Wednesday, August 15, 2012

another Sunday in the woods

an undisclosed woodland location, East Kent
Sunday 29th July, 2012

I'm writing this two months after the event, so this will all be a bit sketchy and vague...

The Ma Trio are half of Brixton-based Melodica, Melody and Me (Will Greenham's favourite band of the moment), being Rudi Schmidt (charango) and Greta Eacott (marimba), supplemented by Joe Carvell on contrabass. They play a mixture of traditional Andean charango tunes and Rudi's compositions in a similar style. After having a bit of trouble seeing what they were doing by fire and lamplight on the first piece "Silver Ship on a Copper Ocean", a headtorch was found from Rudi and another torch suspended above the marimba, after which all was well. They're a fairly new creation, so after their set, when asked if they could play just one more, they were struggling to think of something. Someone in the audience suggested another go at "Silver Ship" which was a great idea. It's a wonderful tune, and they were fully warmed up (and able to see) at that point, so we got an exquisite version of that to finish off.

The Ma Trio: Greta, Joe and Rudi

Just found this on the Smugglers Records Youtube channel:

Cocos Lovers had just spent a week up at the Smugglers Festival site in Little Mongeham, living together and working on their new set of songs. The idea of this gig was that they'd arrive straight from there and give the set its first public airing. And that's what happened. Apart from "Blackened Shores" from the last album and (at my request for an encore) "Oh Rosa" from the first, everything was new. They seem to be able to just keep writing this stuff — always similar enough in feel to be comfortingly familiar, and very much them, but always enough difference and new elements to keep things interesting. New songs like "Roots of the Willow" and "Son of a Merchant" were so instantly accessible that I had them going around in my head for days afterwards, from a single hearing. There's an absolutely gorgeous new one called "Emily", inspired by an African lullaby (and Will's response to being hassled by his little daughter to write a song for her, as he did for her brother Henry some years back) — that's going to become a lot of people's favourite Cocos song in the coming year, I expect.

Cocos Lovers: Dave, Natasha, Phil, Hans, Nicola, Will, Billy (playing banjo!)

Rudi joined at one point on charango, and Billy was playing banjo on one tune too (was he singing it?). The set ended on an amazing note, with "Song for Jack", a sort of minimalist krautrock-inspired thing with Cocos-style harmonies. I was overjoyed. One of my favourite bands ever, playing acoustic krautrock in the woods of East Kent! The audience were as appreciative and attentive as the first gig we held at this venue (Liam and Raven, Arlet and Stella Homewood back in June), no talking, no phones ringing, just rapt attention and joyful enthusiasm. Several people later told me about simply how good they'd felt after the event — Andrew Prowse from Zoo For You later described is as like having a musical "massage". Someone called John who'd made the trip from Deal has recently taken up painting, so he was inspired to put together a painting of the Ma Trio playing by firelight, gave it to me after Smugglers Festival, apologised for it, and suggested I hang it in the compost toilet shed!


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