Friday, October 01, 2010

Vlaanderen, Corcaigh and Chiarraí

Recent adventuring in Belgium and Ireland...

Having just arrived in Gent, Sven and Katrijn took me out to a birthday party in a kitchen in the village of Melle. It was Johannes' birthday — he'd recently come back from studying accordion in Columbia for a few years. We played a spontaneous mix of North African and Latin American songs (and a few other oddities). Sven's Algerian friend Kamel (guitar, vocals) and Moroccan friend Abdul Kader (percussion, vocals) were there, along with an English traveller called Neil on hand percussion, Jan de Bus (who was involved in those Belgian recordings I did with Inge about a year ealier) and a Columbian acrobat called Raquel who added the obligatory hispanic vocal whoops and trills.

Listen Here

A couple of days later I was in Sint-Niklaas with Alan and the old Oort Cloud crew (the mid-90's psychedelic dub band) at what used to be their rehearsal studios. It was more of a social occasion than a musical one, but we got some worthy jams together. This actually started with a few minutes of drumming at exactly 8p.m., joining a worldwide 'drumming for peace' event that Alan had been told about. Kris, the guitarist, was the obvious missing element, now living out on the West Coast of Ireland. During the afternoon, Sven (electric guitar) and I (saz) did our best to fill in for him. Later in the evening, we set up a Skype connection. There were some technical problems with this, but the occasional moments when it really worked were properly magical...there was Kris on a little screen playing his guitar in County Kerry, with his old bandmates in a house in Flanders... His 9-year old son Dylan even showed up on screen for a while, demonstrating his electric guitar skills by playing the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" for us.

Listen Here

The next day I was travelling via train and bus with Alan, his daughter Uisce and his girlfriend Emily out to Kris and Birgit's place in Kerry. We celebrated the Autumn equinox there with old friends. We got surprise visits from John Crossan (who started the Irish Treewalk) and Andy (from the Isle of) Man (who Inge and I travelled around Ireland and Wales with in '97). The plans to gather around an outdoor fire got rained off somewhat, so we ended up spending more time in K&B's cosy home which they'd recently finished building. Lots of food and socialising, not so much music, but some very nice musical moments:

Listen Here

Unfortunately, my elaborate post-equinox plan to journey back to England for Andy (Letcher) and Nomi's wedding in Oxford fell apart due to logistical problems the next day. I hear it was a good one, and I do wish I could have been there, but it just couldn't happen. So I decided to stay in Ireland for another few days. Andy Man drove a few of us down to Kealkill in his van (back roads, over the "Cork and Kerry Mountains" made famous by the song "Whisky in the Jar"). We ended up at Andy Ra's place, Maughanasilly, and that evening wandered down the track to Maugha where Jeremiah from the Revelation Sound crew had set up huge speaker stack and was blasting out roots and dub in Alan's honour (John Holt's "Police in Helicopter" was playing as we arrived — there's some local/regional significance to that one in light of recent events).

I ended up plugged into the PA playing saz over some dub tracks. A bit later, Toby, JohnJohn and Colm (a.k.a. Wiggle) set up and played a set of their own style of freeform, dubbed-out electronica which went on until dawn (they got me plugged in and jamming with them for quite a while...that worked very nicely, but unfortunately none of it got recorded).

The next night we gathered around Andy Ra's fire, joined by various West Cork heads... JohnJohn stuck around for that, Rik Lionheart showed up, Mike Collard and his space flute. It was an entertaining mix of Alan songs, folk tunes, chants, psychedelic jams, a rock'n'roll medley(!)... Andy Man recorded some of this on his Zoom H4, but due to the usual problems with recording a group of people around a fire (i.e. where do you put the mic?), it all sounded a bit thin. This went on til 4am... I remember some very spacey stuff with me, Rik and John John on parallel strings...Andy Ra playing some free mandola...a large but inaudible harp doing the rounds...a couple of hilarious inebriated Irishmen babbling away throughout...

Listen Here

Sunday saw more of the same. Christy (who had got an early night on Saturday, now being a father of two) was around, also Kris and Birgit came down from Sneem with their kids and brought Sven (who'd had a nasty case of 'flu) and Katrijn. Lots of afternoon jamming — none of this got recorded, but I have a strong memory of accompanying Alan's combination version Burning Spear's "People of the World" and "Little Love Song" in the afternoon sunshine as the crew arrived from Sneem. After dark we headed back down the track to Maugha for a late night session. Sven played some Columbian cumbia songs and some of his own, we jammed on some Irish tunes, some Inge tunes (Mike C's request). Mike got onto a bit of a flow talking about local history (always fascinating), so the music subsided and we got a relatively early night.

Listen Here

On Monday, Alan, Uisce, Emily and I walked to Future Forests after lunch, had a nice chat with Louise and Mike's son-in-law Matty (now running the place with Maria), then got a lift to Christy and Ciara's place in Durrus. After dinner there were (inevitably) more jams with Sven and co.

Listen Here

We got a bit distracted listening to an online history of the "Amen break", which then led Sven to bring to our attention Serge Gainsbourg's almost unbelievably ahead-of-its-time "Requiem Pour un Con". The next morning, packing up, Christy played us a recording of a live set from The Italics (the Cork-based roots reggae band he drums in and Rik plays bass in — HEAVY!). Then it was a 26 hour journey involving a van, three busses, a ferry, five trains and a walk up a hill back to mine. Gruelling, but it gave me a chance to edit and process all of these recordings.


Post a Comment

<< Home