Sunday, April 16, 2006

Trip to Kent

I just got back from a week in the Southeast with Vicky. We were mostly visiting friends and exploring churches, hillforts, sacred landscapes, etc., but I did take my saz along and played a bit most days. None of my friends down that end of the country are musicians, so I didn't get a chance to jam or record anything, but there were some musical occurences worth reporting:
  • My Buddhist poet friend Tim showed us a couple of excerpts from a Television Personalities DVD, including the video to the wonderful "The Painted Word", the title track from an album I really should track down. I'd forgotten how good they were at their best. He also showed me the most unexpected article imagineable from The Sun (a British right-wing, ultra-superficial tabloid newspaper, for non-UK readers) - a substantial interview with the TVP's mainman Dan Treacy and extremely favourable review of their new album My Dark Places. The Sun have somehow managed to rank the TVPs up in their "five bands most likely to make it big in 2006"!!!

  • Dave, an old friend who lives in a caravan in the woods on the edge of Canterbury, produced a bag of about thirty tapes I stored in a cardboard box underneath his old caravan about ten years ago. The caravan in question burned down a couple of years ago, but somehow the box had survived, and although a lot of the inlay cards are damp and decaying, the actual magnetic tape seems to have survived surprisingly well - a real treasure trove of stuff I liked fifteen years ago and which I still rate: Sonic Youth, Syd Barrett, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Eno, Robert Wyatt, Gong, Cocteau Twins, Grateful Dead, Richard Thompson, Cardiacs, The Chameleons, and even some Sarah Records stuff (three tapes of Field Mice singles, B-sides and obscurities). Best of all is an extraordinary 1950's field recording from The Congo (I believe) called "Pygmies of the Ituri Rainforest" - among the most truly organic human music that is to be found anywhere. Last night, when we got home, I DJ'd my way through some of the highlights of this collection. The box also contained a "lost" tape of 1994-95 recordings from Ghent when I was first playing improvised music with Inge and friends. I'll be processing that up soon to add to my archive collection hosted by the IAA.

  • Luke Smith   Dan Treacy
    Luke Smith and the TVP's Dan Treacy

    On Thursday evening we took Dave down to a new venue in Canterbury called The Orange Street Music Club to meet up with Tim and Simone, another old Whitstable friend, and see a unique performer called Luke Smith. Luke has a weekly residency at the OSMC, described in their literature as the city's "quintessentially English anti-folk anti-hero". Tim had described his sound as involving elements of Robert Wyatt, Television Personalities, Madness, Chas 'n' Dave and English music hall. That's quite a good description, but you really have to see and hear him to get the picture. He's an excellent pianist (also plays some electric guitar), writes and sings extremely honest, sincere, warm, funny, quirky lyrics about cosyness, cups of tea, heartbreak, persistence in the face of adversity, England and the minutiae of life. A teapot sat, appropriately, atop his piano. There was much cheerful banter with Adrian the bassist and Dave the Drummer (who turns out to be Luke's dad), and two sets with a guest slot in between. The OSMC is the old Oddfellows Hall. It has pretty good acoustics, a few sofas and friendly barstaff - it's heartening to go back to the Canterbury - a city whose musical past and particularly quirky vibe I have a deep fondness for - and find something like this going on there.


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