Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Big Green Gathering 2005

Musical highlights of the Big Green Gathering for me this year:

Big Green Gathering
image from http://www.realfestivalmusic.co.uk/BGG-2003.html

Shortly after arriving on Thursday I bumped into my friend Jonno (once part of Heathens All) who encouraged me to stick around and see his nephew's band. His nephew Connor is just fourteen, as are his three colleagues, who comprise The Mighty Redeemers, one of the best reggae bands I've ever seen! No gimmicks, no annoying keyboard sounds, just a purist approach to Studio One-style early 70's Jamaican classic reggae - these lads appear to have studied the genre in real detail. They live up to their name. Brilliant.

BGG 2005 wristband

The Mordekkers sorted me out with a ticket in order to come and record their Friday and Saturday night gigs. I managed to rig up my minidisc setup and get an audience recording of the Friday night set in the Small World Cafe, and someone from the on-site Green Radio was taking a recording off the desk. There were some minor P.A. problems, but the set went down a storm as usual. Stef's mandola was almost almost loud enough this time (usually a problem). The new concertina/shawm dub arrangement was excellent - more of that to come, I hope. This was also their new bass player Henry's first gig. He and drummer Jez make a superb rhythm section, and it can only get better. The Saturday night gig was in the Green Forum tent - much bigger, and with a far superior P.A. There were some small problems with a broken string, etc., but despite the band thinking it was "a shambles", they managed to make a huge throng of festival revellers go completely mad for almost an hour, with people clambering to buy their demo CD Seven-League Boots at the end. That time I managed (with two minidisc machines) to get audience and desk recordings, which could potentially be mixed into quite a nice live recording for some future release.

I got to catch the end of a set from 3 Daft Monkeys - must have been an encore - their version of the Klezmer favourite "Mazeltov". This is Tim, Athene and Jamie - people I'd known in the late 90's in West Cornwall - somehow I've managed to not see them play before this. A shame I didn't see more - highly recommended band.

I was hoping to record some saz jamming with various people I met at the festival, but in the end just came away with a few fragments of me playing with various Mordekkers (and solo). The saz can hardly compete with their pipes and drums, but by carefully positioning the microphone, and using a bit of EQ later, I've managed to make myself respectably audible. As you might expect, the sound is supplemented by the usual festival noises, light aircraft passing overhead, etc.

Listen Here

I also spent a few hours reading the oddly compelling book Not Necessarily Stoned, But Beautiful by Sean Egan, about the making of the Jimi Hendrix Experience album Are You Experienced. Although it mostly consists of what could be seen as tedious factual information, and despite Hendrix having not meant a huge amount to me, the extent to which this indisputably masterful album was rapidly thrown together in a largely improvisatory burst of creative energy was quite a revelation.


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