Thursday, May 05, 2011

You Are Wolf Does Radio (and why to visit Kent)

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Listening: The 6Music Adam and Joe podcast, tee hee hee
Hair Day: flyaway
What I can see from my window no. 11: A murder of crows

I've had some 6Music and Late Junction radio play courtesy of the BBC, but last week I got to visit the Beeb Towers, featuring on Radio 3's Friday evening 'word-cabaret' show, The Verb. I was made to feel right at home by the exceptionally avuncular and adorable presenter Ian McMillan (Poet in Residence at Barnsley FC!), as well as a couple of other guests, Peter Blevgad and Kevin Jackson. The show was recorded live-ish, with us all chuckling into our mics as we listened to Christian Bok, genius poet-physicist, discuss his work with placing a poem inside a genome, which was able to formulate its own coded poem in response (cue sound of my mind blowing into smithereens and splattering around the studio walls), plus Peter and Kevin's irreverent play about the cutting of libraries. I did my spoken-wordy end of the You Are Wolf material and a bit of an interview with Ian. It was all very cheery, we swapped CDs at the end and Ian happily signed a volume of his I'd nerdily brought along, whilst talking lower league footy. Nice!

This is in the much more fun corner of the You Are Wolf. I had two odd gigs this week: one was playing to a packed Green Note, supporting Clive Gregson - a seasoned songwriter, but the sort that makes Radio 2's output seem like the ear-bleeding edges of avant-garde. So a slightly incongruous juxtaposition of his jig-a-jig strumming, banal lyrics ('one and one still makes two, that's the same for me and you'...) and Stalybridge banter alongside my dark, looped shizzle made for a slightly bemused, if very polite crowd for my set, and Andy and I giggled our way down Parkway at what a strange atmosphere it had been. Still, playing to 50 puzzled MOR fans is better than playing to one man and his dog for a supposedly folkish night down at The Workshop in Shoreditch the next evening, following a noisily dreadful three-piece surfer folk-rock boy band (I THINK that's what they were going for; they looked like three cast members from Neighbours circa 1993). I am learning the hard way how not to say yes to everything...

I swung by Nonclassical's Battle of the Bands at the Troy Bar last night, which in typical Nonclassical fashion, was still going strong way past everyone's bedtime. Todd Reynolds, who plays with the Steve Reich Ensemble, Bang on a Can and co, had flown straight in from New York and onto the Troy Bar stage to guest star with his violin and loop/effects set-up, which was gorgeous, if I think overlong. Sarah-juicette had gone along and ended up being roped in as a judge, so filled me in on all the competing acts on the cab journey home. Sounds like the winners, who I saw, were well-deserved: an extremely pro flute trio (YES!) from The North, Tempest, whose ensemble was remarkably tight, and though they had rather a Classical Brits, hair-curlered performance style, played some spitty, spiky, jazz-inflected contemporary tunes and were musically fabulous. Sort of like a younger, bendier juice, if juice's voices were long silver elongated things. They win, exceptionally outlandishly on Nonclassical's part, an album deal of some sort! My favourite bit of the night (though I was hysterical with tiredness, it being a school night and me being an Old Lady, so by the end I found everything utterly hilarious) was Gabriel ill-favouredly deciding to then comment on the other acts, including a duo that he could think of nothing nicer to say than 'well, they're from Kent, so I think they've just got a whole Kent vibe going on there'. I predict a mass-exodus to Ashford by the hordes of alt-classical scenesters any day now...

In a break from the usual musical marathons, we've been a) enjoying some beach time - in Kent!, reading for hours on South Coast pebbles and dashing into the salt-rashing sea and b) taking ourselves to the Miro exhibition at Tate Modern, which was a thing of joy and wonder. With a political seam running through, it fizzed with Miro's fierce, loopy modernism; his motivic symbols of stars, eyes, tendrils, black blotches; the pretty melancholia of his Constellations series; the two chapel-like rooms of vast triptychs, beating the Rothko rooms any day for their eye-socking colour and power; the thrilling last room of his gritty, frenzied final works, unsoftened in his old age; and best of all, the Burnt Canvases, where Miro torched his own explosive graffiti, the gaping holes and exposed frames looking to me like, on Royal Wedding Day, savaged and blood-splattered St George's flags. GO SEE IT!

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