A Quiet Word with Ben Watt at the Islington

benwatt_studio1Ben Watt’s worn a variety of hats in the last thirty years: half of Everything But The Girl, solo artist, deejay, producer, club owner and independent label operator.

Ben’s had a new wave of acclaim in the last year, his solo record “Hendra” has won the Best Difficult Second Album award from AIM, and now “Romany and Tom”, his second autobiographical book, has been nominated for the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction, a prize which, as far I’m concerned, he ought to win.

On Monday September 22nd he’ll be with us at the Islington, talking to Mark Ellen and David Hepworth about all this and more and sharing some rare pictures with us. We’ll be recording the evening for a Word Podcast. If you want to make sure you don’t miss anything, you’d better be there.

Tickets are £10 and available here.




An indiscreet podcast with Simon Napier-Bell – if you don’t want to miss any of it, you’d better be there

There’s not a lot you can say about pop music that isn’t true. Whatever your prejudices you’ll find in the history of pop music the evidence to support them. I don’t know whether Simon Napier Bell would call himself a cynic but since he’s the first person to write a history of pop music who’s also read a recording contract you could say it amounts to pretty much the same thing.

His new book, “Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay” is sub-titled “the dodgy business of popular music” so you couldn’t accuse it of having a hidden agenda. Napier Bell’s career goes back to the early sixties where he worked with Burt Bacharach on the soundtrack of What’s New Pussycat?, managed the Yardbirds and wrote the words for You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, and carried on through the seventies and eighties with first Japan and then Wham! whom he took on an unprecedented successful tour of China.

The book travels from the saucy song that provides its name through the minstrel shows of the turn of the last century and Elvis and The Beatles to the smoke and mirrors world of Live Nation and Pop Idol. It’s a vivid, wide-ranging history of just about every attempt to make money out of music since the 18th century and a tale as chock-full of rascals, rank opportunists and shameless twisters as you’ll find this side of a Mel Brooks farce.

Simon will be our guest in a special, never-to-be repeated live version of the Word Podcast on August 19th at the Islington in, er, Islington. On that night this world-class raconteur will be talking to world-class listeners Mark Ellen, David Hepworth and Fraser Lewry about his career and the colourful people he’s worked with. Some of it will be edited for further circulation via the podcast. The only way you can make sure that you don’t miss a single word is to be there.

Tickets are £10 and are on-sale here.

You can find out more about it here.


The Word Podcast live on August 19th

In response to public demand we’re putting on a recording of the Word Podcast live on August 19th. It’ll be at the Islington. Mark Ellen, David Hepworth and Fraser Lewry will all be there plus further guests to be announced.

Banter, hoary old rock anecdotes, audience participation, your presence urgently required. Tickets here.



Our first Manchester Word In Your Ear – with Stuart Maconie and Mark Ellen

P1000322There’s nothing like speech. It’s amazing how many subjects you can touch on, buttons you can press, situations you can recall and pictures you can paint in the course of the kind of free-ranging conversation I had with Stuart Maconie and Mark Ellen at Tuesday night’s Word In Your Ear in Manchester at the very excellent and most welcoming Deaf Institute.

These included: the use of fertiliser bags as makeshift sleeping accommodation during the early years of rock festivals, the very specific sex appeal of the young Vera Lynn, the strange popularity of Wishbone Ash among school boys in the early 70s, the chances of hitting a 12” copy of a Phil Collins single in-flight with an air gun, the links between British heavy metal and British heavy industry, the curious British genius for pop music and Van Morrison’s uncanny resemblance to a mini-cab driver.

Stuart was talking about his book The People’s Songs and Mark about his memoir Rock Stars Stole My Life.

Thanks very much to them for taking part and for everyone who came and made it feel like such a success. I don’t think there will have been a night of higher quality banter anywhere this week. (Unless you count the things we said in the pub afterwards.)


Keep May 19th free and stay tuned for a details of a second Mark Ellen show

WIYE-March-28The show with Mark Ellen at the Slaughtered Lamb on May 12th has sold out but we’ll be announcing another one to take place a week later so stay tuned and make sure you’re signed up to our mailing list and you’ll get full details. Sign up to the list on the right.

And don’t forget our March 28th show with Ben Watt talking to me about his book Romany and Tom, My Darling Clementine playing selections from their album The Reconciliation and Vinny Peculiar presenting songs from his new LP Root Mull Affect.

This all takes place in the womb-like comfort of the downstairs lounge at the Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell. The nearest tube stations are Farringdon and Barbican. Because it’s a Friday show we’ll be starting early and finishing by ten o’clock, therefore you’ll be able to fit in an evening’s clubbing afterwards.


Word In Your Ear Returns

We’re back, albeit belatedly, for 2014 with two shows that build on our reputation for bringing together music and speech to make a unique London night out.

On March 28th we proudly present an evening of close-quarters music and book talk featuring Ben Watt and winsome country duettists My Darling Clementine at the Slaughtered Lamb.

Ben will be talking to David Hepworth about Romany & Tom, his acclaimed new book about his musician parents. He describes it as “a true story of the post-war years, ambition and stardom, family roots  and secrets, life in clubs and care homes. It’s also about who we are, where we come from and how we love and live with each other for a very long time”.

You can order it here or wait until the night when Ben will be signing copies.

My Darling Clementine, who have triumphed at Word In Your Ear in the past with their full band, will perform a special acoustic set as the band’s core duo of Michael Weston-King and Lou Dalgleish, featuring songs from their album The Reconciliation?. Selections from further afield that Michael and Lou have played in recent weeks include material by Gram Parsons, the Everly Brothers and Pete Seeger so you never know what else you might get.

This is an opportunity to enjoy some entertainment and education in a unique, spontaneous, never-to-be-repeated form, this time in the womb-like comfort of the downstairs lounge at the Slaughtered Lamb in historic Clerkenwell.

Tickets available here. We look forward to seeing you there.

We’re further delighted to announce that Mark Ellen‘s memoir Rock Stars Stole My Life will be published on May 12th and he’ll be talking to David Hepworth about it that very night, also at the Slaughtered Lamb. Tickets will be going on sale in due course but meanwhile save the date.


Revision notes for Sunday’s WIYE at the Lexington

Here’s Rhodri Marsden’s piercing analysis of the umbilical connection between the words “waiting” and “aniticipating”

This is “Build A House Of Love”, an Andy Gregory-arranged tune which is on the iTunes version of the last Pugwash album.

This is a Guardian extract from Daniel Rachel’s book “Isle Of Noises”.

This is Jake Morley singing “The Everything Goes Back To Normal Button” .

Tickets here.


We WIYEsh you a Merry Christmas

Now’s the time to book your tickets for our very special seasonal Word In Your Ear show at The Lexington on December 1st.

We’ll be opening our Advent Calendar on that evening with Pugwash, the Thomas Walsh-fronted ensemble from Ireland who form part of the massively popular Duckworth Lewis Method, and Dream Themes, the Rhodri Marsden-led Scritti Politti spin-off who specialise in live versions of such powerful nostalgia triggers as the themes from Grange Hill and Ski Sunday.

The show will be hosted by David Hepworth and will feature well-chosen seasonal selections in both recorded and live forms. Tickets are on sale now. You can buy two for £25 and four for £45.

Sicne this is on a Sunday it’s an ideal opportunity for people who’ve been unable to get to any of our weekday shows in the past to come and sample the unique atmosphere that is Word In Your Ear.

* Christmas music!

* Seasonal bonhomie!

* A rare opportunity for weekenders in the capital to enjoy the WIYE experience!

* A snip at £25 for two people!

* Something will happen that you won’t want to miss!

* The spirit of the Idle Race will be in the room!

* Come on down and see old friends!

Tickets here.

WIYE on Twitter.

WIYE on Facebook.


Did anyone take any decent pictures of last night’s show?

I was somewhat preoccupied so I didn’t. Which is a shame because it seemed to go very well. Can’t tell you how much simpler it is when you have a solo act rather than a band. Mr B turned up at six and did a sound check that took all of four minutes. He told me that the first time he did a gig with the backing tracks on his iPhone his wife rang to see what time he was coming home. Morgan Howell hauled in a couple of his giant Supersize Art 45s which seemed to excite a lot of people. Bob Stanley was understandably disappointed that his publisher failed to organise some books for him to sign, which was a shame. Mark Lewisohn said he didn’t know exactly when his third Beatles book would go up to and signed a load of the lightweight’s back pocket version of volume one. Everybody seemed to enjoy it. All we lack are pictures. If you’ve got any could you send them to wiye.london@gmail.com. Ta.

Got this from Trevor Dann. Ta, Trevor.