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.


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