Monday, November 12, 2007

Sam's 40th in Avalon

Stevie P was DJ'ing at Sam's 40th birthday party at her new place on Tor View Avenue in Glastonbury - a lovely clear night, with a fire, lots of peaceful people, a few of us dancing to the finest roots and dub reggae, afrobeat, hiphop, etc. on the improvised dancefloor in her sloping garden. "I need reggae like I need sunshine," proclaimed a blissed-out woman in a big white furry hat, and I knew exactly what she meant. I've been missing that bass lately, only having access to tiny speakers most of the time these days.

I gave Sam a compilation CD I'd made of Ethiopian groove music, and soon discovered that she and Stevie are already deep into the Ethiopiques series which I recently discovered. I had a good chat with Ingrid who's now got all her photos from the Dongas travelling days (and many more) up on a website, just finished her Forest Schools training, and is instrumental in the Transition Town Glastonbury Gardening Action Group. Lots of people brought instruments, but Stevie's selection was so good that no one got 'round to playing them (I vaguely recall hearing Stevie himself playing a bit of ukelele as I was drifting off to sleep on the floor in the front room). The next morning was a lovely, chilled time in the kitchen. Stevie and I played some acoustic guitar and saz, the most I've enjoyed playing music in a long time (unrecorded, of course). There were a few new pieces he's been working on, also a couple of dance tunes we improvised around - a mazurka and a laride that Green Angels (of which he and Sam are half) play. He also played me a recording of a remix he's done of a rough mix of a tune from the forthcoming GA album (being produced by Matt Spacegoat at Pondlife), which involves that classic Johnny Osbourne sample "He will surely turn the tide..." as used by Scientist on arguably the greatest dub album ever (the ridiculously titled Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires). Stevie had to speed it up to get it in time, so it's ended up with a Kanye West gangsta flavour, as well as having lots of comical dub sound effects and general maximality - great stuff...

Having to get back to Canterbury, I got a lift as far as Dorking with Sam's friend Katie. She seemed familiar when we met during the party, and I realised in the morning that she'd been playing wooden flute during a far-out session I ended up in in the Pachamama chai tipi one weird and wonderful night at this year's Big Green Gathering. We talked a lot about French and Breton dance music, but it soon turned out that she's also got some major funk and hiphop connections. Her boyfriend Seorais is half of the Border Crossing production crew, who's new album "Freedom of Speech" features, among others, Jehst and Ricky Ranking. She'd recently had to drive Jehst and the crew up to a pirate radio station in Essex for a session - interesting to hear about the UK hiphop scene from the inside, having been following it for so long. We listened to one of Seorais's mixtapes, an excellent 70's funk selection, mostly, as we sped down the A303 past Stonehenge. She's got him interested in folk/hiphop fusion, and so I mentioned the Organic Beat Cooperative thing which Stef and I have been working on (but mostly talking about) the last few years. This might lead somewhere - we shall see.


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