Magga Tiempo and Zen Bicycle Band
secret woodland location near Canterbury
The seventh in our woodland concert series, and another great success.
Magga Tiempo are Yianni (from Greece) and Roberto (from Venezuela) who met in Canterbury and play instrumental roots music from Greece, the Balkans and elsewhere, mostly on two acoustic guitars, although Roberto got his charango out for one particularly excellent piece of Andean trad. There was a bit of gypsy jazz in there too, a tango, and an original piece or two, plus quite a bit of Yianni's dry humour between tunes. At one point, they went into a heavy flamenco riff (almost a kind of momentary turn to 'acoustic metal') and the sound of military jet aircraft suddenly filled the sky — if it had been a studio recording, that would have been a perfectly timed and balanced sound effect. And they didn't even notice, apparently, too deep in the music.
Zen Bicycle Band are Paul (flute/percussion), Clive (bass) and Dave (vibraphone) who play free-flowing improvised music that's impossible to classify (they go down well in jazz clubs but definitely aren't a jazz trio). Usually they make full use of amplification, electronic percussion, effects, etc., but this was them stripped back down to a simple acoustic trio. They played two long pieces, deeply entrancing, and then a jam with Yianni joining on darbuka, Roberto on rhythm guitar and their friend Ramsey on additional percussion.
Dave was particularly lively, leaping around behind his vibes, two sticks in each hand, the music just pouring out of him. Clive (who Yianni met in prison...while doing music work with prisoners!) was playing his contrabass in a variety of ways beyond the traditional plucking and bowing, including percussively bouncing a stick off the strings. And Paul, playing something in between a classical flute and a bass flute, suddenly broke into bol vocals at one point. Having not seen them live before (apart from online), I got the feeling that we just got a tiny slice of what they're collectively capable of. They seemed very happy with the whole thing afterwards, keen to come back and play again, enthusiastic about the simplicity of playing purely acoustically.
And the weather gods smiled upon us once more.
This was the second afternoon gig, and a warm day, so I didn't light the central fire. It felt like the focus provided by a fire was missing...But a package was delivered to me by an arriving guest — a thankyou present from Stella for playing a bit of saz on her forthcoming album: it was a book about the Incredible String Band (signed by Robin Williamson!) plus a candle and some incense. I immediately thought to light the candle and place it at the centre of the firepit, along with some lit incense sticks. And it really worked — the few of us who were still hanging around the amphitheatre later that evening found that we'd instinctively gathered around the candle!
The ISB book is actually a special edition of Shindig!, a careful look at their history, each album examined, plus an overview of the so-called 'acid-folk' field they spawned. This has had me revisiting their entire catalogue, but also some unreleased wonders such as this: