Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lemon Funky

Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 1
Watching: 'Spooks' on bbc iplayer and mourning the loss of Rupert Penry-Jones
Hair Day: Ready for the chop, as they say

Phew, is turning in to a busy autumn packed full of gigs and educational work. juice's trip to Huddersfield to do community concerts for Live Music Now/Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival was eye-opening, charming when being hugged and kissed by enthusiastic adults with Down's, for example, and tearily challenging when singing to a roomful of adults with almost no control over their bodies and minds. But all rewarding of course. It was punctuated with excellent curries and studenty bars, an encounter with an eccentric taxi driver who introduced himself to us as 'Captain Zero', made up songs for us in Urdu and English about driving us to Slaithewaite and found it hilarious to swerve all over the road in 'amusing' fashion, and the royal treatment from our B'n'B, who called us their 'theatricals' and added our photo to the gallery in reception alongside such luminairies as Russ Abbott and the cast of the Last of the Summer Wine. juice hopefully have an agent now so are expecting similarly popular fame and fortune to be heaped upon us at any second...

Last week I was inspired by seeing Camille and her merry troupe of vocalising, body-slapping musicians at the Roundhouse (this time she got Jamie Cullum, who happened to be in the VIP crowd, to hop onstage and improvise with her), which helped no end in my first proper solo gig in the rather more intimate surroundings of the Lemon Monkey deli/cafe in Stoke Newington. It was the debut for me and my spanking new big Boss loop station, with Andy fattening up the sound in a few numbers on guitar. It was a small but perfectly-formed gig, cheered on by my mates as they drank organic beer, and I tried out some trad. English folk arrangements and some original stuff with the addition of a spot of melodica and glock. Nice! Has given me the confidence to try and get a few more wee gigs going too...

The only other highlight of last week was going to a Turkish restaurant in Dalston for a pre-Bardens Boudoir meal and spotting Gilbert and George in the corner, who apparently (them not having a kitchen and all) eat there every single night. We tee-heed to ourselves over our posh kebabs as we attempted to remember which was which. The Bardens gig was as usual rather disappointing, though the headliners, Their Hearts Were Full of Spring, redeemed themselves by bedecking their mic stands with a multitude of fake flowers. However, I could only scoff at their attempt at the Beach Boys' version of the band's name, which they could only sing on 2.5 parts. Ha! I transcribed all 4 parts in about an hour once. Hhm, think I am too much of a muso to enjoy almost any gig. Unless there's piece in 5/4 in there, that is.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Journey to the Far Side of the World's End

Level of conviction in own genius: 9
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 1
Watching / Listening: 'Master and Commander: Journey to the Far Side of the World' - staunchly noble nautical genius! / Eliza Carthy
Hair Day: Needs funking up double quick!

Had a very cool double whammy of a gig on Saturday night, what with Metamorphic (dark melancholy jazz band who I'm now singing vocals with) being added to my wardrobe of current musical outfits; somewhat confusingly for my diary date-crammed head, my three bands are all doing the same couple of series of gigs in different combinations, and last weekend was Metamorphic's debut alongside DOLLYman at Broken Toy Music at the World's End in Finsbury Park. I think I did a grand job on vocals for Metamorphic and it was DOLLYman’s best gig yet. It was headlined by Fulborn Teversham, one of the many bands led by London's favourite small-voiced, huge-haired drummer Seb Rochford and too-cool-for-school saxman Pete Wareham. Unlike Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland, FT are a sparer, more pop outfit, sort of shouty punk-jazz with indie sprinkles. Their singer is the utterly gorgeous and extremely cockney-cool Alice Grant, who is basically my much, much classier doppelganger. As she pointed out, we both had asymmetric hair, black dresses and green tights. It was rather spooky. Spookier, then, that Alice had sung the vocals for Metamorphic's EP before she had to bail out due to busy-ness; so there I was, singing the songs she'd recorded live in front of her, wishing my hair was more angular and blitzed with peroxide. It's a terribly incestuous scene: Alice sings with Leafcutter John, who was at the gig with his Polar Bear giant elf-looking bandmate; FT’s keyboardist plays in Cinematic Orchestra and heads up London’s loose jazz family F-IRE Collective. So the night was a bit of a F-IRE love-in, with us DOLLYmen secretly hoping we'd be embraced into their scorching arms soon enough. I was far too starstruck to do more than mumble idiocies to Seb, and couldn’t even LOOK at Leafcutter John, being far too in awe; all silly given the pair’s towering musical statures are housed in twitchy, meekly spoken frames and they probably would have run away in terror had I engaged them in proper conversation. Ha, and I haven't even MENTIONED that Chris Williams, one of Led Bib's shrieky saxophones, is in Metamorphic which is basically the same as me being IN Led Bib, my favourite live band of the year. Stardom awaits!

Musical escapades are happening aplenty; the next day I tottered off to a choir rehearsal for lovely leftfield music night Arctic Circle’s Christmas EP. Lo-fi artists from little indie label Static Caravan have written beautifully alternative Christmas songs, subsequently expanded to mini-orchestra and choir by TV and film composer Harry Escott, both for the EP and later a performance at Union Chapel. The songs are heart-melting; I was tingling down to my toes with wintertide warmth and it’s only October. Last night I went to hear the Joyful Company of Singers rehearse my piece ‘O Lux Beata Trinitas’ and made efforts to look as youthfully mad cool as possible – I always like to surprise those who think that my angelic and obviously supremely clever choral music is probably written by a tweedy 60 year-old…