Last Friday of the Month, January 2024

Welcome to the second instalment of the monthly Three Hundred Songs update, published with metronomic inevitablity on the last Friday of the month.

Site Roundup

This project is primarily about songs, which is convenient, because there are many. And many of them have a personal resonance. Writing about John Otway’s Geneve was quite intimate, as was Terence Trent D’Arby’s Holding On To You from my student days.

Alongside new stuff, I’m slowly revisiting the older posts. It’s all just part of trying to improve as a writer, and this month we have rewrites of Sweet Little Mystery by John Martyn, and Still Shaking by The Ashtray Hearts.

There are new ideas too. For example, I’m having a try at book reviews. Because I think an important skill for a writer is to be able to read—by which I mean, to read critically and objectively—I’m going to do it in public and talk about books sometimes. I’ve started with Mainlines, Blood Feasts & Bad Taste by Lester Bangs:

If there is a consistent theme to the oeuvre of Lester Bangs as a whole, it is that of Lester Bangs himself. Make no mistake: Lester Bangs writes in the first person.

There will be more, like it or not.

Indeed, please do stay tuned, because I have a few other ideas in the works. Some are quite ambitious, including some much longer-form pieces. Can’t promise it’ll all be worth the wait, but be nice, I’m trying here.

Out and About

January can be a bit quiet for gigs, but I still got to see the mighty British Lion roar. Obviously, Steve Harris is as close to bona fide rock royalty as you can get. Despite his questionable choice in football club, the chance to see him rock, up close in a smaller venue, was pretty special.

Another highlight was ONIPA. They are described as Afro-futurists, and whilst I don’t really know what that means, they very nearly took the roof off the building. Along with throbbing support from local legends Hobo Chang, that was a vintage evening for our little town.

Speaking of Hobo Chang, check out Fiona’s new shop, Red Rocket Music.

Around the Web

There are still plenty of decent blogs (remember blogs?) and this month I’ve been enjoying both Here Comes The Song and No Badger Required. You’ll hear more about both in these pages in the fullness of internet time.

The Bob Harris Archive is a great resource. Bob has introduced the UK to some of the best music of all time and the Archive is a great insight into the radio part of his career. Just hit the search button and you’re guaranteed to find something worth discovering.

Artist of the Month

Artist of the Month is Sarah Jarosz. To be fair, artist of pretty much any month is Sarah Jarosz, and not just because I have a giant crush on her and would happily welcome her to become the next Mrs. Threehundredsongs.

Here in the UK, we first learned of Sarah when she was about four years old and still at music school. That—as with so much of our musical education—was thanks to Transatlantic Sessions. Run Away, with Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas, is beautiful, and not just for someone “at such a young age”, as Sarah so diffidently puts it:

Shrewsbury Folk Festival are very, very good at Internet, so here is a lovely full set from Sarah, from there in 2017 or so:

And of course, she then formed superdupergroup I’m With Her with the amazing Aiofe O’Donovan and Sara Watkins. Here they are from NPR‘s legendary Tiny Desk series:

It’s hard to imagine three more talented musicians being so damn compatible.

Sarah just gets better and better, and it’s gratifying to watch her own songwriting and musical style develop into…I don’t want to say “maturity”, because thats overrated. I just hope she doesn’t let herself get sucked too far into the commercial/mainstream, as the production values on one or two of her recent videos might suggest. What she has is unique and special.


Each month I’m putting together a little playlist of music that’s been on my mind, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Previous Months

  • January 2024 – Sarah Jarosz, ONIPA, Hobo Chang, Lester Bangs
  • December 2023 – Zoë Wren, Sam Kelly, Matt Williamson, Ricky Ross

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