Friday, 23 December 2016

WAS IT NOT EVER SO?

 This Solstice has set me thinking about the cycle of life and death. I think some part of us returns to the earth after we die, clad in a different form, to learn more of life. 
This post's poem is about that process and it recycles a line from a poem that did not work. I always keep those lines that seem powerful, that have a good image or that are simply too good to loose.
I was in a car on the motorway, thankfully not driving, when the idea came to me. As usual I am not certain that it is in its finished form but here it is.

As a murmuration of starlings swirls at sunset,
turning in the reddening evening air,
so shall we gather again at the cessation of this cycle,
to regroup and refresh in that timeless space,
before we return for one more round of carbon life and love.
Was it not ever so?

Give thanks
I leave you with a 1979 video of Leonard Cohen singing So Long Marianne.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

AVEBURY 21.12.16

Greetings this Winter Solstice.
How has your day been?
I was up at 5am and driving to Avebury, in Wiltshire, the largest stone circle in Europe. These past few solstices I have been to Glastonbury and Stonehenge but this year I felt I had to return to Avebury.
There was quite a lot of low cloud but when the sun rose it was wonderful.
For me there is something special in the Winter Solstice, it feels like the start of the year.
May this New Year be all you could hope for.

Friday, 16 December 2016

BAZOOKA JOE

Bazooka Joe was a type of bubble gum when I was young. 
Last night I ran a workshop and this is what came out of it.

Bazooka Joe

the summer stretched out on long June evenings longer than pink bubble gum drawn between finger and thumb and I was unable to imagine the number of Monday's to come before school reduced the time to forty five minute segments and the night would last longer than the day
The workshop was a repeat of the one I had attended the other week. This time it led me to think about my teenage years. That heady sense of the endless summer.
I also produced this.

A Series of Movements

My hand writing
mother's signature
D. Tobin [Mrs].
The walk to the sports field,
having to stand on the touch line,
a forged sick note went only so far.
Pass, tackle and try.
Knowing the P.E. teacher
had given up on me.
I do not like sport even now. When I was at school I would forge notes to avoid playing. 
Neither piece is finished but I think they stand as they are. Thanks to Paul Mortimer for helping to pull them into shape.
I have just received the new Anna Ternheim live lp and am off to listen to it.
 Until next time.

Friday, 9 December 2016

HE CARRIED A TORCH

To carry a torch for someone is an old slang phrase for having unrequited feelings for another. It's a phrase I haven't heard for years but it came into my head recently and prompted this.

He carried a torch for me
far longer than was healthy.
I knew this by the cards,
and the telephones pleading cry in the night
that I stopped giving answer to.

Forty years would pass before I watched
his father cross Bold Street,
and I saw the man he had grown into.
I did not rush outside,
nor did I think of him again.

He carried the torch.
Seated in the anonymous window
of a nameless tea-house,
I hid beneath a sun
that sucked the light from his hand. 
Bold Street is in Liverpool. I imaged the narrator sat in one of the tea houses there suddenly seeing a person from her past walk by.
this is only the first draft- watch this space.
I was listening to Serafina Steer today. Here's a live video.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

VIDAR NORHEIM: BLIND CARBON COPY EP

Vidar Norheim is a multi-instrumentalist, singer song writer. He first came to my attention through his work with Lizzie Nunnery, he produced her two albums, arranging and playing on both. Live he was a sensitive and skilled professional who enabled Lizzie to concentrate on communicating with her audience. 
I'm going to cut to the chase here [and leave you to follow the link to his band Wave Machines], Vidar has just released his first ep and it is as good as you would expect from such a consummate musician.
It sounds like nothing else around at the moment, melodic, organic and with a great delicacy, a lightness of touch to it that simply draws you in. Just what you would expect from a musician named Norway's most promising song writing talent in 2011. Every note on this ep feels like it has been placed in the correct position, it sounds so natural, it's a joy on the ear.

First up on the ep is the title track, Blind Carbon Copy which is a sublime piece of synth pop. Lizzie Nunnery provides an intriguing set of lyrics that add to the tension as the song unfolds. It is a lovely track and Vidar's accomplished vocals are perfect.
Sirens is another piece of sophisticated pop that should be coming out of every speaker in the land. Vidar has produced a perfect synthesis of lyrics and music. 10 More Miles is an interesting love song with lyrics by Lizzie. Crystalised too is a lovely song. 
What my poor descriptions of these four songs have not described is the quality of musicianship and the luscious soundscape that Vidar has created single handed. This guy has chops to spare. 
This ep is a triumph and ends with a brief instrumental that just perfect. 
Blind Carbon Copy is that rare artifract, a perfect piece of art.
Thank you Vidar.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

THE PALOOKA 5 EP!

It's been a great end of year for releases by independent artists, already we have had Brooke Sharkey's superb second album, then there's Vidar Norheim's ep to come next week and hot off the press is the wondrous debut ep by Somerset's premier surf band Palooka 5!
The 4 tracks on this beautifully packed ep are fabulous. Palooka 5 leap from the speakers, firing on all six and you have to dance. They take no prisoners. 
The ep kicks off with La Mancha a superb piece of surf music. The pace does not let up and we are straight into Little Frathouse, a great dance tune, that is followed by Dropzone, which could be the theme tune to a 60's crime show. Then we are presented with the kinetic beauty of Cindy joined a Surf Gang
Lyrically Cindy sees the band narrating the rock and roll epiphany of said Cindy. This is prime stuff in deed, every home should have a copy.
Musically Palooka 5 don't put a foot wrong. The guitar magic of T. G. Baigent channels the spirit of Dwayne Eddy and Dick Dale and quite frankly guitar licks doesn't get any better than this guy. The organ of A.J. McCallum is quite simply stunning, harking back to the glory days of garage rock but still managing to sound like no one else. All this is held together by the rock solid, on the beat drumming of the great S. P. Bide. The ghost of Ed Cassidy is sitting on his shoulder- yes, he's that good. Also rock solid is the dynamic bass guitar of H. P. Banes. The drums and bass are so tightly meshed you'll believe in telepathic communication. Rounding off this triumvirate is the soulful vocals of B. E. Baigent. 
Music doesn't get much better than this. These are the best live band in Somerset.
What are you waiting for?
Go get that ep!

Friday, 2 December 2016

AMID THE CLAMOUR

Famous people become commodities when they die. Their discourse, their story so to speak, can be shaped to suit the ends  of others. Look at how John Lennon has been shaped, or Bob Marley, or any of a hundred others.
This has been especially true of poets, whose stock can rise or fall according to the needs of the current age. You only have to visit Stratford Upon Avon to experience the full flowering of the heritage industries.
It was thoughts like this that led to this post's poem.

Poets are better when they're dead.
Personal life picked over
for proof of something or other.
Private papers pillaged, not burned,
to provide the evidence
for opposing intellectual arguments.

A dead poet is a commodity,
clay to be shaped by critics fingers.
A really good one can sustain an industry:
biographers, academics, guide books, guides,
taxi drivers [who picked the poet up regular like]
and houses bought for a grateful nation.
Then simplistic television,
built around the available footage,
that somehow misses the point.

Yet within the clamour,
if you are patient enough,
the poet's words will retain their truth.
I think that we are in danger of losing sight of the real treasure, the beauty of the individual's creation and our relationship to it.
This week I've been listening to lots of Anna Ternheim while I wait for her new live album to arrive. Here's some live songs recorded in Paris.
When will she play the UK?