Monday, September 05, 2005

wholly excellent weekend

An inexplicable Saturday morning bad mood was very effectively swept away by a Saturday afternoon session at Henry's. I was feeling so unmotivated that I almost didn't go...but, fortunately, I did. I was just expecting to go around to jam over one of Henry and Richard's rhythm section practices. When I got there, though, I found Keith with electric guitar plugged in, and Rupert arriving with congas. It wasn't an 'official' Drone session, since it just sort of came toether at the last minute rather than being announced and open to all, nor was it a Pulse rehearsal, as Richard wasn't sticking strictly to bass 'loops'. We just jammed, with Henry encouraging his brother to explore on the bass a bit more. We ended up playing some rather wonderful psychedelic dub-type sounds. I'd love to hear what it sounded like, but I didn't record this one, not expecting anything quite so special.

I was planning to leave early to catch a bus, but when I mentioned where I was going, Rupert offered me a lift to my destination, so I was able to stay for the full session - and left feeling fantastic. Some of the pieces felt like a single mind or organism creating the music.

So I got a lift with Rupert out to a small, low-key music camp/gathering in an undisclosed location in rural Devon. This had been going on for a while - we were lucky enough to catch the end of it, getting to jam all night saround a big fire with a wonderful selection of musicians and singers - amazing in the diversity of their amazingness. I found myself playing along with old English folk songs, bluegrass, freeform didg jams, Iwan from the tiny German-speaking region of Belgium and his endless good-vibe, multilingual skanking guitar rhythms, some Portuguese language (Brazilian-style, presumably) berimbau, guitar and voice, the incomparable Jon E. Aris's heartwarming, absurdist positivity anthems, an extended "When the Saints Go Marching In" freakout with trumpet and sax, some Elizabethan lute music played by an instrument maker from the Totnes area on a little guitar-shaped mandolin he'd designed and built, songs by The Byrds, Neil Young, Lindisfarne, World Party, even a Cyndi Lauper song (don't laugh - Miles Davis covered it in '85! And Cyndi's cool in her own way...)!

low-key music camp in rural Devon
the low-key music camp at an undisclosed location in rurual Devon

Jim (of the Invisible Opera Company of Tibet) was in fine form, doing his 12-string powered "human psychedelic jukebox" thing. At one point I stopped to try and remembered where/when I'd met was during the aftermath of the 1995 Glastonbury Festival, introduced by our mutual friend and collaborator Pok Spacegoat. Jim was doing what he does best on that occasion, coming out with one perfectly chosen song after another. I can distinctly remember the subject of Nick Drake coming up, and being very impressed to have met someone who knew "Clothes of Sand". I thought I'd ask Jim to play that again, ten summers later, and having waited for the right moment (for it's a rather melancholy song, and the mood was mostly very 'up' during the night), found him to be tuning his guitar AT THAT MOMENT specifically to play THAT SONG. And this is a man who knows more songs than anyone else I've ever met.

I eventually had to give up at 4a.m., but I can't remember such a good night's musical diversity in a LONG time. There was such a good vibe between everyone, too - no sense of anyone's ego getting in the way or clashing with anyone else's. I didn't record any of it - that just wouldn't have been appropriate. But I found myself waking up in the morning desperately trying to remember all of it, not wanting to lose track of even a little bit of the magic that went down around that fire.

I noodled around some folktunes on my balalaika by the fire in the morning while people were making tea and toast, chatted with Dave the luthier about modal music, tempered scales, the influence of the Church on the development of western music, the difficulties of making a living as a musician or luthier, etc., gave away some COTD volume 4 CDs, and then headed back to Exeter with Rupert once the storm blew in.


Blogger Tom Kerswill said...

Ah, shame you didn't record it... but sometimes it just works better if things aren't recorded...

11:17 PM  

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