Monday, March 15, 2010

Seal with a Kiss

Level of conviction in own genius: 6.5
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 1
Watching: Match of the Day
Hair day: windswept, in the walker’s style

Man, what a term. Three educational projects over, a hilarious audition for Shlomo at the South Bank (where I aced the vocal side but possibly came a leetle unstuck in the high intensity street-dance-off, ha ha ha!), and a curation of Gobsmack at the Forge in Camden (sadly skeletal in audience size but rich and nourishing in its line-up of Ben Crawley, Woodpecker Wooliams and Kay Grant). I also had my official EP launch at my nearest and dearest artcafe, The Gallery, lent out to me for an evening of You Are Wolfishness and CD-selling, which was super-lovely. This fortnight I have to cram in a recording with Metamorphic, my birthday, a gig in Leeds, a week in Sweden on the PRSF music exchange course, teaching at Aldeburgh, and this week attempting to finish a commissioned magnificant, currently called my magnifiCAN’T…

Yorkshire Tripper
A swift Easter trip to Yorkshire aimed to flush out London’s toxins. We went to Spurn Point to walk its flaccidly remote length; one wind-emaciated side was scattered with erroneous flotsam such as blue rubber gloves, a freezer, and old war defences tumbling in great blocks off the dunes. The south side, marshy, wide and calm, had a rock that looked like a bloated, beached seal. We thought we’d investigate; Andy, kneeling over it, shouted to us that it was a dead seal; said corpse promptly rolled over, opened it eyes and gave us the fright of our lives. We stood over it for a while, wondering whether it was in trouble, whilst it huffed and snorted at us in an uncanny impression of my dad. As we turned to leave, it belly-flopped over the beach, in the wrong direction from the sea, but I’m sure he knew what he was doing. Here is a picture of Simon.

Flamborough Head dished up sheer limestone cliff-faces choked with pretty kittiwakes - whiny baby monitors on wings - and hundreds of guillemots, plump sheeny monochrome types, lined up on vertigo-inducing ledges, beaks to the cliff and shuffling into each other, bored stiff of the sea-view.

A wayward countryside walk from the pub at Wetwang (which means, in too-good-to-be-true style, ‘a slap in the face with a wet fish’. In Norse.) took in yellowhammers, three hares, one of which came, well, haring down the track and stopping dead 10 metres away when it spotted me, before doing its ‘Bewitched’ thang, transporting itself in seconds far, far away over the horizon. We also caught sight of a buzzard skating the air, a pair of aloof sparrowhawks, a large tawny something-or-other on hedgerow and a keen-eyed kestrel. We managed to skirt the rainclouds all day as they gently pulled their jellyfish trails of rain, or sneezed themselves like charcoal powder across the sharp-focus view.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

You Are Wolf hits town and esteemed folkmen (and East London adventures)

Hours of creative activity achieved today: 3
Level of conviction in own genius: 8.5
Reading/ Watching: 'Alias Grace' by Margaret Atwood / just finished cramming The Wire: Season 5 - epic genius!
Hair day: getting chopped tomorrow

There are a thousand black wolves in my study: my lupine solo debut EP is steaming hot off the press and I've tons of them, watchful and panting, waiting to be told which necks of their unsuspecting, music-promoting prey to go and chew on. Happily I've already got a stonking review from alt-folk ezine The Ear Horn, and airplay from Head Female Music Pimper Ruth Barnes on her great Resonance FM show, The Other Woman and on BBC 6 Music's Introducing with Tom Robinson, (on in the ungodly hours of tomorrow morning); this means I am now the proud owner of a famous 'I've been introduced by...' online badge on my myspace sites. Well, proud to any of the 800,000 (of which I am one) who listen to BBC 6Music; if Auntie Low-culture Vulture has her way, I'll have a very short-lived moment in the sun before I'm pecked to death by 'Strictly Come Dine With My Overweight Supernanny' or whatever it is they show these days between 'Mad Men' and 'University Challenge'.

BBC Introducing with Tom Robinson on 6music

One of the great figureheads of new folk music is Alasdair Roberts, who Andy and I caught for free at Song East's mini-tour of venues out our way. Huge fans of his unashamed musical sparseness and stonkingly erudite lyrics which make him a sort of Gerald Manley Hopkins/Will Self mutant (words like 'simulacra' and 'saturnine' are as common as muck - I mean, fertile sod of low luminance - to him in his excellent album Spoils) , it was a joy to catch him close-up, rammed into the downstairs bar of the Vortex. He was more at home in this intimate space than with his bands in Bush Hall and the Luminaire, laconically spinning the history of the barefaced traditional songs to us and threatening any Campbells, should there have been any, in the audience. His voice keens like a mournful baby banshee playing in the reeds, and he tossed out his venturesomely-tuned guitar licks like sweets. Tall and skinnier than Peter Crouch, he's a cross between fiercely-nationalistic ambassador for Scots culture, and a folk-singing crane.

I knew that practically being face-to-face already, I had no excuse not to say hello and give him a You Are Wolf album. But I do hate the impudent networking game sometimes, and felt so nervous at approaching a musical hero I had to be made to walk the plank by Andy. But I did it, spluttering goofily about what a fan I was, and managing to prove I was at last a legit musician by mentioning a loose Robin Robertson connection (he and the Scottish poet are friends, and I've set one of RR's poems for a big choral premiere), before basically beating him over the head with an EP and running away in terror. For shame!

We popped into the Dalston Jazz Bar for a quick one, but man, that place is OLD NEWS. It's now very much all about Passing Clouds, a possibly only semi-legal 2-floor venue in off Kingsland Road, which is now my new favourite place EVER. Cafe Oto, you're fired! A chilled and smiley place of hip-but-not-twats East Londoners, there to bounce to affable reggae and later, our best hipjazzhop buddies Lazy Habits. Elsewhere, there was a peachy upstairs room of ragged sofas and fantastically erractic swing/Jungle Book/Tom Waits soundtrack, and a corner where gossamery French girls were doing face paints. Obviously I resisted this fey girly pasttime and did not insist on looking like a woodland fairy. Ahem.

kerry with flowers on Twitpic

With Passing Clouds ticked off my London to-do list, I vowed that the New Empowering Church, a recently-opened venue a mere hoppity-skipety jump away from where I type, would be next. Happily, 18 hours later, I was offered a last-minute You Are Wolf support slot there for FOLKLAHOMA, a Magpie's Nest night, so will be playing there this Thursday, before headliners from the Waterson clan take over. That's the way to do it.