a lot going on at the moment!
The Lighthouse, Deal
Aidan from Arlet has another band called Effra, a London-based trio who I'd never heard before. Phil from Lapis Lazuli offered me a lift out to Deal for this (unfortunately we missed the first set due to communication problems) and it was an excellent event. I was expecting something more conventionally "folkie" (whatever that means), but was pleasantly surprised. They're actually quite Arlet-like, despite being their own thing. No vocals, just guitar, violin and accordion, and all three of them write tunes, so there's quite a lot of diversity in their music. There is perhaps more of a Celtic folk element than in Arlet, but done in an interesting and original way. The Lighthouse, having been open for a while now, is starting to settle into a very distinct, quirky, cosy, welcoming atmosphere. There's a crowd of music loving types in Deal who frequent the place, who really listen and are properly appreciative. The place is starting to get adorned with a lot of beautiful artefacts and clutter, plus there are usually a few members of Cocos Lovers and the Smugglers family in there at any given time, so I'm always happy to drop in there.
Here's Effra a little while ago at the Bath Folk Festival:
Water Lane Cafe, Canterbury
I happened to see a poster for a local album-listening group that meets monthly, so decided to go along. This month it was The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, which (apart from the obvious four or five well-known songs) I had somehow never heard before, despite having read descriptions of its amazingness and musical significance. A group of eight student-aged people were sitting listening to a vinyl copy of the album when I arrived (15 minutes before the start time on the poster), and there was quite a lot of giggling, whispering and off-putting muted banter between them throughout. The album got raffled off at the end after a little bit of a discussion. It didn't really speak to me, despite the obviously impressive production and harmonising (and I think missing the beginning and being distracted didn't help). Nice idea though — it's the fourth or fifth one they've done, the organiser having come across something similar in Berlin.
Westgate Hall, Canterbury
I don't think I've been to a gig in the Westgate Hall (a community-owned space) for over twenty years, possibly 3 Mustaphas 3 in the early 90s. This was The Thirteen Club, the relatively new jazz fusion quintet that's emerged out of the CCCU music programme. They'd set the space up with candles and low lighting, got the volume level about right (although the mix wasn't great, the bass getting lost — acoustically, it's not an easy room to work with). I was impressed by them when they played the Clash of Moons Club a few weeks back, and by their debut EP So Yeah. This took that to the next level. Ben's keyboard playing is especially interesting, and the final piece, featuring a guest trumpet and second saxophone suggests more good stuff is on the way. I'd only spotted the poster for this that afternoon, so put word out to various people around town, managed to get half of the Boot Lagoon (who were unfamiliar with the band) there, who were equally impressed.
The couple of days before, I'd seen Ben, Elisha and Jason from The Thirteen Club playing as part of the Canterbury Scratch Orchestra at St. Gregory's Music Centre (in the old church across the road from the main CCCU campus). This is something Free Range organiser Sam Bailey runs, inspired by Cornelius Cardew's original Scratch Orchestra. It was a tenpiece, with a couple of other familiar faces: Richie Ryan on drums (one of two drummers), composer Matthew Brown on viola. Elisha was on bass rather than sax and Jason on guitar rather than bass. They played an ambitious set: Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" and "Nefertiti" run together, a Cornelius Cardew improvisational piece based on a story with various instruments as characters, and Robert Wyatt's "Sea Song" with guest vocals from Jack Hues. Really good energy, and a free gig. I should get to more of these.`