Not everything in life is simple. Red Smed, however, is. And to prove it this blog has been set up to take you deep into his deranged socialist utopia where Lenin was quite a nice bloke, , Bridgwater has been renamed Parretgrad , every home has to display a portrait of Jake Thackray and Leeds United are at the top of the premier league.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Where's Mac?

The late (well he's not arrived yet) Mac McCausland
The question I get asked most often that I can't answer is 'have you really been out with ALL of the Spice girls and how is that even possible?'. No it's not in fact. The question is 'Where's Mac?'. The people who write me fan mail (by which I include geneal enquiries and parking tickets) always first remember the great and talented frontman of the Spanners Mac 'Lawrence' McCausland who was everywhere and then suddenly nowhere for about 10 years. And nobody knows where he is. Probably including himself.

In this clip- 'Stalin was a really nice bloke', sang by Mac, I've unearthed some rare footage of him moving. I mean, some rare moving footage of him. Nostalgia , isn't what it used to be.

It comes from a gig at the Bridgwater Arts Centre which was recorded and released as the Spanners album 'I like a glass of beer now and then'. Which was true of Mac. But who was-and maybe still is -Mac McCausland. It's a question thats confounded men, women and paleontologists alike for the last 15 years.


The Skacats playing on Luhacovice, Czechoslovakia
From the quaint Kentish town of Minster, very close to the second world war Manston air field and the seaside postcard town of Ramsgate, Mac move to Combwich. A village situated on the widest part of the river Parret and within exploding distance of Hinkley Point nuclear power station. His main employment was as a barman - usually in the Labour club but also in the Art Centre. And in 1991 he was elected the Labour councillor for Eastover, which lasted 4 years. Throughout this time he was the lead singer with any band I was in and lead actor in numerous stage shows of the Sheep Worrying Theatre company including his starring role as pantomime villain 'Bad sir Bastard' in the 1990 show 'Jack and the Poll Tax' with his false black moustache sitting uneasily over his famous red beard. (see photo).

Mac also wrote several songs with me, including 'New Age Boogie Man', which we recently aired at the 'Come back (and don't come back) gig' at the Art Centre in April 2016, 'We'll be in love forever' sang by co-Spanner Alexia Vernon and Anne 'Stevie' Fraser -now working as a redcoat at Butlins Caerphilly, and several from the musical 'Czechomania' which celebrated his love for the Czech Republic-a place he helped us link up with.


Mac with some other 'Sheep Worriers'. Red Smed at the piano
In fact Mac was never happier, or more popular, than singing interminable Irish songs to visiting Czech students in those pioneering days of the first British-Czech twinning. Whether it was sat around a campfire in Moravia drinking slivovice or sat around Crowcombe Youth hostel drinking slivovice or sat arund the Labour club drinking slivovice, Mac was always part of the furniture. Which might explain the incident with the chisel and the sanding tool.

Mac was on the first pioneering bus trip with us to what was then Czechoslovakia in 1992. The band we took over was the 'Skacats' - a bunch of musicians we'd basically thrown together in the mistaken hope that the Czechs would like Cliff Richard and the Shadows and fondly remember the film Summer Holiday. Sadly they had shot people for less during the early 60s.

The Skacats is a story for another time. Which I'll tell. But can somebody..ANYBODY..tell me..Where's Mac??????

Saturday 12 March 2016

The People's Commissar of Rock'n'Roll

"It was 30 years ago today"
'They say 'a hard rain's a gonna fall'. So presumably some kind of 'hat' is advisable. But of course if you look at the idiom deeper - as I always do - then there's presumably something big and impending on the rock n roll horizon. Without a doubt it's the first Red Smed gig in 5 years.

"People have said to me 'why don't you do another gig?" explained the People's Commissar of Rock'n'Roll himself "Although admitedly more people have said 'Don't...are you listening...DON'T do another gig'. I think I'm getting the real message of what they;re trying to say. So I'm going to do another gig."

First gig in 5 years

The gig in question is the Bridgwater Twinning Party at the Art Centre on Saturday 23rd April supporting the Italian rockabilly band After Dark and Maltese karaoke king Dom Spenser. Tickets are £10 although it is emphasised that "This is to help pay to get the Italian band over here, absolutely none of this will go to Red Smed" explained one very sincere organiser as he repeatedly tugged this reporters sleeve with an increasing look of desperation in his eye. He just had the one. Which of course was a story in itself. Possibly involving cuttlefish.

Red Smed first got together a 'Hot Trot Smash the System Boogie Band' in 1986 and the line up changed with every gig and every purge. Some people came back more than once. Some people 'went missing'. Original tea chest bass player Dave 'a bit of a communist' Hanna, was 'shot trying to escape' after a Benefit gig for striking miners in Taunton, replacement bass player Matthew 'Matthew' Bartlett was found to be in wilfull possession of a Fez with the clear intention of wearing it on stage and shortly afterwards 'disappeared'.

Songs what they have done

Red Smed's first album 'Songs for Swinging Communists' was released on cassette in 1987 and featured the song 'The Day we met the Fascists in Bridgwater', voted the 'worst song of 1987' by Red Smed's own 'Sheep Worrying' Magazine.

Two CD albums were later released  to widespread acclaim, within some sections of the band, 'Parretgrad UK' (2000) and 'Do the Washing Up' (2002).

Smed explained his reasons for coming out of retirement "In 2011 I played Pat Morley's 70th birthday party. I thought that was the pinnacle of my career. Now, 5 years later, she's 93. Some things just can't be explained. So I thought if I don't do another gig soon I'LL be 93."


So of course there's one question on everyones lips. However, we won't be getting a satisfactory answer to that one. So the second question is 'what twats have agreed to be in the band this time then?'
Red Smed- described by many as
a 'Fat Twat'
Smed explained. "Well, on the positive side we've got Cat and Jo on vocals. So that means there'll be 2 singers on stage. I'll be on lead vocals. Then we're fortunate to have Nick Tuckwell, ex Bikeshed bassist in the line up and of course not so fortunate to have Fat Bald Dave on Flying-V Mandolin. The good news is that neither of them have played for 5 years either. We've always had a problem with drummers since Nervo died a few years back and has failed to turn up to gigs ever since. Although he does always send apologies. This time we've really dug back in the past and we have the legendary Dean Skilton with us on drums. Fortunately he's a regular gigging drummer-sadly, in the Exmouth area, but he was in a very early band I formed in 1972 where he played pottery drums and we sang songs about brain surgery  in a made up East European language. I'd like to reassure people that at no time did we even leave the rehearsal room."


So clearly, nothing can go wrong and everyone's now desperately looking forward to the 23rd of April. Not least because a new series of Paddy McGuinnesses 'Take Me Out' starts the same night.

However, to get a taste of what the band is all about here's some ancient videos from the primordial heritage that is Red Smed and the Hot Trot Smash the System Boogie band.