Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Level of conviction in own genius: 9
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Watching/Listening: The England vs Germany friendly / to everything on random play now I have inherited Andy's old mp3 player and don't have to use my CD walkman anymore
Hair Day: unadventurous reddish tint from wash-in-wash-out shampoo; have turned into big hair-wimp in my old age - should probably peroxide the lot or else find my slippers now.

Been a busy bunny, freewheelin' in the performing/workshopping/organising world as usual, but with a few new avenues too: have discovered a quite passionate taste for working with adults with learning difficulties. juice have been up in face-rippingly cold Huddersfield doing concerts and then workshops to a range of centres, and what an eye-opener it's been. We were swept dramatically up a steep learning curve with our first gig, where we singing to a small audience aged 20-70 who were left to sit rocking on the floor facing a wall, throw toys at us, or bang their head repeatedly against their fist. It was hard not to burst into tears, frankly. As the days went on, we got more and more used to seeing the full gamut of abilities and ways of communicating. But our workshops at Kirklees Tech College were the most utterly rewarding: we were supposed to be working with 10 adults but ended up with about 40 plus carers over three days - there's so little opportunity for adults with disabilities to have funded access to the arts that the college threw everyone at us! But we couldn't have been more happy to accomodate them: how could we refuse this brilliant set of people, from some with Down's who would shout excitedly, to those who could only communicate through a flicker of the eyes. There was a curious mix of those that are adults inside but are too physically impaired to express themselves, to those who seem more adult on the surface but love songs I'd normally teach to 5-year olds. One girl could hardly utter a word until you put on a CD of wartime songs, when an internal switch would magically turn her on, and she'd croon along whilst doing a high-kickin' dance routine. It was such fun: we spent most of the time pissing ourselves laughing with them and it was hard not to fall apart when one of the less expressive pulled out a slowly beatific grin. We fell in love with a couple: Zahid, who was born a fully-working boy but has a degenerative disease which means he was squashed back in his chair, could move very little, liked to make fast car noises and was one of those angelic grinners; and Seth, a sharp, funky dude who talked to us in his own version of British Sign Language and Macaton, showed off his high tech wheelchair and would occasionally shout with helpless laughter. We came away from the sessions exhausted but elated: beats pesky children any day and I would love to do more.

After Huddersfield it was down to Newbury on a mission to take experimental vocal music to the provinces with a Gobmsack Leaves London Gasp! night. We took fabulous looper Bunty, Lis from Curious Voice Duo and Mikhail, who probably frightened the life out of the poor Home Counties audience by making sounds like his guts were beging yanked out of his throat. I also did four songs with Andy from my new looping/folk/pop etc material. With a DOLLYman gig at Brixton's The Ritzy in between, I then donned my curating hat for the third London-based Gobsmack night, this time at the lovely Luminaire. Sadly, by being on a wet and freezing Monday in Kilburn, we didn't get the fit-to-burst audience we'd had on previous nights: still, the line-up was maybe the best yet: my buddy Paul J Abbott trying out some new Marc Almond meets Laurie Anderson meets some disco angels material; Kin, a raggedy-voiced punk girl; E:LAINE, the wonderful avant-soul/jazz improvising diva; and Roshi, ethereal-voiced Iranian/Welsh girl with electronic soundscapes and visuals.

Finally, I had a massive radio event this week: the whole of my very long late-night mass, 'dusksongs' was broadcast on Classic FM's The Full Works, through a Making Music competition. Was worth it alone for probably making my dad the proudest father of a female choral composer ever, plus hopefully getting me some big fat royalties. Bring it on!

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