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Andy Long Bass Player

Four/Five/Six Strings & The Truth

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Welsh Word of the Day

I found this on @BBCWales Twitter feed and found it interesting

Avalon L325 acoustic guitar

Dale is selling this and some other gear, check it out

Earth Balm Music

The time has come to part with the musical instrument, software etc that I haven’t used in a long while.

My Ireland built Avalon L325 Legacy Premier that I purchased new from the Cheltenham Acoustic Guitar show has been out of its case less than a dozen times and so falls into that category. The instrument is a beautiful one and although I loved it at the show, I thought it too expensive to play regularly or put on a stand when I got it back home. It has a Hiscox case and all of the paperwork that originally came with it. It was built in the original Avalon factory in Newtownards, Ireland.

Enough writing. Here are the pictures:

avalon and case Avalon L325 guitar and case.

avalon only Avalon L325 guitar top and side.

full avalon back Avalon L325 figured rosewood back.

avalon side figuring Avalon L325 figured side. Sides are bookmatched.

avalon soundhole B Band magnet and condenser mic pickup.

avalon headstock back Avalon…

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Hawkwind at The Neon, Newport, March 2017

The first band I ever saw live were Hawkwind. It was the Autumn of 1980 and the ‘Levitation’ tour came to the Colston Hall in Bristol. The line up that night was Dave Brock, Harvey Bainbridge, Huw Lloyd-Langton, Tim Blake and (honest guv) Ginger Baker on drums.  I often look back and think I was spoilt by that for a first gig and didn’t really realise how special a band it was, and especially what an icon Baker was.

I’ve been a fan ever since, although not a disciple (of which there are many), I’ve seen them half a dozen times over the years, sometimes great, sometimes not so.  Last night saw the latest line-up playing at the end of my street, so I had to go of course.

With lead vocals being taken now by Mr Dibs the band’s ever changing face sees long standing drummer Richard Chadwick and 74 year old Dave Brock joined by young bassist Haz Wheaton and a keyboard/guitars chap who might have been Niall Hone?

This was a great set that took in a lot of classic material, the band performed really well. Dave is looking well for an old git, and played well to all the other old gits in the crowd (of which I am one).  The light show was everything you would expect from Hawkwind (see pics below) and the band sounded like classic era Hawkwind, with extended jams and all those classic riffs. Mr Dibs was giving it what for on the ring modulators and other expected sound effects.

Haz Wheaton took centre stage and plays bass like a proper rock monster, he is as much a Lemmy style bassist as you could hope for, battering seven shades out of a Rickenbacker and strumming huge power chords for much of the set. Sometimes switching to a Fender for a spot of subtlety, his musicianship impressed me. Kudos to you Haz, you’re up there.

Two disappointments in this show.  Firstly the sound was not great, it’s a problem that this particular venue suffers from, I’ve never seen a show there where they got it right. In this case the vocals were suffering. Volume too low, with all the crispness and clarity of lettuce, it did spoil an otherwise good show. Secondly I had been led to believe (erroneously it seems) that Tim Blake was in this line up. Hone, or whoever it was, did a reasonably good job, but Tim Blake is Tim Blake innit?

They’re playing Bristol in May so I may well go again and see what happens.  I didn’t get the whole set list down but here’s most of what I remember:

Assault And Battery, On The Edge Of Time, Utopia, Time We Left This World Today, Into The Woods, Hassan I Sabbah, Robot, Shot Down In The Night. There were more and I think they may have done ‘You Know You’re Only Dreaming’, or I might have been only dreaming?

The four encores were:

Spirit Of The Age, Brainbox Pollution, (something else here), Silver Machine

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John Wetton and Deke Leonard

Sad to see the passing away of two more great names from the rock world this week, bass legend John Wetton and Welsh guitar great Deke Leonard.

John Wetton is one of those names that has always been there for me, so many of the band he played with over the years have been, and always will be, amongst my favourite listens, albums that are on constant replay in my life.

I bought the first Asia album on picture disc vinyl when it was released in 1982 and his work with King Crimson marks my favourite era of the band (although I love all their stuff.

The riff to ‘Great Deceiver’ is still mind blowing.

Deke Leonard, though less known, was nonetheless a long standing key member of Man for most of their career, just a few breaks here and there, and featured on the majority of Man albums.

Whilst Man have not been a band that I’ve listened to a lot over the years, thy are undoubtedly iconic here in Wales and I really enjoy the few albums that I do own, notably ‘Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics’ and ‘Slow Motion.

 

 

Thoughts about Trump and ‘the ban’

atheistEarlier today I was having a little mooch through Twitter, like I do most days (OK every day!). One of the authors that I follow there is Frank Schaeffer. Frank is the author of the book ‘Why I Am An Atheist Who Believes In God’, a book which I found quite profound. Frank has also had quite a lot to say on Twitter about President Trump. This morning I read one of his tweets about the ‘Muslim Ban’, I found myself in agreement with the content of the tweet, so (as is the trait of the Twitter user) I hit the ‘retweet’ button.

Another of my Twitter friends is a man that I met a few years ago, a man with whom I share a set of interests and values, however politics is an area where we differ quite radically. On a few occasions we have exchanged views on Twitter, sometimes these exchanges have been a bit ‘testy’.

Today this friend responded to my retweet with the question ‘how can it be “Muslim Ban” when India, with 172m Muslims’ isn’t on the list of banned nations?’ My initial response, to be fair, was a little sharp.

The problem with Twitter is that it’s very difficult to have a proper discussion on any subject in 140 characters, hence these discussions can quickly descend into arguments. So I thought I’d take a look at the question and put some thoughts down, I’m no expert in this matter, these are just a few musings.

So, as my Twitter friend pointed out 172m Muslims is a lot to ignore, so I decided to take a look at some stats.

There are indeed 172 million people in India identifying as adherents of Islam. According to the 2011 census this equates to 14.2% of the population.

Let’s have a look at each of the seven countries that are listed in Trump’s 90 day ban.

The population of Iran is 77.45 million. 99.4% of the population are Muslim

The population of Iraq is 33.42 million. 95% of the population are Muslim

The population of Libya is 6.2 million. 97% of the population are Sunni Muslim

The population of Somalia is 12.3 million. 99.8% of the population are Sunni.

The population of Sudan is 38 million. 97% of the population are Muslim

The population of Syria is 22.85 million. 90% of the population are Muslim

The population of Yemen is 24.4 million. More than 99% of the population are Muslim.

So no, Trump’s ban does not exclude all Muslims, just those from these seven countries that are almost exclusively Muslim. It’s hardly surprising, is it, that this has been widely interpreted across the world as a ‘Muslim Ban’?

The people who will suffer most from Mr Trump’s actions are the people who have had to flee from their own countries in fear of their lives. Often leaving everything they own behind and being separated from their families. In short the people who will suffer most are the refugees.

America has long called itself a Christian country. The American Evangelical Christians were major supporters of Trump’s campaign. Trump stated categorically in one of his election addresses that the Bible was his ‘favourite book’.

deuteronomy-10-19It’s a pity then that neither he, nor apparently any of his supporters, have read, for instance, Deuteronomy 10:19, or any of the countless other references in the Bible in which God reminds his people how they were once exiles, refugees and strangers in a foreign land and instructs his people to show compassion to the refugee.

OK, so reading the above text back I’ve realised that I’m coming across as a self-righteous, lefty, liberal twat. Honestly that wasn’t my intention. I’m no politician and it’s a simple task to Google ‘how many Muslims in XXX?’.

People, please feel free to vote for whoever you want and support the policies of whoever you want, that is democracy. When you live in a democratic country the vote doesn’t always go the way that you wanted it to go, sometimes you have to accept that the majority of people (or sometimes not the majority, depending upon how your electoral system works), feel differently than you do about how the world should work. But at least you can have the freedom to disagree openly, you may not always agree, even with your family and friends, that is fine, just please don’t stop standing up for what you believe to be right.

To my Twitter friends. Frank Schaeffer, thank you for your insight and wisdom, please keep doing what you do, and to the other friend mentioned above, whose name I purposely left out, please keep challenging me too and let’s try not to shout at each other too much. I’ve got the feeling that you might feel differently about some of Mr Trump’s other ideas.

 

 

My book list to start off 2017

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I’ve got a bookshelf near my bed and I generally buy more books than I’ve got time to read. At the start of the year I sorted out this pile that led reading, once I’ve finished the three or four that I’m already reading at the same time.

Looking at the titles I guess this is a clear indication of the way my spiritual life has been going for several years now.  My Christian faith has always been important to me, but in recent years has become much more liberal and progressive and I find myself reading authors like those above.

Peter Enns books ‘The Sin Of Certainty’, ‘The Evolution Of Adam’ and ‘The Bible Tells Me So’ have been a welcome refuge for me so I’m looking forward to ‘Inspiration And Incarnation’.

I recently finished ‘Falling Upward’ by Richard Rohr and have just bought ‘The Divine Dance’ an examination of the nature of God from his uniquely mystical stance.

There are a couple of C.S. Lewis books in there which  my nephew bought for me in Hay On Wye. I’ve read much of Lewis’ work before and will enjoy revisiting these.

The books on sexuality and gender are of interest because of the passion that I have to see all people welcomed into the body of Christ. Inclusion and equality are Christlike traits that we need to pursue.  Equal marriage is only one of the issues that the church needs to address in this area, but it’s a big one.

No doubt more titles will be added soon and some of these books will still be on the pile next year, but I’m getting there.

Progressive Christianity Network, Cardiff

pcnA year or so ago I was invited to a small group that meets regularly in Cardiff. The group is part of the Progressive Christianity Network of Britain, a small organisation of people who are seeking an open and contemporary approach to their faith.

The Cardiff group meets twice a month in a church in Pontprennau. There are usually around 8-10 of us at the meeting which is centred around a visiting speaker, video presentation or discussion idea.

It’s been a refreshing and thought provoking time for me at the group. I don’t always agree with the ideas that come out of it, but I think that’s kind of the point, all the members have come to progressive thought via a different path.  In my own church I’m a raging liberal with funny ideas, whilst at PCN I feel more like a conservative trying to hold on to the reins.

At the start off 2017 I will be taking over as the convenor of the group, which sounds very grand, but really just means that I will be facilitating the evenings and booking speakers.

I’ve lined up a few interesting speakers already, here are some of the forthcoming evenings

17th January – Fair Trade In Wales: Aled Pickard and John Mathias

21st February – Some Christians are trans, what does that mean?: Elaine Sommers

21st March – The Dategrove Group: John Henson

Other speakers have yet to confirm topics and I have a few video evenings lined up too.

The group meets at 7:30pm on the first and third Tuesday of each month at Pontprennau Community Church. If you would like to come or want to be added to the mailing list please email me

 

 

Affirming Baptists day in Pontypridd

Jackie and I spent a very useful and informative day with some of the members of Affirming Baptists today. The day was hosted by St. David’s Uniting Church in Pontypridd and, although it was a small gathering, we enjoyed the day and made some new friends.

Affirming Baptists is an organisation that seeks to promote the acceptance of same-sex marriages and relationships within the Baptist denomination. They seek open and respectful discussion with those members of the denomination who may disagree with their views and are seeking ways in which the denomination can move forwards on the issue.

It may seem strange in our world today, but much of the church is still not ready to accept the LGBT community into full communion. This is a subject that has been at the top of my agenda for several years now and I have campaigned for full inclusion and equality for our LGBT family. I simply cannot accept a faith which excludes people based on their gender identity.

Today’s gathering was a time to share stories and experiences. We heard about some missional works that were taking place at Bloomsbury Baptist Church in London. Two gay couples shared their experiences within the church and a local pastor talked about their church’s decision to register for same sex marriage.

A small bookstall was held at the event, and the authors of several of the books were present. I picked up some interesting books; ‘Let The Bible Be Itself’ by Ray Vincent and ‘Good As New’ and ‘The Gay Disciple’ by John Henson.

The day was closed with a short devotion from Jeremy Marks of Post Courage. We came away encouraged and refreshed.

 

 

 

Website rebuild

So…

My website used to be all blue and stuff.

now it looks like this…

That’s all

Andy

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