Level of conviction in own genius: 6
Hours of creative activity achieved today: 2
Watching / Listening: "The Descendants' / Alasdair Roberts & Mairi Morrison
Hair Day: all-new blondified top half and super-short sides. YES!
Barring some early exposure to Fairport Convention by Father, I first got into folk via Eliza Carthy, with her then ruby red locks and clotted cream skin on the cover of 'Red Rice', a double album of traditional and not-so-traditional settings of folk songs. It was later that I discovered her whole clan, and thought about them as I wandered occasionally down the slope at Robin Hood's Bay, where her folks live. And this weekend, I supported Martin Carthy at Leigh Folk Festival! Ha, brilliant. I was quite utterly awestruck, what with Martin being basically the King of English Folk, though he seemed a little more taken up with finding some intangible tunings, and sleeping, than addressing my starry-eyed nerves. I played a few songs to a packed and very welcoming church, before Martin gave a cracking set, with his wonderfully robust voice and stunning, slightly off-kilter guitar picking, just shading the melody much of the time. He truffled up some great stories too, way darker than some of my chosen folksongs, what with their hangings and child-beheadings...
We were treated to a hearty dinner at the house of one of the festival curators, along with an impressively-bearded Alasdair Roberts, who is frankly my folk HERO, Sharon Kraus, and the lovely Roshi and Graham. It was slightly unreal hearing a much more relaxed Martin giving anecdotes about playing with the likes of Ivor Cutler and John Martyn, or his friendship with Dr Feelgood guitar-jerker Wilko Johnson, who was in the crowd, and apparently dug me! Erk! We talked birds - debating which doves cooed, our least favourites (seagulls, pigeons) - and Alasdair and Martin sang a Scottish folk song about porridge over dessert. I would like my life to be like this more often!
I'm almost on top of my You Are Wolf birdlore project, having been frantically arranging a string quartet and clarinet version for Deal Festival. Hence I thought it might be judicious inspiration to see Handspring Puppet Company's production of Crow at Greenwich Theatre. Combining some of Ted Hughes' violently dark, crooked collection with puppetry - hooked, angular crows which morphed, changing size and shape - physical theatre and a broodingly sonorous score by Leafcutter John for the most part worked well. It was unremittingly grim though, and the dancers' 28 Days Later zombie-style gutteral flailings got a bit much, as did the spitting, choking human caws. I'd heard them so much that I couldn't help emitting a couple of cawings once outside the theatre, only for an elderly lady to caw straight back! Ha ha. Black as DEATH!