Too busy living to blog or watch TV, plus a teeny bit about Solfest 2010


Hello Good People who evidently still read this blog…

I keep trying to give up this blog for good but it’s up there in cyberspace without me, just like the millions of  photographs of teenagers on Facebook,  who may at some time, rue the day they allowed photos of, and  information about themselves, to be handed over to various companies and intelligence agencies who rule the net. My blog will outlive my initial enthusiasm for bi-weekly blogging ,and like many a dead rock star’s music, will probably outlive me.

I did go to Solfest this year , and I guess that by the number of hits on the day it ended, many will have to checked in to see if I have done a review like I have done the three previous years.

In a word  “no”, and I’m not really going to. It is still the greatest UK hippie festival that I have experienced this millennium,although a few less punters this year and slightly more zealous security. Well actually, I mean specifically one guy. A young security steward who wore large sunglasses day or night , wore a “security hat”, and obviously took his job extremely seriously. He questioned and scrutinised people at the gates of Solfest as if they were non-EU citizens of “Asian” origin trying to get through passport control at Heathrow. It was only one enthusiastic Nazi  in the whole organisation, but one too many, plus he never seemed to go off duty. Maybe he dreams of being head of all security services one day…in which case, don’t work at a hippie festival, run by hippies.

Backstage the air of hippiedom was also occasionally marred by the odd territorial argument over which loo one could use .One group of people in particular, got hysterical if other members of crew used “their” portaloo and shouted to me “don’t fill our loo up or we can’t use it”, which I found mildly insulting. There was also by the end of the weekend, a row over who could have access to my nearest water supply. Various people started to attach their own personal pipes,to the general standpipe going directly to their tent or caravan, leaving no access to water for the humble camper without extra water-pipe fixtures, and a trickle of water to all trying to get their direct private supply, due to low pressure. It was exemplary of the follies and injustices of  Capitalism, which I hoped to get away from completely during my stay at Solfest. I am hoping that the hippie spirit of sharing resources over and above stupid claims to exclusive access to basic amenities will return next year in the backstage area.

I have not written a review of Solfest, why ? Because I am not often here.

I’ve turned my back on blogging, Myspace, Facebook, hotmail, Googlemail, all mainstream TV news, most TV programmes, and most Radio programmes. I do still use youtube quite a lot, especially if I want to hear music from the other side of the world. I mainly watch TV if I have visitors who want to watch it or if I am just too tired or ill to think of anything else I can do. I read newspapers if I find them lying on the tube, and yet without the internet or the media intruding in my life as much, I am not suffering from any withdrawal symptoms. Quite the opposite, I actually talk to real people face-to-face,  go to real places, and don’t feel like my life is over because my hair is dull or I don’t have a car, or I don’t know what David deCameron said today, and I haven’t suffered any more patriotic military propaganda passing for news on a daily basis.

However I will entwine this rant against second hand communication and experiences with a bit of music from Solfest.

In spite of my previous negative comments, Solfest  is still friendly, creative, and the happiest weekend of the year for me. I always meet great people, have long rambling conversations, dance to loud music even though I feel I am too old to do so, laugh at the inventiveness of fancy dress costumes, discover new  music, see amazing landscapes, feel hopeful that there is a little bit of the year that is not cynical and under surveillance but is creative and flourishing. I love going up north, can’t cope with southern festivals ever since my first Solfest. Ironically it has now become a yearly gathering point for people I know from London, Brighton and South Wales.

Every ageing hippie seems to have their favourite yearly festival, the one where they will see their old friends again and maybe have a little smoke even if they gave up on New Year’s day 2000, laugh like teenagers again, and show their kids how to power generators by pedalling like crazy, how to make things out of wood, and basically introduce them to various degrees of alternative living.

Some of my favourite musicians at Solfest 2010.

Here is John Fairhurst playing sitar music on the guitar. I saw him on the main stage on Saturday, strumming hard and fast, blending slide guitar with flamenco and ragas, very impressive. Unfortunately there is no footage of him playing at Solfest, so here he is playing in 2008 at an album launch party.

John Fairhurst , a sublime creative guitarist. Here he  starts quietly and gradually builds up momentum, then later explodes into a raucous manifestation of  many guitar genres peeping out from one another to say a brief  hello. Are you following me? Good, if not, don’t read any more, have a cup of tea instead.

My favourite Drystone stage act at Solfest was Richard Barry and The Chaps from Manchester. Maybe I am biased, I met Richard at a residential songwriting workshop in 1999. His sense of humour, charm and excellent musicianship make him always worth catching. Yet again, there is no Solfest footage his performance. It was pouring down with rain when he started but he still gathered a crowd, and then the sun came out!

Richard Barry and The Chaps – Please Don’t Ration My Fags.

I spent a lot more time in the Dance Tent than I intended to, especially on Saturday night where I danced to Eat Static, now a solo act, but still doing “his”/ “their” thing, and this guy DJ Adsorb who did an interesting set. Well I enjoyed it but I am frankly not an expert in dance music at all!  I’m more of an acoustic guitar person myself. I just liked Adsorb’s set because there was plenty of variety.

Now maybe it’s because I have never taken the right drugs , or possibly because I haven’t taken the correct amount of drugs, or more likely because I don’t even know by what  acronyms the drugs I’d have to take, and ask for,  from someone  two decades or more younger than me, leads me to find the brain-shaking tones of “doofff-doofff-doofff-da-da-dooff-dooff-doofff etc…” looped for an hour, and somehow so loud that they obliterate any other sounds in the mix…..B.O.R.I.N.G..

However this Solfest having spent much time talking to DJs in the Chill-Out tent who had taken the correct drugs, with their abbreviated names, in the right amounts, to like every type of  Dance Music,  I was  re-assured  that what I was referring to, was music that was  “relentless”.

You can actually pretend to like it, then when in the company of those you truly trust, complain that in fact it was “relentless” possibly shaking your head to demonstrate just how relentless it was.

So now I can blend in with people who know and appreciate all types of dance music by saying  ” God, that was  relentless!” and show the punishment I endured with a little  downwards shake of the head.

But as you can tell I don’t pretend to be anyone but the anonymous person I am pretending to be.

I cannot find much footage of Solfest 2010 itself!

But here is some footage from the Dance tent, I don’t know which DJ this is but I am sure someone will tell me, it could very well be DJ Adsorb, this is then contrasted with the Dogs in Space ( Chill-Out) tent, where you will see a few seconds of an amazing trio driven by the jazz beats of the Van Der Graaf Generator drummer: Guy Evans, along with psychedelic guitarist, Nigel Mazlyn Jones and flautist/guitarist Jim Nield. I caught the end of their set and they created a sound as colourful and ambient as the décor and lightshow of the Dogs in Space tent itself, shame there are only a few seconds of this available to show. I thoroughly enjoyed their mesmerizing set of jazz drumming and psychedelia.

The Damned played but I didn’t go to see them, the youtube clips are pretty poor quality soundwise.

Another act who played twice in the Dogs in Space tent and performed in cafés all over the site were the excellent Marley Chingus, from Liverpool,played rich bebop jazz covers as well as their own compositions, their long-haired and bearded trumpet player was particularly outstanding although all of them are very highly skilled musicians. Again no footage of them at Solfest but here they are with one of their own compositions, no trumpet player but a great sax player instead.

Marley Chingus -Neolithic Chant.

Well I’m off now to make some tea and maybe listen to some music. In the meantime I asked a DJ who came to visit my place last night what his favourite Gong tune was. He told me this one because of the electronics in it, the synths were played  by Tim Blake. It’s a fantabulous track beginning with synths, echo and tabla and building up nicely into a freeform jazz jam with psychedelic lead guitar, slide “glissando” guitar, with other sounds and many instruments thrown in for good measure.

So, I’ll leave you with the brilliant and mind-awakening : Gong – A Sprinkling of Clouds (1974)


Love and Peace to all of you

and remember hippies are cool, superficial people are… well …superficial

Born2rant

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…to Solfest, not a review, but some thoughts…


Hello Good People who read this blog…

Although I will be writing about Solfest, this is not a review as I have done in the past two years. I spent most of my time at Solfest recovering from the Hawkwind party and evaluating other experiences I had from my crazy summer.

For me the Notting Hill Carnival or in recent years Solfest , mark the end of summer and announce the beginning of a period of reflection and times indoors. Hawkwind reminds me of the past and the power of rebellion. The music reflects the effects of both drugs and the power of large gatherings and in particular the extremes of creativity.Thus opening  the “Doors of Perception” to deeper consciousness where both heaven and hell  live cheek by jowl.

Solfest was an altogether more “grounding” experience and is an example of a “newer type of festival”, exemplifying changes in alternative culture. It bridges the spirit of free festivals, mainly started by travelling creative idealistic people being chased around the country by the police, with the present, to create an event that has learnt lessons from the past and does its own thing while still conforming to rules and regulations, although there is  much turning of a blind eye to activities that are not harming anyone.

At Solfest I found both the most anarchic creative influences present in the entertainment, fancy dress costumes, and various types of  artistic installation and also mainstream culture in some of the aspiring stars performing, still climbing that ladder, even though making obscene amounts of money out of music is mostly a thing of the past.

At Solfest, you can pretty much have the experience you want, whether you have small children,don’t have children, love acoustic music, want to go to various excesses of toxicity, want to be healthy and coherent and attend yoga workshops, want to rock, listen to live world music, chill out all night  in a psychedelic way or want to dance.

This is a clip from the dance tent although many of the older and youngest attendees completely avoid this place.

The Ashan Project in the Dance tent Solfest 2009

The only time I went into the dance tent was on Saturday night waiting for The Orb to come on and this was an experience in itself. Northerners and the Scots know how to get excited and to enjoy themselves with free abandon twenty times more than any uptight Londoner. The atmosphere was crazy. The tent was packed with people of all ages in strange costumes with hash pipes, cans of beer, laughing ,dancing and shouting and throwing themselves about and screaming in anticipation. After thirty minutes of  being pushed about in a friendly way by revellers, I left the dance tent feeling like I was being boring but also avoiding the odd bruise the next day.

I am using youtube in a lazy way today but I think this little clip highlights pretty much what it is like wandering around this festival and why I love it. You have the organised entertainment but the majority of the time you have people just entertaining themselves, everyone participates and creates the atmosphere( watch about 1 minute in for little sound system scene with live singer, random saxophonist and “The Urban Gypsies” dancing along).

If you like your rock music truly raw and raucous (plus beer) then the Bar Stage is often the place to be. I didn’t see this band but I quite like them(you get to see them on stage 30 seconds into this clip).

This is “Vice Squad” originally formed in 1979 as a punk rock band featuring “Beki Bondage” on vocals.

There seems to be less footage of Solfest this year up online than last time.

One of the reasons may have been the mud and the rain. By Sunday,the mud was almost as bad as Glastonbury 1997. My tent is cosy but not very high and you have to crawl into it from outside. Due to last minute packing ,I had only one pair of jeans and no torch, since coming home I have washed my jeans three times on the maximum cycle to get rid of the mud and had to machine wash the tent too, plus my boots have shrunk . You get the picture! Travelling home on public transport one had to adopt a ” I don’t care if people stare at me strangely” attitude.

Also walking around the festival started to get a bit grim by Sunday night. I went to watch Kula Shaker then The Charlatans with my son and his friends. I didn’t much like Kula Shaker, sometimes I felt like I was listening to The Doors, sometimes The Who, sometimes early Deep Purple, or even The Kinks. It was like listening to a puzzle , lots of pieces of different bands copied and assembled into songs but no continuity or individual style. The performance was faultless and excellently executed, but then to me,that’s not creative. I like music that has mistakes, it’s the mistakes and the improvisation that generates something new.

In the break between the two bands my son and I discussed various things, we like talking about music and culture together. We were saying how everyone is a “covers band” these days. The new bands copy the styles of the old bands and the old bands keep touring doing their old stuff, that nothing new has really happened for twenty years in terms of live (non-dance) music. I pointed out that in the 60s and 70s everyone was intent on finding their own unique style and not just trying to fit into a marketable music category that wouldn’t offend anyone.

My son wanted to know a detailed account of the Hawkwind party. Then he told me about a conversation he had heard in the Dogs in Space tent with this bloke who had been a HUGE Hawkwind fan. The ex-Hawkwind fan described how he used to have every single Hawkwind album on vinyl, first pressings only. When asked if he had sold them since,he said in all seriousness(something like) :”No, I gave up drugs and as part of  the process, I had to give away all my Hawkwind albums, it was a big step!”

I know we were cruel, but we laughed about it and imagined a twelve step programme for giving up drugs .

STEP ONE: Get rid of all your Hawkwind memorabilia and never listen to them again!

( end of my brief comment on Solfest, still my favourite festival)

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. I just found out that the “Urban Gypsies” were on “Britain’s Got Talent” 2008 , they have just blown their urban gypsy credibility.


You Can’t Kill The Spirit (but we have!)


Hello Good People who read this blog…

I was just online ambling through youtube and ended up writing this   …Calling  out to all the sons and daughters of this world, on Hippie Mother Earth Day ( getting  carried away with my ranting as usual)

Gong’s “Flying Teapot” with film edits from Timothy Leary’s
How to Operate Your Brain” courtesy of LSDCoatedBrain

I don’t have an LSD coated Brain but can still appreciate a great artistic combination and relate to the old hippie ideals and strong communities.
I feel very strongly that you don’t need to take drugs to be a hippie because to me being a hippie is a philosophy and a positive way of life that doesn’t rely on extremes of religion or drug-taking.
Of course I have taken some hallucinogens but I liked Gong and Hendrix and other “drug” associated music and wanted to look at the world of new social possibilities before I’d ever tried any type of drug.

One of the many ways the hippie movement is put down and ridiculed is by categorizing them as just a load of addicts.

To me the drugs are peripheral and not necessary to access the world of creative imagination and feeling connected to a positive non-materialistic ideology and actively implementing this in  many directions.

.
Once upon a time we were building new worlds, and travelling to new worlds, experimenting with new ways of living and now laws and apathy discourage today’s youth from ever trying anything without wearing a crash helmet, taking a degree in it and getting official permission  first…
One hippie proverb used to be “You Can’t Kill The Spirit”. Anyone remember where that came from?

Through TV and advertising, violent computer games and extreme internet porn, You CAN Kill the Spirit
By making women feel they are getting old and are therefore unlovable and worthless in their twenties and need the latest miracle potion, surgery, clothes, make-up,You CAN kill the Spirit.
A million money making enterprises disempower you and then sell you things to make you feel partly in control again, appealing to the most basic of urges.
In London we are shattered into hundreds of  fragmented communities who never manage to spontaneously link up or work together.
Instead people walk into eachother and glare at eachother in the street and we allow the powers that be to supervise us on camera as we feel too weak to deal with things in person.


Our sense of community and identity is broken in our society and sectarianism is on the increase.

I preferred the world of jamming experimenting collaborative individuals. i.e. Hippies.

Spontaneous, unfunded, grassroots events like the free gigs in Meanwhile Gardens in Notting Hill kept our spirits up. Now even folk clubs can’t function without being given permission by the council and being regularly inspected.

Our Universities are no longer places where you can express opinions instead we are encouraged NOT to think for ourselves but to be content to quote the “Great and the Good” . Only “official” and “certified” thinkers are allowed.

UK Universities are not places of learning but places of earning. They are not places of free and evolutionary thought but places for worshipping the academic élite.

They are not places where new political ideologies are being created but student politics are increasingly reflecting, and are over-powered by,  religious sectarianism and global tensions between nations.

In my experience there is no free speech in a higher educational institution, on any level , without getting into trouble. If you want to express an opinion it had better be one that has been sanctioned by those in charge, be it academic, or student’s union ( anyone from my Uni who claims otherwise is basically trying to save face).

£££££££££££££££$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$%%%%%%%%%%%%

“You Can’t Kill The Spirit “, I remember now… I was involved in running one of the stages at The Fordham Park Free Festival in the nineties “You Can’t Kill The Spirit” was the slogan… I still have the T-Shirt…( and am writing the book, well the blog).

“You Can’t Kill the Spirit” was also a slogan and a song from the Women of Greenham Common. I never went to Greenham Common but joined another anti-Nuclear organisation and protested. Nothing is perfect and I didn’t agree with some of the over-the-top man-hating philosophies that a minority of the Greenham women had. But they were terribly brave , they risked their lives for their cause and they had spirit.

They also were non-violent and were prepared to live in terrible conditions for Peace and a better world.

for a whole load more go to this website:

http://www.yourgreenham.co.uk/

greenham1



borrowed from a site with loads of photos of Greenham Commonhttp://www.fredsakademiet.dk/abase/sange/greenham/sigrid.htm

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Getting back to opposing factions..I believe that sectarianism is wrong ( I am being all moral…well I am Born2rant after all) . I can only see sectarianism leading to more and more misunderstanding and violence.

I don’t believe in “Us and Them” underneath I think we are all the same but here I get stuck because sometimes you have to fight for your basic rights so this inevitably leads to a split .

I don’t believe in factions who all blame and hate one another so I am not keen on groups. But I get stuck again because we all need to feel a sense of identity and a sense of belonging , where birds of a feather flock together etc… I think we need to belong to a community, to feel alive and worthwhile and to know that other people like the same things , share the same ideas etc… But the problem is when people become a bit too clingy to their own group and isolated from the rest, some can become paranoid and polarised, then some kind of craziness is bound to  ensue (see Daily Mail for details…).

But anyhoo…
It’s hard to find anyone under forty in London who is not totally apathetic about  fighting the system to make this world a free place where individuals can do something positive and feel they have some basic control over their lives.

Here is a bit of footage from the Fordham Park Free Festival in London Deptford in 1991. They also had the slogan “You can’t Kill The Spirit”

By the 90s well we were already quite tame, the local council threatened to sue us for vast amounts of money  if the music continued a minute past 10pm , I seem to remember.

I was in charge of my stage at 10pm,  a bit of a nightmare as the band just wouldn’t stop doing encores. I tried to pull the plug so we didn’t get fined but the band  had cleverly rigged up their own secret secondary generator and even when we pulled the plug on that they carried on with their frenetic set acoustically  and the crowd danced wildly. I was getting people screaming at me but there was nothing I could do. The power of  youthful and collective anarchy ( plus musician’s egos and drunken dancing audience)  is  too great for one hippie to stop.
If I could go back in time I wouldn’t have pulled the plug on them at all. Now you can’t have live music without a licence, the world has gone mad.
If you are a rebel, join with others and do not be put off by the authorities!

Love and Peace from a grumpy old hippie Mum, dismayed yet understanding of the apathy of youth…


Born2rant
Here’s “Electric Gypsies” with Steve Hillage
starts with what sounds to me like some Tibetan Horns.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectarian

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))

Solfest (Cumbria) and Perverto Rules


Hello Good People who still read this blog

Last year at the Solfest festival in Cumbria I had a fantastic time at the “Dogs in Space” Chill Out tent. Highlights included meeting Steve Hillage again, hanging out with the Ozrics and seeing Joie again, being kept up all night by virtue of Eat Static doing a full-set at about 4 a.m., Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy doing a chill out set including playing Rainbow Dome Musick live for the first time since the 70s under the name “Mirror System” , plus “Nodens Ictus” a.k.a. various members of the Ozrics and Eat Static doing an amazing chill out set and also watching proudly as my own offspring and his friend did a beautiful electronica multimedia performance attended by most of the aforementioned and his dad of course.

Here is a bit of “Rainbow Dome Musick” ( 1979) written to be played in the Rainbow Dome at  the  “Mind, Body and Spirit” festival in London it is the first ambient New Age album of its type subsequently imitated by thousands and played by many alternative therapists during healing , reflexology and other therapies:

Some footage of last year’s Solfest courtesy of Mike Cupcake who unfortunately won’t be with us this year. We’ll be thinking of him.

All the music there  was extremely creative and just made all mainstream music sound like a load of papier maché.

Here’s a clip of the Ozrics unforunately not at Solfest but still live

Other memories from Solfest last year include hitching back with Mixmaster Morris who is a walking talking psychedelic encyclopedia and meeting so many great musicians and many friendly local festival punters.

This year I’m performing my songs too and I have no idea who else will be performing apart from my son again.

It was such a great festival last year that I feel very excited about doing this gig even though I was recruited at the last minute ( thanks to Michael Dog and Len) and it’s all a bit of a rush to get ready.

Solfest is Sold Out unlike so many other festivals this summer. Last year was such a special occasion I dare not anticipate it could be as good in case I am disappointed. I will write a bit about the festival on my return.

I had to look for tents and other camping equipment in the dark dusty attic and found instead a bag containing the drug-dealing monopoly game “ Dealer McDope” which I wrote about in my previous post.

So here are some of the “Perverto Rules” ( there are also official rules these are the alternative ways to play the game).

These are excerpts of course if you want the whole “deal” then go to the “Last Gasp” website (www.lastgasp.com) and buy yourself  the  board game. (sorry these are totally insensitive and not at all kosher, Politically Correct or child friendly.)

PERVERTO RULES

“..these rules below are not to be played by those suffering from (a) LEPROSY,(b) MALIGNANT BRAIN TUMORS, or c) THE INFLUENCE OF NARCOTIC DRUGS. These people are dangerous!! Lock them in a closet and proceed to play as normal.”…

“All players must strip to facilitate breathing and blood movement….”

“..Those players being known as dealers must play with one eye blind-folded, one arm tied behind the back, and sit in the yogi position of the “Ruptured Duck”…

I can’t actually bring myself to quote a lot of these because they are just too offensive! so I’ll skip to the end..

Declaring a Winner

The “winner” is one of the following:

A.The first two players to make One Million $$$$, snort an ounce of coke, make love with their partner ( while screaming profanities and grunting obnoxiously), and sing “God Bless America” ten times.

B.The first player to leave the physical body, simultaneously destroying the entire game with a burst of pure energy.

C.The first two players to acheive orgasm through oral sex after obtaining One Million $$$$ apiece.”

Well I never played it with the Perverto Rules but all I can say is that using humour can be a good way of getting things out of your system and being creative…but yes,it is a bit offensive ( sorry) ..I just thought someone might be interested or amused by it.

Before I stop procrastinating and actually make preparations to go here is a little something from a festival 39 summers ago when young people felt it was important to be political through their music

Country Joe McDonald and the Fish

Love and Peace

Born2rant

For a spiffing review of Solfest go to

Solfest (Cumbria) 2008…a personal journey

The Drug Dealers of Notting Hill


Hello good people who read this blog

For some reason I am writing this just before going to bed so there may be some errors that I will correct in the morning, plus I might add bits if I find further info I’d forgotten.

I thought I’d write some recollections by looking at some photos . I don’t have many photos left some seem to have disappeared somewhere.

Including this one. This morning I suddenly decided that I didn’t want my photo in a post called “Drug Dealers of Notting Hill” just in case I got myself into trouble, I am not a Drug dealer in Notting Hill.There are some people I know professionally in this area who I definitely don’t want recognising me from my blog although their pasts are either obscenely respectable or far more debauched than my own. I need to think about this one and it might go up again in the near future. For now just imagine a young woman in hippie clothing walking up the side of a foggy cold mountain, clutching a hot cup of tea and smiling with motorbikes, a truck and tents all parked behind her.

For me personally the strange thing is that I haven’t really changed. You wouldn’t recognise me physically but I still wear that very same hat, those very same boots and I still wear purple even as I write this I am wearing a purple T-shirt which flares out at the sleeves and hips and basically looks like it’s from 1973. This is good therapy for me, to realise I am still the same person somehow and that I am oblivious to passing fashions.

At that time I didn’t live in Notting Hill as I do now but we ( me and my ex-partner) had a stall in Portobello Road on a Saturday and I had an office job during the week. We hung around a lot in Notting Hill though, this was around 1979 to 1982 . I didn’t really know Notting Hill before then although I knew South Kensington and Chelsea well and they were only down the road, North Kensington was a totally different world ( then, not now). When desperate ( which was most of the time) we scored our dope in the All Saint’s Road from a kind and very mellow Jamaican drug-dealer/silversmith at a pub called ” The Apollo”. The place doesn’t exist anymore.

Memories of the Apollo! The loos were very dodgy that’s where the deals went on. Going down the All Saints Road was dodgy too especially if you were female, young and white. Everyone treated me like a prostitute if I went to the Apollo alone.

In spite of my referring to Kensington and Chelsea a few times I also lived in South London from the age of 12 onwards, I went to a state school, and lived on an estate. Both the school I attended and estate I lived on were not rough but my friends and others lived in fear of violence, rape and crime. This was around the time of the Brixton riots and there was a lot of racial tension. I moved out of home young due to family problems and lived in a house full of crazy people in Clapham and knew street criminals, night club hostesses and troubled people living on the edge. I never felt comfortable in South London and my personal experience of both the black community and the white youth of the Ladbroke Grove area was that they were far more creative, secure, laid back and safe to be around compared to some of the places I had known. For many reasons I had experienced some dangerous and distressing situations before , and even though I had virtually no self-confidence and was mild-mannered, my experiences had made me unusually daring and streetwise , I remember needing both of these qualities to go alone once to score down the Apollo. I wasn’t able to buy anything instead I was surrounded by black guys who either wanted to give me a £5 pound draw for free or one or two were trying to sell me parsley for £5.

I didn’t usually go to the Apollo alone but with my boyfriend and his friends. We weren’t ripped off too badly. The place was rough though and one time we were having drink there and I said to Michael ” Let’s go I don’t like the atmosphere I feel like something bad’s going to happen”. I think he was about to tell me to stop being paranoid when I was hit the face by a flying chair , shortly followed by the person who had previously been sitting on it. It was like something in a Western one second people were just drinking their rum and coke and the next everyone was fighting and breaking glasses, bottles, furniture flying, people wrestling with one another, blood, we were sheltering behind a table for a few seconds and we escaped through the door. The place was closed down and busted a few times and eventually we stopped going there.

Another one of our favourite pubs was what we and others called “ Hennerky’s” ( n.b. I have no idea how this is spelt) although its real name was and still is “The Earl of Londsdale“. The legendary pub was mentioned in the 1960’s version of “Alternative London“. I really need to do some more research and get hold of a copy.

I have a copy of Alternative London from 1982. I loved that book , I think we had to buy a couple of copies because people kept borrowing it and never giving it back, a common problem with hippie borrowers of good books and borrowers of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple albums although these tended to be borrowed by bikers and no one expected bikers to return things on time if ever.

Hennerky’s, like the Earl of Londsdale now, had a beer garden.In the summer it was full of stoned groups of hippies ,punks often with mohicans, with young children, dogs, groups of friends, guitarists and anyone who would grab a table and hang out there all day. Then indoors it had the front bar which was often dirty and a bit dingey and had tourists and locals and then there was THE BACK BAR!

Oh my God the back bar, a den of iniquity. The carpet was so sticky that going there in flip-flops was not recommended, in fact going there in any kind of clothing was not reccommended. The walls were black with dirt and everywhere else , in every spare space was a cramped crowd of mean-looking tattoed, denim-shredded, leather clad, smelly bikers , proper bikers with initiation ceremonies and “colours” , I seem to remember that these were special patches sewn on to their jackets when they had passed some terrible test to show membership. They also had sleeveless torn denim jackets that they wore over their worn out thick leather bikers jackets . I still have my biker jacket, I had to throw it down the stairs and sand paper it when I first bought it so it looked worn and not clean or new and uncool. But as well as being bikers or Hell’s Angels they were either drug-dealers or people wanting to score drugs, or people simply in the wrong place and unable to find their way out due to the tightly packed room and sticky carpet. Some of the punters there were acquaintances of ours but no close friends.The atmosphere was very heavy. We usually went in the beer garden but going into the back bar was quite an adventure but very uncomfortable I don’t remember seats just this hole really. It was the sort of place where Lemmy would have looked at home and where anyone looking like ” the Fonz” posing in a leather jacket and looking clean might have had their head kicked in. Actually Lemmy was much cleaner and neater and altogether pleasant and nicer than most of the blokes I saw in there, stacked up at the bar waiting to get served.

We never tried to score at Hennerky’s it was too risky, there were always raids. After our many Apollo experiences, through a female friend of mine we eventually discovered a place known locally simply as”The Sport’s Shop” or I think it was called “354” or was it “281”????? a high number anyway ,the number of the house( if anyone reading this lived there don’t worry I won’t use your real names). It was above or next to a sport’s shop in Harrow Road.

My friend had been walking past it one evening bored and looking for a good time and had heard music coming from inside. She rang their doorbell and asked them if she could come to their party, they weren’t having a party but they welcomed her in anyway. To her delight and surprise the house above the sport’s shop was a network of bedsits and in every bedsit was a different friendly drug-dealer, most of them were musicians too, all were decadent but smiling , many had jobs…..but I have to go to bed now and will tell you more next time.

In the back bar at Hennecky’s this would have been playing on the juke box

P.s. If the drug squad read this don’t bother coming round I don’t buy drugs anymore .

p.p.s. Sorry if I have offended any bikers…

or drug dealers

or Lemmy

or fans of Lemmy

Sorry I have to go to bed now . I am exhausted. I will write more soon. Anyone remember how to spell Hennerky’s and what you remember?

Sorry for saying sorry all the time.

Love and Peace

Born2rant