Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Unititled

It's hard to think of a title for this post. For some unfathomable reason, I felt a bit down yesterday. There are lots of good, good things happening and I'm a glass half full person most of the time. It might have been the insidious misogyny in a piece of work I had marked that afternoon (I'm marking for several universities at the moment so it's not a betrayal of confidence). Irrational hatred is impossible to process. Or it could have been the weather, or delayed pandemic-shock. The evening just had dark edges around it like a mourning-stamp.

Anyway, this morning I woke to a message from an ex-colleague who I have always valued a lot. They were telling me of an exciting career move they were making, and for a start I felt both touched that they contacted me to let me know, and thrilled that they are going to work for such a great employer. But we then went on to have a concise and mutually supportive conversation that at first made my eyes well with tears, but now has left me with what can only be described as a warmed heart.

Our friendship from afar has made me feel it's OK to act on principles, and also that sometimes a moment's conversation can change the course of your mood quite significantly. The world is not all bad people- it's just that they have loud voices and too much power. We must never stop opposing them!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Double Bass

On Friday afternoon I didn't care about the rain- I hopped into my car and buzzed up the A1 to Ruth and Dave's to record double bass on one of my songs. Emma showed up shortly afterwards and in the twinkling of an eye we had a really nice bass line recorded and sat down to a picnic lunch under the gazebo in the garden. what a relaxing was to spend and afternoon and to come home bearing a bass line on a memory stick!

This morning I listened through some guitar (me) and bass (Gina) doodling that were almost uniformly 130 BPMs. I cut out the slightly out of time bits and spliced together almost two minutes-worth, so when Lindy records the drums for my album song on Tuesday, she can also put some drums on that, which we will then use as an intro and outdo for the She-Punks film instead of Oh Bondage! Up Yours. The film with then become legally showable, rentable, sellable or whatever after all the time.

And the album: well, one, possible tow replacement vocals and a Spanish guitar overdub, then its mixing and matching so it all sounds as though one person did it. Then it can go off to be mastered by Ian Button, and then I have to find a manufacturer, sort out the artwork and get some photos done.

Getting there!

On The Tube


 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Gaye Black

Gaye Black has an exhibition of art, some of which she did during lockdown) at The Lamb in Holloway Road. I went along to take a look and I particularly like the lockdown work. One pictured here, but it has a bit of reflection from the glass. Her work is darkly humorous and very punky, collage-based and always strikingly contemporary, like visceral snapshots from a bad dream.

I bought one of her bottle-cap badges. I bought some as presents from the Punk Art Exhibition and hankered after one for myself. Alas, this one is an ideal present for a friend, so I'll have to wait for Rebellion and get another one for myself.



Friday, May 20, 2022

Thoughts On Social Media

When I started this blog, I didn't even have a Myspace account, let alone a Facebook one. It was started at the suggestion of Emerald Moseley, a sculptor and dancer, after web designer, drummer and social activist Mike Slocombe set up the original website for me. It works as a kind of disposable diary, simultaneously spilling the beans, clearing them up and paradoxically, spilling no beans at all.

Much is same of creating content for social media postings, almost as a way of proving you exist in the big competitive world of social media postings. I know I exist, independently of ethereal zeroes and ones, and a lot of my time is spent just Being, some of is spent Interacting, and much of it, Creating (without the word 'content' appended to it).

The latter one takes ages. I have been recording this album for a year now, off and on. I work and I am also a mother, even though my Offsprogs have grown up. Things happen in my private life that mean that creativity has to take a back seat and it's been like that, always.

I was panicking this morning because I have nothing to say on social media. Yet this whole week has been occupied by doing good things: hours of writing feedback for students, the occasional social interaction (so important), and hours of recording and editing music. I have found time to exercise and eat, and to pursue the never-ending moth problem that plagues my house. I have been in 100% practical mode, and have housewife hands, with guitarists fingers on the ends of them.

This afternoon I'm going to Ruth and Dave's, where we will be recording Emma Goss playing double bass on one of my tracks. This is the penultimate thing to do. Emma plays with Sarah Vista: it's almost like having a tea party and inviting your friends along. I don't have a huge budget to record with, but usually manage to add the energy of a great musician to one or two of my songs. Fingers crossed for this avo!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Songs

Today I've been marking student songs; I've almost finished and I'm just waiting for a member of staff to try to disentangle a download, so to speak.

At dawn (why did I wake so early) I made another attempt at learning the German lyrics to one of mine and Robert's songs. It's actually quite a good time to try to memorise things because I'm almost there after the early start. I just need another dawn awakening, and to be able to sing it at the speed of the song. Then there are three more to learn! I am determined not to have a music stand by the time we do our gigs in July.

I'm not going to do any editing today, because I go in there so deep that I end up in Zombie land for the rest of the day. Instead, I'm doing bit of sparrow-listening. After ten years living here, they have finally discovered the back yard. I can't bear to cut any of the tangled greenery back because they are having such a lovely time. The robin even feeds it's robinette on the garden bench, which they have pooed all over. I know I'll toughen up eventually but at the moment I'm enjoying the din and the activity.

Here is a lovely peony. Just one bloom, but it's so huge I'll forgive it.



Wednesday, May 18, 2022

At The Lexington

Photo by Tony Raven Porter



Micro-Editing

Editing became so absorbing today that it's unlikely I'll record the Spanish guitar, which may have to wait until next week. I cured a weird-sounding problematic vocal that had really been bothering me on one of the tracks though: it sort of sounded lovely, but by the time you got to the end of the track you just wanted her to shut the f*ck up. And her is me, so I had to do something about that.

One of the songs I recorded right at the beginning has more pops than I can get away with on the vocal track, so I'll have to re-record that vocal too, which is a pity. The rest of it sounds good. Maybe it's an edit thing, but I'll have to see about that.

After three hours of marking this morning I went for a walk. The cut behind the back gardens, tarmac-ed, dark and decorated with weeds and rubbish, smelt like heaven all the way down. Some hidden blossom scented the air and made the walk absolutely blissful for the first time ever. I kept expecting the perfume to stop, but it accompanied me all the way down the path.

On the Dollis Valley Green Walk, a ride-on mower and a tractor mower performed elegant curving dance moves across the grass, spraying clouds of clippings into the air in greyish-green arcs. I marvelled at their co-ordination, and thought about motorway driving, which I absolutely love. The choreography! The director of movement is our mutual agreement to abide by the highway code: we drift and glide to our destinations, overtaking, joining, leaving, lines of vehicles heading to the imagined spot in the future where we will greet our families, meet our holiday head-on or in cases like mine, get to the gig. What a beautiful collaborative artwork we make, without even recognising it for what it is. A celebration of human co-operation, even though we all appear to hate each other sometimes.

Back to the walk. I was hoping for a sighting of the Little Egret but it wasn't there. A flock of starlings were having a mass disagreement and I did see a bullfinch by the tennis courts. A cross council worker, who I naively thought was waving at me, was actually gesticulating furiously as I tried to take a photo. For the rest of the walk I was frightened in case he found me and took it further, because that's what it's like being a woman. Might as well tell you that.

There's a huge fly in here, the size of a bomber aircraft. I open the door to let them out sometimes, but they are usually too intent on crashing into things to notice. ZZZZzzzzzZZZZZ, then silence.

I'm going to put the headphones back on.



Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Busy Day

I spent all the long morning marking student work- it's going to take all week to finish it all, but I have given myself the afternoons to work on my album.

Anne Wood, the violin and viola player, sent some string parts last week and today I imported them into the song and started playing around with them. I realised the track needed bass guitar on it. I'm a bit rusty and I spent most fo the afternoon editing my clumsy playing. It does make the song sound better, and because the music is better the singing's going to have to be better too. Next week for that! 

Tomorrow's post-marking activity will be putting some Spanish guitar fills into a song that has a missing piece. I think Spanish guitar is the missing piece: let's hope so.

Friday will be recording double bass on another song in St Albans with Ruth and Dave, with a picnic in their garden first. That does sound nice.

Next week I'm hoping to record Lindy Morrison drumming on one of the tracks and on a little piece of music Gina and me are working on to replace Oh Bondage! Up Yours at the beginning of our documentary, so we can actually show it properly again.

I am going to miss recording. I have got so deeply into it that I can't imagine stopping- and I have no idea any more whether the songs are any good or not. It's a strange mixture of really dark, depressing songs and really perky ones. There may even be thirteen tracks on the album.

I need to start thinking about artwork and a title.


Yard Birds

Fleas4U, the wandering neighbourhood cat, appears to have left the area: I think his foster parents have moved away. Tentatively, I filled the bird feeder, and the back yard is now a mass of chirruping tiny birds: sparrows, robins, blue tits and even ( I think) a wren. They get really cross with each other and squabble and argue and they are often so busy that they don't notice I'm there too, and rush off in a flap when they see me. There are so many of them I've had to get two huge sacks of seeds to cater for them.

I had been hoping to get a cat at some point, but at the moment these little creatures are really entertaining (and very noisy). I have let the plants overgrow for now. It's rather nice out there, for a little dull yard.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Charlotte Worthington at Turps Banana

Look at these beautiful paintings on silk. They are even more lovely in real life. 

We went to see them on Saturday, and it was well worth the hot and humid journey to the Aylesbury Estate in Walworth, where Taplow House has now become an art school.







Dog Getting Haircut, Gypsy Hill

From Sunday Drawing Club.



Saturday, May 14, 2022

Judging Punk Songs By French Schoolchildren

Up yours, Johnson! We are still European.

I had  lovely email out of the blue from a French secondary school teacher whose class has been writing political punk songs. Would I judge their finalists? Of bloody course!

She sent me the two songs, one of which was anti-racist and the other, feminist. The songs were bristling with anger and bristling with ideas. It was incredibly hard to judge, but in the end I decided to go with the one with the most singable chorus, so I got my guitar out and sang them both. The anti-racist song won by a very narrow margin.

What a heartwarming thing to do, a heartwarming finale to an unusually good week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

With the Girl With The Replaceable Head, And Co.

Weeks don't normally start this well. When I got to The Lexington, Paul Handyside (ex-Hurrah) was soundchecking and Taff's son Rupert was hanging out with his girlfriend unpacking the CDs and albums at the merch stall. When I'd done my soundcheck, Little Bruv showed up in his hat-of-all-hats, and there was Geoff Travis, who I hadn't seen for a long, long time. It was very nice to chat to him before the early-doors start, and also to Delia for a while too. 

Midway through my set someone's phone rang and the audience halved (joke). It actually wasn't a bad crowd at all for a Monday night post-pandemic. There were assorted Geordies in the audience: nice to see Simon McKay out and about, still missing Fenella Fielding but getting into the music.

Paul Handyside was on fine form, channelling Johnny Cash (and even Frank Sinatra in his more showtunes numbers). He was aided by Rob Tickell on slide guitar, who provided deep and atmospheric flavours to the songs. It was a very powerful set.

By the time TGWTRH took to the stage the room was full. With Lindy Morrison on drums and Mick Porter on bass, they animated the room with their melodic and sometimes quite spooky songs. The vocal arrangements are exquisite, possibly because Taff and Sylvia often perform as a duo, and have worked on using their voices to the maximum effect. They have a unique almost film soundtrack sound, which is at the same time really accessible. Sylvia has a strong voice with a sixties vibe, more Sandie Shaw than Dusty Springfield, and Taff wrings some mean licks out of that Fender Jaguar. It's a stroke of genius to immortalise the Bigg Market in Newcastle: that song triggered not only thoughts of Viz Comic but also a memory of me and my friend Kathleen being chased down the street by a bunch of guys straddling a long pulled-apart cardboard tube like a huge wobbly willy. Oh Newcastle, you disgraceful and wonderful city! 

I remember the catchiness of their songs from all those years ago, my first ever out of London gig. They had driven down to Shipley from the north east and I'd driven up after work from Docklands with the instructions about how to get there written on sheet of A4 paper in orange felt pen. Of course, under sodium street-lighting the writing became totally invisible, but somehow I managed to get there just in time, and I drove back after the gig to be tucked up in bed by 2 a.m.

Oh, I enjoyed their set so much! They have a completely other-worldly sound. I recorded a video of one of their songs, but an enthusiastic chap kept moving his head directly into my line of view. I'll take a look and maybe post it later in the week. Towards the end of the set, we spied Stewart Lee down the front. The man has good taste.

As a finale we all joined each other on stage, including Rupert who'd guested on one of the TGWTRH songs, and played Apology Accepted, the Go Betweens favourite. Aww, it was fun!

On to Brighton last night. This was a much smaller venue, the Pipeline, but the sound was still really good. A hippy turned up at sound check time with a woman he was in the process of trying to get off with.' I like this music', he said, 'It's worth paying to get in'. Big Bruv showed up with his partner (two fams in one week!). I played a slightly different set of songs this night just so I don't get stale, and revived Heaven Avenue because of course it is about an LSD trip I took down New Church Road in Hove many years ago, when I was a young silly art student at Brighton Art College.

Paul and Rob turned in another fine set. It was good to see them play again because the songs have become familiar by now. There is one in particular that is so strong that I need to find a recording of it- it's the sort of song that I could never write in a million years; it was fascinating to listen to.

The hippy was becoming ever more drunken and assertive and he was over-delighted by the singalong song that Paul ends his set with. More of the assertive hippy in a few lines time...

TGWTRH were on form again, and this time I could hear them better (I'd been very close to the bass stack at The Lexington and was losing some of the nuances in the singing). The dynamics of the songs came across really beautifully and Lindy's drumming was spot on. About four songs in, the hippy was stamping very hard on the floor with great enthusiasm and ignorance. Lindy stopped. 'Excuse me! these songs have been worked out really carefully, and you're stomping all over them!'. 'I didn't realise anyone could hear me!', protested the hippy unconvincingly. In the end he stomped off into the sunset and left the band to finish their set. We joined together for Apology Accepted at the end like on the night before, and by the end of the song we'd pretty much bonded for life.

We all stayed in the same hotel, and there was something heartwarming about that Geordie and Australian breakfast together. Their tour manager Tony Raven Porter (the man in the hat) was part of the gang too and got them all back to Newcastle in time for the van curfew. I travelled back to London on the train with Lindy and hope to see her again before she jets off to New York. I've got the CDs to listen to so I can relive the gigs at my leisure.

Best week-beginning I've had for years, actually: I wish they were all like this.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Magical Night

Photos for now- off to Brighton for the Brighton gig at The Pipeline. Same line-up.