Monday afternoon, three days prior to DOCA broadcasting the date for next year’s carnival and I’m chilling in the beer garden of the British Lion with Mirko Pangrazzi. He needs no introduction to anyone into the local music scene, he’s the former coordinator of gigs at the Cellar Bar, a large part of the Saddleback committee, and the brav’ uomo who’ll fix your guitar proper job.
We reflected on this year’s Saddleback Festival, and the announcement for the next, but this was not why we were having a pint. Neither was the first subject on the table, this Thursday (August 8th,) when George Wilding plays the Cellar Bar.
The door tax is just £3, and most importantly is a fundraiser for Liam. At birth he suffered Hypoglycaemia and associated brain injury. We’ve mentioned Liam previously, here, who at three days old suffered Hypoglycaemia and associated brain injury. Now six years old, Liam suffers from multi-focal epilepsy, global developmental delay and is also visually impaired as a result of this trauma. Recently his family discovered a medical doctor in Egypt who specialises in healing brain injuries by combining medical and holistic approaches, and hopes to raise some funds to get Liam to Egypt.
I checked it’s “just George,” rather than the band, Wilding, and Mirko confirmed it was. Yet I retracted my word “just,” as its hardly worthy of this imminent local legend. We are here to chat about 10p Mix Up, a band who will follow George’s lead with a gig at the Cellar Bar in support of Liam, on Thursday 12th September, but who you may not have heard of, yet. “So, yes,” Mirko unveiled, “then there is us. I suppose you could call it an Irish band, not strictly Irish, but mainly.”
“Folk inspired?” I asked, followed by questioning if it was to be originals or covers.
“We haven’t started writing yet,” he explained, “least I mean, I started a while back, but we’ve struggled to find the time to finish stuff up. So, we’re only playing covers at the minute.”
Keen to stress they viewed it as a bit of fun, meeting up and jamming, now they feel ready to go live. Aside a private party in August, this will be the unveiling of 10p Mix Up. “So, I look forward to that,” and so do I, it will be interesting to see Mirko playing, rather than in the crowd with the dedicated support he has shown for others, and I’m confident it will be returned. Afterwards they plan to polish off the writing and bring us some originals.
“How many people in the band, Mirko?” I asked.
“Four; me, Bill Hicks, Phil Hore, and Pete. So, I play guitar and mandolin, Bill plays and accordion harmonica, Pete plays tin whistle and fiddle, and Phil sings; the only Irishman, so he sings!” Mirko disclosed the covers though would be “stuff you’d expect, The Wild Rover, The Irish Rover, Fields of Athenry, Streets of New York, standard Irish stuff, with a couple of more English things thrown in…” Again though, Mirko stressed it was just a bit of fun. Do they feel confident at this stage?
“We’re ready to go now, ready to move on and get better,” he responded, unveiling a formula of monthly gigs, allowing time for rehearsing and clamping on writing material too. I pondered song writing, as much as I’d like to, I get stuck with cliché; all ideas have been done, haven’t they? Must be especially true in Irish folk?
“Everything has, it’s only your take on it. I’m all in favour of taking bits and bobs, when it happens, everybody does, everybody always did.” Mirko expressed his thoughts on writing for an Irish band, “something new to me. I can’t write about, you know, drugs and shit, like I used to when I was a kid in a punk band; rebellion, and all this!” Confessing he wasn’t too aware of Irish culture.
I pointed out, subject surely comes from the heart, and culture closer to home. It’s no good a country band singing of boxcars and dustbowls if they come from Trowbridge. When Vince sings “nobody gets out of here alive,” referring insular feeling of small towns, it’s Devizes. Should it be a distant style, can themes be generalised?
“You write what you write,” Mirko replied, “I find it a challenge to write about things I don’t know shit about, why not? Sometimes I find it just comes out, others it needs adjustments to fall into a signature. Other times you can build it, by learning something.” He finalised the thought with drafts of a song he was working on, editing it thoroughly to fit with a melody.
So, what’s in a name then?
“10p Mix Up,” Mirko enlightened, “is something Phil suggested; in the old days in Ireland, you could get a random bag of sweets, called a 10p mix up.” So, it relates to the variety of songs? “Yes, and also, it’s a bit of a mix up; I’m Italian, two Englishmen and an Irishman. We thought it suits the situation.”
It was Mirko’s idea to start the band in December, recognising the gap in the market for fun, party Irish folk. I pointed out Cath and Gouldy of Sound Affects is the only thing similar here. Mirko got technical with the unruly nature of Irish folk’s composition, making the music stimulating. He also debated the tempo, wishing for frenetic when Phil desired slower. “Songs that people recognise,” Mirko expressed the importance of, “Whisky in Jar, things like that; we’re not there look pretty, we’re there have a good evening and want people to take it on.”
At open mic at the Cellar Bar the band did a set, crowds expressed their fondness, for this is something different, a tenet they want, and something we look forward to hearing.
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