Steve Hillage and Gong at The Forum (27th November 2009)-A Review


Hello Good People who read this blog


I am recovering from my evening out at the Forum last night in Kentish Town ( in London for anyone who might be reading this in Estonia) to see Steve Hillage and Gong.

Our little troupe of Hillage/Gong fans started our  journey to the gig after lots of cups of tea and a supper of winter foods including of course our green vegetables. We trailed up the road happily like well-fed hobbits, ready to face the bright lights and commuters, but had to make a detour after a rather alarming  encounter with Orcs dressed in blue accompanied by their hounds of hell.

By the time we got to The Forum , The Steve Hillage Band was already on stage, playing “Love Guitar” ,one of my favourite soppy songs.  The audience didn’t seem quite warmed up at that point and so we reckon we must have arrived pretty much close to the start of the proceedings.

(double-click on the photos to see them in full-screen)

Steve Hillage Band-The Forum-27/11/2009

Left to right

Miquette Giraudy Keyboards-Synth-Backing -Vocals-Air Guitar and fun

Steve Hillage –Genius Electric Guitarist, Vocals.

Chris Taylor (I think! at least it’s him on the 2032 new album by Gong) – Drums with a zillion tempo changes

Mike Howlett-Bass-player extra-ordinaire

I know that Steve Hillage and Gong have played The Forum before in 2008, and that they have toured quite a bit in the past 18 months or so,but this is the first time I have seen the “Steve Hillage Band”. The last time I saw Steve Hillage  playing live in a “rock” band,must have been around 1979  or 1980 at The Hammersmith Odeon. Also to my embarrassment, I had never seen Gong live until  last night. Although I know their early albums and the fantastic Japanese import  “Gong Live etc.” (Virgin,1977 ) back to front. If you do not have this double album, try to get one.I got mine on vinyl as a Japanese import around twenty-nine years ago now, but still love it.

Steve Hillage and Gong fans are very difficult to get rid of, as we could tell from the average age of the audience, although there was a minority of teenagers looking blissful while cuddling with their significant others.

We didn’t go there to take photos or film, but we took a few pictures and short clips,like the two above . We went to  have a good time in the audience, not to film, and we did have a great time, my sore  feet, sore neck and sore throat (from singing and dancing along) are testimony to this, so I’ll stop writing now and put up some photos and clips enshrined in a couple of comments.

After the first couple of songs, the audience were warmed up and the crowd had swelled, in fact the place was packed out. They had made an early start and this had obviously caught some by surprise. Steve Hillage and his band were on form. Occasionally Hillage seemed to lose confidence with his vocals, as many singers do as they get older, especially if they have not been singing for a decade or two. If you listen to Joni Mitchell in the sixties and now in her sixties, her voice is totally different but it’s good, she has had to change her singing range and vocal style to keep it up.

In terms of guitar playing and performing, Steve Hillage is still at the top of his league. As the evening wore on, he just got better and better ( and better) playing complicated solos, with key changes, tempo changes, etc..

Here is a short clip Intro to Hurdy-Gurdy Man

He played some fast and furious guitar too and the band were great, but we were too busy dancing to film it! No doubt more footage will appear on youtube. Also Mike  Howlett’s excellent bass playing was mixed in a way that was not beefy enough , we wanted to hear it louder,and yet it obliterated a bit of the rest of the band’s sound, not sure how! I guess that’s what live music is about, it depends where you stand (and the taste and/or ability of the engineer).

The set was amazing and the crowd were ecstatic, a great lightshow too with inventive animations adding to the whole performance.

My only complaint about The Steve Hillage Band was that their set was so short. I would have been happy to see them play their first five albums from start to end and would have not got bored for a second or judged them if they had missed a few bits and improvised instead.

Personally I would have been happier to see the evening split equally between Gong and Steve Hillage.

An Interval of Rainbow Dome Musick , while we got our “healing” beer would have been ideal! ( I am joking…kind of)

However,when we saw the long set that Gong played with the same instrumentalists , we realised perhaps why Steve Hillage’s set was short but quality rather than quantity. When we arrived at 7.45 pm, The Steve Hillage Band was already playing and by the time Gong had left the stage it was past 11 pm.

Miquette and Steve ( Forum 27/11/2009)

There was a long break for drinks, just as well as it seemed impossible to get served ( hence the request for Rainbow Dome Musick at this point to keep us all calm). Only two bars on the ground floor, for thousands of people, the bar we queued up at only had one person serving, although after half an hour or so ,he was joined by two others.

The mood was jolly, lots of blokes, average age 50, many still with long hair or bald.But there were also a few women of all ages and also there were young, some very young ,teenage boys occasionally with young,very young,girlfriends in tow.

There is always a new crop of hippies germinating from any background. They emerge at around the age of 13 and by 16 they are either in a band or leading some form of alternative lifestyle with individual image to boot.These budding hippies who appear from nowhere decade after decade, will always gravitate towards the music of Gong and Steve Hillage.

Gong appeared on stage at around 9.15pm. They consisted of the members of  The Steve Hillage Band , plus Daevid Allen ( vocals and  guitar, and much leaping around), Gilli Smyth ( Vocals, “Space Whispers”, Goddess/Witch) and Theo Travis ( playing some rather excellent flute and sax).

Gong at The Forum 27/11/2009 ( minus Miquette)

We couldn’t help but notice that Gilli seemed older than the kind of woman you’d expect onstage with a rock band.We have been conditioned to expect only young people onstage doing weird rock music,  especially when it comes to women in a non-acoustic band.We are super-conditioned that only certain types of sexualised young women or alternatively young teenage rebel girls who shave their heads or dye it some extreme colour, will  be there. But I believe in breaking boundaries, most of the best classic bands are older, too old to rock and roll and too young to die? No! Get on stage, I say!

According to Wikipedia, Gilli Smyth, is 76 years old and used to be in academia, lecturing at the Sorbonne before deciding to do something all the more intellectual by forming Gong with her partner Daevid Allen.

Here is Gilli being a Witch on stage along to a free-form jazz jam from other members of Gong.

The Witch’s Song Performed at The Forum 27/11/2009  originally released 1973 on “Radio Gnome Invisible.Part One”

Daevid Allen is 71. But he bounces around the stage like a kangaroo on acid (and speed). Daevid has such a stage presence  that I can’t help but wonder what on earth he would do if he didn’t go on stage and dispel that energy. He is a jester with apparently boundless tigger-like energy. He definitely needs a stage to bounce on!

Gong- You Can’t Kill Me

Unfortunately the camera ran out of memory before being able to film Daevid in his special silver-white silk catsuit, embellished by CDs, or his “No one Knows I’m a Lesbian” T-Shirt, or when he chased Miquette around the stage, or was she chasing him, either way his energy was impressive.


Daevid Allen at The Forum 27/11/2009

Miquette having fun playing air guitar along to Steve (27/11/09-Forum)

There were times when Gong shouted and repeated the same line over like a cross between a sergeant major barking orders and the rat-rat-rat of a self-loading machine gun, which reminded me of war , riots and abrupt change. At other times, Gong intoned half-sung and half-spoken poems with themes of the collective unconscious and mythical archetypes in a free-from jazz jam, then planting  a strong melodic chorus , wherever and whenever it seemed the least expected. There were times when the music became ultra-psychedelic, the same repeated riff and beat, getting faster and louder with glissando guitars and excessive strobes, it went on in a cyclic fashion until it induced the brain into resistance or acceptance. I could not help but close my eyes to take it in. I felt like I was at some spiritual ceremony and that certain harmonious energies were being purposefully raised. I was pelted with rays of  white light and the sound of repeated musical mantras ,until I felt transported from the middle of winter, to a bright dance tent at some summer festival. People didn’t dance as much as they would in a dance tent though, but then we are older and we were tired by the end of the evening.

However there seemed to be some incredibly strong positive force present within the music. ..and I couldn’t help but notice that at the end of the evening, after a long encore and a very long gig,  Daevid Allen seemed to do a little ceremony to seal off each one of his chakra points, starting at his head and working his way down before leaving the stage.

Aha! I thought to myself , that’s where Daevid gets his energy from: rituals and chakras!

I am somewhat cynical about anything too religious, but they must be getting their energy from somewhere!

Love and Peace ( off to do yoga,meditation and find my chakras now!)

Born2rant

p.s. for more of a spiritual explanation click on Pete’s comment on the upper part of the left hand column of this blog or follow this link  to hear Daevid Allen’s spiritual vision for Gong( thanks again Pete).

http://vimeo.com/1626328

new readers to this blog  might be interested in this entry as well…

Steve Hillage always looking to the future: Part one from Hyde Park to Solfest


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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.



My Metaphorical Comfort Drug: Gong and a bit of Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah


Hello good people who read this blog

Are you sitting comfortably?

Well before we begin since I don’t have anything specific to urgently talk about let us listen to our first hippie anthem of the day to warm up our cockles on this cold evening ( dancing or waving arms about or playing along with wild and wonderful percussion instruments is optional)

Gong and “Builder” from the You album

The cold season was approaching  and as usual I was conned by the local nurse a few weeks ago into having a ‘flu jab as I come into one of those categories where they insist you have it due to low immunity …

Naturally just  like last year  ( see my blog entry around this time ) this meant within 24 hours I had what my doctor would call  “a  reaction to the ‘flu jab “as it “doesn’t contain any live viruses”.

My “reaction” started off by being weak, having no appetite and aching all over with a high temperature and a sore throat shortly followed by three weeks of coughing day and night, being too ill to go out , losing my voice completely for 10 days,  more fever and now a month later being still very weak and needing steroid medication to  breathe.

So next year I think I’d like the opportunity to catch the ‘flu the  conventional way rather than have it directly injected into my bloodstream. But every year I give in to doctor’s pressure ….

More music to cheer us up the excellent Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band

In the Canyons of your Mind

Well lots going on in my life, busy,busy,busy,ill,ill,ill, busy,busy,busy…..

The bad thing about being busy is that it actually stops you from thinking , if you have lots of other things to occupy your brain and your time  then there is just no time to watch TV, read the news, think about the usual stuff let alone do anything creative like write music or blogs or even talk to friends and relatives.

In some ways this is a good thing as the news is so bleak. I feel that when I watch the news on TV it’s a similar activity to pulling out your own eyebrows compulsively or practising some kind of self-harming activity.

Watching and actually listening to the news is like a neurotic compulsion which serves to deepen that  sense of helpless lack of control over anything and everything…

“Expect to lose everything” the newsreaders and commentators insinuate “job, home, savings, pension, expect not to afford food, heating.. maybe not right now but in a couple of year’s time”...and then on top of it to hear that some companies are making record profits ………..and then there’s still the youth crime and the end of the world through climate change…and ARGH!

Gordon Brown’s smug face and even smugger statements about how Britain isn’t really responsible for all this ….. Get out the bottle of whisky now .

I don’t drink whisky but it’s a metaphorical bottle of whisky to deaden the senses and worries and sore throat all in one.

The news is scaring everyone to death and surely that’s in part what is causing the economy to fail.

The  music in this blog entry is my metaphorical bottle of whisky or metaphorical old fashioned joint (without skunk and just strong enough to make me mellow and creative) ..more music from the lovely gamelan-influenced Gong . “Love is How You Make it” from one of my favourite albums of all time Angel’s Egg ( every track is a gem):

I cannot embed it anymore sorry!

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=O-QuwUWySG0

“The Rich” behaving like “The Poor”

Just one or two little local observations about the economic crisis and then upwards and onwards to something better.

As my regular readers may know I live amongst the wealthy of Notting Hill although I am pretty poor myself. One thing that has always puzzled me if why I never ever see my rich neighbours and acquaintances in the local supermarkets.

After years of puzzling over this question the simple answer is that generally speaking they wouldn’t be seen dead in a supermarket. Sometimes they send their housekeepers off to the supermarket with long lists of luxury foods or they just order everything from Waitrose who deliver.

So imagine my shock when on Saturday afternoon I saw not one but TWO of my rich neighbours in the local Tesco! I tried to make eye contact with either of them and smiled but found them unwilling to reciprocate ( I am poor scum after all and should not be living in a rich area ….maybe I am being paranoid but after 20 years of saying hello to these same rich neighbours and getting nowhere that is my paranoid conclusion).

One of them who owns a penthouse suite with roof garden etc… had ventured bravely into a supermarket to buy one thing only.

He left the store with a  small bag of  economy rice under his arm. I was shocked..I bought that same rice myself and it really is poor quality , I ended up throwing mine away and I never throw away food.

Also …. one of my very very very  rich acquaintances was not her happy self the other day and was complaining that her husband’s investments were all in the States and that he had told her “No more spending” these  people are normally a fountain of money, spending and investing in wild, expensive and often totally useless things.

So although 4 to 6 weeks ago the cracks were not showing amongst the very very very wealthy they are very acutely apparent now.

More cheerful  music needed urgently

Love is a Cylindrical Piano  – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band and Eric Idle again…

I guess we have to live from day to day rather than worry about the future but when I was at my poorest with my sensible female hippie friends we used to pool our resources. One friend of mine used to buy a huge sack of rice and one of red lentils from somewhere cheap and then we would give her money and petrol money and share the cost ( as well as the food of course). Ah petrol money! I used to go everywhere by petrol money, to festivals and camping and shopping trips. I was not a hitcher or a driver but someone willing to pay petrol money .

So many things are possible when people co-operate and collaborate and life can actually be a lot more fun and less lonely too  when resources are pooled together.

Being ridiculously wealthy tends to make people more selfish, although for some the guilt or the fear of ending up in hell or occasionally just kindness makes them incredibly generous .

I think we all need to pull together ( sounds like WWII ). I also think as a society in the UK people have lost their sense of being able to do anything for themselves long ago. There’s always a law or a rule to stop you from doing something creative and empowering so the general mentality in response to being terrified by the news of recession is to sit at home and listen to more and more and more bad news. Like monitoring impending doom as it happens from a cosy armchair and waiting for someone else to make some kind of miracle legislation to sort it all out.

As for me, I’d rather we started sorting things out ourselves without being told what to do or prompted by idiotic hypocritical politicians.

Why don’t we find out who our real friends are and start to buy big bags of rice and share our cars, share costs, swap childcare, swap services.

We need to empower ourselves and to take pride in the things we can do collectively instead of waiting for a miracle law or a miracle sack load of money to save us. ( now I sound like a Tory ARGH!!)

Anyway here is some more music.

Music is my chocolate, my wine , my spirit, my drug and my hug.

Zero the Hero:

Sorry I can’t embed it anymore go to:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjDo073HzlM

Music is addictive but it’s better than pulling out your eyebrows and sitting watching the news waiting for poverty to set in.

I’m looking forwards to people being collaborative again. If rules and laws are made to stop people from finding creative and empowering ways to survive the law-makers will be turning positive action into helplessness. Let’s hope change will be change for the better, but more than hope let’s make it better and start up our own economic collaborations.

We need lots of comfort music..Love and Peace

Born2rant

Gong ….The Isle of Everywhere

See Also…

Gong Live Now and Then

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))

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 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


Carlyle ReedyCarlyle Reedy

(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.

Hello Good People who read and contribute to this blog!

Thanks for waiting, there have been technical problems galore which after complaining to TalkTalk and reformatting the computer are gradually clearing up.

I have finally uploaded the third installment of the Dave Russell interview about The Crypt in Notting Hill . He also tells us a bit about Frestonia and Release.

Episode Three of the Dave Russell interview about The Arts and Community Centre Notting Hill

At the start of this post I have put a photo of Carlyle Reedy who started up and ran the club from 1967 to 1972. She is fairly reclusive at present but I hope to meet her soon.

Dave talks about them charging half a crown which is 2/6 ( two and six) in predecimal money which is 12 and a half pence in today’s money . Here is a poster kindly sent to me by Iain Jacobs for the club which has the price and several other interesting points. If you point your cursor over the picture you can enlarge it and read the details. You will see several well known names in music.

Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments Poster

Pete Brown who is best known for co-writing most of the hits for the band Cream was a performance poet.

Here is a bit I nicked from Wikkipedia:Pete Brown (born December 25, 1940 in Ashtead, Surrey, England) is a British performance poet, lyricist and musical producer, best known for his collaborations with Jack Bruce. He worked also with The Battered Ornaments, and formed his own group Piblokto!. He was part of the poetry scene in Liverpool during the 1960s and in 1964 was the first poet to perform at Morden Tower in Newcastle. In 2004 he formed Brown Waters, an award-winning British film production company[1], with Mark AJ Waters and Miran Hawke….

Brown was originally brought into the Cream fold as a writing partner for drummer Ginger Baker, but the group quickly discovered that he worked better with bassist Jack Bruce. Of the situation, Bruce later remarked “Ginger and Pete were at my flat trying to work on a song but it wasn’t happening. My wife Janet then got with Ginger and they wrote ‘Sweet Wine’ while I started working with Pete.”

Together, Brown and Bruce wrote the majority of Cream’s numbers, including the hits “I Feel Free“, “White Room” and (with Clapton) “Sunshine of Your Love“.

After the breakup of Cream, Bruce and Brown continued to write songs together for Bruce’s solo career. Brown wrote the lyrics for Bruce’s albums Songs For a Tailor, Harmony Row and Into the Storm.”

Chris Spedding is another well-known name who has worked with many people in the music business. Here is a bit taken from his website. It’s a very brief description of his career.

Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter Chris Spedding has been a mainstay of the British session scene since the late 60s, playing with just about everyone from Nucleus, Jack Bruce, John Cale, Elton John, Mike Batt, to Paul McCartney & The Bay City Rollers (anonymously!).
In 1975 Spedding had a hit record called “Motorbikin'”. In the late 70s he moved to the States and worked with Robert Gordon, Jerry Harrison, Dick Rivers and Johnny Hallyday.
Recently, Spedding played with Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, in the summer of 2005 he released a solo album “CLICK CLACK”. And plays The War Of The World tour!”

Chris’ website is http://www.chrisspedding.com/

It’s funny that I had The Wombles on my Christmas blog because I think Chris may have known them well.

I used to think The Wombles were a very lame excuse for people in the music business to make lots of money out of little children. I still think that but now seeing them on youtube makes me smile and they are almost cool…in fact I’d like be one on stage and do the dances etc…ok I’m being really uncool and must carry on.

getting back to the poster..in brief (as it’s late now and I need to lie down) …Jamie Muir was a free form percussionist and later played in King Crimson and is now a painter.

Charlie Hart has also done 10 billion zillion things here is a short extract from the biography on his website featuring a picture of Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments:

” As a student Charlie played organ in the psychedelic band 117. The group appeared frequently at the Middle Earth/UFO clubs and recorded at a legendary session with Mick Jagger and Andrew Oldham at Olympic Studios. By that point, Charlie was heavily into black music and the most sensible plan seemed to go to Africa, so he spent a year in Ghana. Highlife and traditional music became an obsession and the next year Charlie returned to sit in with highlife bands and study marimba.

After college he was asked to join Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments with Chris Spedding, Dick Hextall-Smith and George Khan and he was introduced to the delights of the M1 and the Blue Boar. At that time he also started playing double bass with the People BandTerry Day, Mel Davis, Lyn Dobson, Mike Figgis, Davey Payne and they toured with the People Show. With Davey Payne and Terry Day he formed OMMU and they toured Holland frequently.

OMMU then joined Ian Dury, the eccentric art-school lyricist and Kilburn and the Highroads were at the front of the early 70s Pub-rock boom, free jazz meets rock and roll. Wreckless Eric was in the same stable, and Charlie played keyboards on his first LP. “

His website is http://www.charliehart.com

George Khan was a tenor saxophonist and all of them I’m sure were great ..I just don’t know them and I have to go to bed now! This took longer than I thought.

Next time maybe a bit of ranting, maybe a bit of Frestonia maybe a bit about Steve Hillage maybe some more posters from the 60s and 70s and 80s that are not published anywhere else or nicked ! I will see ..for now

Thanks for reading and bedtime!

but music before bed

see also

Frestonia-Your essential entertainment & lifestyle guide

(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!