Academic life certainly has its ups and downs; after a grim Wednesday, Thursday was completely uplifting. One of the reasons that I've been so busy (I believe I may have mentioned nine-hour admin days a few times) is that just before term started, the lecturer due to deliver a series of business lectures was offered a full time job elsewhere.
Instead of booking another series of lectures from one person, I decided that the students would benefit more from people coming in to talk to them about what they actually did in the world, and the ups and downs (see above) of their professional practice. This has happened a little bit before, but not as a matter of principle, and it's proving to be very interesting and well worth it.
It started off with a visit from David Sheppard, who wrote On Some Faraway Beach (about Brian Eno, see http://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/jul/18/some-faraway-beach-brian-eno), writes for Mojo, edits Art and Music and is also a practising musician, see https://www.facebook.com/ellisislandsound
After lulling the students into a sense of security by his self-deprecating style, they gradually began to realise that they were in the presence of a genius of lateral thinking and they ended up listening with church-like stillness to his strategies and imaginative troubleshooting; he has had the ability to capitalise on accidental opportunities to quite an extraordinary degree.
The following week, Colleen Murphy, former protege of David Mancuso and who started up and runs Classic Album Sundays http://classicalbumsundays.com/ came along and wowed them with her energetic focus. Completely different, she shone a light on the ways that an idea can grow from a small event run in a living room to a worldwide franchise.
Joe Boyd and Nile Rodgers have both spoken at her events; now that's an event!
Hot on their heels came Urban Development http://www.urbandevelopment.co.uk/ who run events and advice sessions for up-and-coming musicians in East London and beyond. So useful, so well thought through and such an opportunity; they run music industry events at the University of the East: well worth checking out!.
Next up came Gina Birch, to talk to them about her journey from punk musician and artist to film-maker and Glut, taking in all of the ups and downs on the way (or many of them, anyway). 'Kinda cool, isn't she?' commented one of the students afterwards. Well, she certainly is, and she's about to go to Paris with Ana Da Silva; and someone's writing a 33 1/3 about the Raincoats' first album at the moment as well. http://ginabirch.net/theginabirchexperience/front_page.html
On to Thursday; we had a delightful visit from Ian Damaged of Damaged Goods Records http://damagedgoods.co.uk/ who, he told us, had never spoken to students before. It was an amazing talk, a mixture of anecdotes and advice, delivered in a really positive and engaging way. Information flowed out of him and the students were rapt and crucially, laughed at all the funny bits so I knwo they were thoroughly attentive (that's the lecturer in me speaking)
I felt privileged that they have released The Chefs and Helen and the Horns back catalogues, and I'm looking forward to having time to mine through some of their other stuff again (Penetration are there, and of course Billy Childish, the genius of being indefinable).
Tired? You bet I am, especially because I finished my chapter for The Music Entrepreneur and sent it off yesterday morning. I slept for 12 hours last night, only waking to take a fleeting and crackly phone call from Martin in Devon, who is travelling around and gigging constantly at the moment. the Daintees have a beautiful new album out soon, you just wait and see.
Below: with Ian from Damaged Goods, both lightly dappled by a Powerpoint projection of the website. Frowning because there's a projector shining in our eyes. Art, innit?