Week from Monday 5th September 2005

...useful in the sense that it became available just at the right time to do WILLY's WEBSITE PROJECT. I spent some of Saturday putting the finishing touches to the said hyper-array, and then listened to THE YOUNGBLOOD BRASS BAND at WOMAD (again, this time via the Beeb's online Real Player doobry). I've been nostalgically listening back some favourite moments from previous WOMADs as well (That's a lame excuse to insert the relevant diary pages here! ...Ed)

FRIDAY 26th JULY 2002

10.30 ... This year, I have persuaded Tony to come out of his two-year hibernation and attend a WOMAD again... He turned up with our home for the weekend, his magnificent Morris LD ambulance, as featured in many a "Carry On..."/"Doctor In..." film! It draws admiring glances and smiles of wonderment all the way to the campsite...

12.30 ... The usual rigmarole of manoeuvring a sizeable public-service vehicle around the perimeter track to get to our allotted berth... Making of tea, drinking of tea, purchasing of programme, exchange of wristband, studying of programme, drinking of tea... More admiring glances and comments about the LD...

14.30 ... Open Air Stage ... ISSA BAGAYOGO is deserving of so much more than a "breakfast" slot, as we used to call them... I am reminded of The Super Rail Band or Zani Diabate's Super Djata Band, but with the addition of twenty first century (well, nineteen-nineties, at least,) technology... This is a fusion that works, the electronics are never allowed to over-complicate the spacious Malian rhythms... plenty of that fiendish and sparkling guitar work and an ngoni sprayed in what looked like Vauxhall Nova silver... The backing singers did that Malian dance that looks like someone trying to put out a fire...

15.45 ... Village Stage ... LOS COJOLITES, from Vera Cruz in Mexico, were much more, er... "folklorique" in nature: pleasant enough in small doses,but very "rough and ready", with offbeat clogging routines, tedious chanted vocals and much Afro-Caribbean influence in the drumming (you can't kid me that a djembe is a traditional Mexican instrument!) I would imagine, in these circles, it is considered cute to bring your mewling offspring onto the stage with you - I shall not comment further...

16.30 ... Open Air Stage ... North London's best kept Algerian secret... If ABDELKADER SAADOUN lived in Paris, then we'd all know about him by now! What a terrific band he's got; every bit as polished as Orchestra National De Barbes or Hamid Baroudi's from last year... and they've made the effort of recruiting REAL strings and horns, instead of relying on the Yamaha/Korg/Roland variety! It makes all the difference, y'know... Speaking as a prog-nerd of many years standing, I lerrrved the tricky prog/jazz/rai bits. The tenor sax man (Gerry someone?) would be considered a top soloist in any context. Belly dancers are always a good bonus too...

17.30 ... Shoppings ... I can now tick that Eugenio Bennato CD off my wishes list... Back to the camp site for a meal and some seedy listening (We couldn't listen to seedies whilst on the road - skipping ensued... I also brought with me plenty of the more stable analogue tape cassettes, though!)

20.40 ... Open Air Stage ... Now that was a long tea break! Best t-shirt slogan of the day: "JESUS IS COMING... LOOK BUSY!"... O RAPPA are the first of this weekend's Brazilian contingent to hit the stage... Sort of a Brazilian Dub Foundation, definitely the radical end of the "Musica Popular Brasileira" spectrum. I was also reminded of the Columbian group Bloqué who played here a few years back. I liked their Portuguese reworking of "Hey Joe" (An everyday story of Favela folk?) Terrific front man, but how could he fail with dreadlocks like that?

21.30 ... Village Stage ... Absolutely beautiful Indian classical session by RAHUL SHARMA and his colleagues-in-raag. As the son of Shivkumar Sharma, a particular fave of mine as a purveyor of late evening zonking-out music, Rahul is quite a chip off the old santoor. I'd very much welcome hearing more of this, Radio 3 folks! We are accosted by representatives of the Sense World Music Label, plugging tomorrow's session by Ronu Majumdar. Don't worry, I'll be there if Trilok Gurtu is!

22.30 ... Open Air Stage ... Entertainment, thy name is OZOMATLI! I am lost for ways to describe this, the world's most interactive band - better writers than I have filled whole pages, trying to describe what it is they do, but that doesn't prepare you for the reality of hearing them close to! Starting and finishing their performance IN the audience, they never let your attention wander for a second... What an end to the day, it almost makes you want to respect Americans again!

00.00 ... Bedtime Teadrink... Tony wants to form a samba band called OS NIÑIS (say it with a Portuguese accent).

SATURDAY 27th JULY 2002

07.30-ish ... A fairly comfortable and suspiciously quiet night's kipping, apart from Tony's occasional Tuvan overtone snoring. We are a lot further down into the next field this year - if the council purloin any more acreage, we'll be camping in Newbury!

09.30 ... My customary Saturday morning walk into Reading town centre to "do" the record emporia. I got the Prince Far-I seedy I've been looking for and, bonus of boni, the first Brand X album on seedy for just a fiver!

12.00 ... Lunch of insta-meal "Moroccan Style" couscous and a packet of Thai Bites (outernational stylee or what?!) ..and, of course, gallons of teadrink.

13.30 ... We both went for a general walkabout - Tony wishes to buy a hat (pronounced "Hett"). Whilst passing the main arena, we caught some of the not-terribly-inspiring flamenco stylings of XAVIER RUIBAL and his chums. It sounded a bit too Jose Feliciano for my tastes (I've since grown to love his sound, by the way)... We browsed the art book store, where Tony is inspired by a book on the Moschino fashion and design house - shades of "Blit Street"...

15.00 ... Village Stage ... We couldn't really see THE BISSEROV SISTERS, but of course, they sounded marvellous (possibly a bit too much waffle between numbers, but some folks feel they have to have everything explained to them first)... We sat in the sun, letting the Balkan harmonies drift over us and giving Tony's new book the once over.

16.00 ... Open Air Stage ... The expected Nigerian fuji group don't appear to have turned up ("like, bummer, man, Spooky Tooth have cancelled, man..." - NJF Reading Festival 1971), so the "WOMAD Gala" had been moved forward in the schedule. During our wanderings, we appear to have missed several choice NAMES... We catch the tail end of PATO BANTON's workmanlike set of Bob Marley cover versions. More wandering...

17.15 ... Siam Tent ... GEOFFREY ORYEMA was on in the big big top, but along with his trendy new hairjob, he's rather over-westernised his once unique and spacey sound with a plodding rhythm section... "Plod! Plod! Plod!" they went... The one unaccompanied song we heard him do (from his still-wonderful first album) was mucho preferable!

17.25 ... Village Stage ... ISSA BAGAYOGO again... now here's a chap who shows how to blend his tradition with western technology PROPERLY! With taste! He informs us that his new album is called "Timbuktu" - was the first one called "Timbuk One" by any chance? Tony spots a new entry for the Skelton Twinning files - one of the songs sounds like "Real Japanese Neo-Decimal Boy". Blimey!

18.15 ... Open Air Stage ... There's some truly loathsome guitar based pop rock stuff being played on the main stage, a bunch of calculatingly earnest young individuals who strum guitars and whine through their noses in the "môde du jour", have probably copied their name from the back of a Tim Buckley or Doors album and refuse to dress to suit the weather, in case they stop looking calculatingly earnest in front of their peers... What IS this, V2002?

18.15.000005 ... We immediately escape to go and browse through racks of seedies, then to get a nice early vantage point to watch and hear TRILOK GURTU's collaboration with the bansuri maestro RONU MAJUMDAR. The determined young sales team from Sense World Music descend upon us again, this time armed with free sampler CDs.

19.00 ... Siam Tent ... Every one of this group deserves a name check, so here goes - RONU MAJUMDAR on bansuri flute, ABHIJIT BANARJEE on tabla, NANDINI SRIKAR on occasional vocals, ANTONIO FORCIONE playing some phenomenal guitar (a lesser guitarist would have dragged the music down to his level - this was trans-stellar!) and of course, the majestic TRILOK GURTU on multi-limbed percussives... An absolute treat for this old fusioneer - the set seemed to whizz by.

20.00 ... Open Air Stage ... Once you're locked into "Tala" mode, it's rather difficult to adjust to any other rhythm structure immediately afterwards, so the fantastic Brazilian pop of TRIO MOCOTÓ came as a bit of a culture shock and it was difficult to give them the appreciation they deserved... They padded out the numbers with far too much percussion grandstanding, though...

21.00 ... A rather late (for me) dinner time - Catering by "The Symington's Concern, Purveyors of Noodles & Soups To The Camping Fraternity". We also listened to some of my purchases of the day (and Tony wore and/or read his, as appropriate).

22.30 ... Open Air Stage ... Tonight's big turn on the main stage is rai-rocker RACHID TAHA - and yes, he does look like Joe Strummer (although I doubt Mr Strummer would be seen dead in those particular trousers!)...

23.15 ... Tony decides he wants to see THE JEWS BROTHERS BAND from New Zealand, so we went for a stroll down to the Little Big Top. This is a regrettable decision, as their name is the best thing about them. We walked back via the Village stage, where the ANDY'N'VERITY shindig is under way... Which one is Smiley Miley?

23.25 ... Open Air Stage ... and so back to RACHID TAHA... what a band! They've certainly picked up a few tips from their producer, Uncle Steve Hillage, along the way - one of the encores was pure System 7! So that's what an Electrick Gypsy is!?

00.20 ... Lesotho bed...

SUNDAY 28th JULY 2002

06.00 ... Don't know what Tony's dreaming about, but it sounds like he's trying to communicate with the other members of his herd...

08.00 ... Went for a walk to the cash-point in town... Why is my rôle to be the person everyone asks for directions to the station? (Because you're the only other one who gets up and walks the streets at this time of a Sunday morning, that's why! ...Ed) I meet a weekend hip-person who obviously has to get back to work for Monday morning (Where? In Prague? ...Ed) and a bewildered yout', blitzed out of his gourd on summat, eyes like prunes in syrup, who was lost only yards from that building where the trains go, the name for which he could not remember...

09.00 ... Over breakfast, we are variously entertained by the recorded works of Alabama 3, David Bowie, the talky bits of Frank Zappa, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Busi Mhlongo, many of the above simultaneously. General Sunday morning inactivity is taken in full dose...

12.30 ... Outside the Village Tent ... Sunning oneself, doing the Mail On Sunday crossword and reading the Review Section, whilst letting the Zulu sounds of MADOSINI wash over one...

13.30 ... WOMAD Shop ... I bought the 3 Mustaphas 3 seedy I spotted yesterday and a "Greeks & Indians" item, as I can foresee a craze for Indian classical music on the horizon...

14.00 ... Outside the Siam Tent ... No chance of any shade, as the place is packed with punterage, ready to witness the return of ORCHESTRA BAOBAB... I'm happy report that they did sound exactly the same as the essential "Pirate's Choice" album - ie, magnificent! -, so my faith in Senegal's music industry has not entirely been lost! It is pretty damn hot and the queues for the water tap stretch for miles. We struck up a conversation with one of the Beeb's "World On Your Street" representatives about the cultural exclusion zone that is Gosport...

15.00 ... Inside the Siam Tent ... With the end of Baobab's set comes the opportunity to duck inside the tent for some shade...

16.00 ... Siam Tent ... I am thoroughly relieved that MISTY IN ROOTS were absolutely awesome, as I had been quite underwhelmed by their Peel sesh last Tuesday and had been expecting major disappointment... One be-mohawkéd youth (himself a player in a ska band) had come to see Misty, merely on the strength of that session alone, so I trust that HE went away MORE than happy! They have still got it (although there's only one of the classic line-up left, I believe)...

17.00 ... That was NEVER a hour, was it? Dinner at a more sensible time this evening, consisting of the spiciest of curry Pot Noodles. The "Greeks & Indians" seedy and a joss-stick or two provide the right ambience (in an ambulance). We thusly skipped Kanda Bongo Man's set...

19.15 ... Open Air Stage ... I positioned myself against the security barrier to get the best of LOS DE ABAJO's fantastic set (it's Sunday evening, the crowds are thinning out, now it's possible to do that!) Comparisons with Ozomatli (and Bloqué) are inevitable - LuakaBop artistes through and through! The joint performance with LOS COJOLITES may or may not have been a bonus - nice in itself, but rather spoiled the dynamic of the set.

20.30 ... Tony returns with news of wonderful things going on at he cabaret tent... A chap called Alessandro, who provides a blend of Venice gondolier crooning and anarchic guitar pyrotechnics á la Eugene Chadbourne - sounds like a Gridler to me! I managed to catch DAVE HOLDER and his unicycling escapologist routine. We go to the One World tent to see HARARE DREAD, but I don't think that was they! We also catch a sample of BILLY COBHAM's foray into Cuban "son" with ASERE.

21.40 ... Open Air Stage ... Now I've always like ALPHA BLONDY's way with a reggae tune, but I found the first few minutes of his set tonight to be strangely cold and joyless. The band were Paris-perfect in every respect, but his primadonna aloofness made it very difficult to warm to. His employment of hired thugs to make life difficult for the security team and the camera crews did not exactly win my vote either.

22.00 ... Village Tent ... I seek something more spontaneous and organic so, after a token couple of Blondytunes, I make for the village to catch BOB BROZMAN & RENÉ LACAILLE (no Takashi, unfortunately!) In Bob's own words, "If you take a bit of anarchy and a polite nature, then you will get good music." If their "Dig Dig" album was a little on the polite side, then this was pure anarchy (and all in "1:1" time!) I sincerely hope that Radio 3 saw sense to transcribe this in digital form... Tony, meanwhile, has been enjoying a late night blues session, possibly involving Terry Reid and Little George Sueref(?)

23.30 ... Back to the camp site, to meet up with Tony (I would have relished the late night raga session with ANOUSHKA SHANKAR, but I don't believe the Siam Tent lends itself to such intimate performance). Teadrink, toiletries, a Cheb Mami tape on the beatbox and we set off, again drawing admiring glances as we trundle out of the campsite (the front bit lights up as well, you know!) The BBC will hopefully help keep the WOMAD spirit alive for the rest of the year with their webcasts and stuff...

I recorded my contribution to THE HUMAN NAIL's "SPOKEN WORD ALBUM" project, a thirty second extract from my art-hero KURT SCHWITTERS' lipsmacking tonepoem "SONATA IN URLAUTEN". I shall hand him the floppydisk containing same, next time I bump into him in the High Street.

In the wake of my current craze for all things FLOYDIAN and BARRETTesque, Shelfy and I got to talkin' about some of the NORRIE PARKER's RAINBOW CHILDREN material we have in the vaults. He has also expressed an interest in re-recording "THIRTY SECOND LOVE SONG". Anyone who knows Shelfy will know that 'expressing an interest' in an idea does not mean it will ever come to fruition, but he has also been seeking my advice about purchasing a Portastudio and I've given him a CRASH COURSE in using the peecee to edit and piece together his musical ideas.

On Tuesday evening we went over to Willy's to upload the [more or less] completed webcontent to its rightful destination. Now THAT WAS a fun-filled evening of "PROBLEM SOLVING" if ever there was one...

I have already invested some of the fee for doing all that "HTMLster TO THE STARS" malarkey. I am finally dragging this here PEECEE into the 21st Century: at last a DECENT graphics card (long-time followers of this diary might remember the kerfuffle that ensued when I installed a new motherboard into its case and found that it didn't work with my existing AGP graphics card - I've been 'making do' with an old PCI one since then) and an OS upgrade to that newfangled WINDOZE EXPEE, with all the 'joys' that that will bring(?). M'COLLEAGUE THE GLASS LADY is going away on her hols next week, so I shall have the place to myself to do all my NERDLY TASKS.

Of course, as I shall be PULLING THE COMPUTER APART in all sorts of ways, it means I may be OFFLINE for a few days... so see yez in a bit...

Week[s to and] from Monday 19th September 2005

Well... I'm back then...

THIS HERE PEECEE has been dragged screaming into the 21st Century, with all the bells and whistles (and annoying NAGGING) that WINDOZE EXPEE has to offer. "Nagging" is what WINDOZE EXPEE does best.

See, I don't use the internet THAT often. The phone lines are shit and connection is erratic at the best of times. Downloads are REALLY slow and a bane on the phone bill. I can't afford broadband. Straight in, check my e-mail and then straight out again, that's the limit to MY involvement. Not one of nature's 'surfers', me. When I upload this diary page, that'll be the first time I've used the internet for well over a week.

So now, because having WINDOZE EXPEE makes one vulnerable to all kinds of MALICIOUS ANTI-GATESIAN UNDERHANDEDNESS, I face the CATCH TWENTY-WHATEVER SITUATION of having to spend [what seems like] hours connected to the web, to download security patches and updates, to protect me against risks that I wouldn't BE at risk from if I didn't spend hours connected to the web to download security patches and updates, to protect me against risks that I wouldn't be at risk from... bla bla bla etc etc.

It did not escape my notice that the modern 'Windows Shutting Down' sound is a variation on a ubiquitous musical phrase which, in OUR own musical shorthand, is known as the "STEPHEN THE GOOSE" motif ("Daah-Dum Duh-Derr").

The new graphics card is plugged in and RUNNIN' NOICE. I've optimised it for "PERFORMANCE" rather than "QUALITY" at the moment, meaning that all normal functions seem "TO SMOOTHLY GO" compared to the OLDEN DAYS, but video files look a bit blotchy as a consequence - no biggy as far as day-to-day usage is concerned, but something to be considered for future, er... projects!

All my fave software is put back in its rightful place and seems to work alright, but I was slightly miffed to find that the version of the Nero CD-Burner that I have been using and enjoying is not considered "XP-Approved", so I've found a temporary [freeware] substitute. It works just dandy when I use it to burn my latest MP3 "JUKEBOX" [data] disk, but I haven't tried it for doing a "proper format" CD yet.

By the end of the week, I'm sick of the sight of computers both inside and out, I'm going a bit STIR-CRAZY and I'm waiting for the weather to cheer up as I am in dire need of what we like to call DAZE-OUT! On Friday, I decide to hop on a train to Chichester - 'Hop' makes it sound so casual. Of course, probably because the weekend is here, there are lots of railway cancellations/delays going on. But I don't care. As is customary, I spent an afternoon discovering a whole new town full of CHARITY SHOPS 'N' BARGAIN BINS [and little lambs eat ivy] to trawl through. I availed myself of several sub-£2 items: some bluesy jazz vocals with folksy instrumentation; a band named after an American state who play pleasant-enough Sunday-morning-easy-listening jazz, with just a hint of a world music flavour; some late-sixties San Francisco-based psych/Latin jamming; an album of Venezuelan gozadera-disco-funk; some French electric-fiddle jazz, recorded live in a German opera house; some birdsong-inspired Twentieth-Century French chamber music...

There was a terrific documentary about "FAMOUS AUSTRIAN" muso, the funkiest septuagenarian in the business, JOE ZAWINUL on Beeb Four this weekend. I'd expected there to be a lot more of ye anciente archive footage than there was, but I loved the performance[s] by the current line-up of ZAWINUL SYNDICATE anyway.

Shelfy announces that his home recording facility, SO-CALLED STUDIOS (that's its name!) is now pretty much fully-equipped and [nearly] up-and-running. Him do have a couple of projects up his sleeve, for possible release on the all-new FIVE THIMBLES label - the main topic of INTEREST-STROKE-INVOLVEMENT from my point of view is the previously mentioned re-recording of some of the NORRIE PARKER's RAINBOW CHILDREN material. But I also look forward to our doing something "NEW" after all this time.

A new mission statement... "Welcome to the SO-CALLED Group of Artistic Hubs. Our mission is to provide AVANT-GARDE MUSICAL RESPITE STIMULI to the disaffected beatniks trapped in squares' bodies."

Week from Monday 26th September 2005

On my recommendation, as part of his SO-CALLED STUDIOS set-up, SHELFY purchased one of the splendid pieces of software manufactured by the MAGIX concern (I understand that Mr RABBITHOLE SAM is also a big fan of their stuff). And rather spiffing it is too, especially the "live drummer" plug-in which kept me amused for a full afternoon - Uh oh! I can feel another movie soundtrack comin' on!

I spent a few hours purging the Shelfy peecee of crap, reinstalling a few things and upgrading his soundcard and CD-writer, so that all runs smoothly. The vital AUTOHARP, an instrument long sought after for its potential in the creation of all sorts of folky hippy nonsense, as well as providing PREPARED PIANO NOISES IN A PORTATIVE FORM, has finally been obtained. I've put a few of my "WORKS IN PROGRESS" onto a disk so that he may sample or add to them as his whim takes him... IT'S D' WAVE OF D' FUTCHUM, PEOPLES!

This week is INTERNATIONAL BOB DYLAN WEEK on the BBC, with the first terrestrial showing of Martin Scorcese's highly anticipated "NO DIRECTION HOME" documentary, as well as [always welcome] reruns of "THE LAST WALTZ" and "DON'T LOOK BACK", and a "tribute" concert to boot.
A long overdue package arrived from the good people of DISCIPLINE GLOBAL MOBILE in Beverley Hills: The latest KRIMSO KLUB release, a rough-as-yer-like b**tl*g recording of the lads storming the BRIGHTON DOME in 1971, is of IMMEASURABLE HISTORICAL ANAL-RETENTIVE VALUE, as it contains the only known live version of "Islands".