Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Selkies and Charlie Hannah

secret woodland location near Canterbury
Sunday 9th June 2019

Another lovely evening in the woods. The Selkies were backed by Charlie (Nord Electro keyboard) and Luke from Lapis (bass), also joined by Flo's sister Ottilie for a surprising cover of a Pearl Jam song. Singing bowls were handed out to audience members for "Woodlouse" which was beautifully transformed by Luke's bass. Charlie wasn't able to bring his entire band (The Hausplants), so his set was backed by Luke and the Selkies (vocals/percussion/etc.) which worked wonderfully. They encored with a Dr.-John-inspired number called "Signor Olivio's" off his 2016 album "Who's In Charge Here?"

Steve Hillage!!

Saturday 8th June 2019
Shepherds Bush Empire, London

My birthday present to myself turned out to be one of the truly greatest things I've experienced in my 7x7 years. Total psychedelic mastery, the pinnacle of the artform. Steve and Miquette on top form, backed by the most enthusiastic and perfectly suited bands imaginable (the current Gong lineup). Cosmic lightshow, amazing setlist, the audience totally there with the band. It was like Hillage was channeling pure cosmic love through his guitar, and cheerfully showering this succession of jewel-like gifts on us all. Heavy-duty wizardry!

"Talking to the Sun"; "It's All Too Much"; "Aftaglid" (Part 7: "The Golden Vibe"); "The Salmon Song"; "Sea Nature"; "Ether Ships"; "Lunar Musick Suite"; "Palm Trees (Love Guitar)"; "The Fire Inside"; "Motivation"; "Solar Musick Suite (Part 2: "Canterbury Sunrise" > Part 3: "Hiram Afterglid Meets the Dervish"); "Hurdy Gurdy Man" E: "Light in the Sky"; "The Glorious Om Riff" E2: "Not Fade Away" (interpolating "I Never Glid Before")

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 72

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 72

Steve Hillage in '77, Hugh Hopper with Isotope in '74, two covers of Wyatt's "Sea Song" (one sung by Dagmar Krause, the other an 80s surprise) and one of his "Alifib", an obscure American electronic cover of an obscure late Soft Machine number, the Softs themselves live on French TV in '69, Alan Gowen with Richard Sinclair and Phil Miller, another Henry Cow piece performed live by Lindsay Cooper Songbook here in Canterbury in March and something from the new Gong LP The Universe Also Collapses. Also, spiritual jazz from Houston, an early instance of post-rock from East London and far-out sounds from Brazil, Senegal, Ireland, Finland, Canada, France, Australia and Japan. From the Canterbury of recent times, something new from Joshua Magill, an obscure Syd Arthur gem and Arlet's Aidan Shepherd playing one of his compositions with acclaimed London fusion crew Ruby Rushton.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Liotia, Oh Mama and Jouis at Crash of Moons Club

Wednesday 5th June 2019
UCA bar, Canterbury

Another great COMC night, following rapidly on from the one on Friday. Triphop/downtempo vibes from Liotia (Abigail and Matt), some aetherial female vocals/flute/crunchy Zep-style riffage from Oh Mama (much better than the name suggests... they remind me of Heron Oblivion and a slightly less wild/druggy Bardo Pond) and then a triumphant set from Jouis (most of the new album Mind Bahn, a couple off Dojo and the theme from Twin Peaks). Here are my genre-appropriate DJ sets (I came out of Jouis's set with the house remix of their new song "Sinking Statues", which went down well, so went into a house-and-dub set, including the Shamen's electronic version of The 13th Floor Elevators "Slip Inside This House", the original single version of which I played in the mini-set before Jouis. Roky Erikson RIP!)

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Crash of Moons with Archdruid and Stanlæy

Friday 31st May 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

A respectable-sized audience, very enthusiastic. VERY enthusiastic. Nice to see that. Archdruid played one long bass-and-drums improv set. Heavy! It was pretty primal, but kept moving enough to stay interesting. Something went wrong with the kit, and there was a nice moment when Oli, the drummer from Stanlæy, signalled to Archdruid's drummer Callum to switch to his, adjacent, kit, and then shifted the mics efficiently so he could carry on the jam without having to reconstruct his own kit. Global Village Green had pulled out, and the two bands left felt just too different to put back-to-back (but members of Stanlæy were up the front enjoying Archdruid). So I did the DJ Prof. Appleblossom thing and played an extended heavy-to-ætherial bridging set, before Bethany Stenning and her band blew everyone away.

Here are the Prof's DJ sets:

Monday, May 27, 2019

Parkside Swing Band and Toby Wolfe

Sunday 26th May 2019
secret woodland location near Canterbury

Original, quirky, gentle songs by Toby, ending with one about the deceased, much loved local busker and character Max Martin. Parkside is the Allen Brothers + Mimi O'Halloran (vocals), Phil Holmes (tenor sax) and another guitarist. This time it was a four piece (Toby and Geary Allen, Phil and Mimi), and they were stunning. All casually virtuosic, relaxed and happy in the groove, playing the gypsy jazz/swing canon + stuff like "Take the A-Train", "Puttin' on the Ritz", etc. Mimi's such a confident singer, and this band works so well for her. Another great night in the woods, thanks to all involved.

Ginger Bennett and Frances Knight

Saturday 25th May 2019
Boho Cafe, Canterbury

I'm so happy to see these two working together. The first song was Nick Drake's "River Man" and the penultimate one was Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" (which I don't think I've ever heard covered before). Much jazzy soulfulness between, and a "Will You Still Live Me Tomorrow?" to end.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

last night in Madison

Monday 20th May 2019
Cafe Coda, Madison, WI

Bathing in the dazzling light of St. John Coltrane, after watching the JB3s "Funky Monday" jam (a weekly thing at Cafe Coda). Amazing players, pumping out jams with the highest energy, regardless of the tiny, seated audience scattered around the bar. On the way to Cafe Coda, Peter took me to meet his friend Jim, a sound engineer of the highest order, prog-head and surround-sound freak. All the classic prog vinyl gatefold sleeves pinned to his wall. He was responsible for an unofficial public release of a surround sound mix of Pink Floyd at Pompeii, after an intact celluloid copy with the magnetic audio tracks turned up in a library in California. I didn't get a chance to hear it, but he did play us some stunning surround mixes of live performances he captured recently, including the Hanan Jon Taylor Artet. HJT is a jazz legend and owner of Cafe Coda, his band sound something like this:
 


 

Great stuff, now back to Canterbury...

Monday, May 20, 2019

dangerous kittens and missing miles: penultimate day in Point

Saturday 18th May 2019
Stevens Point, WI

Jeff LaMarche on simultaneous one-handed electric guitar and one-handed bass guitar — seems kind of impossible, but he pulls it off — plus Buzz on drums. Great covers of Devo's "Girl U Want", Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up" and Radiohead's "Karma Police", among others.

A different lineup to the one pictured above. Kevin from Soul Symmetry was involved, as was a mandolin player called Allen, just back from Hawaii, who I'd played with at the Elbow Room songswap on Tuesday. Lots of energy, some nicely jammed-out tunes, in a rather murky sonic environment. Everything was original, as far as I could tell, apart from "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" (from The Aristocats) which I'd played with Ben down at the previous Tuesday's songswap:

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 71

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 71

Caravan in session on the John Peel show in August '73, Robert Wyatt and friends live in '74, Steve Miller playing some proto-Hatfield material live in '72, a couple of Lindsay Cooper's Henry Cow compositions played live in Canterbury earlier this year, a slab of cosmicness from Steve Hillage's Green album, a Kevin Ayers classic performed by his daughter and a former collaborator, plus another as recorded by the man himself. Also, a gorgeous Max Richter piece, some Can, some Camel and the Grateful Dead getting seriously far out on their 1990 spring tour. From the Canterbury of today, a newish project called Anderida melding their psychedelic jams with the voice of a local poet (with Gilli Smyth resonances).

more songswaps

Tuesday 8th and 15th May 2019
The Elbow Room, Stevens Point, WI

The first one was a bit weak, as I recall, although there was some pretty amazing, totally free and spontaneous blues howling by my friend James' young niece Cecilia. Donovan's "Colours" got played, as did Pink Floyd's "Nobody Home" and something by Deerhunter. I left quite late, when things had degenerated to the point that people were singing along (unironically, I feared) with Journey's "Don't Stop Believing".

The next week was better, I enjoyed playing along with "Friend of the Devil", "Rocky Raccoon", "Southern Man", "Deep Elem Blues" and some John Prine. The session also included me attempting to solo over a rather insipid song by The Eagles that I didn't know at all, sitting out on "Aqualung" while deep in conversation with Kena, and returning from the bathroom to witness a completely spontaneous, almost accidental (but joyful) "Beer Barrel Polka" (if it's good enough for Jerry...)

Cinco de Mayo with Sloppy Joe at Renee's

Sunday 5th May 2019
Renee's Red Rooster, Stevens Point, WI

Great to see Gavin, Stef, et al. The band this time included Oscar from Dig Deep on banjo and Bobby Burns on mandolin, as well as the usual suspects. And nice to be able to cycle over there with Maud. Lots of familiar songs from their repertoire, Gavin's "Moonflower Garden" from the early days, and a cheese-based rewrite of one of their herbally-themed songs. All the freaks, bikers and misfits (+ kids and grandkids) come out for these Sunday afternoon sessions by the river.

punk rock in a bike shop

Saturday 27th April 2019
Point Area Bike Service, Stevens Point, WI

Indonesian Junk were the highlight — proper punk energy, and a great range of facial expressions from the singer/guitarist. Good to see old friends Marty, John and Shannon from the old punkrock days of '87-'88!

Litterfest 2

Saturday 4th March 2019
Union Street, Stevens Point, WI

The solo set from Colin Edwin (who also played with Good Grief) was the highlight. An amazing cover of "God Only Knows" closed the set, but the last of his originals was just devastating...what an incredible songwriter! There was a nice noise set from Buddy W/O Organs earlier in the afternoon too. Anna kicked things off on the front porch at noon (the rest occurred down in the basement), her last performance in town for a while, as she was moving up to Door County the next day.

It's satisfying to see the bluegrass/Americana dominance of the local music scene is giving way to more of a punk/rock/noise/experimental thing. A week or so later I was jamming with Tyler, Mike and Mike (not for the first time) in a tiny room upstairs on Main Street... they're the Elastic Waste Band, a noise/drone project, who sometimes sound like this:

I didn't really feel like I was able to add much this time, but Tyler made a careful recording which may eventually surface, so we shall see...

spontaneity and magick beside the Wisconsin River

23rd April 2019
Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA

There was nothing going on at the Elbow Room when I headed down there a bit earlier than usual for the Tuesday songswap, so I decided to go for a twilight walk by river. Three women walked past, and then one called out my name — it was Jeff Sachs' partner Maria, with two friends, and she remembered me by the shape of my saz. They were on their way to get a guitar from a parked car and to return to their friend Jessie's house by the river for a campfire session, and I was invited to join them. This involved just having to walk slowly half a mile upstream until I saw flickering flames in a backyard.

Great vibes with M, J, Bethany and Laura. Maria played some of her original songs, plus one about a truck by Nathan and Denny (friends of Sloppy Joe who I've played music with), a Townes Van Zandt song popularised by Guy Clark and "Jilted" by the Puppini Sisters. I was able to follow these fairly well. No recording was made, but vague plan was hatched to do more of this.

I headed back over to the Elbow room to play a few more with Anna Jo, John the trumpet and Don on fiddle. I just missed "St. James Infirmary", walking in as it concluded. The only other thing I can remember was a song by the Pistol Annies. Anna is having to leave her old house on Franklin Street, heading to Sturgeon Bay for the Summer. I played solo saz for a bit while nothing else was going on, and had an unexpected conversation with someone from Saudi Arabia who's settled in town, about various music scenes out there. Despite it being pretty much always the same, there's usually something surprising that goes down when I'm at the Elbow.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Immortal Girlfriend at UW-Madison

Thursday 19th April 2019
The Rathskeller, Madison, WI

Having arrived from Chicago's O'Hare airport to Madison, Wisconsin, I found myself seeking warmth in the student union building while waiting for a lift from a friend. And there was a gig on in the bar. I couldn't really get into the music, but the crowd were really into it — crowded up against the stage so I couldn't see anything going on back there except a fairly sophisticated light display. Lots of whooping. There were live vocals and keyboards involved, clearly, but it all sounded heavily sequenced from where I was sitting. Making use of the wifi, I learned that I was witnessing the sound of Immortal Girlfriend, a duo from Milwaukee. Here's more-or-less what it would have looked like from up front:

Luke Smith Lo-Fi Zone with Tim the Poet

Monday 15th April 2019
Bramley's, Canterbury

Two poetry sets from my old friend Tim (including a long poem based on my book You Are Here!) plus two sets of Luke with Tom Holden on bass. I'd not seen Tim for at least two years! About a dozen in the audience, including Sven over from Belgium — nice intimate vibes.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Jouis live in the woods

Sunday 14th April 2019
secret woodland location near Canterbury

Miriam Gould and Dom Conway (of Little Bulb Theatre) played a characteristically delightful support set. And Jouis (the trio version, as they are now) were beyond wonderful. They played their whole new album Mind Bahn and a couple of my favourite cuts from Dojo. Great keyboard sounds from Louis (spiritual jazz journeying vibes c.1972), impeccable drumming from Adam, and Joe baffling me with his ability to simultaneously play bass and guitar on his bass (with the help of octave pedals, as well as immense musical talent). This one almost didn't happen due to a close shave with EuroTunnel (the boys were on their way back from a French tour, and cutting things close)...they arrived in the middle of the support set... but this just added to the sense of excitement.

The Quartet feat. Syd Arthur live in Canterbury!

Friday 12th April 2019
St. Thomas Hall, Canterbury


 

Joel asked if I could come early and help with the door, which I was more than happy to do. I ended up setting up the lights too, as the crew were really pushed for time. And what an epic gig! I was standing on a chair at the back, looking over the top of the 120 capacity audience, all listening with pin-drop attention, and myself literally jaw-dropped for large chunks of the set. They opened with Radiohead's "Weird Fishes" (an instrumental version), the set also including Wyatt's "Sea Song" (Jack on vocals), Soft Machine's "Facelift" (mighty!), their jammed-out reworking of Beck's "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (as recently released on vinyl), Talk Talk's "Myrrhman" (off Laughing Stock, something I never expected to hear covered) and a very Crimson-esque Jack Hues original.

The Syd Arthur contingent was just Joel and Josh this time. Liam was at the back by the sound desk looking like he was really enjoying it. Not sure where Raven was. According to Josh afterwards, it wasn't as good as the previous night in London, so I look forward to hearing the recording that apparently got made of that!

Witnessing the Led Bib and Syd Arthur rhythm sections united for a monster "Facelift" in Canterbury with 120 other deep listeners had me feeling for about 15 minutes that all was well in the world! Hugh Hopper's widow Christine was at the back with her eyes closed, spinning around, looking completely blissed out. At one point, she, Emily (of Bagpuss fame) and Emily's partner Justin (trumpeter from the Happy Accidents) were spotted "prog line dancing"!

I'd never been in St. Thomas Hall before (it's attached to Canterbury's Roman Catholic Church, within the city walls). Turns out it has quite a prog/psych legacy!

There was a support set from Nelson Parade too, easily the best I've seen from them. Onward and upward...

Friday, April 19, 2019

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 70

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 70

Matching Mole contemplate Britain's role in Europe, Egg loosely wring out the ground (with the help of their old friend Steve Hillage), Gong contribute to the soundtrack of a motorcycle racing film, Soft Machine display their "Teeth" and Hatfield and the North get an extended case of "Mumps". Also, a 1973 John Peel session track from Henry Cow, a lullaby from Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt and friends singing Harold Pinter, and a selection from Robert himself -- a slab of Turkmenistani spiritual jazz fusion from '79! Sun Ra solo in 1980, Jon Hassell live in '82, NYC's Sunwatchers covering Alice Coltrane, Terry Riley remixed and a gentle gem from early 70s Floyd. From the Canterbury of recent times, the only 4/4 track on the last Lapis Lazuli album and some deep melancholia from Anthony "Stray Ghost" Saggers.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Hippo, M.U.T.O. and Luke Menniss at Crash of Moons

29th March 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury
 

Another great night at the Crash of Moons Club. Hippo spent five hours crawling down the M4 to come and play for us, but blew the roof off again and were clearly having a great time doing so. M.U.T.O. rocked out most effectively (loving the theremin and Struan's glowing/flashing shades) and Luke started things off with a solo mathy/tappy set of songs about dysfunctionality that came over like some kind of postmodern wonky folk music. Here are my DJ mixes as resident selector Professor Appleblossom, before/between/after the three acts:

Friday, March 29, 2019

Free Range Orchestra

Thursday 28th March 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury
 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Pat Thomas at Free Range

Garage Coffee, Canterbury
Thursday 21st March, 2019
 

I'm ashamed to say that I'd not before heard of Pat Thomas, someone who has collaborated with, among others, Phil Minton, Tony Oxley, Lol Coxhill, Steve Beresford, Thurston Moore, Eugene Chadbourne, Joe Gallivan and Veryan Weston. Small audience, intense playing, deep listening.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Rise of the Moons with Lunatraktors, et al.

Wednesday 20th March 2019
Bramleys Bar, Canterbury
 

Here are my mixes as resident DJ Prof. Appleblossom. A longish English folkie set before Ben Insall, some Beatles-y psych- and power-pop before Charlie Hannah and unclassifiable eerieness before Lunatraktors. Due to a new early curfew at Bramleys, there was no post-gig dance set.

Spring equinox occurred at 9:58PM shortly after the Lunatraktors took to the stage (Clair made some amusing comments about the value hierarchy around ideas of "darkness" and "light"). They were launching their new album This Is Broken Folk, recorded recently in "the arches" near Ramsgate harbour. Nice to hear "Arthur McBride" in the repertoire. A very cosy, intimate atmosphere at Bramleys, the stage in a new corner of the room, Adam cheerfully compering, deep listening from the audience. Nice sets from Ben Insall (mostly originals) and Charlie Hannah (his solo "domestica" songs) who I'd not met before...he was very happy to hear me play Big Star, the Beach Boys, The Dukes of Stratosphear and The Beatles before his set. The Prof does his best to make Crash guests feel musically at home...

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 69

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 69

A Robert Wyatt track I thought I'd never play (check out the band!), some forgotten spiritual jazz from mid 70's Boston, MA, Gong futuristically remixed by Hillage in '97, Lindsay Cooper and friends (including Hugh Hopper) in Volgograd, Russia '91, Kevin Ayers and Ollie Halsall ripping it up at the Rainbow in '74, Pink Floyd's Richard Wright shining brightly before an assembled multitude in a Polish dockyard shortly before his passing, Mother Superior, the only all-female 70s prog band, some more Haiku Salut and a tribute to Mark Hollis (RIP). From the Canterbury of today, new solo work from Josh Magill of Syd Arthur — who also contributed an excellent one-hour guest mix — plus ambient/drone works from Richard James Blyth and nør løve, and some groovy psychedelia from Paisley Mess.

Friday, March 15, 2019

nør løve at Free Range

Thursday 14th March 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury

I missed the very beginning of Sam's piano set. When I arrived he was reading from a text (source unknown) while the various motorised devices he uses whirred away on the strings. Then he went into an incredible, impassioned version of this (a shame Callum "Nelson Parade" Magill couldn't be there to hear it):

Oliver Perrot-Webb's set as nør løve involved him on bass, Ben Horner on electric guitar, lots of exquisite feedback and noise, some intriguing projections, something coming from a laptop (hard to tell what), eerie singing and more. Strangely moving, I was almost in tears at one point. An unexpected triumph.

Minerva Voices at lunchtime

Wednesday 13th March 2019
Colyer-Fergusson Hall, UKC, Canterbury

They'd run out of programmes by the time I arrived, so I'm not sure exactly what was sung/played. Very welcome at the time, though. Thanks to Livi for letting me know about this one.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

the spirit of Lindsay Cooper descends on central Canterbury...

Thursday 7th March 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury

One of the highlights of my life thus far. The day began with Josh Magill (Syd Arthur's drummer) and I driving up to London to collect Yumi and her gear, then on to Recommended Records HQ near Croydon to collect Chris Cutler and his drums. Back in the CT there was then the mission of collecting a PA (kindly provided by Will who does Crash of Moons Club sound) and liaising with Neil from Lapis Lazuli who'd offered to do the mixing (he did a magnificent job!). Then last minute panic getting the slideshow/projector setup to work (I was projecting images from Lindsay's life and work, carefully gleaned from the massive online LC Digital Archive at Cornell University)...thanks to Ole for the amazing technical help with that. Everything worked perfectly, the band looked like they were enjoying themselves hugely, not a squeak of feedback nor a single request for monitor adjustments despite the vast amount of instruments, mics and amps involved, and the slideshow added a really nice personal touch for the (probably majority of the) audience members who knew nothing about the woman behind the music.

At the end of the first set (News From Babel songs), Yumi looked up at the slideshow — which included some scans of hand-written scores with Lindsay's doodles and coffee stains — and suddenly initiated a group improvisation in the Henry Cow tradition, using the visuals as a kind of evolving score (some bits of actual written music, plus "lyrics" sung from press clippings, etc.). The second set of mostly Henry Cow material took things up a notch further, a "joyous art-rock explosion" as someone described it. Free Range organiser Sam Bailey, like me, felt like something else was present in the room beside the musicians and the audience. It was one of those gigs.

There was a particularly touching moment during "Iceland", which Cutler doesn't play on, when he was watching the slideshow, and this childhood picture of Lindsay in front of her house in suburban Hornsey (North London) in the late 50s appeared on the screen. He unselfconsciously did a little wave to the picture of his friend and collaborator. Aww.

Additional thanks go to Sam Bailey for allowing me to curate this, Luke and co. at Garage Coffee for being so chilled about their space being severely rearranged, Megan and Dan for logistical support and furniture moving and Luke from Lapis Lazuli for saving the day when we suddenly realised their was no bass amp.

Josh and I transported their stuff up to Cafe Oto for the next night's gig (International Women's Day), the closest I'll ever get to being a roadie for Henry Cow! That gig included an extra set featuring an exquisite improvisation from The Watts (Yumi, Cutler and Hodgkinson), and solo performances from Chlöe Herrington (bassoon and electronics), Atsuko Kamura (voice and loops) and Mitsuru Nasuno (bass and effects)...wonderful stuff. After that, things went a bit wrong, technically, which meant the band were having more of a struggle, enjoying themselves less. Plus the audience were a lot more "London" and of a uniform age, so the atmosphere didn't come close to the one the night before. But I had room to move around at the back and found myself sort of twitch/dancing to Henry Cow music, completely blissed out, in the afterglow of the Free Range gig (which had been too crammed full of audience to move).

Talking to Mitsuru afterwards I learned that playing in Canterbury had been a lifelong dream of his, and that the previous night's event was "a dream come true". That made me happy. We swapped contacts and he's looking forward to providing a Japanese R.I.O. guest mix for a future episode of Canterbury Sans Frontierès, further validating the name of the podcast.

I picked up a copy of a VÄLVE EP (one of Chlöe's projects) before leaving, which led to a fascinating conversation with a stranger on the Tube a few minutes late — he spotted the cover and asked if it was from Bangladesh (resembles the Bangladeshi flag) which led to a lovely, spontaneous conversation in which I told him about the gig and he told me about Bangladeshi culture, politics and pop music, before helping me find the right place to change at Shadwell DLR station. On to Jamboree in Limehouse, to catch the aftermath of a Whiskey Moonface gig (there'd unexpectedly been some trouble with a drunken audience member and security) and meet up with Garance Louis of the Mitochondries. Back at the Sanford housing coop where she now lives (somewhere I've heard about for years) she showed me some clips of her extraordinary new theatrical electropop project Chewy She...

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Crash of Moons with Rich Blyth, Grand Veymont and Hello Gecko

Saturday 2nd March 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury
 

Our first Saturday Crash event, and it was a lively one. Largest audience yet? A bit chattier than on a weeknight, but it just about worked. All three acts were marvellous, and all went down a storm with the crowd. This was the last gig of Grand Veymont's UK tour and they were delighted with the reaction. I didn't really feel like my DJ sets connected this time (people not so up for dancing afterwards, for some reason), the post-gig party set gradually mellowed into a chilled pack-down set for the last few clusters of people hanging around:

UCA takeover at Free Range

Thursday 28th Feburary 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury
 

This was a bit of an oddity for Free Range — felt very much like a ramshackle 1980s art college happening (lots of projections, installations, all of which seemed a bit arbitrary, and swarms of drunk students talking loudly over everything). There was some tag-team prepared piano accompaniments from Sam B and a young player I didn't recognise. The second set involved a very generic rock trio (I forgot the name immediately), from which I'm afraid I fled after one song — they were perhaps the least Free Range thing ever (or perhaps that makes them the most Free Range thing ever? was it all arty and ironic?).

Thursday, February 28, 2019

more Mark Hollis

So I've been binge-listening to Talk Talk and Mark Hollis's solo album since the sad news of his passing. My only impressions of him as a person had come from vague memories of interviews in the music press (NME, Melody Maker) in the wake of Spirit of Eden, and the way he'd been portrayed as a bit of curmudgeonly git. I dug around and found some recordings of him talking about his music and it became immediately apparent that this was in fact a lovely, gentle, humble, thoughtful and deeply private person who had ended up having to navigate the 1980s music and media business, and really didn't want to . Check this out, if you love his music, you'll love it more after hearing him talk about it:

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mark Hollis RIP

Sad news today. Words are failing me. Just listen:
 

And yes, that two-minute silence at the end is on the album. This is the last song on the last record he worked on before retiring from music in the 90s. You can read an excellent account of it (which puts it, accurately, in the same league as Astral Weeks, Rock Bottom, In A Silent Way and Tim Buckley's Starsailor) here.

I remember how "It's My Life" and "Such A Shame" stood out a mile from all the other synthpop on the radio in 1984, liked what I heard when they came out with Colour of Spring, and then Spirit of Eden came out and the world stopped for a moment. I listened to a cassette of that every night for months as I was going to sleep in '88-'89 when I was a student. Love it even more now, and probably always will. Thanks for your work Mark, and for putting up with the music business long enough to get this stuff down on tape. The world is still catching up and will be for a while now.

Monday, February 25, 2019

My Octopus Mind, The Display Team and Lapis jam at Crash of Moons Club

Thursday 21st February 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury
 

Another great free jam from Lapis (not quite up to the standard of the one they did at Free Range last year, but they've set the bar very high for themselves! Cardiacs-inspired prog-punk madness from The Display Team, who I really warmed to by the end of their set — later learned that their singing drummer Chuckles is the current Gong drummer! My Octopus Mind, in three-piece form, were seriously impressive, go and see them if you possibly can! I ended up compering (initially with some reluctance, but got into it) and DJing (as usual). Here are my mixes: psych jams before Lapis, pronk weirdness before The Display Team and a mish-mash of shoegaze and unclassifiable weirdness before My Octopus Mind. The funky dance party starts around 1:21:27...

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Selkies and Mikey Kenny at Smugglers Records

Wednesday 20th February 2019
Smugglers Records, Deal
 

Flo and Nou were joined by Flo's sister Otterly for their final number — a quirky cover of a quirky Pearl Jam song I'd never heard before. New album out in the summer. And I finally got to meet Adam Beattie, who was playing in Mikey's band (great set from them too, although I had to run for the last train before the end).

Burgate jam

Sunday 10th Februrary, 2019
Johannes' flat, Burgate, Canterbury

JoJo's friend Keshia was visiting from Germany, sang some lovely songs of hers and played guitar. He took this little clip, a nice memory of a lovely evening. Me on saz, Cameron from El Paso on guitar!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Beetbox open mic

Saturday 16th February 2019
The Mooring Cafe, Canterbury
 

Emilia and friends put this together to support their local organic veg box scheme. It was mostly students singing songs with guitars (I remember a young woman from Norway doing a nice cover of "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" and a couple of her songs in Norwegian) but also one poet (reading off a smartphone, of course) and UKC Psychedelic Society veterans Jacob and Luke doing lively sets (including "Cod Liver Oil and Orange Juice" and "Purple Haze", respectively). I was asked if I wanted to play some saz, but it didn't feel like the right kind of occasion, so I opted out. Feeling rather introspective.

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 68

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 68

"Stately cacophony" from Gong, followed by more of the same from Sun Ra's Arkestra, vintage 1979, Kevin Ayers and the Whole World on The Old Grey Whistle Test in '72, Daevid Allen rearranging a Soft Machine classic in one of his last live performances, Robert Wyatt rearranging the 20th century and playing the piano at home. Also, Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets, new work from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, some classic Can, live Kraftwerk, Led Bib, a Pharaoh Sanders remix and Ozric Tentacles playing Gong at the 1984 Stonehenge Free Festival. From the Canterbury of today, more from the new Lapis Lazuli album, Lapis guitarist Neil Sullivan's solo project Thing, a new EP from Jacob Brant and an archival jam from Syd Arthur with Jack Hues and the Quartet.

Dido and Aeneas

Friday 15th February 2019
Colyer-Fergusson Hall, University of Kent, Canterbury
 

University Cecilian Choir and String Sinfonia. The witches were great, the lead sorceress in particular had real presence. Fairly minimal props/effects/etc., very nicely done.

Ben Insall at Luke Smith's Lo-Fi Zone (and Pink Floyd)

Monday 12th February
Bramleys, Canterbury
 

Luke Smith and the Feelings are currently just Luke and Tom Holden (now on guitar, rather than bass). It was nice to hear "I Don't Want To Go To Parties Anymore" again. A set of folkish originals from guest artist Ben Insall (probably most familiar here as a member of Arlet).

I saw Luke again on the Friday afternoon up in Origins bar at UKC's Darwin College, where he has a casual weekly lunchtime piano gig. Always an incredibly diverse array of pop melodies, you never know what's coming next. I was on a sofa working on my laptop, and Luke dropped into Wyatt & Kramer's "Free Will and Testament" knowing I'd like that. Having just finished Mark Blake's Pink Floyd history Pigs Might Fly I'd been binge-listening to early Floyd earlier that day, so I almost went up to Luke to ask if he could play any Syd Barrett. But I was caught up in my work, and delayed doing this for a few minutes...and then, he suddenly went into "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". When he'd finished, I explained what had happened, and then had a super-intense deja vu while discussing the Floyd's career arc with him.

Although rather sad, this was my favourite anecdote from the book:

I also felt quite a lot of sympathy for Rick Wright, "the quiet one" who got given rather a hard time for many years. It was heartening to learn, though, that a couple of years before his death in 2008, Gilmour invited him along on a tour which he enjoyed more than any he'd previously been part of. Gilmour several times refers to "Echoes" in the book as a conversation between himself and Wright, so I went back to the footage from the gig they played in the Gdańsk shipyards in 2006, found this, which feels more "genuinely" Pink Floyd than anything that the Gilmour-Mason-Wright lineup did in the 80s or 90s, and it feels like Wright being fully acknowledged for his work. Just WOW!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Goodwin Sound Radiogram live recording at Free Range

Thursday 14th February 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury
 

Great fun throughout, and a pretty deep episode of GSR. Excellent musical contributions from Sam Bailey on piano and Oliver Perrott-Webb on electric guitar. It was also a pleasant to hear free trombonist Sarah Gail Brand's voice in the recorded content, hilariously slagging off the saxophone solo on Spandau Ballet's "True" (and swearing a lot, of course)!

Friday, February 08, 2019

Zubin Kanga at Free Range again

Thursday 7th February 2018
Garage Coffee, Canterbury
 

Amazing stuff! Especially the wikified piano score. And that weird video sequence at the end...WTF??!

And there was more (the ubiquitous Aidan Shepherd making yet another Free Range appearance). Am Horizont seems to be a project to watch. As well as the Crane Octet they played a pre-aleatoric John Cage composition (didn't catch the title). Aidan's MCC colleagues Anna Braithwaite and Matthew Brown were seated as part of the octet, carefully following the score...Anna occasionally percussed by rubbing a sheet of paper in a circular motion on the table. I didn't at any point spot MB do anything (except turn pages of the score), but there was a little mixer and some other gadgetry within reach, so presumably he was responsible for some of the drones?

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Alabaster DePlume and Bellatrix

Saturday 2nd February 2019
Hangar, Hackney, East London
 

Bellatrix (best known as a beatboxer, I was told) was a revelation. Killer band making an immense sound: two women drumming and a guitarist doing cool textural work and triggering stuff on a synth, Bella herself singing in a piercing, otherworldly voice, and playing bass on about half the songs. A captivating performer who it's easy to imagine progressing rapidly onto much larger stages. At times it felt like a reimagining of the 80s — the spooky/cold 80s and the "tribal" 80s, but with triphop flavours, and at times a kind of post-grime Kate Bush vibe (sorry to bring KB into this, she's so overcompared, but in this case, it really is...).

Alabaster's band involved Donna Thompson (one of the drummers with Bellatrix) drumming alongside Sarathy Korwar (drumkit and tabla), Hannah from the Moulettes on electric six-string cello (built by her luthier dad) and Danalogue on analogue synths. His biggest audience yet, and a large Canterbury contingent were there to support him. He sold the place out and had everyone as spellbound — in a trendy East London concrete bunker venue — as he did the last time I saw him play, at an intimate fireside gig in the woods. His melodies and facial expressions and turns of phrase are all so extraordinary that his saxophone playing sometimes gets overlooked. He's a self-taught tenor player and plays like no other. He was on top form. AND his mum was in the audience (a surprise trip down from Manchester). Everyone left feeling better, no doubt, after being reassured, for a final time that we were "doing very well" by a beaming Mr. DePlume before he departed the necessary. No encore needed. That was so good. Then a falafel wrap, and talking with Garance and some of the Smuggler-y crowd clustered out the back of a surprisingly friendly pub in the cold for a while before being whisked back to the CT.

Friday, February 01, 2019

For Now I am Winter: the music of Ólafur Arnalds

Friday 1st February (Imbolc!) 2019
Colyer-Fergusson Hall, University of Kent at Canterbury
 

I really needed this, suited my mood, the weather and season perfectly. Gorgeous Icelandic neo-classical melancholia played by a (student?) string quartet + pianist. Beautiful landscape photography projected behind them. And free!

Montrose Composers Club at Free Range

Thursday 31st January 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury
 

The MCC have evolved from a loose-knit collective to a very unified four-piece ensemble, bursting with creative ideas. This time: fun with wine glasses, Phil Self live drone remix of some German church bells, Aidan getting the other three to play rudimentary accordion (while he played synth), Anna Braithwaite singing "Washing Machine Head" with loop pedal, the always extraordinary viola playing of Matthew Brown, etc. etc. Very cold night, fairly small audience, but felt like a vibrant occasion.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

another Bramleys jazz jam

29th January 2019
Bramleys, Canterbury
 

Haven't been to one of these for a while, but when I saw the lineup I thought I'd better not miss it. I arrived to a young man singing impassioned soul-jazz (and playing soprano sax). He did "I'd Rather Go Blind", then "Let's Stay Together" to rapturous applause. As he was being led off stage I realised that he was blind, so an interesting choice of song! Great voice. A clarinet player and his pianist friend did a few songs. As I was leaving (earlier than I'd have liked) Frances and co. were making their way through an instrumental with a saxophonist...I couldn't leave until I'd identified it. "The Wichita Lineman", of all things — sounding good, naturally. Ian East was walking in as I was walking out — fresh from the studio, having just signed off the masters for the forthcoming Gong LP The Universe Also Collapses, seemingly positively delighted with the way that had gone.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Crash of Moons with Chroma and ZenSay

Thursday 24th January 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury
 

A set from In'ovative, the main man behind the ZenSay collective, some extraordinary beatboxing from Mista (Dom) Wolfe, then a collaboration between the two. Chroma = Bobby C + Ash Noremac, quite trap-oriented, but thoughtful and well done, good energy. Good crowd, really into it. Then the cypher, with hastily assembled jam band: Matt from Witchdoctor on drums, Richard Armstrong on keyboards, etc, Neil from Lapis on guitar, Andy Prowse on bass, Ellen Tasou on flute, and three saxes - Oli Genn-Bash, Jules Madjar and someone called Nigel. No time for soundcheck and monitoring issues meant the band struggled to hear themselves, but the beats and basslines were strong, the horns, guitars and waveforms unintentionally smearing all over the soundspace in a Sun Ra Arkestra kind of way. And the MCs (Humble Pious, Reminisce, Jack Mythos, In'ovative) passed the mic and spat endless bars over this pulsing sonic weirdness, with a solid crowd of people dancing enthusiastically to the whole thing. Nice to see. Laszlo (Humble Pious) was gently pressured into compering the event, and did an excellent job of creating a vibe and drawing the crowd up the front.

Here are my DJ mixes (operating as Profe$$or Appleblo$$om on this occasion) from before/between/after the acts. We got to carry on til almost 1a.m., so there's a lot of hiphop here, starting fairly introspective, getting more party-oriented in the later sets:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 67

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 67

A rare live (German TV) version of Caravan's "Golf Girl", some Wyatt oddities you've probably not heard, another side of that Centipede double LP, Gilli Smyth, Soft Machine peaking in '67, three ex-members of Henry Cow playing as 3/4 of Artaud Beats live in Norway and some exciting Steve Hillage news. Also, Zappa in '73, Coltrane in '63, Miles Davis (entirely absent from one of his recordings) and something to commemorate King Crimson's 50th birthday. From the Canterbury of now, something else from that magnificent Lapis Lazuli album, Syd Arthur tearing it up live in 2014 and something new from Nancy Berserk.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Dominic Lash Quartet at Free Range

Thursday 17th January 2018
Garage Coffee, Canterbury

One long, continuous set, some written parts scattered throughout, but lots of skronky soloing and free playing in between. Lash on double bass, Javier Carmona on drums, Ricardo Tejero on alto sax and Alex Ward on electric guitar (all amazing players, although Ward was particularly impressive on this occasion).

Nancy Berserk and Hellfire Orchestra

Sunday 13th January 2019
secret woodland location near Canterbury

This was supposed to be a kind of raucous punkrock new year special, sort of for Libby's birthday, featuring Hellfire and The Heathens (new local punk supergroup featuring the Holden Brothers and Rob Gambell). A couple of days before the event, Tom H warned me that The Heathens were VERY loud, and that the audience might need earplugs. I was considering a bulk purchase when (perhaps for the best) Rob had to cancel. So no Heathens. Fortunately, Nancy agreed to step in. She's only done a couple of gigs before but is extremely confident and has a great voice. The first half of her set was accompanied by Tom H on acoustic guitar (including covers of Jane's Addiction's "Slow Divers" and Neil Young's "On The Beach"). The second half featured her singing to her laptop, her own electronic arrangements, including a stunning original called "Angelfish" and a gorgeous cover of New Order's "Blue Monday" to finish. Here's a demo she's made of "Angelfish"...

...and here she is a couple of months earlier at Lily's Bistro:

Hellfire were on fire! It's been over six years since they were last up in the woods, so there were some songs as well as all the classics. They started with "Year of the Tiger". The new song "Ironworks" (the only one during which Jamie shed his guitar) stood out as borderline-avant-garde-sounding. Phil Self rocking out on electric guitar (Marc Ribot influences showing at times) and playing some super-fast mandolin, Billy Glinn raging on bass, and Stewy drumming (slightly muted by multiple teatowels). We had three sound engineers in the audience so no problem getting everything balance. Jamie's lyrics continue to leave me awestruck — what a writer! And his atonal snarl approach to singing suits the songs perfectly. After a couple of songs everyone was up and dancing until the encore (the sea shanty "Blow Boys Blow"). Mighty!

more 2018 backblog

Just found quickly scrawled notes about these. 2018 was a busy year, musically:

Ma Poulane's Great Decline, Duke of Cumberland, Whitstable, 27/09/18

A couple down from London (plus drummer) who seem to be known and loved by the older gig-going Whitstable crowd. Katrina recommended this one. I got the bus over with Maud, visiting from Wisconsin (her first time out of N. America, first time she'd seen the sea for decades). We were both struck by how Ma Poulane's singer sounded quite similar to out mutual friend (from Central Wisconsin cult band Irene's Garden) Jenny Ludeman.
 

Llunic and Rosie Nobbs, secret woodland location near Canterbury, 14/10/18

Nick and Lucy playing accordion/fiddle duos, including some impossibly lovely arrangements of English Morris tunes! Rosie down from Bristol for the occasion, much hilarity and irreverence in between the celestial harp playing. The terrible weather stopped, almost miraculously, just before Llunic started.
 

Nelson Parade and Gambardella, Crash of Moons Club, Bramleys, Canterbury, 24/10/18

Callum and the band starting to sound more confident (this was the third time I'd seen them play the same basic set). VERY well received by the CoMC crowd. Gambardella from Barcelona blew the roof off (but had to finish early due to staff concerns about noise complaints). Looks like this will be the last full-on electric Crash of Moons night at Bramleys. Oh well.

As COMC resident DJ Professor Appleblossom, I played genre-appropriate sets before/between/after bands (tasteful synthpop gradually morphing into doom-prog, with a funky dance set to conclude):


 

Allen Family/Yiannis Zaronis/Ben Insall/Mimi O'Halloran/Garance Louis, secret woodland location near Canterbury, 28/10/18 What a day! Americana/old-time from the Allens, rembetika from Yiannis (plus some saz/oud duos with me), English folkiness from Ben, incredible singing of incredible songs by Mimi and late-night accordion wonderment from Garance. Yes!
 

Aidan Shepherd and Sonotanotanpez, secret woodland location near Canterbury, 04/11/18

Analogue synth explorations from Aidan (Terry Riley would have approved!), then something entirely unclassifiable by the Japanese duo Sonotanotanpenz (Megan had seen them in Vienna while touring with Alabuster de Plume, helped make this happen). It's like these two young women have created their own microsubculture, with its own genre of music!
 

World Peng Presents and Lazuli Lazuli, Free Range, Garage Coffee, Canterbury 08/11/18

World Peng presented a kind of ritual, with video projections, Brew Dem MC Reminisce in a balaclava spitting furious bars over Humble Pious beats, Juliet, Olivia and Emilia doing an integrated performance piece... you kind of had to be there. I discovered via Emilia that I wasn't the only one who was reminded of the on-stage goings on during Hawkwind's Stonehenge '84 set! Emilia did some seriously next-level hula hooping while Lapis played a blistering jam set. One of the best sets I've heard them play, incredibly coherent, and continually evolving...they've got a pretty deep musical telepathy at this stage in the band's existence (and even though bassist Luke is fairly new to the fold, he's tapped straight into it). Organiser Sam Bailey was finding it hard to believe that it was improvised (they were in all kinds of unusual time-signatures, this wasn't some blues-based rock jam!).

A completely different kind of crowd. Well, just bigger, really. The Free Range regulars, plus a very large contingent who never come — Lapis fans and young scene-chasers. Apparently the largest FR audience ever. And we can thank The Great British Bake-Off for this. Quick story: At the "Canterbury Sound" conference at CCCU last year, Lapis were about to play at the end, but Sam decided to go home, having convinced himself on minimal exposure (early recordings) that they weren't his cup of tea (they'd contacted him about playing FR before, to no avail). He got home to find his wife and kids watching said reality TV programme, thought (in his words) "fuck this!" and decided to head back to the venue and watch Lapis. And, naturally, he was blown away.
 

Saskia Griffiths-Moore and Sam Brothers, Bramleys, Canterbury 14/11/18

Saskia describes herself as a folk singer, but these days that seems to just mean an acoustic guitar is involved. Mostly her own songs, a Dylan song (was it "Don't Think Twice"?) was about as "folk" as it got. Sam sounding as powerful and impassioned as ever. He's been busy this year.

Luke D and a visiting friend of his showed up. Nick Drake on the PA, had a laugh about the Volkswagon advert using "Pink Moon", which brought ND to the attention of countless sensitive Americans, rather than being a regrettable case of Nick Drake being used to advertise Volkswagons, turned out to be a bizarre case of Volkswagons being used to advertise Nick Drake. I just had a look on YouTube. Hmmm, a sensitive car advert. Could have been worse. But I was glad to hear that his family never approved this (presumably the rights weren't in their hands).


 

Kristin Frederickson's "Leap of Love" and Lunatraktors, Free Range, Garage Coffee, Canterbury, 29/11/18


 

Paisley Mess, Snazzback and Lapis Lazuli, Crash of Moons Club, UCA Bar, Canterbury, 30/11/18

People will be talking about this one for years. Snazzback a wonderful surprise (far more interesting than I'd been led to believe). Lapis just on fire. DJ Special Terry had to pull out due to food poisoning, so I ended up playing a dance set until 1:30am (so nice not to have to finish at 11 as at Bramleys) as well as sets before/between after. Here are my sets (starting with 60s psych and R&B, moving through abstract jazz fusion into ecstatic disco):

I was disappointed to find that Hello Gecko had had to pull out. But it was for the best reason ever — main man Nick's partner Lucy (the other half of the duo Llunic with him) had just given birth to their first child!
 

jazz jam, Bramley's, Canterbury, 04/12/18

I'd not been down to one of these for far too long. Headed down after a guest lecture from superstar anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann at UKC. My strongest memory is of Dulcie and James Taylor (extraordinary multi-instrumentalist and unlikely crooner) singing the duet "Autumn in New York".
 

Azul, The Millers Arms, Canterbury, 05/12/18

Pianist Frances Knight plus four jazz/soul singers. One Brazilian. One Ginger Bennett, who I'd seen with the band Glasshouse a couple of times, stunning voice. A nice mix of standards and originals. First gig I'd been to at the Millers (not really a music place). Arrived in wellies, for logistical reasons, and rather sleepy. But anything Frances involves herself in is worth checking out, and I'm glad I did (she hinted that this might have been a one-off thing).
 

Mavernie Cunningham + John Paul Zaccarini/Peter Coyte, Free Range, Garage Coffee, Canterbury, 06/12/18
 


 

Lila Matsumoto + Free Range Orchestra, Free Range, Garage Coffee, Canterbury, 13/12/18
 

Unusually accessible poetry for Free Range, I really enjoyed it. And FRO were brilliant, really reflected the spirit of Free Range I thought. A great way to end the 2018 part of the season.

2017 into 2018

Here's one I just remembered, a lunchtime concert back in October:
 

Then there was this...

Thursday, 15th November 2018
Garage Coffee, Canterbury

...incredible communication between Taylor and Bailey. BT seemed to be making every imaginable sound with his viola other than the usual ones. A couple of days later:

17th November 2018
Deal and St. Dunstans, Canterbury

That was a special one. Got the train over early with Megan, got to spend some time chatting with Conrad, Graeme and Lewis before the gig. And what a gig! They've got a new album and an entirely new live set and no one else is playing music like this. Such an extraordinary collection of five odd, lovable, ultra-talented people in one band. We were about to run for a train back to Canterbury, but Megan managed to figure out a lift with James in his campervan, so I got to prepare my battered old laptop (last-minute Windows updates!) before arriving in St. Dunstans to play a DJ set at Matt Rose's birthday party: a mixture of rockers, roots, dub, funk, soul, hiphop, Afro and Ethio, went down pretty well. And nice to see a racially mixed crowd at a party in Canterbury. We were initially having trouble with cables, connections, etc. (borrowed equipment), and at exactly the right moment who appeared but Crash of Moons soundman Big Will (who I'd temporarily forgot was Matt's brother), in party mode, wearing a sparkly top hat, but more than happy to get the sound working. Thanks Will!

Mid-December Prof. Appleblossom was back in action, DJing at a 'Goddess Temple Midwinter Warmer' near the Westgate. More ecstatic dance vibes. Then it was off to Wisconsin to be with my mum for Christmas. I got there in time to be whisked off to a winter solstice (and full moon) gathering out in the country...took my saz, but no jams (despite most of the band Burnt Toast and Jam being in attendance). I did get to walk a labyrinth in the snow and have a great conversation with a member of the Menominee tribe from the nearby reservation. And there was a bit of carol singing around the fire. Mum and I listened to the Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge and later in the day I managed a few wonky carols on my saz. Boxing day I got taken out to the Northland Ballroom near Iola where Sloppy Joe were doing their weekly thing — only caught a few minutes at the end of their set before they went into open mic mode. But nice to see them all again. Back in Canterbury just in time for New Years Eve. Found myself DJing from 11pm to 7am at a rather lovely party in Harbledown, cycling home rather bleary in the early morning light. A week later I was in Seville visiting my sister's family. I didn't get to check out any music or flamenco this time, all I heard were a few street buskers. "Knocking on Heaven's Door", etc.