In Sand at The Sanctuary

In Sand, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Went to The Sanctuary Cafe in Hove last night for 'One Voice', an evening of poetry (from The South) and improvised music (from the Safehouse Experimental Music Collective), starring my old mate Gus Garside on double bass (is there a single bass out there, I wonder?). I was half anticipating the sound of strangled cats, but it was all rather lyrical and soothing. First up were Voyages Ensemble, comprising guitar, two tenor saxes, a flute/alto, violin and a trumpet - echoes of Jimmy Giuffre's 'Four Brothers' in there somewhere. In between their two sets were two poets - Tom Cunliffe and Lorna Thorpe - and the music won I'm afraid. These poets seem to be stuck in the 60s somewhere (and Lorna was rude about cyclists!) and the dull delivery, which could have added a counterpoint to the music, didn't. After the interval we had four fifths of 'In Sand', a string band with Gus on bass and sampler, Richard Padley on guitar, Danny Kingshill on 'cello and voice, and Satoko Fukuda on violin (who also played with the first half band). Absent was Thor Magnuson on laptop. Sublime! In between sets we had John 'Shed Man' Davies, backed in part by Gus and Satoko, and 'performance poet' (does that mean she reads from memory?) Bernadette Cremin. A great evening, and moving to the (nearer for me) Open House soon. More photos on Flickr.


Patsy Palmer

Patsy Palmer, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Popped along to the Kemp Town Winter Festival and spotted Kemp Town's newest resident and star of Strictly Come Dancing Patsy Palmer (best known as Bianca in Eastenders) attempting to light up a lantern (where were the proper lights?) - also spotted author Simon Fanshawe, food critic Andrew Kay and a bloke from The Piranhas (not Boring Bob Grover, the other one).


Seaford museum

Seaford museum, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

What a find! Took a quick detour during last Sunday's Clarion ride and visited Seaford museum. It's my kind of museum - lots and lots of stuff, and not too many boards to read! Bury museum has been refurbished, but where have all the things gone? A few choice items in dainty display cases and loads of video screens and boards full of tiny text. No good at all. Here at Seaford is a real old-fashioned museum, how they ought to be!

Housed in a Martello Tower (No 74) from Napoleonic times, it's a Tardis of a building with a smallish entrance hall and shop, with steps leading up to the roof and gigantic cannon, but downstairs it spreads out for miles, piled high with old radios, cameras, home computers, sewing machines, electric fires and all sorts of domestic detritus. A bit like my gaff, actually. Wonder if they take donations? A re-visit soon is definitely on the cards.


This blog now has its own domain! Put http://www.fredblog.co.uk/ in your bookmarks.


Virtual Brighton Mag review of Cock and Bull

My review of A Cock and Bull Story in Virtual Brighton Magazine.

Comic Expo

comix3, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Spent an hour or so on Saturday at Comic Expo, which was basically a lot of stands in the Brighton Metropole selling comics. What did I expect? The UK's most underrated cartoonist Hunt Emerson - with hangover from Bob Dylan concert at NEC previous night - very kindly signed (and drew on) some of my books of his. All thanks to Cartoon County for getting me in at a discount!


A cock and bull story

Went on a Day Saver adventure (nearly a punch up on the 7 bus between little old lady and bunch of polite guys from Dubai when she complained that 'we don't shout in England') down to the Marina for the launch of Brighton's film festival at the swanky Seattle Hotel. I thought the speakers (including Jonathan Woodham) were saying 'Sin City', which sounded promising, but it was really CineCity. Full details on www.cine-city.co.uk. We arrived just as the bar, serving Havana Club-based cocktails, closed!! However we did get a goody bag containing a small bottle of rum. Missed the canapes too (but Angie bought some popcorn)! Spotted Julie Burchill, but no movie stars. The festival kicked off with a special preview of A Cock and Bull Story, not scheduled for release until the New Year. Directed by Michael Winterbottom (24 hour party people, Wonderland, 9 songs) it's an attempt to shoot an adaptation of Laurence Sterne's novel 'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman', one of those 'unfilmable' books. If my memory serves me well, this bawdy bewildering novel is about the impossibility of writing an autobiography, because it would take greater than a lifetime to write it, plus the fact that it takes Shandy two volumes to get past being born. The form of the book is very strange, too (a post-modern classic written way before there was any modernism to be post about) with blank pages, black pages (yes, they do it in the film!) and lots of dashes and doodles. I suppose you have to know this to make any sense of the film. It starts in makeup where Steve Coogan (who plays Tristram and his father Walter) is having the kind of nose that Terry Gilliam wanted Matt Damon to have in 'The Brothers Grimm', while bantering with 'co-lead' Rob Brydon (who plays Uncle Toby, a kind of Don Quixote character) about billing, heel height and the Dulux shade of his teeth. Then with the opening credits we have Steve Coogan as our hero striding out to the stirring sounds of Michael Nyman's 'Chasing sheep is best left to shepherds' from 'The Draughtsman's Contract', the first of a couple of recycled tracks from the groundbreaking Peter Greenaway film, a cunning film-buff shortcut for establishing the period. And is that in fact the same house they're using? Coogan is talking to camera about Groucho Marx - what, in the 18th century? Is he in character or just in costume (he has no wig after all). Do we care? Coogan and Brydon also play themselves, well sort of: Coogan has a 'wife' played by gorgeous Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald, and a baby. He's also having an affair with Naomie Harris, a production runner fascinated by the films of Fassbinder. The 'real' people also act with people not playing themselves, such as Brighton's own Mark Williams, as a pedantic re-enactment expert working on the battle scene we never get to see. Confused yet? It's a bit like 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', where Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep have an 'off-screen' romance as well as the on-screen one. All a bit of a shambles really. The film awards itself two stars (an own goal) when they manage to secure Gillian Anderson for the romantic part of Widow Wadman – something that the Brydon character, as an X-files fan, is very nervous about. He has posters of her on his bedroom wall. There are cameos by Tony Wilson (with an 'it'll be on the DVD' nod to Party People), Sgt Bob Cryer from The Bill, the bloke from Vicar of Dibley, the woman from Extras, David Walliams as the curate, and many other stars of British comedy. The funniest bits are Rob Brydon's impersonations, Coogan as Roger Moore, for example. But overall it was more like Morecambe and Wise doing a play what they wrote. Will it travel, with all that in-jokery? I doubt it. A brave effort, but Terry Gilliam would have done it so much better.


Small art

Small art, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

A gallery for Small Art at the exhibition of Worthing-based RAG at the compact but conveniently located Start Gallery.

The Zombies

The Zombies, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Just time for a quick glass of wine at the PV of Worthing-based RAG at the compact but conveniently located Start Gallery, en route to the Old Market in Hove and a gig with The Zombies. Dan Thompson (witty collages and skateboards) and others (I did like Michelle Dawson's digital prints) have assembled a fine eclectic mix, including a gallery within a gallery – a doll's house full of art! Worthing (and Crawley) art seems much less precious and more accessible than Brighton (and Hove) Art. A breath of fresh air to the City art scene. Long may they prosper.

Looking at the average age (my age!) of the punters milling around the entrance to the Old Market, it was no surprise that the hall was laid out cabaret-fashion, with tables and chairs. No mosh pit tonight!

Original Zombies, singer Colin Blunstone and songwriter/organist Rod Argent, have been reunited under this brand after splitting up way back in 1967. I must confess to being familiar with just two of their tunes – the wonderfully evocative 'She's not there' and from their second album Odessey And Oracle (via the classic compilation The rock machine turns you on) the more hippy 'Time Of The Season'. There was no support and the band started without ceremony the first of two sets. First up was 'I love you' and Colin, in black crushed velvet jacket is in very fine voice, still hitting those high notes! Next up was one of Ray Charles' finest 'Sticks and stones' and Solomon Burke's soulful 'Can't nobody love you'. Then a new one, Mystified' and back to soul for Jimmy Ruffin's 'What becomes of the broken hearted'. Took me right back to my Twisted Wheel days in Manchester! I'd love to go back to hear a typical Beat group's repertoire again. They finished with 'Time of the season', and Argent's 'Keep on rollin' and 'Hold your head up'.

The band was a real family affair with Jim Rodford, a founder member of Argent and cousin to Rod on bass, Jim's son Steve on drums and Mark Johns on lead guitar. Jim played with The Kinks, and Mark was in Ray Davies's band on his recent tour. I suspect they'd all like to have as much hair as him if they could! The second half was more of the same class act, with songs from Colin's solo album and some recent songs. Highlights included a fan presenting Colin with bunch of roses during Tim Hardin's 'Misty roses' (does this happen every gig?) and great powerful organ solo on 'Indication' quoting 'God rest ye merry gentlemen' and 'I do like to be beside the seaside'! The inevitable finale was, of course, 'She's not there'. Encores were 'God gave rock'n'roll to you' and Gershwin's 'Summertime', a strange choice maybe, but it was on their first album, after all. No 'Tell Her No', but otherwise a near perfect gig, the kind you usually only see in the Brighton Centre! Stadium rock in the sitting room – with a nice pint of Harvey's. My kind of gig. Even got their autographs on my set list.


Lost Generation

I'm proud to say I had a hand in writing Channel 4's Lost Generation website - the extensive family history section to be precise. Looking forward to watching The Somme on Monday.


Very small art

Dan Thompson of RAG has pointed me to Worthing's Big Art application, but also points out that at the Start show in Brighton (from 17 November) you'll see some really small art - they recently opened a professional, contemporary gallery in a converted doll's house. All the art is original, just 1/12th the normal size and price. Business rates are more affordable, too. Why doesn't Brighton have something like RAG??


Big Art, small art

Everyone wants Big Art these days. Channel 4 has a Big Art compo on at the moment and since Brighton was given a load of dosh for Art, as a consolation prize for not getting City of Culture, there's plenty of lolly for artists, so long as you do Big Art. I've been fortunate to attend various council meetings recently and at almost all of them there is mention of money for Art, though not perhaps art as we know it. At a cycle reps meeting, for example, we heard about the 'Bike Ballet' (scheduled for 22 September 2006, by Zap Productions), part of the B&H Arts Commission's 'Making a difference' project. And at a recent Sustainability Commission meeting, we heard about Eco-Brighton, also part of 'Making a difference'. There are four strands: Creating: £210,000 for creating new work. For artists and arts organisations to 'transform perceptions, change lives and expand horizons'. Transforming: £119,000 to transform the physical environment of the city, ie public art. Living: £159,000 for 'making a difference' to people's lives, includes £20,000 for Say Aah - arts and health - and Celebrating Age (creativity of older people) - apparently Cyril Mount is involved in this one (and how old is old? over 50? that's all right then). Working: no sum mentioned, with Creative Brighton, for developing the arts and creative industries in Brighton, and this means mainly training, plus £50,000 for a 'growing the grassroots' programme to help people starting out. The first 2 projects: Small Wonder's Palm House performance last month and Eco-Education (artists' residencies in schools) managed by Same Sky New projects announced in October 2005 include: Park Art: £55,000 for green spaces Liquid Future: £10,000 for water-based art Eco-City in Bloom: £10,000 for living (plants?) sculpture Then there's another £750k for Urban Cultural Programme, and probably lots more (there was something to do with Art and food, but can't find it). So, not much hope for small artists in all this - but don't dispair, Chalk Gallery in Lewes promises a Christmas exhibition entitled 'Small and not so small' featuring works by 21 professional Sussex artists. And there's always to Open Houses.



Fopp, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Never mind Bill's and YO! Sushi! What Brighton needs is a Fopp record shop, and one is coming to North Street soon!