Search This Blog

Sunday, 31 October 2010



Met the lovely members of Hexa, an NY band at a little soiree last night. They did a nice acoustic set in the party which I heard happily through the walls although I was in the kitchen talking to Matt and an audio artist called Karl Blake whose CD we had previously heard in the car when we drove to pick up the second 'cello from Tring. My excuse for my lack of audience participation was that I was very tired as I was in the middle of my weekend shift. And there were tortilla crisps. Sorry Hexa.

Thanks to Rob Murphy and Scotty for a nice evening and the nice crisps, and here's one of Hexa's videos, about a picture of an owl and some other stuff too. I really like the lyrics. 'The Owl is Yellow'. Matt played me them a little while ago but I didn't get them on first hearing. Now I do.

The band are on tour at the moment and will be doing an even wider-ranging one in a month's time which sadly means they won't be in NY during my December visit. But look out, they may be coming to a venue near you.

In the afternoon, David from Hexa did 'Devil Island's Discs' with Scotty and Rob, so that will be playing on Resonance FM very shortly. In that show they pick a song that they hate, and discuss why they hate it. The song they chose was 'Georgie Girl' from the 1960s, which seems to be a song telling a young girl that she doesn't look good and her life is unfulfilled, but what she needs to do to sort that out is go shopping. As a mother of a teenager, I can totally identify with their hatred of the 'message' in this song. However, as a young listener myself, I really enjoyed the bouncy hook of this catchy little number.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Up the River Lee

Just come back from a few days with Matty up the river. Wonderful weather. Sunny, mild, only one day of rain.

We got as far as Broxbourne, which has a really interesting old church with gargoyles and deer heads all around the gutters. Graffitti carved in ancient yellow sandstone ... and a lovely green, with an avenue down which you can imagine handsome carts and horses rattling the gentry to Sunday service, groom perched on the back to see to the horses.

Some nice little shops including a lovely butchers (sorry vegetarians) where we bought rabbit and venison pie, and a lovely piece of rump beefsteak.

Really had a lovely time, and felt like we really were on holiday. We also took some sound recordings which was great - train sounds and footsteps on the towpath. I would have liked to get the morning geese activity but the road was too noisy when we we heard the best bird sounds, which was at Tottenham Hale. Got some nice photos though, rather abstract ones of the riverside and the boat and working the locks, doing those important jobs like filling up with water. It's hard work on the boat.

I have started embroidering a cushion cover of black felt to commemorate our benign autumn holiday. Got quite far actually - did our faces and the boat with Solly on board, but feel I need a little more ... possibly a map like representation of our route. It made me realise I need to get a darning needle - wonder where you buy them these days apart from John Lewis?

When we got back I found out that foxes had been attacking the duck pen. They seemed to have bitten through a bit of the wire for ventilation round the pen. Matt, bless him, he's going to do some reinforcement.

Friday, 22 October 2010

New electronic Jude

I'm developing a new series of songs to play out at electronic evening - the heart of which will be my trusty Micro Korg!
The piano songs adapt well. When I twiddle the wheels while I'm playing I fantasise that I am Delia Derbyshire.
I have no idea what the wheels do, although I can hear it. I have not read the manual.

Yummy honey

This local Kent honey we bought at the pick-your-own farm shop (no we didn't pick our own honey) is really really delicious. And it's made by two people called Cowan.


Just planted wallflowers around the duck pen. Looking forward to the spring. What a glorious autumn day!

Hairy ears (again)

Old hairy ears has a problem with ear number two, looks like the same thing, so this morning we are off to the vets again (groan)

UPDATE: Vet's appointment cancelled. No operation until a couple of weeks!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

You are Wolf

... and I was very pleased to hear Kerry (Andrew) again with her duo You are Wolf on Late Junction! I think I'm becoming Kerry's audio stalker.

Softly Softly with Jude, Hamish and Lizzy

Yesterday played a lovely quiet acoustic gig up Upper Street in a little green room above the Albert and Pearl. It was totally acoustic and I had a wonderful time, the ambience really suited me. Annie was a very gracious host, and also performing were the charming Lizzie Spit, who sang a great song about a young guy who didn't move away from his home place and was wearing clothes like his grandfather (or something like that, I think I may have got that slightly skewed but the general theme I'm sure is right), and the amiable and rogue-ish Hamish Currie, who I had to annoy sadly by leaving a little earlier than I would have liked in order to catch that old train.

The stage was simply lovely, a garland semi-circle marking its boundaries. I had a bit of a sticky moment when I sung my Devil song. I'd just put lip balm on and tossing my hair about, it kept getting caught on my lips. Most unpleasant for me and the audience. I either am going to have to sing with less abandon, or not put lip balm on just before I go on stage. Or tie my hair up.

I was so delighted that Isolda my piano-playing songstress chum turned up, it was fantastic to see her. We're going to try and make an open mic together soon, possibly at the Victoria in Mile End, where I hear there is a piano for the use of folk like us.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Kerry Andrew's choral work

Just heard Kerry's choral piece on The Choir on BBC Radio 3. Really enjoyed it, all the swooping vocals. I'd love to write a piece for a good choir to perform, maybe one day, when I'm a bit more experienced with the Collegium.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Ivy House gig, Creative Routes

I just wanted to mention a lovely gig I played to at Nunhead at the Ivy House. It was organised by Dave Skull of Creative Routes. The sound was great, and enjoyed Dave Russell's guitar work who played his song about the burglars of Britain. Terrific.

Leigh on Sea

One more picture of the very picturesque sea front at Leigh on Sea ... it's too dark to take pictures of the ducks, but they're very settled in their safe duck pen.

Leigh on ducks

Matt and I have just come back from Leigh on Sea with two ducks and a drake, the prettiest in the world.

Also enjoyed the Essex seaside port where Matt's great-granny once lived on a boat for many years, Nanny Reigate.

But when we suggested to Blanaid that we call one of the ducks Reigate she chose to stick to our previous idea of Bulgakov names, Polygraph, Philipovich and Sharikov

Agfa Isolette

Just put a bid in on ebay for a medium format camera for Blanaid's 'A' level photography. Looking forward to getting some artistic looking shots, old style. The age of lomography is upon us!

Lomography = creative and experimental analogue photography

Desperado Housewives at the Palatine

The party at the Palatine went down really super well. Razz performed his initiation ceremony without fault and brought a cake. We then sung Happy Birthday to someone because no one there was having a birthday.

Kath and Helen were on top musical form. The contrast and charm of our musical soirees is just so wonderful. The different voices really set each other off and provide a lot of variety beyond that of the normal singer-songwriter evening, which can be quite dull to perform at, let alone go to.

Frog Morris was our first ever token male. He read a poem and we set him a challenge to go off and translate it into another language. He translated it into html. I, sadly, understood it. It was an epic piece, and Razz asked him if he wanted to perform it at Tottenham Chances.

I have an idea that we should create a Desperado Housewives merchandising site, along the lines of the 'micro-independent' record label that I have been impressed with. We can sell limited edition CD-Rs with handmade covers and also strange bits on handicraft, such as knitted things by Kath, or Helen's sketches (signed and personalised?) and my paintings and embroideries (which I haven't done yet but certainly plan to start doing). If nobody buys them, doing the site will be wonderful in itself just to see it there ... lurking on the web in its artistic glory. Maybe we can become a 'Cult'. I think we should at least have a Woman-i-festo ...

Strange fruit pudding and market stalls

I bought four boxes of fruit for a pound from the stall at the bottom of Gray's Inn Road. I really liked the young girl who was serving. Her teenage friends stood about smiling. She decided to offer me four instead of three, making great value super great, and we had a little respectful laugh about the misunderstanding between her and the previous customer. This is the kind of moment which reminds me why I like markets and market stalls and not shops. It's worth the odd appalling purchase and gamble for the exchange, even if you didn't sometimes get the best results.

This time it was a great purchase. I had a selection of fruits to play with - plus a couple of bananas I'd bought earlier. I used the plums with bacon (using a pound of nice smoked I'd picked up from Spitalfields that morning at about 6.30am) in a couscous fry up, and used the orange (juice and grated rind), banana (sliced) and tangerine segements to make a funny pudding, opening a can of Tesco's budget syrup pudding and soaking it in the watery-syrupy citrus goo. It worked so well Matt said he was sorry when it was over. Even Blanaid ate a bit of both courses although she's not as enthusiastic as us. I think what she'd like best is a chicken salad wrap from Nandos.

I must get some nice alcohol for tipping a little slug into these puddings - maybe a nice whisky. Matt bought some calvados which he had nestling on his boat but Katya the photographer came round and drank it. Grrrrrr.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Poetry Cafe outing - Desperado Housewives

The Desperado Housewives played the poetry cafe yesterday. Sadly Helen McCookerybook has lost her voice. It's coming back and she'll be ready to play/sing once more on Saturday at the Palatine in Stoke Newington - 8pm start, it's free.

Razz stepped into the breach as an honorary third Desperado Housewife. He seemed to get rather enthusiastic about the new role, suggesting that we call him Doris. I said new members had to undergo an initiation ceremony and bake us a cake. He didn't refuse, so I'm quite excited about that.

The other performers were all interesting, and I particularly was moved by Tom Paley, who at 82 is still in love with his lost old love, Joan Howard. He read sonnets he'd written to her and sung a very beautiful song. His phrasing was lovely, and the dynamics were wonderful. Very good musical work that made the personal story even more touching.

Tom's story made me appreciate my own life at the moment. Stimulated by Tom's story, even though I hadn't rehearsed it I sang a new song that Matt and I had written together, 'Oh Lordy', inspired by a photograph of a murdered drug lord that I catalogued at work. I pointed out that Matt and I hadn't seen each other for fifteen years when we met once more at an Ivor Cutler gig, but had been too shy/reserved to get together before. I know that may seem strange to people who know us as we are both perceived as outgoing people (I think) but that is because we are performers. That doesn't stop us from being self-conscious in our personal lives.

Thanks Mr Cutler, for helping out with my love life. Sometimes Matt and I listen to the odd song of Ivor's, like 'Going in a Field'. We have confessed that even if we liked him before, now we both feel extra affection for him and his work.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

They're at it again!

Matt and Solly, his right hand dog, are continuing the build this morning. Yesterday we sunk a concrete post deep into the earth. It's helping tidy up a few eyesores in the garden too.

Meantime I'm recording. I found my old Yamaha FX500 and have been using the 'Sweep Gate' effect to make some sound patterns over which I have been singing 'There was an old woman tossed up in a basket'.

There are so many nursery rhymes that begin 'There was an old woman ... '. Children are fascinated by old women and they are compelling with their strange nick nacks and smells. What do they keep in their purses? And why? And why do their things smell so strange?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A robin came to see ...

... as we turned over the earth. It sang a super song. I would love to record it sometime.

Getting on with the duckhouse

Making progress in the back garden. Matt is doing a most fantastic job. No foxes allowed.

Pub in the sun

I'm looking at pub signs for the artwork for 'Lamb & Tyger'. Here's a golden rooster on the outskirts of town. This is on the highwayman's route to Kent ... The sign is kind of weird because it is a rooster where as the pub is called the Red Lion. Lamb & Tyger has to also bring together two separate animal images ... hopefully it will do so more successfully. No offence meant, golden rooster / red lion ...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Wood pile at the local community farm at Shooters Hill

Took this photo on Sunday. I liked the textures. There were robins hopping in and out of the wood piles. Later I bought two freshly laid eggs. That was all they had. Not robins eggs by the way, that would be illegal.

Doing the bar at the Monteverdi

Matt and Scotty did the bar at the Monteverdi concert. Blanaid took a photo of the glasses.

Wasps and mushrooms

We haven't seen any of these since we squirted anti-wasp powder into the nest. Sadly the only oyster mushrooms that have sprouted were next to the wasp nest, which now it is poisoned, makes me not really fancy the home grown 'shrooms.

Monday, 11 October 2010

PE2010 Jude Cowan Part 1

Performing in a little room on the Sheep's Head peninsula

Monteverdi Vespers

Blanaid took some pictures of the Collegium Musicum of London Monteverdi concert at Holy Redeemer on Saturday evening.

Shooters Hill

Andy came round for a nice walk and a chat on Sunday morning and we took the dog up to Shooters Hill for a special outing. It was very hot and I was wearing a fleecy jacket that was far too hot. I dropped a glove at the bus stop and found it on the way back. Phew! Here's a picture of the dog on his day out. In this picture it looks like his legs are really short. They're not.

Ambient electronica

I have been trying to do some recording for some ambient electronica tracks but have fallen into difficulties. There is some weird buzzing, and I can't work out what's making it. Plus the levels are awful. What a to do! I hope Matt will help me sort it out. I feel really girly, but at least I had a go. I must be learning something about this recording business.

For some lovely ambient electronica you could always check out hibernate records. I really like the artists on their label and am enjoying the sample tracks on hibernate and on their sister label rural colours.

Plus Jonathan who runs the site is a very nice guy and has been very encouraging and helpful when I emailed him for tips on setting up a small label online. He calls his a 'micro-independent label'. I quite like that, it's intellectual but modest.

Duck information

Apparently my duck information is wrong, I have posted pictures of the parents! I think I'd better not post anything again until I know what I am talking about. We are hoping to pick the duckies up on Wednesday.

Soundcloud practice

Hi everyone
This is a practise post to see it I can embed a file from Soundcloud

Doodlebug Alley WAV by JudeCowan

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Donald, Snickers and Jemima

... and I think this lovely duck is Jemima ... she's so funny with her mouth open and her white quiff, looks a real character. All three ducks look real characters.

Donald, Snickers and Jemima ...

... are the names of our three new ducks that will be coming later this week, or very soon ...

we will rename them, because we do like fancy names, not that there is anything wrong with their wonderful names.

For now, this is Donald. He is the drake.


I just baked some biscotti. I dusted them with icing sugar. They look just like real Italian ones. I've put them in a pint glass and an old gherkin jar. I like them so much that I burst out into happy laughter.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

erigens, erigens, erigens ...

Alleluia, Gloria etc! Off to Holy Redeemer for the final rehearsal.

Sagbutts and cornets tonight at 7.30pm. Matt is doing the drinks and will pour you a glass of wine if you like. Blanaid is taking photos from the organ gallery.

I am singing Cantus, Sop 1. Going to find black things now, long sleeved T-shirt and long skirt for the choiry uniform.

The hour has come for the Monteverdi Vespers, Venetian indulgence, smell the rich incense and be transported on wings of polyphony ...

Friday, 8 October 2010

Muscovy ducks are pasture ducks

Our lawn has good pasture ...

My small pond - soon it will be a duck pond

Good spot for the duckhouse?

Thinking of putting it by the grape vine. It's nice and sunny so the ducks will have both shade from the house and sun. It will also make an unusued bit of the garden have a real purpose.

Duckhouse in progress

Sydenham Radio - the Ashley Cowan show

Ashley kindly recorded me singing 'Nations, Nations' from Doodlebug Alley live on his Open Mic show last week

Muscovy ducklings

It's a beautiful autumnal day, sun shining in the lovely garden here. We've pulled out some of the tired old rocket, getting the bed ready for planting garlic cloves, as I've bought a couple of bulbs from Lidl that hopefully will sprout in the very fertile Kent soil we have here.

Matt is busy outside building a duckhouse ready for our new Muscovy ducklings that are coming next week. They have been hatched in a tortoise tank and handreared.

We'll have the use of Matt's mum's car next week, which is handy, as we're going to pick them up from Leigh on Sea, a place I love, on the Essex coast just before Southend. The Owl Service invited me to play their stage at the Leigh on Sea folk festival a couple of years ago and I fell in love with this characterful old working seaside town, where you can get a lovely plate of fresh cockles and a pint of beer.

Birmingham Sound Matter

Enjoying some of the contributions to Birmingham Sound Matter a project using the sounds of the city put together by different sound artists. The album has been put together on Audiobulb, a sonic arts label, and there's a few mp3 previews on the album's page

Matty and I took out my PZMs the other day to the river and recorded some great sounds of rain and the weir at Old Ford Lock. The PZMs are great as they pick up hardly any wind sound, and they really get nice textural detail. You can hear the distinct drops of rain. Matt dangled one with a lead over the weir and the patterns that the water makes as the waterfall slows is very relaxing and pretty and delicate.

We are planning to take more sounds of London, especially as you can put the PZMs very wide and get a great stereo effect. When we have collected a bundle we will maybe mix them into a piece of sonic art like the contributions to Birmingham Sound Matter. It's great fun to do something with sound where you don't feel dominated by the tyranny of the song or the rigidity of the even-tempered scale.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Laudate Pueri!

Getting ready for Saturday's concert. The sackbuts and cornetts are coming ...

I'm trying to get into my Latin meanings of these psalms. Dixit Dominus is so fierce and warlike. My favourite is Nisi Domini. What a great concept that is to sing, 'unless the lord [does so and so]' because the lines are so full of opposites, it gets very complex emotionally, and that complexity really goes with Monteverdi's wonderful music.

In contrast to this intricate emotion it's great to let go in our highly accomplished group on the simple praise songs - 'Lauda Jerusalem!' That one ends the first half. It's going to be magnificent.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Delia Derbyshire - Pauline Sewards

The very lovely poet Pauline Sewards who I am so proud to call a friend and I share a mutual interest - in Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic workshop. Pauline has written a beautiful poem about her, and she's kindly allowed me to post it here. Thanks Pauline.

Delia Derbyshire

We are in one of those places that isn’t quite anywhere -
the hard shoulder of the M62
Retuning the radio,
the sound comes through
in querulous spikes -
the voice of Delia Derbyshire
syncopates the night

She did her work back in the sixties,
a Sasooned and mini-skirted Goddess of Geeks,
only years later got credit due
she was with Oram and Grainger
in the Radiophonic workshop
but Delia wrote the music to Dr Who

Images of outer space
inside the eyelids of your inner space
evoke those long ago
Saturday egg and chip teatimes when
Delia’s multi phased sonic innovations
reeled us in to the tingling
Science fiction comfort zone.
Fractal patterns breaking
in a world where identity slips
and time trips over and over

She was the Queen of synaesthesia
if you can have synaesthesia in black and white

And now we are stuck in this car
on the highway,
if we could see through the fog
to the other side of the motorway
we‘d be watching our younger selves
coming the other way

Is it interference in between stations?
Or does the voice of Delia Derbyshire
syncopate the night?

The Shepherd

Hey! It's sounding good! Wonder what Matt will think when I play it him tonight.

I like this studio malarkey it's like cooking.

William Blake remix

I thought it was time I put my money where my mouth is and had a go at doing a William Blake album remix myself. So I am engaging with The Shepherd. At least it's an excuse to learn a bit more about Sony Acid. I've managed to stretch a time loop today. It's all an adventure. I'm going to put some doo wop vocals beneath the line.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Friday night in Brighton and a headmaster

Had a lovely trip to Brighton Friday evening to play upstairs at the Three and Ten club. It was hosted by the lovely Jonny Fluffypunk who has a brilliant moustache and is terribly genial. I really like his material.

Also met the whimsical and delightful Project Adorno who did a very beautiful number about Germaine Greer, one of my great heroines. They had a lovely mask of her and one of the duo did a nice dance wearing it. They are smart boys with nice hair and suits. However, they live in Surrey, so John Citizen's idea that they would give me a lift home wasn't a good one.

Fortunately I got the ten past eleven train back to London, and on it met a delightful headmaster of an independent school. I showed him a proof print of the cover of my forthcoming poetry collection which seemed to impress, and gave him a copy of my CD. Apparently he makes stained glass and plays the cello. It was a gorgeous and unexpected late night transport encounter.


Not sure what I really make of CocoRosie. I like the experimentation and playfulness though, and I'm always interested in two voice stuff. They say this is important to their sound. I'm looking forward to doing some two voice experiments with Matt as our duo gets going. It's already sounding good last rehearsal, strumming together on the boat, singing in unison and harmony.

This is a nice picture of the two sisters fully clothed in the bath. It's a popular look for the 'quirky'. I don't have a bath, and neither does Matt so perhaps we could take a picture of ourselves in the shower. But I don't think that would advertise the music very well.

Sydenham Radio

Thurs eve I went to Sydenham to do Ashley Cowan's Open Mic show ... was excellent. Did three songs and lovely Ashley videoed us which was nice. I'll try and get the link sorted.

My good friend Daren Callow was also on the show. He says he'll do a Blake remix. Must remember to send him some tracks. At this rate I'll have to do some new ones.