Tuesday, 24 April 2012

RHYTHMS OF THE WORLD 2011 (SUNDAY)






Home again after midnight as usual.
The waiting around for any security personnel to take over after we’ve closed the stage down really does tend to do my head in.
Still, we finished on a good note and managed to give Jo, one of Scum’s long time fans, a lift back too.
Now for some sleep and try and relax a bit until it all starts over tomorrow…
Or today, as it is in reality ?

Oh God… It’s morning…
Here we go again.
It’s just a question of putting a few things back on stage when we arrive and then waiting for the rest of the crew to turn up.
Because of a last minute pull-out, we’ve had to change everybody’s timings for today.
Hopefully all the acts are going to remember ?
Oh well, at least we’re all here by half-past eleven which is a bonus…



Our first act of the day is an acoustic duo from just down the road in Welwyn Garden City.
Again, they are one of those acts that I’d featured before back in the ‘Arcade’ days in the town centre so I know what to expect.
Terry and Gavin McCann play intricate songs with catchy choruses and seem to have a lot of fun doing it ?
Just perfect to wake everybody up from the rigours of the night before.
Gavin & Terry McCann



Their guitar interplay is much, much better than you would expect from a pair of brothers in that there is no ‘dominant’.
Both take turns or leave space for the other and to be honest they are a joy to listen to.
Nice one, guys.





 
Joy T. Chance




  









My co-compere Joy T. is up next.
I have to be honest, I don’t like putting poetry on the stage so early in the day, but needs must when you’ve been ‘downgraded’ to an eight pm finish to shut up the whiners and whingers who live on the hill.
Joy’s set is at once ‘in yer face’, entertaining and thought provoking.
She can get extremely political in some places and does so on this occasion, but the crowd are with her all the way.


The one she does about the rude woman pushing her out of the way is brilliant and I wish I’d written it, but then they don’t tend to push me… I’ve had my elbows sharpened by the same bloke who did Mike Summerbee's (1960’s and early 1970’s  footballing legend who allegedly had the sharpest elbows in the football league…)
So people tend not to do it.
Since getting a good shoving in the back trying to get off a boat in The Gambia I now have sharpened boot heels, too… 
Joy T. Chance
Anyway, Joy’s set is over way too soon, but people listened and enjoyed and that is what a way with words is all about.
A damn fine set, even if I do say so…



On to Oka Vanga who are returning to the stage after last year’s appearance when I couldn’t give them a full set owing to time constraints.
Oka Vanga are an instrumental guitar duo and they play music from here, there and anywhere around the globe.
Some of their guitar runs are just mind blowing.        
Oka Vanga


They seem to have mastered what Keith Richards calls ‘The Ancient Art of Weaving’ in that they weave these guitar melodies and harmonies in and out of the basic rhythm of the tune and since some of the tunes aren’t exactly in 3/4 or 4/4 time, that in itself is a wonder to hear.
If there is a better acoustic instrumental guitar duo floating around Hertfordshire then I for one haven’t heard them.
Excellent set.



And now, in a change to our published programme…
Pronounced in my best B.B.C. plummy accent, is the replacement for our ‘dropout’,
Dangerous Dinky aka Dirty South
Dangerous Dinky aka Dirty South





I’d got her at short notice from Joy who raved about her, so I’d looked up the youtube bits and no decision was ever made quicker.
We are THE ARCADECLECTIC STAGE and we put on an eclectic mix of this, that and the other, and sometimes we put on acts that just seem to sum up what we are all about without even trying.
Dangerous Dinky was one of those acts.







Acoustic guitar and electric bass and an attitude…


A seriously BAAAAD attitude.
God, she was funny…
It turned out that we got our only two complaints of the day from women who complained that she wasn’t suitable for a ‘family’ event ?
Well, we’d already told them that.
We’d even given them time to move, and then bless her, she did it again herself before she started…
How much warning do these people want ?
I think sometimes we ought to be allowed to tattoo it on their bleedin’ foreheads ?

Besides... Think about it like this...
We are the profane to St Mary's Stage's sacred.
Yin and yang, black and white, chalk and cheese...
We cater to the ADULT in everybody.
Occasionally there might be something for the 'inner child' in all of us, but we cater to the ADULT music fan.
There are enough stages to choose from on the site and neutering or censoring an artist is strictly 'off limits'.
It's not a question of bloody mindedness but it is a question of integrity.
We invite those artists that provide an 'eclectic' and not necessarily commercial alternative to the
mainstream...
I've got nothing against 'mainstream' but if by chance I got Metallica, then I'd want a totally acoustic set.
What's the point of just playing the usual hits ?
Shake them up a bit...
And that's why we are there... To provide an alternative.
Dangerous Dinky aka Dirty South
But... I digress...  



She was funny, thought provoking and downright menacing in her attitude whilst she was on, but as soon as she was off she was as normal as you
or I ?
Hmmm… Maybe I shouldn’t have put that bit in, as I’m not necessarily ‘normal’ in the accepted sense, but you know what I mean ?
Very rude, very insulting, very funny, very entertaining, very adult, and very professional, that was our ‘Dinky’, and I’ve already made the decision to get her back for next year.
I want more… 


Kerrangkersplangbangcrashwallop…
At 120 miles an hour minimum, The Zipheads hit the stage…
The Zipheads
SurfPunkRockabillyCountry Rawck (or is that supposed to be Rock ?) is a pretty good way of describing them.
Not all of those things separately, but all those things at the same time.
And all done at a speed that would throw off anything but an Apache tracker.
The Zipheads
They were great, and what’s more if you were nimble enough, you could even try to dance to them.
I’m not personally sure about the spec’s, but hey, they definitely fit the image.
Fucking hell ! 
It was over in the 'speed of light’ and worse, we couldn’t give them an encore because of the time constraint but Christ, did they deserve one, or what ?
You’re coming back guys, no worries…




Which brings us nicely to the first of our Scottish/Scots (never quite sure, so maybe somebody could enlighten me ?) bands of the day.
The Recovery Club

I’d tried to get The Recovery Club for last year but owing to holidays we couldn’t have them, but this year I’d banged on their door very early and we’d come up trumps.
Believe it or not I’d picked up on them from a chance remark on an internet poetry site, and I’m still not sure how to describe them ?
 
The Recovery Club
I think the word that possibly fits best is ‘ethereal'.
Maybe, maybe not, but that’s what I think ?
Imagine laying down on the grass on a summer’s day, on a hillside somewhere…
Not near the top or the peak, but just on the side and in the distance you can see a village…
Ok, you’ve got that ?
Right, now imagine the sounds going on around you ?
Birdsong, insects, and maybe in the distance a church bell ?
Well that is what they sound like.
A floaty, peaceful sort of sound.
I like to think of them as a bit more ethereal than The Cowboy Junkies, but whether I’m accurate or not, it’s perfect music for a sunny afternoon at a music festival.




The Recovery Club















 The musicianship is superb, very intricate sounding with the instruments meshing together with each other and the vocals.
Gorgeous stuff.
It makes you think how much they must have practised to sound that good ?
(They’ll probably tell me now that it was all done while pissed out of their brains in a Glasgow bar, but I couldn’t believe that)
So, so glad I finally got them.
Wonderful stuff.


And so… From the sublime to rap, which we don’t tend to feature all that much of.
There is a reason.
Most of the local practicioners seem to think they’re in South Central and we get reams of copyists with all their cheap ‘guns and pussy’ lyrics.
Well, I’ve got news for you, guys…
Letchworth, the world’s first garden city, is in Hertfordshire, England, and not downtown Los Angeles.
There might be an Uzi 9mm in Letchworth for all I know, but I do know that some middle class council tenant’s kid is not going to be the one holding it.
Fuck knows why they waste their time pretending when the reality lurking around them is far, far scarier ?
BlacKCat
Write and sing what you know and you’ll get further.






The ‘authentic-ness’ will come through and that is why we’ve got BlacKCat on our stage.
My mate Grant from Parnassus, the local poetry group was given a cd of the bloke and he passed one on to me, who went absolutely apeshit over the fact that the guy was good.
Rap Poetry ?
Well, rap is street poetry when you think about it ?
Most of the good rappers seem to know this already.
It’s a strange genre in that my earliest recollection of it was white and not black, and came from the late nineteen forties and early nineteen fifties, although I suppose when you get down to it that artists like Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway, were the originators of the style…
Or you would think that if you followed that path back, but if you follow the blues back to the twenties and thirties you find another strain of ‘rap’ as we know it, so God knows where it originated ?
At a guess I’d say Africa originally, because a lot of African songs are built upon a rhythmic chanting, but anyway, I digress…
Taye, or BlackCat, writes intelligent ‘raps’.
BlacKCat







Not only can you understand them, they don’t insult your intelligence either, and believe me, THAT is a seriously major break through.
And he did good…
Another one that I want back again.
Next year we might have to call it the ‘groundhog day stage’ if it carries on like this ?









More rock as epitomised by The Electric Modern…
Now these guys I’d had last year and was quite impressed.
The Electric Modern



This year, although the members seem to be the same, there is a huge difference in that the lead singer is playing keyboards…
This has changed the sound somewhat in that there is now no actual relationship to any form of ‘Indie’ rock within their sound.
The Electric Modern


These songs sound different.


They sound ‘darker’ too.
It’s a hell of a way to try and describe a band’s sound but there are definitely hints of darkness.
The prettiness has all gone.
Adult sounding songs, although to be fair to the band I was concentrating on the music for the majority of their set trying to work out what the change in the sound was ?




I have to say guys, I prefer the keyboard version.
Ok, not everybody will, but I definitely do.
There’s something about them and whatever that something is, it seems to work in my head at least ?



And now it’s finale time and our headliners this year are the trio of whom Glen Matlock last year was heard to say ‘They’re a bit tasty…’
The Ballachulish Hellhounds are back.
The Ballachulish Hellhounds




Not that it seems Dochan has ever been away, as he is also a member of The Recovery Club.
Well, nearly back since last year, anyway.
One of them has had a recent accident and has had to be replaced for the time being in that he can’t fret a guitar right now.
Not that you’d know it by the sounds emanating from the stage ?
Two Ballachulish Hellhounds

To call them a ‘folk’ trio is unfair on ‘folk trios’ and also to themselves.
A Celtic Folk Band ?
Yes, but not in the same way bands like Runrig are Celtic Folk/Rock bands.
These guys play songs that travel from here to there and sometimes come back again from there to here with different arrangements.
They build on the best of them and then make them their own.
I love them and I’m so thankful that Amy recommended them because I love these songs.
Anybody with an interest in all things ‘folky’, that travelled, is hereby directed to the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music.
You will hear a lot of early versions of songs that these three guys play.
But they play the versions that have come back again.


A Ballachulish Hellhound
A bit more ‘arranged’, a bit more musical in some cases, but the root is the same.
That ‘Old Weird America’ seems to get everywhere, and as I’ve already said once on this’ere blog, I’ve even heard nine or ten year old kids doing a verse from a track from the Anthology or the ‘Hellhounds’ in The Gambia as a skip-rope song !!!!
So yes, the songs did migrate, and these three guys play them with a care and a love that borders on fanaticism except that they are having the time of their lives playing them and that enjoyment is being communicated to an audience which is beginning to get it’s collective rocks off by getting up and dancing to them.
Folk songs live forever and there is a simple reason…
Like the Ballachulish Hellhounds, they’re good.
The Gods were still smiling...




POSTSCRIPT


And that’s it for another year…
There’s more waiting around for the other stages to finish until the sound crew come round to pick up the kit, but taking shelter from the rain which has held off all weekend but is now pissing it down like a good’un, seems to be the order of the moment.
Time to try and relax while sitting on a flight case, which are not the most comfortable things to sit on, and reflect on the weekend as a whole.
Acts ?   Excellent to brilliant.
Organisation ?   Excellent (with one noted exception)
Food ?   Excellent.  Never had better, so that’s a definite plus.
Overall ?   Ok, you have to take this along with the proviso that I’m writing this from the perspective of one who has a specific set of jobs to do there, but all in all, some people have said it was the best one yet, and who am I to argue with them ?
It certainly could have been.
Who knows…
It’s all subjective anyway ?
Any chance I can go home and get some sleep now please…
Because to put it mildly, I’m totally knackered ?


Monday, 23 April 2012

RHYTHMS OF THE WORLD 2011 (SATURDAY)




Well, we managed it…
Car packed and ready to go by 9.30am… Are we mad or what ?
Drive to Hitchin and park up on site, book in, and lug the cd player unit over to Ben’s new homemade soundbooth which is all tented up.
The stage is already in position and the stageblocks are down and secure so we’ll go for a wander around the site to give Haddy a bit of the flavour and also to get her into a picture taking mood, but I needn’t really have worried about that as the camera is out and working as soon as we start moving.
This is Haddy’s first year of being on the crew and so she’ll be snapping away, selling cd’s, t-shirts, commemorative mugs and all the paraphanalia that the artists gracing the stage bring with them, and also showing the artists where to get changed, where the coffee and tea machines and the toilets are, and all the other little jobs that need doing on the day.
Sarah, when she gets here, will be doing exactly the same job, so that we’ve always got one covering when not taking photographs.
Hopefully it’ll work like a dream.  It should do ?
Neil’s in, so’s Dave… Smile please, and now one with Haddy for the album ?
Dave, Neil & Haddy

Thanks very much.
Right… We’re back…
I’ll get the teas in while we wait.
In quick succession we get ANOTHER helper for Ben that nobody had told me about
but he’s very welcome, and Frank turns up with his bag of food and drinks followed by
Marcus and his film stuff and Sarah and their two children, Charlotte and Jonathan.
Jonathan, Charlotte, Marcus & Assistant






The film equipment is immediately unloaded and the setting up begins…
Marcus uses a two camera set-up for filming, one roving and one static stage centre and all the artists who have availed themselves of his services seem to be very pleased with the results.
Now the two ladies are doing the still photography it’s taken a weight off me as now I just get to stage-manage and compere with Joy, and by the looks of things…



Ben & Assistant

Here come Ben and his assistant now…      
Which is just as well because Ross has turned up to check out the sound settings.
Me & Ross
Ross is in charge of the sound, full stop.
He’s the guy who has to explain to the local council’s environmental health department why things are better doing it our way and not theirs.
If they knew jack shit  about sound then it wouldn’t pose that much of a problem, but to put it mildly, they know absolutely fuck all.
This, of course, poses major problems as we have to apply for our licenses to hold the event through the council and the major sticking point is the sound because of the (approximately) nineteen objectors to the festival who do their level best to have it cancelled every year.
Thankfully, Ross knows his stuff and has no need to baffle them with bullshit because he can quote chapter and verse at council meetings.
He seems quite impressed with Ben’s ideas and logic so we have a green light.
Nice one !
All that’s left is my co-compere and fellow poet Joy, but she’s got the farthest to travel to get here.
Half an hour until stage time and we’re sorted.
Frank, Me & Joy T.











Joy has arrived, the first band has been soundchecked, and we’re as ready as we’ll ever be.
Right…  It’s midday and we’re off and running…


Floor 9 start the proceedings and it’s looking good.
The thing about Ade’s crew is that they bring people along and people seeing them the first time seem to like them.
Ade', Sean & Mark (Floor 9)
It’s always difficult to get a reasonable reaction if you are the first act on as people are still deciding on their preferred place while others are treading on them to try and get past them to somewhere else on the field.
The music fans who know the local artists will be staking out their territories in front of the stage of their choice, and Ade’, bless him, has got a few of his fans camped in front of our stage along with a few of our regular punters who have followed what we do since the old ‘Arcade’ days, so the area is beginning to fill up quite nicely.
Nice set guys, not bad at all…



Sarah’s up next as a poet in her own write (sorry, couldn’t resist that) She’s a bit nervous about the thirty minute slot that I’ve given her, but I have total confidence in her material.
Sarah Power, poet & photographer



Her persona helps because she’s a feisty little ‘erbert when she wants to be and she blows a good one.
With seconds ticking to the end of the thirty minutes which she’s filled without a single problem she finishes on her shortest poem, aimed directly at her other half who is filming her at this point in the proceedings, and manages a nice ovation at the end…
Not bad for a three or four line poem.
It helps that it’s funny and that most women and men of a certain age in the audience can also directly identify with it.
Another good set.
That’s two in a row.
The Gods must be smiling.


While Sarah’s been on, I’ve been chatting up what I believe to be one of our ‘special’ acts.
All female and all dressed in red, these girls have the potential to blow a few minds.
The Jolenes pracising



Ladeeez an gennel’men… I give you… THE JOLENES…
A four piece all female bluegrass band, and the only all female bluegrass band in the U.K. if we’re being totally factual ?
We were talking about bluegrass players before they went on and I just said I’d loved that style of music for years, and was asked who I particularly liked ?
‘Old and In The Way, because they all obviously loved it, but they mixed it up into a weird jazz sounding stew sometimes, when the mood took them…’
‘Oh… Vassar… My hero…’
Well that was it.
Old and In The Way, fiddle player Vassar Clements, the whole bluegrass hierarchy from Bill Monroe through to Steve Earle’s valiant try…
And I knew they were there on that stage for the right reasons.
The Jolenes














 And they ROCKED…
That ‘High Lonesome Sound’ as someone a lot better qualified than me once put it, is encapsulated in these four young ladies’ picking and singing.
Absolutely wonderful, and over much too soon.
I’ll take them again next year if Steve doesn’t pick up on them ?
Great set, and they managed to get a few up to dance…
That’s three !


Smige (pronounced Smidge by the way) is on next.
I like Smige and I’ll pay to go and see him.
Smige
      
He’s a young singer/songwriter with a guitar who writes these wry and ironic serious songs which hit you harder than you realise at the time until you actually find yourself singing a chorus or two.
Then you try and suppress that inward smile because he’s just caught YOU perfectly.
I dunno what his own generation thinks, but he’s carving out his own little niche and I’m glad he seems popular around the area because he has a talent for it.

He’s brought along a few of his Uni’ fan club too, which always helps because it gives him something to focus on while he’s singing, and again he plays a good set.
Definitely up there with those in the memory bank to book again at some time ?
Four !
The Gods are definitely smiling…



Silent Smiles are a young modern rock band.
I suppose you could call them an ‘Indie’ rock band except for the fact that they are ten times better than the vast majority in that overrated genre.
They’ve recently had to change their drummer but the new one seems to be fitting in quite well, and they are another local band that I’ll pay money to see.



Silent Smiles
There is something different about their rhythms and chord changes that make the songs sound more interesting, and for whatever reason, it works.
They seem to know what a melody is, and they utilize them amongst the riffing which is always a good thing and they also manage to put a lot of energy into their sets without losing sight of the fact that they are actually there for the audience as well, and I’m all for that.
I wish some of the other local acts would do the same, but unfortunately most have a tendancy to go ‘fretwanking’ and that bores the arse off me.
These kids don’t so all power to ‘em.
Nice set guys…
Five !
It’s getting interesting.



We’ll quickly scrub over the next act because it was me…
The second poetry set of the day was a fifty/fifty affair in that fifty percent of it seemed to work and fifty percent didn’t.
I know one thing, the opening poem was still too damned long and I’d already trimmed it quite drastically.
Well, that’s my assessment of my performance anyway.
Me & Joy T. Chance
I got Joy up to do the 'Greek Chorus' on 'The State (Of The Nation)'  and at least that worked.
Haddy helped out with the Wolof on 'Ebou's Song' and that worked too
Me & Haddy Jatta
Audience wise, I seemed to do alright but there was still something missing for me ?
Oh well, win some, lose some, but learn from your mistakes.


Kev Hayley follows me.
One man with a wry and quizzical way of looking at the world and how it affects
him ?    
Kev Hayley
                                  
                              





Once upon a time he used to be known as Kevin Two Sheds but now he isn’t.
We’d been after Kev to play for at least the last three years but last year apparently he turned up as a punter and he liked what he saw, so this year he’s come on board.
It seems like everything is going fine but it also seems a bit
mellow ?
This is no reflection on Kev, but more a reflection on me.
We seem to be lacking a little bit of ‘oooomph’ ?
Kev finishes to applause, which is nice, so he can also be counted as a success
And now we’ve got the last poet of the day…
Please don’t be bland.



Jon Falconer is our last poet of the day.
Jon can get quite angry at some of the things that go on in this world, whether locally or globally and he’ll confront them directly in the things he writes.
Jon Falconer
It’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but then neither am I, and so what ?
In Jon there is a kindred spirit lurking and I’m glad that he’s become a colleague, glad that he’s become a mate, because if I’m being totally honest, I think his poetry is great.
At one point Joy T. and myself get the call to provide response vocals so we’re up to join him in a flash.
Joy T. Chance, Jon Falconer & Me





Call and response or Greek Chorus or whatever you want to call them, seem to work well with a reasonable audience.
Joy and I both do it in our own work.
Anything to mix things up a bit and keep the audience guessing and interested is fair game in this lark, so we complete our guest spot and now he’s really fired up and going for the jugular…
Nice one.



So now we come to the star of The Arcadeclectic Stage on the Saturday…
Skip McDonald.
Skip McDonald


Skip is the guy behind the band ‘Little Axe’.
He plays the blues with a bit of dub on loops that he controls with pedals, and he’s world class.
When Steve intimated to me that he was thinking of booking him I just said ‘Get him… Do whatever you have to do and sleep with whatever they offer you but get him… He’s the sort of artist that Rhythms needs but very seldom gets’ !
Skip’s sort of ‘on the fringes’, but making his own way.
I’d already got a couple of his albums and I was quite impressed, so you can imagine my amazement when we got offered him for the Arcadeclectic ?
He would have made a great finishing headliner except that ‘Scum’ had come back to me with an affirmative and there was no way that anybody was going to top that lot in Hitchin or Stevenage.
It’s their turf and always has been, so ‘Scum’ would close but Skip would be our featured headliner.
And he was brilliant…
He’d already done a first set on St Mary’s for Mike, but now he was here and he was lapping it up.
He finished and I’d got him back on for the encore that he deserved and he started into it and then suddenly stopped playing…
Oh shit !
‘Where’s the man… Where’s Chris’ ?
‘I’m here, man…’   From down in the pit stage left...
‘Listen man… I’ve got this band… It’s only a small band, three pieces… But this festival, man… It’s what all festivals should be… Now if you’d have us, I’d like to bring the band here maybe next year… But I wanna play THIS STAGE…’
FUCK !!!!!
I mean I don’t know what that means to other people, but when you have an artist of Skip’s stature, a world class artist, give you a thumbs-up affirmative endorsement like that, I can tell you that it makes you smile and choke both inside and out.
Skip McDonald




It’s not better than good sex with someone you love, but it’s up there… Know what I mean ?
The roar from the crowd in front of the stage when he said it was something else…
Ok, sometimes you just get it right in spite of everything that is occurring around you.
All the hassles, all the meetings, all the snide remarks, all the aggro’, all the wasted phone calls, the hours spent e-mailing… 
None of that shit matters.
And one guy with a guitar just smacks you with that ?
Christ !!! 
A real justification.
Oh yes… We’re going to remember that...


And finally, when the euphoria had died down a bit and the congratulatory handshakes and ‘respect’s’ had been silenced, we managed to get the last band onto the stage for the night…
Scum Of Toytown… ‘The Scumbags…’ or just ‘Scum’ if you were discussing going to their gig…
A name that fitted their image like a model’s glove fits a catwalk pounder.
Leona, Jon & Toad of Scum of Toytown
A name they played up to at nearly every opportunity given them.




A name that conjures up all manner of negative aspects of everything going on in the plastic fantastic newtown in which we all had put down roots.
Yes, we truly are the scum of toytown, and that is how a lot of us had been treated by the powers that be, over the last thirty odd years.
Craig of Scum of Toytown
A joke name which fitted perfectly the attitude of self-deprecating cynicism that we’d all developed just to deal with the realities that we’d all faced.
But these guys and girl had taken it one step further.
They had capitalised on the whole thing and they were OUR band who told it like it was.
Toad & Nick of Scum of Toytown
                                                                          



One album, ‘Strike’ released on Words Of Warning Records and a few home made singles was all they had to show for the hours they had put in, but if you had ever caught them in their prime then you would have the memories, and a lot of us had...
Ska gigs, punk gigs, rock gigs and even some memorable acoustic gigs, this band had done them all and a lot of us had been there.
Now, older, but possibly not wiser, they were back, practising together again with a thought to maybe actually getting that second album out ?
Whatever happened on that stage was either going to be an encore or a coda or a re-birth or maybe all of those things at once, but what did it matter ?
People were saying that I’d pulled off the impossible, but believe me, if ANY of those five musicians had not wanted to do it, then nothing would have occurred.
That’s the way they worked, and that was always the way they had worked, but here they were…
Ready, willing and able after thirteen years away, to put themselves through it one more time.
And they were brilliant !!!
Scum of Toytown
The harmonies were as close and as soaring as anybody gets on stage, the bass and drums pounded, the guitars chopped and changed and everything was as it should have been.
Sometimes when you ‘promote’ something that exceeds all expectations you get one of those inward glow sort of feelings, and I’d got one… 

The crowd sang and the crowd ‘moshed’ and the crowd cried for more and it seemed like they’d never been away.
One word ?
Majestic.
That’ll do.
They came, they saw, and they conquered whatever feelings of doubt any of them were harbouring, and let’s face it, there had to be some ?
Absolutely bloody majestic…
Nice one.
Oh all right then…
Brilliant one.
The Gods had definitely been smiling.



AFTERBURN…


Whilst it’s true I’ve concentrated on the artists who played the Saturday, it’s not always been plain sailing.
Security.
Good word isn’t it ?
Shame that some people who should have known better do not know what the fucking word actually 
means ?
At the last stage managers meeting somebody asked the question ‘would everybody on site actually have an armband' ? and the answer given was yes.
If people were seen without armbands then please call security because they should NOT be on site.
So… Being down by the river we have to watch stage left as you look at it, like hawks.
Better still to cordon it off with official barriers and make it a ‘secure area’ where bands can leave their gear.
So when a large shaven-headed tattooed fuckwit without an armband and with slapper in orange
t-shirt in tow ‘crashes’ the barrier and just walks gaily off down towards the main gate security are asked to apprehend…
It turns out that aforesaid large shaven-headed tattooed fuckwit is second in charge of security and that some of the Rhythms team knew about the ‘no armband’ situation ?????
Hello…
Guys…
As stage managers we are ultimately responsible for what occurs on and around our stages.
We can over-rule any and all if we think security or safety is compromised, so to have a twat who doesn’t know a secure area from his arsehole as part of a security team does seem to be slightly idiotic given the circumstances ?
As for being told the lie when others knew the truth ?
Don’t worry, I’ll ask the damn question myself next year, and I'll expect names, photo's and official functions written down in the stage folders.
I know we're all volunteers, but some people could at least act professionally ?


Sunday, 22 April 2012

RHYTHMS OF THE WORLD 2011 (PROLOGUE)





And so Rhythms of The World rolls around again.
The month beforehand we tend to have meetings followed by meetings followed by meetings.
I don’t really mind all this, because if everybody is honest then you can get a lot of bugs ironed out before the event, which always helps.
Two nights before the event is the last Stage Manager’s meeting and from that moment on we’re all sorted and away.
The Friday night before the event will usually find me on the site with the stages in various states of repair.
If the weather has been reasonable then the crew will work their balls off, trying to get everything done throughout the week including most of the nights, and you would usually find some are built and will only need a fine tweak in the morning and others (like mine) will need a little more work throughout the night.
I know the job will be done, but I always hope I can actually turn up on the Friday night and find it finished, but it’s never happened yet.
This year I’m joined by a few of my ‘special guests’ and our new soundman, Ben, who has come to check out his ‘patch’ for the morning.
The first thing Ben says is ‘I want to run it from over there…’ pointing toward the treeline.
Well we’ve never run it from over there previously, but he seems to know what he’s on about, so why not ?
‘Run it from where you’re happiest’
‘Ok, good… I’ll just nip home and get some extensions…’
Now THAT is what I call service.
See… It’s simple really…
Don’t stand in the way of expertise.
Craig and Jon are mooching around the kit…
This will take that, and that can take this, and probably that too ?
They seem happy, which is just as well because I’d hate to see my Saturday headliners pissed off before we even begin.
It’s been a long slog to get them onboard from my initial asking, and now they are topping the bill I really don’t need any foul-ups.
The good thing about it is that whilst I don’t yet, they know Ben, so they are able to talk to him in ‘technicalese’, a language that I’m spotty on, to say the least.


So let’s talk about our Saturday headliners who are having a good nosey around the kit for a bit, before it starts getting hectic…
Scum of Toytown.
They haven’t played a proper gig for about thirteen years but since all getting together at friend Dan’s wedding for a little ‘bash’, they’ve continued with it and there is now talk of recording a second album.
So to actually get the best ska-punk band in the area, and certainly the most respected in terms of attitude, musical ability, and not selling out their principles for the almighty dollar is a seriously major coup.


I knew it was going to be big as soon as the announcement hit the press, but even beforehand whilst in the local Tescos, I’d had our old back door security guy from the old Klub Wiv No Name days, Dale, come up to me with a big smile and give me a huge hug at the checkout…
All he said was ‘I’m counting down the days… Nice one… Well done…’
And that was it.
I have to be honest, that’s not quite Dale’s usual greeting so maybe I did do the right thing in asking ?
After all, you never know until you ask anyway ?
I mean… I write this stuff like I actually know what I’m doing, but a lot of it is guesswork and you are only ever going to be as good as your lineup, but with Scum onboard I certainly don’t think we could get any better ?
Obviously Bob Dylan or The Dead or Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen might ratchet it up slightly, but hey, if we can’t have them then Scum will do nicely, and to be honest, I don’t honestly think we could get a better local headliner ?
It’s about time a local act got a bit political again.
The kids these days just don’t seem to be interested but they soon will be when their benefits are cut and they are forced into either working or starving, so Scum are a welcome blast of musical politics, and Christ ! Don’t we just need that right now, plus the fact you can dance to them is a bonus.
This country has been totally fucked over politically and the common or garden workforce is going to hell in a handcart, so who better than a band who tell it like it is but you can dance to ?

Oh well, we’re about as ready as we’re ever going to be, so a good night’s sleep is in order because we need to be there about 9.30-10.00 in the morning…

Monday, 2 April 2012

A MUSEUM PIECE




I’m not sure how I feel about the ‘Rhythms’ exhibition at the museum ?
On the one hand it’s nice to get a little bit of proper recognition of what people have accomplished over the years, but at the same time it’s organically growing all the time and you can’t just ‘time-capsule’ it and put it in a box.

It looks like I’ll have to write something after all.
The ‘Arcadeclectic Stage’ is otherwise going to be conspicuous by its absence…
Oh well, at least WE’VE got the photo’s to prove it.
That is one of the things I’ve never understood ?
We take photographs of all the acts that grace the stage and we also either record them or film them.
Currently it’s filming, but back in the days of being situated in Hitchin’s arcade, we used to record them, therefore we have a record of what went on, or to be more precise, the actual artists have a record of what they performed in the majority of cases.
Now with the filming being out-sourced I think the system is working even better.
We and the artists have a complete record of the photographs taken while they were there and so reasonable records can be kept and two or possibly three people have access at any time.
None of the other stages do that.
Not even the main stage where the world acts play.
The photographs are split between whatever photographers are there on the day, all of whom are vying with each other, and the artists rarely see any of them and that is the same with the other stages also.
The only chance anybody has of seeing any of them is if they are downloaded onto the Rhythms website.
Personally I think it would be better to have two photographers covering each stage and that’s it.
Then you have the coverage.
Plus, ‘Rhythms’ then has access to all the photographs if they are ‘in house’.
That’s what I think, and I haven’t deviated from that basic idea in years.

Anyway, I cobbled something together, attached a few poems and photos and sent the whole thing off to Olivia at Hitchin Museum who had contacted me in the first place, and this is what it said…


The Arcadeclectic Stage… (Pronounced Arcade Eclectic)

Formed out of the embers of the old Arcade Stage that used to be at the top of the arcade next to the Corn Exchange just off the market square.
Envisioned originally as poetry only, it was never going to work like that in that particular setting owing to spill over noise from the market square Main Stage, and so common sense prevailed…
Well, it did up until the point where I asked for complete autonomy.
But that was granted, and so the Arcade Stage begat The Arcadeclectic Stage when we moved to The Priory site, and has never really looked back from that moment.

Anyone who spends some time in front of the Arcadeclectic will notice something that stands out straight away…
It is not commercial in any way, shape or form, and neither is it ‘Politically Correct’. 
The artists that play it have an attitude in common.
This is what we do… Like it or lump it !
And for some reason the audience likes it ?
There are no egos stroked there.
We have a saying… ‘Please leave your ego at the gate, as we don’t need it…’
The crew do their best for the artists and the artists do their best for the audience and that is really all that matters.

Entertainment is a strange thing…
When you think about it, how far have we actually come from the days of lions vs Christians ?
It’s really not that far, is it ?
If you have the courage of your convictions and you are prepared to face down a crowd to get your particular ‘vision’ across, then you have a chance of playing it, genre’s are not important.
Punk, Folk, Country, Bluegrass, Rock, Blues, Rock’n’Roll, Rockabilly, Jazz, Poetry, Avante-Garde, Rap, Soul, Reggae, Experimental, Classical, Madrigals, Opera, Instrumental, World Music, we’ll take it all, but God help anybody who decides to ‘coast’ through their set because the crowd in front of that stage will never let them get away with that, and they WILL make their displeasure felt in no uncertain terms…
It’s that lions vs Christians thing again.
And if you lose that audience then quite honestly you are nowhere, even if maybe you thought you were somewhere to begin with ?

But please don’t think it’s all attitude and no substance…
Anybody who was there will remember powerhouse sets by Blyth Power which got everybody, including the three year olds, down the front and dancing and moshing to their vision of English folk-rock music.
Or maybe The Fish Brothers and their twisted take on punk rock mixed with Max Miller type music hall ?   
Or The Astronauts playing the complete ‘Peter Pan Hits The Suburbs’ album for the very first time in the thirty years since its release ?
Or ex Sex Pistol Glen Matlock’s acoustic show ?  
Or Zounds… Playing their one British festival date of 2010 on the Arcadeclectic stage for ‘Rhythms’ ?
Or Northern Frisk, who play ‘pop’ music from the sixteenth century, getting the crowd up to boogie to a bit of John Dowland ?
Or last year’s notoriously hilarious, probably libellous and with more expletives per minute than the poor overworked crew are heard to mutter over the whole weekend, set by our local larrikins, Spandex Ballet ?

Then there were the poets…
The Faction fronted by Chris Bowsher of R.D.F….   Al Damidge… 
Bernie (Maipenrai) Shelton, who was having so much fun we couldn’t get him off the stage…  Local lad Grant Meaby and the rest of the Parnassus crew… 
Rachel Pantechnicon… Project Adorno… and my co-compere, Joy T. Chance, who I’ve worked with for more years than either of us care to remember…

And let us not forget the artists who first graced the Arcadeclectic and went on to perform on bigger stages and at bigger venues…
C.C. Smugglers… Tearing up a storm with their take on rockin’ country blues…
Lika Sharps…  Who are really indescribable, but who I’d recommend to anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see…

It’s the Arcadeclectic Stage and it doesn’t take prisoners…  And we’re proud of it.

Chris Ripple
Arcadeclectic Stage
Rhythms of The World

‘We had something to say, not something to sell…’
Suzie Rotolo


And that was it… Ending with that beautiful quote from Bob Dylan’s ex-girlfriend of their time together in the early 1960’s from her Greenwich Village memoir which sort of sums the stage up with an unerring accuracy beyond anything I could come up with.
Now all I have to do is wait and see what occurs ?
You know that saying ‘honesty is the best policy’ ?
Well sometimes it ruffles feathers because there are egos involved.
I hope I haven’t ruffled any, but if I have then so be it ?
It can’t be helped, and as Van Morrison once put it…
‘It’s too late to stop, now…’

Haddy outside Hitchin Museum
Wahay !  
We’ve been invited to the preview of the exhibition and according to Olivia they’ve used a fair bit of my stuff.
Great !
At least we’re represented.
The worry is always that the main stages take over and the smallest gets left out, but apparently we’ve got our own little section in front of the main section whatever that means, but we’ll find out when we
go ?

When we get there the place is absolutely packed with people.
Old friends, new friends...    
Haddy with the BIG boss...






It seems that the whole Rhythms hierarchy is there, and so we hobnob with the rest of the guests until Ade’ our licensing expert grabs us and says ‘have you seen your bit on the Arcadeclectic, it’s brilliant…’
And there it is…
Our own little space in front of the main space with poems and photos and it’s all there…
'Ebou's Song' and my mate Ebrima Gassama who had the original ideas




Including a copy of ‘Ebou’s Song’ with one of the two photos I have of the guy, and a small explanation of how the thing got written.
Recognition at last, eh mate ?
In The Gambia they thought you wild, drunk and stoned, but here, within an official exhibition at a government funded establishment, your ideas don’t just fit in, they seem to encapsulate everything that the organisation represented in the museum exhibition stands for ?
If you are looking down (or possibly up) mate, you are definitely going to have a smile on your face at this.
Me, Joy T. and Glen Matlock
Olivia, don’t let anybody ever tell you any different darlin’, you are an absolute STAR !
Finally, we have a little bit of recognition of what we do out there on the outskirts and it’s all there.
Not just us, but Bob’s TV interview on repeat video
'
'Rhythms' founder Bob Mardon on right










Old t-shirts, posters, photographs of acts we’d forgotten about.
Q. 'Why do you wear a Confederate bandana' ?  A. 'Because I'm going bald and I burn...'




Everything was there from its first humble beginnings as a fund raising event for Oxfam to the present day.
Twenty years of Rhythms of The World.
Even an old shot of me from the old 'Arcade' days...




And it runs for a complete month until the real thing takes over.
Honest to God, the staff of the museum had done an absolutely wonderful job.
Now all we have to do is get people along to see it and after they’ve seen it maybe they’ll actually want to partake of the real thing ?
Nice one.


Sunday, 1 April 2012

STEVENAGE ARTS FESTIVAL 2011... OR 'THE KING'S PEACH' (AND OTHER ROTTEN FRUIT)





And suddenly we’re into June… 


 Grant is definitely not going to make the gig because of his leg and although he’s had the operation to repair the damage, any thoughts of standing on it or even resting on it are currently not to be encouraged.
He’s in re-hab’ and that’s the way of it.




On the day I actually asked my boss if I could have the last half hour of work off so that I could change and transport some of the gear to the event, and he’d given a very gracious green-light (mind you, I’d peppered the depot with posters and flyers so nobody could actually miss the fact it was coming up).



It had helped that word had got around of the Mayor’s interest although we still had no idea whether she’d be staying for the whole event or just for the first half ?
See bottom left for details...




When I arrived there was nothing there…
It was as if we were not expected.
Hmmm… Something has obviously gone pear-shaped ?
Apparently Grant has told them something but unfortunately neglected to tell me, and me, trying to fine tune and tweak ‘Rhythms’, has neglected to open any e-mail from anybody else that’s not directly connected to it…
(It IS my usual practice at this time of year, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse…)
A quick chat to some of the staff to find the problem, and then try and undo the crossed wires.
Another hour before showtime would have been perfect, but we managed it with minutes to spare as the punters had started to come in.
The thing about the staff at Stevenage Leisure Centre is that they are all pro’s.
If something has gone wrong then so long as they have all the facts then they can get it fixed, and their team were absolutely brilliant on the night.
With about three minutes before the whole thing was due to begin, we’d got the band soundchecked for vocals and guitars.
Everybody else was only going to be using microphones, but sorting levels for a band does tend to take a little bit longer, especially if you have two or three vocalists and three guitarists, so definitely a bit of credit where it’s due.
We’d played the Ellen Terry suite previously on a few occasions.
It’s a lovely room and the acoustics aren’t bad either.
It also, and this is usually a bit of a ‘draw’, has it’s own small bar which obviously helps some groups who use it, as you don’t have to move outside the room to get a drink and it keeps the punters within the room.
As far as Parnassus goes, we like the room.
It’s about as big as we like, and it keeps the event reasonably cosy and you can’t really ask for any more than that, especially bearing in mind some of the ‘rooms’ that some of us had played in the past.

A word or two about Parnassus, or Parnassus Performance to give it its official title.
Basically it’s a loose-knit collective of people who just like doing what they do live to an audience.
Within our current ranks we have poets, magicians, rappers and occasionally a musician or two.
I hesitate to add comedians because so many of us use humour in performance anyway.
Formed in the late 1980’s by the late Margaret ‘Betty’ Pickersgill as a poetry collective, it came into its own in the early nineties and has basically tried to hold with Margaret’s ideals ever since.
It’s members past and present have played at some of the most prestigious events on the calendar, and include appearances at the Edinburgh Festival, Glastonbury and Knebworth House, as well as music and poetry festivals and pubs and clubs around the country.
So that’s us…
Still crazy after all these years to quote Paul Simon, but it does tend to sum us up, somewhat.
Tonight’s performance includes Graeme Lloyd, Sarah Power, Percy Weston, Murray Weston, Joy T. Chance, Jon Falconer, Floor 9 (the band) Nick Brown (appearing as Smokin’ Dick Burns) Taye Fagborun (appearing as BlackKat) and me, and I’m going to have to compere the night in Grant’s absence.
Hopefully it will all go according to plan ?
I have been told by Percy, that this will be his last performance with the group as he feels that being ninety years old puts him at a slight disadvantage with some of the younger performers ??????
You can’t help but laugh, as he’s one of the most natural performers I have ever met.

Right…
Is everybody sitting comfortably ?
Then we’ll begin…

By the time the interval comes around we’re doing fine.
Graeme has opened with his dry and witty observations of a forty year old who knows they are not getting any younger, and although that description may sound a bit trivial he has a very sharp ear for dialogue so they are never less than entertaining.
Graeme Lloyd of Parnassus Performance
Each and every one is crafted individually so that all the nuances and insecurities are there for anybody to see.
But you keep finding yourself laughing despite it all.
It’s real, it’s honest and occasionally quite brutal, but it’s bloody funny !





 Sarah has followed him with her highly personal observations of life as she sees and knows it.
A young housewife with two teenagers trying to find a permanent job which would fulfil her as a person before she turns into the local version of ‘Catlady’, and which, are in turn, objective, thoughtful and humourous or sometimes all of them at once ?
As for the outfit ?
Sarah Power of Parnassus Performance




Well I’ve deliberately gone for the picture that shows the most cleavage.
Call me sexist, call me what you like, but a reasonable shot of a young lady with her tits hanging out ?
Bring it on…










Percy has done his last ‘public’ magic show, or at least he says so…
Personally I think he’s probably got a few more in him, not necessarily with us, but they’re there.
Percy Weston of Parnassus Performance and The Magic Circle
If he does retire then I know we’re going to be missing one of the best and most amusing magicians on the circuit.

Murray has entertained as only Murray can.
In turn thoughtful, amusing and very, very droll.
Murray Weston of Parnassus Performance
One true story I’ll tell you about our Murray, our secret weapon…
I booked her a few years ago for ‘Rhythms of The World’ back when we were situated in Hitchin’s Arcade and not on our ‘Priory’ site.
I’d had the usual moans about her being too old (early seventies at the time) and won’t appeal to the youngsters, but had managed to diffuse them and she’d finally consented to appear.
She had a twenty minute spot and did precisely two poems.
The first one was long and involving, basically telling a story, and the second was probably the closest thing to hard-core porn I have EVER heard recited on stage ?
Needless to say, when she’d finished there was stunned silence amongst the audience until the teenagers started the applause rolling.
The twenty minutes had flown by and so she graciously accepted the by now thunderous applause, stepped back up to the mic’ and said
‘Us oldies know a little bit about sex, you know…’ 
Which of course, got her another ovation.
I have a complete recording of her set in the archives, should anybody be in any
doubt ?
So that’s our little ‘rebel’.
Everybody thinks it’s me, but compared to Murray ?
No way !!!
She has an unerring sense of where the jugular is, and she always goes for it with a wicked twinkle in her eye...

Joy followed Murray, and as usual made us think.
Think about what it’s like to be a ‘Black Woman’ making her way in a white world (and yes, the capitals are there for a reason) in a society that still, despite all the anti-racist laws and rhetoric, still treats black people as inferior ?
Yes I know… It’s contentious isn’t it ?
Well think about why I wrote it, think about why I’d say it, and think about what YOU are going to do about it ?
Just don’t give out with the usual patronizing platitudes, because if you do I’ll rip your fucking lungs out.
Joy T. Chance of Parnassus Performance



The girl knows.                    
Know what I’m saying ?
The girl knows… And what’s more, she’s right. 
She’s also righteous and right on…
And sometimes exceedingly funny about it, too.
Which is just one of the many reasons why she’s my favourite co-conspirator on stage.








Jon Falconer followed Joy and tried out some new things that he’d written for ‘Rhythms’ and stuck in a few I recognised from the last time I’d seen him perform.

Jon Falconer of Parnassus Performance




Angry, committed and downright entertaining with it, that’s Jon.
As far as Parnassus goes, he’s of the same ilk as me and Grant.
Not frightened of using whatever words he needs to get his point over.
Up front and ‘In yer face’
Nice !









Floor 9 are on next, and they can either use the interval to play through, therebye extending their set or just chill like the rest of us ?
They decide to play half the interval too…
I like Floor 9.
I’ve booked them now in a couple of their incarnations for ‘Rhythms’.
They can all play, know what a melody line can do, and their songs are ‘interesting’ if a little ‘off the wall’ sometimes.
But the thing is, it works for them and besides, they are getting a fair bit of work locally around the pub scene, so that should tell you something about their musicianship and their ability to entertain.

The Lady Mayor meanwhile, has been sitting there seemingly enjoying herself ?
Sean of Floor 9. Haddy (in purple) and Councillor Carol Latif (far right) Mayor of Stevenage 2011)
Actually, it’s not gone too badly.
The paying audience has not got drunk and has stayed reasonably attentive throughout the first half so all in all, not a bad first half.
Of course the band might turn a few off just by nature of the fact that they are obviously going to be using a little more volume, but we’ll see ?
Their members have been around a few years…
Sean, Mark and Ade' of Floor 9 (2011)









They know what’s what.
And they played a damn good set…
Everything seemed to gel perfectly ?
The melodies were there, the harmonies were there, and the two lead vocalists had the audience working with them.
Councillor Carol Latif the Lady-Mayor of Stevenage with Chris Ripple (dressed inappropriately as usual) of Parnassus Performance
So when the interval rolls around I start my compere job of ‘mingling’ with the audience starting with our Lady Mayor…
Councillor Carol Latif is actually one of my councillors and represents the ward I live in.
We’ve met occasionally whilst I’ve been at work, and she knows that for varying reasons I don’t hold our council in a very high regard.
Carol I trust to do the best job she can for the ward she represents, ie mine, but that is more than I could say for some of her other colleagues on the Council.
Unfortunately what can only be properly referred to as The B.A.E. Mafia still occupy seats on the council and until they are voted off, then this town will never go forward.
Anyway, enough of politics and all that shit...
There's enough of that coming through on stage tonight.

Tonight our Lady-Mayor has picked Parnassus...
Out of everything on the programme tonight she has picked the one where anything could be sung or said.
Her husband has picked the gig on the main stage, but our Carol basically said… ‘Bugger that… I’m doing the poetry gig…’
And for that, she has our heartfelt thanks... And that’s the truth.
Ok, there’s probably a bit of paraphrasing there, but the attitude is sound.
I have it on very good authority from our Stevenage Arts Guild representative who is sitting at the same table and who is probably praying that one of us doesn’t come out with a anti-council rant while she’s there...
But we haven’t, well not so far anyway.
Yes, she’s definitely enjoying it.
You couldn’t ask for any more, could you ?

And then that bloody Neil Young song that he hasn’t released yet but performed at Live-Aid blew into my head…
‘Nothing is perfect in God’s perfect world
Just look in the shadows to see…
He only gave us the good things so we’d understand
What life without them could be’ ?

Nick is next on stage and he’s forgotten his guitar lead…
So Nick, being Nick, demands to use one of the band’s.
Was demand the wrong word ?
Actually, no…
The band are packing up to leave because all three of them have rushed home to change clothes from work, grabbed their gear and hotfooted it to the gig.
None of them have eaten yet, and by now it’s half past nine and they’re beginning to drool over kebabs and such, so Nick’s demanding to use one of their guitar leads has pissed them off somewhat.
It is patiently explained to Nick, that sorry, no way, we’re out of here and so he goes off into a rant getting more and more belligerent…
The thing is, he could have cut all the crap and we could have mic’d the front of his guitar anyway ?
Christ !  It’s what he used to do before he got this guitar.
Now the epithets are flying and apparently the band are ‘fucking unprofessional cunts’ ?
Ok, time to go, guy’s…
‘Ade’, I’ll ring you in a couple of days, go get your nosh…
Cheers mate, thanks for coming and sorry for all this… ‘Bye…’
The Leisure Centre crew are alerted and supply leads.
I told you they were pro’s…
And finally Nick does his set.
Nick Brown of Parnassus Performance and The Magic Circle






Which, I’d been told, he was doing as a magician…
Nick however, has other ideas.
First a poem, then some magic, then a song and then some magic and another song to finish off…
We’re now running late.

Sarah Power having her head cut off...
I know the last magic trick was quite intricate and involved cutting off Sarah’s head (serves her right for volunteering…)
But I think that was really out of order and totally selfish in the extreme.
We’re all supposed to be in this thing together, it’s not a frigging ego-fest…
But it’s happened.
Move on…

Taye’s ‘BlackKat’ persona is up next.
It’s his first ever Parnassus gig and he’s raring to go.    
Taye (BlackKat) Fagborun of Parnassus Performance
I’ve got him for ‘Rhythms’ this year and I know he’ll be using backing tracks when he plays it, but tonight he elects for just voice.
And it works.
He fluffs a couple of lines when he speeds up, but he’s pretty impressive.
Another guy with something to say from his own perspective and using the street vernacular to paint pictures that, to be honest, we all have nightmares about.
The guy is good and all he needs is to get back on stage a few times and it’ll all be there for him.
How to describe it ?
Rap, but adult stuff.
The ‘guns and pussy shite’ that seems to fascinate most of the so called lyric writers of the genre are lacking and therefore the raps work on an adult level because the ‘gang mentality’ persona is just not there or is just alluded to without being specific.
This guy can write ‘mos’ def’’
Ok, bad pun, but I’m not charging you for reading this stuff, you’re doing it for free…

And then it’s me to finish the night.
I’ll tell you upfront, I don’t like closing.
If you’re reasonable and can work a crowd (and I can… I like to think I’m reasonable, too…)
then you always know that the audience will be getting restless so their concentration will be all over the place, and tonight I can’t do what I was going to do because the set is going to have to be cut by at least three otherwise we won’t finish on time.

Oh well...
Chris Ripple and Joy T. Chance of Parnassus Performance
Get Joy on for the counter-vocal in ‘The State (Of The Nation)’
and then Haddy to do the Wolof bits in ‘Ebou’s Song’ in the middle of four African influenced things that I wanted to try out for ‘Rhythms…’

Chris Ripple and Haddy Jatta
And finish…
Make the closing announcements, thank everybody for coming, try and mingle a bit with good grace…
And split.
Mainly because I want to throw up.
Was I any good ?  
Who knows ? 
I used the event to try some stuff out and some will be used in the same ways and some won’t. 
That question is always a bitch to answer.
By my terms of reference I was ‘Alright, but nowt special…’
But some things leave a bad taste in the mouth and tonight had definitely left one.
Were we ‘professional’ ?
Well that’s down to the audience and our co-workers obviously, but some attitudes do tend to get on my tits, somewhat.
If anybody is going to accuse the band of being ‘unprofessional’, then how ‘unprofessional’ is forgetting to bring your fucking guitar lead in the first place ?
It’s always somebody else’s fault.
Yeah, right ?
Responsibility.
That’s the word.
It’s not a bad word providing people know what it means ?
This country thrives on refusing to let people take responsibility for any action they take, and if this is going to be the result then quite honestly it sucks.