Tuesday, June 03, 2008

more Devon

Keith, Henry and I only managed to get together once as "Orbis Tertius?" during my week in Devon - the night after that Drone session at St. Mary Arches. We've got a gig in July at micro-festival which has been kindly hosted by a friend of Henry's for the last few years on a hilltop near Coleford. We worked on playing shorter versions of our pieces, as we'll probably only have a 45 minute slot (can't fit a lot of spaced-out 25 minute jams into that, can you?). This was quite effective, a lot getting packed into five or six minutes. We were all happy with the fact that we could get together after six(?) months and dive straight into it. Henry recorded it on his Zoom H2, and although I've not generally been archiving Orbis rehearsals, this one seems worthy of it.

Listen Here

Also, I found this the other day. Someone was discretely filming us at the North Bridge Inn when we played there last August, and put a clip up on YouTube. It's a little bit of "Bonny at Morn". Quite representative of our sound (and our lack of visual interest! we need a far-out lightshow a la the San Francisco ballrooms c.1967! now!)

The next night (after that recent rehearsal) I was out at an undisclosed location on Dartmoor at a friendly little music camp I've been to a few times before (never seem to be able to stick around for more than a night or two). I had to walk a couple of miles from the busstop in the evening sunshine, enjoying the incredible birdsong and profusion of wildflowers in the hedgerows. This was a particularly good night (the clear, starry sky, after days and days of drizzle and torrential rain certainly helped). I was happy to see Jon E. Aris was there (he'd actually headed off to the Sunrise festival near Yeovil, but then returned to the much less hectic buttercup-splattered field after it got cancelled due to possible flooding), also Invisible Jim.

Various songs were being swapped, one of the South Hams Boogie Band (sorry, forgot the name) playing acoustic bass - we jammed over the bassline to Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster"...then a 4 or 5 year old girl came over to the fire (it was still light and the kids were all still running around the field) and sung, of all things, "Johnny Jump Up" (an Irish song about drinking cider and fighting!). And really quite well (a few forgotten lines, but, real confidence). Jon E. Aris sung a string of his lovely songs, someone called Dixie (long grey beard, thick midlands accent) played a few excellent choices - Richard Thompson's "Vincent Black Lightning 1952" (last heard being sung in a bar in Wisconsin), "Johnny Too Bad" and "St. James Infirmary". Jim was playing low whistle and melodica at this point, we had bass, percussion, horns, and my saz...really got rocking on "St. James Infirmary". Laura sang "King Willy" accompanied by my saz (we've done this before - a bit of trouble getting our slightly different (rhythmically) versions in sync this time, but still good - Laura and I were part of a hurriedly-assembled Spacegoats line-up that played Sidmouth some years ago, she on trumpet). A didg appeared whenever something was in the right key (C) in this case, which culminated in a trancey didg/saz/low-whistle jam. Someone then got out a hang (wonderful modern Swiss instrument - check the link if you don't know it) and played it better than anyone I've heard before.

the camp
the camp, pretty much the same as it was a couple of years ago

Jim disappeared for a little while, then reappeared with his guitar and played/sung songs from his jukebox-like memory until 5:30 a.m. (I lasted until only 2). There was a Canterbury set - Robert Wyatt's "Sea Song", Matching Mole's "O Caroline" ("one of the most beautiful things ever recorded," thinks Jim, and it's hard to disagree), a couple of Caravan songs. Someone asked for Nick Drake, and we got my favourite - Clothes of Sand" - a real joy to accompany that one. There was "Ripple" -> "Brokedown Palace", and of course there was Neil Young...so I was able to go back to my tent fully satisfied after having played thoroughly enjoyable versions of "Powderfinger" and "Cortez the Killer" (having never played them before, but those songs are just in me, somewhere, and my fingers just know what to do).

None of this got recorded, of course.


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