Day of the Deadbeats 14 at Isis Farmhouse

Once in a far-off time, when giant herbivorous rock bands roamed the earth, the turning of moon and tide would regularly bring the biggest and fiercest of Oxford’s musical dinosaurs to Isis Farmhouse for the gig known in the annals of legend as the Day of the Deadbeats. Musicians, acolytes and ne’er-do-wells both human and supernatural would gather at this legendary venue for nights of raucous bacchanalia and superb music, hosted by the Deadbeat Apostles, memorably described as “where the Harlem Apollo meets the Grand Ol Opry”, and featuring a roster of guests it was no exaggeration to call the cream of Oxford’s musical community. 

How different the landscape looks now, eighteen months on from the day the giant asteroid strike of covid came to lay waste to our world and live music was forced underground into a bunkered parody of its former self. Now, as Oxford’s musicians emerge blinking and pallid from their windowless home studios, bug-eyed from the dim glow of a thousand laptop zoom meetings and tormented by the wreckage of a hundred cancelled festivals, we can only wonder if those halcyon days can ever be recaptured. To which the riposte swiftly comes – of course they can, this is the Deadbeat Apostles we’re talking about!  And the Day of the Deadbeats 14 will take place at the Isis Farmhouse on Saturday August 7th. And it’s still free entry for a full night of beautiful music. 

In fact, the Deadbeats have been far from idle during lockdown. Their double A-side single Viva La Evolution and I’m A Man was released last year, accompanied by a splendidly theatrical video, assembled from afar by the band and  a cast of thousands  and most kindly reviewed in these pages. This blossomed into the short movie ‘On Record’ where empress of the Deadbeats Michelle Mayes expanded her film-making talents, her consort and co-lead vocalist Mike Ginger expanded his wardrobe and guitarist and all-round tech wizard Garry Richardson expanded his home studio set-up. All of which led to an explosion of new creativity. This year has brought not one but two new Deadbeats’ singles, the hard-rocking The Cuffs Are Off and the frankly discofied Deadbeat Shuffle. Expect the band, completed by shamanic, elfin drummer Alex Ogg, and shambling, ruined bass player Hugh Garrety to perform all these and other new material on Saturday. No grass growing underfoot here.     

And what a pleasure it is for the Deadbeats to be returning to their spiritual home of the Isis Farmhouse for the event, where Adrian Burns and Noreen Cullen, legendary proprietors and undisputed King and Queen of the Isis, have created a premier music venue from slim beginnings and against considerable odds. With the seamless service of their friendly, good-looking and only occasionally long-suffering staff catering to the food and drink needs of all, Adrian and Noreen are free once again to bring their musical excellence to the party and will be the Deadbeats first guests on the night. Expect virtuoso guitar and violin-based madness with a jazz edge, although these guys could play heavy metal or dub step and it would doubtless still sound phenomenal. 

For their other guests of the night, the Deadbeats are privileged to be welcoming an intoxicating blend of old and new. Gracing the event for the first time will be Emma Hunter, who with partner Tom Bruce creates an evocative soundscape using flamenco guitar, layered loops and complex, harmonious, vocals. In a rare solo show, expect Emma’s haunting melodies to bring the desert plains of Mexican to the banks of old father Thames. Long-time Day of the Deadbeats devotees will be familiar with the unique stylings of old friends Beard of Destiny. This two-man army of a band have delighted the event with Gray Barlow’s baritone Chicago blues and Ian Campbell’s mighty drumming on more than one occasion and are all the more welcome for that. Expect to scratch your head in wonderment at how so few people can make so much music while fighting off the urge to dance embarrassingly. Or perhaps that’s just me.  

So get yourselves along to the Isis Farmhouse at Iffley Lock on Saturday to partake of the sweet music of life in the company of the extended Deadbeat Apostles family. Not just a gig, but also an important step in rebuilding civilisation. Hugh Garrety for The Oxford Times August 2021

“Sweet memories, times are a changing, Notes sweet and true remind me of you”. Can’t Stop the Rain – The Deadbeat Apostles

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”. Bob Marley

“Well I hope you never walk my lonely road again, You ruined me as soon as I saw your face, You walk around like you got something bout’ you dear, But all you got is dead and buried child” The Cheating Kind – The Deadbeat Apostles

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything”. Plato

“There’s a change a coming, I feel it in my heart”. Muddy Creek – The Deadbeat Apostles

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness”. Maya Angelo

“The night is blistering, the humidity is high. Close, it’s getting close. Your hair sticks to your neck, the shirt clings to your chest and the drums beat faster, harder. They dance, with ferocity they dance. The sweet smell of magnolia fills your nostrils and the sky is a blaze with reds and ambers as the silhouettes interchange across the fire. They sing “Coming up slow from the back lane aint got time son” Rattlin’ bones and white eyed chanting. “Coming up slow from the back lane aint got time son” Some say they crawled out of the swamp land out beyond the bayou, a saviour to the lost souls of a forgotten dream. From the ether they come. They bring hope from desperation, power to the weak, and they burn baby burn in the sweet glory of salvation. But there is no redemption here.” The Deadbeat Apostles

“I have all my own teeth, but I’m not proud of it”. Hugh Garrety

“The only truth is music.” Jack Kerouac

‘Without music, life would be a mistake”.  Friedrich Nietzsche

“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” Jack Kerouac, On the Road

“Only at dawn should a man awake from excess – at dawn agleam with red and sorrowful resolve.” Patrick Hamilton, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky

“Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.” Elvis Presley

“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the “good life”, whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.” Hunter S Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

“I just passed my identification crisis and came back to country music” Gram Parsons

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

“When there are dogs and music, people have a good time”. Emmylou Harris

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.” Jack Kerouac, On the Road

“To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave.” Elvis Presley

“Music, not sex, got me aroused” Marvin Gaye

“dream long enough and dream hard enough
you will come to know
dreaming can make it so…” William S. Burroughs, My Education: A Book of Dreams

“I don’t ever worry about whether I’m being true to my country roots. My country roots were adopted. I never worry about what I can do and what I should do. I just do what I want to do”. Emmylou Harris

“You’ve got a song you’re singing from your gut, you want that audience to feel it in their gut. And you’ve got to make them think that you’re one of them sitting out there with them too. They’ve got to be able to relate to what you’re doing”. Johnny Cash