Anna Sewell (Black Beauty)

BlackbeautyBest known as the author of the classic novel Black Beauty, English Novellist Anna Sewell was born 30 March 1820 in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. When Anna was twelve, the family moved to Stoke Newington where she attended school for the first time. Two years later, however, she slipped while walking home from school and severely injured both of her ankles. Her father took a job in Brighton in 1836, in the hope that the climate there would help to cure her. Despite this, and most likely because of mistreatment of her injury, for the rest of her life Anna was unable to stand without a crutch or to walk for any length of time. For greater mobility, she frequently used horse-drawn carriages, which contributed to her love of horses and concern for the humane treatment of animals.

At about this time, both Anna and her mother left the Society of Friends to join the Church of England, though both remained active in evangelical circles. Her mother expressed her religious faith most noticeably by authoring a series of evangelical children’s books, which Anna helped to edit, though all the Sewells, and Mary Sewell’s family, the Wrights, engaged in many other good works. While seeking to improve her health in Europe, Sewell encountered various writers, artists, and philosophers, to which her previous background had not exposed her.

Sewell’s only published work was Black Beauty, written during 1871 to 1877, after she had moved to Old Catton, a village outside the city of Norwich in Norfolk. During this time her health was declining. She was often so weak that she was confined to her bed and writing was a challenge. She dictated the text to her mother and from 1876 began to write on slips of paper which her mother then transcribed. Sewell sold the novel to local publisher Jarrolds on 24 November 1877, when she was 57 years of age. Although it is now considered a children’s classic, she originally wrote it for those who worked with horses. She said “a special aim was to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses”.

Sewell died on 25 April 1878 of hepatitis or tuberculosis, five months after her book was published, living long enough to see its initial success. She was buried on 30 April 1878 in the Quaker burial-ground at Lammas near Buxton, Norfolk, not far from Norwich, where a wall plaque now marks her resting place and Her birthplace in Church Plain, Great Yarmouth, has been the home to a museum and tea shop.

Ray Davis (Parliament Funkadelic, P-Funk)

FunkadelicMotorCityRaymond “Ray” Davis was born March 29, 1940. He was the original bass singer and one of the founding members of The Parliaments, and subsequently the bands Parliament, and Funkadelic, collectively known as P-Funk. His regular nickname while he was with those groups was “Sting Ray” Davis. Aside from George Clinton, he was the only original member of the Parliaments not to leave the Parliament/Funkadelic MusicCollective in 1977. He was born in Sumter, South Carolina, and worked with Roger Troutman and Zapp in the early to mid-1980s. His distinctive bass can be heard on “I Can Make You Dance,” and “Do Wa Ditty.”

Parliament Funkadelic’s origins date back to the doo-wop group The Parliaments, which was formed in the late 1950s in Plainfield, New Jersey by George Clinton and For a period in the 1960s Clinton was also a staff songwriter for Motown. Despite initial commercial failure (and one major hit single, “(I Wanna) Testify” in 1967), The Parliaments eventually found success under the names Parliament and Funkadelic in the seventies as a funk, soul and rock music collective headed by George Clinton. Funkadelic had a psychedelic rock touch whose influences include the amplifier sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, James Brown’s funk, blues, Sun Ra’s experimentation, Frank Zappa’s and the Coasters’ humour, the concept albums of the Beatles and the Who and southern soul artists like Otis Redding and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, other influences also include the funky side of Hendrix and Sly Stone, Motown soul groups turned funk groups like the Temptations, the political songs of the Impressions, Rufus Thomas’ southern funk, doo-wop groups like the Coasters for the humour and Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. Their style has been dubbed P-Funk.

funkadelic-75-lets-take-it-to-the-stageCollectively the group has existed under various names since the 1960s and has been known for top-notch musicianship, politically charged lyrics, outlandish concept albums and memorable live performances. Overall, the collective achieved thirteen top ten hits in the American R&B music charts between 1967 and 1983, including six number one hits and and three platinum albums.By the early 1980s, Clinton consolidated the collective’s multiple projects and continued touring under the names “George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars” or “George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic”. In 1982, Clinton released the songs Computer Games and “Atomic Dog”. During the next four years, Clinton released three more studio albums (You Shouldn’t-Nuf Bit Fish, Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends and R&B Skeletons in the Closet) as well as a live album, Mothership Connection (Live from the Summit, Houston, Texas) and charting three singles in the R&B Top 30, “Nubian Nut”, “Last Dance”, and “Do Fries Go with That Shake?”.In 1985, he was recruited by the Red Hot Chili Peppers to produce their album Freaky Styley, because the band members were huge fans of George Clinton and funk in general. Clinton, in fact, wrote the vocals and lyrics to the title track which was originally intended by the band to be left as an instrumental piece. The album was not a commercial success at the time, but has since sold 500,000 copies after the Red Hot Chili Peppers became popular years later.

clintonhardcoreRay Davis briefly joined The Temptations, after the death of original bass singer Melvin Franklin, and appearing on the 1995 album For Lovers Only. Davis left the group after being diagnosed with throat cancer. In later years, he performed with former Temptation Glenn Leonard in Leonard’s group, The Temptations Experience. And in 1998, along with original Parliament-Funkadelic members Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins, Calvin Simon, and “Shady Grady” Thomas, he formed the Original P.

In 1997 Sixteen members of Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and P-Funk’s effect on modern popular music is still immense. Besides their innovation in the entire genre of funk music, George Clinton and P-Funk are still heard often today, especially in hip-hop sampling. The song “Atomic Dog” is one of the most sampled songs in the history of hip hop, especially in the sub-genre G-funk. The Red Hot Chili Peppers video for their 2006 single Dani California featured a tribute to Parliament-Funkadelic. Parliament-Funkadelic’s musical influence can also be heard in R&B, Soul music, Electronica, Gospel, Jazz, and New Wave. Sadly Davis died in New Brunswick, New Jersey on July 5, 2005, of respiratory problems.

Dave Greenfield (The Stranglers)

imageDave Greenfield, English Keyboard player with Punk Rock band The Stranglers) Was born 29 March 1949. The Stranglers comprise of Hugh Cornwell, JeanJacques Burnel, Jet Black and Dave Greenfield. They began as the Guildford Stranglers on 11 September 1974 in Guildford, Surrey. They became popular for their aggressive, no-nonsense playing and idiosyncratic approach during the 1970’s pub rock and punk scene. They played New Wave,art rock and gothic rock through to sophisticated pop hits included “Golden Brown”, “No More Heroes”, “Peaches”, “Always the Sun” and “Skin Deep”.The Stranglers’ early sound was driven by Jean-Jacques Burnel’s melodic bass, and Dave Greenfield’s keyboards, with the growling vocals and sometimes misanthropic lyrics of both Jean-Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell. The group was originally called The Guildford Stranglers, Hugh Cornwell was a blues musician prior to forming the band and had briefly been a bandmate of Richard Thompson, Burnel had been a classical guitarist who had performed with symphony orchestras,Jet Black was a jazz drummer, and Dave Greenfield had played at military bases in Germany. Their early influences included pre-punk psychedelic rock bands such as The Doors and The Music Machine. The band’s early albums, Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes and Black and White, all released within a period of 13 months, were highly successful containing songs like”Peaches”, “Something Better Change” and “No More Heroes”

During the 1970s, The Stranglers toured Japan twice, joining the alternative music scene of Tokyo, which was evolving from the punk sound of Kyoto based band 村八分 (Ostracism), whose music influence spread to Tokyo in 1971. The Stranglers were the only foreign band to take part in a landmark scene focussed around S-KEN Studio in Roppongi, and The Loft venues in Shinjuku and Shimokitazawa from 1977 to 1979 with the bands “Friction” “ARB” and “Red lizard”. Burnel also toured with ARB at the Japan Rock Festival at Hibaya Park appearing on the songs , “Yellow Blood” and “Fight it Out”. In1979 Burnel released an experimental solo album Euroman Cometh, Cornwell recorded the album Nosferatu in collaboration with Robert Williams and the Stranglers released The Raven, which heralded a transition towards a more melodic and complex sound and included the songs “Duchess”,”Nulcear Device”,”Don’t bring Harry”,”BearCage” and “ShahShah a Go Go”. The Stranglers’ next album The Gospel According to the Meninblack, a concept album exploring the connection between religious phenomena and extraterrestrial visitors and contained the song “Who Wants the World”.

This was followed by La Folie (1981) another concept album, featuring the songs , “Let Me Introduce You to the Family”, and “Golden Brown” an evocative waltz-time ballad, with an extra beat in the fourth bar. The Stranglers then released a greatest hits collection, The Collection 1977–1982 which ncluded the new single “Strange Little Girl”,and in1983 they released Feline, which included the UK No. 9 hit “European Female”. In 1984 they released Aural Sculpture which feature the three-piece horn-section. In 1986 they released the album, Dreamtime, dealt with environmental concerns and featured the song”Always the Sun. The Stranglers’ next album, 10, featured a cover of The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” and another ’60s cover, “96 Tears” and, the follow-up singles”Sweet Smell of Success” and”Man of the Earth”. In August 1990, founding member Hugh Cornwell left the band to pursue a solo career. So the Stranglers recruited John Ellis, who had had a long-standing association with the band And had worked with Burnel and Greenfield in their side-project Purple Helmets, and they recorded four albums: Stranglers in the Night (1992), About Time (1995), Written in Red (1997) and Coup de Grace (1998).

In 2004 The Stranglers made a comeback with the acclaimed Norfolk Coast album and a subsequent sell-out tour, together with their first Top-40 hit “Big Thing Coming”. In 2005, Coast to Coast: Live on Tour was released, supported by “Goldblade”. In May 2006, Roberts left the band, leaving Burnel, Black, Greenfield and Warne. Suite XVI, the follow-up album to Norfolk Coast, was released in September 2006 (the title is a pun on “Sweet 16″ and also a reference to the fact that it was the band’s sixteenth studio album) and featured punk and the country and western Johnny Cash pastiche/homage “I Hate You”. On 4 November 2007, the band (with Black) played a sell-out gig at the Roundhouse in Camden, North London, marking the thirtieth anniversary of their headline run at the same venue in 1977. During 2008, The Stranglers played various major festivals around Europe and Jet Black sadly suffered some health problems however he was back with the band for their UK tour later in the year.

In 2009 the band played at the biggest open-air festival in Europe (400,000 – 500,000 rock fans every year) – Przystanek Woodstock inPoland And in 2010 they played a sold out 16 date UK tour, Including a return to the Hammersmith Apollo in March. A new double CD compilation album, Decades Apart, containing at least one track from their sixteen studio albums plus two new tracks, “Retro Rockets” and “I Don’t See the World Like You Do” was released in February 2010. They also played a number of festivals, including Weyfest, Glastonbury and T in the Park in the UK and Oxegen 2010 in Ireland, and concerts in Japan, Greece, Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria.In May 2010 The band released a new live album and DVD, recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo and in March 2011, the band completed another UK tour. Supported by Burnel’s long term friend, Wilko Johnson, & The Wilko Johnson band. In April, 2011 the Stranglers toured Europe, and started work on a new album Giants, which was released in 2012, containing their first instrumental since “Waltzinblack” on The Gospel According to The Meninblack. The “deluxe” version consisted of a second disc also contained tracks from the ‘Weekend in Black’ acoustic session in November 2011. In 2013 the band played a full UK tour. Several festivals and a session at the BBC Proms on 12 August. On September 2014 the band celebrated their fortieth anniversary and embarked on a Ruby tour throughout the UK (22 dates) and Europe (16 dates) started on February 27th 2014.

The Stranglers live Alexandra Palace 1990 http://youtu.be/l1MoR3j5M_I

…and now for something completely different

PythonBest known for his parts in the Monty Python Television Series and Films, the actor, writer and composer Eric Idle was born 29th March 1943. Eric Idle joined British sketch comedy series Monty Python alongside Graham Chapman , John Cleese, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. The first episode of British sketch comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired on BBC One on the 5th October 1969 and there were 45 Episodes spread over four seasons until December 1974 on BBC Television. The comedy was often pointedly intellectual, with numerous erudite references to philosophers and literary figures. The series followed and elaborated upon the style used by Spike Milligan in his groundbreaking series Q5. The team intended their humour to be impossible to categorise, and succeeded so completely that the adjective “Pythonesque” was invented to define it.

The shows were composed of surreality, risqué or innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines. They also featured Terry Gilliam’s wonderful and imaginatively bizarre animations, often sequenced or merged with live action. Broadcast by the BBC. with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, The show often targets the idiosyncrasies of British life, especially that of professionals, and is at times politically charged, and over the years many of the sketches have attained classic status including The Lumberjack Song, Ministry of Silly Walks, Upper class twit of the Year,Spam song, The Dead Parrot Sketch (Bleedin’ demised, Joined the choir invisible 😀 and Bicycle Repair Man.

The members of Monty Python are all highly educated. Terry Jones and Michael Palin are Oxford University graduates; Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman attended Cambridge University; and American-born member Terry Gilliam is an Occidental College graduate. Chapman also played the lead roles in two of the Python’s Films – Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Life of Brian. In addition to mo Python Eric Idle also appeared in the the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set, alongside Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam’s surreal animations which linked the show’s sketches together, and defined Monty Python’s visual language in other media (such as LP and book covers, and the title sequences of their films). Since Monty Python split Idle has also appeared in Many films including Nuns on the Run and National Lampoons European Vacation.

MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL http://youtu.be/Iw4le4xXNDU

Jo Nesbo

imageGlass key award winning Norwegian author and musician Jo Nesbø was born born 29 March 1960, he worked as a freelance journalist and a stockbroker before he began his writing career. As of March 2014 more than 3 million copies of his novels have been sold in Norway, and his work has been translated into over 40 languages, selling 23 million copies (2014). Nesbø is primarily known for his crime novels about Inspector Harry Hole, Which follow Harry Hole, a tough detective working for Crime Squad and later with the National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) who struggles with alcoholism and works on solving crimes in authentic locations in Oslo and elsewhere, from Australia to the Congo Republic.Hole takes on seemingly-unconnected cases, sometimes found to involve serial killers, bank robbers, gangsters or the establishment, but also spends a significant amount of time battling nightmares and his own demons. The Harry Hole novels are multi-layered, violent and often feature women in peril, as typified by The Snowman.

16134936In 2007 Nesbø also released his first children’s book, Doktor Proktors Prompepulver (English translation: Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder). The Doctor Proctor series follow the story of Doctor Proctor, a crazy professor waiting for his big break, his next-door neighbor Lise and her peculiar friend Bulle. The ruthless twins Truls and Trym Thrane sometimes lurk in the background. This series is reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s books. It deals with “the importance of being who you are and the ability of human creativity and imagination to give you the courage to do so.” Nesbø has also written novels Blood on Snow, More Blood on the Water and The Kidnapping. Film studio Warner Brothers has also bought the rights to Blood on Snow and plan to make a screen adaptation, to be produced by and possibly starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Other Nesbo novels adapted Into films include the 2011 film Headhunters which is based on the novel Hodejegerne (the Headhunters). Future projects include A new TV crime drama series entitled Occupied, based on a concept by Jo Nesbø, is to be co-produced by Norway’s NRK and French-German network Arte. Yellow Bird, the Swedish production house responsible for the Wallander TV series, and the films Headhunters and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, has begun work on the first series of ten episodes. The series is described as a multi-layered political thriller which envisages what would happen if Norway were to be invaded by Russia in order to seize the nation’s oil resources. Aside from writing he is also the main vocalist and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre.

Dave Keuning (The Killers)

Dave Keuning the Guitarist with Las Vegas band The Killers, was born 28 March 1976. The killers were formed in 2001, by Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards), Dave Keuning (guitar, backing vocals). Mark Stoermer (bass, backing vocals) and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (drums, percussion) completed the current line-up of the band in 2002. The name The Killers is derived from a logo on the bass drum of a fictitious band portrayed in the music video for the New Order song “Crystal”. studio albums which the band have released include Hot Fuss (2004), Sam’s Town (2006) and Day & Age (2008)and Battle Born and Direct Hits. They have also released one compilation album, Sawdust (2007) and one live album and DVD titled Live from the Royal Albert Hall (2009).

On September 16, 2013 the Killers released “Shot at the Night” which was produced by Anthony Gonzalez and also released their first greatest hits compilation, Direct Hits celebrating a decade together as a band and fulfilling a contractual requirement with their record label. The album featured songs from all four studio albums, the new single “Shot At The Night” and another new song “Just Another Girl”.The release of Direct Hits was followed by a short promotional tour, the band also played a number of festivals in 2014. The Killers have stated that they will be taking an extended break before beginning work on their fifth studio album. On December 1, 2014, the band released “Joel the Lump of Coal”. The single features late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. The song marks the ninth consecutive year in which the band has released a Christmas song. All proceeds went to AIDS charities as part of the Product Red campaign.

To date, the band has sold over 6 million albums in the United States, over 5 million albums in the United Kingdom, and over 15 million worldwide.Some of their best known songs are Mr Brightside,smile like you mean it, When You were Young, Bones, Read my Mind and For Reasons Unknown. The Killers have also performed at many festivals including T in the Park, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury Festival, V Festival and the 2013 Isle of Wight Festival.

Bridge of Spies

I would like to watch the exciting thriller Bridge of Spies which is out on DVD and stars Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Dakon Matthews, Mikhail Gorevoy Will Rogers and Austin Stowell. It is set in Brooklyn, New York in 1957 during the height of the Cold War, and concerns Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) who retrieves a secret message from a park bench and is arrested by the FBI and prosecuted as a Soviet Spy.The FBI offers to drop the charges if Abel cooperates and reveals the details of his spy network, but he refuses. He goes to trial, but the government wants it to appear to be “a fair trial” so that the Soviet Union cannot use it for propaganda.

The bar association presided over byjudge (Dakin Matthews) request James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) defend Abel. Donovan has previously worked on the prosecutions of Nazi war crimes in the Nuremberg trials, and since then has been an insurance lawyer with experience in negotiations. As news of him defending Abel is put on newspapers, Donovan is treated with disdain in public places. At the trial, Abel is found guilty of all charges. Before the sentencing, Donovan meets the judge and argues that Abel not be sentenced to death, as he could serve as “an insurance” should a U.S. spy be captured by the USSR. The judge sentences Abel to 30 years imprisonment, outraging the public. Despite the intimidation Donovan appeals unsuccessfully to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the conviction,

Some time later, a U2 spy plane pilotFrancis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot down and captured in the Soviet Union. So Donovan, proposes a prisoner exchange: Abel for Powers. Donovan agrees to handle negotiations. As the USSR doesn’t want to admit Abel is their spy, the exchange is to take place in East Germany. Meanwhile, Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers), an American economics graduate student, visits his German girlfriend in East Berlin also gets arrested for being an American spy.

Donovan tells his wife that he is going on a fishing trip to England, and travels to West Berlin, accompanied by CIA agents. Donovan goes to the Soviet Embassy in East Berlin, and meets Ivan Schischkin (Mikhail Gorevoy), who claims to be Second Secretary at the Embassy but is actually the KGB’s chief in Western Europe. Donovan negotiates with Schischkin to have Abel, Pryor and Powers released simultaneously however Schischkin informs him that Pryor is held by East Germany. However Donovan discovers that the USSR and the GDR (East Germany) both want Abel, so he liaises with Wolfgang Vogel (Sebastian Koch), a GDR lawyer who supposedly represents Abel’s family, and arranges to exchange Abel for Pryor, Although the CIA is interested only in Powers’ return. Donovan also negotiates for Pryor’s release as long as the Abel/Powers exchange goes ahead to which Schischkin agrees and sets the exchange on the Glienicke Bridge in Potsdam, Berlin

However, Vogel pulls out of the negotiation after finding out about the deal Donovan made with the USSR. So Donovan ,meets Vogel’s superior, Harald Ott (Burghart Klaußner), East German attorney general, despite CIA protest and suggests the 2-for-1 deal, but Ott refuses. So Donovan sends a message to Ott, stating that the U.S. wants both Pryor and Powers for Abel, or the entire deal IS off. The scene is set for a tense finale At the Glienicke Bridge, as Donovan tries to secure the release of Abel in exchange for Powers while Pryor is taken to Checkpoint Charlie to be handed back.