Monday, February 01, 2016

Seville and back

I spent a few days early in the New Year visiting my sister Kate and her family, now living down in Seville. I missed out on the flamenco thing the only other time I've visited, so this time her husband Ron took me to a low-key local venue called La Carboneria (an old coal store) during my last evening there. Almost all the flamenco in Sevilla is now put on for the benefit of tourists, so it's hard to say what, if anything, is still "authentic". But this place seemed to attract a mix of somewhat more discerning foreigners, plus some locals, and I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot. One singer, one guitarist, three people clapping and one dancer. This kind of thing (except we were in the cosier back room setting):

I also returned with a happy memory of doing ridiculous expressive dancing to French experimental electronic composer François Bayle with my little niece Zoe. She's already going to flamenco classes, loves music and dance, and asked me why I had my headphones on one afternoon while I was listening to WFMU. "I don't think anyone else will like this weird music," I told her. But she wanted to hear it, and so we ended up attempting to dance to it together. "I want to be like you, Uncle Matt," she said before I left. I'm not sure if her mother would approve!

I got back to Canterbury just in time for Libby's 40th birthday woodland party extravaganza, with archery! zip lines! a lateral thinking quiz! feasting! and a lunchtime set from the original Arlet quintet! Not the tightest set they've ever played, I think they'd agree, but just right for the occasion. Some old favourites, a lot of tunes off the forthcoming Big Red Sun album (including their Eno cover "The Big Ship") and a promising new one called "Deep Space Nine". Later in the evening Tom H and I got some of our saz/guitar tunes going. Then Aidan from Arlet returned from a rehearsal he'd had to go to, and joined in on accordion, playing some of the "Binnewith News" set we've been working on (sans costumes, set and concept). Then Miriam showed up from Bristol (having just finished a run of shows with Little Bulb Theatre) with her violin, and she, Aidan, Domi (violin) and Owen (clarinet) got a klezmer session started, some lively dancing ensuing at that point. Last to arrive (just after Libby had to go to bed, much Cava having been consumed during the day) was Leonie, who played us her exciting new collaborative album (almost done) via her phone and my Vox battery amp. We played a few old jazz/blues numbers (I can remember "Sweet Lotus Blossom", but it was getting late, and I couldn't keep up with all those chord changes...).

The next morning we awoke to the news of Bowie's passing, had a memorable social breakfast and tidy-up while Radio 6 played nothing but Bowie, people sending in their memories and tributes. Like a lot of people, I've since been re-exploring his back catalogue since. Still haven't heard that last Black Star album he released a few days before the end. Not surprisingly, it's the ambient Berlin-era stuff he did with Eno which is of greatest interest to me, and someone's helpfully compiled this YouTube playlist of all of it:

And I find this drunken pub singalong of "Starman" at the Prince Albert in Brixton (near where Bowie grew up, on the night he died) to be strangely moving:



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