Sunday, February 09, 2020

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 80

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 80

A long lost Henry Cow gem, Daevid, Gilli and New York Gong live in Kansas City '69, National Health in the studio in '78, Kevin Ayers and the Whole World at their most experimental, Caravan live on Bay Area radio in '74 and Soft Machine on German TV in '73. Also, Jane Weaver, Floating Points and Robert Wyatt both guest vocalising with Ultramarine in'93 and playing live (!) with Paul Weller and Danny Thompson a couple of years ago. From the Canterbury of recent times, something new from Lapis Lazuli, Dr. Sarah Gail Brand pushing the trombone well beyond its sensible limits and a guest mix from a mystery maker of mixtapes which have been showing up in nearby Blean Woods.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Lapis album launch

Friday 31st January 2020
UCA Bar, Canterbury

The whole band dressed as their fictional new manager Louis Padilla, to launch their new double album (CD only) Damo Suzuki & Lapis Lazuli — Live At The Ramsgate Music Hall 21.09.2019 / Louis Padilla's Muzak Uzi. They played some improv pieces based on some of the improv tracks captured on the Muzak Uzi disc, then "Reich" (from Wrong Meeting) and ended with their 4/4 fave "Hired Soul". Support from Jack Goldstein was intriguing. The audience could've been bigger, but presumably the damp weather, winter blues and Brexit Day gloom kept a lot of the Crash of Moons Club regulars away. Anyway, thanks to everyone who came down, and here are my mixes as resident DJ Professor Appleblossom:

I wasn't quite sure how to precede the unclassifiable genius that is Jack Goldstein, so I just went for a multi-genre "euphoric" vibe to counter the prevailing gloom. Not sure this worked... a lot of stylistic discontinuity, and people not really up for feeling euphoric? It got quite poppy and gospel-y at times. i went prog-euphoric before Lapis, and then a funky dance set for the party people who stuck around afterwards. The UK left the EU during Lapis's set, so we didn't have to listen to the fireworks outside. Weird night. And I played The Doobie Brothers, twice. What was that about?

Monday, January 27, 2020

Ugne's birthday party

25-26th January 2020
Faversham

Great vibes. Early on, Ugne was playlisting dubstep from about ten years ago (revisiting her 16-yr-old party life in Lithuania). Around 2a.m. she suggested I put on some tunes, so I did. Lively dancing for a couple of hours to my populist funk/soul/disco/hiphop/dancehall set, led by Paul and Ramona(?), an enthusiastic couple who run The Hot Tin (a deconsecrated church venue in town).

Around 2:18:05 in the mix there's an unlikely segue from Afrika Bambaataa into The Sea Nymphs. This was the point when the last bunch of dancers finally departed and it was just me, George from Witchdoctor (massive Cardiacs/Sea Nymphs fan), his sleeping girlfriend Jamie and friend Rich. I decided I was going to stay up and then walk to Oare Marshes for sunrise, then tea and toast with Oare friends Tracy and Nick. So to fill in the next few hours, I put on some chilled electronica and spiritual jazz, washed up, pottered about and chatted with the stragglers:

Jam Sandwich!

Friday 24th January 2020
Smugglers Beer & Music Cafe, Sandwich

I'd only been to this venue once before, during Sandwich Folk'n'Ale festival last summer, when it was open and serving beer, but the music was next door in the Fleur De Lis. This time I got a lift over with Megan, Luca (Soft & Whippy Jam Band frontman) and Roz, got comfortable, had a nice chat with Will and Natasha's son Henry (Now about 18? I can remember him beatboxing with Cocos when he was a small kid about ten years ago!), enjoyed S&W immensely (the place filled up, people were dancing, wonderfully mixed demographic — an "awkward wedding" vibe, as Will put it). The Maywaves (young local rockers) rocked out and had a load of their friends and family packed in around them having a great time, so that was contagious (even though the music doesn't do that much for me...yet...I'm sure they'll evolve in interesting directions!)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Lapis Lazuli at Elsewhere

Saturday 18th January 2020
Elsewhere, Margate

My first visit to this relatively new, hip venue/record shop/bar. Five bands for a fiver! Sander Cohen and Traps were very loud and aggressive, I wasn't really in the mood for that. Great stuff from Codex Serafini (Brighton ritualistic jam outfit with our mate Harry on drums), I didn't really get Inevitable Daydream — they were trying out some new semi-acoustic popsong-type stuff, rather than the usual heaviness... they ended on a good one though. Lapis weren't at their peak form, Neil a bit partied out from his birthday the night before. But even when they're not a their best, they're still pretty incredible. An amazing drum solo from Adam during "Falling Line"! I'm continually blown away by his drum skills...

I had a nice chat with Georgie from Lazy Pilgrims (now defunct, replaced by a project called Wishing Machine). She remembered me DJing in Nomadsland at Smugglers Festival last summer, specifically playing Jon Hassell. We ended up talking about Another Green World, Margaret Atwood and the theory of hyperobjects.

Libby and James' joint birthday party

Friday 17th January 2019
Libby's cabin, near Canterbury

A live set from Molly's Lips (Phil and Billy from Cocos Lovers), Libby's favourite regional act, plus 6+ hours of me DJing for an interestingly mixed demographic — doing my best to please everyone, there's quite a bit of feel-good, novelty and some slightly cheesy 80s elements (for Lib!). It got deeper as the night went on. Great party!

warmup set: 0:00:00
dance set: 1:22:02

Friday, January 10, 2020

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 79

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 79

A Caravan live radio broadcast from 1974 California, Matching Mole back in the UK drinking their politics away in '72, late period Soft Machine with Alan Holdsworth on guitar, the Elton Dean Quartet playing Coltrane in '77, the Steve Hillage Band getting cosmic in Brighton back in November and a Robert Wyatt singalong from the dead centre of Canterbury. Also, a Jane Weaver remix, spiritual/political jazz from Joe Henderson and a rather Cantuarian Zappa outtake. From the Canterbury area of today, some atmospheric electronica from Shadow Biosphere (a.k.a. Caroline Jago) and a collage of archival Raven Bush productions.

Sung Eucharist + Sarah Brand's PhD gig

Monday 7th January 2020
Canterbury Cathedral and St. Gregory's Centre for Music, CCCU

A strange, slow, sorrowful day, feeling rather freaked out about the Iran situation. It was Epiphany, and I decided to go to Evensong to seek solace in hearing some William Byrd sung beautifully in the Cathedral. It turned out to be a sung Eucharist, which was rather unsettling in its ritual formality (although the Byrd was celestial, as expected).

From there I wandered over to St. Gregory's to hear Sarah Gail Brand play her PhD concert (the viva for her thesis was the next day). Extraordinary, the sounds she gets out of a trombone!

And I like her attitude. She got the PhD, I'm glad to hear (the research behind the thesis "The Impact and Affect of Ensemble Interrelationships on Performances of Improvised Music – a Practice Research Study" is described here).

Back home, I spent a few hours listening to Raven Bush's first "Theta OSC" series. This comprises seven sonic creations he's put together for a loosely themed project, something which he's asked me to do some collaborative writing for. I got into a real flow with some creative writing that night, looking forward to developing that.

New Year's Eve!

Tuesday Dececember 31st 2019 - Wednesday January 1st 2020
secret woodland location near Canterbury

Just back from the States, set this little party up, lit a bonfire and played via my little 12V rig (thanks James!) from just before 7pm til just after midnight, flowing through numerous genres and trying to read the space, keeping it fairly "up" and populist. Jackie Wilson's "You're Love (Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Higher)" took us up to midnight, at which point I shouted out something about having now "entered the 20's", and went into a mini-set of 1920's hot jazz instrumentals.

...then Lewis played for a few hours (electroswing, trance, etc.), then I played a more random kind of 4-6a.m. set for the stragglers, about which I remember relatively little. Not a lot of continuity in this, but it must have made sense at the time. Happy 2020 everyone!

Mike Bjella and friends

Saturday 28th December, 2019
Emy J's, Stevens Point, WI

My mum and I went to see her friends Michelle and Steve's son Mike Bjella playing at a local coffeehouse during my last night in Stevens Point. Nice to share some left-field musical culture. They played some fairly free stuff, some more overtly jazzy stuff, a song or two and a Finnish folktune. Mike (primarily a saxophonist) gets together with his old musical friends and plays a little show whenever he's in town. This time it was Aaron Kruziki (winds, guitar) and Devin Drobka (drums). Here's something similar in the same space almost ten years ago (more of an straight-up jazz thing):

I met Mike's dad Steve last time I was in town back in the spring, after seeing him perform a farewell concert (retiring as violin teacher from the local university music department), we talked about Max Richter. I was introduced to Mike after this gig, talked about his recent move to Vermont (he's a music teacher there), about the Brattleboro Free Folk scene, mv&ee (aspects of Vermont he has yet to discover), also his involvement in the Montreal and Toronto music scenes. I remembered some names from episodes of Canterbury Sans Frontieres (Parc X Trio from Montreal, the Toronto-centric Mechanical Sound Forest blog) which were part of his orbit. Nice connection.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Eve with Mike McAbee at the Elbow Room

Tuesday 24th December 2019
The Elbow Room, Stevens Point, WI

I was expecting the ususal Tuesday night songswap down at the Elbow Room, so this was a nice surprise. Mike's a local friend-of-friends who comes back from Iowa to see family for Xmas and so there's been a tradition of him playing a Christmas Eve show for the usual crowd of lovable misfits down at the Elbow. I hadn't seen him in action for a few years — he really is a great barroom entertainer, singing all the songs everyone knows (with witty/cynical/surreal commentary) and enjoying singing them, even if he doesn't like them, while randomly wandering around the venue with the freedom of his radio headmic and guitar pickup.

A young woman called Sheila was guesting on violin when I arrived (apparently she's playing with local stalwarts Irene's Garden these days). A friend of Mike's joined to sing harmony on "With Or Without You" (which Mike announces as being "With Or Without Yous" by "Yous2" when in Central Wisconsin, "With Or Without Y'all" by "Y'all2" in Texas). His son Abe rather touchingly joined him for a short a cappella Irish song before they downed shots of Jameson's together. He noticed I'd brought my saz and asked if I wanted to join, so we did a reasonably competent "All Along the Watchtower" (me playing into a vocal mic precariously balanced on a barstool).

"500 Miles", "Come On Eileen", "Boys Don't Cry", "What's Up?" etc. got everyone singing along. He was slipping the line "Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself" in wherever it would rhyme (e.g. covering Bob Seger a la "Take those old records off the shelf/ Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself". Seemingly an in-joke mocking rightwing conspiracy theorists>? But yeah, I think it's fair to conclude that Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself.

Later in the night I asked for "Fisherman's Blues" by The Waterboys (Mike's toured in Ireland and Scotland so that seemed a safe bet). He seemed to think I wanted to join in, so I did — bad idea... saz out of tune, nervous system under the influence of Point IPA — but in a noisy drunken Christmas Eve haze i don't think anyone noticed.

Tuesday blues in Madison

Tuesday 17th December
The Ohio Tavern, Madison, WI

Back in Madison, passing through. After experiencing a German version of Cornish pasties ("bierochs") and non-alcoholic beer, I ended up down at the Ohio Tavern for their "Tuesday Bluesday" with residents Blythe Gamble and the Rollin' Dice. Guitar, drums, bass and belting vocals, plus a couple of guest harp players. Mostly originals, it seemed — good stuff.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 78

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 78

A couple of tracks from Hatfield and the North's classic '74 debut album, Soft Machine in '72, Kevin Ayers in '74, Steve Hillage in '76, Daevid Allen guesting on some highbrow musique concrète in late 60's Paris, his old friend Terry Riley improvising with son Gyan in Lithuania, Didier Malherbe's Hadouk Trio live in Paris, the "other" Lindsay Cooper alongside Keith Tippet and Trevor Watts, Henry Cow with Robert Wyatt guest vocalising and an acoustic Caravan cover. From the Canterbury area of today, tracks from Hello Gecko and Anderida, plus the Canterbury Gregorian Music Society live at St. Mildred's Church. The middle hour of this episode features a mix of tasteful techno and progressive electronica, 1992-2019.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Crash of Moons Club December Dance Dojo

Saturday 7th December 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

The Crash had been slowly accumulating some fairly low-level debt, so we decided to pay ourselves off by throwing an end-of-season dance party. I started with a warmup set as people were arriving, leading into Lewis (a.k.a. DJ Myriad)'s eclectic global/tribal trance set, then Lloyd (a.k.a. DJ Special Terry) playing some classic funk and soul on vinyl. Bianca (a.k.a. DJ Binx) had to cancel but sent along her mate Dan to fill in, who instantly enlivened the room with his funky house, nu-disco and drum'n'bass tunes. I then put on my Professor Appleblossom labcoat and ramped things up with disco, dancehall, Afrobeat, funk, hiphop, electro, etc., culminating with Bob Marley's "One Love" just before the 1am curfew. Thanks to everyone for coming down and helping keep the Crash of Moons Club afloat, and creating such a great vibe. Also to Lewis and Rachel for the fabulous decor, Neil for the technical support and Trish at the bar for being so accommodating of us.

Here are my sets:

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Barbados Independence Day

Saturday 30th November 2019
Flo and Sam's house, Old Dover Road, Canterbury

Florence invited me to a party at her and Sam Brothers' house, jokingly themed as a joint Barbados Independence Day and Winston Churchill's birthday party. I ended up DJing, starting off with a set of Barbadian calypso and spouge (I'd rapidly educated myself in the history of Barbadian music that afternoon). We then had a flag raising ceremony outside (yes, Flo and Sam's housemate had sourced a genuine Barbadian flag) with me blasting the island's national anthem out of the window. Then it was a mix of down-tempo dance music and dub with Churchill speeches mixed in. Rather thematically, there was a genuine WWII bomb crater in the front garden, and a post-war bomb shelter/bunker built under the house (which Sam has converted into his guitar repair workshop).

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Anderida, Chop Chop and Oh Mama at Crash of Moons Club

Friday 29th November 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

I'd put Anderida forward after hearing their collaboration album Here Goes... with my poet friend Ameera. Their set was based on that, with Ameera's voice pre-recorded (she's in Maastricht now). Amazing guitar work from Marcus Weekes, and great overall jammed-out band sound. Chop Chop are an arty Brighton band with a Galician poet as frontman. Very hard to describe or pigeonhole, but they turned out to be seriously engaging. Oh Mama (also from Brighton) had played a short set at a Crash of Moons event some months ago and were keen to get them back. The etherial vocals and crunchy riffage make for a sound that reminds me a bit of Heron Oblivion (Meg Baird from Espers' recent project). We got a reasonable enough turnout, although with such a density of Crash gigs in recent weeks, it seems that people were becoming a bit apathetic and/or taking them for granted. Where was everyone? What else was going on on a Friday night in Canterbury that was better than three amazing, original live bands for a fiver??

Anyway, here are my mixes from before/between/after:

Friday, November 22, 2019

AMM at Free Range

Thursday 28th November 2019
St. Gregory's Centre for Music, CCCU, Canterbury

This was the third (I think) Free Range visit from the legendary experimentalists. This time the lineup was Keith Rowe (electronics/radio/strings), John Tilbury (piano) and Eddy Prevost (drums/percussion). The last Free Range of the season. I sat behind EP carefully watching his electric-tooth-brush-on-gong work, etc.

OMG Hillage!!

Sunday November 24th November 2019
The Concorde, Brighton

Bloody hell!! Steve Hillage! "Actual Steve Hillage!" as Gong frontman Kavus Torabi beamingly introduced him after Steve had introduced the rest of them. I'm not even going to attempt to tell you how mindblowing this gig was. At one point during the Om Riff I swear his guitar was gone Hillage was just playing pure light : )

That was the first time I'd seen Gong since Daevid died. It occured to me that it was also the same place I'd seen Daevid (with Gong on the 2012 tour) for the last time. Although I'm still not entirely convinced by the new material (their set was all new stuff apart from a superb "You Can't Kill Me"), as soon as they were jamming I was transported straight off into Gongspace. This was Gong, despite my original reservations about them continuing as a band with that name. I got to stick around after the bouncers had swept all the hangers-on at the bar outside, as Adam from Jouis happened to be working there. This then meant that I got to have a friendly chat with Kavus and Gong wind player Ian East (who lives in Herne Bay and regularly comes along to Crash of Moons gigs).

...and many thanks to Adam and Louis from Jouis for putting me up at their psychedelic crash pad afterwards, the perfect place to come down from an experience like that.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Luo, Inwards and Meshes at Crash of Moons Club

Wednesday 20th November 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

Luo were staggeringly good, Inwards played one continuous, lush set, and Meshes' stuff was pretty interesting too. Not a huge audience, but respectable. As resident DJ Professor Appleblossom I played electronica sets before/between/after:

0:00:00 pre-Meshes (ambient/glitchy/Warp-y sounds)
0:57:24 pre-Inwards (more of the same)
1:08:47 pre-Luo (likewise)
1:20:47 robot-disco-that-wasn't to-be, later taking an abstract turn for the packdown crew

Sunday, November 17, 2019

John Butcher, et al. at Free Range

Thursday 14th November 2019
St. Gregory's Centre For Music, Canterbury

It doesn't really feel like Free Range in this space, but it works for now, and we witnessed an incredible performance from this trio (one long improvisation and one shorter one). I had an intense conversation about music theory with Luke Menniss (Lapis Lazuli's mercurial bass player) before they got started.

Sam Bailey played a short support set using TWO grand pianos. One hand on each, seated between them!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

classical guitar at St. Pauls Without The Walls

Monday 11th November 2019
St. Pauls Without The Walls, Canterbury

Incredible playing from Michael Butten: Dowland, Gerhard, Rodrigo, Bach (a violin sonata MB arranged for guitar), Legnani, Britten and Albeniz. It was the Dowland that drew me to the event (as well as a chance to spend some time in the best-named church in England!), but the fugue movement of the Bach was a real revelation, and Britten's Downland-inspired piece was entirely new to me. He hadn't prepared an encore, so played Downland's "Frog Galliard" a second time (his favourite, and one of mine). Thanks to the good people of the Canterbury Guitar Society for putting this on.

Monday, November 11, 2019

"Soyboy" video shoot

Sunday 10th November 2019
Blackfriars Street, Canterbury

Luke "Pyramid Youth" Dodson was shooting a music video for his soon-to-go-viral song "Soyboy" at Laszlo's place in Blackfriars Street, under the umbrella of the mysterious local World Peng organisation. It was effectively a wild houseparty with Nancy on camera duty, and the dresscode went something like this:

shamanic kombucha goddess / paisley underworld spirit / quantum steampunk wizard / cosmically triggered kimchi psychonaut / forest glade pixie nymph / Joe Rogan's DMT guardian entity / Kentish river pagan / four-dimensional disco monster / cyber-discordian traplord / beetroot raggamuffin / bin-dive druidess

I showed up as Professor Appleblossom in my labcoat and ended up playing a DJ set, starting with rowdy dancehall and hiphop, gradually drifting (via some surprises) into deep-chill spiritual jazz for the late-night crew.

We then somehow ended up watching hurdy-gurdy videos, including this, after I remembered the name of an extraordinary player I'd happened to see trying out an instrument at the Saint Chartier instrument makers' fayre in 1999:

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 77

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 77

Gong in '73, Lindsay Cooper with Hugh Hopper and friends live in 1990, Hugh solo in '76, another Robert Wyatt cover from North Sea Radio Orchestra, a stripped-down National Health live in '77, a slab of Egg's first album, some neo-Canterbury sounds from the San Francisco Bay area, neo-krautrock from Tokyo and a French perfume advert featuring Daevid, Gilli and Kevin! From the Canterbury area of today, new stuff from Paisley Mess and Hello Gecko. The middle hour of this episode features a mix of experimental sounds from Season 8 of the weekly Free Range series of avant garde events held locally.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Canopy Connections at UCA Bar

Friday 8th November 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

This was the launch of the just-formed Kentish Rhizomes collective (Lewis, Emilia, Rachel and me). You always worry no one's going to come to these things, but we got a great crowd. Two VJs, two DJs (me as Professor Appleblossom, Lewis a.k.a. Myriad) + circus performers and spoken word + a fabulous live set from the Papylonian Babooshkies (the electric version). Lewis played a trance-oriented set after the band, I played a pretty eclectic one beforehand. There was a little welcome ceremony in the middle of my set and then Emilia and Megan began a performance piece with silk fans as I started back up again with some Ituri rainforest Baka singing, Gabonese Bwiti beats... and then just went off...

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Crash of Moons with Codex Serafini, Punching Swans and The Ranch

Thursday 6th November 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

Another Crash triumph! Codex Serafini were a wonderful surprise. I knew our friend Harry Hayes was playing with them (they're Brighton-based I think) but didn't realise he was the drummer. They play their heavy drone-style rock in matching robes, faces hidden behind curtains of long hair, creating an otherworldly, ritualistic atmosphere. Punching Swans brought the punchy post-punk skronk from Medway, and The Ranch (from Malta) were back for their third Crash appearance with a brilliant new guitarist and album's worth of new material. Edgier and grittier than before, still very danceable and fun though.

Here are my mixes as resident DJ Professor Appleblossom. The drummer from Punching Swans came over during "Cruiser's Creek" by The Fall to say how much he was enjoying the selection ("Hit after hit!"), always a good sign. I even got a request (from a bloke about my age who'd come over to say I had "eclectic taste for such a young person"!!) for "Lies, and Then" by Psychic TV, which I never got round to playing. Not sure what I think about Psychic TV these days...

Melt Banana in Ramsgate

Saturday 2nd November 2019
Ramsgate Music Hall

Support from Joshua Blackmore (who seem like a 2019 Bill Bruford, composing complex music for drums and synths, and putting together a band to play it). Melt Banana punkier than expected. I can vaguely remember hearing John Peel play them in the early 90's, but more the name than the music. It took a while to get used to the fact the drums and bass were prerecorded (just the two core members on vocals and guitar this tour). But singer Yasuko's live triggering of the drum breaks, and general energy, made up for this. Pretty unrelenting, but I got into it. A lot of people there got really into it (a moshpit emerged for a couple of songs).

Crash of Moons Hallowe'en special

Thursday 31st October 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

An incredible night! The World Peng/Peng Wei crew kicked things off with an esoteric ritual, which then evolved into an incredible live hiphop set, backed Oli on sax, Rachel on drums and Luke on bass — a last minute ensemble, running on adrenaline and minimal rehearsal and sounding seriously dangerous. Laszlo a.k.a. Humble Pious and Remi Rorschach spat bars in crazy pagan/shamanic gangsta costume (the band and ritual participants all looked pretty incredible, as did a lot of the audience) and got the party started.

Lapis played in full costume, starting with a "horror jam" (incredible! but sadly unrecorded) before going into "Hired Soul" (their 4/4 floorfiller) and then covering "Ghostbusters" (Neil, looking like some kind of interdimensional leprechaun from a ketamine vision, singing in a silly voice, with Luke shouting the "Ghostbusters!" reply). "Thriller" also got covered (Adam, in devil horns, still a massive MJ fan, getting to intone the Vincent Price spoken word part, from behind his drums). Finally, Clusters of Eyes (the Hatton brothers from Deal on bass, drums and robot vocals, plus Lord Richard of Sealand on theremin and electronics) blew everyone away with their live rave set.

As resident DJ Professor Appleblossom I tried to find some genuinely frightening music (as opposed to "spooky" Hallowe'en novelty tunes), check it out:

The next night, a planned woodland event I was involved with (involving a walkabout and some dark modular synthesis) had to be cancelled due to the horrific weather forecast... the weather never really showed up, but I did find myself DJing over at a little house party on Cossington Road, so here's another five hours of the Prof's party selections:

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Gregorian Marianism at St. Mildred's

Saturday 26th October 2019
St. Mildred's Church, Canterbury

I managed to get in despite this one selling out. Afternoon sunshine streaming in through the windows, a really beautiful occasion. I hadn't been in St. Mildred's for years (if ever?)...the oldest church inside the city walls. It turns out that the Canterbury Gregorian Society are a sort of community choir, welcoming new members (no audition, no need to read music)...I've got a bit of a psychological block about singing, but I think I could get into this.

The music pieces were interspersed by readings (both in the original Middle English and modern translation) from the 14th century poem Pearl (anonymous, but bound in the same volume as the original Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, so believed to be by the same author). Fascinating.

I'd been up late the night before in an elevated state of consciousness listening to John Eliot Gardiner's version of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers (recorded in Venice):

That was truly extraordinary. I felt like I experienced pinnacles of musical beauty I'd never before experienced. Obviously the recital in St. Mildred's (amateur, in the best possible sense — these people love what they're doing) couldn't quite compete with that, but I was still transported and extremely grateful to have been there. And I managed to bootleg it (what have I come to?!), so you can expect more Marianism in a future episode of Canterbury Sans Frontières.

Free Range: Howie Reeve and Leonora Boulangier

Thursday 24th October 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury

Monday, October 21, 2019

Monteverdi's Vespers in the Cathedral

Saturday 19th October 2019
The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury

Stuck behind pillars quite far back in a cheap seat getting the 'mono mix', but no less mindblowing than expected. Towards the end of the first half I decided the Vespers were the 1610 equivalent of A Love Supreme...

If you're unfamiliar with the work, here's a recording that's almost certainly worth an hour-and-a-half of your life!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Free Range: Nancy Gaffield & The Drift + 1000 Boats

Thursday 17th October 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury

I got to enjoy a fabulous set from Liran Donin (Led Bib, The Quartet) and his quintet 1000 Boats after bailing out of a depressing City Council meeting, arriving just in time, finding a front row seat and floating on the cusp of sleep. Wow!

Wonderful psychogeographic poetry and accompanying sounds from this unexpected support too!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Hunters Moon ritual forest hip-hop!

13th October 2019
secret woodland location near Canterbury

Dom Wolfe a.k.a. Mistah Wolfe opened the evening with a thrilling hour of looping and beatboxing, building up banging dance tracks (and more abstract stuff) with just his voice and time manipulation. This was followed by the first performance from the newly established Templecats (Remi and Humble Pious from the BrewDem collective + Oli and Luke adding unexpected elements of poetry, throat singing, weird costume and theatrical embellishments). It was a Hunters Moon, and all I'd been told was that they were going to perform a healing ritual involving an invocation of the 'divine masculine'. Herne the Hunter and Bacchus got shoutouts, Laszlo (Humble P) dropped some incredible poetry, Remi spat complex bars at an almost alarming rate, Olivia put in a cameo as Eris, goddess of chaos (distributing apples, of course) and eventually the ritual gave way to an unplugged hiphop cypher with Remi and Lasz taking turns spitting over Dom's beats. Fantastic! And thanks once again to the local weather spirits for their ongoing cooperation (it was meant to be raining, but we got a beautiful sunset and bright full moon).

Crash of Moons Club with Hello Gecko and The Soft and Whippy Jam Band

Saturday 12th October 2019
K Bar, UKC, Canterbury

Crash of Moons outreach night! The idea was to infiltrate the student scene (there's tens of thousands of them in Canterbury, and we rarely get more than a dozen at our gigs). K Bar was nicely filled up with familiar faces, and by the second set (with a lot of help from Soft and Whippy frontman Luca's magnetic, charismatic vibe) the students at the back were putting their smartphones away and coming up to join the throng. Hopefully we've won a few converts. Great sets from both bands, as expected. Here are my DJ mixes from before/between/after as resident selector Professor Appleblossom:

0:00 psychedelia pre-Hello Gecko 1:17:35 more psychedelia pre-The Soft and Whippy Jam Band 1:49:50 some hiphop, dancehall, etc.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Crash of Moons with nør løve, Bell Lungs and Capitol K

Thursday 9th October 2019
Bramley's Bar, Canterbury

This may have been my favourite COMC event yet. A wonderful, listening atmosphere, intense, challenging, beautiful music. nør løve took everyone by surprise, Bell Lungs in particular was incredible, and Capitol K got the room dancing with his organic Andean funk beasts to close the evening. Here are my mixes as resident DJ Professor Appleblossom:

My friend Oli's new housemate Joe came over to ask about the Moonshake track "Gravity", and we ended up having a detailed musical conversation. He turns out to be behind this wonderful project, hiding mixtapes in Blean Woods on the outskirts of Canterbury (you can listen to the mixes online, and they're exquisite).

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 76

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 76

Something from Kevin Ayers' last (and unexpectedly excellent) album, the Steve Hillage Band live in London this summer, Tim Blake live in a church in Paris in '75, classic tracks from Hatfield and Matching Mole, North Sea Radio Orchestra covering another track from Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom (plus Robert talking about the album) and Geoff Leigh guesting with an obscure Swedish duo. Also, spiritual jazz from Ahmad Jamal and Yusef Lateef, an early Damo Suzuki outing with Can, psychedelic wonderment from the almost forgotten Mighty Baby, another lost Coltrane Quartet masterpiece, something new from Bristol's Spindle Ensemble and recent local sounds from Joshua, Raven, Paisley Mess and Lapis Lazuli.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Jambinai

Friday 4th October 2019
Gulbenkian Theatre, UKC, Canterbury

I'd seen some stuff around the UKC campus about "Korea Day", presumably organised by the student Korean Society. When I saw reference to a live band, I derisively assumed it would be some tacky K-Pop. How wrong I was! Fortunately, I checked them out in advance and found this:

Concluding that they were Korea's answer to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I quickly sent out word to various local friends who might appreciate them. In the end, the Gulb theatre was 1/3 full, but the band seemed incredibly appreciative and humbled that anyone had come out to see them. Rather like Godspeed's use of chamber strings, Jambinai use a variety of Korean folk instruments (the haegeum, a bowed one-string thing; the geomungo, like a kind of giant bass koto; the piri and taepyeongso, reed-based winds). Great washes of electric noise, extreme dynamics, minimal vocals, thunderous bass, epic finale, no encore...

woodland weekender

Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September
secret woodland location near Canterbury

Saturday evening involved old travelling friends Jo (with her partner Mikey as the Sussex-based duo Fell), Stef (with his partner Peni as the Wales-based duo Hen Gan) and Jim (part of Oxford-based trio Owl Light Trio). A set from Fell (Jo on melodion, Mikey on fiddle and nyckelharpa plus Jim guesting on concertina), then a set from Hen Gan (Peni on various wooden flutes, whistles, gaita, folk oboe, Stef on concertina, mandola, gaita and Welsh drum), then everyone together for one last tune. A lot more dancing than usual for these woodland gigs! The session carried on for quite a while after the gig proper (until it was just Jim weaving solo concertina magick for a few of us sleepy stragglers).

The Canterbury crowd aren't really familiar with a lot of this droney Breton-type folk music... one older attendee later told me he'd had his mind blown and felt like he'd been transported back centuries.

The weather had been looking iffy all week so I was expecting to have to cancel at least one, if not both of these gigs, but miraculously, the heavy weather came in just as the Saturday evening gig was winding down, and had pretty much blown over by the time the Sunday afternoon one started. This involved Leonie Evans again, this time with her friends Noah and Sam from the States. They swapped around on electric guitar, drums and bass, playing each other's songs, with a generally country-ish vibe, but absolutely gorgeous. Support came from 2/5 of the Allen family: father Pete and son Toby, apparently the first time they'd gigged together, playing a variety of old time, Cajun waltzes, etc., and joining the others at a couple of points during their set. This gig had a fairly small audience (the night before was pretty full), but that made for a lovely intimacy. Even little setbacks like a broken string added to the spontaneity and joy of the occasion. Thanks once again to everyone involved (and the local weather spirits!)

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Eliot Galvin Trio + Zensay 1st birthday

Thursday 26th September 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury

I hung out and chatted with Liam Magill (Syd Arthur) and Callum and Pete (Boot Lagoon) outside the venue for a bit before heading over to Alberry's for this:

I arrived in time to catch some lively bars from In'ovative (a.k.a. Jack who runs Zensay) and then Remi Rorschach (formerly Reminisce from the Brewdem crew) — great energy — before a rather patchy open mic...I needed an early night so headed off. Here's Remi, with and without his balaclava:
 

Alash Ensemble in Sandwich

Wednesday 25th September 2019
St. Mary's Arts Centre, Sandwich

Holly was running this gig as Will G was supposed to be in Cornwall. Will ended up staying in Kent and enjoyed the event with us, but Holly did a great job of pulling everything together. I'd volunteered to do the door, always a nice way to connect with everyone at a gig. At the last minute, someone realised there were no sounds prepared for before/between/after acts, so I threw some mixes together rather quickly (but thoughtfully):

Clair from Lunatraktors did a support set (no loops, just vocals and minimal percussion/harmonium) including a stunning "Raglan Road". Alash were transcendental, as expected. I was rather surprised by the electric six-string among the traditional Tuvan instruments... the three of them wove their playing together (throat singing, bowed and strummed stringed-instruments, drums and percussion) so effectively that a lot of the time I couldn't tell who was playing what. In fact, a lot of the time it sounded like there were more than three of them!

Rise of the Moons with Wheels et al. + Robert Hunter RIP

Tuesday 24th September 2019
Bramleys Bar, Canterbury

Good to be back at Bramley's! We had a pretty good turnout for sets from Wheels (Neil from Lapis + two Medway friends, one with a remarkable gift for melody), Bonniesongs and Natalie Evans. Highlights of the evening for me were Wheels' last song, Bonnie's stick drumming on "Ice Cream" and Natalie's harp playing. Nice to get Adam back on the mic compering too.

Here are my mixes as DJ Professor Appleblossom. Mini-sets before/between/after each act:

Bonnie spoke to me afterwards about these, very enthusiastically. She'd been so focussed while setting up her extensive gear on stage (she plays everything and uses a loop pedal) that I'd assumed she wasn't paying attention to my selection, but apparently she either already loved every track, or wanted to know what it was. She lives in Sydney now, but turns out to be from County Wicklow. Oddly enough I'd played a little known Van Morrison album track from '74 called "The Streets of Arklow", Arklow being a town in Co. Wicklow where it turns out quite a few of her extended family live.

While setting up, I saw online that Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter had died. Sad news. When I got home I got into an appropriate state of mind and threw all the live versions I had of all my favourite Hunter/Garcia ballads ("Bird Song", "China Doll", "Ship of Fools", "Must Have Been The Roses", "Row Jimmy", "Stella Blue", etc.) into a random playlist, turned it up, lay down and floated away. Because I've always focussed on the instrumental layer of the Dead's music, Hunter's lyrics were always in the background, but focussing on them this time it became apparent just how integral they were.

Jeff Conklin at WFMU did a tribute show. Jeff understands and appreciates the Dead in a way I can fully related to. This show includes a cover of the Hunter/Garcia ballad "To Lay Me Down" by Meg Baird (Espers, Heron Oblivion), which is a great way in for those of you who don't get the Dead or their idiosyncratic vocalising : )

Lapis back Damo, equinox party

21—22 September 2019
Ramsgate Music Hall and Perry Wood

Well that was quite something! One continuous set, about 80m I think, with Lapis Lazuli backing legendary Can vocalist Damo Suzuki as his "sound carriers". This is how he tours these days, working with bands he's never even rehearsed with, hardly spoken to. I ended up on a child-sized plastic chair in the middle of the front row (everyone else standing — thanks Lila!), at Damo's feet, as he dripped sweat, eyes closed, and moaned, murmured, gurgled and whispered his way through an indescribable sonic landscape. The jam started with just Neil and Martin on guitars, then joined by Adam on drums and Luke on bass — apparently he'd used random numbers to make this decision.

The Sunday before I'd hosted a woodland musical "avant-picnic" with Sam Bailey and co.'s "Ways of Being" project (several dancers inside a large gold blob, and Sam on melodica, harmonium and synth drones) before Lapis attempted a run-through with me in the guise of Professor Appleblossom taking Damo's place. I downloaded a few recent mathematical physics preprints from arxiv.org and, behind the protective layer of my labcoat and distorting little vocal amp, read the most exotic sounding passages in a kind of improvised way, attempting to interact rhythmically and texturally with the band's jamming. That went on for about 70 minutes — I got really into it! As an "encore", I asked them to get a Krautrock groove going so I could deliver the lyrics to The Fall's "I Am Damo Suzuki". I don't think any of them had ever heard it (or listened to much Fall), but they ended up sounding surprisingly Fall-like, and with the distorted vocals, I sounded a bit like Mark Smith shouting through his megaphone! Here's that:

Immediately afterwards I got the last train to Faversham and then cycled out to Perry Wood for an autumn equinox party at Lewis's place. He was playing a mellow psychedelic electronica set when I arrived, which I enjoyed while spending a while catching up with old friends. Not much of a dancing thing going on on this occasion, everyone was super-chilled. Lew's girlfriend Rachel did a little live set (acoustic guitar and vocals) before he played a bit longer, then handed over to me. As far as I can recall, I DJ'd about eleven hours from 3am—2pm: spiritual jazz, dub, all kinds of mellow, spacey sounds for the hardcore few who stayed up by the fire for sunrise (The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun" got an airing, of course), then more lively sounds for the various people emerging from their tents for breakfast/lunch — proper Sunday morning party vibes that just kept rolling into the afternoon (each tune suggesting the next) before I realised that I'd better cycle off before I fell asleep. So I threw on this Love track, said my goodbyes and then wobbled home through Blean Woods to sleep for fourteen hours...
 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Free Range: Another Green World and Will Dutta

Thursdsay 19th September 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Led Bib surprise

Monday 16th September 2019
Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury

I only found out about this a couple of days before.

Brilliant gig, perhaps the most enjoyable LB performance I've seen. Eliot Galvin on keys now. And it was only when drummer Marc Holub introduced the band at the end that I realised it had been Sharron Fortnam on vocals (from North Sea Radio Orchestra), so that was another surprise. I'd been wondering if it was the singer from Pram, Rosie Cuckston I hadn't been expecting to enjoy Led Bib with sung vocals, but they fit incredibly well. Local VJ Oli Chilton was on live film manipulation, the usual Free Range Crowd and a couple of the Magill brothers in attendance.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 75

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 75

Soft Machine in the studio '71, Caravan live in 2017, Didier Malherbe accompanying Nico in 1978, Kevin Ayers live with Robert Wyatt in '74, Lindsay Cooper et al.'s Feminist Improvising Group live in '79, the other Lindsay Cooper on record with Keith Tippett and friends in '75 and a wonderfully remastered live recording of Gong live in '74. From the Canterbury of today, an acoustic live set from a trio version of Arlet, new electronica from Raven Bush and Josh Magill, and something from The Miserichords (three former members of The Happy Accidents, as featured last episode). Also, some mid-70's German jazz-fusion, late 60's Brazilian Tropicália and a Palestrina choral piece recorded live in Canterbury Cathedral.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Free Range returns

Thursday 12th September 2019
Garage Coffee, Canterbury

The season actually started the previous Thursday with a photographic exhibition based on the previous season (wonderful black and white and photos by FR archivist Kamila Lobuzinska, including a couple of excellent Tim Hodgkinson portraits from the Lindsay Cooper Songbook event I curated). I had to miss that due to post-Smugglers 'flu, but saw the pictures a week later.

Orphy Robinson (who I mainly know from his work with Robert Wyatt) was on xylophone and electronics, Pat Thomas on electronics + a little keyboard, some grand piano and a bit of chair-scraping. Quite abrasive at times, with some curious samples of jungle/dubstep thrown in (like distant echoes of Jamaica filtered through the chaos of modern London). One long piece and one short piece. Keyboard/dance support from organiser with movement artist Kristin Fredrickson.

Smugglers Festival 2019

Thursday 29th August—Sunday 1st September 2019
Little Mongeham, near Deal, Kent

I headed over on the Wednesday afternoon to help with a few last-minute bits of the setup. The night before I'd been hosting Leonie Evans and Gina Leslie (a friend from Colorado who she knows from New Orleans) at a secret woodland gig near Canterbury — two sets of jazz-blues-country-gospel and some originals, just gorgeous.

This was the ninth Smugglers Festival and arguably the best yet. I had a continuously good time from the moment I arrived until I left, and the music was an almost overwhelming feast for the ears and brain.

Thursday: Life of Birds (Natasha from Cocos, backed by sister Poggy, brother-in-law James, niece Mimi O'Halloran and others); Martha Tilston (Matt Tweed in the band, I got to introduce them); Lunatraktors (perhaps their best set yet, including a warped version of "Feeding the Birds" from Mary Poppins); Cocos Lovers (ripping it up on the end stage, featuring Lord Richard Armstrong on theremin!); Starfish Men (Charlie Hannah and friend Xav's hilarious, surreal, duo, featuring beautifully crafted but utterly ridiculous songs)

Friday: Joshua (aka Josh Magill — I was only half-able to watch, from a distance, attending to a friend in need); Lazy Pilgrims (young Margate heads bringing MBV-type vibes and sounding great on an open stage on a sunny afternoon); a storyteller performing "The Ballad of Tam Lin" in the Nomadsland forest; Flying Ibex; Dubi Dolczek reading from his extraordinary novel-in-progress The Omnizoid, suffixed with an extraordinary surprise doo-wop rendition of "Bad Boy" by the Jive Bombers (featuring members of the Fantasy Orchestra); The Scorpios (WOW!! That was my musical highlight...had no idea who this London-Sudanese collective was... a visually extraordinary band, looked like a randomly selected bunch of humans from around Planet Earth had been put in a band together, but musically pure "swooning cyclical ecstasy"... I ended up a the front having a religious experience...special props to the keyboard player who was getting quite Rateledge-y at timee); Lunch Money Life (stage manager Bruno gently plucked me out of the front of the Scorpios' crowd to remind me I was compering...this was formerly just Lunch Money, Stewy's band from SOAS days, evolved into something truly MONSTROUS...free jazz horns, skewed rhythms, banging beats, edgy urban vibes); Kikagaku Moyo (Japanese psych warriors looking and sounding fantastic on the mainstage, felt really generous and inclusive, what they were offering musically); Big Ben Jorge (basically Flying Ibex souped up into a global covers band, great dance tunes throughout)

Saturday: Once and Future Band (West Coast psych prog bands...they're big Canterbury scene fans and were totally in their element on the main stage); We Are Not Shellfish (avant garde droney-ness in Nomadsland); Chewy She (Garance's synthpop project!); London Bulgarian Choir (I was preparing for a DJ set in the bar and missed some of this, sadly); evening DJ set in the bar (wow, that really kicked off... Brazilian vibes, hiphop, dancehall, funk, soul and disco, got the place jumping nicely); Deerhoof!! (John Dietrich came over to say a quick hello while I was about to start DJing, and they were about to soundcheck)... I got to introduce them, and then ended up back on stage for the encore, explaining the so-called "Watkins Objection" to Greg Saunier and a swarm of crazed party people while the rest of the band jammed in the background:

Volume 13 closed out the live music on Saturday down at the end stage. This is apparently going to be the last outing for the occasional Smugglers scene Afro/Ethio covers collective. Guest vocalists this time included Garance, singing a French Creole African song, and The Selkies (whose set earlier I'd met due to maths commitments) bravely tackling an Ethiopian Amharic song. Jamie Dams doing great work on keys and vocals, nice to see Thom Harmsworth up there on trombone, and a brief appearance from Aidan Shepherd playing a typically brilliant keyboard solo.

Sunday: Dubi Dolczek and band (introduced by me, as Professor Appleblossom, flanked by secret agents); Fantasy Orchestra (such a great selection of material: "I Want To Ride My Bicycle", "Les Fleurs", "Ghost Town", "Move On Up", "Venus In Furs", etc. incredibly well arranged for a ramshackle assemblage of singers and players of instruments in eclectic costume); Yama Warashi (Conrad absolutely on fire, the solo on "No Face" perhaps the maddest guitar solo ever); Molly's Lips (beautiful songs, hilarious banter, as usual... the set included a Spitfire suddenly appearing overhead and doing a stunt barrel roll...the audience spontaneously applauded, Phil dryly replying "you're welcome"... devastating cover of the trad(?) song "Morphine" too); Baque Luar (super-powerful women's percussion/voice ensemble); Hellfire Orchestra (playing to a more sober crowd than they're used to but as firey as ever); the Apocalpyse Parade (led by one of Tom Holden's puppet creations, I grabbed something to bang on and joined in); Alabaster de Plume (Conrad in the band, more guitar fire... I was supposed to be playing a DJ set in the bar, so ended up hanging back from the crowd waiting for that to start...everything was running 40 minutes late, so I ended up missing out on fully engaging with AdP's set, but it seemed pretty immmense from back where I was standing)

I also ended up doing my Professor Appleblossom freestyle maths thing in Nomadsland each mid-day, as has become traditional, and DJing on my little 12V soundsystem next to Rosy and Jules' Chai-angles "chaicosahedron" cafe (part of the emergent "chai-celial network") each night for the chilled out peoples. Thanks to Rosy for that opportunity — I was totally in my element! Chamber folk, deep house, spiritual jazz and glitchy electronica on Friday (with amazing hula-hoping from Emilia); roots reggae and dub on Saturday; an eclectic mix on Sunday before handing over to Lewis, aka LeWizard, who played a guest set while I went to check out what was happening down at the secret bar behind the end stage. Sadly I didn't think to record any of my mixes.

Here are some photos from Nomadsland in all its twinkly, late-night glory:

back from Ireland

16–22 August 2019

A train ride from Killarney to Dublin, then a ferry (the Ulysses no less) to Holyhead and an overnight coach to London, just in time for Breaking Convention 2019, the interdisciplinary psychedelics conference. Lots of interesting stuff going on there, as expected! Musically, we were entertained by the great Paddy Steer on Friday night, and the ridiculous Henge on Saturday night. Unfortunately I had to leave Sunday, so missed the Irish psych band Tau who Mike C had told me to look out for. However, on Saturday eve, after the lectures ended but before Henge played, I was sitting out on the lawn with Luke D and he asked to have a go on my saz. I got it out, and after he'd had his fill, he handed it back and I started semi-consciously noodling. This turned into me playing "Cuncti Simus Concarentes" a medieval Catalan Marianist song I'd picked up as part of my current obsession with the Cantigas da Santa Maria. I noticed a long-haired, bespectacled young man sitting close, listening intently. And then he surprised me by starting to sing the words. It turned out he knew nothing of the song's context, but had learned it from a Kalenda Maya album:
 

This turned out to be Rory from Tau, who'd met Mike at the Hill of Uisneach on the summer solstice (synchronised with the start of my current Marianist musical enthusiasm). He got a pennywhistle out of his bag, and after a key change we were able to play the tune together, followed by a variant of "King of the Fairies" and then just a simple jam. A few curious concert-goers (including my old friend Andy Letcher) gathered to listen. So that was a lovely, synchronistic end to my BC weekend. I caught a little bit of Henge (utterly bonkers, as expected) and then had to run for the last coach to Canterbury.

The next evening I was hosting Jennifer Bennett and Oli Parfitt (both former members of Circulus) playing an extraordinary concert in a secret woodland location: Oli on mini-Moog and Jenny on viola da gamba, flute and violin, playing a mix of early music and original songs. One seamless set — gorgeous! Support was provided by her friend Ian Perry, a singer-songwriter she brought along from Glastonbury. He joined them at the end for a stunning cover of Leonard Cohen's "1000 Kisses"

A few days later I dropped by Bramley's to catch Luke playing the weekly open mic. He included a very clever new song called "Nobody Knows I'm Banned From Here", which manages to rhyme "wild garlic pesto" and "Unabomber Manifesto". On my way home, I passed the Old Beverlie, a pub not known for live music, and heard some lively boogie/blues wafting out the open door (it was a warm evening). Through the window I spotted Luke Smith at the piano, so went in to listen. His dad Dave was on the drums, Peter Cook was on sax and harmonica legend Brendan Power was there too. They were really cooking, and I was looking forward to a bit more of the same, but they were about ready to pack up. Suddenly Luke announced that he was going to play Matching Mole's "O Caroline" just for me. And he did, beautifully, with Dave the Drummer lightly percussing along. Another perfect Canterbury moment.

more Ireland

August 2019
Cork and Kerry

Alan showed up after a week at Maugha, bringing the vibes, and taking some photos (this one's of Christy's "moon gate" on the way down to the well):

We jammed in the barn the first night with JohnJohn on acoustic bass, Andy Ra on 12-string, me on saz, Alan and Christy on hand percussion. Absolutely exquisite, and (typically) unrecorded. After one particularly lovely improvisation, JohnJohn quipped in his West Limerick accent "You couldn't make it up!". He had to head back to his smallholding, but we jammed again the next night down at Andy's with his friend Alan O'Rourke and brother Robin. Not quite as good, but still very memorable (and unrecorded). The next morning Kris came down from Sneem to get me, Alan and Robin. We spent the next few days up there. Lots of music. Here's me comparing Robin's recently acquired T-shirt (from the festival Reggae Geel) to the back of Pink Floyd's Ummagumma which Kris had randomly put on the stereo that morning:

Andy Ra came up from W. Cork with his son Barney on motorbikes. Here's us getting a jam started outside Kris and Birgit's house:

...later than night, joined by Sean B on a kind of bass ukelele:

Christy turned up with his brother Seamus and their dad Mike (who had just received his new flute, made from an obscure type of African hardwood). Somehow the jam moved indoors and accompanied a Liverpool FC match with the sound turned down...Alan and Robin are massive LFC fans and couldn't miss it, but it didn't stop the music (the Reds won on penalties!)

   

...and then back outside around the fire with Birgit and the (now adult) kids:

Here are a couple of recordings and a montage of clips, pretty rough, but nice memories:

Listen Here

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 74

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 74

This episode features an extended interview with (and archival selections from) Will Glanfield of the Happy Accidents, a legendary Canterbury-area ensemble that existed 1985-2012 (and which included former Wilde Flowers Brian Hopper and Graham Flight). Also, Gong live in China, NSRO and an unknown Israeli covering Robert Wyatt, Haiku Salut remixing Group Listening covering Robert Wyatt, Tim Blake and Steve Hillage reunited via Hawkwind in 2018, a Caravan classic from 1970, brand new Chilean spacerock and San Franciscan psychedelia. From the Canterbury of now, a new electro-acoustic piece from Raven Bush.

Friday, August 09, 2019

"yesterday's pies tomorrow"

That was a phrase Mike used in the middle of a late night psychedelic ramble the night I got to Ireland. I can't even remember the context.

So here I am having a typically surreal, chilled-out time up in the mountains of West Cork with my old friend Mike Collard. It's been raining for days and we've just been listening to music and talking for hours on end, various comers and goers coming and going, as they do, endless cups of tea, a near Rizla crisis, an amazing thunder-and-lightning storm last night. Andy Ra and a percussionist friend came over for a brilliant jam the other night, but that didn't get recorded. I invented an entirely type of music by the turf fire the night before, after immersing myself in the Cantigas da Santa Maria for hours. It sort of bounced out of my saz and seemed to have a life of its own. Only Mike got to witness this, and neither of us can remember what it sounded like. "Where is this music from?" I remember him asking, looking up, perplexed. "It's from here." I managed to say, while watching my fingers dancing on the fretboard to a pattern I couldn't discern.

So now I feel like sharing some of my favourite (non-traditional) Irish music.

Yesterday, we were listening to Hendrix's "1983" and got on to the topic of Rory Gallagher as rock shaman, reborn Irish bard/musical warrior archetype. I looked for my favourite recording of him on YouTube, ended up finding this, with some wonderful footage of the man himself and Cork City in '74, as Mike remembers it when he moved out here. Such a beautiful musical soul. Born in Dongegal, but made Cork his home. There was (probably still is) a shrine to him in a pub in nearby Middleton.


 

I've loved this for years — Dublin-based Incredible String Band fans doing their own quirky Irish take on that approach to songwriting. Belgian Kris (who I'll be seeing up in Kerry in a few days) played in a band with one of this crew a few years ago, as he was living nearby:


 

An acid-folk classic from '72, written by a couple of very young women. I vaguely remember Michael Tyack of Circulus bringing them out of retirement some years ago:


 

Mike got quite emotional the other night, reminiscing, while I was selecting tunes. I'd been playing soul classics, which suddenly seemed totally inappropriate, so I took it in a "Celtic soul" direction. This seemed to fit the mood perfectly at the time, from my second favourite Van Morrison album (you can guess the first):


 

Finally, somewhat confessionally, the first rock band that grabbed my attention when I was 12 or 13. Although I have no time for Bono's bombast or messianic tendencies, what Edge was doing with the electric guitar at this time was pretty extraordinary in its inventiveness. And you can't dispute the energy or tightness of the band at this time:

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Canterbury Sans Frontières episode 73

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 73

Steve Hillage in '79, North Sea Radio Orchestra covering Robert Wyatt, John Greaves impersonating both Ivor Cutler AND William Burroughs (on separate occasions), Henry Cow with Wyatt in Rome '75, a future member of Whitesnake(!) playing bass with National Health live in '77, Robert Fripp with Theo Travis fairly recently, Kevin Ayers getting rather dark in his heyday, an interesting early 90s mutation of Gong playing a classic, some Ethiopique, some Tropicalia, and Mike Ratledge at the piano playing a jazz standard circa 1963. From the Canterbury of today, another composition by Aidan Shepherd as recorded by London fusioneers Ruby Rushton and a long free jam from Lapis Lazuli recorded live last winter.

farewell Ben and family!

Sunday 21st July 2019
secret woodland location near Canterbury

This afternoon gig was put together to commemorate Ben Insall and family moving up to Melrose in Scotland (he's going to be doing a Masters degree in music therapy up there). Ben's been part of Arlet and the local folk scene for the last decade or so, so there was a big turn out. Lots of families, kids, old friend, really lovely vibes throughtout. We got a solo set from Ben (daughter Hazel joined him for one song, partner Rosie for another), followed by an Arlet trio set (Ben, Aidan and Rosie) which was just exquisite. A butterfly (Polygonia c-album) spent most of the latter half of that set orbiting Ben, landing at various points on his head and guitar, eventually settling on the tip of a goose feather he'd spontaneously stuck in the headstock of his guitar, and staying there throughout most of their last piece (the three of them had their eyes closed, deep in the music, and were entirely unaware). Andy Renshaw (bhodran) and Chris Sadler (concertina) joined them for a few at the end, and then a full on folk session unfolded, with Aidan's partner Domi also on fiddle. A great selection of tunes, played with a grace and refinement uncharacteristic of most folk sessions. Pure musical bliss. Thanks to everyone involved, and all best wishes to Ben and family in their new chapter north of the border!

I was operating on three hours sleep during this event, as I'd been DJing at a wedding in Brighton (Vicky's daughter Claudia) the night before, til 2am. Great fun. Claudia also asked me to play at the actual ceremony in Brighton Town Hall, a mix of English folk tunes and some of my own. It went well.