Sunday, June 04, 2017

music nonstop

I just haven't been able to stay on top of blogging about musical goings on in Canterbury and thereabouts — there's just too much of it going on (and I've been focussing on trying to finish putting together a local history book). Here's some of what I experienced in a couple of weeks of March alone:

Sat 11th March
drum'n'bass and psy-trance at The Monument (Sarah invited a few of us out for birthday drinks at the pub just across from her place in St. Dunstans, during a brief window of time when it was being run by some people affiliated with Small World Festival)

Sun 12th March
playing Go in Wincheap, listening to the second half of Caravan's If I Could Do It All Over Again... and In the Land of Pink and Grey, both sounding magnificent... then down to The Monument with my saz for a supposed open jam. It wasn't much of a jam, but I didn't mind at all, as I ended up sitting with Sarah listening to local busker Callum Sutton singing Van Morrison, gospel-blues, etc. He was on fire! His delivery of the 18th century Irish song "Carrickfergus" was especially strong.

"Now in Kilkenny it is reported / On marble stone there as black as ink..."

His mate Sam Brothers (another local busker of note) was absolutely killing it on electric bass guitar at one point (I've only seen him play an acoustic six-string before) and Rachel added some cajón. It was like being in someone's front room — a shame The Monument couldn't have stayed like that for a while. I did get my saz out in the end for a bit of a jam with Sam and Josh once the PA was switched off.

Mon 13th March
Wheels at Luke Smith's "Lo-Fi Zone", his fortnightly revue at Bramley's. This is the new acoustic version of Wheels with Neil Sullivan (of Lapis Lazuli) and his Sheerness friends Rew and Didi. Last time they were down here (a few years ago) they were a four piece with Adam (also Lapis) on drums. Didi was playing bass then, while she's singing and playing recorder now (just singing on this occasion). Lovely!

Tues 14th March
I spend the evening over at "The Domain", Laszlo's place on the Spring Lane estate, jamming over some of his beats (made as "Humble Pious", his producer/MC alias) with Phil (formerly of Lapis Lazuli) on his new tenor sax. Nice vibes, the music flowing easily (Phil and I have tried jamming before a few times, but this was the most successful attempt, with Lasz's beats providing some scaffolding for our improv). Apparently some of this will make its way onto the forthcoming Humble Pious mixtape.

Thurs 16th March
The Elaine Mitchener / Alexander Hawkins Quartet at Free Range...last one of the season...WOW! I recognised Archie Shepp's "Blase", othewise it was one continuous journey of musical exploration, followed by a brief encore. These are some heavyweight musicians. Hard to believe this was a free gig in a cafe in (some would say sleepy) little Canterbury.

Sat 17th March
Evil Usses at Cliffs in Cliftonville (near Margate). About half of the audience had ventured from Canterbury where they've got a bit of a following. SO MUCH FUN! What a great band... it's Dan, Leon and Lorenzo from Rae, plus Conrad Singh on electric guitar, playing crazy, skronky, twisty-turny, loud music. They're promoting a new album called "Amateur Pro-Wrestling" (mixed by John Dieterich of Deerhoof). Touring with them was the support duo Run Logan Run (drums and sax, really intense, almost too intense for my brain at the point their set kicked in). Chilling with the Usses afterwards, I witnessed them messing about with a pennywhistle and harmonium, just being completely silly, pushing the silliness so far that something kind of amazing happened and suddenly they were creating a new track. This is how they work, it seems.

Sun 18th March
Papylonian Babooshkies at a secret woodland location near Canterbury. Phil and Aidan had played before, but never the full trio with Stewy (playing frame drums, tambourines, etc., with jaw-dropping skill). Amazing stuff. They started recording an album the next day (at the Smugglers Festival site), which may turn out to be a double (one acoustic disc, one electric disc). The quasi-Balkan thing is blossoming into a very Canterbury-prog kind of approach to playing accordion/sax/percussion music, and they're not even trying to do's like there's just something in the land round here which does that to receptive musicians. Support came (at the last minute) from Harry Hayes (formerly half of Bearded Sphynx, frontman of Dreamweaver). The scheduled acoustic duo failed to show and Harry stepped in heroically, playing a lovely mix of traditional stuff, fingerpicking, his own prog-folk compositions and an Incredible String Cover dedicated to me (the "And We Bid You Goodnight" section of "A Very Cellular Song". Another magickal night in the woods.

Mon 19th March
A gathering at Adam and Kim's in Barham. Lots of musicians present, but no jamming for whatever reason. I ended up selected some vinyl from their fairly random collection. Discovered that Luo's album Sleep Spindles sounded great on both 33 and 45!

Tues 20th March
Back chilling with Laszlo and co. at The Domain. This included a brief jam with Juliet playing a CW Stoneking song. She's becoming a really solid guitarist/singer, just a bit too shy to play/sing in front of me much yet. But getting there...

Sat 25th March
Syd Arthur putting on a bit of special event at Dreamland in Margate with Gang and Flamingods. The sound was pretty harsh in there (just the wrong shaped space, I think), but I was able to hear through that. Really impressed by the way Syd are integrating modular synths into the sound (especially in "Hometown Blues", the opener, and "Ode to the Summer" which they ended with). Really creative arrangments. Flamingods are apparently from Bahrain (London based), play a lot of unusual instruments, quite heavy duty trance-y stuff (but suffered a really harsh sounding mix, unfortunately).

Weds 29th March
Crash of Moons Club at Bramley's with The Papylonian Babooshkies and Iceman Furniss Quintet. The Babooshkies played electric this time: Aidan on Nord Electro and bass synth with each hand (I suppose that's a bit like playing an accordion), Stewy on drumkit and Phil playing unrestrained tenor sax. Amazing! It's like three people with one repertoire have created two entirely different bands. I went and stood behind Aidan at the side of the stage, getting ready for my inter-band DJ set as Prof. Appleblossom, and it was fascinating just watching his hands moving on the keys. I'd seen Harry "Iceman" Furniss and co. once before in a basement venue in Stokes Croft, Bristol, being supported by The Evil Usses (playing a restrained set to a seated audience, the first time I'd seen them). His sound has evolved considerably since. Made me think of what Miles (Bitches Brew being the obvious reference point for this music) would be doing if he'd survived into the post-d'n'b post-breakcore era.

Here are my DJ sets from that night. The Iceman came over when I was playing the Don Cherry/System 7 track, excited to know what it was, so I got something right there:


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