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June 24, 2007

Trees and Roots

The Tree 10 by David Vernon, cc by/sharealikeSo, it was Filk Massive down at the folk club tonight. The Walthamstow Folk club already has several regular attendees who are closet or not-so-closet filkers, but tonight they booked Playing Rapunzel, who are a definite filk duo; most of their material is actual filk and the rest is the sort of folk songs beloved of filkers. They shared the evening with guitarist and songwriter Simon Stephenson, which made a good contrast. The whole thing was billed as 'Futureproof'; I am not sure that either act would have comfortably carried a full evening at the club, but putting them together worked very well indeed. A very interesting and varied set of floor spots rounded out the evening, which seemed to me to epitomise what we go to folk clubs to do.

There was some sort of auspicious alignment of the heavens tonight; in honour of midsummer, and English filk, and traditional English folk music, I sang Oak, Ash and Thorn and dedicated it to Gytha; nearly everyone present joined in lustily. I think it sounded quite good; if the tape's come out ok I might stick it on MySpace. Woo.

Posted by Alison Scott at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2007

Saving the Planet One Kettle at a Time

the Breville Spectra KettleWe bought a new kettle. Now, this isn't the sort of purchase you take much time over. I am unpersuaded by stainless steel kettles, which seem popular at present; I like big clear windows in my kettles so I can watch the boiling water. The Breville Spectra Kettle not only has a big clear window, but it's illuminated. It turns red when boiling, blue once boiled. And when it's on standby, it cycles through the colours, providing mathmos-style mood lighting for your kitchen. It also has a keep hot function for when people keep coming downstairs wanting tea. All very superfluous and I smile every time I see the light show.

But. Still. Since when did kettles need a standby mode?

Posted by Alison Scott at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2007

April, May and June music

Roy Bailey album cover for Up the Wooden HillI seem to have got behind. Roy Bailey came to our folk club and we were generally delighted with his songs and stories, but particularly impressed with his selection and delivery of children's songs. So we bought Up the Wooden Hill and Why Does it Have to be Me? Roy's well worth seeing live if you get the chance; we'd only previously seen him in his legendary collaboration with Tony Benn.

From eMusic, we got the new June Tabor album, Apples, some more Topic and Fellside back catalogue (Waterson:Carthy, Albions, Steve Tilston, four more chunks of Voice of the People, Witches of Elswick, Nancy Kerr & James Fagan), and a live album by Stan Rogers (coincidentally including 'Barrett's Privateers', which we heard a masterful unaccompanied version of by Swill of The Men They Couldn't Hang at the Big Session last week). I do need to mention specifically Topic's English Country Music. These recordings, of Walter Bulwer on his own and with a band of source musicians brought together for the purpose, are legendary. I'm not sure I'd recommend them to anyone who's not familiar with and playing the music, but if you are they're full of delights.

Bernard LoffetWe went to one of the EuroCeilidhs as Cecil Sharp House, dragging along Anna Feruglio dal Dan, and had a fine old time. Bernard Loffet, the melodeon maker, was the star attraction, supported by the Anglo/French ceilidh band Gig CB! So I now have an album by each of them. Also in the ceilidh line, we've been following the young English ceilidh band the Gloworms for a little while. They've just released an album, Running Joak. I couldn't resist the title, and we also attended, briefly, their launch gig in a freezing tent at the Chippenham Folk Festival. Not quite ceilidh, but sort of related, are the 96 tunes on two CDs by Nick Barber to accompany his English Choice tunebook, which I've been playing out of extensively (I know, I should learn them all by ear. Or by heart. Or both. I'm such a lightweight.)

Back at the folk club, we had a solo set from rising star Jackie Oates, and I bought both her CD and the demo of new trio Wistman's Wood. I missed seeing PJ Wright at the same pub. I'm not exactly sure how, because it was in the diary and I had definitely intended to go. But the next club night I won his album, Hedge of Sound, in the raffle. Fab Canadian band the Paperboys played at (where else) the Borderline, and I picked up loads of stuff by them and solo work by their fiddler, Kendel Carson.

Posted by Alison Scott at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2007

Good Customer Service

Thumbs up to Edirol, who mended my R-09 for nothing after I incautiously dropped it onto a hard floor at Chippenham. Silly me, and yes, they knew it had been dropped; I didn't pretend it was a warranty repair.

Separately, I had a shock on Thursday; my iMac, which has never given me a moment's trouble, wouldn't turn on. Luckily I could use another computer to discover that this is a known fault with iMac G5s of a particular age, and there's a repair extension programme. We took it into the Apple Store in Bluewater on Friday evening (which unusually allows online booking of genius slots a couple of days in advance), they fixed it yesterday, and we picked it up this morning.

Finally, I would once again recommend Center Parcs as a good place to hold an inter-generational family holiday. There were twelve of us, ranging in age from two to 70. We had a lovely time at Sherwood Forest, including swimming, sandpits, water slides, a raft ride, falconry (again), a trip on the boating pond, archery, bowling, table tennis and large, agreeable, family meals.

Posted by Alison Scott at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)


Illuminations on the side of the RFH, Photo by Tim Bradshaw, www.timbradshaw.net cc by/non-com/sharealikeThe bits of the Royal Festival Hall Overture that we got to were a blast, and looking at photos on Flickr, it's obvious that we could have had loads of fun for two full days. All for nowt, and not actually all that crowded either. But in fact we'd had two weekends away, and the summer is very full, so we confined ourselves to Spiers and Boden in the bar, the Bellowhead session where I joined in with gusto (yes, that's the new name for my melodeon), and, hilariously, more Bellowhead at 12:30 am, with a drunken but enthusiastic audience taking advantage of the free festival and late bar.

In the course of waiting around for Bellowhead, we also saw a set by Frank Turner, the former frontman of a punk band called Million Dead, now playing folky acoustic protest music because he likes it. Or because that's what's trendy. Sort of like a younger and angrier Billy Bragg, though you probably need to ignore that he went to Eton and then the LSE. He started out feeling inhibited because there were kids in the audience and all his songs involve swearing; we assured him that our children heard worse every time the computer stopped working (of which see more in another post). Anyway, he's charming and his songs are splendid and he'd go down terribly well at the folk club but I suspect he's a bit pricey for us. Sample lyric, from 'Thatcher Fucked the Kids' -- "Whatever happened to childhood? We're all scared of the kids in our neighboorhood; they're not small, charming and harmless, they're a violent bunch of bastard little shits." Damn right. Catch him at a festival this summer.

Picture of nifty inflatable paper beanbag by Chris O'Shea, www.chrisoshea.org , no, not that Chris O'Shea, another one, cc by/noncommercialThis was on what was laughingly called the Hayward Stage but was actually an especially brutalist bit of open concrete space round the back of the QEH. Limited seating was provided in the form of highly amusing inflated sturdy paper bags.

I will observe that £150m spent on the RFH and they have neither managed to put decent beer into the bars, nor drinking water into the toilets. Many people were also rude about the carpet but I really liked it.

Posted by Alison Scott at 05:23 PM | Comments (2)