Week from Monday 5th June 2006

Actually, the OTHER "Gridler Pop Pick Of The Week" has been DAN HICKS (and his various Hot Licks) who, regulars might recall, we saw three times in a weekend at WOMAD 2003. Shelfy lent me the DVD/CD of his 60th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS (Dan Hicks' not Shelfy's!). Talk about MISTER ENTERTAINMENT!

Sidetracking in a techy stylee for a moment, why did THIS deeveedee, supposedly an American NTSC Region 1 disk, have NO TROUBLE AT ALL playing on my Region 2 player, while, as you may recall, some 'local' PAL Region 2 or region-free disks WON'T play, even on my so-called 'multi-region' player? What with all the different CODECS and doodads and regional variables, these new-fangled video thingies continue to baffle me. Just when you think you've got them sussed...

I had a box of leaflets to go to Bitterne, so naturally I "MADE A DAY OF IT". I took in numerous charity shops and flea markets and hit Southampton's superior class of MEAGRESTORE for the new TOM ZÉ album "Estudando O Pagode", which I'd failed to get anywhere else.

Even with the English translations, I have yet to hack my way through the dense jungle of OPERETTA-cum-CONCEPT ALBUM gubbins supposedly holding it together ('Pagode' is a particular Brazilian dance-form? There is a story involving University students and their Professor? And the whole thing has something to do with women's emancipation?). But then, as anyone who LIVED THE SEVENTIES knows, when did 'concept albums' ever have to MAKE SENSE? Best just to enjoy it as another collection of nutty TOM ZÉ songs.

As I mentioned before, one of my favourite record emporia, ESSENTIAL MUSIC has gone, but now Southampton has got a branch of that other 'back catalogue bazaar' with the ONOMATOPOEIC NAME. So many PROG-ROCK DINO-DISCS of my choosing, await my attention at a fiver each!

For once, my visit to Southampton actually coincided with there being SOMETHING ON at the City Art Gallery. An exhibition called "BODIES OF WATER" links three artists whose work involves a connection with... well, water, really. HUGHIE O'DONOGHUE creates Turner-esque shipwreck pictures by overpainting huge photographic blowups with semi-translucent washes of coloured mist. SUSAN DERGES makes enormous 'photograms' by exposing rolls of light sensitive paper under running streams. MICHAEL PORTER's  heavily-textured canvasses are created by 'marbling' over large photos of seaside pebbles with PVA paints to make further 'rocky' shapes. There is also a gallery in the 'permanent' collection dedicated to the British arm of the Surrealist Movement, including Sir Roland Penrose and his chums. Many of the works looked like second-rate copies of certain Spaniards and Belgians, but I warmed to DESMOND MORRIS' (Yes, that one!) funny little Miro-esque creatures.

Week from Monday 12th June 2006

Busy, busy, busy... but I wish someone would hurry up and PAY ME! I have a myriad of tasks to do for delivery this week, including some posters and flyers and stuff for various hair practitioners, and some more HTML-oriented activity, which will be dealt with on Thursday when I go with Shelfy "TO SEE THE PONIES" in the New Forest (Private joke!).

This week's FREAK ZONE was a "KRAUT ROCK" special, which was, of course, most welcome... I've just received an enormous e-missive from THE HUMAN NAIL concerning his goings-on at that PRIMAVERA FESTIVAL in beautiful downtown Barcelona. I haven't had time to read it all yet, but it looks like a good time was had by all and, despite the presence of all sorts of MODERN HIP YOUNG TRENDSOME ROCKING TEENAGE-TYPE MUSICAL AGGREGATIONS, the show was totally stolen by, of all people, good ol' boys MÖTÖRHEAD.

On Wednesday I journeyed to SALISBURY for a day out. Needless to say, I hit the JERRIDY SHOPS and MEAGRE-STORES. Curiously, in Salisbury, these are even more 'meagre' than elsewhere - a chart-bound MUSIC ZONE, a half-assed VIRGIN and "Wot? No HMV?".

But JOHN MARTYN's seminal "Live At Leeds" for under a fiver? I should cocoa!

The main purpose of my visit was to go to the Cathedral to bathe in the Soundscapes of ROBERT FRIPP. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up so much that I've now got a mohawk... Robert tells us that "making MUSIC is always a SACRED undertaking, regardless of whatever SECULAR surroundings one is forced to make it in". He has also often said that "MUSIC does not come FROM the musician but rather THROUGH him". He likes his pithy epigrams, does our Bob. Now I am in no way a RELIJIMUS INDAVIJIL, but I DO believe in the spirituality of MUSIC ITSELF. For most of the all-too brief 'performance', I sat rapt with eyes a-shut, but I swear that, at one point, a delightful [and unexpectedly Baroque] cadence went scudding 'round the architraves and I happened to look up to find that Fripp was not actually playing his instrument, the music had a life of its own. Certainly it is in the surroundings of a large cathedral-like building, such as a Cathedral for instance, that Soundscaping finds its natural space. After a fleeting hour, the music died away. Robert stepped forward to thank the Lord, the Bishop and the 'congregation' (in that order), and the spiritual experience was sadly over.

On Thursday, we went to the New Forest "TO SEE THE PONIES" but, more importantly, to set up a new WEBBO for some nice PURVEYORS OF FINE MOTORCYCLES. In fact they were VERY nice people, because they paid me straightaway for my services, in CASH! Hooray! While I was up to my elbows in FTPs, Shelfy was able to keep himself amused by ogling at classic bikes (as well as some Land Rovers in various states of 'organic') and doing the washing-up.

Week from Monday 19th June 2006

DREAM DIARY (No.456 in an occasional series): "Preparations are well underway for WOMAD... I am sporting a brand new pair of green felt dungarees and Shelfy has shaved his head and bought a Beatles wig..." What HAVE I been eating?

Hooray! The money has started to flow back INTO the bank account. That HTMLing malarkey ALWAYS tends to be most lucrative. Also THE BIG FAT ONE arrived for the BIKE RIDE DELIVER-O-THON.

"Ack Padulco Rum-Bah-Bah! The Lorn-gest daeeyz approochin'!"

As the summer nights get longer (And then shorter again, just when you're getting used to it... Ed.), how does one pass the time, when there's NOTHING on the telly? I know what you're going to say. But you can argue the case 'til you're blue in the face, relentless Association Football coverage and wall-to-wall "Big Brother" amount to 'NOTHING' in my book. During the week, my set sits there unattended and I now tape all the quality US drama shows I DO want to watch, for a weekend video treat.

Perhaps one could snuggle down with the latest TOM HOLT. Maybe one's thoughts turn to the JOURNEYS THAT ARE YET TO COME and one naturally starts to compile fresh ROAD TAPES. One may also take advantage of the fact that THE MASSES are wallowing in their tribal watering holes, daubing themselves (and anything that moves) in white and red and grunting at plasma screens. Thus, on a good evening, the streets are virtually empty and A PLEASURE TO WALK. Last night, for example, I went all the way to Portchester and back, just to post a letter. Because It Was There.

Week from Monday 26th June 2006

Saturday was HAHT 'N' DRAH. I had some posters to deliver UP MOUNT BITTERNE, so -Wherrrp! Here comes another day in Southampton! The show I expected to see at the Millais Gallery (involving lots of land 'n' seascape inspired works), I discovered doesn't start until NEXT month. Ah well... WRITE IT LARGE: I was in Southampton on the day of a Record Fair AND I DIDN'T GO THERE! Such self-discipline! I did however plunge into [BOTH branches of] 'The Chain With An Onomatopoeic Name', finding further choice items from the SINFUL SEVENTIES and the new SONGLINES magazine. NB: Listening to Mr Hillage's "RAINBOW DOME MUSICK" on a train is a heady experience and no mistake. I've added this significant PROTO-AMBIENT OPUS to my list of 'Things To Go On Road Tapes'.

However, come Monday, the weather is settling back into TYPICAL BRITISH SUMMER MODE, just in time for 'Standing Around In Fields' in. We're talking dreary and drizzly. In fact, I'm planning to go and do some 'Standing Around In Fields' NEXT weekend, when the Indonesian percussion posse SAMBASUNDA will be gamelan'ing up a storm on Southsea Common. This event falls on the final day of the "PORTSMOUTH FESTIVITIES". I'm not entirely sure how this fits in with the REST of the "Festivities", which are mainly 'themed' around local hero ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL... Who knows, perhaps the Sundanese make their various metallophones out of melted-down steamships? Should be ripping fun anyway, if the weather permits.