Monday, 23 December 2013

Interviewing the Puppini Sisters...

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to interview The Puppini Sisters for my job with The Vintage News.  They were mid-way through their winter tour and were stopping off in Brighton at St George's church in Kemp Town.  The start of the evening didn't go quite to plan - their car broke down on the way to Brighton which meant that instead of interviewing them at 6, we eventually had our chat at half past ten.  The ladies were so lovely - you wouldn't even know they'd just spent four hours in a Little Chef!  It did mean that we were able to enjoy the whole concert - with the entire first floor gallery of the gorgeous 17th century church to ourselves.

After the concert, with the furniture being packed away around us, I managed to grab a few words with Marcella Puppini, Kate Mullins and Emma Smith.  I must apologise for the wording of some of the questions.  I was quite tired (it was 10.30 and I hadn't had any dinner!) and I basically forgot how to put words in their proper order!

So, the interview...

Sadie Doherty (Me) - Hello, I'm here with The Puppini Sisters. How do you think the gig went?
Marcella Puppini -  It was great fun for us, so if it was great fun for us, there is a good chance that everybody else had fun as well.
Emma Smith - It's definitely a good sign if we're having fun!

SD - How has your sound changed since the last album?
MP - Well... we actually evolve constantly.  Obviously, we have a new member in the band; Emma, so that is bound to bring changes and they are all wonderful changes.  And we evolve with whatever we listen to, with whatever we love.  At the moment, we are very interested in four-to-the-floor...
Kate Mullins - Yeah, giving it a disco beat definitely helps [us when performing] live, to give it that energy and people actually then stand up and start dancing to it.
SD - I did notice that quite a few [of the] songs sound different to how are on the album...
KM - We must've done Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy I don't know how many thousands of times... Mr Sandman, you know, all of those kind of songs so many times.  For us, we just need to keep it interesting... and fun so we enjoy singing them.
ES - It's important to keep it varied for our regular audience.  They want to hear a bit of variety, they want to witness our sound changing with the years as well. That's the whole part, the whole point of being a fan of a band - you get to witness their development.
KM - We always write a set list assuming that somebody's come last year and the year before and you want to try and keep it fresh.
SD - It's the tenth anniversary of the Puppini Sisters soon, are there plans for a big celebration?
MP - Ooh, we hadn't thought about it, so thank you for that!
ES - Marcella always cooks lamb of leg at any...
KM & MP - Lamb of leg?!
[all laughing]
ES - Lamb of leg?! No, leg of lamb! any kind of celebration, she's whipping out the legs.
MP - Yep, all legs!

KM - Yeah, we'll have to think about it.  We should commemorate it, you're right.
SD - So you have done quite a bit in America (apologies for such poor wording), do you get a different reaction over there?
KM - Yeah
MP - Well for them, it's more... it's part of their heritage, so they know it really well.  Everybody knows who all the sisters groups are.  They say [in an American accent] 'oh, that arrangement, that was The Andrews Sisters, wasn't that The Boswells?' ... 'no, actually that was us'. They really want to get involved.
ES - yeah, they're really in to it, it's a really big deal out there
SD - One of the reasons you've spent a fair bit of time in America is Michael Bublé. How did that all come about?
KM - He asked us!  He said he'd been listening to our Christmas album whilst exercising for the last couple of years and decided to do... well, I think he decided to do one of his own a long time ago. But you know, ended up taking three or four of the same songs as from our album.  And we took that as a nice compliment and then he also very kindly asked us to come and collaborate on Jingle Bells. So we had a fab time, a fab time.
ES - And we're on his new album as well; To Be Loved and that's a track that we did called Nevertheless which is a Dean Martin tribute.
KM - Yeah, he's very talented, [a] very, very nice guy, we've thoroughly enjoyed working with him
ES - Yeah we do love him

SD - Apart from Michael Bublé, you've done a few other collaborations - not necessarily musically, but Vivienne Westwood for the Jilted video and Janie Bryant [who designed] your costumes for the Hollywood tour.  How was it working with them?
KM - She's [Janie Bryant] amazing, she's a lovely, lovely lady as well, we're still in contact.
MP - Yeah, Janie [is] really talented, she's got such an eye and she can capture the look with nothing.  She doesn't need to even get proper vintage, she'll find things that look vintage and she has [the look] completely.
SD - She seems to have really honed her craft working on Mad Men.
KM - God yeah, she knows what she's doing.
MP - And she's really good fun as well.
ES - Which you have to be if you want to hang out with us!
SD - It's really nice watching you live because a lot of bands will just say 'this is this song, here it is', but you really interact with the audience...
KM - Well, today we were slightly hysterical because we broke down on our way here, so there was a lot of pent up 'arrggggh'...
SD - We should say that the car broke down rather than you broke down!
KM - No, no, not us! The vehicle broke down, but inadvertently, we may also have broken down.
MP - We did.
ES - We spent four hours in a Little Chef is Warwick
MP - [a little despondent] I broke down there...
KM - So there was a little bit of hysteria to the banter today, but nonetheless we do always try and keep it as fresh as possible and really try and listen to the audience and interact with how they're feeling.

SD - What is next for The Puppini Sisters?
KM - We've got a lot of plans, we're working with lots of different producers and working on lots of different sounds.
ES - there may be a new album in the pipeline, so watch this space
SD - When you are writing new material, how does the process go? Do you all sit down together or do you go off separately?
MP - It used to be that everybody would write separately and that worked really well.  But then we decided to try writing together a little bit more and that is working brilliantly.  We've been collaborating with other people as well, [it] is always great to bring in fresh ideas.  We tended to be a little one stop shop, each of us - we can write, arrange and produce pretty much - [even] sew the costumes!
MP - We're going to Germany...
KM - We're going to raid the Christmas markets for presents.
MP - And then that's it! Then it's turkeys for about two weeks...
KM - ... Goose! We're a goose band not a turkey band!
MP - Oh yeah, you're doing goose.  I've never had a turkey in my life, I'm Italian - we have pork.  Just as an aside - do with it what you will!
Thank you to Marcella, Kate and Emma (and to Tom and Jenny for setting up the interview).

Just in case you were wondering, I was wearing a wool, Betty Levay dress with a lovely grapes/leaves brooch I was given.  I'm also pretty pleased with my hair, I didn't have time to re-set it after the Chap Ball so I just had to brush it out.


Monday, 16 December 2013

When my 45s and I took a spin up to London

I have been incredibly rubbish at posting anything recently, and for that I can only apologise.  The reason for my lack of writing is that I've just been so busy - mostly fun things so hopefully I'll get round to writing about them all at some point!

Anyway, I thought I'd write about something I did last Monday (I've still got to write about the Chap Ball and interviewing the Puppini Sisters as well, but I'll get to them).   As I mentioned in my last post, I occasionally DJ and as a result, I was lucky enough to be asked by Diddy Wah to guest on his monthly radio show that goes out on NTS.  Diddy Wah's shows always have a theme and because of my sideline of painting fans for my etsy shop, The Vanity Case, the theme was temperature - keeping cool, getting hot - that sort of thing.  The show itself is recorded in a little booth just off of Kingsland High Street in Dalston and I was asked to take a handful of 45s to play during the show.

Me and Adam (aka Diddy Wah) during the show.

In between the records, we had a little chat about some of the stuff I get up to, mainly DJing with The Gin Slingers, filming with The Vintage News and hand-painting fans for The Vanity Case.  Rather than write much more, I'll leave you with my selection of temperature-tinged tracks.  If you like what you hear, you can listen to the whole show on NTS's mixcloudI've also just posted my latest mixcloud show which you can listen to here, and as it's the festive season... it's all about booze!

Got the Water Boilin' - Tommy Bruce and the Bruisers (1960).  The b-side to their gravelly rendition of Ain't Misbehavin', Got the Water Boilin' was originally a doo-wop record from 1955 by The Regals, a version that is well worth searching out.


Jungle Fever - The Tornados (1962).  Jungle Fever is the flipside to The Tornados #1 hit, Telstar, famously a Joe Meek production, recorded at his home studio on Holloway Road in North London.

Chills and Fever - Jet Harris (1962).  There are many great versions of Chills and Fever (including Tom Jones' debut single) and this one was released by Jet Harris just one month after he left The Shadows and is the 'chills' to Tom Jones' 'fever'.


Turkish Coffee - Tony Osborne (1962).  I just love this instrumental track from Tony Osborne (who worked as the musical director of The Six-Five Special on the BBC) as it has a great middle-eastern sound.  Fun fact, this is the record I'm holding in the picture above. Oh, and it's also featured in my latest mixcloud.

Fever - The McCoys (1965).  Released on Immediate, this much covered song is given the garage treatment as you can see in this clip from US show Hulabaloo.


Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Cocktail Hour with Ginger Fizz

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on here before, but of an evening, I do the very occasional bit of DJing.  Mainly at friends' nights, I've been lucky enough to spin some platters (only vinyl of course!) at Cotton Tail Club, Rave On, The Black Dove and most recently in London for the recording of MFC Chicken's new live single.  As Ginger Fizz, I'm usually sharing the decks with one of my best gals, Becky Boop and Ms Cotton Tail and collectively we are The Gin Slingers (we even have a facebook page and everything!).

The Gin Slingers - Ms Cotton Tail, Becky Boop and Ginger Fizz
Anyway, I digress.  The reason I am talking about DJing (and by extension the music I love) is because a couple of weeks ago I uploaded the first episode of my show, The Cocktail Cabinet, to mixcloud.  Each episode will be themed and as it was nearing the end of October the show was a Halloween special - who doesn't love Halloween tunes?  Most of the songs I play on the shows are things I've picked up on vinyl and are mostly from the '50s and '60s. There will be an awful lot of rhythm and blues, doo wop, rock 'n' roll, a bit of Northern soul, garage and '60s girl groups, with the odd smattering of surf, swing, gospel and popcorn.

I hope you'll have a listen to the show and let me know what you think.  The next one is animal themed and should be up either tonight or tomorrow, although I'm having some issues with equipment at the mo.  If you like what you hear, you can follow me on mixcloud, just search for Ginger Fizz.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Do the Albequerque Turkey - Bad Bad Whiskey Album Review

I interviewed the Bad Bad Whiskey boys last year at Vintage Nation, (you can watch that here - skip to 3.33 for the interview).   Now they are back with a new drummer and a new album - 'Albuquerque Turkey'.  It's been almost two years since their debut 'Home Cookin'' was released, so it was about time that we heard from the Godfathers of Skifflebilly.

Along with Don Gio on drums, Bad Bad Whiskey is comprised of Citizen Lane, (singer, guitarist and handy with a harmonica) and The Moocher, who rounds off the trio on the double bass.  Together, they play a mixture of rockabilly, skiffle (et voilà- skifflebilly), rhythm & blues and jazz, all with a skiffle edge.  The album was recorded as live, with the band all gathered around a microphone in Gio's shed - it gives the whole recording a slightly homemade quality that really suits the music.
'Albuquerque Turkey' is a mixture of original material and reinterpretations of songs from artists such as Woody Guthrie, the Memphis Jug Band and Hank Williams.  In my humble opinion, all the best albums have a least one song dedicated to a dance craze, so the tradition of songs such as The Twist, The Madison and The Hucklebuck, the title track is all about the Albuquerque Turkey.  Such is the physical response this song is set to illicit from those that hear it, Bad Bad Whiskey are even calling on their fans to send footage of them bopping and jiving to be featured in their next video(email your footage to
One of the three original tracks, Give Her Back, really stood out.  It's really upbeat and features some great vocals from frontman Citizen Lane - it could only be improved by being slightly longer than 85 seconds!  Another stand out track is their rendition of Hound Dog as is unlike any other version I've heard.  Closer to Elvis than Big Mama Thornton, its somehow darker tone puts an interesting, and very well executed, spin on the classic song.
Alongside the trio, the album features a few well-chosen guests, including Anthony Hodgson on the fiddle for  I Ain't Got Nobody and piano from James Farebrother on Move That Thang.  Also featured is Col. Spencer from MFC Chicken playing the 'yakety sax' on versions of Vince Taylor's Brand New Cadillac and Roy Brown's Hip Shakin' Baby. These additions give Bad Bad Whiskey the opportunity to try out a greater range of sounds with considerable success.  Overall, 'Albuquerque Turkey' is a strong follow-up to their debut, albeit with much more of a rockabilly feel than its more rhythm and blues influenced predecessor.  It goes some of the way to capturing much of the spirit of their often raucous live shows.

The band are launching 'Albuquerque Turkey' on November 9th at The Great Eastern in Brighton, details can be found here.  As well as seeing a couple of sets from Bad Bad Whiskey, there will also be special cocktails and food deals from Brighton Burger.

You can download 'Albuquerque Turkey' (and their previous offering, 'Home Cookin'') from their Bandcamp site, or head down to the launch on Saturday.

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Sunday we went to Kellerman's...

This post is long over-due as it is about an event I attended at the very beginning of September.  After our coverage of Casablanca, Future Cinema invited us back to attend another of their immersive cinema spectaculars.  The film in question was Dirty Dancing and I couldn't resist taking a few cameras along to capture it.  Follow the link here to see the footage.
 Like many ladies, Dirty Dancing has been a firm favourite for years and surprisingly for me, it isn't the dancing as much as the music that really captured my attention.  Early '60s hits from the likes of Otis Redding, Mickey & Sylvia and the Ronettes were blasted across the corner of Hackney Downs that had been converted into Kellerman's family resort.
My crew for the day, Katie and Hayley
Dotted about the 'resort' were all sorts of activities you'd expect to find on a family vacation; archery, aerobics and life-drawing were just some of the things you could get up to.  There were also plenty of food stalls present, with styles as varied as lobster, macaroni cheese and venison!  I had a schnitzel burger from Speck Mobile and it was amazing - the best value of all the stalls I looked at and was incredibly tasty.
When we settled down on our blankets to enjoy the film, the legions of Johnny Castle's adoring fans started getting rather excited and were almost beside themselves by the time Mr Swayze made his first appearance (I think drink may have helped as well).  Just as key scenes of Casablanca were acted out during the build up to the film, all of the dances (clearly most important parts of the film) were performed around the resort throughout the film.
I think I actually enjoyed this more than Casablanca, mainly because it felt like you were on holiday with 4,000 (mainly female) Dirty Dancing fans.  Future Cinema's next venture is bringing Ghostbusters to life.  It's not quite in our time range, but I can't wait to see what the next classic film to be given the Future Cinema treatment.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A short dress and long drinks - The official Bootlegger launch

Sorry for the lack of any posts, I've been spending a lot of time in London and setting up my etsy shop (I make fans if you didn't already know!) This does mean I've got lots of things to write about - but no time to write about them!  I've decided to forego chronology and write about the latest event we covered. 

I was handed a cocktail as soon as we arrived
- it's a tough job but someone's gotta do it
We were invited by Bootlegger White Grain Spirit to their official launch, which was held in the Clapton branch of the über trendy Blue Tit salons.  I've seen Bootlegger at a few 'vintage' events over the past few months (they even sponsored the Brighton Blogger meet up in July) as they seem to have really targeted that scene.
Not recommended for dogs (unless they're real booze hounds - I thank you)
The salon is consciously cool, with lots of distressed wood, reclaimed furniture and vintage props, which made it the perfect place for the launch of a drink based on the erm, spirit, of prohibition era booze.  Of course, there were plenty of cocktails doing the rounds, my favourite was the Moonshine Cooler, a mix of Bootlegger spirit, sugar syrup, cloudy apple and lime juice.  There are two other Blue Tit salons in London, one in Dalston which co-owner Perry described as a little more in the Edwardian side and the newest of the three, the Peckham branch with its Art Deco styling and original Victorian tiles.

Interviewing one of the salon owners, Perry
 The Vintage 78s DJs (whom we met at the National Vintage Awards) were on hand to spin a few platters as well as providing an array of parlour games to keep the guests entertained throughout the night.
A selection of gramophone needles

With Annabel from the Vintage 78 DJs
doing our best promo girl poses
Anyone for (miniature) croquet?
 I'm sure there will be many other Bootlegger events of the vintage scene, but for now I'm going to sit back after a hard day of editing and have a nice glass of Bootlegger and apple.

During our interview, James from Bootlegger joined me in sampling
some of the prohibition-inspired spirit
 Oh, and while I remember, my dress isn't vintage - it's actually from ASDA (!) and I bought it about 7 years ago for a Christmas party.  I don't wear it very much as it's quite short but I just love the print.
 Have you ever tried Bootlegger or bought a really short dress from Asda ... or both?

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Singing in the Rain (in the dry) Live by the Lake (we didn't find the lake)

I'm not one that often goes in for competitions, but I gave the one on Jeni Yesterday's blog a go because it just looked like such a nice evening out.  The prize was two tickets to see Singing in the Rain on an open air screen at Kenwood House, with the score skilfully recreated by the London Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
I took my trusty sidekick Hayley (she'll hate me for calling her that!) along with me and we met up with Jeni and Hanson.  As we were making our way through the grounds of Kenwood House, we were in awe of the beautifully manicured gardens and were interested to see lots of other things going on in the grounds such as dancing from the London Swing Dance Society, massages and a moon-based photobooth.  We set up our little picnic, created an interesting new cocktail (called vapple if you're interested) and settled down to watch the classic musical. 

"Barbara can you hear meeee?"
Gene Kelly's widow Patricia was over from America and introduced the film - she also put a few rumours to rest including Gene's apparent dislike of the casting of Debbie Reynolds.
Having the score played out by a live orchestra was incredible and it made the film even more engaging.  The score had been laboriously reconstructed by John Wilson (who I had the pleasure of seeing at the Proms last year) as the scores from the majority of MGM musicals were destroyed in late 1960s.
Look! I managed to remember to get photos of what I was wearing.  My dress is one of the first vintage dresses I bought and it looks like it's handmade, I'd guess it's early 1960s.  My gloves and shoes are both charity shop finds (this isn't the most informative description of an outfit). 
10 points if you can spot Kenwood House
Faux bob and visible pins
I only realised when I got home that even though the event is called 'Live by the Lake', yet we'd managed to completely miss any large expanses of water!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Vanity Case launches...The Vanity Case!

Those who follow me on instagram (@TheVintageNews) may have seen a few snaps over the past couple of months of various hand-painted fans.  Originally, I'd made the first one as a bit of a promo for The Vintage News but they seemed to cause a bit of a stir.

 The one that started it all 
When I took that first fan to events (notably the Chap Olympiad), so many people asked where I got them from that I decided to set up an Etsy shop so now you can buy one for yourself!

You can get a fan in cream, black, navy, pink, red or white with various colours of writing.  Generally, I will paint up to three words of your choice on to your fan, but I can paint more words, logos or other designs (such as on the Gin Slingers fan).


I've also set up a facebook page for my Etsy shop (also called The Vanity Case, of course) so feel free to have a look there too.  Both the facebook page and Etsy shop are in their very early stages at the moment so bear with me!  Oh, and at the moment I'm only shipping to the UK, but I'm hoping to expand that soon.

 The lovely Becky Boop (one of my fellow Gin Slingers)
with her fan ready for the heat of High Rockabilly
So, I hope you like the fans and if you are in the need of one after some dancing, on holiday or to promote your business, then why not pop over to my shop?

Thursday, 22 August 2013

My first outfit post!

Inspired by Jeni Yesterday, I've finally decided to do an outfit post!  I actually took these photos (or more correctly, Hayley took them) in May when we went for a little jaunt around the seafront, but I hadn't got round to doing anything with them.  So here is my first outfit post, I will try to do more - or maybe even just remember to take pictures of what I wear when I'm filming!
Outfit details below all the pictures 
It was very windy so I am actually just making sure my hat
doesn't go for an unexpected swim in the channel
I think this also marks the first post with a 'pier-shot',
which coming from a Brightonian is pretty good going
This looks like I have tiny feet and really lumpy calves -
the wonders of photography
Should've ironed that
The corselette means I can means
I can wear gorgeous tops with sheer backs
I'm a little teapot...

My lovely helper Hayley who put up with taking
many dozens of photos of me being really awkward
1950s hat: picked up at a vintage fair, can't remember which one

1930s style sunglasses: a present from my mum, they're Russian and have CCCP (so pre 1991) and a few other bits in Cyrillic written on them

Blouse: actually a peignoir I bought for £5 when I worked at To Be Worn Again that I shortened

Corselette: What Katie Did, of course

Gloves: again, from any number of vintage fairs

Shoes: Aris Allens I bought at HepCats' Holiday and had resoled - they are the most comfortable shoes

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed a little peek into my wardrobe, I'd love to hear what you think of my outfit and the post in the comments below.