping along with it’s Adobe chums.

I’ve added my first Mac, a Classic II, (I still have it and it still boots up too!) to Apple’s Your First Mac celebration and realised I’ve been using one for over 23 years – the attic is turning into a small Mac museum – interestingly I’ve always spent the same amount of money on each machine over those years!


Restoring my Peerless No. 2 press – rollers

Today I’ve moved one step closer to restoring my press with the arrival of the newly recovered rollers from The Roller Company in Sheffield. They look great in red too. They were very helpful with ideas on how to restore the rollers – the originals were completely perished having not been used for 20 years – it was difficult to imagine what they looked like, but thanks to help from Richard Small at Letterpresser, who also has the same press as me (called Ivor), sizes and spec were duly sent to The Roller Company.

Now all I have to do is put the press back together again – now where’s that tin of nuts and bolts gone?

Contact John Burke at The Roller Company on 0114 248 0305.