I was saddened to hear of the sudden and unexpected passing of Virginia Anderson this weekend. I met her through watching the South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble and then getting to play with them. I will miss her enthusiasm and encouragement and my thoughts go out to Chris and Virginia’s friends and family. Xx
I decided on a whim, neither having heard of them or heard them, to see them live on the basis of this photo whilst scrolling around Folk Radio. “What is that dude doing with a Gretsch in a forest?!?”
I did my utmost, too, to not listen to them, to not search out what they might be like before the event. I conceded briefly, though, when trying to encourage some others to come along. 22 seconds in to the the video for ‘Charmer’ and I was on shaky ground – “That dude is bowing a mandola?!?” I had to turn it off as I thought my head might explode in expectation.
The gig itself was wonderful. Two Fridays before lockdown V.1, an uncertainty of what was to happen both then and afterwards, this beautiful undulating cloud of sound drifted around the Guildhall – voice, strings and harmonium floating around us. This melding of different organic elements creating one gentle incredible, shimmering whole. It was wonderful.
I got to speak a little to Ewan and Lauren afterwards, mainly about guitar things and it took all my strength not to buy a record – I didn’t want that to become my memory of the evening and how it made me feel. But isolating at home afterwards, the sounds still buzzing around in my thoughts, I had to. And it’s as close to perfect as you could get. A total joy.
I cannot wait to see them again.
Just out of shot
(and never in focus)
Cat hair, dust
The past leaving itself in ever incremental layers,
The detritus of future’s friction.
For a finger to write upon it,
make it new again.
Anxiety. A nothingness.
General unease, a sense of fear coupled with an end of term feeling.
Half hour queues around a car park trying to make/not make eye contact with ourselves, to stare at empty shelves and wonder what next.
“What did you do in lockdown, Daddy?”
I worked. Everyday. Adding to the ever growing pile of pointlessness whilst trying to provide.
The air of uncertainty about you then somewhere else, lost in the rhythm of the day, then back again, cycling over near empty motorways.
And in quiet moments, the sound of birds breaking up the flow of thoughts, cooking, eyes following the light, the shadows. Just another trip around the sun, all of us just clinging on.
I really miss singing sometimes. I don’t miss the listening back, the (often) feeling of worthlessness of it all ; the difference between the feeling as you sang, the imagination of what it was and what it now is.
But I still do it all the same.
The second of my ‘trying to make a thing a month’. I went away to Norfolk for a few days in February and took my recorder and some contact mics (that I’ve never used before) with me to try and record some of the sounds of the reeds and the marshes. I love the sound of the reeds swaying in the wind, that ‘whooooosssshhhhhhh’. I’ve always wanted to walk into the middle of it crouch down and listen – except you can’t really do that as it can be quite dangerous.
Instead I attached mics to wires, flung the Zoom into the reeds and grasses, generally hung 25 metres back from my family as they walk ahead, me just staring at whatever was around me. My recorder’s headphone out doesn’t work so I have no idea what I have recorded until I empty it out on the computer. It’s a little like film photography, it’s always a surprise.
Last weekend myself and the wonderful Lee Allatson played a short improvised set at the Under The Radar weekender put on by Magic Teapot and Echoloaction. It was a really enjoyable set, playing on the floor & feeling our way in the darkened room. Below is a video of the second half of our set, gradually pulling at the threads of the sounds we’d made and reducing them to a new quiet. A massive thank you to whoever filmed this, I am most grateful.
The All In is the last session of the year for the south leicestershire improvisors ensemble, where as many guest performers from previous sessions join in to make one massive ensemble. This was my first time in a while playing in such a large ensemble. The range of instruments and sounds was really quite broad and fascinating to be a part of. There are some pictures here (and some below) taken by Jordan Parker. There is also a bandcamp link to the 2016 All In which you should definitely have a listen to as well.
This Saturday I got to sit in the main hall at the Attenborough Arts Centre and play and make sounds among the exhibition pieces in preparation for the Performing Industry show. I felt quite lucky and privileged to have the opportunity.