Sunday, 8 September 2013

Shhh Festival at The Folk House

Next Sunday the 15th September I'm playing at Shhh festival in Bristol at The Folk House!

It's co-curated by Rachael Dadd and The Local and there are a LOT of great acts playing -

Rachael Dadd
Rozi Plain
Two White Cranes
Amadou Diagne
Cakes and Ale
and many more...

Rachael's sister Betsy Dadd will also be there doing documentary drawing and animation, there are zine making workshops, mini performances out in the garden, there's food and drink and two nice big pianos and it's going to be really great. COME COME COME!

Buy tickets here:

Here is an animation by Betsy Dadd to a song 'Dove Come Rain', by Rachael and myself...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Spiders on Ellen and a spider song

Having just completed a four day sea voyage from Stellendam to Avonmouth aboard the barge Ellen, with only Dutch spiders as cargo, I felt it an apt time to share this song which I recorded on Portishead beach a few weeks ago. More about 'The Voyage of Ellen' here soon...
This is about small creatures, how I like to protect them but sometimes end up inadvertently killing them...


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Insider festival - vine portraits!

I recently played at the brilliant Insider Festival at Insriach house in The Highlands.
I met a lot of wonderful people there and had a lot of fun on my last day with Rufus and Molly - making these little portraits by asking people to be silly for a minute...

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Marsh samphire on the banks of the Severn.

I've cycled to Portishead a few times recently...

Poor 'The Severn'.
Often stigmatised as brown, featureless and stained with industry...
It's something of a local joke, Severn beach - "Shall we go to Severn beach?" "Ha ha!"; I crack it myself.
Perhaps it's the South-West's equivalent to "Let's go to Wigan Pier."

It's understandable that The Severn might not captivate at first glance but it really is a beautiful place - on the water or from the land it's constantly changing, every half dozen hours transforming from a sea to something almost lunar. The light makes patterns on the water and the mud, the sun cracks the mud into shapes, reed clusters make film scenes with the sunset. The immense power of the tide puts me in my place, the vulnerability of land is humbling and for me, being more of an inland boatman with an ignorance of navigating tides and plotting with charts, there's a small measure of danger innate in every journey on this water - it's a richly affecting place.

Alice Oswald writes at the opening of her poem 'A sleepwalk on the Severn':

Flat stone sometimes lit sometimes not
One among many moodswung creatures
That have settled in this beautiful
Uncountry of an Estuary

Swans pitching your wings
In the reedy layby of a vacancy
Where the house of the sea
Can be set up quickly and taken down in an hour

All you flooded and stranded weeds whose workplace
Is both a barren mudsite and a speeded up garden
Full of lake offerings and slabs of light
Which then unwills itself listen

All you crabs in the dark alleys of the wall
All you mudswarms ranging up and down
I notice you are very alert and worn out
Skulking about and grabbing what you can

Listen this is not the ordinary surface river
This is not river at all this is something
Like a huge repeating mechanism
Banging and banging the jetty...

I've travelled this water in an odd assortment of boats - the dutch barge Tempora, a converted life boat Taurus and the replica of John Cabot's 1497 discovery ship The Matthew - you can expect to see anything from a narrow-boat to paddle-steamers and cargo ships.

It's rich with wildlife - under rocks last week we found small shrimp-like crustaceans, larger primeval looking crustaceans akin to oversized woodlice, small crabs, and I'd never thought of the Severn as a place to forage but George noticed a clump of marsh samphire growing, and then we saw more stretching down through the rocks and the seaweeds...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A video of 'West' by Paper Cinema...

As part of Mayfest, Paper Cinema had a week long residency to produce a new show 'West' about Bristol - they got me involved to write and perform the live soundtrack with Chris Littleboat and Hazel Mills - in eclectic Bristol fashion, the show features boats, nature, a graffiti bear, pirate rats and of course a beephant drinking from a Bristol onion...

Here's a video of one of our performances, filmed by Joshua Gaunt:

The Paper Cinema - WEST (Mayfest 2013 Performance) from Workshops n' Docs on Vimeo.

Monday, 8 July 2013

fRoots magazine feature

I met Ian Anderson at The Folk House earlier this year when I played a support slot for the amazing Sam Lee - Ian has written a lovely feature on me based on a chat we had at the 'fRoots dungeon' back in March. He's kindly printed it in the July issue of fRoots magazine, which features Seckou Keita and Catrin Finch on the cover - you can read it below but if you'd like a better quality glossy copy there's still a little time to find it in the shops and the whole magazine is well worth a read...

Sunday, 19 May 2013

An instrumental, three songs for a sea pebble...

Here are some recent live videos -
the first is a newly finished and untitled instrumental:

And these three I like to sing as a cycle at the moment... This is a playlist titled 'Songs for a sea pebble' and though these songs aren't about my friend George, I associate him with the sea and I sing this cycle with him and his paintings in mind.

Click on this painting of his below to look at his website:

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A short film of The Lagoon mini-festival...

I opened at a great little festival in London earlier this year - 'The Lagoon', curated by Raimund Wong and Sinema City - if you get a chance to go to one of their events, I highly recommend it!

This night was a lot of fun!

A lot of effort went into this mini-festival, set in an old community centre with a disused swiming pool in the middle - my highlight of the night was ICHI playing in the swimming pool...

If you live in London or even if you don't, their next event, No Dark Places Festival looks great - it's set in the same venue and if you're quick you can snap up a super early bird ticket for £8...

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Working with Paper Cinema on their new show 'West' for Mayfest...

This May 20th-25th I'm really excited to be joining Paper Cinema to write music for their new show 'West' -
it's part of Mayfest 2013, and will be created in a week-long residency at Bristol's Diving School behind the S.S. Great Britain, with two performances on Saturday the 25th at 5 and 6.30pm. (tickets here...)

The show is about contemporary Bristol and I'm keen to collaborate on visual themes and music which reflect Bristol's maritime community. I'm very excited to be working with everyone involved but especially Christopher Reed (aka Chris Littleboat) and Hazel Mills who I'll be creating and playing music with.
To read more about the show, have a look at the Mayfest page here...

The Bristol Ferries who I work for are going to give discounted single journeys to anyone who wants to travel to the performance by boat - more details coming soon.
There will also be opportunities within the residency for the people of Bristol to contribute...

In the meantime, here's an old song written by me and Rachael Dadd about life on Bristol's waterways...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Tempora sessions...

Now that Tempora, the barge which I'm restoring is safely back at her mooring in Bristol harbour, my friends at Floating Harbour Studios have completed the session they filmed for me, with the final song now online at youtube.

The song is a kind of mix of two songs -
the verse lyrics are from 'The Fall' by Peter and the wolf and the chorus lyrics are edited from 'And Fold' by The Hand, the duo I play in with Rachael Dadd, to fit with Red's desert-like post-apocalyptic vision instead of ours which was flooded.

Red's just finished his first novel and you can check out his latest music project here:
Traffique's endless weekend mixtape

Here are the videos of the Tempora session:

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A mix a week...

I've decided to start making mixes because I want to do something productive with my immense music collection!

So I'm aiming for one a week - possibly becoming more like a radio show at some point.

Last weeks mix was Japanese musicians I met whilst on tour,
this week is an eclectic mix of Kora music from both West Africa and Europe...
Please listen and share the mixes if you like them...