Thursday, March 19, 2015

onward into 2015

I'm just about ready to resume blogging. So here's the 2015 backlog...
  • Weekly sessions with Tom Holden down at his place in the Greyfriars, Canterbury, working on our repertoire of original music for saz and guitar/ukelele. We've been working on about twenty pieces, slowly getting our sound together.
  • 06/01/15: A reunion with Orbis Tertius (me, Henry and Keith) in Exeter. Felt good to be playing that stuff again — we massacred some of the tunes, but some spirited jamming made up for that. And a nice social occasion — we ended up sitting up late listening to Bill Frisell's Floratone and Trio Hadouk afterwards.
  • 07/01/15: A Children of the Drone session, the first one I'd been to for ages. It was all a bit soupy because there were nine of us, but some nice moments. Also noteworthy in that the three original Droners (me, Keith and Simon) were all playing together for the first time in years, plus our first recruit (Henry). My recording of that is here.
  • 10/01/15: Miriam's 30th birthday celebrations. Thankfully we got an unusually mild and still evening and were able to spend it around a big fire in the woods. Aidan from Arlet and his partner Domi played Irish, Klezmer, etc. tunes on accordion/fiddle, then a singalong jam with Miriam's Little Bulb Theatre friends: Tom Waits, "CC Rider", "Wagon Wheel", "Fisherman's Blues" (everyone spontaneously dancing around fire at that time). Ten people playing at one point. I shared a djembe for some hilarious collaborative drumming with Little Bulb Clare for a while. Dom and Zoe singing some Sufjan Stevens. Billy and Phil from Cocos Lovers dropped in (Billy sang Tom Waits' "Come On Up To the House"). Little Bulb then broke out a surprise a cappella "Eleanor Rigby" with new lyrics they'd written about Miriam, very touching. I stayed up til 5, the Bulbs carried on playing and singing til sunrise, of course. Adam and Neil (from Lapis Lazuli) + Monica dropped in for a lazy afternoon the next day. A lovely weekend.
  • 15/01/15: Free Range with Dominic Lash and John Butcher. Wow! John Butcher playing an intimate free gig in Canterbury — we're so lucky... John Russell was meant to be playing with them, but cancelled, so organiser Sam Bailey sat in for the second set. Talking to Richie from Plume afterwards at the Canterbury Tales during the Irish session.
  • 20/01/15: Jazz session at Bramleys. These are now a fortnightly happening, organised by the extremely talented young vocalist Dulcie May Moreno plus the ubiquitous multi-instrumentalist Jules. I think this was the third one. Jason from Plume brought along his quartet playing a mix of bebop and fusion (great stuff), then various permutations of local players involving Toby, Phil and Adam from Lapis Lazuli, plus Jules, Trent Castro and James Ross from the local reggae band Hey Maggie. The highlight was a very tall, jovial Bulgarian MC called Jan rhyming in English and Bulgarian, limbs flailing, to a blues/jazz/boogie jam ("My friend from Brighton/She was really frightened/That the hippies from the 60s/Still aren't all enlightened"!). Nice mixed age audience, felt really alive.
  • 22/01/15: Free Range. My tenure as Free Range archivist ended as I handed over the hard drive to Sam. A CCCU-based enthusiast (who does an experimental music podcast) called Ollie is taking over. Nice to have been involved, but glad someone else is doing it now. Sam played a wonderful but brief treated piano piece (guitar pickups, vibrating object, singing bowls, atop the strings), then readings Sarah Crewe and Chris McCabe (working class Liverpool poets). McCabe's "alchemical treatise against the police" was very entertaining!
  • 29/01/15: Free Range with Dominic Lash, Sam Andraea (saxophonist from Trio Riot) and pianist Karen Ullén from Sweden. Also the X-O-DOS collective from Ashford, delivering an unexpected mix of noise barrage and curious, gloomy songs skillfully played. Then on to the Canterbury Tales with Sarah F and friends for some Irish tunes and beer. Another great Thursday evening in Canterbury.
  • 01/02/15: It being Imbolc, I walked over to Harbledown, visited the Black Prince's Well, saw my first snowdrops of the year. That evening was the first birthday celebration at Lucy P's Wild Goose bar in the Goods Shed (the farmers' market). Phil and Billy from Cocos Lovers were there singing some of their songs, Tom Waits and "Don't Think Twice It's Alright". I managed to talk Miriam into taking the mic and singing "All of Me" with them.
  • 03/02/15: Jazz session at Bramleys again. Good energy with Phil and Toby, James Ross on stage. Another nice mini-set from Jason of Plume's crew. It got a bit self-indulgent after that, but I appreciate the open format and am very grateful for the fact someone is making the effort to put these evenings together. Varying quality is part of the deal.
  • 05/02/15: Free Range again... disturbing poetry from Juha Viränen, then "death metal free jazz" from N.E.W. Visiting Matt Tweed somewhat horrified, but impressed by the broken double bass string! Then to the Canterbury Tales for the Irish session with Aidan (Arlet) and crew. Matt was down in East Kent recording the new Arlet and Cocos Lovers albums.
  • 06/02/15: Two mighty sets from Lapis Lazuli at the Gulbenkian Cafe. They asked me to introduce them so I put together something involving the Epic of Gilgamesh (many lapis lazuli references therein!). Not a huge crowd, but a happy one, some of us dancing. Twenty-five minutes of new stuff. Apparently my intro may get sampled for the new album.

  • 07/02/15: An interesting evening with Matt Tweed and friends (half of Lapis there + Koloto) hearing a lecture from Rupert Sheldrake at CCCU. We ended up eating together at Club Burrito afterwards with a DJ playing electroswing and euphoric house.
  • 12/02/15: A fruitful session with Tom H, then on to Free Range featuring CCCU Broadstairs' "Oscillate" crew (four earnest young men collectively manipulating an electronic soundscape, rather like a 2015 Tangerine Dream), then some Irish tunes at the Canterbury Tales.
  • 13/02/15: Koloto/Ekoda Map/Mologon at Club Burrito. Nice chilled atmosphere, someone filming Maria (with a mini smoke machine behind her!) for promotional purposes. I don't think that video has surfaced yet. Lapis friends in the house.
  • 17/02/15: Another Bramleys jazz session: just the right amount of musicians, listeners, very fluid. Organiser Dulcie May singing some soulful stuff with her Mystery Cats band ("What's Going On?", some Sly Stone), her friend sang "Ain't No Sunshine", there was a Django "Minor Swing" segment with six guitars, based around Yianni and Roberto, and a young Beefheart influenced-looking singer leading a band through Elmore James "Dust My Broom" to close out. All of Lapis in the house, Phil, Toby and Adam playing.
  • 25/02/15: I miss Luke Smith's new "Lo-fi Zone" music night at The Foundry (featuring Poggy Hatton this time) as I'm working on tunes with Stella in Sussex.
  • 26/02/15: Saw Deerhoof at The Oval Space in Bethnal Green with Helen. The support band Cowtown were good fun (a bit Devo-ish), but Deerhoof were just mindblowing. Staggering. What a strange, wonderful band! NOTHING cliched about anything they do. Every note and drumbeat is a revelation. John Dieterich's guitar was wild and multidimensional is a kind of Derek Bailey/Frith/Fripp/Kaiser kind of way. Ran back to St. Pancras along the Regents Canal immediately thereafter just in time for my last train back to Canterbury.
  • 03/03/15: More jazz at Bramleys. Very busy this time — Adam, Kim and Miriam couldn't even get in! Very lively, getting more intergenerational with an older trumpet player called Malcolm and an older trombonist who got up and took a spontaneous solo with Jason's crew playing a Charlie Parker tune (a lovely moment). Some dubious vocalising, some bluesy boogie jazz, overall a nice mix of everything, and good to spend some time with the Lapis crew too.
  • 04/03/15: Rozi Plein and This Is The Kit at the 100 Club in London. A great occasion. I was surprised to see Leon from Rae there (covering on bass for Rozi's set, as she plays guitar for her own stuff, bass for TITK). Kate and Rozi are amazing... "Spinney" (from the last album) and "Nits" (from the new one) are real favourites at the moment, but it was all good, all the way through. A very respectful and warm audience (for Oxford Street).
  • 05/03/15: Frances Kruk and Sean Bonney, a couple of poets, at Free Range (I liked them), but also a bit of bass clarinet and electronics (only caught the end of that).
  • 11/03/15: Sadly, the Exeter music scene lost a wonderful musician and friend. Mick Whieldon RIP. I'm glad I got to play so much improvised music with him over the years, and it was always a joy to run into him busking in town.
  • 12/03/15: A very welcome rare Boot Lagoon live set plus Jack Hues' and the Quartet (a trio) at Free Range. A blinding Boot set was dedicated to Daevid Allen, and ended with excellent new piece called "Halogen".
  • 13/03/15: The sad news of Daevid's passing came through. I was glad I'd been out the night before with a crew of Canterbury heads listening to the Boot Lagoon play a set dedicated to him. He would have liked that. I went home and took a trip to Planet Gong (involving Camembert Electrique, the Radio Gnome Trilogy and then some classic period live tapes. Wow!! Daevid is still very much with us.
  • 14/03/15: Matt Tweed and I journeyed to The Lighthouse in Deal to see a couple of sets from the wond'rous Whiskey Moon Face. We could have gone to a Cocos Lovers equinox gig at St. Mary's, Sandwich (much bigger) but I think we made the right choice. I needed something a bit more intimate that evening. Louisa Jones amazes, as ever.
  • 15/03/15: Cameron from the Boot Lagoon and his sound artist Adam dropped by for the afternoon. Adam's now operating as Adam Oko, has an EP about to come out, just back from Japan where he picked up a load of interesting vinyl. He's involved with NTS Radio in East London now, was looking for some Daevid/Gong rarities for a tribute mix he was putting together. That'll also be included in the re-launched Canterbury Sans Frontières podcast in May.
  • 17/03/15: back from rehearsing with Stella, Bramleys jazz jam (no. 7). A bit ropey (some very tenuous solos), but good stuff when the Lapis players were involved. A nice duo from Chris Banks on harp guitar and Jimmy Ross on tenor, also a young singer guitarist with real presence sang "Moondance", "Autumn Leaves" and (yes!) "St. James Infirmary". Fun.
  • 18/03/15: Luke Smith's Lo-Fi Zone at The Foundry with Luke (who covered the Soft Machine's "Feelin' Reelin' Squealin'" with his dad Dave on drums, in memory of Daevid), also a poet from Sittingbourne and local indie band Picturebox (ex-Psychotic Reaction).
  • 19/03/15: WOW! Byron Wallen's Indigo Quartet blew the roof off Mrs. Jones Kitchen! Unbelievable. Last Free Range of the season. Nice to see Brian Hopper there (Hugh's brother, original Wilde Flower and sometime Soft Machine saxophonist), must be nice for him to see his hometown fully embracing the avant garde 50+ years on from those early experiments with Ratledge, Wyatt, et al.
  • 23/03/15: Saw the Sun Ra Arkestra at Colston Hall with Melski. Two long sets of beauty and madness. 91-year-old Marshall Allen looked like the happiest man alive as he left the stage. That gig made me SO happy, worth the trip to Bristol (I also got to catch up with Sondryfolk friends and others).
  • 31/03/15: Another Bramleys jazz jam. James Ross and Chris Banks doing their not-quite-jazz spacey guitar/sax duos, a "Hey Joe" jam at end led by Joe Inkpen, with muliple wailing horns. Lots of good stuff, not too much ropiness or indulgence. Dulcie May sang something very familiar (not sure what that was) plus "Smooth Operator". She's got a voice like 85% Green & Black's chocolate, she's organised, she's motivated, will probably go far...
  • 03/04/15: Good Friday megagig at the Astor Theatre in Deal. Lovely decor from The Psychedelic Treehouse and just about everyone I know in East Kent under one roof. Totally new set from Lapis Lazli (two tunes, the second "Phighyphe" quite math-y), psych-prog loveliness from Jouis, getting more jammed-out and slightly harder edged, but still those lush harmony vocals — love it. One new tune in their set I think. Intriguing new material from Syd Arthur (suffering from a murky mix and Liam's guitar rig crashing, leaving him with just a clean Strat sound minus all those effects), Raven was playing some kind of 4-string electric tenor guitar shaped thing as well as mandolin (no violin this time). I think Josh was introduced as their new drummer (but murky vocal mic meant that no one could really hear this — Fred's definitely not coming back?) They played five of the best from Sound Mirror and an "Ode to the Summer" encore (with that "Pulse" jam at the end), the rest of the set was new material, can't wait to hear what this new album's going to sound like. They gracefully rose above the technical problems and delivered another crushing set, ending an altogether brilliant evening.
  • 07/04/15: Can't believe I forgot to go to the Sea Slugs/Luca Afrobeat double bill at The Ballroom! Too much going on...
  • 08/04/15: Luke Smith doing his thing at The Foundry, plus some hi-brow poetry from his keyboard-bass player and some percussive/harmonic guitar jamming from a French busker called Bertrand who's been seen around town for a few days. Something very comforting about Luke's songs that night — I needed that.
  • 10/04/15: Lunchtime concert in the Cathedral Quire with newish choir "Cantiacorum". A very pleasant half hour. That evening Sarah and I went to see Medway's finest, The Flowing at The Maidens Head, Wincheap. This involved first sitting through three other acts we weren't too impressed by...pretty tedious, but The Flowing (a four piece, trumpet player John having been dismissed, and ukelelist Sophie couldn't make it) were WONDERFUL! Love this band...
  • 13/04/15: One the eve of a trip to Wisconsin, Dave, Libby and I watched a DVD of the short-lived Soft Machine quintet lineup live in Paris in 1970, projected onto a big screen. Amazing stuff! The disc was a gift from Brian Hopper (Hugh's brother who played sax with the Softs on the second album and some other radio sessions, etc.) who passed on a whole carrier bag of archival goodies to me after the last Free Range. Thanks Brian!
  • 14/04/15: A very ropey jazz jam at Bramleys this time, but worth sticking around for the very end (a cosmic jam with Adam and Toby from Lapis, a brilliant young guitarist (Luke), James Ross on sax and a mystery keyboard player..fabulous). There had been some OK stuff earlier with various permutations of the same crew playing "Blue Monk", "Billy's Bounce", etc.


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