My links page is there for everybody, not just for people who play music. It has links to websites etc. that are really useful for all sorts of reasons and the opinions expressed are all my own. I have asked the people concerned if it's ok to put them on my website and they've all been fine about it. There are no deals involved; it's just people I think you should know about because they're all doing something that helps to make it easier to smile each day.
None of them are arseholes.
Brilliant online store for just about everything that you will ever need to enhance sound, record, transport, pack away, repair, wire up, mix, protect, replace, upgrade your set up, and find the unfindable - in my case a stereo jack to right angle jack as a back up for my new pedal set up AND what I now know to be called locking pins (for speaker/lighting stands). For some reason, in this dear old country of ours, this kind of thing is not worth stocking (like thumb picks used to be). It is an Alladin's Cave for gigging and recording players. They are lovely people too AND their prices are good AND they actually thank you and contact you personally. How cool is that.
Great company to deal with and, in my humble opinion the G7th Newport is the best capo I've found yet. Someone on acoustic guitar forum reckoned it was just nicking the Bird of Paradise capo idea. The fact that the G7th came out 8 years before the Bird of Paradise doesn't seem to have crossed his mind. Obviously a time traveller. Noel Jones, who dealt with me, is great.
If you like food from the Indian subcontinent which isn't pretentious and has an interesting menu; the kind that makes you decide that what you really need to do is steadily work your way though the menu each time you go, then look no further. Brilliant food cooked, presented and served by some of the loveliest people you could hope to meet.
" . . .almost as good at bass playing as he is at crosswords." (Arnie Cottrell)
Rick Foot & Jo Long
"Great acoustic duo who are not quite like anything you've heard before." (Vince Cable)
Grant is a real satirist, unlike the pampered few who grace our airwaves. He plays great stand up bass and he is genuinely funny and he writes and performs songs which challenge and open your third ear, you know, the one which channels straight to the honest part of your brain.
Lovely studio between Romsey and Southampton where Bee Strings was recorded in their live room in front of a small invited audience.
A great friend and a fine blues guitar player/singer who has recorded several internationally critically acclaimed albums. He really understands what the heart of a song is.
Vera Van Heeringen
A truly gifted multi instrumentalist and singer of old time music. Her first album is a stunning collection of great songs and tunes, most of them written by Vera. She should be famous.
Sound Performance Ltd.
A seriously good cd/vinyl/whatever format production company. Bee Strings was mastered superbly by Andrew Thompson and manufactured by the company.
The Guitar Store
The best guitar shop I know - it has spawned some amazing guitarists from behind its counter.
Sam Gifford makes the best cases around for guitars and mandolin family instruments. I have been repeatedly told by people at gigs that the case is a work of art - much cooler than the mandolin inside! Sam has earned serious respect both sides of the Atlantic. Another person who should be world famous!
Romsey Chiropractic Clinic
Alex is a genius. He's really good and he's fast! If he can stop me falling apart he can do anything.
Greg Salek's garage manages to keep my old Passat (2004) and my old Hiace (2001) running and nothing is ever too much trouble. Most of the mechanics are Polish and all are excellent. They work Saturdays and the coffe's great. Jobbing musicians take note!
Elderly Instruments is a wonderful music store in Michigan, USA. A veritable Aladdin’s cave of everything that you could need or wish for if you play a stringed instrument. It is so refreshing to be treated as an important customer no matter what your position on the ladder! Check them out.
Luke is one of the finest musicians in the vast field of folk music that these islands have produced. I won't attempt to give any more detail than that. Follow the link and check out his website and his music and then start buying it. Your life will be enriched.
Jock's Hot Sauce
Jock Tyldesley is another of the fine musicians that these islands have produced; a fiddle player of renown and earth moving intensity. He is now responsible for producing a mind- and taste-bud-blowing hot sauce which needs to be tasted to be believed. Follow the link, especially you people from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Nara Japanese Restaurant
This Japanese restaurant in Bedford Place, Southampton is the real deal. Sonia and Joel both know what they're talking about and this place is great on every level. The food, drink, service and atmosphere are wonderful and very addictive and not expensive. 11 out of 10.
Retro Lebanese Restaurant
If you like Middle Eastern food then you must give Retro in Charminster a try. Like Nara it's the real deal, not some twee little bistro for people searching for the next big thing foodwise. It's like stepping into the kind of places I used to eat in in Algeria and quiet bits of Paris. Great coffee too. No alcohol, but you can take your own.
This is one of the warmest, friendliest, comfortable, cool, vibrant places you could wish to find yourself in, whether as a performer or as a customer, visitor, enthusiast, open minded explorer, person who cares about other people and being in a welcoming environment . . . It's brilliant and the veggie/vegan food is great and so is the coffee and various teas and cold drinks (including alcoholic beverages!!!) Bick and Janni are wonderful people as are Duncan and the rest of the staff (whose names I don't know yet. I love it and so does Sonia (and Graham and Rick and Katherine and Grant and Vicks and Jo and Jan and Joel and just about everyone).
The legendary venue which everyone thought would disappear when the premises in Portswood were sold for redevelopment as, you've guessed it, student accommodation.
But Guy and Rich and a host of courageous, committed, community minded champions refused to give in and the new premises (the old Maple Leaf in tthe Polygon are of Southampton) are great, better, in fact than the old place, there is more of a vibe and the front bar is an amazing space. The variety of music on offer is terrific and the team is one of the loveliest bunches of people you could hope to meet.
This is cheating - There is no link as Kate doesn't have a website but you all need to know about her marvellous place.
I visit Kate's café fairly regularly, often on a Sunday morning with my double bass playing friend after a hard night's gig on the Saturday.
The atmosphere is very chilled and wonderfully friendly and warm at the same time. All the staff are great, helpful and make you feel welcome (I've eaten breakfast in a lot of places and countries over the years and the welcome bit is often missing).
The coffee is seriously good and quick! The food is fantastic: locally sourced (Kate's mum's homemade marmalade is a must too) and delicious and perfectly cooked: Kate's breakfast hash is the best breakfast ever: the small, chunky fried potatoes which make up part of the tasty mound are absolutely spot on! Just right! The food is always fresh; if you have toast you get as much butter as you could possibly want. The sauces are in bottles (the same ones they start out in!). Scrambled or Poached Eggs Royales are also wonderful. One amazing Sunday morning, I watched Kate take orders, help cook and serve every table all by herself AND speak individually to each table telling them exactly how long their food would be (an early shift member of staff hadn't arrived). It was seriously impressive AND she was still smiling when I left.
Don't just take my word for it; try Kate's for yourself!
Antony Edwards is a dear friend and he loves every kind of music imaginable.
Antony Edwards is an artist who takes photographs which touch your soul.
Antony Edwards sees the world in a way that makes me feel like I've been walking around wearing sunglasses my entire life up 'til now. His pictures are beautiful, powerful and direct and they take your breath away. He is also one of the most generous, kindest people you will ever meet. The world is a better place with Tony in it.
This is a really useful website, especially for ageing musicians who aren't rich. I can only speak from experience but I have been using them now for about 8 years and they've been quick and accurate every time for me. My latest order (because I stood on a pair of optician price distance glasses) one pair of distance prescription and one pair of distance prescription sunglasses - £75 total. Should be here by early next week.
Debbie and Helen are both on my blogs page. I shall be writing stuff about the two links soon. They are both strong, compassionate and important.