The Quintessence of Ladbroke Grove, Glastonbury Fayre 1971, Meanwhile Gardens, Here & Now and alternative community spirit


Hello Good People who read this blog….

If you like this post please could you rate it with stars or add a nice comment, thanks!

My friend and mentor Brian R. Banks sent me a link to a wonderful piece about the band Quintessence  from the ezine It’s Psychedelic Baby, to celebrate the release of their complete Island Records recordings.  In his article Brian describes the vibe of creativity at the time in the Ladbroke Grove area. He also has a very interesting interview with former Quintessence band member Raja Ram a.k.a. Ronald Rothfield who also depicts ‘the Grove‘ or Ladbroke Grove area, filled with musicians, squatters, and people living alternative lifestyles. Please follow this link to read Brian’s excellent article: http://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2017/06/raja-ram-quintessences-complete-island.html

If you are wondering what Quintessence sound like, below here there is a film of them playing at Glastonbury 46 years ago.

They sing :

‘If you want a life that is free

If you want a life full of happiness

You’ve got to turn your back on fear and shame

Leave it, Leave it all behind you

Have no fear,

You’ve got to turn your back on Fortune and Fame

You’ve got to leave it all behind you

You’ve got  to leave it all behind you, ever free.’

Of course the Glastonbury Fayre was free to ‘get into’ , or rather walk into, in 1971. Others performing at this festival included a young David Bowie, Gong, Hawkwind, Traffic, Melanie, and Fairport Convention.

If you don’t like the music of Glastonbury 2017 and like me, could not afford to go there anyway, you can watch a documentary about  the free festival of Glastonbury Fayre (1971) here. To listen to Quintessence, play this video from exactly one hour onwards:

Today I walked down Portobello Road market, I found tucked away under the Westway in Acklam Road  there were residents and friends of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, selling cakes, clothes and a variety of things where the money goes directly to those affected. It’s going on tomorrow (Sunday 25th) as well, a bit hard to find but worth going to. I gave them a small donation and wished them good luck, but they really appreciated my modest  contribution. I was glad they organised something, just wish it was in the middle on Portobello Road and took up the whole market and wished they’d opened up the little ampitheatre in Meanwhile Gardens where bands used to play Saturday evenings for free, they could have passed the hat around and done a great benefit gig. Today so many rules and regulations and they are ignored by companies in terms of fire protection but if a few people want to gather and have a free gig , is that allowed? I hope someone does run a free gig there for the community to remember and not let it be only a grand  Simon ‘Chimney Brush-head’ Cowell production.

If you are wondering what I am talking about here is a documentary about Meanwhile Gardens from 1981; Music performance @ 20-23 mins, and in view of recent events, a rather disturbing giant Guy Fawkes Bonfire (30mins in):

 

I went to many gigs at Meanwhile Gardens including probably this one:

I was going to write about other alternative lifestyle things in Notting Hill but have to go now. I will leave you with more wonderful Here & Now from 1978 (Careful with that effects pedal Steffe). On the youtube video below there are some great photos. I recognise people, marquees, The Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe, etc……I wish I could find my old photos…people at free festivals didn’t want to be photographed a lot of the time. There are also photos of alternative lifestyles in Latimer Road with tower blocks from the estate in the background, possibly Grenfell Tower or tower blocks still standing nearby.

 

 

‘You’ll plot and scheme to get your way,

but you haven’t the got guts to do it yourself,

so you make an alliance with somebody else,

A thousand years it’s been the same,

political parties in power again,

if you’re listening man, I’d like to say,

Floating Anarchy is a better way!’  (Here & Now ‘What You See….Is What You Are’ 1978).

This is really great music and spirited musical performance..Please listen to this before bed and/or play it to your children and grandchildren instead of a bedtime story.

So wishing you Love & Peace, sending good wishes and hugs to all those affected by the Grenfell Fire disaster, let us rebuild a free creative community spirit where and when we can.

 

 

 

 

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.



Solfest (Cumbria) 2008…a personal journey


Hello Good people who read this blog

(there may be some editorial mistakes I missed still swimming about)

( this post is very long to save your eyes from going funny copy it & print it!)

I am still coming down from the high of going to Solfest where although there were some initial stresses a thoroughly good time was enjoyed by myself and my companions.

You just can’t beat Solfest as a small friendly creative festival. It has no pretentions of grandeur it is what it is like most of the festival attendees it’s simply there being alternative, subversive, artistic, musical and just a having bloody good time . It doesn’t need to do any social climbing or promote itself.

It sold out but it doesn’t sell out to corporate nonsense or music biz nonsense.

The clips I put up were made by other people I was too busy enjoying myself to film anything!

This is the Human Jukebox you have to put a pound and they will play what you chose!

The Journey to Solfest

Although my son decided to travel from London up to the festival some 10 million miles away in a small car containing 4 blokes,  4 different types of guitar, a mixer, a saxophone, computers, a keyboard and 4 tents, 4 rucksacks and probably more. I decided to travel up the easy way by train and was due to borrow one of the lad’s guitars to perform as I couldn’t carry mine along with everything else.

I have a lot of respect for any festival that puts on a free bus from the local train station and no respect for those who don’t! We all need to be green and some of us don’t drive. There was a lot of traffic trying to get into the festival  and our friendly patient minibus driver took us through the lake district on a detour to avoid congestion he then took me and a couple of others near the artist’s gate which I was very grateful for.

There were a few teething problems on the Friday at The Chill-Out (Dogs in Space) stage jointly organised by Michael Dog of Megadog and Fred of SPACED which was where I was due to camp and perform. I think there were gremlins at work either that or just the heavy rain. The power was failing frequently all evening leaving punters in the dark and with acts having to start and stop, plus there were sound problems with feedback when anyone used a microphone onstage and other technical problems with speakers and then with the generator but the vibe was still good. Thanks to the hard work and brainpower of the crew the many various difficulties were all sorted out by Saturday . I was due to perform the next day at Saturday lunchtime and didn’t really start to relax and enjoy myself fully until after my gig.

Another creative lunatic from Solfest this year!

Never lend a guitar to a man at a festival (even if it’s Bob Dylan wanting try out his new song)

I got up Saturday around 11a.m. after a couple of hours sleep , being camped backstage is great in many ways but you have to be able to sleep through the universal “doof-doof-doof-dum dum doof-doof-doof etc…” from the Dance Tent combined with the much quieter all night djs in the Chill Out tent and louder than both of these were the bass lines bursting out from the Disco Fromage nearby.

Subsequent nights I slept fine with some well placed earplugs and an extra layer of clothing to keep me warm in bed.

I had my pre-gig nerves but knew these could be handled if I followed my plan to rehearse alone and spend some quiet time to relax before going on.  But hey, it’s a festival… I should have known better than expect anything to go to plan!

I borrowed a six string acoustic guitar from one of the two Hamishes resident at the Chill-Out tent.

I started to rehearse backstage with a bit of an audience and this poet who was also about to go stage just before me wanted to play me a song and said he was going to use the guitar onstage. He was a nice guy and in spite of the fact that I soon wanted to garrotte him with a guitar string in a very unhippie way I am sure he is still a very nice guy.

I reluctantly handed him the guitar and to cut a very long story short this was a big mistake. He kept telling me that if I was nervous I had to do this breathing exercise and trying to persuade me to do this exercise while simultaneously breaking the strings on the guitar one by one. Then he was rushing off to get another string to put it on and then telling me to do the breathing exercise again for my nerves, then showing me how to put on a guitar string ( as if I didn’t know how to do this after putting them for myself for 35 years) and each time he would snap the string again. Somehow he got through two spare sets of guitar strings. He would not let me or the owner of the guitar have it back as he was deeply apologetic and was adamant he would fix it himself.

I lost count of how many strings he broke after 4 or 5 I could no longer stand watching him and was frantically going up to random people asking them to lend me an acoustic guitar as I was about to play on stage. Eventually he found a replacement guitar for us ( thanks to Blenkie the owner of said guitar)   but I decided I’d had enough and was not going to risk any more damage. In a very unhippie way,  I grabbed the guitar and made a mad dash off with it while the poet was still telling me to do this breathing exercise to calm my nerves.

The adrenaline from stage nerves , the string breaking incident plus some feedback problems on stage meant my performance had a few mistakes in it but no one seemed to notice and it went well, the lovely  people at Solfest came up to me throughout the festival to say they enjoyed it.

I sincerely hope to play there again and other festivals but with my own guitar which will be kept hidden from poets.

Doof! (Mr Psik)

Some of the people I met

Here is one of the enthusiastic and vibrant people I met and saw perform  Buntyface in the Chill-Out tent this year but this footage is from the previous year…need to feed my brain now…

All the people I met at Solfest were friendly and approachable although a minority were too out of it to really communicate including one old hippie complete with hippie hat who came into the Chill-Out tent and played with the decor of dangling shiny silver threads in the middle of the tent then proceeded to climb on the tables and fall on people, another old drunken hippie was shouting “What about me?” to various people  very loudly during a film and I also saw a steward crawling into a speaker under the stage to pass out from the evening’s excesses ( I checked to see that he was still breathing). But generally speaking people were able to hold full conversations and/or dance wildly to the proceedings.

Various people made an impression on me for instance I was chatting to a singer the same age as me. She said she wouldn’t even bother with women who lied about their age that it was a kind of dishonesty , that she was proud of who she was and that her age meant she was able to give advice to people. She was a (young) grandmother and proud of it. She also had a disability which meant she had to take very strong painkillers every four hours, even in the middle of the night or be in such pain that she would pass out and needed a special kind of bed to sleep in.  This woman was performing in a band and camping at a festival. She also had a varied lovelife. I suddenly felt that there were no excuses not to live your life fully no matter what your circumstances and to wear your age with pride.

I was also impressed by a woman working at “The Camel’s Arse”café one morning. She was single-handedly taking a constant stream of orders, dealing with the money and calling out people’s names when their meals were ready. She was clearly exhausted and stressed and yet she had a smile on her face illustrated with facepaints and greeted each customer with a welcoming cheerful tone that warranted a medal.

The Saturday fancy-dress code enabled people to be endlessly inventive. There were hundreds of interesting costumes for instance in our tent I saw someone dressed as a whoopie cushion, a couple of dominos danced with a pack of  fascinated little children while a Big Friendly Giant on stilts scared them a bit.
Outside at night I saw an incredible sight. Four illuminated people on bicycles. Each bike and rider covered with carefully placed fairy lights, each  a seperate colour, they were spectacular when they cycled in the darkness.

Loads of men in drag, usually the butch macho men.

Outside the Chill-Out tent I shared a fag with “Martin” and “Amy”, two bumbling drunk hairy macho scousers with big black wigs, mini skirts ( frequently falling down and needing to be pulled up again), and make-up plastered on their face. One of them staggered up to me and asked if I had any crack cocaine. I was a bit taken aback until I realised he was “in character” and was pretending to be Amy Winehouse. He showed me his tattoos on one bicep he had a delicatedly drawn diagram of male sexual equipment and on the other a more scrawled “BLAKE”. “Martin” who I suggested should be called “Martina”  was well over six foot tall . He asked me if I liked his make up as he had spent hours getting ready. I looked up at his face, his crimson lipstick was not just on his lips but also plastered all around his stubbly face along with eyeliner that was also heftily and precariously applied. I just looked at him and laughed. They ranted about how they had left their wives and children and were going to have the operation and other things. Everything they said and did made me laugh. I told them they made a great double act and should be onstage. Martin responded “You haven’t seen us together in bed yet” the image was too much for my mind to cope with.

The “Dogs in Space“crew were great too and I had many rambling and bizarre conversations with them at all times of day and night, I already knew most of them some being part of the family past or present.

Here is a clip of the Chill-Out tent at night taken by Michael although it was a lot brighter than this in real life! ( I am  hoping  he won’t mind me linking  it up here  but I don’t think he will. Go to Michael Dog’s myspace

www.myspace.com/michaeldog

for more photos of Solfest 2008 and another video of daytime in the chill-out tent!)


Some of the acts I enjoyed

In terms of entertainment I missed a lot of it because there was simply so much going on and I was spending most of my time at the “Dogs in Space” tent. I still have not attended a Solfest workshop or other activities such as sauna etc..
At the Chill-Out ( Dogs in Space) tent there was a huge variety of acts going on and it was very different to the previous year. The tent ran 24 hours a day and ended at 8 a.m. Monday morning so there was room for variety.
They had acoustic bands with harps, hurdy gurdies, jazz, singer-songwriters, djs, vjs, experimental electronica bands, films, poetry, weird jams, hip-hop rapping and probably more that I missed. Hosted by Michael Dog and assisted by Len from Needle and Thread not forgetting the invaluable input of the second Hamish and sound engineer Matt both great characters.

Some of my favourite acts from the “Dogs in Space” tent included……..
The 2.2 killaVolt Cables whose beautiful melodic electronica that can be listened to lying down or when dancing. In their spare time they also put on shows  with a dance company from the Laban School in London.
To listen to their music check out their myspace :   http://www.myspace.com/twopointtwokv

I also greatly enjoyed an extended set from the Bonsai Big Band from South London. Their brand of nu- jazz was immaculately performed and structured in sections like a symphony with layer upon layer of tastily textured instrumental lines.

I missed Mixmorris Morris’ set  as he was on in the middle of the night but had a chat with him and hope to see him again. He said he’d been in Canada and Japan djing recently and he was very excited to tell me that he had sung with a band his own songs at The Big Chill Festival earlier this summer. It was the first time he had sung on stage for years. He looked well and relaxed.

I also enjoyed hearing the acoustic guitar virtuosity of Hamish Meany ( whose guitar was trashed by a poet and who drove half the performers 10 million miles up to the festival).

The cheerful jazz showtunes of Tres Fez fronted by the talented Helen Maher ( singer and accordion player)
and more….

I didn’t visit the Drystone Stage ( Acoustic Music)  much. This was because I spend a lot of time in acoustic clubs performing or listening to acoustic music and I wanted a break from it. However you can listen to a podcast of some of the performers by copying and pasting this link:

http://drystone.podOmatic.com/entry/2008-07-01T08_29_18-07_00

I was also not in the mood for dancing as my legs were tired so I didn’t venture too far into the Disco Fromage or the Dance Tent.

However I was unexpectedly taken backstage into the Dance Tent and sat on a metal box onstage behind Michael (Dog of Megadog ) while he did his set. The sound wasn’t too loud through the on stage monitors and I was able to rest my legs and enjoy the music and the spectacular lightshow/projections. God I sound like I’m 100 years old.  Some really mad band went on after him and I danced a bit to that. Sorry that is such a brief and sedentary review of the Dance Tent!

On the Main stage I saw a bit of Supergrass , a bit of Alabama 3 , a bit of Dreadzone.
My favourite acts included the very manic folk/rockabilly/ska  Black Velvet Band. Although there was an embarrassing moment when the over-energetic lead singer said ” This next song is the story of a virgin and a ( something or other)…Are there any virgins out in the audience?”
Then he looked down as there were about 20 or 30 little girls and boys dancing right in front of the stage and said . “..except for you of course” .
Oh how I cringed on his behalf!
* (see comment by Louis of The Black Velvet Band below this post)
I also very much enjoyed dancing to the mute Bikini Beach Band who dressed in orange costumes, fez hats and shades played a variety of pop tunes re-arranged in ace surf music style and accompanied by two Hawaiian grass-skirted dancers.

On the Bar Stage I went to see The Hamsters but arrived just in time to hear them say a final ” Thank you and Goodnight”. Still I can go see them back in London at the Half Moon in Putney where they play the last Saturday of every month.
I saw a couple of mad heavy rock bands that made me laugh, cheered me up and made me realise I’m not that good a guitar player and should learn  more.
Firstly a band called “Off the Hook” with an impressive over-the-top lead singer and frontman with a wrestler’s demeanour, stomping about the stage like a stormtrooper hitting cymbals attached to the microphone stand aggressively. He also took the bass player by surprise hitting him between the legs with his drumstick. (This sounds rude but it wasn’t, it was just bonkers.)
The final act on the Bar Stage was just so entertaining I’ve saved writing about them until last.
Forget MOTORHEAD, forget BLACK SABBATH, forget “The Darkness”
( who?  they were easily forgotten) for now we have a band who not only are Motorhead and Sabbath rolled into one but they can turn any pop tune into a heavy metal epic.They’re bloody good musicians and hilarious too.

I am speaking of a band who are the new Spinal Tap and Bad News but more inventive.( they might even be as good as Bludgen..seeThe Chainsaw Party (still feeling guilty about this)


This is a band descended from Vikings (having emigrated to Newcastle) known as  “AROCKALYPSE NOW”.

Here is a clip from their Rockumentary the full thing is up on youtube ( starting off with a cover of a “Bad News” song and then to disco hit “You Spin Me Right Round”)


On Sunday night I had left my son and his friend dancing at the Disco Fromage as I wanted to go hear some live music.

I then came across the fabulous “Arockalypse Now” doing a heavy metal version of ” Play That Funky Music White Boy” on the Bar Stage and it was so good that I ran back down the hill and dragged them off the illuminated dance floor saying “I’m taking you to a higher place where you can both dance and hear good live music“. ( or something less dramatic but it doesn’t sound as good).
They were persuaded and when we got there they were not disappointed. The audience were going completely berserk dancing and headbanging carried away by the passion and lunacy of the performers on the stage. Some people behind me were all dancing while holding up a carpet, it was mad. They played a number of tunes including codpiece Cameo’s Word Up“. The thing is the quality of the musicianship and how they arranged the songs was just amazing. If they were in London I’d go and see them every Saturday night to shrug off the stresses of the week.
Here is a clip of them at Solfest doing “The Final Countdown” but it’s not as great as I remembered at the time. I think being far away from the stage , poor sound quality and not being actually there in the drunken crowd has a lot to do with it.
Check out their myspace site….  http://http://www.myspace.com/arockalypsenow
(they do a great version  of Ziggy Stardust).
Enjoy!

Love and peace
Born2rant
(Undercover Hippie tempted to start headbanging again)

(My thanks to Michael for “strongly suggesting” I play in the Chill-Out tent and putting me on his artist list and to Len (for strongly accepting the suggestion))

Drug Dealers of Notting Hill ( and nearby) plus dope culture 1979-1981 (part deux)


Hello Good People who read this blog whether you got here on purpose or by accident you are all welcome!

My rambling blog is going to attempt at some form of confused continuity by continuing my stories of drug dealers . Please refer to my calendar on the right and click on June the 27th to read the first part of these tales.

Anyone out there firstly should know that names have been changed and some facts may be distorted by the following mathematical formula:

(time-compressed-in-my-brain) x (imagination + fantasies)  x % ^  (the fact I was very stoned at the time). However if only you knew the stuff I left out, that’s far wilder, so anything innacurate will not be an exageration, if indeed I get to tell that stuff in this post.

The Sports Shop

So if you read my entry (27/6/08)  you’ll know that via my friend who was looking for a party we found a house full of  drug dealers living above a sport’s shop in Harrow Road . At last we had found a regular place to score that did not involve dealing with brawls in pubs or hanging out in  All Saint’s Road.

I had concepts of dodgy drug dealers before I met these guys. This was in 1979 and all I can say is that from our point of view it was the happiest household I’d ever been to. The first people we got to know through my partying friend were two guys called Tony from Northern Ireland.

They were either from Ulster or Belfast I cannot remember, but I do remember that due to the amount of bombings going on,  the general stereotype was that anyone with a strong northern Irish accent was feared as a bomber. This was because each time there was a bomb , on the news they would always conclude by saying “and someone with a strong  Irish accent phoned up to claim the IRA were responsible”. The IRA also were involved in some kind of drug smuggling but there was no way these two young men with strong Northern Irish accents were at all interested in bombing anyone or in politics either , they were only interested in getting stoned, having a laugh and listening to good music.

One of the Tonys had a sweet young  face, always smiling he had a drum kit in his room and I had my first go on drums thanks to him. I was rubbish and realised drums were not for me. He played them pretty well though. His taller friend,  also a Tony, had long black hair with wrigglets and a moustache, he looked altogether wilder and people teased him by saying he looked like one of the Fabulous Furry Freak brothers ( the one with the glasses…what was his name? Phineas Freakears!). Both Tonys were friendly guys with a great sense of humour.

A little trip around the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and other drug culture characters …

In fact I seem to remember we christened a fair few of our friends at that time according to different characters from that comic it was so funny and tragic at the same time. The new obscenity laws that dear old Thatcher brought in meant the nice people at the headshop in Portobello Road were busted several times for selling “Fabulous Furry Freak Brother ” comics.  I bought a board game from that head shop back in 1980 ( the shop still exists, called “Alchemy” it changed address though).

It was a board game called “Dealer Mc Dope” ( this photo is from the Last Gasp website where you can still buy this game from!). It was like Monopoly except you have to go around the world buying and selling drugs . It takes several days to win and some of the rules are quite insane and humanly impossible. I seem to remember there were 2 sets of rules one was the “Perverto Insane rules” or something involving cannabalism and nuclear explosions or similar .

The cartoons on the banknotes are fantastic with Ronald Reagan and other American politicians. Anyway I bought that from that same headshop  in 1980 and they had to keep it under the counter for me in case they got busted for selling a drug dealing game.

My favourite was always Fat Freddy’s Cat and because we had a large number of cats at home , we frequently referred ( or should I say reefer-d..very bad pun!) to the philosophy and wisdom of Fat Freddy’s Cat. He used to poo in Fat Freddy’s cowboy boots to remind him that the catbox needed changing and ours used to poo everywhere too… aah! Happy Days!

Around then there were various cinemas that catered for hippies , late night tokers and those interested in counterculture films. It was through these that we encountered Fritz the Cat. A pornographic debauched cat I didn’t much like, still it certainly turned the stereotypes of cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat upside down.

In Notting Hill the Electric Cinema had late night shows where I remember watching “La Vallée Obscured by Clouds“. Pink Floyd had provided the music but one of the characters (Monique) is also played by Miquette Giraudy of System 7. However in this clip she is a bit er… obscured by clouds but  that’s her in the red/brown cape or possibly blanket.

On the same bill was “More” also with some music from Pink Floyd. Both films were directed by Barbet Schroeder. I seem to remember that “More”  was  one of the most depressing junkie films I had ever seen. Mind you I don’t remember a lot about it except that I got bored . I much preferred “La Vallée” which had a more interesting story of hippies trying to reach a place and way of life before the trappings of modern culture and capitalism.

In this clip of “More” from youtube below they have censored some of the ingredients to their spaced out drug concoction……sorry !

I might have to write another entry just about films and alternative cinema because I can sense another 1500 words about to emerge.

I cannot forget the first time I saw ” Up in Smoke” in the late summer of 1979 . I was alone in Paris at the time, I had a place at The Sorbonne to study French but I was desperately lonely , broke, and had nowhere to live.  I ended up going to stay in a convent in the Latin Quarter. I went to the cinema every day to hear some spoken English as I was very homesick and I came across ” Up in Smoke ” by accident , I had never seen anything like it . Cheech and Chong playing  two bumbling American hippies in the most hilarious film I had ever seen, going through every young toker’s scenario . I  went back to the cinema to see it several times until I just had to leave Paris where I was desperately miserable and rejoin my hippie boyfriend and friends  back in London leaving my University course behind…. but I never regretted it and studied later on a course I was much more suited to.

(this clip of “Up in Smoke” has a couple of flash frames in it  added by the person who put it up on youtube but of nothing bad or brainwashing..not sure what it is a picture of)

Cheech and Chong were almost like cartoon characters, also there was Robert Crumb and the Stoned Agin posters.

The bedsits over the Sport’s shop in Harrow Road were full of young small time dealers, who actually were just like Cheech and Chong and had all the stereotype posters on their walls. The Stoned Agin one , then there was the multicoloured one of a woman smoking a great big cone spliff, plus of course Bob Marley , Jimi Hendrix and other bands.

The  two Tony’s were always very happy to see us. We used to get up to run our stall in Portobello Road at   6 a.m. on Saturday mornings and yet I think we used to go there to score and get stoned on a Friday night and I was working full-time. We were young and sleep was optional. (Also jobs were a much less demanding back then in every way  and I worked a 36 hour week which was considered as a typical 9-5 full-time job with a lunch hour and morning and afternoon tea breaks. )

We’d spend the evening there and have tea and munchies and lots of spliffs. There were sometimes other drugs there but we didn’t generally bother with those, I certainly was not interested in other drugs at all. There was quite a range of different types of cannabis available and the different varieties of dope available improved when eventually we got to know their dealers, and their dealer’s dealers! But for a year or so we hung out happily at the Sport’s shop and got to know the other inhabitants who all were smiley jolly people and seemed eager to be our friends and tell us of the latest attempts by the police to have them busted.

Dope was cheap, much cheaper than beer and made me happy, not aggressive or miserable like alcohol could. Plus it made me feel good about being creative and someone who liked to think about society as the entire drug culture was about using drugs to expand the mind and to create new music and other artistic and intellectual pursuits. I think I personally wanted the spiritual ecstatic experience that religion alluded to ( being filled with the Holy Ghost!) but just didn’t deliver. I wanted to feel at one with the planet, with all living things and that life was special and had a purpose. I think I found this through dope temporarily at least although I think the company and culture associated with drug-taking was equally important.

But I was also quite paranoid, we all were but none of us admitted it as well as very accident prone when stoned and well…it’s not a risk-free activity.  At the time we thought it was healthy to smoke it and that tobacco was dangerous so we often smoked neat bongs, pipes, and grass spliffs, and so did the health- conscious people we knew. It always makes me laugh, I’ve known so many hippies who have given up tobacco, eat only vegan and sometimes macrobiotic foods, won’t use any anti-biotics or painkillers or any type of “poisonous” conventional medicine yet they are quite happy to have huge quantities of dope and sometimes other “natural” non-pharmaceutical drugs like mushrooms and even opium etc…

Still I find most people are walking contradictions including myself. In those days we all thought that dope was not only healthy but good for you, cured asthma, arthritis, annorexia, depression, and that is why we supported  the “legalise cannabis campaign” and were willing to risk getting arrested at Smokey Bear’s Picnics in Hyde Park and other legalise cannabis events.

My thoughts and feelings about dope are totally different now and today’s skunk is a totally different drug.  Skunk has wrecked the mental health of at least one of my friends.  Also we now have the knowledge that smoking anything gives you cancer…is ignorance bliss? or just foolish? or were we just young and some of us finding life very stressful and alienating without dope and the good company of other smokers?

It was bliss back then to smoke dope and feel that it was revolutionary, wise, naughty and illegal as well as a healthy herb and it separated us from “straight” people who liked to drink lots. It was very “us” and “them”.

I’ll write more soon. At my leisure!

Please tell me in a comment  if you had any dope smoker’s posters on your wall or other paraphenelia  I may have forgotten about . How about unusual cigarette papers? Like there were dollar bill ones and pink leopard-skin skins.

and do you smile each time you watch the BBC London news read by  Rizzla Teeth? I do!

Yes..the dope-smoking culture and sense of humour doesn’t go away even if writing blogs has replaced the hours of giggling and listening to Gong while smoking bongs. Happy Days!

( cough ! cough! splutter! wheeze!)

Lots of things from the US in this entry and I’ll finish with a trailer from the film Psych-out ( 1968 ) see below this paragraph . It’s an absolutely brilliant little montage of this crazy colourful film. I first went to see this at The Scala in King’s Cross as part of an all-nighter with my ex and our mate Gid  who was 6 foot 4 and had his face painted as a mouse. They were both tripping from dope cake and totally freaked out from seeing this cautionary  film and I had to try and chill them out after the film by finding them munchies and talking to them about nice things. It was quite difficult not to smile , Gid looked very sweet as a 6 foot 4 inch terrified  long-haired hippie mouse with a little red nose and painted whiskers across his cheeks.

PSYCH-OUT” 1968 ( a  psychedelic movie with some horror sequences includes a young Jack Nicholson with long-hair, the Seeds, the Strawberry Alarm Clock and much more!)

Love and peace

Born2rant

The Dave Russell Interviews reborn ( Notting Hill Arts- 1967-72)


Hello Good People who read this blog

If you go back in time to my earlier entries you will find some interesting stories about Notting Hill in the 60s and 70s and also Anti-Media activities in the 80s , bits about the gigs before Club Dog etc….

However I have been having problems with technology and the Dave Russell interviews being repeatedly deleted .

Therefore I have re-issued part one of this interview on Youtube. It’s the first time I have ever done anything like this so don’t expect miracles!

Enjoy ! and to read onthe background to the things mentioned in this interview go back to my previous post called

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

This was written back in the winter of 2007 and the weather today is about the same.

here is part two of the interview for more information go to my previous post

(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

Part two

Part Three

of the interview below please see this post for more details:

(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

The final part

read more on

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

Love and peace

Born2rant

(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