Monday, August 25, 2014

an English country wedding (and a proper party!)

23rd—24th August 2014
near Deal, Kent

John Evans is usually behind the mixing desk when Syd Arthur are playing live. On this occasion they were out in LA about to support Yes in front of possibly their biggest audience yet, but John was here in Kent marrying his beloved Vicky. They're not doing the official registry office thing until tomorrow, but this was the wedding celebration and ceremony for friends and family held at the now familiar Smugglers Festival site. The festival's next weekend, so there was already quite a bit of decor and a couple of marquees up. Perfect weather, perfect setting. Lots of waistcoats.

Bizarrely, my eccentric alter ego Professor Appleblossom was asked to start the proceedings with a brief maths lecture(!). Vicky had originally suggested the near-impossible topic "the mathematics of love", but I still managed to come up with something linking ethnomathematics, the number 5, the Wolfgang Pauli's dream analysis, quantum mechanics, imaginary numbers, the "roots of unity", the pentagram and Golden Rectangle. In preparing this I'd discovered someone's already made a Golden Rectangle wedding ring:

The punchline involved revealing the plot of a 2-d surface embedded in x-y-z space described by a 6th degree polynomial equation I'd which baffled everyone with at the beginning of the talk:

This went down surprisingly well (delivered in the clearing what has been the Sondryfolk Forest for the last three festivals) and ended with me transitioning from "the least appropriate medium with which to talk about love, i.e., mathematics, to the most appropriate, i.e. music and song" at which point Vicky's favourite singer-songwriter Theo Bard took to the stage with his bass-playing friend Louisa Jones (she and I seem to have a number of mutual friends, so a secret woodland gig with this duo may be on the cards). They started with a gorgeous rendition of Richard Thompson's "Beeswing", followed by a number of Theo's originals.

They were followed by some a cappella singing from Vicky's good friend Sarah Yarwood together with her mum Cathy and dad Charlie (who years ago sang together as half of folkie quartet Beggars Velvet). They started with a traditional wedding song from the South of England, the sort of song that would have traveled via sheep fairs, Charlie explained. The rest of the set consisted of traditional-style love songs, including a couple written by their old friend Dave Webber. Vicky and Sarah's friend Claire was brought up to sing with them on a couple of numbers.

A bit later in the evening, after a touchingly sincere-yet-irreverent ceremony, a first dance, and a second first dance (Vicky and John being joined by a gaggle of little girls on the dancefloor as well as Will and Natasha Greenham's dog), John's DJ friend Rod played a dub set, with me guesting on saz on four tunes (some King Tubby, Mad Professor, etc.). Ben on sound put me through some heavy reverb, and unsurprisingly (John being in charge of the sound setup), the tunes sounded massive in the forest.

[Curious side note: On the train to Deal, I'd been lamenting the lack of feedback from the saz-dub demo CD I'd circulated at UNOD this spring, but then deciding I was OK with that because it had led to this wedding gig. Moments later my phone rang — an unrecognised number, and I was on a noisy moving train so I let it go to voicemail. This turned out to be someone called Spyda who'd picked up one of the discs and UNOD, then lost it, then found it months later and claimed to have been playing it nonstop for days "BANGIN' tunes bruv! Quality, quality stuff. Bless up!" and seeking more of the same. So maybe there is some mileage in this saz-dub business...]

the funk and soul DJs took over, kicking off with King Curtis's "Memphis Soul Stew", followed by a string of perfect choices that had the place seriously jumping continuously until the 1a.m. curfew. It's all a bit blurry now, but there was definitely some James Brown and Maceo Parker involved, "Superstition", "Soul Man", "Once in a Lifetime", "Lost in Music", Aretha's "Respect" (a staggering dubstep remix thereof slipped in later in the night), "Voodoo Ray", "Pump Up the Volume" (I think), a bit of quality disco and house... I haven't danced like that for far too long. At some point in the evening Cocos Lovers played one of their livelier, stompier festival-friendly sets (ending with "Old Henry the Oak", of course), about which I can primarily remember the various silly hats the band members were wearing. A great occasion. Congrats to Vicky and John, and thanks for a magnificent party!


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