I know before I start to write this, that there are several dangerous off-ramps on the road through this article. I have thought sensibly about avoiding them all and pursuing the destination in the most trouble-free manner. However, it is entirely possible I will end up down some dark path, entrenched in marsh and thistle with the tree canopies closing in over my head. Onward then. I’ve bought some Kendal Mint Cake and a penknife just in case.

The isolation and restrictions that have been imposed on humanity over the last few months, (primarily to save us from inhaling each other’s infected, moist, expulsions and henceforth, killing each other) have driven the average person to embrace some new and spirited, creative pursuits. The internet would have us believe that, for many, this has entailed designing and landscaping a new outdoor paradise in the insipid wasteland that lies behind their dwelling. For others, learning a new skill such as taxidermy or re-invigorating old ones such as beat-boxing or indoor ultimate frisbee. For most of us though, time has been spent developing new and creative methods of justifying an increased alcohol intake whilst trying to not create enough additional body mass to require re-branding a loose kimono as “business attire”.

Deciding I needed a new hobby, I reached for the invaluable guide to life that is YouTube. After dismissing several wholesome pursuits such as applying hair-dye, tractor racing or Hitler appreciation, I stumbled across the art of fermentation. More specifically the art of fermenting ginger to make ginger beer.

Now this indeed could be the sort of Blytonian middle English skill that one should no longer need in the modern world of flavoured high fructose corn syrup. But whilst gently stroking my patchy, lockdown beard and pondering the words of our Gen Z eco-warriors (and future overlords), I have to say that the prospect seemed more than a little attractive.

Despite failing my Chemistry A-Level and having a somewhat lasse-fair approach to following recipes, or instructions of any kind. I have, rather surprisingly, been enjoying the fruits of my labour for some weeks now. My method is improving, and my yield is pretty passable as a sparkling gingery beverage. I have even graduated to the next level. Planting my own rhizomes so that I can create a completely home grown product. Being assured that the producers involved at all levels of the supply chain have been treated ethically will let me rest easy at night.

I shall include a link to the video that inspired me. Don’t be put off by the American, he is just passionate about his hobby and brimming with that mystifying confidence that is seemingly as fused to their culture as their misguided constitution.

How does this bring us to music you ask? Well the ginger plant takes us somewhat clumsily and I would expect, offensively, to the ginger haired folk. The strawberry blonde tresses that adorn two percent of us present an opportunity to group people under a taxonomy. Grouping individuals under their physical characteristics and assigning behavioural attributes to that group is something we can’t seem to get over as a species. It is as if the hundreds of thousands of years of gathering the same types of berries somehow provides us comfort when putting things in to categories. We do it sensibly with many items we find, from flowers, bears, numbers, chemicals and planets. Unfortunately, rather less pragmatically and with greater general detriment to our mental and cultural evolution, we do it with each other.

Now, let’s focus on the science to cover the glaring socially unacceptable aspects of the process.

With statistics suggesting that there are 90,000 living “famous” musicians on the planet (data source – broadly “the internet”) Following the 2%, presents us with an estimated 1,800 musicians with red hair to choose from. Take away 2 for Mike Hucknall and Ed Sheeran who won’t be featuring due to popular request, and add one for a gentleman on my list who has already sadly passed. We shall therefore focus on the 0.2% of the 2%. Because they are special.

So, there we have it. The maths dictates. Next week we will be presenting a small diatribe on burrowing animals followed by a selection of musicians with prominent moles, during which I shall take a low-slung shot at Brazilian culture.

First up then is the evil genius Ginger Baker as part of the group Cream with White Room. Cream really was an incredible band. Bruce, Clapton and Baker, 3 titans. Baker’s drumming was greater and more versatile than many remember. Look for his work with Fela Kuti and Charlie Haden. By all accounts he was a fairly unpleasant character (watch Beware of Mister Baker for a candid view of the man) But his talents were undeniable. As for the White Room. Well, “Black roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings”. Says it all really..

For the second track a marvellous, bonkers ginger talent in Tori Amos, with Cornflake Girl. For those that don’t know, the song has a darker side. The lyrics being based on a book by Alice Walker called Possessing The Secret Of Joy, which details the practice of female genital mutilation in areas of Africa. Amos’ vocal range, coupled with the dramatic swooping piano, makes this track a timeless delight.

The penultimate ginger is the rock behemoth Josh Homme. A man who has literally been in more good bands than all of the Beatles. He stands approximately 9ft tall and is the only rock star in the world in the 2020 who can get away with sporting a plaid shirt with a leather jacket and a popped collar. This track In My Head is from the phenomenal record Lullabies to Paralyze with his band Queens of the Stone Age.

Finally, another ginger furnished, vocal powerhouse, in the form of Florence Welch, singing of course with Florence and the Machine, on the track Dog Days are Over from the hugely successful record Lungs. Apparently, the Machine is still running well in 2020, but there was something special for the band around 2009 when this record was released. For some bands there is a time and a place to be, and it seemed like in London at that time they could do no wrong. Dog Days is a great tune but the whole album is worthy.

I realised I have been particularly generous to my selected musicians this time. Perhaps its because I feel some “mouse brown” guilt for singling them out based on their flavour. I’ll finish with an apology for any offense generated. But no apology for the 4 tunes. They rock.

Ah yes, and should you wish to make your own ginger beer.. Follow this fella. He knows what he is doing.