Titania's Tourist Travel-blog - Friend of the purple shoes

FATEA Magazine Album review 

The Purple Shoes 
Album: Small Town Fairy Tales 
Label: Self Released 
Tracks: 12 
Website: http://www.thepurpleshoes.com/



The enduring popularity of British 'folk' music remains as a testament to both the 'purists', whose work in researching and performing traditional songs and tunes ensures that our past musical heritage is never lost, and the 'modernists' who embrace overseas influences and perform material that is pigeon-holed under various banners, from 'Americana', to 'folk-rock' and 'country-folk'. 

The Purple Shoes, on this debut album collection, attempt that most difficult of tasks, trying to keep a foot in each camp - maintaining a strongly English tradition in their songwriting whilst acknowledging the influences of the USA folk counter-culture of the1960's and 1970's. Like many bands tempted into the world of 'Americana', comparisons with the likes of Fleetwood Mac are the price you have to be prepared to pay, and with so many other UK ensembles currently ploughing this same furrow, the fields can become somewhat congested. 

What makes The Purple Shoes refreshing, though, is that the band came together in the seaside port of Shoreham-by-Sea, and it is that location and community that has been influential in creating their own sound and material. Songwriter Marie Dance returned to the South Coast after three years in Thailand, teaming up with local singer and guitarist Michael Bickers. The result, in 2016, was an album released under Dance's name which also featured Richard Dadson on double bass and founder member of STOMP, Theseus Gerard, on percussion. The line-up evolved into The Purple Shoes, now an integral part of the cultural scene in Shoreham. They have sold out several shows at the town's Ropetackle Arts Centre, and are now building an enthusiastic following further afield as well. The twelve new tracks on Small Town Fairy Tales are that rare commodity, a collection of songs possessing local essence, distilled from contemporary experience, then flavoured and seasoned with a shared love of 60's counter-culture and of rock and roll. 

Title track, 'Small Town Fairy Tale' is a story that reflects the reality of many a community infiltrated by the so-called 'county lines' drug gangs - becoming a haunting duet that deals with the personal cost of addiction and asks, poignantly, 'Would they miss us if we left without a trace?'. 

'He Holds On', enhanced with gentle fiddle from Mervyn Wallis, is about providing support and comfort, and being there for a loved one through periods of insecurity and worry. 'He holds on, so tight, all night'. 

There are tales of escape and travel. To a lively rhythm, a friend is despatched on his bicycle to Europe in 'Angel Shoes'. with instruction not to return 'until you've got stories to tell'. And 'Santa Cruz' finds two travellers looking for action in a quiet Spanish town, only to end up singing and playing guitar alone on their rooftop whilst the the town quietly dines in the local restaurants below. 

'Heartbreaker' is a tribute to the late Tom Petty, an average enough mid-tempo country folk song, but the stand-out track is undoubtedly the closing love ballad, 'Ophelia'. Inspired by a hurricane that wreaked havoc on the west coast of Ireland in 1997, it possesses a truly beautiful melody with gentle guitar and sensitive lyrics that reflect on the irresistible draw of drama and danger. Meanwhile a saxophone from Will Nash adds a truly magical contribution to what becomes an ultimately uplifting conclusion. 

So, setting aside the comparisons with Fleetwood Mac (which are perhaps the inevitable elephant in the room with The Purple Shoes), there are so many more influences and inspirations that are ripe and just waiting to be picked from these twelve tracks - 'The Rain Has Gone' has the style and quality reminiscent of a Ralph McTell ballad, 'Melody's Eyes' reminded me of Peter, Paul and Mary, and 'Good Morning (Is It Over?)' took me back to the west coast sounds of Delaney and Bonnie. Elsewhere there are flavours of Simon and Garfunkel, The Travelling Wilburys and Judith Durham and The Seekers. Ultimately, though, it is the strength of the local flavours extracted from their local Sussex base that thoroughly infuses this album, and the gentle sprinkling of external influences become just ribbons and bows that enhance and embellish The Purple Shoes. 

David Auckland

Titania goes to space 



Hiya Purple Shoes people, here I am your lovely Titania, with tales to tell and secrets to spill. I see sales of Skyer hit the roof after my promotion last week and when I left you I was off to see a man about a bear. Silly me, I thought he was talking about some fierce furry thing that only popped out at night, imagine my surprise to find out that it was a creature native to the woods of Canada! Anyway ,on arrival in this fair country, my nature studies were taken up by Chuck, a Canadian Mountie. Oh girls, I fell right over backwards at the sight of his red uniform and enormous pointed hat.  Now, I’ve never been one for horses, but Chuck showed me a magnificent beast and taught me how to ride, cowgirl-style all over the Rockies. I was so saddle sore, I had to take time off for good behaviour and visit the city named after the Lone Ranger’s faithful companion, Toronto. 

( Secretly though, girls, I had also discovered that when they say that “ A Mountie always gets his man” I didn’t realise that Chuck took that literally!( Gosh, I didn’t know which way to turn!) 

Despite the US lockdown, I somehow managed to get into the United States. With the help of a friend of my half-brother, Rodrigues, I crossed the border, at night in a truck full of packages of what I took to be talcum powder, I never knew it was in short supply in the US, but apparently it fetches quite a good price on the streets of New York. My commission from the sales allowed me to catch a Greyhound ( the bus, sillies!) and headed South, on the highway, heading south, that’s my way….la la, la,  see I was so happy I was singing! 

Darlings, you know how cold your Titania gets, so ,despite being thawed out several times on the way down,  I headed for Florida, “The Sunshine State” to soak up some warmth and leave the Greyhound for some more interesting doggy-style travel. Oh my dears, the beaches, the casinos, the peanuts, the bronzed bodies,! I got a job modelling those tiny bikini bottoms, where I had to parade in front of the cameras singing “ Just a Thong at Twilight” for the CamelToe Channel . Oh and darlings, you have to be so careful with the language out here, the embarrassment when the Chief Grip asked me to get something from his trunks……that’s what they call the boot of the car! Any way, it turned out he was the Best Boy too, Funny place. 

Whilst at a topping out party, I meet the delicious Elon Gated, a multi-balti- sqillionaire  who asks me if  I’d like to get high?, has your Titania ever turned her nose up at such an offer? I searched for the mirror. 

But, horror, shock and all things wobbly, I awoke to find myself stowed away on the Space-X mission to the ISS, the last thing I remember was Elon asking me if I’d like to see his helmet, then next thing I’m at Mach 5 heading into space! 

So, you’ll be pleased to know, that I’ve docked safely with all the astronauts and am floating around in my tin can, just like major Tom, far above the world, in fact I’ll be over you tonight, blink and you’ll miss me as I fly through the heavens, weightless and lovely in my jump suit 


Titania in Iceland 



Hello again, Purple Shoes peeps, its your lovely Titania here, bursting with things to tell you about my travels. When you left me last week I was off for a bed in the sailor’s Mission, where I met, Oh girls I cannot tell you, but Im gonna!! The gorgeous Juan, tattooed from top to toe and with a full NHS visor. ( I do like my men to be careful, darlings, but this was a bit extreme). Anyway, we went for a drink, and I misheard him say what I thought was “ Do you want one?” indicating a bottle. Suffice to say that, I discovered his name is pronounced “One” and I think he gave me what can only be described as a Four Seas Over. 

Waking the next morning, he asked me if I would go to Iceland with him, mindful of social distancing and quite fancying a Weightwatchers Lasagne, I agreed. 

He whisked me on board his boat, the “ Canastella”  as I thought, to get to the store in the centre of Grimsby, but he hoisted up his sails and my skirt and we ended up on an island in the middle of the Atlantic, where he told me there was a geezer who erupted every 2 minutes! This I must see. I thought. 

Imagine my embarrassment when I discovered that the geezer is, in fact, a hot water spout, cos this island is.  Volcanic. However, lots of hot springs later we left the hotel and went rolling in the warm embrace of hot mud.  Sooo good for the complexion and pretty good for the removal of unwanted body hair, I’m as smooth as a glass dildo, my dears and the sun doesn’t shine from my ass, it REFLECTS!! 

Juan, I discovered, bats for any team in the league, I should have known when he introduced me to Biggnus Bigmassivesunn, the other night in the Bar Bendy in Reykjavik that something was askew. 

So now your lovely Titania is once again adrift in a foreign land, luckily for me I got a job advertising a yogurt,called  Skyer, ( pronounce Skier) so its downhill all the way from here. I’ve been stood on a glacier in a bikini and mountain boots, filmed emerging from a small tent with the morning sun shining though my lacy nighty and had my backside filmed against the rising moon ( I had the best curve of the two); each time clutching a small pot of Fat Free and a spoon. It’s a tough life girls, but it’s no use crying over soured milk. 

I’m off to Bjorndalen to see a man about a bear, I think that’s what he said, the accent is very thick ( Just like the new “Greek Style” Luxury Skyer yogurt) 

Byee Purple Shoes People.

Titania in Cleethorpes 


Hello Purple Shoes Peeple, here I am, your Titania, free as a bird and full of love for you all, ( even Tony) and just dying to tell you all about my escapades since we last met. Gosh, it has been so exciting. Well, as you know, I was devastated by that wretch Tony, who, refused my love so roughly (and you know how much love I have, and you know how I like a bit of rough!, no honestly) so, off I dashed, heartbroken and bereft, to join the nunnery of the Abbey of the Holy Mollusc and Lesser Saints at Peacehaven. Here, as Sister Ania, ( I dropped the Tit for obvious reasons) I sought a life of quiet contemplation and solitude. Darlings, It’s a ghastly fashion look actually, the woollen underwear is so, extremely scratchy, even with my Anne Summers, extra sexy silk attire next to the skin. ( Down, boys!) also, the nun’s complained about my liberal use of Chanel No. 5.5 to counter the small of incense and old wee. 

After two days on my knees, as you can imagine, I thought, “Sod that” and with the help of my devil-worshipping half brother, Rodriques,( he of the red hot toasting fork and a sharp line in designer tequila) we convinced the Mother Superior, Sister Antiall, that for the benefit of the sanctity of the Nunnery and in return for a year’s supply of hash cakes, I should be free to disport myself around the world. 

By the way,here is my lovely Rodriques, in one of his more sober moments. I’m not sure what we drank the night after my escape, but, it certainly curled the brim of his hat! 

So, now, your lovely Titania is off to explore the world and to share this with you, my adoring fans( and Tony, if he can drag himself away from the bar and listen.) With limited financial resources, living on my wits and off my face, Your Titania is going to be loving the world as it throws itself at me and looking for any opportunity for commercial endorsement. 

I managed to drum up enough money for a National Express ( I thought I was done with being on my knees, girls, but needs must…) but imagine your Titania’s shock when  her dream destination turned out to be Cleethorpes Beach, via Grimsby Docks. Where I exchanged my Manalo Blanick knock off slingbacks  (with, my dears, a rather gorgeous Russian matelot. He showed me an impressive range of tattoos, one in particular looked like VDK but with a bit of encouragement, read Vladivostock, what a shock!) Amongst other things he gave me were a pair of Keds (SO Princess Diana, darlings) a Berghaus Waterproof and a trip to the clinic. Your Titania loves warmth and sun , my lovelies, but here it is absolutely Baltic and desolated here on the East Coast , can you believe I passed two metallic monkeys in some distress on my way to the shore! 


So, here I must leave you, shivering, my gorgeous fans, I’ve been promised a bed in the sailor’s Mission ( or was it the other way round?) for tonight and who knows what might blow in in the morning. 

Byeee ( and don’t forget, for a real taste of the sea, you can’t beat Grimsby Kippers )