Trip to Stansted, Parking Secured, Blues Played

“Live music man, its the only way!” Jones was visibly excited, jittering all over with anticipation. The party wasn’t until late tonight at a local dive bar, but there was still a lot of preparation to go. I’d initially agreed to going out, rather selfishly, because I thought it would be a fun way to spend the evening. Now it would seem that I’d have to dig back in to my music promoting skill set in order for the event to go off without a hitch. As Jones talked me through the last few things to be sorted, I found myself unconsciously prioritising each point in to a mental list:

1) Although Jones insisted that transport could be covered with hitchhiking, I argued for the point of renting a van. We needed to go to Stansted to pick up a guitarist, so I hopped online to a site I used in the old days to book a parking space (

2) Next stop was the airport. We grabbed the massive BMW van, I took the wheel and we sped off to grab this guitarist that Jones was so excited for. He seemed a little nervous at returning to an airport, but I assured him we wouldn’t stay for long.

3) After picking up a rather fetching country music guitarist, all blonde hair, soft southern drawl and lip curling sarcasm; we had to promote the event. Setting up a makeshift stage in town; Jones played his usual set, with some back up from our new friend.

4) The plan was to go in search of Jones’ vagrant friends, but the impromptu concert in town ended up drawing them in. The pull of blues music was strong and soon the whole band was together, a collection of seven musicians in total.

5) By the time the night had arrived, a small crowd had amassed in the town square, although Jones was planning of playing the gig in a venue nearby; it seemed foolish to stop playing with such an audience. A unanimous decision was made to stay and play the night away outside.5e6fe25d4078aeb8a54cefa28d937f67

The day was a fun one, filled with driving and collecting people. It almost reminded me of my early days in music promotion. Picking up a van, and running round a forty mile radius getting things in order for what was, in the grand scheme of things, a pretty low-key affair. This kind of grass roots organisation was what made me passionate about music to start with, I crept into bed in Jones’ oddly fragrant laminate house later, with a smile on my face.…

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A Wooden Laminate Way of Living

Jones’ life story had moved me with its honesty and kindness of spirit. Once he had finished his tale, a shadow seemed to pass over him. For a time he sat and stared into the expanse of the park, lost in another time and reliving the past emotions that had brought him to where he sat now. As quickly as the shadow came, it passed. Alan was gone and only Hobo Jones remained, a genial twinkle in his eye with none of the sadness of his former self. Slapping his thighs decisively, as if to draw an end to any past discussions, he stood up.


“There’s a party tonight, and I’d like you to come. You’re new here and you should meet the rest of our community. An old place is reopening, you could call it the source of blues in this town.” His tone was nonchalant but I could tell that this meant a lot to him; fingering his harmonica lightly, and examining the marks and scratches that covered its metallic surface.

“It would be my pleasure.” I had no plans, I was yet to even arrange any accommodation. A worry suddenly hit me, what was I doing here in Milton Keynes? How had I left myself in the unenviable position of homelessness? “Could I stay at your place tonight, Jones?”

“I thought you’d never ask, lets go there now.” And so we walked, as Jones was wont to do everywhere. Through and out of Ouzel Valley Park, leaving behind the memories that my guide had wrenched up from deep within him. “You’ll find my home a little strange, no doubt, I hope you like laminate wooden flooring!” I laughed, thinking this was some kind of strange comment that I was not yet privy to, but as we turned a corner, I understood why the attempt at a joke was made.

Standing out from the rows of red brick homes along the terrace street that we were walking by, stood a house in stark comparison to the rest. A single storey wooden shack stood proudly in the midst of the middle-class suburbia. Clad in beautifully smooth wooden laminate, and gleaming in the midday sun it was quite the sight to behold. “I didn’t do it all myself”, Jones mumbled shyly, “A travelling salesman helped me design and build it.’

I stood there dumbfounded, that a man such as Jones could have been so easily swayed by a company man. As we entered the quaint domain; another surprise awaited me, the entirety of the interior was decked out in wooden laminate; the floors, ceiling, walls, furniture and kitchen. A strong scent of citrus filled the air, and I soon discovered the source of this. Jones, once again, looked bashful. What must have been hundreds of cans of wood polish lined one side of the house, creating a shining mirage of blue and yellow. “Wooden laminate flooring has to be looked after and… I guess I like the smell.” This was a man who never ceased to surprise me, I wondered casually, how much of a fire hazard this place was.…

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Milton Keynes: A Musical Odyssey

Ask any average Joe off the street about the beating heart of music in the UK and I they’d point you in the direction of London. Home to the mega-sized record companies and scruffily dressed indie bands of tomorrow, our capital is arguably the place to be if you’re looking to find ‘the next big thing’. But if you’re looking for a real source of passion and inspiration, separate from the money hungry corporations, you’ll only find disappointment there. No, dear reader, to find the throbbing beat of true British music you must delve into the communities that create it for their own satisfaction, rather than to feed some fat cat’s offshore account.

After growing weary of the cynical money machine that was London, I made the decision to up sticks and search for the soul and spirit of ingenuity, that had been so lacking in the city. My search led me to Milton Keynes, and my first visit there – which I will recount to you here – not only revitalised my interest in a world that I thought was lost to me; it convinced me to leave our smoky capital and make a permanent move to a new found Mecca of British music.

Local Band: Monkey Sister

After a journey listening to a selection of 80s post-punk, I arrived in MK down cast (3 hours of Joy Division and New Order will do that to man) and in desperate need of an uplift. Turning off Ian Curtis and the rest of the boys, I drew my yellowing ear buds out to clean them and was assaulted by something much more raw and unrefined than a few lads from Salford. A growl, a screech, a glorious wail and my post-London blues were all but vanquished by the sound of – blues.

The source of the sound that had woken me from my existential slumber was that of an ancient man, covered in a patchwork of wool, waterproofs and bristly black hair. He sat on the floor, with his back against a bin: this man was Hobo Jones. Contrary to his name he was not homeless, his surname wasn’t even Jones. But in the weeks to come this man would show me more truth about music and passion than a hundred EMI executives. From the paved streets of the town, to the bustling pubs and bistros all the way to the great bowl itself, Jones would be my hairy, unkempt Athena guiding me through my musical odyssey of Milton Keynes.

The band play during their soundcheck. A gigantic igloo, thought to be the world’s biggest and spanning the equivalent of 3.5 double decker buses near Yllas village, Finland, was transformed into an ice stage for the world’s first gig on an igloo. The show saw UK progressive rock band, TesseracT perform on top of the immense snow structure for the Jägermeister Ice Cold Gig, which puts artists to the test as they perform in unconventional, ice cold conditions.

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