Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Club Artyfartle

I'm emerging from a fog of a grant application which has taken the bulk of two weekends plus the whole of this morning so far; I'm dodging a rain of emails from work about work.
I've had a short laugh-break (you don't need to read much of Giles Smith's Lost in Music before you get to that point: this morning, it was the description of him force-folding his fingers round the neck of the guitar as he struggled to play it).
I have a review copy of Lucy O'Brien's She-Bop to read (I had a delve last night and I'm already hooked) and review here later this week.
Let's think back to Sunday....

Cold, wasn't it? I was prepared for nobody to turn up except us, the performers, which would have been fine as it's the sort of do that's interesting to watch as a performer as well as audience. We couldn't get the paper tablecloth to stick to the flock wallpaper (it was the makeshift projection screen and it kept pretending to stick and then silently floating down as soon as we turned our backs).
I had a rug from home and I set up the chairs for us on that, and Guy Forks and the tip jar.
Acton Bell mentioned doing a runner as she was so nervous (we all were) and at one point I thought she really had when she momentarily disappeared. The floor was sticky and the vibe was definitely rock'n'roll, but the quiet sort, for a Sunday afternoon.
 Joan set up the projector on a long chain of extension leads, rather like a funky giant's necklace and definitely not correct from a Health and Safety point of view, but quite spectacular in its own right.
My brothers appeared, and so did my Champagne Friend and her partner; and so did lots of other unexpected people, giving the lie to the fact that Facebook Events are a good idea. As far as I could see (and as observed astutely by Joan), the act of pressing the button to say 'yes' was satisfying in itself and meant that you didn't need to come. They were there in spirit, I know!
It was emails that did it: there was Katy, who is a friend of both Joan and myself, and members of the Gymslips, Dolly Mixture, Strawberry Switchblade and Ut, as well as a clutch of artists and much-loved pals.
So I took the trumpet downstairs, gave it a creaky blast or two and we did a procession up the winding stairs. Lucy sat at one end, I sat at the other ( two old ladies in glasses, I believe the observation was!), with Acton Bell and Paul in the middle.
Fear strangled my voice for the first song and we all had a collection of shaking fingers, fluffs and missed lyrics the first time round; but then I think we got into our stride and one after another we played our new stuff: Amy's wry and perceptive lyrics (enhanced by the fact that she worries so much in case she is too bitchy), Paul's romantic crooning and Lucie's bright and melodic pop.
There was time to talk about our lyrics and the audience was silent and listening: you could hear a pin drop.
Twice round, and we had a break to say hello to our friends and each other's friends; people went downstairs to refresh their glasses, I kicked over my glass of coke and re-stickified my patch of floor.
Then I took the trumpet down and played a fresh fanfare (fartfare?) and off we went again.
Joan's talk was mesmerising; her solargraphs are made through the pinhole of a beer can attached to a lamp-post, over a six month period. The audience was rapt and gazed at the beautiful rich blue solargraph images striped with the softly blurred white tracks of the sun passing overhead, punctuated by photographs of the tins strapped to trees, buildings and the like. And there was the friendly builder in his high-vis jacket who had allowed them access to a next-door public building that was being revamped!
It was fascinating... and very, very arty.
Then it was time for our bit: we started from Lucie's end this time, and she soon had everyone's feet tapping and smiles on everyone's faces. Paul gave us a song he'd only just completed that morning (it was lovely). Acton Bell had intended to play a bit of Mozart on her electronic keyboard but her sheet music had vanished (I think it had done a runner) so she sang a song instead and she sounded brilliant. I played a song that I'd only finished the day before (Change the DJ) in which I tried out 'the Hendrix Chord'. By now, we were rolling and we went once round again; I finished with Women of the World in support of UK Feminista.
The tip jar clinked; I rolled up the carpet and tried to put my guitar away in the wrong case. The guys from The Hangover Lounge who invited Club Artyfartle were delighted with the turnout (so was I!). Big up to them for giving us the opportunity to do it.
Thanks for coming everyone- you were a really amazing audience and it was lovely to see so many people that I haven't seen for such a long time. And thanks to Joan, Lucie, Acton Bell and Magnetic Paul for jumping on the magic carpet and making it all a success!

Karen from the Gymslips is now playing in a gypsy music big-band- more details later...

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