The Big Green Dispersion and Solfest 2009


Hello Good People who read this blog ,

(to anyone who read my Guilfest post, I have just added a video clip of Alice Armstrong at the end of it)

Just a note to say  that I just got an email from my son telling me that “The Big Green Gathering“, probably the official festival most like the older style alternative free festivals of the eighties , has been cancelled.

The Big Green Gathering really does represent  alternative hippie counterculture in all its creative and political forms, so it’s very sad.

Some footage of the Big Green Gathering one of many clips to be found on youtube but this one is particularly well put together.

Here is the notice from the BGG website:

Welcome to
The Big Green Gathering
The world’s premier and award winning Green Festival
Attitude Is Everything – Bronze Level Award
July 29th – 2nd August 2009
urgent message

Dear Friends,
following threatened injunction proceedings in High Court by Mendip District Council supported by Somerset & Avon Police and having taken extensive advice from a prominent QC and other eminent lawyers, the directors of the Big Green Gathering have been left with no other option than to voluntarily surrender the license for the Big Green Gathering 2009. The event will now not take place and the directors’ advice and request is that no one intending to attend the event should attempt to do so, as the site is now closed and they are likely to be turned away by Somerset Police. It is our intention to avoid any form of confrontation or public disorder in regard to this and it is our earnest hope that all those involved will follow this advice. It is with great sadness that we have been forced into this position and we express our profound apologies to all those concerned. The Directors of The Big Green Gathering

This is a very last minute decision. I don’t fully understand why the festival has been banned by the local council and police.

According to the BBC , the festival is cancelled for safety reasons as well as crime. Is this the whole reason? Or is it to stop political subversives from meeting in large quantities?

see BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/8169477.stm

is it really that dangerous that it must be closed down?

It looks like a great way to socialise kids and help them to build for the future when the world will change through our abuse of it.

Here are some more highly dangerous and criminal activities at the BGG.Young people making their own films of the festival. These are fantastic.

**********************************************************************************************************

Meanwhile I should be going to Solfest in Cumbria at the end of August( 28th -30th) ,after going to Hawkwind’s 40th Anniversary gig at Porchester Halls in London the night before.

It’s a long way from London but still my favourite festival, the atmosphere is much friendlier than festivals in the south and people go there not to see any particular band but for the festival experience.Everyone is co-operative and creates a good atmosphere, Saturday is “Fancy Dress” day,which is always spectacular and inventive.

I recommend it for any hippies out there who can no longer go to The Big Green Gathering, but get your tickets early.

It only costs £85 for the weekend  including camping  and car with very limited tickets. You can get there easily from Carlisle by train and minibus.

from the Solfest website:

“Tickets for Solfest 2009 will be available from the following outlets:

  • The Carnegie Theatre, Workington, 01900 602122 (telephone and counter sales, cash and cards accepted)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Aspatria (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Wigton (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Silloth (over the counter cash sales only)

For Solfest 2009 there will be a total of 6500 adult tickets available. There will also be a total of 750 children’s tickets and 750 Young people’s tickets. When they are gone, they are gone!”

Although I said that it isn’t the bands that matter, the line-up includes The Charlatans who I saw do a great live gig at Guilfest. Other acts include The Orb, Kula Shaker, Adrian Edmonson and the Bad Shepherds, The Beat ( who I was told did a great set at Guilfest too), The Buzzcocks, the  Blockheads, Nerina Pallot, and many more.

Solfest has all the things lacking at Guilfest in terms of quality of festival-going experience.

A sample from last year’s Solfest , as part of the goings-on in the all night Dogs in Space chill out tent featuring a bit of  Tetchi who are billed to play again there this year (this film makes the tent look a lot darker than in real life, it was actually fairly bright in there).

Any comments on why you think The Big Gathering was cancelled?

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. thanks to the UK Hippie Forum, I have found this update about what to do if you have a ticket.Is there a UK Beatnik Forum? and a UK Crusty Forum? and if not why not?

Next time a radio show I made about the songwriting communities of Open Mic clubs in London.

From BGG website ( note that Gong are playing the Big Chill keep referring to the BGG website for news, the Big Chill is a good place if you want a holiday but it’s nothing like the BGG experience in terms of  green anarchy, still I think  it’s good that they’ve done this, better that than leave people totally stranded)

Several other festivals have already approached us, offering to accept BIg Green Gathering tickets for their events. Some have placed no limit on the number of our ticket holders they will accept. Others have offered us a quota… and have told us that they will announce, on their websites, how many they can accomodate and how many places for BGG ticket holders they still have left. So far, if you have paid for a ticket (whether full price or concession) you will find it is definitely good for full admission to SUNRISE 2010 (late May 2010, Somerset) See website for details of how their BGG swap quota is standing and we are hoping, soon, to announce similar swap options for several festivals. Watch this space please.
ALSO
If you are willing to pay an extra £20, you can swap your Big Green Gathering ticket for a ticket to the BIG CHILL. All you have to do is turn up at the gate of the Big Chill with your BGG ticket and your extra £20. We’ll have a stall there, and some of the same speakers who were on our bill (including Jonathan Cainer) will be in their Words In Motion tent. Also on the Big Chill bill are Max Romeo, Gong, Pharoah Sanders and Music from the Penguin Cafe, plus comedy from Noel Fielding, Tim Minchin, John Hegley, Josie Long and Rob Deering.
Click here for the link. Please note; the Big Chill is not yet a Green event but they do have a long history of supporting honourable causes including Amnesty International… and they are now starting to use more solar and wind power. Solar Aid have a presence there this year.
OR
If you really want to make a gesture of faith and support… you can hold on to your ticket and we will honour it at the next Big Green Gathering, wherever and whenever it will be.
If we can avoid having to give too many straight refunds, it will help us survive. And if you are feeling extra-ordinarily generous, you can simply write to us telling us that you are ‘donating’ your ticket towards our survival fund.



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!

The Chainsaw Party (still feeling guilty about this)


The Chainsaw Party Poster

(Poster from the attic of Michael Dog. Thanks. This post was written before the poster was found so that’s why it might sound weird!)

I still remember the day we went to look at the venue and made the deal with the liberal and ever so sweet vicar.

The Church Hall was a huge old barn with oak beams and a newly renovated parquet floor. As Michael told the vicar that we were unemployed musicians wanting to do something for ourselves by running a concert and the vicar offered us the hall for free, I wanted to say something urgently as apocalyptic visions of mud on new wooden floors and possibly other damages worried me. But in the end I said nothing , I let them get on with it, I still wish I had said something .

The Chainsaw Party was a concept partly influenced by our finding 80s heavy metal bands extremely camp and funny and watching the Comic Strip doing ” Bad News” plus “Spinal Tap” etc…

Michael and Bob formed a heavy metal band with our friend James on lead vocals whose antics knew no limits and a couple of other friends. Their name was Bludgen (although I thought it was Bludgeon …don’t know who is right so I’ll use Michael’s spelling).

The day of the gig I was sent to the butcher’s to go buy some offal, as a vegetarian it was not an easy task. I also bought some cling film and experimented with a mixture of bright green powder paint, flour, oil and water which I was to cover myself with from head to toe before wrapping myself in cling film.

When I got to the church hall the usual lengthy preparations were under way including mounting projectors for the lightshow and films and decorating the room with scrim-netting , blowing up balloons ( the nitrous oxide cylinder which came from an unknown source was popular backstage) and general shifting of music equipment.

It was a very cold night with snow and ice outside so it must have been in winter 1984 0r 85?

As well as Bludgen they had booked Giant Aphid Attack fronted by Karen, which was a psychedelic punk band who played at a few of our events. Also on the bill was The Cannibals, a well-known garage surf band who are still going strong, I met and chatted to Spencer before the gig. I think Adam of Treatment and maybe Clive were in the band. Treatment were usually always booked to play but this time they were peppered around the other bands. It would be good to meet up with a few people and get things like band line-ups etc. straight for that memorable gig.

We had run a previous gig in a town hall where no one had turned up and part of the reason for having a spoof heavy metal party was because we knew so many bikers . We affectionately called them Hendon MC and the name stuck although most of them came from Finchley.

As the gig began and we let the public in, we were pleased to see that there was a crowd. However soon the bikers came inside the hall, on their motorbikes, they were going round in circles and filling the venue with fumes and putting tyre marks on the parquet flooring. Eventually after much showing off they parked their bikes near the front on the right side. On the left hand side of the stage there was a paddling pool full of peat where a mud wrestling contest was held. The audience being mainly made up of bikers and in a general atmosphere of rowdiness, the mud wrestling and pelting continued throughout the evening and at one point the paddling pool collapsed altogether spilling a mud pond all over the floor.

Half way through the evening I went on covered from head to foot in green slime and cling film and a dress ( I am glad I chose to wear the dress at the last minute as people were constantly coming up to me and peeling off my cling film ). I was the alien cabaret Astragone Arglegarle\'s first gig ( not a flattering photo of me)( see Anti-media stories part one for more details). I was pelted with mud by skinheads while I sang ” She just desperately wants hippies” then ” Your slime mingled with mine” ( quite appropriate when covered in green slime and mud pies) and told a few jokes.

Later Bludgen took the stage fronted by one of our friends James who enjoyed doing dangerous things. I had bought the offal for their act and he had put it in a life-sized papier mache head. I will now let Michael tell you some of the rest of the story in his words.

” Yes there was indeed a papier mache head filled with offal which James stamped on till it burst and then threw the contents out into the audience who then proceeded to throw bits of offal at each other.(It was herrings in blown up durexes at the next gig!)
Bob was hanged on a theatrical gallows during one number. The harness that he was wearing went wrong and he found himself REALLY hanging by his neck though none of us were aware! Thankfully, the gallows collapsed under his weight, damaging his Les Paul guitar, but saving his life in the process!”

Some Bludgen song titles: ‘Suck My Dick’, ‘Hendon MC Born To Be Free’ and ‘You’re Dead’.

“Someone called Louise did indeed bring a chainsaw (which she was waving about switched on) onstage and at one point, she waved it from behind, between James’s legs which he was unaware of. I noticed it whilst I was playing and remember thinking how close he came to losing his manhood in spectacular fashion….And yes, I did buy and wear a pair of too tight PVC trousers, that split at
the crotch…and I wasn’t wearing underpants!

Poor vicar!”

After the gig we did all we could to salvage the hall. We were all tired and pretty much out of it. There was a glass eating contest going on in the kitchen which I was trying to stop between a friend and another biker. They kept munching their way through beer glasses and I kept telling them to stop whilst simultaneously amazed that there was no blood or cuts even though they were biting through real glass. I guess it was some kind of biker miracle.

Luckily quite a few people stayed to clear up , I remember mopping up for hours and hours with the back door open and snow and ice everywhere as we tried to get all the mud that had tipped out from paddling pool outside. I spent all night cleaning but the place was a wreck, the balloons had flown up to the joists in the roof, I think someone was trying to shoot them down with an air gun, the tyre marks and oil spillage from the bikers on the parquet flooring….

Yes poor vicar . I think we gave him some money for the damages but still…

It was a great party and it’s on film somewhere although I have not seen it.

That’s all for now.

Thanks to Gordon from Treatment for the photo and to Michael Dog for his verbal contribution.

(If anyone reading this was there and can remember any other details please let me know)

There’s a load of crap on the TV again(Anti-Media stories part 4).


anti-media continued…. mess-age-magnet-on-careers.jpg

Some other memories of the Anti-Media films. They took lots of footage at Wapping where there were protests by printers at job losses due to computerisation . I think I may be getting some of my years mixed up…apologies for that ,Wapping was in 1986 but I am talking about involvement with Anti-Media events for a period of a couple of years so when I have written 1983 it could have been 1985! I will write more about this in other blogs connected to Club Dog and Alice in Wonderland’s Magical Mystery Trip.
They also had films of shop dummies in windows, it was a bit eerie.
I remember attempting to do stand-up “alien” comedy jokes at our events at Pentameters. My jokes died live on stage. I realised telling jokes was not my forte but throwing jelly at the audience saying it was my ex-husband who suddenly disintergrated was making them laugh, as was playing my silver fake electric guitar, getting out of my silver cardboard box spaceship, emerging from being covered in a mass of newspaper like a mummy shedding it’s bandages, singing love songs to Mr.Spock ( not Dr. Spock) and general anarchy.
I performed as Astragone Arglegargle in many different contexts but performing at the Anti-media events at Pentameters gave me a space to experiment with my act ,write and record new materials, in front of a small supportive audience before doing bigger events or performing to hostile audiences!
I also had an act of performing “Opera Classics”. At that time there were some awful albums of “Rock Classics” i.e. orchestras playing perfectly harmonic arranged and orchestrated versions of famous rock songs and in one fell swoop missing the point of rock music altogether. So I dressed up in a beautiful pink and yellow long dress , wore some kind of fake pearls and sang songs in a suprano fake operatic voice with appropriate posh body language, facial expressions and gestures. I sang Arias including
Hey Fattie Bum-bum“, (Sweet sugar dumpling) by Carl Malcolm, “War Pigs ” ( Black Sabbath), ” Assault and Battery” ( of the human anatomy) by Hawkwind, and of course ” Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols and other songs I can no longer remember.
Although this kind of thing has been done since then it was a first at the time.
I gave Christmas cards at one event but had tippexed out all the messages and instead gave the audience cards with unusual messages such as ” Throw away your TV” or random symbolic messages from the I Ching or vague affirmations on self-realisation. This was also before the concept of ” affirmations” tore its way into popular psychology books and made us feel guilty for not being able to achieve our perfect goals for ever more.
There was also performance poetry, from a poet with a club in Barnet, it was as I recall stream of consciousness stuff. There were a lot of masks and balaclava helmets, there was spontaneous political anti-corporate/anti-media ranting, jazz piano playing, live graffitti, more films slash edited and experimental in the style of Jean-Luc Godard , strange trousers and costumes, always deliberately wearing the most unfashionable types of clothing, more interviews with people in hair, fashion and maybe even TV executives, Jud Suss, ( a band of multi-instrumentalists mostly of Jewish families pretending to be Hasidic Jews with much melodramatic wailing naming themselves after an anti-semitic nazi film ..more in another blog), more films, more poets, more crazy music and acts of nonsense .
Leonie was always there in the background like a benevolent force smiling on.
I wish I could remember more but because I had to memorise my own bits and pieces and was often cowering with stage nerves at the side of the stage during the other films and random acts I didn’t always take in what was going on.
However one day we went too far for Pentameters and for the world.

Unbeknown to me there were plans afoot in Hogan and Richard’s mind of which I knew nothing , on this occasion and others. They seemed like such sweet young polite lads too!
After an evening of performances, I finished the show or so I thought with a bit of Astragone Arglegargle alien Music-Hall type stuff.
Then Hogan and Richard put a large TV on the stage. Both of them looked really serious and were in the wings. I just knew something bad was about to happen.
Hogan went on stage and faced the television set, he looked like he was doing some kind of ritualistic silent prayer with the TV set as an altar and made ritual gestures. Then he unzipped his trousers and pissed on the TV. I remember being worried in case he electrocuted himself.
Now forgive me for forgetting who exactly performed the next bit but I had my head turned away and left pretty promptly around this time. So I cannot remember if it was Hogan or Richard , but someone then made the most enormous sausage of poo on top of the TV set.
I heard later that they had been saving it up for 5 days to be sure it would work.
The punchline was ” Look ! There’s a load of crap on the tele as usual!” ( boom,boom,)
A lot of the audience left but about 3 remained and Clive ( Treatment) then grabbed a bagel which was on a table put a bit of shit in the middle and went up to individual members of the audience saying:” Would anyone like a shit sandwich?”
I left. I was slightly peeved that they hadn’t warned me that a show I was taking part in was about to make such a coup.
The place cleared easily with some heckling and later we regrouped at Bob’s place up the road where I seem to remember Clive removed the banister from the staircase by accident of drunkenness. The first time I met Clive a few years before, he was crawling down a staircase head first and there have been a few Clive staircase related incidents since..odd.
Leonie was not at all happy she ordered Hogan and Richard to have the place fumigated and disinfected and I believe Pentameters had to close down and cancel shows as a result. I think the shit sandwich had been passed around a bit too much.
That was the last Pentameters Anti-Media event sadly…but Anti-Media was not dead. If you think that was extreme forget it!
Next time I write you’ll understand why names were changed.
(I so wish blogs were not written with the last one at the top…it would be better the other way around. Thanks for reading.)

What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity(Anti-Media stories part 5)

Modern Life is Rubbish and Harpers and Queen, glossy fashion magazine!(Anti-Media stories part 3)


Now…..Back to the Anti-Media Events

Some further memories of our Anti-Media events at Pentameters.
I remember another film Hogan made which was shown at their events but also at our psychedelic gigs at Club Dog/ Alice in Wonderlands and various venues.

There were 3 bored looking teenage Teddy Boys sitting in a bus shelter. One of the Anti-Media crew had a stencil and a spray can and went up in front of them and started to spray anti-media graffitti. The 3 sullen looking Teds looked on almost interested but then something extraordinary happens. You have to understand that the Anti-media films were of real life nothing was set up. I can’t remember if it was Hogan or Richard doing the graffitti but a police car stopped and he was arrested.
The film continues outside Paddington Green Police station where they hold high security terrorists he walks out released after hours of questioning. He is smiling and looking bemused. It was a great unplanned little story.

Fame through Graffitti

I used to smile each time I came across some Anti-Media graffitti in London , I knew my friends had been there. They had a couple of slogans.
One of them was ” Modern Life is Rubbish” and like” Anti-Media” or “Sierra Scum” ( they had something against people driving new Ford Sierras!) could be found sprayed in numerous locations. One of the last places I saw it was on the outside wall of a big hotel on the Bayswater Road close to Marble Arch. That must have been up there for 15 years at least.
I once heard in an interview I think with Alex James or another member of Blur that they had seen some “hippie” graffitti saying “Modern Life is Rubbish” around London and decided to name their album after it.
We were surprised and a bit gutted that our slogan had been used by Blur and gone into mass production and the mass media.

I just looked up on Wikipedia this snippet according to them:
“When the album was released, Albarn was rumoured to graffiti the album name with a spray paint can to reproduce the title in public places such as toilets in public houses and on walls to raise the profile of the new album.[5] Bassist Alex James said of the graffiti in a 2007 interview, “We got fined by Colchester Council for spraying the title on a wall. There’s probably a frame around it now”.”

Well you can’t trust Wikipedia or the media for accuracy. Although so many people do.
I don’t know about Colchester but it was definitely the Anti-media people who had graffitied “Modern Life is Rubbish” throughout central London in 1983 onwards, I never saw one that looked like it was from a different stencil to ours.There are more links between Anti-Media and Blur but you will have to be patient.
In the meantime I encourage bored teenagers to find places to do political graffitti. Not tags, that’s like dogs peeing to mark their territory, come on if you’re a teenager be a rebel what’s wrong with young people today? Their minds are enslaved! Come on do something political away from CCTV cameras. In fact all of us should get the spray cans out and decorate our cities with witty political slogans. Make them works of art or like me just write a blog and hope the right people find it.
( It’s legal still, just about!)
I remember I was performing at a cabaret night in the Finchley Road one night and got drunk, some of my Anti-media allies came to the night and on the way back home me still in my green slime, I seem to remember climbing up on a roof and spraying “Modern Life is Rubbish” . But that doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing I would do normally…maybe I imagined it while a bit inebriated.

back to some more recollections of our Pentameters events…

(apologies in advance to my son who will read this)

Our son Ben was about 2 and a half or 3 at this time. We decided to do an improvised play (most things were improvised at our shows) with him. We told our son that he had to pretend to be our parent and tell us off if we did anything wrong and that we would pretend to be the babies. Ben thought this was a great idea and though very young he was extremely eloquent and comfortable with groups of adults. So Michael and I and Ben took to the stage with no rehearsal .Ben was the star of the show. Michael was squatting bouncing up and down with a dummy in his mouth and I was doing something, I think I was pretending to cry and teasing Michael.
Ben was a fantastic improv artist alternating in comforting us , talking to us gently and patting us if we were crying and when we were hitting each other or being naughty he was warning us in an authoritative but kind voice, then if we were really naughty he was pointing at us telling us off angrily and spanking us…. I don’t know where he learnt his parenting skills from!
Of course it was fun being the two naughty children but mainly I was stunned at how well our young son could role play.
The audience loved it and so did our son who felt at last he got his rightful place in charge of us parents ( mind you no great change there! Sorry Ben! But everyone thought you were fantastic and it’s the one Anti-Media scene people still remember now).
A photographer took pictures of Ben with one of us in a Nazi helmet ( I think) and these were published in that stylish glossy fashion magazine “Harpers and Queen”. How on earth “Harpers and Queen” got to find out about us is a mystery to me but I was asked along to an interview in Pimlico at the time and since the group wanted to remain anonymous and they had all these political ideas of what we should or should not say I just kept out of it. I was too scared of blabbering on as usual in my uncensored way and upsetting someone.
I have the article somewhere and if I ever find it I might quote bits in a subsequent blog.

I have just found out that Harpers and Queen is now called Harpers Bazaar, isn’t that bizarre?

I suppose it’s like Jif and Cif or Marathon and Snickers.

Next Time more terrible tales of Anti-Media…

There’s a load of crap on the TV again(Anti-Media stories part 4).

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