Christmas TV….My nightmare!( a personal rant with nothing much to do with hippiecounterculture)


Hello good people who read this blog

I will be bringing you more of the Dave Russell interview on the Arts and Community Centre in Notting Hill sometime soon. At the moment it is proving to be impossible due to the very bad internet connection I have with TalkTalk if it doesn’t get better soon I’ll be changing my connection.

As well as the usual Christmas nonsense, all the stress, shoppers in Central London pushing everyone out of their way with a look of hatred in their eyes and post Christmas party puke on the pavements, there is of course British Christmas TV.

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas , bloody hell it’s Christmas! The most over used phrase on TV is ” let us take the nightmare out of Christmas” then they tell you of some expensive useless present or recipe or chaos or essential wardrobe accessory you never even anticipated and make you worried that you just can’t do enough to get the perfect Christmas.

So here are a few moments emblazoned in my brain of Christmas TV.

I saw an episode of a programme where an Indian woman with a strong Scottish accent went into the home of a Jewish family in the role of a traditional matchmaker to arrange a marriage for 42 year old woman .

In Jewish culture they already have a matchmaker tradition so why bring in a Scottish woman to do it the traditional Indian way? She wanted to find a husband so they were getting the parents and grandmother to find one for her.

Now call me picky or unpolitically correct but would you really trust your parents to pick your perfect husband? NO! I scream NO!

If you really want a nightmare at Christmas imagine your parents introducing you to some totally inappropriate person who is just like your parents and telling you this is the person you will have children with and are stuck with forever. To some this may seem like a very good idea in which case do it but for me and I hope I am not alone ,I’d rather be unmarried forever than have my parents chose my friends let alone my husband!

The nice Indian woman kept telling the “spinster” that she was getting old now and that she was too picky and had to be more flexible. Great. That would boost my self-esteem. “Hey , you’re old now so just go for whatever we dredge up for you or you’ll be a lonely old haggard spinster and no one will ever love you. ”

I also watched a programme called “the mixdown” reviewing music from 2007 . On it they had 2 of the women from “Girls Aloud ” reading through “Hello” and “Heat” magazine to comment about the photos of celebrities and whether they looked good or not. Well of course that’s what musicians do isn’t it? I mean it could have been Beethoven and Mozart sitting there flicking through ” Nuts” and ” Zoo” magazine to compare the size of women’s breasts or something.

What the hell has happened to music? “Girls Aloud” seem to be on all the channels this Christmas partly because Robbie Williams is unavailable this year and partly because they are in this new film “St Trinians”. At a time when there is even an outcry from the government to stop sexualising young girls in the media and portraying children as sexually available in childrens TV programmes, on all channels they are promoting this film . “St Trinians” is a girl’s school where it seems that most of them are wearing suspenders , stockings, high heels, caked in make-up and basically tarts!! The band “Girls Aloud” who are in their mid-twenties also play schoolgirls in sexy school uniforms playing in a rock band. Maybe they can get an arranged marriage at the same time? They sing a song claiming to be the”Defenders of Anarchy”. I’m sorry but unless you’ve been beaten up by police for protesting against Global Warming you don’t qualify!

I also have unfortunately seen this new competition with bands being judged by a panel of experts called “Unsigned”. If people want to compete in ballroom dancing that’s one thing but band competitions? No!!!! I have actually been in two competitions without even wanting to and I nearly went on the X-factor ( yes I know, but I was going to do it in a rebellious way and was going to play the guitar and be myself)

The last time I was asked to come along to this thing at “Cargo” in London and to bring a CD of my songs. It was really grim but I smile when I think of it as I was myself and it confused the hell out of the panel. There were all these young guys in bands with their image sales talk honed. Everyone had submitted press packages and one had a publicity pack that filled an entire box file. Everyone had biographies and photos and had recorded their demos with professionals. As for me ,I was an old hippie in my hippie dress and I’d recorded something very experimental that afternoon called ” Pixies” using lots of samples of myself and tons of effects and although maybe it was like me, a bit untidy, I liked it!

When they played all the demos the “Panel of Music Biz Experts” all listened seriously and the young hopefuls were so nervous I thought some would pass out. They had perfectly produced tracks in immaculately copied genres or sub-genres of music. Then they were on trial and the judges criticised the lyrics or said the production wasn’t good enough or told them their image was wrong.

Then they played mine. I was laughing in the audience as they played it. It made Stockhausen sound like pop. It had no lyrics although there were vocals, lots of strange sounds and pretty awful production and I had scrawled my name on the CD. The panel looked annoyed.( but I still think it’s OK for an experimental track and it has a melody and proper guitar playing and I sing harmonies!) Three of them refused to make any comment saying it was a waste of their time and a guy I think the editor of DJ magazine actually liked it…well no he didn’t like it he just didn’t hate it as much as the others did. Then they asked the band responsible to stand up and there was me in my forties in my hippie dress facing the scum of the music biz and trying not to laugh. They said I knew how to use effects well but really not to bother.

I was so glad they didn’t like it and was even gladder when a month later I got one of my experimental tracks played on the Rob da Bank show on Radio One.

All those young guys in bands so nervous and wanting to please and spending a fortune , I’ve never seen or heard of them again and I was the one who got played on Radio One . There is some irony there.

So today as I watched on the TV the Empress Jo Whiley passing judgement on some band who was trying very hard to both look and sound original and to please a panel , I just thought of Hendrix and Lemmy and the 1970s version of Ozzie …I don’t think they would have appeared there and if they did they would have had to write music according to The Music Biz Bible ( I’m sure someone wanting to earn a buck has written one somewhere).

My God what has music come to? Whatever happened to the concept of rebellion in Music?

After watching more of that sad programme “The Mixdown” I realised it’s all like The Emperor’s New Clothes. The media tell you some band are fantastic and great and they become famous for a while but any trained musician can hear that what they are playing on their instruments is very simple , any poet can tell you their lyrics are either cliched or trying too hard to sound deep without any message. It’s all hype and even the musicians seem to believe it.

I also saw Top of The Pops 2 with a collection of awful Christmas singles, more nightmares of Christmas. Including this one. It’s Status Quo in costumes with a Paul McCartney song (well not really but it could be)

Merry Bloody Christmas! This song is growing on me..let’s revive The Wombles!

P.S. I just found out the band who won the “unsigned” competition are called “Revenue” it says it all really , you couldn’t have made it up!

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(Episode two) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell -Psychedelic rock bands, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Ralph McTell, Davy Graham, lightshows, poets, and drug-taking in a crypt


Interview with Dave Russell on the Arts and Community Centre Notting Hill in the 60s and 70s( Part Two)

Following on from my previous post here is episode 2 of my interview with Dave Russell from a couple of weeks ago. Here he continues to tell us of the gigs and wild arts happenings in Notting Hill 1967-1972 occurring first at The Ecumenical Centre in Denbigh Road Notting Hill which later moved to the bigger venue in the crypt of the Methodist Church in Lancaster Road otherwise known as “The Arts and Community Centre Notting Hill” where psychedelic bands such as Gong, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind performed, here he also tells us of acoustic musicians, poets and drug use on church premises.

Dave Russell interview episode 2

I’ll edit and upload the next episode of this interview in a couple of days time.

This is Ron Geesin with “Spiky Diving Bells”

Now I’m cheating by using a documentary of Hawkwind in the early Notting Hill years
(for those of you from outside the UK :Ladbroke Grove is a road and an area in the North End of Notting Hill where it was a bit rougher than than the south, Notting Hill is in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea but was a much poorer area)

I apologise for name-dropping but I just cannot post that Hawkwind clip without saying that I used to know both Mick Slattery and Terry Ollis who both feature in that clip and have casually played music with both of them..although I’m not sure what they think of me! I’ve also met Lemmy and Nik Turner but they won’t remember me and I don’t remember a lot about them!

This is the Amazing Davy Graham who is still gigging and very influential to British Folk musicians in the 60s

…..and here is Dave Russell himself performing

Back in a couple of days with episode three
Love and Peace
Born2rant

Apologies to anyone who doesn’t have broadband!

I’ll write some more stories soon but unfortunately some of the craziest ones I could write I won’t because I respect my old friends too much not just the ones in this post!

Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell – Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Gong and more…(Episode One)


Quintessence FlyerInterview with Dave Russell on the Arts and Community Centre Notting Hill in the 60s and 70s( Part One)

I first met my good friend Dave Russell in 1993 at “Bunjies” in Litchfield Street, off Charing Cross Road.
We both used to perform there regularly in their legendary folk cellar.
When I ran my own acoustic and poetry club I once billed Dave in the press as “The Godfather of Acoustic Punk” and the name has stuck. As well as being a singer-songwriter, poet and novellist, he is as you will hear an intellectual with a wide knowledge of the arts. Dave has been living in Notting Hill since 1964 and was friends with people who ran various arts events at the time.
I interviewed him to ask him about a particular club in Notting Hill in the crypt of a Methodist Church where bands like Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Gong and many more performed as well as being a place for anarchic artists, poets, writers, actors, dancers and people with radical new ideas.
I have edited the 37 minute interview for obvious reasons !
For technical reasons you will be able to hear the interview in little episodes ( I hope!)
So this should be episode one of my interview with Dave Russell
(it all sounds a bit like Radio 4!) I hope this works or I’ll have to annoy people in the wordpress forums once again!

Dave Russell interview -Episode One

Here is The People Show 1967 related to The People Band as described by Dave ( at the end is a teeny bit of Pink Floyd)

Pink Floyd in 1967 (introduced by a “square” with no imagination and definitely only smoking tobacco)

This is Quintessence in 1971 playing at Glastonbury


For those of you outside the UK and only know “Notting Hill” the film . In the Post-War years Notting Hill was a run down area of West London known for cheap housing and where imigrants settled mainly from the Caribbean. Notting Hill used to be full of slums back in the fifties, sixties, seventies and that is how all the musicians, writers, artists and intellectuals got to live here mostly by squatting or living in Housing Co-ops etc….

Love and peace Born2rant

For more stuff than the little bit I am writing about please visit the Terrascope Link I added in the side-bar

see also

(Episode two) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell -Psychedelic rock bands, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Ralph McTell, Davy Graham, lightshows, poets, and drug-taking in a crypt

(Episode Three) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell – Jazz, Psychedelic Rock Bands, Poetry, Frestonia, Release and Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments

(Episode Four) Dave Russell – Notting Hill 1967-1972 The Free School, Destruction in Art Symposium, Friends/Frendz magazine and the Rural Retreat

Coming soon..Notting Hill in the sixties


Hello good people

I just wanted to apologise for not doing the intended blog on Monday as promised yet. I am working on it!

It will appear over the next couple of days though.

I am having some technical difficulties of many dimensions!

It will be an interview with Dave Russell on the Music and Arts scene in Notting Hill in the late sixties and early seventies.

So check back in the next couple of days!

In the meantime this is a film taken in my living room on Saturday night ( well I wish!)

Love and Peace

Born2rant

Gong Live Now and Then


Hello good people

My blog was hacked into earlier this week which of course can make you a bit paranoid also very strange behaviour on my computer so I am offline a lot more!!!!! than usual in case anyone’s trying to contact me.

I thought I’d post a video of Gong who were had a great influence on me and other musicians I knew.

I think Gong is one of those totally underestimated bands that broke new ground in many ways. At the outset a lot of their music didn’t take itself too seriously and in fact they were very silly a lot of the time and sometimes disturbing . I guess because of their hippie characters and stories of gnomes and flying teapots and taking lots of drugs a lot of people might have ridiculed them.

However in my opinion it’s good to be silly ( if you knew my music you’d understand!). I think that to be creative you have to be prepared to play the fool. You have to be prepared to be a child and play in a sandpit of sounds and colours , to experiment and if you sing about death, or silliness, or drugs,or sex or any angle of life or personality or human experience or modern life, nothing should be taboo( only blandness and constant plagiarism).But then I am opinionated!

I believe to be truly creative and imaginative you have to be prepared to get messy and for no one necessarily to understand what you are doing.

Plus the live element of music with individuals in a band jamming to a point where they can guess by intuition the key change, the tempo change. That’s what made Gong and other bands so great and what is lacking in commercial music , in computer programmed music, and in the spirit of youth so petrified of standing out from the crowd and doing something NO ONE has ever done that they churn out music from a safe category.

Come on younger musicians prove me wrong! Go do something wild not just to get a record deal but for the progression of music/art/culture/vision/spiritual evolution!

In the meantime this is a weird combination that’s why I am putting it up.

A film I found of some footage of Gong at the Gong Unconvention in Amsterdam 2006

Here they are performing  “The Witch’s Song / I am your Pussy”  (Gilli Smyth/Daevid Allen)  from the  1973  album “Radio Gnome Invisible, Pt 1: Flying Teapot” ( not Angel’s Egg as I wrote before…it’s been a long time since I used to listen to these albums regularly!) .Young people , well younger than me anyway, into System 7 may recognise Steve Hillage in the middle in his black T-shirt to his left and right are Gilli Smith and Daevid Allen I don’t know the others….help me out!

For more excellent footage from the Amsterdam Gong Unconvention on youtube that cannot be embeded try this link

here’s Gong in 1972

Being experimental on French TV 1971

If you want to change anything you have to take risks!

Back Monday…Love and Peace

I can’t resist putting this one at the end!

Encrypted: psychedelic nights at the Deptford Crypt


Encrypted

This part is a bit about my involvement with The Crypt in Deptford. Although my memories are hazy I hope that it might spur others to write about their memories of this underground wild psychedelic club in the 1980s in the Crypt St Paul’s Church Deptford.St.Paul’s Church Deptford
(photo from Church website http://www.paulsdeptford.org.uk)

There were other nights run there including a gay night where I performed as Astragone Arglegargle. That experience and others involving The Crypt’s promoter and Club Dog would run into another few pages, also there were reggae sound systems and acid house music at a later date, but I will focus on just the 80s psychedelic club in this bit of writing.
The main band I went to see there was The Ozric Tentacles however some of the other bands included the following ( many of them start with “The” in their name!)
The Stone Roses, The Magic Mushroom Band, Treatment, The TV Personalities, The Invisible Band , The Cardiacs, Space Pirates, Wooden Baby, Nukli, and many many more……

thecryptdeptford.jpgPhoto from www.televisionpersonalities.co.uk

My first trip to the The Crypt must was around 1985 and was probably due to going to see my friends in the band “Treatment”. Through running gigs at Dead Dog promotions and playing in bands meant we were finding other people from the psychedelic scene in London or they were finding us.
For example I was in a band with Michael and some good friends (“Instant Istigkeit” you will never have heard of us, we only ever played at a couple of festivals), when we went up to Stonehenge in 1984. We played on a stage run by the Magic Mushroom band and we were supported by Dr and the Medics. Two of the girls in Dr. and the Medics hung out at our camp and told us how they had just got a manager and would soon be part of the music biz. I think it was through them that we got to know Christian and The Alice in Wonderland crew at Gossip’s in Soho. At a festival in Cambridge we met Rory from the Invisible Band who was running a stage and we played there. At the Norwich festival we met more London hippies doing interesting things and kept bumping into the same crowd. Since the Magic Mushroom Band and the others all played at the Crypt this was the link.
The guy who ran the club who I will call ” Kev” for legal reasons ( although his real name was Andy) was not a hippie at all .He was an ex-policeman and an entrepreneur who used his links with the local police to create a psychedelic club where you could get stoned all night and drink all night and know that you definitely would never get busted for either.
The Crypt was in the basement of St Paul’s church in Deptford. It’s still there now although no longer used as a club and the church website makes no mention of its history.
If you didn’t live in Deptford or in the area and didn’t have a car it was a very difficult place to travel to and back from. The club threw people out at around 4 a.m. or if you were lucky 6 a.m. and the first buses and trains did not start until 6.a.m.. There were night buses but only one every two hours or so, it was a question of having a car , hitching or begging a lift off someone home.
When the place was not full of punters before a show you could see it for what it really was.The place was a damp , mildewy, run down place with dirty walls and dirty floor and a dodgy loo without doors . But with the dope smoke , the fantastic lightshows, the colourlful drugged up crowd dancing like maniacs, and of course the amazing music , it became a magical place. There were very few public places in London you could smoke dope safely. All the hippies were cynical about the ex-copper but I never knew the place to get busted although maybe it did at a later date.
Since I was not living in South London in the eighties it was usually the trek there and back I remembered the most, like trying to find Shangri-La except unlike the Himalayas you could get mugged and the views weren’t as good( older hippies will understand the Shangri-La and “Lost Horizon” references).

A Night of Psychedelic Adventures circa 1986?

At that time the days of my every day life were quite mundane as a full-time single mum and socialising with other local parents living in Harlesden who had no connection with the psychedelic scene.
However I’ve always enjoyed a double life…
I think it might have been Halloween in 1986, I had the evening and night off.
I knew this biker couple called Jenny (a scouser) and Cedar ( not their real names). It’s so funny now because I thought Jenny was really much older than me at the time because she was thirty, I think Cedar was 25 the same as me.
Jenny and Cedar were bikers, they were an attractive couple and always dressed from head to toe in leather.
We planned( on the spur of the moment!) to go to The Marquee Club in Wardour Street to see The Cardiacs. I was going to try to get us in for free because they had seen me many times at Club Dog . We didn’t have much money on us but we went down there anyway. There were huge queues to get in to the place in Wardour Street and it sold out. We soon realised we wouldn’t get in as the place was exceeding the new fire regulations!
We decided to go to a pub nearby called “The Ship” just a couple of doors down. We went in there and at the bar next us I saw Lemmy. He was wearing a Motorhead Ace of Spades T-shirt and well..it was Lemmy!
I had seen Lemmy many times as he liked to walk up and down Portobello Road most Saturdays loudly in his boots when Michael and I used to run a stall there in the late 70s early 80s.Lemmy used to hang out in Notting Hill with a regular groups of bikers/headbangers who I knew vaguely but I’d never actually met Lemmy .
He was very famous at this time but I thought it was a safe bet to chat to him.
So while we were all lined up at the bar I nudged Jenny and whispered “Look who it is, we should say hello”, she nudged Cedar and in a macho blokey way Cedar took over the proceedings and talked to Lemmy while kind of keeping me and Jenny at bay.
Anyway we shook hands and eventually we went to sit down with him. He asked us all what we wanted to drink and bought us each a round and then he asked us what fags we smoked and he gave us each our favourite fags, for me it was rolling tobacco and rizzlas and he went out of his way to get some for me as there was none in the pub, but then he went to sit at another table and left us to it..
We sat there for a while and I suggested we should go to The Crypt because I knew the guy running it . I had performed at the Crypt as Astragone Arglegarle and Kev had messed me around over bookings and he knew he owed me a favour . So after that he always let me in for free ( you have to understand we had virtually no money on us).I knew the Ozrics were playing there as they’d told me.
But around that time the Ozrics told me something really weird….I had said to them that I’d seen them billed to be playing in 2 different venues in London on the same night. It might have been that night actually. Either Joie or Ed had told me they had 2 bands to cope with the amount of gigs they were doing. They had so many fans who wanted to play with them that they recruited people to play in 2 different Ozric Tentacles so the line up was different but then they could do two gigs in different places if necessary. In both bands there were some original members, actually now the members change at different gigs.
So anyway we were talking about this with Lemmy in the background at the next table waving to us from time to time…when this German guy started to talk to us . He was from Munich and very very tall and good looking he was also a musician. He said ” Do you know who just bought you drinks?” I said “Yes” and he joined us and said he would come with us to the Crypt although he didn’t have any money either! He sat with us and we talked and drank before leaving waving goodbye to Lemmy on the way out.
Anyway the funniest thing happened when we left the pub. You have to bear in mind that we chatted to Lemmy for about half an hour and told him how we liked his music etc…
Anyway as we left the pub Jenny said to me.
” Wow wasn’t that amazing meeting Ozzie!”
I told them them it wasn’t Ozzie Osbourne but Lemmy and they wouldn’t believe me at first and I kept saying ” But it was! He was even wearing a Motorhead t-shirt!” The German guy knew but not the bikers who spent most of their waking hours listening to Black Sabbath , AC/DC and Motorhead.
That was classic spending 30 minutes talking to Lemmy and them thinking it was Ozzie.
We set off for Deptford. We were trying to explain to the German guy that London was a very big place and that it might take us an hour or two to get there but he wouldn’t believe us. I remember showing him the A to Z to show him how big it was and him saying he knew every street in Munich how could I not know every street in London!
Anyway another thing I am very embarassed about on our journey there, this is not something I would do normally! We had no money and were a bit drunk and I was following what the others were doing. At Oxford Circus tube we jumped the barrier and then on our way to Deptford we got off at a station and Cedar started kicking a chocolate vending machine with great strength after losing his money when trying to buy a bar of chocolate…to our surprise all the money came out. I’m sure we frightened the life out of the other commuters waiting on the platform then we did this with other chocolate vending machines on the way. I can’t say I am proud of this however in the 80s if you were waiting for a train and tried to buy chocolate nine times out of ten the machine would eat your money and refuse to give you chocolate . I’d lost a few pounds before in those rip-off vending machines so had everyone else, in fact I think some commuters cheered when they saw what we were doing.
I was the only one who knew the way to the Crypt vaguely , I think I got us lost but we got there in the end. Kev let me in free but the others had to pay half price.

The Ozrics were playing and the vibe was amazing. All these girls were on stage and dancing with them, this had never happened at Club Dog. Some people I knew were doing the lightshow, the place was packed solid and everyone was doing mad psychedelic dancing and bumping into eachother under the strobes. Not all the original Ozrics were there but Joie was there and Rollie , Ed’s brother who played bass. Sadly he died at a later date but I don’t know what happened. The crowd were going mental and it was a young crowd of new hippies and I realised that night their career was going to take off . Before that they’d had a big following but it was more traveller and crusty types, now they had pretty young girls with beautiful hippie clothes dancing on stage with them.
I was all dressed up in some kind of hippie/goth evening dress that night and danced like a lunatic but not long after we arrived Jenny and Cedar and the German guy decided to go home to catch the last tube. I didn’t didn’t want to go..it was the middle of the bloody gig, we’d only been there for half an hour. So I stayed. As I sobered up I realised I would have to find a way home because the Crypt finished at 4 in the morning and although there were buses somewhere, they only ran once every two hours. I wasn’t prepared to hang around the streets of Deptford on my own waiting for a bus all night in the freezing cold…I didn’t feel safe.
Anyway I kept dancing and at the end of the gig I asked anyone I vaguely knew if they could give me a lift to Trafalgar Square where there would be night buses back home. No one I knew could help me as they lived in South London.
In the end I asked Joie who was packing up. He said I could come to his squat in south London but it would be crowded. I said it didn’t matter if I could make some tea and hang out there until 6 am. when the tubes started it would do me.
He drove to his place in Clapham and I met his new girlfriend from another psychedelic band. He told me that things had started to get stressful with a bit of fame and how these girls were beginning to get on stage with them. I’d assumed that they knew these girls and that they were part of the act but they weren’t, they just jumped on stage with them and made themselves look like they were with the band. I hung out at their place until the tubes started again. What a weird night!
( Erpland live at the Fridge, Brixton, May 19th 1991..)

Picture of Chill Out /Dogs in Space Tent Solfest 2007 thanks to Mike Cupcakedogsinspacetentsolfest1.jpg

All those years ago and so much water under the bridge but if you were part of that scene it was so special it stays with you forever. I had a very special time at Solfest this year and saw and met so many musicians I used to know and respect and recently seeing some my friends from Treatment and making new friends on myspace and at “Born to Go” a new psychedelic club in Hitchin. I am now meeting people I didn’t know from the same scene.
Anyway if anyone out there would like to write their memories or be interviewed for this blog please let me know.

Midweek expect a short blog and next Monday more stories of hippie counter culture/psychedelic music and/or my political ranting. Love and Peace.Born2rant!