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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Desperado Housewives - Stoke Newington

Helen McCookerybook has done a tremendous illustration for the Desperado Housewives party in Stoke Newington. It's so beautiful. I love the mop, I love the horse I love the whole thing ... beautiful crayoning, lines ... the mixture of domestic housewife and Western imagery ...

We're playing Sat 16 Oct at the Palatine on Stoke Newington Road

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Jenny Hval

So I discovered Jenny Hval or Rockettothesky. I like her approach to fusing literature and music, which I am myself trying to do in a different way. She says she's always busy with writing fiction and spoken word as well as music. In addition she has s strong visual style. Here she is in a stormy field wearing a rather striking get up.


Sometimes meetings can be good. When I meet with Naomi Woddis to plan 'The Conversational' for Reel Rebels Radio they are always good.

We had soup with sweet potato. We talked about how sweet potatoes seem to last forever and ever and ever ... not like potatoes - oh how many ways the miserable, delicate spuds can mould and grow and change beyond eating, and so quickly. They don't like damp, they don't like light ... they and the sweet tatie really are from different plant families, aren't they?

I have some sweet potato in the cupboard. They've been there about two years (it seems). I'm sure they're still okay and I'm going to use them make some broth. Wonder if Blanaid will eat it.

Not standing in

I am not standing in at Acton Bell's evening after all, as I forgot I have a prior engagement to take my uke to Sydenham to appear on Ashley Cowan's (no relation) radio show.

Just ordered a mini SD card so hopefully will be putting some photos online on my blog soon.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Standing in

I may be standing in on Thursday at Acton's Feminist nights - why do so many artists pull out at the last minute - I suspect the dreaded cold. I often say to nice promoters feel free to call me last minute in case you need a stand in. I love standing in. It means that you never ever feel responsible if there's a small or lack lustre audience and takes all the responsibility away - because you are just standing in ...

Monday, 27 September 2010

Vintage hair

Okay, after my vintage hair run in with the Pompidours on Saturday I have twisted a load of wet socks in my hair and am now going to sleep to see what the result will be.

It's been kind of a mad start to today which I must just mention briefly. Matt drove the cab back very early in the morning as it had to be tested - but he had hurt his foot, getting a big blister from wearing his new shoes. So we ended up walking in the dark across a rather wet Victoria Park to his boat to get him a pair of trainers. Just what you need before you start work at 7.30am. Of course, I didn't really mind, it was a morning of character.

The ginger cat is settling down in front of the computer now, time to go. x

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Poetical Cabaret

Enjoyed this evening at the White Lion in Streatham. It's a special place, supporting artists, with a community recording studio. A lovely new addition to the area.

Sofia Alzira, who I met on facebook, was a really delightful host of a very special evening. Spinning around in a wonderful short crinoline and dark pink tights she was so, so charming and had organised the whole evening, which I highly recommend. What a line up - a combination of burlesque acts, poets and bands, just so unexpected form act to act. I even had my hair done in a vintage style, with rollers and scarves special little room by the Pompidours in a 1950s style. It was a great evening. There was also a young lady giving advice. If you asked her a question she would answer it, typing it up for you on her old typewriter. She's going to compile the answers into a little chapbook.

Matt took me there and back in a black cab, and spent the evening talking to his chums at Club Integral. Hopefully I have a gig at the Cafe Oto with Club Integral early next year.

Matt has got his writing featured in a lovely new book, Quite Contrary, in which artists write the opposite to well known pieces of writing. The writing is so interesting and very beautifully illustrated. It's already gone into its first reprint.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Eugene Chadbourne at Club Integral

Rolled onto see Eugene play his banjo at the George Tavern after Monteverdi rehearsal. Russell made me feel bad about not knowing the Vespers as well as I should. I have vowed to listen and sing along this week.

Club Integral was fun, lots of folk I hadn't seen for ages, particularly wonderful Simon King, who I was at Community Music with about twenty years ago. He doesn't look any different. I've grown my hair.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Ginger and pear loaf update

This was marvellous. You can cook the best stuff by using what you find and completely ignoring recipes. We had it with buttermilk left over from Blanaid's bake-athon for her friends' birthdays. She tells me buttermilk is cheap as it is the old curds and whey. Tastes like runny yoghurt. I like it better than cream I think. Good find.

Studio update

Yes! Ended up being a good day in the studio. Used the old typewriter and recorded typing sounds to symbolise writers working for The Conversational. I like it. Wonder if Naomi will. We're going to mix our sound ideas at the weekend.


I've planted the greengage stones I brought back from France. Some were brought back inside lovely ripe greengages. I want a greengage tree but they are expensive. But I left them by the sink so long that they grew mould on them. I fear I may not get my trees. But I have hope (which springs eternal) and something to look at and encourage on my windowsill.

Ginger and Pear Loaf

Having a break from the old jingle jangle to make a ginger and pear loaf with these fresh pears Matt brought from Seven Kings. I'm making up the recipe myself, not impressed by the recipes on the net. Of course mine will be much better - won't it?

Jingles and jolliness

I'm trying to do some jingles, some small sound pieces for The Conversational to use as incidental music. It's not going great in terms of output, but in terms of learning and confidence building, this is great.

I'm trying to think of Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to inspire me. It's getting conflated somehow with a Catholic prayer. I'm not Catholic but I did get immersed in mediaeval English literature at college. St. Delia have mercy on me.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Good morning world!

A pink rosy dawn is beckoning beyond the park. I think I'll manage to give the dog a walk today with his early morning friends. He will wrestle Coby and probably run off down the street after cats and give me the runaround.

Up early trying to contact people/venues in New York for gigs in advance of my New York trip Dec 4 - 11. If anyone has any ideas/contacts do let me know.

Cultivating oyster mushrooms

Have just put some oyster mushroom spore in the piles of dry / damp grass clippings in the garden - and some in the garage. Hope they sprout.

In the course, I disturbed a wasp's nest in one of the piles of grass clippings. Blanaid said we should smoke them out. I look forward to that.

Squeak! Squeak! Murder!

There was a squeaking - what was it? The dog with the yellow crab toy. He loves it. Racing round the garden squeaking it away.

Have just had a wonderful day's music making, many more songs on the boil. I was playing tenor banjo, tenor uke and tambourine, Matt was on cello and many more instruments. Some great sounds were made, a lovely time was had.

I have written some lyrics for a Newgate ballad. Needs tweaking of course. And a final verse section about a little boy sent to Newgate and to hang for stealing a few loaves of bread when he was hungry.

The Grate of Newgate

Gather round this ugly grate
A story I will tell
About an inmate deep below
in Newgate's dreadful cells

Mary Arnold took black beetles
In two walnut shells
Tied them to her infant's eyes
to blind her baby well

She thought he'd beg her dinner
While she would live at ease
He's gone to the asylum
She'll go overseas

Gather round the iron grate
Horror I shall tell
About another inmate deep
within Newgate's fearful cells

Mobbs the drunk had no beer
His wife would not be told
He said to fetch another pint
But she answered no

He took a brown-handled knife
Cut her throat open
She bled her way right down the stairs
in her old apron

the blood kept pouring, what a sight
for a boy so young.
The angels snatched his mother.
His pa will soon be hung

Gather round this rancid grate
Truly I will tell
About the evil barely trapped
In Newgate's darkest cells

Mrs Dyer's baby farm
took in babes for pay
Poor young mothers wept to give
their tiny lambs away

When they turned their backs
a heinous deed was done
The evil wretch would strangle them
Each and everyone

Wrapped up in brown paper
Pushed under a couch
Thrown into the Thames high tide
Bargemen fished them out

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Cob nuts

Just got some Kentish cob nuts off the local stall. Eating them fresh, straight out of the brown paper bag. They're yummy!

This pic is not from my kitchen as it is too wholesome in terms of plates and rugs and looks a bit out of place on my blog. It's time I started taking some real pictures. I am just waiting for a Mini SD card for my phone, then I will.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

New song

I've begun a nice new song on the uke, a waltz. Really like it, it's very pretty. I wanted to write a song about angels as Frazey Ford did one on Late Junction, so I'm having a go. Bit more work to do and then I will post the lyrics. I practised it on the platform on the way home. Handy having your uke on you when you're going about.

The pic is of Frazey Ford from the Canadian folk trio the Be Good Tanyas doing some recording.

Another lovely choir rehearsal

Although I had the flu and kept coughing therefore disrupting all the polyphony, it was another great evening with Russell and Monteverdi in the Holy Redeemer. The concert is on Saturday 9 October if you want to come. It will be great. There will be sackbuts.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Conversational

Myself and Naomi recording The Conversational, a special pilot show for Reel Rebels radio. Alicia is recording the show for us. She is superb!

Helen McCookerybook took the pic and I nicked it off her blog. Isn't the internet excellent for stealing?

Monteverdi Midi Files

Russell our lovely new choir master has sent us midi files of the Monteverdi vespers. He says they are a good learning discipline. They may be but I CAN'T listen to them. They are like some form of audio torture. I won't listen to them. I can't.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Clarence Williams and his Washboard Five

Nice band work. I love the shuffle. Helen McCookerybook has a washboard. Wish I had one. Goes with the shoe shuffling.

Lau Nau and Kuupuu

Latest listens are Lau Nau and Kuupuu. I love to see them working in the studio, making makings ...

I specially love how Laura caresses the guitar, and sometimes she uses a spinning top.

I got some light up spinning tops today. They're lovely but I don't know how to do anything musical with them.


The very first bod to have done a Blake remix earlier this year was Squinancywort, based in Manchester.

The name of the outfit is quite interesting. Apparently Phil, who *is* Squinancywort used to do internet dating, and one of the break the ice questions was 'What is your favourite word?' His was, of course, not 'Serendipity' which apparently lots of women like.


Anyway, Squinancywort does ' off-kilter electronica with an organic edge'. Sounds good doesn't it? He takes organic pictures to go with it. I like this one, especially as he's written at the bottom 'Dirty scum - what's not to like'. His myspace address is buzzard begone, I'm not sure why. Here's one of his vids on myspace.

Flu and Festival

Have caught some awful chesty bug so no Nun's Head festival for me ... sadly

Stina Nordenstaum

I like the very up front vocals in 'Little Star'. And the words, just a few things in production and arrangement slightly adapt a conventional song to make it sound more beautiful and strange.

Missed this at the time.

Dislike the sax solo though. Still can't get on with saxes yet, will they ever come back for me? Feel like Father Ted in the middle of 'My Little Horse' when it comes in. Wake up in sweat. 'We have to lose the sax solo.'

Desperado Housewives - we want to be on the radio

We are planning our own Desperado Housewives radio show which we're going to propose to Reel Rebels Radio and Resonance.

Am doing the proposal now. I think it looks and sounds good. Will they like it?

Hope so.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Cowboys and Cowgirls at the Montague Arms

Wow! That was a swell evening. Frog Morris laid on another spectacular. The Desperado Housewives looked lovely in Helen's cowboy shirts and our special C&W set went down awfully well. I was a bit hungry, but luckily Kath had brought with her a roasted seed and dried fruit surprise. Matt ate a lot of it.

I have to say that Matt was entered for the whooping and hollering contest and should have won his round, but Daren Callow beat him despite a lack lustre performance, merely because he was wearing a bandana around his mouth.

A nice surprise of the evening was meeting and listening to the lovely Tash and Beth. Hope to see you again girls!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Monteverdi Vespers

First rehearsal tonight for the choir and the Autumn concert of the Monteverdi Vespers. Both rehearsals and concert are in the Holy Redeemer on Exmouth Market. That's a home from home for me, as it was the church associated with Blanaid's school, Clerkenwell Parochial. It's quite striking, very Italianate and baroque, I like singing in there.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Writers Hub at Birkbeck

Lovely! A poem from my forthcoming collection is published on the online writers hub organised by Birkbeck. Latvia: Soviet Era Exhibition

Monday, 6 September 2010

Reel Rebels Radio - National Poetry Day

On National Poetry Day, which is October 7th, there's going to be a special show on the Stoke Newington community radio station, Reel Rebels Radio, presented by myself and Naomi Woddis.

We pre-recorded it this afternoon with the wonderful wonderful Alicia who technically sorted everything out (including the crackle) and myriad guests we had on the show who were all wonderful. Oh it was a great day ... I can't wait to hear it back.

The show is called The Conversational and we're going to do it monthly because it went so well.

Musical guests were the Desperado Housewives (but of course) joined by spoken word artists Dzifa Benson, Raymond Antrobus, Nathan Penlington, Matthew Caley and Zena Edwards.


Sunday, 5 September 2010

Partial victory

Hurrah! Posting ambitions on blogger does work as a personal motivator. Software is now in place. Recording may commence!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Home studio ... my vow

Okay, in the vain idea this is going to make me do something - I swear that I am going to record a track in my home studio. I am going to get some music software that works and record a multi-tracked song at home in my own room.

Old Nun's Head Festival

Aha! The pic is now uploaded - voila!

Writing a lyric about a tongue

I'm trying to collect feelings of 'tongue', as physical as possible, that feeling of alienation when you think about your tongue, and suddenly it doesn't seem like part of your mouth. I thought this could be a nice lyrical basis for a rather strange, textural piece of music. If you have any thoughts on this, ideas that I can use, I'd be glad if you could share them with me.

The Old Nun's Head Festival - Sat 11th September

I'm doing weird and twisted nursery rhymes at the Old Nun's Head. I'm a wandering minstrel, wandering round the pub about 3pm, then I'll be on stage at about 6.30pm. Other acts include Charlotte Young whose work I really love. Charlotte's an artist and a comedian.

The day is hosted and curated by Frog Morris in collaboration with Nunhead Open. Entry £4 (£3 conc.)
The Old Nuns Head Pub, Nunhead Green SE15 3QQ

I'd put up Frog's classic drawing but Blogger's telling me the 'Service is Unavailable'. Grrr. Will try later.

Celebrating results

My daughter finally got her AS level results, a spectacular 3 As and a B, well done Blan!

We're eating Chinese from Wong Kei's tonight as a celebration. Having barbecued pork and rice, shredded chicken and noodles and greens. Unfortunately one of the cats sicked everywhere just before we tucked in. It didn't put us off.

Lunchtime rehearsals

I've just had the second lunchtime rehearsal with Desperado Housewife Kath Tait who lives just round the corner from my work. What a brilliant break from the office. Best lunchtimes I've had since I started there.

Kath says she has a version of the Owl and the Pussycat that we can do! I love that Lear poem too. Very big fan of Mr Lear.

"How pleasant ot know Mr.Lear!"
Who has written such volumes of stuff!
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few think him pleasant enough.

Friday, 3 September 2010

First piano open mic

It's the beginning of a new musical era for me! I'm going to do my first piano open mic on 13th October at the Victoria, 110 Grove Road, London E3. Awesome! As my friend Lola would say. It's a while off, but I have to get my Wednesday choir commitment to the Monteverdi concert out of the way first.

Desperado Housewives - Go Cowgirl

Poster by Helen McCookerybook

Gig - Montague Arms, New Cross, Thursday 9th September

Roaming the dunes of the Slack

Matt and Jude at sunset in Ambleteuse

Kiran and Jude in the cafe at Wimereux

Old Nunhead Festival

On Saturday 11th September I'm playing the Old Nunhead Festival. I shall be a wandering minstrel singing weird and twisted nursery rhymes.

The Hairy Rabbit

Writing some more jazzy noodles for piano. A quiet piece called 'Blue Rain' and a rather silly bouncy one 'The Hairy Rabbit'.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Matt and Jude in Wimereux

Lucy's Diary - Rock Kicks!

I love this poptastic, rocktastic offering from the very sexy very upbeat punk-poppy Lucy's Diary. It's just the right kind of mix of polished-unpolished. Dirty, experienced buoyancy. Haven't heard anything so attitudinal and relentless for a while.

I love Lucy's Diary on stage too. They are Antifolk heroes. L can really give it some blonde-rocker swagger.

There's lots of stories of her precarious life in these stolen episodes from pages of her diary. It's a great example of how to turn life into art, in a rock and roll style. We could do with more women like Lucy on the music scene IMHO, we probably have enough wistful bunnies hopping about right now.

Track list - helps give an idea of the kind of entries in L's Diary:-

Not Your Type At All
Jumped in the Sea
Less of Me
No Be Good
Rock Kicks
The Party Line
Dirty & Smudged
You Can't Come in I'm Dead
Song 1
Porno Mags & Sofas

Lucy's Diary are Lucy Joplin and JJ Crash.
Here's Lucy giving it some attitude on stage - she's so beautiful isn't she.

The Public Toilet Poem

This rather rude sonnet by Antonionioni reminds me rather of Swift and Pope in its bawdy subject matter and formal treatment - it's part of Tony's project to write a sonnet a day.

1457 - The inherent sexism of public urination

They say never walk under a ladder
Or something might fall down upon your head
But what’s worse is when you’ve a full bladder
And there’s no public lavatory ahead
It’s easier for a man’s load to be shed
I’ve seen it done by football supporters
In full view of a city’s teeming crowd
Or drunk blokes late at night; steaming rivers
That trickle down the walls into gutters
But for agonised females, far harder
They can’t wee standing up, not if well-bred
And if they tried, imagine how coppers
Would throw them in the van after knicker
Repositioning; a scene girls all dread

Hanne Hukkelberg and Gwyneth Herbert

My latest listen is the Norwegian a singer-writer from Kongsberg in Norway. Relaxed, melodic, light jazz. Reminded me a little of Gwyneth Herbert who is based here in London, although Gwyneth's delivery is rather tougher.

In fact I might put link to Gwyn's site while I'm thinking about her, and for confusion, mix it up with a picture of Hanne.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Jazzy song

Crikey it's all getting very jazzy and lovey.

Just recorded my first demo of this song. Chords Cmin7 / Fmin7 / Bflatmaj7
maybe I'll try and put another chord sequence in tomorrow when I'm more used to the basic sequence. I seem to have moved away from writing 'proper' melodies in favour of noodling at the moment. Maybe I'll get back to 'proper songs' one day. I've been working this out on the piano but I hope to transfer it to the Microkorg.

Because I Loved You

Because I loved you
Because I loved you
Because I loved you
I fell into the night

And I couldn't stop falling
And I couldn't stop falling
And I couldn't stop falling
For there were no sides

And I passed the world on my way down
As I fell like a swan
And the air whistled up past my face
And there was no end

yet the patients waved
from their hospital dream
arms tubed to drips
prepared for their operations

And the doctors smiled
As they filled in charts
they hooked with care
to the base of their beds

I saw the plough with its yoke
abandoned in the heavens
the rovers and the golfs
parked badly on the kerb

The instruments, guitars and piano
idle in the bedroom studios
the granite and melanine
kitchens, gleaming, unused

How long will this take me
Will it ever stop
Is there no bottom
Is there no depth

To which I can not fall
Into my love
Or will it take forever
to reach I don't know where

Natalie Merchant - Leave Your Sleep (2010)

I'm getting much more into this album now, track by track. I'm now really pleased by the fact she's chosen different instrumentation for the different songs or musical settings of poems. At first I found the variety slightly overwhelming, now I'm growing into the expansive space offered by Natalie's wonderful album.


Kiran has taken a lovely blue photo of the sea front at Wimereux

Fraff - experiment in band vocals - possibly

I'm hoping to mess about with some vocals for Fraff. I asked Ged the guitarist and seems to think it might worth a pop. Could be fun to do a bit of band singing couldn't it? Well we'll see ... or hear ...

Here's the band in action.